David Mendosa’s Journey from Sick and Obese to Total Wellness, Part 1: Becoming Obese and Diabetic
My friend David Mendosa writes on the HealthCentral Diabetes site. Although we have not yet met, David and I have become friends because we share a common bond – we each were fat and sick with diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. And each of us has taken similar, yet slightly different, journeys to wellness.
The common thread is that we each lost a significant amount of our body weight, and have made lifestyle and dietary changes to maintain that weight loss for the long term. This has affected the remission of our diabetes and improved our overall health and quality of life. I cannot stress that last point enough: Improved our quality of life.
Oh yes, and our journeys have led us to health activism. David is well-regarded as a diabetes advocate. In this interview, David and I discuss his transformation from fat and sick to total wellness and his health activist endeavors. In fact, David and I talked about his journey in such detail that I had to break the interview into several parts to make it easily to digest. Believe me; you do not want to miss a word he says. David has a fascinating patient journey conquering not only obesity but also several obesity-related conditions. Please read on…
In part 1, David and I chat about the journey that led him to obesity and diabetes.
Q: David, you were diagnosed with diabetes type 2 in 1994. Please tell us about your health and your lifestyle that led up to this diagnosis.
A. I had been an editor of a business magazine since the late 1980s. I loved the work, but it was so demanding that I was at my desk more than 60 hours a week. I didn’t think that I had any time for all the hiking I had done before getting that job. I didn’t think that I even had time to prepare good meals. I usually picked up something at McDonald’s on the way to work and ate lunch at my desk. My weight shot up to over 300 pounds, and I had even less energy than before. In the little leisure time that I had I would read, often about business, or watch something stupid on my TV.
When a doctor finally told me that I had diabetes, my A1C level was sky-high -- 14.4. I never suspected that I had diabetes, because I didn’t know the first thing about it or even its symptoms. I was tired all the time, but I assumed it was because I was working so hard and just getting old.
Q. So you were normal weight before you took the “desk job” with long hours?
A. At different times before I became a magazine editor I was overweight for a few years. But from 1972 until I got this desk job that kept me on my butt so many hours of the week I was able to maintain a normal weight.
Q: In 1995 you transitioned from your “day job” to advocating about diabetes. Please tell us what prompted that change and how you got started as a health activist.
A. Since I am a journalist, I approach each new challenge as a journalist does. First I learn about it and then I write about it. When I learned in 1994 that I had diabetes, I naturally set out to learn everything I could about it. However, my doctors, nurses, and nutritionists didn’t have the time or the knowledge to teach me much. So I turned to bookstores and libraries and found little more. But the Internet was just opening up to people outside academia and the government. We didn’t have the Web yet, but we did have Usenet newsgroups. I discovered a wealth of information in two of these groups, misc.health.diabetes and alt. support.diabetes.
In late 1994 some diabetes mailing lists, which we called Listservs, started, and I became an active participant in several of them, both learning and sharing what I had learned. At about the same time we got our first Web browsers, and I got an Internet account.
I was right on the cusp of the Internet revolution, but like almost everyone else at the time I didn’t realize it. In February 1995, one year after my diabetes diagnosis, I started a website about diabetes. This website is the second oldest website in the world dealing with diabetes. Only the NIDDK site is older. I had no great plans for my website -- I just wanted to be able to help other people with diabetes about dealing with a few problems we ran into in navigating the Internet.
Only gradually did my website grow to what it is today. Likewise, only gradually did my life become one of being a diabetes advocate. My journey with diabetes took a lot of twists and turns. I learned by experimenting on myself what works to manage it. But as I learned more I felt compelled to share it. That’s what being a journalist is.
In part 2 of my interview with David, he and I explore his dramatic weight loss and how he gained control of his health.
Living life well-fed,