099. Josh Wit: Diabetes, training, and balance

Episode summary

Josh Wit LINK (250)
Josh Wit

Diagnosed at age 18, diabetes has simply been a fact of life for Josh Wit. He discusses traveling to Germany and his experiences training and living with diabetes. Josh unpacks why he loves workshops and training with community. He shares stories of how diabetes affects his practice, and his thoughts on training and community.

Josh Wit is an engineer turned parkour practitioner, coach, and organizer. He is a parkour coach with the Brisbane Parkour Association (of which he is also the vice president), and has traveled globally to visit other communities and events. Josh has been training parkour for many years, despite being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes prior to beginning his training.

Highlight [0:00]

Josh (00:00:04):
I have met people and I’ve trained with people, and I’ve learned from them and we’ve shared, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing because all this comes from somewhere. And not just somewhere, but someone. So almost everything that I do is inspired by someone else. I feel like I’d like to be more creative and I feel like there’s the potential for that, but actually, mostly what I do is derive very strongly from someone else and hopefully face to face as well. That’s the best. I mean, you live it and you feel it. You feel what they felt when they did it, and then you bring it away with you and you make it your own. But it’s not only your own, it came from them.

Introduction [0:54]

Germany and travel [2:14]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Decision to move to Germany, why Germany
  • Moved first, then began looking for a job
  • Transitioning, choice to move, thought process
  • Attitude towards travel, internalizing experiences

Diabetes [11:31]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Type 1 vs Type 2, difference between each
  • Diagnosed at 18, quick process for him
  • Sharing his experiences, how diabetes affects him and how he manages it
  • Body awareness, learning when your body needs fuel, tracking blood sugar as a tool
  • Process of learning to listen and be aware of your body
“I guess that what you're talking about with hyper awareness, that's sort of what happens, is that you don't go to that extreme anymore of you've twinged your arm and then you do 50 laches. It's way more sensitive than that. It's do you feel off right now, so should you be doing that one and a half meter precision to that low wall because if that off feeling causes you to miss that wall, it's going to suck. Yeah, it's sort of like... it doesn't force you, because I didn't feel forced. But I had to learn over a long period of time that... wait a minute, if I actually start listening to what my body's telling me, the outcome is better even if it might hurt the ego at the time. That's a huge practice.”

Josh Wit

Craig (00:15:34):
And we trained together. And you’re in better shape than I am and I think you physically can do more than I can. So I would’ve never went like, “Wow. You strike me as a type 1 diabetic.” So I’m wondering do you agree with that read, like it doesn’t seem to slow you down? Or was there a time when it did? Or is it just like, “Oh, yeah. I figured that out when I was 18 plus 2 months, and now it’s just part of who I am”?

Josh (00:15:58):
That question pretty much nails what I feel I need to communicate to people about it for me. So that is that I think I started for a long time when I got it with the mindset that I wouldn’t project it to anyone. So I think that’s again because of my personality, I would try to hide it essentially, that I had it. Not in a like, “I need to hide this.” But just if I can, I just won’t project that it’s a thing for me. And that-

Craig (00:16:32):
Maybe this disease doesn’t identify me?

Josh (00:16:34):
Yeah.

Craig (00:16:35):
Doesn’t define me?

Josh (00:16:37):
So for a long time, like years and years and years, that’s how I would deal with it. And it’s only quite recently, maybe over the last five or six years, that I’ve started to take it onboard as more, “Look, it maybe doesn’t define me but it’s what I have to deal with. And therefore why can’t anyone else know about that?” So that would’ve been partly answering your question in that I was actually making a point of not projecting to anyone that it was a thing. And then I guess I was fortunate in that it didn’t slow me down that much and that’s just sort of luck because there are different levels or severalties of the condition.

Continue reading…

Josh (00:17:19):
And it so happens that I don’t have as random a sugar level control as some other people have. So, yes, I just have to pay just as much attention to it as they do but it seems to be a little bit smoother for me. So I think that’s partly the reason why I didn’t have to project it to people. For some people who are type 1, if they were in Évry and they were at the training event, they would have to project it because they’d be like, “In the next five minutes I could collapse in front of you.”

Craig (00:17:48):
Collapse in front of you.

Josh (00:17:49):
[crosstalk 00:17:49], why that is. Whereas for me, for a long time it just wasn’t that way for me. So I could get away with pretending to everyone that I didn’t have it. And so I was quite fortunate. And I managed it. Yeah, just that’s how I managed it. And it was not easy but it worked. So I can explain how it would affect me if you want?

