Vanity isn’t what draws me to look at photos of myself. The one that I look at the most shows me at my worst. I show it here only to encourage you to share your memento.
This unflattering photo shows how I looked in 2004 when I was at a dinner party of the local group of American Mensa, of which I was a member. But this shot shows that I certainly wasn’t smart. Our most important activity was eating, and I did more than my share.
At that point, I weighed about 310 pounds. That was about 10 years after a doctor told me that I had type 2 diabetes. I had been trying to manage my diabetes with metformin, but I wasn’t succeeding. My A1C was above 6.2, which was higher than what anyone calls a normal level.
Largely because I had failed at managing my weight, I wasn’t managing my blood glucose level. I was morbidly obese, which made an acceptable A1C level impossible for me to achieve.
With the help of this unattractive photo, I have triumphed over diabetes. In fact, about a year after someone took this picture of me, I became so unhappy about how I looked and felt that I finally started to get my weight under control. By 2008, my weight came down to its current level of 156 pounds. I was more than a bit thinner in the 2008 photo below than in the 2004 shot.
In nine years that passed since the new me appeared, I look older. But my weight is just the same, and I am still managing diabetes with this memento.
Please share your story
I hope that sharing my story inspires many other people to manage their weight and diabetes. What are the “mementos” – or those things that you keep close by to remind you of your journey – that help you to manage your diabetes?
The new HealthCentral Mementos Project gives you a chance to share those reminders that keep you going strong:
"Are you living with a chronic illness or have you overcome a life-changing event? What got you through? If you used a memento of any kind (a card, stuffed animal, moment, etc.) to help guide you and build strength, we want to hear from you! ‘Mementos,’ a brand new online series from HealthCentral.com, tells your story of triumph in a unique way."
Some people who I know keep an eye on their goals by taking pictures that they cut from a magazine. They paste these photos on a poster board and keep them within sight.
Or have you avoided taking a trip because of your health? Posting a map of a place that you would like to visit might galvanize you into doing what you knew all along that you needed to do.
No matter how common or unusual — or unflattering — please tell other people what your memento is. You can show it in a photo too if that’s appropriate.
Writing and sharing just a few words can give encouragement to other people with diabetes so that they may be able to manage their condition better. Telling your story can also work to give you renewed inspiration to stay the course.
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David Mendosa is a journalist who learned in 1994 that he has type 2 diabetes, which he now writes about exclusively. He has written thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, current A1C level of 5.1, and BMI of 19.8 keep his diabetes in remission without any drugs.