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When were you first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

2002. I had all the classic symptoms, excessive thirst, constantly going to the bathroom, etc. At one point I drank an absurd amount of water over a couple hours and I knew there was something going on.

How did you react to your diagnosis?

I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I took the medicine my health care provider first prescribed, but I didn’t commit to eating healthy and being active like I needed to. I kept telling myself that “Everything is good in moderation,” which was just an excuse to keep eating what I wanted.

What made you decide to get real about your diabetes?

About 10 years ago, my dad passed away from type 2 diabetes complications. That was really tough, especially knowing that if my dad had taken better care of himself, he might still be here.

My dad just didn’t know what happens when you don’t take control of your diabetes. That was a real wake-up call for me. I didn’t want to just be a memory for my family, I wanted to be there. So, I vowed right then and there that things would be different, that I would get serious about managing my diabetes.

What changes did you make when you decided to get real?

Man, I changed a lot. For me, I kind of needed a fresh start, to leave all my old ways behind. I had just moved to New York for a new gig and I decided, “Ok, this is it. It’s time for the new me.”

I started with my diet. Al Roker is a good friend of mine and he recommended his nutritionist to me. She helped me cut out unnecessary carbs and gave me an action plan to eat healthier and cleaner. To be active, I started biking. Almost everywhere I went, I either walked or biked. I loved Manhattan, so biking around it was something I could enjoy while also being active.

How did those lifestyle changes affect your diabetes?

It made a huge difference. I lost a bunch of weight. So much that I had to get a whole new wardrobe. I felt so much better, and the eating healthy and being active got easier over time. It all just became routine.

And my blood sugar level was under control, probably for the first time since I was diagnosed. For the first time I really felt like, “I can do this.” It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be to change my lifestyle how I did.

What about medication? How did it play into your treatment?

When I was living in New York, I was taking some medications. I was stubborn, but my endocrinologist helped me understand why medication is necessary to help control diabetes. Given how the disease progresses, no matter how well you eat or how active you are, you’re likely going to need some help from other medications to keep your blood sugar in check.

Later on, my endocrinologist prescribed an injectable medicine. At first, I was not a fan of that. I really didn’t want to be on another medication.

What happened? Are you taking an injectable medicine now?

Yep. At first, I really resisted it. I told my endocrinologist to give me 3 months. I thought I could get my blood sugar level back under control if I really hit my diet and workout plan hard. For 3 months I busted my tail in the gym and I ate so well, but it didn’t work. My blood sugar was still high.

My endocrinologist explained to me that it wasn’t my fault that I had to take an injectable. It’s just how diabetes is, it changes over time. So, I started giving myself an injection, and now it’s just a part of my routine. I don’t even think about it.

Some diabetes medicines may come with a higher risk of low blood sugar than others (hypoglycemia). Have you ever had hypoglycemia?

For sure, and it ain’t fun. Not only that, it can be dangerous.

Before my doctor prescribed an injectable medicine, she told me about the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. I was like, “Low blood sugar? Isn’t that what I’m going for?” But she told me that when your blood sugar gets too low, you can start feeling awful and maybe even pass out, which can be dangerous, especially if you’re driving or something.

But you can be proactive in learning the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia, which is what I’ve done. I’ve learned to read the signs my body gives me when my blood sugar gets too low. I always have a snack or something on me so I can get my blood sugar back up when I start feeling the effects of hypoglycemia.

And if I do experience any symptoms of hypoglycemia, I always check in and tell my doctor about it.

What are your thoughts on the increased risk of heart disease that comes with having type 2 diabetes?

It’s some scary stuff! As if diabetes isn’t tough enough, you also have to worry about getting heart disease, which can lead to death way before you’re ready to go. I, for one, am not ready to go yet. I don’t want to be just a memory or a picture on the wall.

I prioritize seeing my diabetes care team regularly, so they can keep an eye on my heart, and talk to them about what I can do.

What tips or advice do you have to those who need to get real about diabetes?

Other people with diabetes often ask me, “Anthony, what’s your secret?” They think since I’m on TV that I must have a special doctor or a miracle cure or a fridge full of a secret superfood or something. Truth is, there’s no secret to managing diabetes, it just takes commitment and resolve every day. 

One thing I would say is to not to wait. Get real now. I’ve learned that you’re either managing your diabetes, or it’s hurting you. That’s just how diabetes works. Find your motivation and run with it. Whether it’s being there for your family, the things you still want to accomplish in life, the places you want to go—focus on all those things and let them drive you.

Changing what food you eat, consistently being active, and taking an injectable medicine may seem a bit daunting at first, but just give it a shot, pun intended. It all it gets so much easier over time, as it all turns to habit. Believe me, if I can do it, you can, too. 

Get real about your diabetes, it’s so worth it.

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