Q&A with LivingVertical founder Stephen Richert

With permission from Team LivingVertical

LivingVertical founder Steve Richert climbing in Coopers Rock, VW. | With permission from Team LivingVertical |

Climb your way to the top.


Steve with his wife Stephanie and their newborn baby. | With permission from Team LivingVertical |

Steve with his wife Stefanie and their newborn baby. | With permission from Team LivingVertical |

Steve Richert founded Living Vertical in August 2011. His website says LivingVertical was born, “to create and promote a ‘new normal’ of life with diabetes by showing PWD (People with diabetes) taking on extraordinary feats in the vertical world. We are committed to changing the perception of diabetes and its limitations through our Films and Climbing Projects.”

Steve is ready to break history and needs your support. Check out his video about what his latest project is all about.

Steve was nice enough to do a Q&A with me. As you’ll see below, Steve answers with honesty and heart.

His answers really blew me away and I hope you can appreciate the depth of his answers as I do.

How has physical activity helped you in your diabetes management?

Physical activity (in general) is one non-medical thing we can do to improve our health and combat diabetes. It is how we can take control and “reverse” the sickness by increasing health. I think simply the psychological element of that has been the most beneficial element. It also gives a positive incentive to all of the dietary micromanagement. My wife one day pointed out that my dietary regimen is akin to an olympic athlete and I realized that fine tuning our diet to yield higher performance is a gift that diabetes has given me. Fitness and physical activity is how we capitalize on that.
Climbing came along when I got burned out on fitness for fitness sake. Going to the gym and exercising to look better or feel better just stopped really motivating me after several years. I spent some time in the “hating exercise” boat. Turned out, I needed to have a reason to be exercising, a narrative that was more than just trying to outplay the diabetes. Getting outside and being free–getting exercise but not “exercising” led me to photography and filmmaking and it gave me a reason that, in plain speak, did not suck–to be pushing myself further–and finding ways to bring my diabetes with me.
Lows during exercise…I adjust my mealtimes such that my bolus is out of my system around the time that I start exercising. This makes highs gentle enough that they settle out of their own accord and lows “slow” enough that I am not scrambling to pack my face with sugar. I can usually get by eating what feels like normal snacks at regular intervals. Avoiding the rapid is the key.
With permission from Team LivingVertical

This is Blake McCord, drilling on the lead on a recent new route expedition on the Acopan Tepui in Venezuela. What might not be obvious is that Blake has had #diabetes since he was ten. There’s a lot that’s not obvious about diabetes, like the fact that it can make you stronger and more motivated to #gobeyond. | Caption & photo with permission from Team LivingVertical |

How do you create a healthy living environment when so much of what you do revolves around diabetes?

Staying positive has been my mission- to push back against both the “woe is me” and the somewhat carnivorous nature of diabetes advocacy- not by calling it out others, but simply by offering a clear alternative and letting those who can see the difference choose for themselves. Most people don’t understand the challenges of being truly grassroots unless they have experienced it themselves.
At times it feels like being stranded on this island where you write and write and post and publish and plan and work- only to have people seemingly not care.  Seeing the feeding frenzy for pharmaceutical industry dollars and not being the one getting flown to conferences all over the world and being hailed as a hero for creating newer, softer marketing for device and drug sales can get under your skin if you lose focus on why you’re there.
You have to find a way to make it fun. Care less and be free. Caring too much- or should I say, being too attached to an outcome- is not good. You have to follow your heart. Creating change and real advocacy isn’t just flowery nonsense- it’s gritty and raw in its execution. It’s rock and roll, not Justin Bieber. You have to abandon all of the modeling out there and let your advocacy come from the heart- where you hold onto the things worth fighting for. When you start to care or get weighed down by the struggle- step out of the ring and recharge.
I had a moment like that recently. My personal life was a wreck. I was about to become a parent. I was broke and pouring all my time and effort into making another climbing project that no one cared about. I was almost in tears on a daily basis- staying up till 4 am publishing blogs, getting no comments, meager amounts of likes on social media. It wasn’t good for me any more. So I stepped away. Took some time to cool off and stop feeling like I owed anyone anything to enjoyed my daughters arrival. I realized that none of this stuff really matters other than the good it does- so if it’s not doing any good, let it go!
Then I decided that I felt like getting my hands dirty again. So now I am back in the fight. But the difference is that now I am going at it for me. I’m not expecting anything from it so I am free to let it be organic.
I don’t think I have found balance. I only know that I am able to embrace what I do fully or step away from it fully- and feel good about it either way. Feeling that freedom is how I cope. Once you lose the freedom, the joy won’t last.
Awesome day out #bouldering with @laudahl who grabbed this photo--we beat the rain by enough time to get in a good session and some laps on this particular problem that I finally sent the other day after years of backing off the spicy moves up high. My hand is feeling good and my #diabetes is doing nothing. Just hanging out with me while I #climb. | Text & photo with permission from Team LivingVertical |

