Welcome to our new website!
May 4, 2022

#69 Living in Freedom with Type 1 Diabetes; a chat with Lauren Bongiorno, founder and CEO of Risely Health

#69 Living in Freedom with Type 1 Diabetes; a chat with Lauren Bongiorno, founder and CEO of Risely Health

Meet Lauren Bongiorno! Founder and CEO of Risely Health, a diabetes health coaching company that is passionate about empowering those living with type 1 diabetes. Lauren was diagnosed with T1D when she was 7 years old and, as a product of her own diabetes journey, has made it her life's mission to teach others how to live in freedom with type 1 diabetes. Lauren shares about what she remembers from her diagnosis story and all about Risely health! Enjoy!

LINKS AND RESOURCES

Risely Health Website
Risely on
Instagram
Lauren on
Instagram
Reclaim your Rise
Podcast

PRODUCT FEATURE OF THE WEEK

Simpatch for
Dexcom
Simpatch for
Libre
Simpatch for
Omnipod
Unisolve Adhesive Remover
Support the show through Buy Me a Coffee!*

*Buy me a Coffee is a no strings attached way to support the show! Every donation given, whether it is a one time gift or a monthly membership, goes to making this podcast come to life each and every week. It helps fund things like the physical and virtual equipment needed to produce a podcast such as a website (I use Podpage), a recording platform (I use Squadcast), a podcast hosting platform (I use Buzzsprout) and editing software ( I use Descript). I truly appreciate support from listeners like you so, from teh very bottom of my insulin cartridge, thank you!

Support the show

Transcript

Katie:

This is episode 69 of the sugar mamas podcast. And today my guest is Lauren Bongiorno, founder and CEO of Risely health. Lauren is one of those super women who just seems to do it all and do it all really, really well. Plus, she's just a really nice person with lots of nuggets of wisdom to offer. Lauren has been living with type one diabetes since she was a young girl. And you'll get to hear all about that and started her diabetes coaching business officially back in 2015, more than anything else, Lauren is passionate about helping people live in freedom with type one diabetes. Also yoga, give Lauren some love wherever you listen to podcasts, because she just started her own type one diabetes podcast called reclaim your rise. I will leave a link in the show notes to where you can find it. All right, let's get start. You're listening to the sugar mamas podcast, a show designed for moms and caregivers of type one diabetics here. You'll find a community of like-minded people who are striving daily to keep their kids safe, happy, and healthy in the ever-changing world of type one. I'm your host and fellow T one D mom, Katie Roseboro. Before we get started. I need you to know that nothing you hear on the sugar mamas podcast should be considered medical advice. Please be safe, be smart, and always consult your physician before making changes to the way you manage type one diabetes. Thanks.

Lauren:

Thanks so much for having me on Katie. I'm really excited to talk and for everybody listening. So I'm Lauren Bongiorno. I was diagnosed with type one diabetes when I was seven years old. So I would say that. Most direct connection to diabetes, but I'm also the founder and CEO of Risely health, where we focus on diabetes, health coaching, and help people and families impacted by type one diabetes, really take ownership over their health and transform their lives with more freedom and more confidence. And. Focus on the blood sugars, but so much more beyond that and the emotions and the mindset pieces, and all of the really intricacies that you don't have time to focus on with your doctor, you know, a few times a year. So I would say that's a second connection that I have to diabetes and, and you know, why I'm excited to talk to you.

Katie:

I'm excited to ask you all about Risely health. I think it's such a great resource for the type one community. But first, first, I just want to say that I love your last name. Like, I didn't realize that's how you pronounced it. And when I went and I watched one of your like interviews with somebody else and I'm like, oh, it's Bon. Giorno like, that's like, it's hard to say that name without like, putting your hand up in the air. Like you're some sort of chef or something like that. I was like, I love it. And before we jump into your diabetes, health coaching business, Risely I would love it if you would just share, because you were diagnosed at an earlier age. And I would just love it kind of around the time that my daughter was diagnosed. So I'd love it. If you could you just share with listeners, like what you remember about your diagnosis story?

Lauren:

Oh, my gosh. Yes. It's like one of those, you know, early childhood memories that you just never get out of your head. Right. So I was diagnosed the day after Halloween, so it was November 1st and I have that, Assumption that follows me for the rest of my life of people who don't really know diabetes that, oh, you had too much candy and that's why your pancreas stopped working. But I'm like, no, not exactly, but, but yeah, I, you know, my parents were always like a healthy family in a sense. I was an athlete, even at a young age, I was playing soccer. I was running around and my parents didn't really know what type one diabetes was. And my mom just noticed the classic signs of. That was cranky. I was irritable. I was so thirsty all the time. I mean, I would look at like a pool of water and be like, mommy, like I can drink that whole thing. And she's like, that's strange. So, so yeah, she brought me to the doctor, the pediatrician's office, and I remember it was the first time I heard that. Cry. I a up until that age, I never really, she was, you know, your mom, your dad, like they don't cry. Like they have it together. You're the child. And I remember the doctor took her outside the room. I was sitting on. The, you know, the, the seat where they have you on the doctor and and the doctor's office. And I remember looking up and around and I was counting, there were monkeys and jungle animal animals on the walls, and they were out for so long that I started counting them. And I was like 1, 2, 3, 4. And I remember counting high and being like they're gone for a while. And then all of a sudden the thing that broke my. Focus was hearing. My mom has sterically crying and then talking to my dad on the phone and being like, we have to go to the hospital. We have to go there. They, she says, they say she has diabetes and just meet me there. And then she scooped me up. We went to the, to the hospital and I'm pretty sure nowadays. Stay, they don't keep families in the hospital as long as we were. I'm pretty sure we spent about like four nights in the hospital and my family, my grandparents, my parents rotated on sleeping in a car next to me and I didn't cry at all. I had no idea what was going on. It was like, I could acknowledge it. Something was wrong and I was sick, but I don't think I knew what the implication was for the rest of my life. And. Yeah, it was a lot of, a lot of tears from other people. And me trying to understand what that meant.