Craig (00:18:16):
Yeah, sure. I mean, I’m super interested. I did all my Wikipedia homework and I went, “This is complicated.” But… Yeah, I’m curious to know what you think are the aspects of it and the features of it that you would want to share with people, of the disease.

Josh (00:18:32):
I think I would want to give a disclaimer, and that disclaimer is that I am not an endocrinologist or a specialist on diabetes. And, again, my mindset of not projecting it to anyone else, I sort of didn’t project it for myself either. So I’m not an expert on it. I was just like, "Look, “I’ll do what they tell me to do and I’ll manage it as best I can. But that’s it. And the rest I’ll just ignore.” If the doctor says I’m doing well, then I’m going to hear the doctor and say, “Yes, I’m doing well,” and I’ll keep doing what I do. So I’m not an expert. But I think what I can share is the fact that I have it and hopefully people will get something out of that, the fact that I have combined two activities and I have an experience of some sort.

Josh (00:19:21):
So with diabetes you can have hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Hypo is low blood sugar, so lack of the normal level of sugar in the blood. And hyper is too much over the normal of sugar in the blood. Generally with exercise, so specific to parkour or any other physical activity, hyper is… hypo, sorry. So hypo with an “O” at the end will be what the immediate aspect requiring immediate-

Craig (00:19:55):
That’s where the wall is, right?

Josh (00:19:58):
So that’s when there is so little sugar in the blood to be transported into the cells that the cells, including the muscle cells, don’t get the energy they need. So you’re literally trying to move muscles that aren’t being fed with their source of energy, that’s hypo. And that’ll stop you fairly quickly. So to combat that, whether you noticed at the time or whether people noticed, I would have probably sugary things with me. So bars are the easiest thing because they’ve got a wrapper so you don’t have to… they’re not jelly beans which can go everywhere. A bar is one thing, you open it up, you eat it, and it’s all good. So that would’ve been why I do that because otherwise I would not touch confectionary. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I don’t really-

Craig (00:20:45):
Don’t have a sweet tooth. Almost have an anti-sweet tooth. I’m so sick, I’m having to eat sweets as a form of intervention.

Josh (00:20:55):
Yeah, so that’s one thing I would do. And that was the main preventative measure when I felt light-headed or weak essentially is what you feel. I think everyone feels, everyone can have a hypo at some point in their life. Everyone probably has. So when you haven’t eaten much and you demand your body to move a lot, your body’s controls can, despite the fact that you don’t have type 1 diabetes, can still be over… what do you call it? Over-

Craig (00:21:27):
Overtaxed, and-

Josh (00:21:29):
Overtasked. Exactly. And so if you’ve ever felt weak and you’re just like plodding along, it could be because you’ve got slightly low blood sugar. So that’s what I feel. And that’s another thing with type 1 diabetics, the doctor asks me, “How sensitive are you?” So can you feel what’s going on, because that’s important as well. If you can’t feel it, then you end up collapsing with no warning signs.

Craig (00:21:53):
No warning. Do you test yourself? Do you go, “Oh, I think that feels like hypo,” and then do a quick blood sugar test to see how good you are? Are you able to dial in that Spidey tingle sense for how accurate you can become?

Josh (00:22:09):
Spidey tingle sense, I like that. It changes from day to day, from week to week, which is one of the annoying things. So sometimes you’ll think, “Yeah, I’ve got it dialed. I know exactly when things are what they are.” But then sometimes it’ll throw you, like maybe you have a bit of an infection or some other stressor, it’ll throw it out and then you’ve got to recalculate again. So, yes, testing is another thing which has changed recently. So I recently got one of these things. [inaudible 00:22:43]. It’s a continuous glucose monitor. So that enables me to use a near-field communication device. It’s a little thing about that big and it allows me to see whenever I want what the blood sugar level is, which is a huge advantage compared with fingerprint testing.

Craig (00:23:03):
Right. Well, plus you could be like, “Okay. What if I eat this?” And then you could just watch and [inaudible 00:23:10]. And you can actually treat food more like a tool or particular types of food and particular boluses as tools.

Josh (00:23:15):
Absolutely, absolutely. Yes, that’s the huge advantage of it. You can start to understand how your body reacts and not just use a blunt instrument to… I’ve just eaten a huge bar of sugar, so I know that I’ll be [inaudible 00:23:29] and that’s it.

