As a former novice runner, I can appreciate the dedication it must take to train for and compete in any race. Add to that the challenges that may come from living with type 2 diabetes, and I’m really impressed. Susan Ito went from not exercising at all to running a half marathon and competing in a triathlon.
Diagnosed with pre-diabetes at age 49 in January 2009, and type 2 diabetes three months later, Susan took the news as a wake-up call for her health. “I think my diagnosis was really a good thing because it spurred me into action,” she said. “If it hadn’t happened, I would’ve just kept on with my couch-potatoey ways. I wouldn’t really have been that motivated.”
She resolved to take charge of her health with lifestyle changes. At 35 pounds overweight, Susan joined Weight Watchers™, which helped her lose the weight in about six months. She found the program so motivating she became a leader.
“As soon as I got to my goal weight, I became a leader because I felt like, ‘This is my life. I have to do this,’” she said. “Joining the staff and having that conversation with members every week is one way of helping me with my own accountability.”
The day Susan was diagnosed with pre-diabetes she also started blogging at FoodFoodBodyBody. “Pretty quickly, I found an online community of other diabetes bloggers and fitness bloggers. When I have straggly times, I’ll blog about it, and I get immediate support. The encouragement and understanding of that community has been so huge to me.”
Soon after her diagnosis, she also began running via the Couch to 5K training plan. “I couldn’t run a block,” she said. “I couldn’t run one minute when I first started, but I kept at it. I remember the first time I ran for five minutes straight, I started crying. I couldn’t believe I was able to do it.”
In the three years since her type 2 diagnosis, Susan has continued her running, progressing from 5K and 10K runs to half-marathons. She also joined a training team that supported her through the completion of two triathlons. Susan believes the key for her success is making small changes gradually.
“Even though I was hitting my health from all levels, I was hitting it in really doable ways,” Susan said. “That’s what I love about both Weight Watchers and Couch to 5K. It’s about changes that you can make right now; small, doable changes that are measurable. Then next week, you make another small change. Just start where you are and add on little by little.”
She shares similar advice with her Weight Watchers members. “My motto is to be mindful and don’t suffer,” she advised. “Don’t do something that’s going to feel like punishment to you. You have to make the food or activity pleasurable, whatever it is, or else it’s not going to work. I feel like whatever I do, I have to enjoy it on some level.”
Susan has accomplished so much in the past three years; it makes me look forward to all that I may be able to accomplish this year, too. Many thanks to Susan for sharing her story and offering such an inspirational example for others to follow.
All the best,
Disclosure: Susan Ito 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.
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