Katie:

That's interesting that you mentioned your mom crying because. I have no idea, but I do, if my kids have memories of me like crying at various points in time throughout their life, I feel like I don't cry very often in front of them. But yeah, that day in the hospital with my daughter, I was sobbing. And I remember her like doing a double-take like, what, what is going on? Like, why are you crying so much? And she was crying too. Like, she, I feel like. She probably didn't truly understand the implications for a restaurant, the rest of her life, either at that point in time. But it was just like the needles and the pokes and the pricks and everything. She was very upset about all that. But yeah, I tried to read her that Rufus, the bear book, like Rufus, I forget what the title of it is, but it's the book that comes with Rufus, the bear. And I was reading it to her and I could not get through it. I had to stop. I was just sobbing and I just remember her looking at me like she had stopped crying cause it was so. Foreign to her to see me crying that she had stopped crying and was just like, what is wrong with you?

Lauren:

Right. Well, it's even sometimes I've seen videos where, you? know, it's like parenting 1 0 1 or whatnot when your child is throwing a tantrum, if you want them to stop, like you throw a tantrum at the same time, because there'll be like, wait a second. Something's not right here in this dynamic. What's going on. But Yeah.

Katie:

I've done that. I've, I've tried that method a few times and it actually works. I feel like it's not the best parenting move. Cause I feel like you're, not acting on a level of maturity that you probably should act as a parent, but you know what, every now and then it works and yeah, it usually made him stop throwing the tantrum and just start laughing. So, anyway, it's funny. I'm just curious to know, like you said, you didn't really realize at the time what it meant for the rest of your life. Do you remember at what point in time in your childhood or like young adult life that you kind of really, that it really did Dawn on you that like, oh my goodness, this is, this is like 24, 365 until there's a cure.

Lauren:

I think from day one, I mean literally day one, it was like we left the hospital. So maybe day four, but we left the hospital and I had asked my dad for leftover Halloween candy. And I was just like, Hey, I'm going to take a piece of Snickers or kit Kit-Kat or whatnot. And it's so funny what you remember. And I remember him being like, kind of like frozen for a second. And you can see, like, in hindsight, he was thinking of like, what do I do in this situation? Like I was just told, like, here are better foods for her, but like, I also want her to be a kid. And what does that balance look like? And he was. Okay. And like gave it to me. And then he was like, Hey, want to go, like run around, outside? And then I was like, sure. So we like ran up and down, like my neighborhood Hills and I just thought we were playing, but it was his way of like equating the knowledge of what he learned to like, okay, like sugar going into the body. Like let's figure out how to make her more active. So her blood sugar doesn't go high from the candy. And I never really, really tied together that this was something that. Limiting or limiting to other people. Like I saw it as just a responsibility. I think one thing that my parents did really well, that helped me personally in my journey was we were always, we were always fundraising for diabetes, but we were also always fundraising fundraising and being part of that. You know, other you know, other families who have lost their homes in fires, let's say, or I remember growing up, there was one of my dad's friend's kids had cerebral palsy, so we were always going to fundraisers and things for that. And they were always very cognizant of that. Yes, diabetes is very, you know, difficult and it's something, that's a challenge she's going to have to live with the rest of her life. But it's kind of that saying, if you put your hands in a bucket of all the world's problems, Hope that you pulled out your own because you wouldn't risk wanting to get something else. So I think that I, how they took that and taught me was like, look, everybody has something like everybody, even behind closed doors has something. And like, this is your thing. And as long as you take care of yourself and you're healthy and you check your blood sugars and you go to the doctor and you do what you have to do, like you're going to do anything that you want to do. And that was really the mentality that I took on with. I'm, I'm an athlete of diabetes, right? Like I, this is what, this is my job. This is my task. This is my challenge. And I'm going to go at it like headfirst. And I really don't think that it started to impact me to come back to your question until I was aware of those teenage years of perception of what other people thought of me. And it was more mental, emotional impact of diabetes. And that clicking first before actually recognizing and tying together. Mood and energy and overall health implications on a daily basis and on a long-term basis that diabetes.

Katie:

Thanks for that. I'm curious to know, at what point in your journey with type one diabetes growing up, did you kind of realize that you wanted to use that as a means to helping others and not just as like charity work on the side or, you know, as a hobby, but like actually as a career and turn that into a whole diabetes, health coaching business.

