Amazing Athletes: Tyler Billingham Competitive CrossFit

Tyler Billingham

Competitive CrossFit 

I'm not one of those diabetic cases that are genetic or even caught it early. I was 10 years old and on a hiking trip for school and became drastically ill over the course of a few days and lost 10 kilos (was only 48kg to start with). Turned out, a bug I caught had tricked my cells into thinking my pancreas was basically the source of all evil and that was that. Diabetic - no going back. 

It was tough being the sickly, skinny kid at school, and I'm not the most social person to begin with, so of course, I got bullied a lot.

But it wasn't until an incident in 2014 where I was assaulted by a young boy my age in which he basically threw me around like a rag doll that I realized that I needed to be able to defend myself or I at least needed to look so intimidating that they wouldn't even bother.

Finally, after doing calisthenics for about 1 year and studying to get my master Trainer qualification in Personal Training I heard about the coming up of a sport CrossFit. Fittest man on Earth was the title to be won, and there just so happened to be one across the road from my church. So, it was easy to get to. And I felt like the two avenues of my life where somehow connected – fitness and faith. 

Now the issue was that metabolic conditioning was hard on my blood glucose levels. To start with the lifting was fine, but the cardiovascular elevation devastated my sugars. My doctors were trying to convince me that CrossFit wasn't healthy for me and tried to tell me that I should just stick to weight training. Now, I'm not advocating that you ditch your doctors advice altogether, but I am advocating that you listen to your body and decide some of what is healthy for you – which is what I did.

I decided I wanted to shape my own future in CrossFit and take a hold of my body all together, so I researched and studied macronutrient programs and started tweaking my own insulin doses and timings myself. It took until the last few years to finally get it right, but by God, I know my body so well and so fluidly that I can tell you exactly when I have to eat so that I don't drop sugar levels - and I don't have to take multiple insulin shots per day anymore, only at breakfast!

In saying all of that, it wasn't an easy path. Don't let the little things set you back, persevere and take charge of your health and your life. 


My path into Crossfit was tough, but I have wanted to have the title fittest diabetic man on Earth. Since I joined in my first world Open, I now train 2-3 times per day, mixing gymnastics, Olympic lifting and metabolic conditioning throughout the day. I've also recently become strict on my macro and caloric intakes to improve my performance. I have tirelessly researched and now take a variety of supplements to aid my recovery and fuel my workouts further.

This year I will be competing in the CrossFit Games (paired teams division) in September and also the NZ Nationals Rx Teams games in October. My training is nuts at the moment and I don't have much in the way of a life outside of the box except for my family and church. 

But to be frank that's all I need, and as a diabetic I'm proud to go out there and strive to become the fittest diabetic and man alive. Diabetes not the label that should define your life, and it definitely shouldn't be the defining factor to how you experience life. God put me here to work, so I'll make him proud.