Imagine opening up your email first thing in the morning and instead of the usual memo from the boss or spammy pitches pushing some ridiculous product, you see a note from the Sea-Peptide Adventure Academy, designed to help you live better with diabetes by developing new, positive habits.
That's the idea of fellow type 1 and advocate Erin Spineto, who lives in San Diego, CA, and some may remember as author of the Islands and Insulin book.
Erin is an eighth grade science teacher and mom to two girls. She's lived with T1D since 1996 and thrives as a surfer, sailor, and triathlete who was very involved with D-athletes group Insulindepence over the years.
Her latest undertaking is helping bring that sense of adventure to the rest of our Diabetes Community. This definitely earns her a spot in our ongoing series of Amazing Diabetes Advocates!
I got a firsthand look at this new program at the recent diabetes advocacy MasterLab event in Orlando, when Erin made a splash with her fun use of blue Altoids tins to promote this new idea.
Although the little tin isn't part of the official marketing or rollout of this program, Erin thought it served as a fun "advanced reader's copy" to promote her new program.
When you open up the tin, you see:
Ooooh, how suspenseful and... (wait for it) -- adventurous! :)
And then up flips a poem, before getting to the actual contents of the tin:
The whole message is "turning diabetics into adventurers."
Here's what Erin says about the Sea-Peptide Academy:
DM) Hey, Erin! What's the skinny on the "adventure" theme of this new program?
The Sea Peptide Adventure Academy launches on August 15. It's actually a curriculum designed to teach people with diabetes how to use adventure to increase their motivation to take care of their diabetes. It comes in 20 emails organized in four modules over 8 weeks that will teach them how to Dream, Plan, Train for and Execute and adventure of their own. It covers topics like why adventure works to motivate, how to build new habits, nutrition principals, and how to use adventure to encourage others.
Why are you doing this?
After having diabetes for 12 years, I was depressed and letting diabetes win the battle. I had no motivation to take care of myself any longer. So what if I had complications in 50 years? When I started hanging with the people at Insulindependence around 2008, I was surrounded by people who were out doing amazing things. They were running ultra marathons and doing Ironman Triathlons. It was so motivating for me!
It made me want to do something of an adventure, too. So I chose a 100-mile solo sail in the Florida Keys. My doctor told me I couldn't do that with diabetes. But the moment I started planning the trip, my motivation to take care of myself start to build.
I no longer had to take care of myself just to stave off some future complications; now had to get things figured out so I could sail safely. Diabetes became just another part of my training. Three years after that trip, I was starting to languish again so I planned another adventure, the 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West. And my motivation soared again. Now, every year, I plan an adventure.
I had figured out this way to stay motivated over the long haul, but I felt a little selfish keeping the secret formula to myself. So I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out a way to share this with other people. Out of that process the Sea Peptide Adventure Academy was born.
And the name Sea-Peptide is of course a play-on words...
Yes. I wish I could take credit but (diabetes researcher extraordinaire) Nate Heintzman came up with it, as a fun play off C-Peptide, so central to diabetes. He wanted me to name my boat Sea Peptide, but I refused. Instead, I named my publishing company that and then went with the Sea Peptide Salties for my blog.
Very cool. And there's a related program called Quest going on right now as well, right?
Yes, as a way to get people excited and spread the word about the Adventure Academy, I started the Sea Peptide Quest program on July 9 and it runs through July 30 (this next week!).
Participants are challenged to take on 8 mini-adventures, take a picture of themselves on each with the Quest downloadable, and then post to their social media platforms with the hashtags #SeaPeptideQuest and #diabetes. When they finish, they email me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) and they will be added to the VIP list to get the Academy program for $20 (half price) on August 1 -- two weeks before it becomes available to the general public.
What exactly are these "mini-adventures"?
Some of them won't take more than a minute of your time. Some of the easiest are #7: Do Something Silly... That could be going up the down escalator, walking barefoot, riding a grocery cart, or something else quick and silly. Or #6: Make Your Someday-I-Will list of things you want to do one day. Or #5: Do the Usual in an Unusual Way, like running a different path than normal, working out at a different time of day, riding your bike to work, sitting in the sun during your lunch break, and so on. For the rest, check out the downloadable checklist.
How did you decide on the format of an email-based motivational program?
I chose email as the delivery tool for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to give people time to implement each section. When I read a book full of great ideas, I often don't want to set it down to really chew on each idea, because I just want to finish the book. And then, at the end, I really haven't gotten as much out of it as I would have liked. I prefer to limit the rate of consumption by delivering each component through emails spaced three days apart, which really gives people time to digest each concept and put it into practice.
I also know that for some people, committing to reading a whole book can be overwhelming. But everyone reads email on a daily basis. Each email takes between 2-9 minutes to read, which is easy enough to fit into small corners of your life.
What's the cost and what does that money go toward, specifically?
The cost is $40, which gets you the email curriculum, and lifetime access to the Sea Peptide Adventure Academy Community where you can chat with other people in the Academy to brainstorm adventure ideas, trade tips on diabetes care, and hopefully continue your motivation.
And adventurers can get a copy of your book, as part of this Academy?
You can purchase the Academy and a signed copy of Islands and Insulin for $55. (click here for our review of the book published in May 2013.)
What do you hope to accomplish with all of this?
It is nearly impossible to keep doing a good job with diabetes care for 40 or 50 years. At some point we will all get burnt out if we are relying solely on our own willpower to do the right thing. We can only push ourselves so hard, for so long. If people can tap into the unlimited motivational support that adventure brings, then the whole job of diabetes management will seem a lot less daunting and they'll have an easier time sticking to good practices. I want diabetes to be easier!
How big is your team, and what plans do you have for expansion?
At this point, it's just me. Which means after my full-time teaching gig and spending time with my husband and kids, it is my second full-time job.
As far as expansion, I take a team with me on each of my adventures, so that's another way to get involved. This July I took two type 2s and a type 1 researcher on my 100-mile stand up paddle boarding trip. And I am always thinking of ways to expand in the future, they're just not ready to go public yet.
Tell us about that paddle boarding adventure...
I just got back from that 100-mile stand up paddle trip from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Wilmington, North Carolina, which I have to admit ended up being 90-ish miles after we got run off the water by a thunderstorm and had to drive the last 10 miles for the day in a Designated Driver party bus.
It was four days of amazing scenery, incredibly hard paddling, and diabetes management while afloat. We did Dexcom CGM sensor changes and new pump insertions while on the water. We had one Humalog KwikPen break and needles bend. I even had to give myself an injection with syringe and vial in the middle of the Cape Fear River with four-foot swells. It makes taking care of diabetes on dry land seem so much simpler.
And I am in the planning stage of next year's adventure, which I think will involve a multi-day trip of around 50-75 miles on stand up paddle boards, open water swimming, hiking, and 20 or so miles on cruiser bikes.
Wow, Erin. Just WOW. On behalf of our Diabetes Community, thank you for being a champion of adventure and motivation for all!