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110 Pounds and Counting: The Up Side of a Diabetes Diagnosis

Nancy Sayles Kaneshiro with HusbandHad it not been for my diabetes diagnosis I wouldn't have taken my health seriously enough to make the important changes I needed to make. Here I am today feeling healthier than I've felt in decades and that guy next to me is my husband who has always inspired me with his healthy lifestyle.

I just had an epiphany. Really, Nancy? Another one? (Hey, I heard that!)

We (my health-nut husband and I) had dinner recently with a very old friend of mine. And by old, I mean OLD. Just turned 90. Trim. Healthy. And still funny as hell. His name is Dick Whittington and he was one of the early purveyors of morning radio in the United States. They called him “Sweet Dick Whittington” when he was on the air.  A true legend, if ever there was one. Just ask him.

I met Dick when I was about 17 and he was lying about his age. (Even Google has it wrong to this day!)  I listened to him from the time I arrived in Los Angeles as a kid. I interviewed him for my college newspaper. We became friends and have stayed that way ever since. He was at my wedding. My adult kid still calls him “Uncle Dick.”

And Dick, in a rare serious moment, said to me, “In all the years I know you, you’ve never looked so good, so healthy.” I thought for a moment that the years were catching up to him. That his memory was failing. That he was just “full of it.” None of these was true. OK, maybe the last one.

But when all was said and done, he was right!  I realized at that point that I had never looked so healthy because I never was so healthy. I’d never looked so good (my friend exclaimed) because I really had never felt this well.

And I have to credit it all to diabetes.  Honest to God.  It wasn’t until the day that I was diagnosed that I got serious about taking care of myself. Sure, I had attempted to lose the 25 or 30 pounds that kept finding their way back to me, bringing along an extra dozen or so each time they arrived. But it wasn’t just that extra baker’s dozen.  You’ve heard of four score and twenty? Yeah, do the math. I was schlepping around an extra hundred pounds.

Hips and Knees and Back Pain, Oh My! 

So, I lived with chronic back pain, one hip was on the way out, I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing, I pretty much felt crappy most of the time and it wasn’t getting any better. And then it came…the diabetes diagnosis. The worst thing that had happened to me healthwise (although I admit I was luckier than the rest of my family in that department).

The journey began. I embarked on a weight loss effort that continues to this day (minus 110 pounds, thank you very much!). I keep a ridiculous exercise regimen (middle of the night, five times per week). I eat small portions and keep the choices primarily diabetes-friendly. The reward? Normal glucose and A1C levels.

Still, staying in control is a process requiring daily vigilance and attention to detail. Changing how you eat, what you eat, and even sometimes why you eat. Changing your entire relationship with food. Maintaining your friendships and family ties so that you can get – and give – support as needed over the long term. Touching base with the subject matter on a regular basis through such sites as OnTrack Diabetes and podcasts like Ann Gault’s Diabetes Dish.  All of this stuff is so important and contributes greatly to our ongoing success.

Put it all together and, if you’re very lucky, you’ll get what I have…feeling great, looking healthy and the recognition and support of family and friends like Whittington. 

Thanks, Sweet Dick!

As always, readers, stay well. See you next time!

 

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