Lauren:

Yeah. absolutely. A great question. So when I would say ages like seven through 18, I pretty much managed my diabetes very reactively with the tools that were given by our endocrinologist. Right. You go and check up. They're like, all right, this is the A1C you eat. Or you have to work on your overnight highs. Are your patterns here, your patterns there. And it's like, okay, motivated go home three days later, like you're back in the same routine of what you're doing. And it's hard to see that change. And you're constantly chasing the highs are high. Oh, shoot. I'm aware of it. Let's go. Oh, shoot. I just played soccer and I have a correction and on my blood sugar is tanking and it's like, come off the field chugged use. It was very much just yo-yoing. And especially with like traveling or just the occasions or out of routine, there was hard to find that stability and. That was fine for a while, but when I came into my own adulthood and I actually got recruited to SOC to college to play division one soccer. And so when I was there, you're at this whole other level of elite, you know, with elite athletes where you really have to compete at a high level and you're competing for not only against the other team, but you're competing for spots on that team. And so when. I had a night of 200 blood sugars. And then I woke up the next day at 5:00 AM for, for practice. I couldn't possibly perform at the level that like the other people in the other women on the team were performing at. And I started to recognize that. So I became super, super hyper-focused of what I could control, which was my numbers, my food and my exercise, because I started to feel out of control in those areas for the first time. And. Through about a four year phase. I became very, very, very. On top of everything that I put my body obsessive with my blood sugars. And I went to the endocrinologist, I believe it was like junior year of college. And I had a great endo. I love her. I'm still in touch with her till this day. And she was like, Your A1C is a 5.7. I've never seen a college kid with a 5.7 A1C. Like, how are you doing this? This is insane. This is crazy. She was like, high-fiving my mom, the doc. And the nurse came in was high-fiving like my, me, the doctor. And I was sitting there and I had this like awakening aha moment where it. Oh, my gosh, like this isn't sustainable. Like I've literally have not enjoyed a college experience because I've been, so hyper-focused on controlling my diabetes and being perfect. And I know that the way that I treated my diabetes prior, which was very reactive doesn't work, I don't feel good with that. And I also don't feel good with. Because I'm eating low carb. I like I'm having dreams about bread. Like no joke. I remember having a dream about like fresh baked bread. And I was like, in hindsight, I'm like, that was a sign. Like your body was just craving carbs. And there had to be a middle way, right. There had to be some kind of balance. And back in 2000, what was this? 2010. Oh no, 2012, 2013 at the time. There wasn't people on social media sharing their journeys. There wasn't people who looks like me that I can connect with up until this point. I really maybe new for the first 15 years of diabetes, one, two other people with diabetes. And for me, it was like I was on a very isolated journey to kind of figure out what was going to work best for my body. So then I came to this kind of final stage of my journey. If you will, where I started focusing on what is sustainable, how can I have. And great A1C feel really in control of my, of my health and feel good with my mood and my energy, my focus to do the things that I want to do in this life, but also not sacrifice. Pizza with my Italian family on a Friday night. Right? Not sacrifice saying no to going to have to the movies with friends and having popcorn spontaneously or whatever it was. And I mean today, like I have a 5.6 A1C and like, you watch me on Instagram, I'm having pizza, I'm traveling, I'm having this, I'm having that. And there's just so much free. When you've really slowed down to prioritize your diabetes on a holistic level. Now, the things that I learned Hedy in that time of, you know, a couple of years span of doing my own, self-work doing learning, taking classes on education, on nutrition, education, with nutrition, with hormones, going to health, coaching school, all of the pieces that I pulled together for myself. It was work. And what I realized was I got to the outcome that every single T one D should be able to have in their life, they should be able to have that freedom and not feel like diabetes is pulling them down constantly. And of course, like big disclaimer, I have those days where I have, you know, lows and highs. Does it feel as draining because I don't have them, let's say as often, or it's not my normal, it's not my normal cadence. And so when I realized that it was like I was on my track to go to law school, I was literally senior year of college. Applying to law schools, took my LSATs twice. That was my next step. And I was like, what if I pause this for a year? And I try to just help other people with diabetes. And that's honestly where it started. It started with a blog in my, in college and, you know, nine year, eight years. I don't even know how many years later here we are today where we've, you know, impacted that. Uh, Families with our resources, our educational resources you know, I've had hundreds of hundreds of families and people come through our coaching programs. We have the diabetic holster and all right, now we have Georgetown medical students doing research on the qualitative and quantitative outcomes that people get through going through our programs. And essentially we're, we're disrupting the diabetes healthcare industry. We're creating a new paradigm for what can be for the journey of the type one, which yes. Include your endocrinologist. Yes. Includes a dietician. Yes. Includes a psychologist if needed, but the health coaching really. It helps you slow down in between all those things and help put you in the driver's seat of what's blocked me so far getting to where I want to be. What are my specific body's patterns or my child's patterns, and how can we create a plan to have new tools, understand different elements of their body so that we can get to where we want to be with more freedom. And we're calling.

Katie:

Yeah, I love that your focus in your own life personally, and then with Risely health in the coaching is, is to be proactive in your diabetes management rather than reactive, because I feel like, you know, like, as you've already expressed, like being reactive is just, it's just so exhausting because you're constantly chasing. You know, like you said, the yo-yo of, oh, now I got to treat the high, oh gosh. Now I'm crashing. And I got to treat the low and then up and down and up and down. And I just feel like there's so much peace that comes with planning ahead. And that doesn't have to mean being extremely restrictive. Like, like you've already said, you can live a life eating, whatever it is that you want to eat, but as long as you. No, how to manage, your insulin and know what foods you're eating and how they're affecting things in your body and different factors like stress levels and activity and all of that. having all this knowledge will allow you to be more proactive. So you're not constantly fighting. Never ending rollercoaster battle. And I just, I love that you shared your, your piece about, you know, playing soccer at a collegiate level. I love for parents to hear that, while your diabetes management might have, might not have been like where you wanted it to be at the time, it was still possible, right? Like you could still go on and compete at this collegiate level. And I, I feel like, especially at diagnosis, that's something that a lot of parents just get really upset about cause maybe their kid was this top level athlete and now they're like, oh, we can't do that anymore. So I, I, I love for parents to hear the stories about you can be a professional athlete and have type one diabetes. There's plenty of them out there. Who did you play for? I'm just curious to know.

