Name: Camille LoParrino
Diabetes Type: 2
Hometown: The Bronx, NY, USA
Current Life's Work: Health Literacy Coach
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by my internist two years ago and he told me I would have to take an oral medication two times a day. I was doubly upset. First, I dreaded hearing those words about getting diabetes, and second, I was already taking an oral medication for my thyroid. My first reaction was to scream and cry and want to die, but after talking to two supportive friends, I decided to take control of the situation. My initial goals were to lose weight and get off the newly prescribed oral medication. Hmmm… now how was I supposed to accomplish this difficult feat?
Well, I cleaned out my cabinets and started shopping for real foods. I stopped ordering foods in and eating foods out, and I began to cook at home. Certainly not one of my best features since I have to be the laziest cook on the planet, but it's something I just had to force myself to do. I made healthier food purchases, I cut down on the amount of food I put on my plate, and I spaced out my eating times throughout the day. In addition to eating, I also focused on exercising. I walked the treadmill almost every single day, and on the weekends, I lifted weights and did pushups. Another important aspect of being newly diagnosed was to monitor my blood sugar, and I did this so much, I wound up having to purchase more test strips than my insurance company provided. This testing, however, was so very useful to me because it showed me right away if I was eating the right amount of foods and if I had selected the appropriate types of foods for my body. If my sugar spiked or if I felt dizzy soon after a meal, I knew I made a mistake and I had to examine how. I also kept a record of what I ate, when I ate, and the blood sugar reading before and after each meal.
After two months, I returned to my internist and discovered I had lost 10 pounds. He was so thrilled with my results that he told me to cut down the dosage of oral medication by half – Yippee! I was only taking the medication once a day, but I was still determined to work at eliminating it completely. So I began to experiment with healthier foods, including several types of vegetables that I had never even heard of or eaten before, such as kale, collard greens, and broccolini. I must say that the flavor of these unique greens overpowered my laziness in cooking them. As a result, I got better and better at selecting and creating meals for myself and my husband. Then after two more months, I went back to the doctor and discovered that I had lost an additional ten pounds – Woo Hoo! I was now officially off the meds after four months. My A1c had gone down almost 3 whole points since his first examination. Again, I was determined to get that reading down even lower.
By this time, I figured it was necessary to hire a personal trainer, and although I went through a few of them, I began to notice improvements in my shape. I no longer looked like a lumpy blob and began to distinguish the difference between my waist, my hips, and my thighs. Wow! I was thrilled to see that my clothes were beginning to feel loose and I could sit in them for longer periods of time without busting a gut. These improvements made me courageous enough to join some of the workout classes such as Tai Chi, Pilates, and Yoga. I have to say, I still have some difficulties with some of the moves because my lower body is still somewhat heavy and my upper body is still a bit weak, but the teachers of these classes are very supportive in whatever attempts I make to complete the positions involved in these classes.
So, I guess in a nutshell, there are a total of three areas that I focus on to get better: 1) healthy eating, 2) exercising, and 3) relaxation techniques. Not only are they helping me physically to get myself into better shape, but they are also helping me emotionally as I see the positive changes my body is going through, and they are also helping me socially as I get to meet and "compete" with a variety of age groups as I participate in these joint activities. So, in conclusion, I have to tell you that as of April  two months ago, my A1c has now reached an all-time low for me of 6.0 (and counting).
I've learned a lot and intend to continue learning more. With that in mind I attend nutrition classes, watch cooking shows, and take a variety of exercise classes. I was encouraged to write about my journey from type 2 into wellness, and I have complied. I just submitted a manuscript to a book publisher and I am awaiting their final touches. Since I am a retired teacher, I made sure to include loads of resources for the newly diagnosed that I found extremely useful myself, such as, diabetic websites, diabetic-friendly meals, and the professional theories that have gotten me this far. I have a website where I post some healthy recipes by two special people, Joy Bauer, a registered dietician and John La Puma, a doctor and chef. I cordially invite you to check out these recipes. One day soon I would like to put together a cookbook of my own based on the quick, easy, yet healthy recipes that I cook, serve, and eat for myself, my husband, my friends, and my family. Perhaps this could be a joint effort with my new friends at dLife. Post your favorite recipes on my website at www.happymediumensemble.net or write to me on dLife. Be sure to include your name and state so that you will get credit for your cooking creation. Stay well! And, happy cooking to all of you!
We are always looking for interesting/inspiring diabetes stories. To find out our current call for submissions or to submit your own inspirational story for consideration, check out Real People, Real Stories.
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