Jean Jennings, president and editor-in-chief of Automobile Magazine, was shocked in 1995 when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, even though both her father and uncle lived with type 1 diabetes. Today, Jean works to manage her diabetes, she eats a healthy diet and keeps a positive outlook; she has also become an advocate who sits on the board of directors of the Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan chapter of JDRF. Also editor-in-chief of the website JeanKnowsCars.com, Jean has been writing about cars and the car business for more than thirty years. She has won awards for her feature writing, car reviews and her monthly Automobile Magazine column, “Vile Gossip.” She will be a judge on the upcoming reality series competition “Motor City Masters” on truTV in late June 2014, and lives in the Michigan countryside with her husband and, as she says, “the entire food chain.”
What three words would you use to describe who you are?
Committed, crazy and cool.
How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are?
Diabetes focuses my attention every day on a more structured life than I’ve lived in the past.
What inspires you to do what you do?
The endless opportunity to meet great people and have great adventures.
What do you appreciate most in your friends?
Kindness, compassion and intelligence.
What would you pack for your favorite vacation and where would you go?
I would pack a suitcase of books and go to the highest hill in Umbria.
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Frozen whole-wheat waffles, bottled water, yogurt, bottled milk with the cream on top, LaCroix1 coconut water, homemade iced jasmine tea, string cheese, sliced turkey breast, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, leftover salad from the Greek restaurant, whole-wheat bread and moldy sliced strawberries.
What is your favorite way to relieve stress?
What is your idea of happiness?
I know I should say “peace on earth,” but it’s really a day off with my four dogs out in the field.
What do you most dislike?
Bad behavior in anyone, including myself.
What words do you try to live by?
Don’t accept your rewards and punishments from other people. Also, if you have a crummy day, nobody cares and you’re still having a crummy day, so try to have a good day.
What is your greatest fear?
Potentially becoming a health burden to my husband as I get older.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Hats! I have dozens upon dozens.
On what occasion do you lie?
When I visit my mother, who has dementia, I lie about her age.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
My human family is the core of my being, and I would change nothing about them, but as to my immediate family, I would have my dogs live forever.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Denise McCluggage, my dad, my grandma Gagnon, and my mother-in-law, Rhea Jennings. They’re flawed and managed adversity admirably, as all heroes should.
What would you choose for your last meal?
A cheeseburger Double-Double® from In-N-Out Burger with grilled onions, a real handmade chocolate malt, a big pile of onion rings and lemon meringue pie. That would be my last meal in more ways than one.
What are you looking forward to right now?
I am looking forward right now to the completion of shooting on my 10-episode reality show, “Motor City Masters.”
What would your message be to those living with type 2 diabetes?
It’s an opportunity to live well: eat right, exercise, to be the person we all want to be. It is not a curse, really; it’s a blessing.
Do you have words of advice to those struggling with weight fluctuations due to diabetes or want to offer your own perspective on weight and diabetes?
You can’t diet your way to success; so you have to make it a complete lifestyle…. You have to allow yourself to restart your life every day. Some days I don’t have to, but when I fall, I get back up as fast as I can.
Any last words of wisdom to our readers?
No matter what symptoms you may be suffering from, you can always start again and aim for being the best person you can be as a person living with diabetes. You can always reset your life and do the best you can to maintain the status quo. The only thing you shouldn’t do is give up or just stop and let it go.
All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
1LaCroix is a registered trademark of Everfresh Beverages, Inc.
© 2014 The DX: The Diabetes Experience