Lauren:

Yeah. UNC Wilmington in North

Katie:

Okay. One of my best friends play. I went to the university of. In Gainesville. And one of my best friends from high school went there as well. And she was on the soccer team for us. And I remember one day she invited me to go on a run with her and I didn't even like think twice about it. I was like, yeah, sure. Let's go for a run. That'll be fun. not thinking like, okay, this girl is playing soccer at the collegiate level. And I was just like, I would, I love to exercise, but I really never loved running. I knew it was something that was a great cardio workout for me. But so I go on this run with her and I mean, we're like five minutes in and she's just, you know, trotting along, she's talking and she's telling me about her week asking me questions. And I was like, I cannot talk to you right now. What kind of like superhuman robot are you? So I just. That's my story about going on a run with a college college level soccer player.

Lauren:

well, props to you for even starting and embarking on that journey.

Katie:

Yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, I, I'm not even kidding. I don't think we had run for more than 10 minutes. I'm like, I can't do this. I have to walk. She was like, okay. Luckily she she was very kind, gave me a lot of grace. So tell me more about, tell me more about Risely health. So you guys are. Individuals with type one diabetes, you're coaching entire families where there's caregivers with children with type one diabetes. What kind of resources do you guys offer specifically to, to the, those that are working with Risely?

Lauren:

Yeah. So I think it's important to say too. We started out coaching individuals with type one diabetes themselves. And what we realized was. Time in, you know, when we, once we got to let's say the 400th client, right. Of, of hearing the same story of there was so much that was rooted in childhood. There was so much of why they were coming to coaching today was these habits that were formed in childhood or what they heard from their doctor or their. Once when they were nine years old, right. Or, or, or 11 years old that has stuck with them. And maybe later on in life, it gives them a fear of like a deep fear of going low. So they continue to run their numbers high, or they have, you know, relationship to food issues. Because one time somebody, you know, told them, oh, wait, like you can't have that. You, you know, you shouldn't have that because insulin you're going to have to take more for that. And insulin makes you gain weight, right? Like. All of these little things start in childhood. And so when you have somebody who is diagnosed in childhood, instead of letting them get to the place of when they're 20 years old and then coming to for 20, 30, 40, 50 years old and coming to us for help, like we need to create a program that helps parents and caregivers of children with diabetes, learn these things now. And that is exactly what we did. So we have group pro group coaching programs and one-on-one coaching programs for, for Karen's, where we're really taking on like. It's not just that the numbers, like I had said, it's the understanding of your child's hormonal patterns and insulin sensitivity and activity. You know, whether it's soccer practice or baseball or cheerleading or running around that resource recess, it's all of those things and how to communicate and advocate for what your child needs and conversations and having those with the school nurse of, Hey, like when you give them two boxes of juice because their Dexcom, arrow's not coming up yet. Like, and they're ending up at 300 and you're sending me home with that. Like you have to be patient with the Dexcom arrows and just empowering them with more tools to be able to. I have more empowerment from day to day with their family with diabetes. That is, you know, the, the bread and butter of what we do. We have a whole team of coaches. It's so funny. We actually had a, we have a coach on our team. Her name is Trista and she's the head coach in our family coaching program. And she was diagnosed when she was four and her dad had type one diabetes and her story and angle is like, I, my dad had type one diabetes and even I struggled growing up. Right. And it's because I realized that the way that he managed his diabetes and them just kind of transferring that onto me, isn't really what worked for me and how important that personalization really. And so with the coaching, like that's what it always comes back to. And what's the most transformational. But even before that, it's the education gap. There is a huge, huge education gap that just isn't served in our current healthcare system, especially in the us, but even outside the. And it's like, if you're high, give insulin, maybe change these rates, like try to change those, try to change that, exercise more, eat this. But like beyond that, there's so much that is missing. So we have our cornerstone classes, which are our online hub of videos that are all filmed by me and created with our, in conjunction with our medical advisory board. And they're on all singular topics. So they're 30 minute videos on you know, It's increasing stability in your blood sugars during activity there it's on, you know, for, for, for females when they start your kids start to be, you know, 13, 14 and start their menstrual cycle. Right. It's like navigating that with blood sugars. That's a whole land of itself. Right. Talking about nutrition in relationship to food on optimizing insulin, right? All these different topics that are not covered that you do need to know about and understand how to implement. So we have different levels of ways that we're supporting families. Of course to all of our free resources on our website. But the end of the day is like, we're just, we're so committed to helping everybody. Yes. But also parents right now, because it, once again, it comes back to, it all starts in childhood. And if you can empower them now and you can set them up good. Now they're going to struggle less when they are get to that, like more independent years of college and beyond.

