“You know what, I have diabetes. It’s not going to change who I am.”
A lot of people would let an illness hold them back. Not Bella.
Bella hikes, travels the world, and occasionally hangs out of helicopters. She runs a blog where she shows people how to travel off the beaten path and explore outside of your hotel or resort. We met her in Vancouver at our Spin In Your Skin event earlier this month and were inspired by her go-getter attitude, her strength, and her ability to live life to the fullest and not let illness hold her back. Meet Bella Bucchiotti: celiac, Type 1 diabetic, and one hardcore adventurer.
You were diagnosed with diabetes later in life. What was that like?
About a year ago last June, I was feeling super thirsty. I was so dehydrated and I thought it was just because it was hot out. The next week, my leg started having that pins and needles feeling in it at nighttime. Then, the week after that, my vision got really, really blurry. I went to the clinic and told them there were some weird things going on. They checked my blood sugar and I was at a 30.1. You’re supposed to be at a 5! So they sent me to the hospital and I got diagnosed with diabetes then.
How has your life changed since then?
It’s been a challenge. I was so scared to eat when I first got diabetes. The first couple of months I was doing insulin injections, which made me gain like 25 pounds because I didn’t need all the insulin I was taking. I only needed half of it. Because I was so active, I was burning a lot of the sugars I was eating and didn’t need all the insulin that I had been putting in. So I went on an insulin pump, which is a wonderful gadget that looks like an iPod or pager, that is connected to me with a chord 24/7. I take it off to shower, but that’s about it. It’s really easy for me and nice when I go out with friends because it’s so discreet. Still now, I go for a 6 to 10K run in the morning and then I do interval training or strength training at nighttime just to gain muscle as well. It really helps to manage my diabetes.
You seem to live such a full and exciting life. How do you manage it all?
I’m so much happier [with the pump]. I’m like, “You know what, I have diabetes. It’s not going to change who I am. I’m still going to go on these rad adventures and do things that make me extremely happy, regardless of what I have.” So that’s the core of my blog: showing people that you don’t have to go to Mexico and stay in the hotel and drink, you can explore super cool caves, and you can go to Jamaica and go on a cool hike and get a different feel of the area.
At Spin In Your Skin and for our photoshoot with you, you chose to write the words “Acceptance” and “Body Love” on your skin. Why are those words important to you?
When I got diabetes, it was a real crusher for me to gain all that weight and to try to put on a pair of jeans that I’ve had forever and not be able to fit in them. It hurt me inside, and I refused to do anything while I tried to get back to where I was. I was getting all these scars from my insulin pump on my stomach and my hips. After everything, I looked at myself and I was like, “Honestly, I just have to accept what I look like and just be happy that I’m healthy and I’m doing what’s best for my body.”
What would you tell other girls your age going through the same thing?
Don’t listen to what people say or what people look like online. Go for a run, do what makes you happy. Do what makes you feel amazing and care about your body and treat your body like you know it’s great. Push the positivity out the window. Start your morning dancing. Who cares what everybody else thinks?