If you’ve watched the news recently, chances are good that you’ve seen some coverage of the national soccer playoffs. As with the Sochi games earlier this year, I often find the individual player stories even more compelling than the games themselves. Someone else who enjoys a good player story is sports writer Michael Lewis. When I saw a post he wrote about living with type 2 diabetes, I knew I wanted to hear more about his story.
Kicking…and Screaming into Soccer
Michael didn’t start off as a soccer fan. Though he decided in college he wanted to be a sports writer, he was not overjoyed when the sports editor at his newspaper assigned him to cover the local professional soccer team. “I went kicking and screaming into it,” Michael remembered.
Since that early assignment in 1975, Michael has traveled the globe covering soccer games, including writing about elite games and world championships.
Shooting for a New Lifestyle
During a regular checkup in May 2009, Michael’s doctor alerted him that his blood sugar level was elevated. An additional blood test confirmed Michael lives with type 2 diabetes.
With advice from his doctor, and some research, Michael set about making lifestyle changes, including decreasing portion size and eliminating sugary drinks. He also got an exercise bike and weights and now exercises four to six times a week.
“This is not a diet; this is a lifestyle,” he said. “When I first started this out, I wondered, ‘How am I going to remember all this?’ Now it’s just ingrained.” Within a year, Michael dropped from about 210 pounds to 157 pounds, and now maintains at about 170.
Traveling with Diabetes
One challenge Michael faces is maintaining his diabetes lifestyle changes while on the road on assignment. “When you’re traveling, you can’t always control the food that you’re eating,” he said. “All of a sudden you’re on deadline and you get hungry, and you don’t have an apple to eat. There’s a snack bar in the press center but it’s limited.”
When Michael travels within the United States, he plans ahead. “I can bring things with me, whether it’s apples, snacks or cereal,” he said. “I usually know what they have at the various hotels’ breakfast buffets, and some of them do have my cereal, so it makes life easier.”
Traveling internationally with diabetes presents other challenges, according to Michael, with restrictions on bringing fresh produce on flights. “Sometimes if the schedule’s crazy, it’s hard finding time to go out and buy local food,” he said. “You try and work around it the best you can.”
When covering the world championship games in Brazil, Michael was pleased to find a salad bar at a local mall. “When I did get an opportunity to eat better, I grabbed at it,” he said. “I went back there several times. I tried to adapt to my options, knowing that my stay was only going to be a few weeks.”
Goal: Diabetes Awareness
When people remark on his weight loss, Michael often shares about his type 2 diabetes diagnosis. “I’m very forthcoming about telling people about it,” he said. “It’s not a shame or a burden; I’ve found out a lot more people that I know have type 2 diabetes. If I can talk about it and educate someone to either go to a physician and get tested, or inspire someone to try to have a better lifestyle, even if it’s one person, that would be great. I think every little bit helps.”
The Championship Game
In the big game this weekend, Michael has a good feeling about the Los Angeles team. “Soccer could have a Hollywood ending in the LA team,” he said. “With Landon Donovan retiring at the end of this season, what better way to go out with another league championship? He already has five championship rings.”
I was impressed by all the forethought Michael puts into his travel plans to help manage his health. I am also excited about the upcoming soccer championship to see if Michael’s predictions come true. Many thanks to him for sharing his story.
All the best,
Disclosure: Michael Lewis received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.