Katie:

You mentioned group coaching for caregivers and families or caregivers of type one diabetics. When you say group coaching, do you mean like the family as a group and you're coaching the whole family as a whole? Or do you mean you have families together in like a group setting or and also, you know, second question is, do you offer your services in person or virtually or. Hey everybody. It's Katie interrupting for just a quick sec, to tell you about the product feature of the. I may have already featured this product, but honestly, summer is coming and it's such a helpful product to have on hand for when it's hot and humid, and everybody is sweating all the time or swimming all the time at the beach or in a pool. If we know we are going to be in the water a lot, especially when it's going to be rough water play like wakeboarding. Boogie boarding, surfing, going down, water slides, stuff like that. We do not leave home without our SIM patch, CGM and Omnipod patches. If you need something sturdy, that will stand up to the three H's heat, humidity, and happiness while swimming Then these SIM patch overlays are the thing for you. They come in sizes for Dexcom, Libra and Omnipod. Now full disclose. These things are so dang sturdy that they will require three times the amount of adhesive remover to get off. But for those circumstances, I've already mentioned, it's worth it. I'm just saying that while you're already on Amazon buying these patches, go ahead and grab some extra adhesive remover two. I will leave an Amazon affiliate link to both of those things in the show notes. Now back to my chat with. You mentioned group coaching for caregivers and families or caregivers of type one diabetics. When you say group coaching, do you mean like the family as a group and you're coaching the whole family as a whole? Or do you mean you have families together in like a group setting or and also, you know, second question is, do you offer your services in person or virtually or.

Lauren:

Yeah. So all of our services are virtual. We have clients all over the world, primarily in the U S Canada, UK, and, Australia. And with the group coaching program. The group and sense of different families. So there's the community aspect of you're having, you know, 10 other families who are also there to do the same thing to do the same work, to say, you know what. I'm doing okay, but I, we wanna be doing better. We want to be learning the resources that we're not getting from our endocrinologist and we need help slowing down and prioritizing it because we're parents or. caregivers, and we have a thousand other things going on. So having this accountability and also the release of the shame, I think, is really therapeutic in that group setting because they're realizing wow. I'm not the only parent who feels like when I miss dose my child, that I'm the worst person in the world. Right. And so it helps also with the caregiver and their emotional health, in addition to the diet, you know, the child's diabetes. But, but Yeah. I think does that answer your

Katie:

Yeah. Yeah, it definitely does. And I'm curious to know. So, you know, like if you're a family in getting coaching either one-on-one or in a group, do you have is there a member of the coaching team, like a certified diabetes care and education specialist that's also involved in that's like even looking over CGM data and suggesting things, or is it more about just education and empowering and Making sure. You know, you know, like we said, how things are affecting blood sugars and just the body in general.

Lauren:

Yeah. such a good question, Katie. So what we have seen is when you go to your doctor and they look at the CGM reports for a few minutes, and they're looking at like, why was your child Ty, you know, two weeks ago on Tuesday night at 3:00 AM. And you're like, I don't remember, like, I don't know. That's. Reactive management, right? It's three months or six months reactive management. So the only way that you become empowered is when you start to take the reins that your quote unquote like CDE, or maybe doctor that they're quote unquote, supposed to be doing. Right. They're great for the overall. You know, picture of where you want to be with your numbers and your rates and everything, but in the in-between you need to be able to analyze Dexcom clarity or to be able to see what your child's patterns are because you're with your child every single day. And we can't wait. We can't just wait for, you know, the next move. I mean, even as an adult, like. My doctor loves that she hasn't had to change my rate in 10 years because I've just always done it myself. Right. And I think the expectation and the way that we're set up is a very top-down model approach with healthcare. It's very much like here's your doctor. Your doctor is the one who's supposed to change your prescriptions, quote, unquote, or your insulin rates. Diabetes is like the one thing where your insulin rates and your quote unquote prescription can fluctuate from day to day or week to week or school season versus summer season or on vacation versus in normal routine. So we're not set up to be able to do that. But we have to learn how to do that. So what we do is we have, I mentioned it earlier. We have our medical advisory board, which we have a psychologist on there with type one diabetes, a certified diabetes educator who has type one diabetes as well as a, you know, a dietician. Her her role specifically, the CDE is to look at, you know, all of what Risely is doing and be able to help us create new classes and resources and kind of oversee what's going what's going on. However, in the day-to-day of the coaching programs, it's really giving the parents the tools and strategies to be able to. Look for patterns, slow down and have somebody to work through a challenge with them and help them really identify what needs to be changed. What's good. What roadblocks we're hitting with their numbers during an activity schools, certain times of the day, whatever it is, and putting them in the driver's seat. So we're never coming in and saying like, change your child's rate from 0.4 to 0.5, but we're saying. For the past three weeks, this is the pattern that you're seeing here for this drop, like what possibly needs to be changed. And then they're coming and saying, well, I think it could be this. I think it could be this. I think it could be this. And it's like, all right, well, let's strip away these things with you and let's work through the process of identifying exactly at the root, what the.

Katie:

Okay.

Lauren:

And what that allows is that accountability, right. And that support, and also that guidance, because we've done this with hundreds of other people. So we, we can see very easily, like where things need to shift, but we always put you in the driver's seat because the idea is to create more autonomy and more sustainability in the tools that, that you have so that you can help influence your child and make them more independent for, for the.

