Title

Personal Stories

Entrepreneur and Advocate Danica the Diabetic

Meet Danica Collins, health and wellness coach, brand ambassador for the diabetes community, and founder of Dia-Log, the Insulin for Your Soul, and Danica the Diabetic. Collins has the unique gift of combining advocacy with entrepreneurship. With over ten years of experience, this highly accomplished professional has grown her social media empire from scratch by promoting healthy lifestyles.

Entrepreneur and Advocate Danica the Diabetic

Advocacy and entrepreneurship might seem mutually exclusive—yet Danica Collins, AKA Danica the Diabetic makes it work quite effectively. In addition to her full-time job as a senior consultant in the digital health industry, she runs her own business, hosts podcasts and posts resources, advice and daily encouragement to the diabetes online community (DOC).

Also, as a national board-certified health and wellness coach, she empowers individuals with diabetes to live their best lives.

About Danica Collins

Collins grew up in a small Tennessee town where her love of basketball sparked a love for travel. The young high school athlete had no time for anything beyond sports. However, when she injured her ankle during a basketball game, she had to hit pause on her active lifestyle and recuperate with crutches. She lost 12 pounds between doctor visits, and her blood sugar had skyrocketed to the 700s. The doctor diagnosed her with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

“I had no family history of type 1 diabetes and no understanding of the disease,” said Collins. “I remember telling my mom, ‘I don’t have time for this, I have a basketball game.’”

Already a beanpole by most standards, her diagnosis at age 14 lacked most of the common symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes.

  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Irritability/mood swings
  • GI-related pains
  • Lethargy – feeling tired and weak.
  • Extreme thirst and hunger.

“I felt fine. I was all consumed with basketball. My mom said she recognized me getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, but that was the only thing. I already drank a lot of water and was very thin.”

Collins grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, and a rural part of Tennessee, so rustic she had to commute over two hours to Knoxville to find someone to manage her diabetes care. “All through high school and college, I had to drive two hours one-way; it was difficult.”

As the middle child, Collins said her diagnosis impacted the entire family. “I had very involved parents, and this was before I had a lot of the tech I do now. I’ve been through many transitions from the very first CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to the new pumps. I had to choose between athletic and scholastic scholarships, and my diabetes was the biggest determining factor because I couldn’t see my blood sugar.”

Blessed with a supportive family, friends and community, her attitude began to shift when Collins reached her early 20s. “I moved to Chicago after college and became involved with my diabetes management when I decided to care. After grad school, I had to find my own doctors. I was far away from my family.”

Beyond receiving her master’s in biotechnology, Collins obtained Integrated Health Coach Professional training from Duke University and Digital Transformation in Healthcare instruction from Harvard Medical School.

Together, We’re Stronger

Today, Collins lives in San Diego, where she sits on the community outreach board for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). She was the Young Leadership Committee President for the JDRF Rocky Mountain Chapter in Denver, Colorado. In addition to her work with JDRF, she’s a Dexcom Warrior, advocate for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and ambassador for Afrezza® Insulin.  

Though very independent, Collins knew she needed more support. She contacted the T1D diabetes community through JDRF and other young professional groups. “I started advocating for myself and realized this isn’t the worst thing, and I could actually improve my health.”

It so happened that she had a gift for making social connections.

The Importance of Social Media

A lot can be said nowadays about the dangers of social media and how it creates an increased risk of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. But what about when social media is used to spread awareness, offer resources, and help build communities? Engaging with others online not only forms relationships with other T1Ds but also increases self-esteem and a sense of belonging.

“Everyone knows someone impacted by diabetes. You have to think about it from that standpoint; it really is an epidemic,” said Collins.

At one point, Collins wanted to become a dentist, but everyone told her she should work somehow with diabetes. “I said, no, I don’t want anything else to do with diabetes in my life.”

Despite her initial reaction, she began to see she had the power to make a difference in her life and others. “I noticed people really care about diabetes, and that’s what inspired me to do more because I was having to advocate for myself. I work with doctors every day, and it can be intimidating if you don’t know how to advocate for yourself. From a health equity perspective, I try to remind people—it’s your health, come prepared with questions to appointments.”