Awesome day out #bouldering with @laudahl who grabbed this photo–we beat the rain by enough time to get in a good session and some laps on this particular problem that I finally sent the other day after years of backing off the spicy moves up high. My hand is feeling good and my #diabetes is doing nothing. Just hanging out with me while I #climb.
| Text & photo with permission from Team LivingVertical |

What can we, as adults living with type 1 diabetes, do to become empowered? 

When we get diabetes, the add-on that we get which is never diagnosed is fear. Diabetes is simple enough to treat if you are disciplined and diligent. Certainly there are highs and lows, but not to the point of debilitation. Fear of those highs and lows are where we are held back. Overcome the fear and we overcome diabetes, for diabetes has no teeth for a disciplined, active person–aside from fear. There is no cure for diabetes, but there is a cure for fear.
Being empowered is about managing risk. Facing and defeating fear. Understanding that we have the ability to live life for the positives that motivate us and not be chasing our diabetes everywhere. Many people with diabetes spend their lives waging war on their diabetes like a parent might chase an unruly 2 year old on a bender–but diet and exercise if taken seriously can CHANGE that and put you back in control. It takes willingness to experiment gradually and always be learning.
Empowerment is rolling up your sleeves and finding a way.


With permission from Team LivingVertical

With permission from Team LivingVertical

What do you feel are the positives and negatives of being a diabetic in the world of social media? 

I dont know that there are special positives and negatives of social media that relate to diabetes aside from my tirade on question #2. I think the danger of all social media is that it promotes the idea that sitting on ass and talking about things is just as useful as actually getting out into the real world and doing something that makes a difference.

I have tapped into social media because I realized that that is where I would find the people who needed to hear what I had to say. Ironically my message is all about getting out and not staying on social media. There is a sacrifice that happens for me to spend as much time creating content for others when I could be playing.

Bullying and depression are huge problems. None of which have solutions on computers. Both of which are improved by simply getting outside into nature and moving. I suppose it’s good for people to have an outlet to vent about their diabetes which social media does provide, but it also can lead to an unhealthy focus on diabetes instead of the things that make diabetes worth managing. Honestly I am insulated from a lot of these issues with kids. I have heard some about them, but I don’t “get out much” in the diabetes world, being consumed with my own projects–asI’m sure you can imagine!
These are the people with diabetes I have heard of and want to reach. If they know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, then that makes everything worthwhile. Much of what I do is trying to get the parents to back off and let their child be empowered, because the road to hell is paved with good intentions and well meaning parents coddle and baby their kids so much that they fear everything and stand out socially. If parents believe you’re sick and fragile and raise you that way…it’s likely that you will see yourself that way and be easily discouraged. Having just become a parent though, I have recently learned that taking advice on how to raise your child is something that is not easily taken in stride…

Thank you again Steve for your time and sharing your insights. We can all achieve whatever we desire. You have reminded me of that.


With permission from Team LivingVertical

With permission from Team LivingVertical

Support LivingVertical

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The Ottawa half-marathon countdown is on! Plus a 38-second video for Connected in Motion


This time next week I’ll be getting ready to head to Ottawa! The time has really flown by.