Katie:

I think that's so important to make sure parents feel empowered, to make decisions on their own and not reckless decisions. Like you want them to make smart decisions on their own. And I feel like people definitely leave the hospital at diagnosis day thinking that. Anytime I have a question or want to make a change. I have to call my endocrinologist. And I, I mean, personally, there might be people out there that still live by that and feel like that's important. But personally, I realized very quickly that that just was not sustainable because I just don't have the time. You know, like I would almost guarantee that not one of us calls the endocrinologist and, and gets them on the phone right away or gets the nurse educator on the phone right away. We've got to leave a message. You got to wait for them. Back. It might be a couple of days later. So I don't know. I feel like as soon as possible, it's important for people to feel comfortable making small changes to, to see and then monitoring trends and to see, you know, what w is it, is it working? Do I need to do more? Oh, that wasn't the right decision, you know, being able to do it on their own. So that's great.

Lauren:

Yeah. And, and it's also a big trend that we see that people come in for coaching is really like optimizing their technology. When I was diagnosed, I parents always like, can't even fathom this in this day and age like that. I did not have a CGM or that my parents didn't have. The Dexcom share to be able to look and at all times and see what my blood sugar was. I tested my blood sugar. I prick my finger every two and a half hours, whether I was at school at, you know, on, on sleeping over a friend's house, whenever it was, or of course, if I felt low or high, I would go to the nurse or do it on my own. But there was, you know, it wasn't dependence on technology. And I think the shift that our team has really helped create. People's mindsets are, especially parents is like technology. The technology should be there to help you and support you, but you shouldn't have to depend on it because if you're depending so much on it, then you're relying on the control IQ to always work perfect. Or you're relying on. You know, Dexcom to always be a hundred percent accurate versus having your child, which is so, so, so important. Be able to understand what it feels like when they're dropping, when it feels like when they're low, when it feels like with their high and trusting their own body's patterns. My prediction for where trends are going to go with kids with diabetes is in 10, 20 years. As they grow up, they're going to have less trust in their body because they're going to have so much trust on and overall dependence on the technology and hopefully tech gets better, like, as it continues to go on, but at the end of the day it's technology and it's going to malfunction, right. So we have to be able to depend on our. At the end of the day and know how to optimize the technology. We have people who, you know, don't go on a pump right away. Let's say parents, their kids are on shots. I don't know what Sarah, what she was on. She was on Shots. or a pump right away, but was she on

Katie:

Yeah, she would. Yeah. We just squeaked because of insurance and doctors and stuff, we weren't able to get on a pump until she was six months out, which for a lot of people I think is early.

Lauren:

Okay. So that's interesting. That is something that I was just talking to a client about yesterday, because if. Six months you're on a shot. She's still, she she's on shots. She's still honeymooning then at that nice transition, which happens a lot of the time, like the six month mark, two year mark for honeymoon phases out and you switched to a pump it's oh my gosh. Shots were so easier. Like what the heck? The pump is so hard to get, but it's just that you're switching at a time where her, their bodies are also changing and their insulin background, insulin production is changing. And so with that, it's. It's knowing that it's not necessarily that the pump's not working. It's just knowing how to optimize it as your child's body changing as, as they grow.

Katie:

Yeah. I tell people that all the time that are getting ready to get on a pump. I'm like, I just want you to know, and I'm not trying to like be a Debbie downer, but like getting on a pump is not a a magic bullet for diabetes management. Like it's, there's a huge learning curve. It's I felt like it was extremely hard to figure out like way harder than, you know, doing multiple daily injections. And I still feel that way. I mean, you know, cause you're Can really get hung up on like constantly tweaking Bazell rates and temp basles on and off and you know, up and down or off all together or whatever. But, but yeah, I, I, my daughter just took a pump break actually for about a month in December and I was like, oh, this is nice. Like, this is so much easier and so much simpler. So yeah, I try to, I try to really. Drill that into parents that like, you know, the pump is great and you really can fine tune your management like to a T so much easier. And it's a lot more convenient and all that, but it's, I wouldn't say it's like easy. We're not on an automated system yet either. So that might that phrase. I just said my change once, once we get our hands on one of those, but we'll see,

Lauren:

I see an Omni

Katie:

Yeah, she's on the Omnipod.

Lauren:

Right. Well, Omni pod five is, is on its way now. So it'll be exciting to see.

Katie:

am too. I'm so excited. Well, I've loved what you've shared so far about Risely. Is there anything else, you know any other resources that Risely provides that you'd like parents and caregivers to know about? Anybody in particular on your team that, you know, we've already mentioned the, the, the lead of the. Families with T one D or caregivers of But any, anything else you want parents to know?

Lauren:

Yeah, I think, well, first of all, for anybody who's listening. I think the biggest meshes that message that I would share with you is that you're going to do everything that you can with the resources that you have and the knowledge you have to be able to guide your child in the best way possible. And there are still going to be things that they should. I had amazing parents. I'm so grateful. I had amazing support system even to my grandparents and family and the best endocrinologist and I still struggled. And so it's not necessarily your job to make sure that they're perfect all the time. It's your job to. Support them in a holistic way with their diabetes, so that they feel with their relationship to food, their relationship, to self, their relationship to, you know, just the numbers also, and not being defining of their, of their self-worth and just instilling those. Those overall themes in them, and then trusting that you've given them enough and, and, and fostered enough independence and empowerment on that in them that they can go on their own journey and, and feel good about it and know that they might struggle years later. But also that at the root there they're prioritizing their diabetes. So you're always doing the best you can with what you have, right. No that connecting with other type one parents is really, really helpful and can be really validating. So if you haven't done that yet, definitely you know, find some other type type one parents that you can connect.

