At 48, Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons is finally hitting his stride with a healthy diet and exercise routine that he says is on par with achieving the kind of physique he'll need to keep up with his Run-D.M.C. group mate Darryl "D.M.C" McDaniels.
"I just did a concert with D.M.C. after 13 years, and after losing some pounds for that, I felt really good," Simmons told The Huffington Post. "We got good reviews for having lots of energy on stage and I realized that if I’m going to continue to do shows ... I gotta be in Mick Jagger-type of condition."
But aesthetic goals (and criticism from the public) aside, Simmons says his new healthy-living routine is rooted in something far more serious -- combating his higher-than-average risk for Type 2 diabetes.
"I found out that [my father] had diabetes in his older age and as I was moving along in my life ... I realized that I had to start losing weight," he said, explaining how he's taken up walking and recently dusted off his treadmill in an effort to stay the course during the chillier winter months. "[It was] for many reasons, but the number one reason was for health."
And while family history factors in to why Simmons needs to get his health in check, diabetes educator Jeannette Jordan said it's a myth many people need to dispel.
"One of the biggest [misconceptions] out there is people feel like diabetes runs in [their] family, so it’s inevitable that they’re going to get it," Jordan said, touting her employer Novo Nordisk's "Ask. Screen. Know." campaign, for which Simmons is now an ambassador. "The message that we’re trying to get out is that it doesn’t have to happen to you the same way. Yes, family history is a risk factor, but it doesn’t mean that because this happened to your mom it has to happen to you.
A diabetes diagnosis also doesn't mean life-altering changes, Jordan said. "What we need to do is not that difficult ... moderation is actually the key. We don’t take away everything that you love, it’s just how much we eat," Jordan said, stressing the importance of knowing which foods turn into sugar, forgoing sweetened soft drinks, and realizing that you can limit yourself to just one cheddar biscuit from Red Lobster and still enjoy your meal.
"The myth is that life is going to change so drastically, '[I'm] not going to be happy with my dining anymore', and that’s not true. You can live well with diabetes if you have it. But the first thing is, you have to be screened, you have to know if you have it. Ask yourself if you’re at risk and then do something about that," Jordan said.
Simmons agrees that knowing is the key -- even if you are the picture of perfect health. "My dad had diabetes, so it doesn’t mean just because Russell stands on his head and does yoga, and Angela’s in perfect health that they don’t have it," he said, referring to his yoga-promoting brother Russell Simmons and his daughter Angela Simmons, who showed off a svelte new figure earlier this year.
And just ahead of the holidays Simmons said he's relying on them for support. "They’re right there for me; they know what I’m doing to keep my weight under control ... and [during the holiday season] I believe in being proactive instead of reactive," Simmons said. "I have all types of things set up so I know, this is what I’m going to eat when this sweet tooth moment comes, this is what I’m going to eat when dinner comes around. And no, I’m not going to wait until the big dinner. [For Thanksgiving], I didn’t wait for the one big moment, I had already eaten twice, the right way, before dinner, so when dinner came, I wasn’t starved."
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The actress was diagnosed with diabetes in 1989 after she became ill on the set of a short-lived television show, "Living Dolls" and slipped into a diabetic coma for a reported seven days. Her doctors <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=3822870&page=1/=#.TxbsmWPOzDU" target="_hplink">initially misdiagnosed her as having Type 1 diabetes</a>, an incurable, autoimmune condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. In truth, the actress has Type 2, which is much more related to lifestyle. She claims to have <a href="http://www.contactmusic.com/news/berry-beating-diabetes_1048407" target="_hplink">regulated her insulin levels with diet alone</a>. "Because she is thin and healthy, her physician initially probably thought that she had Type 1, though in African-Americans there is an increased risk for Type 2. The diagnosis wasn't necessarily a bait and switch, but it might have just been a matter of her physicians getting a better handle on the kind of diabetes she had," Dr. Ronald Kahn, director of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard, told ABC News.