My left calf is hit and miss so we will just see! Some days, ultra pain, others, nothing at all. I’ll leave it up to the running gods. Either way I will cross the finish line. I’ll crawl if I have to!

Click below to read previous posts on my half-marathon:

My first Ottawa half-marathon training starts tomorrow

Double decker workouts. Half-marathon training update + Toronto’s Nike Training Club


I know I’ve put in the time and trained hard, so I’m hoping to improve my time from my first half-marathon. Out of everything though, what I’m looking forward to most is hanging out with some great people. Even if the run doesn’t turn out well, I will remember this…

My Ottawa half-marathon is to raise funds for an organization close to my heart. A big thank you to everyone who has donated! So many people have been so generous.

There are many of you whom I have never met and know me through social media. I cannot tell you how honoured I am that you have chosen to take your hard-earned money and give it to Connected in Motion through my fundraising campaign. Donations have come from the UK, USA, and all over Canada. A more detailed post on all who donated after the race!

Aside from Shawn Shepheard, I have never met any of these people in person. I hope that will change one day.


I hope to provide you with timely updates from Ottawa. In fact, I am planning to tweet throughout my run! We will be tweeting with the hashtag #TeamCIM so look out for it!

Again, so much gratitude to those who have donated. Every bit helps and I know the money will go a long way to provide vital programming. I have found confidence, education, friendship and peace because I belong to Connected in Motion.

If you’re interested in donating, please click here.


© t1dactiveliving.com All Rights Reserved.



Timesulin: a sale in Canada rn + help bring them to all of North America

Whip out the pen, it’s time to inject!

I don’t like needles, but taking out my insulin pen usually means I’m about to eat… and I love to eat.

Despite my best efforts, sometimes I forget if I’ve taken my shot. Then I’m left with the dilemma: Do I give myself another dose? Or just wait it out and see what happens?

After posting a Facebook status similar to this…



A few people recommended Timesulin.

With permission | Timesulin


Timesulin is a replacement cap for your insulin pen. It provides a timer that lets you know the last time you took off the cap. Pretty genius!


Timesulin products are available in Canada through Diabetes Express. I checked and right now they are $10 off selling at $29.99 each.

Currently the company is in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the FDA approval process in the US.

If Timesulin reaches their goal, Canadians will be eligible for a special discount on their products if they donate at the $69 USD level.

Photo with permission, Timesulin

Photo with permission, Timesulin

Unfortunately there’s no Timesulin product for my particular pen at the moment, but the idea behind it sounds great and extremely helpful for pen users like me. The customer service I did get from the company was fantastic, and they e-mailed me asking for help spreading the word on their US campaign. After some research, I decided to write up a short post (for us Canadians of course!)

Help support your friends across the border get access to this product and/or take advantage of the ongoing sale here.

Now for the song that instantly popped into my head when I first heard about Timesulin…




What’s a poker run? Costumes, cards and charity. Running Room’s Ride to Conquer Cancer fundraiser

“Do you want to come with me to a 5km charity poker run?”

“What’s a poker run?”

“At each kilometre, a sealed envelope is handed to every runner containing a card. When the race is over, the runner hands over all his or her envelopes. They are opened by race volunteers who reveal what you got. Prizes are handed out to the best and worst hand. Proceeds go to Ride to Conquer Cancer.”

I immediately said yes.

So off I went to make some last minute poker-themed attire.


My headband. M&M’s aces all around.

Matching card patches

Matching card patches

Here are some of the creative costumes I saw.

There was a great crowd out and together we trekked through the snow and tackled one nasty hill that seemed to go on forever.

Anticipating the next card and what it might hold made this run completely different. So fun!

Grabbing my third card. Thank you to all the volunteers who braved the cold.

Grabbing my third card. Thank you to all the volunteers who braved the cold.

Turns out I wasn’t so lucky.

photo 1

But I felt like a winner.

Raising money for charity, experiencing a unique race experience, running, meeting new people and dressing up.

I’ll be back next year,