Katie:

that's great advice. I'm curious to know. I mean, I feel like you've kind of dropped hints here and there, but you know, as a diabetes health coach yourself, like what areas of diabetes management are you particularly passionate about that you think would benefit the caregiver of a type one? I know.

Lauren:

I know it's like where so much. I mean, it really, Katie is it's that holistic perspective and zooming out. It's so much more than just the nutrition. It's so much more than just the, the insulin being given. I would say the biggest thing is probably that maybe isn't talked about enough though, is, is hormones. Or maybe it's talked about enough that there aren't enough resources for it is the hormones. And as they go through their growth, you know, their growth period and kind of, like I mentioned, For you know, girls who eventually you know, go through their menstrual cycle, like really, really knowing that hormones are the behind the scenes player. And there's this kind of phrase that we say where it's like, you know, sometimes diabetes is just going to diabetes. It's just going to do its thing and that's the case, but it really is a small percentage of the time that you can't figure out the reason why their blood sugars are fluctuating. And I would say that hormones equate to about. Twenty-five at least percent of the times when you can't understand what's going on. But it's the cortisol levels. It's the adrenaline spikes for when they take tests in school. It's the Sleep patterns, right? It's there, what time they're going to bed or when they're having a sleep over how that difference, how that differs with their circadian rhythm, right? It's all these things that you want to take into account. And the more that you know about them, the more that you can look at a high blood sugar and not get frustrated and be like, what the heck just happened. You can be like, oh, like, this is that trend that we've seen before. And I know. why this is happening and that doesn't fix the high. It can fix the high maybe, or prevent the high for next time. But it also just gives you that. Sense of comfort of, oh, I know why this reason is happening.

Katie:

Yeah. I personally enjoy having her hormones in the picture sometimes because I have somebody to blame. I have a scapegoat. I'm like, it's not me. It's the hormones clearly. Like I'm real good at always blaming the hormones when we've had like a really high day or just a wonky day in general, I'm like, oh, the hormones. So it's just the hormones. Let's just move on. Tomorrow's a different day.

Lauren:

Oh, I love that. That's so great. Yeah. And that's a way you can look at it.

Katie:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I have a good diabetes mom, friend. That's, we're always texting back and forth, but I'm like hormones and she's like, yeah, it's hormones. I'm like, yep. That's it. I can't Nope, no sense in trying to figure it out. Let's just blame the hormones. You know, it, wasn't those three pieces of giant pizza that they ate maybe earlier that we maybe, maybe we should give some more insulin for it couldn't have been that for sure. I, when I was preparing for our interview, you know, like looking at all your stuff and I came across the interview that you did with the today show. And I just, I really need to ask you about that experience because it's a dream of mine to be on the today show. I have been on the today show, but I was in the background waving like, yeah, I'm kept getting it for now. I'm counting it until I actually get to be on the today show and some sort of interview. But what was that like?

Lauren:

Well, oh my gosh. So w I would say I actually, I haven't shared this before, but I was scrolling back on my photos and the night before it was, it was. You know, or the night before I was filming it, I have a picture of me like sobbing in my bed because I was just so I couldn't figure out what to wear. And I was just like, I was like, oh my God, like, I can't have any clothes. Right. I have nothing in my closet. Funny enough. I ended up going to my mom's and wearing one of her vintage leather, like blazers. So, and I loved it and I, and I stole it from her and it's so great. But I was really. The worst possible time to be on this day show because I only had like two weeks to prepare or two weeks notice. And we had just at the same in the same two weeks, we closed on our first house. We were moving out of New York city onto long island. We were launching our first together T one D event, which is an online summit that we have in the first week of national diabetes awareness month in November. And we, I had a flight to Indianapolis to shoot it, and there was like 3000 people on. So we were preparing for that. And then I was on another big, big name podcast the same week. So it was like, everything was happening at the same time. And like the fact that I was able to, you know, come on to the interview and be like, Very poised and like just have it together and not be like sobbing was the biggest, I think just like relief and success of my life because of everything that was going on. But it was during the pandemic in 2020. So it was unfortunately virtual. So I didn't get to go to the studio, but I got to meet Dylan drier and, you know, we talked for an hour and then they cut it down to about a four minute segment. But it was absolutely unbelievable and I mean, To have them recognize what we're doing as a disruptor in this space and just serving a part of, you know, diabetes that hasn't been served before truly was just incredible after, you know, years of hard work. It's like anything when you work so much it's yes, you're doing it for yourself and for, to make an impact. But to have some times that kind of level of recognition is just like a nice little cherry on top that, you know, this makes you feel like? wow, like, Yeah, I'm on the right.

Katie:

Yeah, absolutely. I didn't look at the date of the interview. Was it in was it in November? Was It diabetes awareness month?

Lauren:

November 18th, 2020.

Katie:

Okay. Okay. Yeah. I w when I was 16, I went to New York city with my mom and my aunt, and we had a fabulous time, but I saw Al Roker walking down the street. And first of all, I should say that I have always been a little bit of an old soul. So I grew up watching the today show with my mom. Like that was like our first. Show to watch together. We would always have it on the morning or we're getting ready for school and she was getting ready for work. And so I just always loved the today show. And I saw Al Roker walking down the street and he was on a cell phone and I jumped in front of him and I was like, and I was total fan girl, like ridiculous. And he of course was on a cell phone and he did, he was like super friendly. He smiled and waved, but I was like, all of my dreams have come true.