Workshop experiences [28:15]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Bridge drop story from Évry Move
  • Progressive nature of workshops, building trust, creating an experience
  • Creating a potential for epiphanies and discovery, a ‘zone’
  • Sharing in the experience of people making advances and breaking boundaries
“But on top of that, and this is why I called it a defining moment, or one of those defining moments, was the way that the workshops are run, either intentionally or subconsciously, I'm not really sure which. But the way that they're run, the way that it comes across to me, is that they're progressive. In every session it seems to be a progression towards some sort of progress, some sort of leap, some sort of... it doesn't have to be a literal leap, but some sort of epiphany every time a session is run. So it starts off with the warmup and then it just gets more and more involved. And I think the energy of the people and the people running it, so Yamakasi in this case, just lends itself into a natural point where you trust the suggestions that are being made to you, which is climb over this railing and drop off a bridge.

You trust that the person understands where you’re at and that they will help you if you need it, and that you’re allowed to back away if you don’t want to do it. All of those things come into this zone basically. I felt like I was in the zone of, “Yeah, I can do this. I’m going to do this and it will be totally fine.” And I’ve experienced that multiple times. And I think it’s not by accident, it’s as in there is a very good reason why it culminates in an experience like that due to the organization and the way that it’s run.”


Josh Wit

Storytime [40:30]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Two stories; one diabetes, one to honor a friend
  • Hypoglycemic episode during International Gathering
  • The line between protecting himself and allowing himself to make excuses
  • Story of his visit to Gato, training with him, and what he taught Josh

Craig (00:47:49):
Thank you for sharing that story because I think it’s an honest… not a wake-up call for yourself, but it takes some chutzpah to own up to it. I really should’ve maybe not gone that far, but at the very least I should have pre-staged people who knew what was going on. The coaches should’ve all been aware. But then the other side of that is if they’re all aware are they going to treat me the same? That’s an interesting question.

Josh (00:48:12):
That’s also part of the whole hiding it or keeping it under wraps is… Well, there are two sides to it actually. The one is that you don’t want to be treated differently necessarily. And, two, I don’t want to make excuses for myself. That’s another thing. It’s like… Yeah, it feels like once you’ve let the cat out of the bag, then all of a sudden or from then on, from that point into the future, you’ve got this go-to excuse which is just to me, that was one thing that held me back, I think a lot too. And that’s something that I think I’ve accepted now. And it’s like, “Well, if that’s what I feel or that’s what other people feel I’m doing, they’re going to have to deal with it and I’m going to have to deal with it.” Yeah, it’s either one or the other.

Continue reading…

Josh (00:49:05):
And I’ve chosen the one where people know and if that means I’m protecting myself and ensuring longevity and that sort of thing, and also helping other people not to stress so much about me after the fact, but it also means that I’m opening myself up to that easy out of like, “Oh, I’m not going to participate because I need to eat right now.” It just leaves that option open.

Craig (00:49:35):
It is? But is that really a hazard for you? Do you really think that you’re going to take the easy out? I don’t think Josho’s going to take the easy out.

Josh (00:49:42):
Well, that’s the thing. It’s like I would like that to be the case but that’s never happened, that never happens. But… Yeah, that’s one other aspect that I’ve thought about which I feel has to be taken into account and that’s just how it is. But in a way it was a great experience to finally understand that people need to know and that they would take care of me in an incredible way, which they did. And there was no negative after that. There was no negative impact of that decision or of that occurrence. It was all positive. So that was a great thing that happened, I think. And it wasn’t a huge medical emergency. Again, to reiterate, some people in that situation that would be a massive medical emergency. But because I’m fortunate with my particular condition, it’s less so. I’ve got an easier time of it. (/highlight)

Josh (00:51:30):
So I met an inspirational person called Federico, and his nickname was Gato. He’s from Italy, Parkour Wave. Sadly he passed away two years ago, which affected me quite greatly, surprisingly. But he taught me a lot in a very short period of time, which sort of blew me away at the time. So this is one anecdote of my experience with that. So I stayed with him in his old town, they called it Città Rialzata. Città Rialzata, which is raised city. So that’s like an old town where you’ve got the wall all around and low-lying sort of suburbs around. And he was staying right in the middle there. And I was staying with him, which was awesome. The Parkour Passport was in [inaudible 00:52:38]. I mean, especially with people like that.

