CHARLESTON, W.Va. - I'VE been asked countless times "How did you lose your weight?" Having lost 60 pounds over the winter of 2005 and into the spring of 2006, many were naturally curious. My response was always the truth - diet and exercise, the same thing everyone is told and most follow, at least for a spell.
What was lacking in the response was my motivation. My weight reduction was not from illness. I felt fine and was one of those who "didn't know I had diabetes" until the blood test in December 2005 said so. I can say I'm one in a million - not in the flattering way the phrase is usually posed - but because I'm one of the many millions of you with diabetes.
Food and diabetes are so entwined. I've never known another chronic ailment that can be controlled and managed with, of all things, what you eat! Or what you don't eat.
Healthy vegetarians and vegans can re-embrace meat without peril. Whether or not clogged arteries may return is iffy in cardiac and vascular patients who don't follow a strict routine - there is high risk but not an absolute.
Let a diabetic stray from a dietary regimen for a certain length of time and see what happens.
Certain types need medication supplements in tablet and injection forms, but food plays such an important role. Diet and exercise were the two words spoken to me that December day and diet I did, determined to help myself in every way.
During the months of losing, I experienced the same food cravings and hunger pangs from the diet as everyone else who abruptly changes their eating patterns.
The challenge and temptation was just as great (more so because of this food writing and cooking and food invitations) as for the next dieter - my stomach thought my throat was cut.
But I did it, never explaining that being diabetic was the motivation. I wasn't ill and I wanted all the credit for keeping with the 1,800-calorie diet and exercise (which is 30 minutes of walking daily). It was important no one thought the ailment made me sick and the weight magically fell off.
There wasn't a set goal. My weight was allowed to reach its own level naturally, based upon caloric intake.