Reporting by Jacquie Cosgrove
Dex Geralds was 26 when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and he didn’t fit the physical stereotype of someone with the disease. “I did work out quite bit,” the fitness trainer, actor and model tells Yahoo Life. “My body looked great on the outside, so I never thought about what it was doing to me on the inside.”
At the time, Geralds managed a restaurant and ate on the job a lot. The food he ate was “low-quality... carb-heavy, super sugary.” Geralds started having some unusual symptoms. “I was always thirsty, drinking a lot of water — so much water that when I walked, you can hear the water slushing in my belly,” he says. He also experienced mood swings. “I would become irritable out of nowhere,” Geralds explains. “I'm naturally a positive person and I always try to keep myself levelheaded. So that was a little bit strange as well.”
Geralds finally decided to see a doctor after watching a CrossFit video featuring someone with type 1 diabetes. “The person on the video was talking about some of the symptoms they had,” he says. “I was going through the same thing.”
Diabetes is a disease where your blood sugar, aka blood glucose, is too high. Glucose is your body’s main source of energy and it’s carried to your cells to be used for energy by insulin, a hormone made by your pancreas, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). With diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough or any insulin, and glucose stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells. Over time, that can cause health problems, including heart disease, stroke, eye problems and nerve damage.
“My life changed quite a bit after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.”
Geralds says he started to prioritize sleep after his diagnosis: “That’s one thing I wasn't getting a lot of, especially because the job I was working in at the time.” He also changed his diet, and started to cook at home. “I was able to understand exactly what I was consuming and what it does to my body,” he says. And, while Geralds worked out regularly before his diagnosis, he “really got into fitness a little bit more.”
I was able to understand exactly what I was consuming and what it does to my body. Dex Geralds
Geralds ended up leaving his restaurant job, which he “hated,” and became a fitness trainer. “Now I have this awesome job where I can help people live better, longer lives,” he explains. “My life changed quite a bit after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.”
Geralds’ days usually revolve around health.
He wakes up around 4 or 4:30 a.m. and immediately checks his blood sugar. If it’s higher than Geralds prefers, he’ll drink a big glass of water. Then, he’ll do stretches to wake up.
Next, he has breakfast, which usually consists of avocado spread onto sourdough toast, with bacon, eggs and pepper jack cheese. He also likes to have mixed greens on the side.
Geralds sees private fitness clients around 6:30 a.m. and then works out for about two hours. “Sometimes my blood sugar can spike, depending on what kind of workout I do,” he says, so he may have a shake with protein and creatine to try to help.
When Geralds returns home, he’ll have dinner, which might consist of grilled meat and vegetables like asparagus. “I know sauces can be pretty sugary, especially BBQ sauce, so I just control it by keeping sauce on the side,” he explains.
Now, Geralds is trying to clear up misconceptions about type 2 diabetes.
“Some of the misconceptions people have about type 2 diabetes is that it comes from people who don't take care of themselves — they don’t exercise, they don’t eat well,” Geralds says. “My diet might have not been the best when I was diagnosed, but I was exercising regularly and I ate well for the most part when I could.”
Understand that it’s not your fault that you have type 2 diabetes. Genetics is a big factor. Dex Geralds
Geralds says he was diagnosed because of genetics, pointing out that both his mother and father had diabetes. “Understand that it’s not your fault that you have type 2 diabetes,” he says. “Genetics is a big factor.”
Now, Geralds dedicates his time to helping others with their own health. “I’ve always just enjoyed helping people, especially people living with diabetes or have prediabetes,” he says. “Knowing that I can touch someone in a way that helps improve their quality of life, that’s my job on Earth — to be able to give back.”