Josh (00:52:41):
And one morning he said to me… or one evening he said, “I’m going to train tomorrow. I’m going to do my regular training.” And he said, “I’ll wake you up early in the morning and we’ll go for a run and some other stuff.” So in the morning he woke me up and he put his shoes on, that’s pretty much all he did. He had his shorts and shirt, shoes on. I put my shoes on. I probably made sure that I wasn’t going to go hypo, that was probably part of it. So like five minutes, pretty much five minutes from getting up out of bed out the door, jog down the road on the… what do you call it? The ring road sort of thing around the raised city. And then up on the wall and jogging on the wall, doing some climb-up reps on the outside of the wall. So when I say wall, it’s a fairly sizeable wall.

Continue reading…

Craig (00:53:41):
It’s meant to repel invaders, right?

Josh (00:53:43):
Yes. So climb-up reps, repetitions. Which I assume most of your listeners will-

Craig (00:53:52):
Oh, people can look up [climb-o 00:53:53] if they don’t know what it is.

Josh (00:53:56):
And then he would do some handstand repetitions on the wall as well. I did them in a different way where I felt like I wasn’t going to fall off. And then some precisions, and then finishing with sitting on the wall watching the sun rise and doing some breathing exercises. And that was, to me, the first time I’d really experienced someone’s… such a dedicated approach to the training, so living it so fully. Not the only time but that was a very good example of that sort of introduction or exposure to someone’s personal philosophy in training. Yeah, that was one of the examples that struck me about him and his approach. And I guess that’s why maybe it’ll stick with me for a long time and probably forever. He had a number of sayings or things that he said, which I still remember and try to… what do you call it? Follow, or recognize in my training.

Training and community [55:22]

3 words [59:01]

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Craig (00:59:01):
Yeah, there’s a metaphor of going to a well. And every time I put the bucket in the well, it’s like, “Oh, it’s tasty, sweet water.” And then at some point I’m like… I know that the well’s going to run dry. So at some point I have to just stop or the conversations would go on forever. This would be the point where somebody would need to stand up and go get like another tea or something. So maybe we’ll just say that’s a great place to wrap up for today. And I’ll just say, and of course the final question. Three words to describe your practice.

Josh (00:59:30):
Okay. So I haven’t come up with an answer in advance. I have listened to your podcast.

Craig (00:59:36):
It has become a thing.

Josh (00:59:38):
[inaudible 00:59:38] and thought to prepare. So I will come up with it. I did mention balanced. I did mention balance, sorry, and I said that was my strong point. So I think I would like to say balanced. And I’m not sure if it’s entirely true and I think maybe someone can only ever strive for it. So let’s just say I’m striving for balance in as many ways as that would… what is it? Implies, not just the physical, you’re in the middle on the rail, but also balanced in terms of not focusing too much on one thing, trying to keep a bigger picture, making sure that the mind is also taken into account, not just the physical. That sort of balanced as well. That’s what I’m striving for, I think. What else?

Josh (01:00:40):
I think cautious is very much, [inaudible 01:00:44]. And in many ways I suppose it is good, but in many ways caution can be misplaced. And I feel like over the years that’s been a challenge of mine, to not overdo caution. But I don’t know, I’m still here. I still have use of both my legs. So maybe it was the right amount. But… Yeah, cautious, cautious. Third thing to describe my training, right?

Craig (01:01:25):
Yeah, but you’re allowed to choose whatever idea of the word training you like. So I think you’re doing great.

Josh (01:01:34):
I don’t know. You might be able to help me with the word that describes this. But I sort of touched it on already, and that is that I really like finding sources of inspiration and utilizing them and integrating them into what I do. I suppose in this fairly natural way. I don’t really write it down. [inaudible 01:02:04]. Sometimes I do write it down. Sometimes I write things down that I learn and I go back to it and I think, “Yeah, that’s a good thing.” But generally speaking I don’t feel like I need to write it down. I feel like the people that I’ve met cause it to be remembered much more easily. So I’m trying to think of a word that describes seeking people and what they’ve got to show, what they’ve got to give, what they’ve… Yeah, that sort of thing, what they’ve got to share. Their energy and their passion, it seems that can be applied in my own practice. And so far it definitely is because it’s most of my practice. So seeking?

Craig (01:02:51):
Seeking is… I don’t like to get involved in people’s answers because people say, “I don’t know what word to pick.” And they always get to a word at the end that works. Seeking is really good word to choose there. Seeking. Either seeking or seeker or to seek. You are not the first person to use that word. There are a lot of answers to that question. So… Yeah, I think that’s a super thoughtful… I really like that because those three words are different kinds of ideas. They highlight different aspects of who you are, sort of point in different directions.

Contact and further info

You can connect with Josh via facebook, and the Brisbane Parkour Association. For further information on diabetes, you can visit the following links: Diabetes Australia, wikipedia