Collins currently works as a global healthcare executive consultant specializing in digital health. “Diabetes plays a part in that with CGMs and insulin pumps.”

Danica’s Many Platforms

In addition to her day job, Collins has two platforms to provide resources to individuals with diabetes. Her diabetes lifestyle companies are Dia-Log, the Insulin for Your Soul, and Danica the Diabetic. The latter is her personal brand, set up as a business.

“Dia-Log the Insulin for Your Soul is where I run my coaching through, my resources, my app, my shop, and my public speaking. It’s the more professional side. Danica the Diabetic is out there, but my resources are through my company (Dia-Log). When I understood how holistic it is – and how diabetes impacts every aspect of your life, that’s when I started telling my story, and that’s why I started coaching.”

Collins provides one-on-one coaching and group coaching. She works with T1Ds, T2Ds, pre-diabetics, and virtually all types. “As I got older, I realized that there are different forms of the disease, but they are all challenging in their own way. Now that CGMs are readily available and everyone has one regardless of type – we’re not that different. My heart is always for type 1s. Diabetes is a part of me, but I don’t feel it’s a limiting piece. This is my platform; this is what I do. I share my life as a diabetic. I try to educate on all levels. I can relate in so many ways.”

Dia-Log, the Insulin for Your Soul

Her many titles include blog contributor, public speaker, innovator, social media content collaborator, brand strategist, and community enhancer. This certified public figure has completed over 40 public speaking engagements. She offers workshops to help you stay on track, create a personalized program, or simply reach your health and wellness goals. Collins also has over 50 creative collaborations with diabetes-related consumers.

Danica’s YouTube Channel

Collin’s YouTube channel provides support and inspiration for T1Ds. She also posts on social media about thriving with diabetes. She has an audience with over 25K followers and, at one point, had over 70K until someone hacked her Instagram account.

“In 2015, I was working in Chicago, and Instagram was becoming popular. I decided to start sharing my life as a diabetic—the good, the bad and the ugly. I was on every platform (Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook), and I just started YouTube a couple of months ago because I can talk more on YouTube. People really want more than seven seconds of information, and I don’t like relying on the platforms as much after getting hacked because I realize everything can be taken away. I’m more inclined to direct message people. I’m trying to be a resource and share the best practices to impact people’s lives.”

Collins' videos offer tips on pre-bolusing and ways to avoid post-meal spikes. She also guides viewers through the Tandem T: slimX2 insulin pump’s updated integration with Dexcom G7.

The “Insulin for Your Soul” Journal

One of Collins’ many lifestyle management resources is a journal she created to help with diabetes management. Made from reusable paper, this holistic journal approach guides T1Ds through thoughtful daily tips and weekly reviews to streamline your diabetes journey.

“Here’s how to manage it holistically. Get to know your body and feel empowered. You can be as healthy as you want with diabetes. If you talk about burnout all the time, you’ll be burned out.”

Highs and Hellows Podcast

Collins also hosts her own podcasts, Highs and Hellows and Finding Balance. Twice a month, she invites guest speakers, a therapist and a fitness instructor, and the three dive in to tackle topics according to their expertise.

With over 17 years of life experience as a type 1, Collins is celebrating her approaching diaversary. Her passion for healthcare and helping others is personal. If you’re interested in group courses or one-on-one training with Collins, she has a few new programs in the works. “I’m hoping to encourage others to not just see the struggles but to see how resilient they are.”

Celebrate the Positive

Through her outreach, Collins hopes to create a hub where T1Ds can converse about all things diabetes-related: finances, food, movement, and mental health. And as she continues to grow her programs, Collins said, “There is something special about the T1D community: Diabuddies are the best. It’s a different type of friendship. You can look at me and see something is wrong, and only a person with diabetes will know.”

Her advice for a newly diagnosed T1D: “A lot is coming at you. It’s going to be a big change in your life, but it’s not impossible. You will figure out how to do diabetes your own way. You’ll make new friends, and it’s nothing you have to be ashamed of—it’s just figuring out your rhythm with it. And it’s okay; you’re not going to get it perfect, but it’s a doable disease; it’s not limiting.”

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