Lauren:

Oh, my gosh. And that's such like a great first did that your first New York experience.

Katie:

was the first time I had been to the city.

Lauren:

That's the best when you go, because there are so many, I mean, just celebrities everywhere and hotel hosts and whatnot. So if you go and you can find that, then it's like, oh my gosh, like my New York dreams, like this is everything that I wanted it to be.

Katie:

Yeah. And I feel like, I feel like Al Roker probably doesn't have too many 16 year old girls, like recognizing him, you know what I mean? It's like, who is this girl? who is she? Well, Lauren, thank you so much for coming on today. I definitely want to end with you telling listeners where they can find you. If they're interested in getting some coaching from Risely health, you know, where, where should they go?

Lauren:

Absolutely. So Risely health.com R I S E L Y. Health.com. It's I don't think we talked about it, but Risely is reclaiming your rise. Usually when we think about rising, we think about like Dexcom graphs and going high, but the way we talk about it is really like rising up above your diabetes and that empowerment. So that's where it came from. But yeah. Come on the site, if you scroll on the homepage, there's a kind of find your path section halfway down the page on the homepage and it says. T one D parents are T and D families. And so you can click on that and then there's specific resources. You can join that family newsletter on that specific page for you to get tips and tricks from our coaching team that we sent out every week. And then come say hi on Instagram. So Lauren underscore Bundoran I'll let me know that you came from Katie's podcast and what you thought I'm so excited to be connecting with you.

Katie:

Yeah, thank you. And it sounds like Risely has you know, evolved quite a bit over the past. It's been seven years since you started it. Is that correct?

Lauren:

I would say formerly 2015 we won't count the blogging. The blogging days in my college dorm in 2020.

Katie:

Yeah. I mean, it all led up to it. Right. But where do you see, where do you see it in the next, you know, 2, 3, 4 or five years?

Lauren:

Yeah. So ultimately we bought rise to be a cornerstone of diabetes management. We want insurance companies to cover the coaching fully. We want endocrinal. To know that this is a resource where they could send their families or their people with diabetes. We currently have that, but you know, not at a national scale level that we, we really envision it to be. And I envision, oh, at the end of the day, a community of people impacted by diabetes. It doesn't feel like they have to rely on resources that aren't even resources that are giving them the whole picture and that they can really take ownership over this, on their own and not feel constantly drained by it on an emotional And physical.

Katie:

Yeah. And I do have one more question for you. Sorry. I remembered something I wanted to ask you. You had mentioned that there's currently research students. I forget the university. You'll have to tell me again, but you have research students that are actually studying the effects that your coaching has on just their management and in general or their outlook on their diabetes management. Can you, can you tell us a little bit more about that? I'm curious,

Lauren:

Yeah. So it's Georgetown medical, which is really exciting. And hopefully where they're in the process, they're about halfway through of you know, all the things that they have to submit their. They're going to be submitting later this year to have it be a published research study. And so it's both the qualitative and the quantitative outcomes. So basically it's the increasing time and range is the lower end A1C. It's the, you know, all of those metrics, but it's also the improvement in overall quality of life from more sleep to You know, lowered stress and anxiety to you know, self love and acceptance and just balance, right? Balance in life relationship with food, nutrition, movement, all of these different areas that kind of, you know, really matter sometimes even more than just the numbers that you're not maybe looking at for a whole picture of the diabetes, you know, management as a whole traditionally, but it's really exciting because this would be the first published research study on. This kind of coaching for people with diabetes. And I think that the early adapters who get this and get. Investing in yourself in this extra way outside traditional healthcare is like they get it right. But I think the Georgetown research study was ultimately going to do is help shake up the rest of the people who are kind of like, oh, we're supposed to get all the help from our doctors or from our CDE. This is going to show the importance of having this extra branch of, of support for people with diabetes. So we're really excited.

Katie:

Yeah, that is very exciting. I think that's awesome. I'm a big, I like to hear about the research behind the stuff, so that's, that's great. I'll be on the lookout for that. Well, thank you again. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for coming on and sharing your story with us and all about your business and just, hopefully this will be a wonderful resource for my listeners and just caregivers of T1Ds.

Lauren:

Amazing. Well, thank you so much for having me on. It's been great talking with you and I'm so great. Hopefully to see.

Katie:

Yeah. Thank you. All right, that's it for our show today. Make sure to check out the show notes, to know where you can find Lauren on social media, where you can find the Risely health website and her new podcast. Reclaim your ride. It will all be there. So check it out. We'll be back next week with a brand new episode, but until then stay calm and bolus on by.

Lauren Bongiorno Profile Photo

Lauren Bongiorno

Founder, CEO

Lauren Bongiorno is a Nationally Board Certified Health Coach and the founder and CEO of Risely Health. Her team is challenging the current healthcare system and the world of diabetes management through innovative health coaching programs and online educational classes, helping people and families impacted by type 1 diabetes holistically transform their lives. Lauren has lived with type 1 diabetes since she was 7 years old and has experienced firsthand that when health transforms, so does everything else - our relationships, our time, our career, our families, and, most importantly, ourselves. Risely Health's comprehensive virtual coaching, classes, and community offer an entirely new kind of freedom that has impacted thousands of people since 2015. Their success with client transformations and recognition in the community comes from lived experience with type 1 diabetes, expertise in mindset and behavior change, and dedicated ongoing support and accountability. To learn more, visit riselyhealth.com.