Changing a Lifetime of Habits Part 2

Posted by Lloyd on May 20, 2011

But then, at age 34, she was diagnosed with diabetes. With scant support from her doctor and not much willingness to change her bad habits, the oral medication she was taking simply wasn’t helping.

Things turned around for Mason after she switched doctors and saw a diabetes educator, both of whom not only explained the importance of changing her habits but also helped her find ways to do it.

“A lot of what I had to change, I didn’t like at all,” she said. “But then I’d think, ‘Well, you’re not going to like injecting insulin every day either.’”

So Mason made a clean sweep of her house in Reston, Va., throwing out everything she shouldn’t have, and cut herself off from friends who weren’t supportive. In the past 18 months, since Mason started exercising and eating a diet of mostly fish, chicken and seasonal greens, she has lost 60 pounds. With the help of oral medication, she says she feels better than she has in years.

“I started feeling so much better that that’s been my incentive to stick with it,” she said.

A Return to Healthy Habits
Terrance Knox had been healthy his whole life. The ex-college football player had always worked out hard and ate a mostly healthy diet.

But in 1993, after back surgery, Knox was fearful of reinjuring himself and stopped exercising. What he didn’t do was cut back on the amount of food he was still taking in. Before he knew it, his weight had ballooned to 280 pounds.

Then, on Oct. 12, 1999, the 36-year-old was diagnosed with diabetes.

Later that day, he called the American Diabetes Association and offered to volunteer. “I wanted to get involved, to educate myself. When you’re diagnosed, I think the first thing you feel is fear, and that’s because you don’t understand it. I knew very little about diabetes, but I decided I was going to make myself an expert on the disease,” said Knox, who just recently took a full-time job with the ADA.

Since his diagnosis, Knox, of Woodbridge, N.J., has returned to exercise and healthy eating with a vengeance. He bakes and broils his food, eating mostly chicken, fish and vegetables. He gave up sodas for seltzer water (his most difficult task), and he exercises daily.

One of his motivating factors has been the death of a childho
od friend from complications of diabetes just months after Knox was diagnosed. “I decided right then and there that I have a good deal left to give to this world and I have to be healthy to do it,” he said.

Losing Weight and Feeling Better
In 1998, Carolyn Granger was at the end of a rope she had struggled to climb for two decades. Even though she had been diagnosed with diabetes 20 years before, and even though both her parents had the disease, she never really understood it. Doctors told her she needed to lose weight and eat better, but she says nobody helped her figure out just how to go about making those lifestyle changes, or even what constituted a proper diet for diabetics.

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