The musician and American Idol judge was first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1999 when he was morbidly obese, tipping the scales at over 350 pounds. "I thought I had a cold and started taking cold medicine," <a href="http://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/features/randy-jackson" target="_hplink">Jackson told the American Diabetes Association's <em>Diabetes Forecast</em> Magazine</a>. "I was tired, lethargic, very thirsty. Of course, I didn't take into consideration that a history of type 2 diabetes ran in my family, because you always think that happens to somebody else, not to you." He credits the diagnosis with kickstarting his dedication to fitness and health: he got gastric bypass surgery, changed his diet and started exercising. Though he continues to check his blood sugar daily, he's been monitoring his insulin without medication for over five years. Drug-free management and even diagnosis reversals are not as difficult or uncommon as previously thought, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/reverse-diabetes_b_918539.html" target="_hplink">reported Dr. Mark Hyman in The Huffington Post</a>: <blockquote>With focused, strategic, scientifically based nutritional intervention, combined with exercise, stress management and sugar and insulin balancing nutritional supplements, many of my patients completely reverse their diabetes. And the side effects -- more energy, better sleep, improved sexual function and weight loss -- are all good.</blockquote>
The self-proclaimed "divabetic" was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the mid-90s after collapsing onstage. She's since made major changes to her diet and upped her exercise. She credits the latter with saving her from some of diabetes' more extreme consequences, which can include feet and leg amputations and blindness. For LaBelle, managing the condition is especially meaningful, given her family's history. Her mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle all had the condition, <a href="http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20167126_20248033,00.html" target="_hplink">according to a profile in <em>People</em> Magazine</a>. Her mother eventually had both legs amputated and her uncle lost his eyesight. "So when the doctor told me I was a diabetic, I was like, 'No, no, no,'" <a href="http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20167126_20248033,00.html" target="_hplink">she told <em>People</em></a>, adding: "I feel great now."
The Former governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential nominee famously lost more than 100 pounds in just 10 months. And while heart health was his main concern, the FOX News commentator was also able to reverse the Type 2 diabetes diagnosis he received in his mid 40s through a combination of portion control, eliminating fried foods and exercising regularly. Both of his parents and two grandparents all had diabetes and, at more than 300 pounds, it wasn't surprising that he'd developed the disease. His environment didn't help: Type 2 diabetes increased 35 percent in Arkansas between 1993 and 2002, <a href="http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programsServices/epidemiology/ChronicDisease/Documents/publications/diabetes_in_arkansas.pdf" target="_hplink">according to CDC data</a>. With over 240,000 diabetic residents, Huckabee was truly a reflection of his constituents. Since his reversal, Huckabee has dedicated himself to trying to help others -- he even <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Quit-Digging-Your-Grave-Knife/dp/0446578061" target="_hplink">wrote a 12-step program entitled <em>Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork</em></a>.
The former CNN anchor and talk show host was diagnosed with diabetes in 1995, though he has generally remained private about it. In an <a href="http://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/features/larry-king-talks" target="_hplink">interview with the American Diabetes Association's <em>Diabetes Forecast</em> Magazine</a>, King says the diabetes was a surprise: he had no symptoms and, following heart surgery, he'd taken up regular exercise and healthful eating habits. "I don't know what diabetes feels like. I know whenever I go to the doctor, they check my feet," he said. "I have my eyes tested once a year, and they report that to my diabetic doctor."
The actress and co-host of "The View" credits her Type 2 diabetes diagnosis with motivating her to lose excess weight. "My mom died of diabetes complications when she was 41," <a href="http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/real-plans/stay-fit/sherri-shepherd/" target="_hplink">Shepherd told <em>Fitness</em> Magazine</a>. "When I was 40, my doctor told me, 'I don't know when you're going to have a stroke, but it's going to happen.'" After that conversation, Shepherd worked hard on her fitness and diet program and lost a reported 10 inches off her waist in just three months.
For a long time after his diagnosis, the actor and director <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/medical/diabetes/2010-11-30-sorvinoonline30_ST_N.htm" target="_hplink">Paul Sorvino continued to eat</a> as if he did not have Type 2 diabetes. His blood sugar went virtually unregulated, until his daughter, the actress Mira Sorvino intervened. Now, the family eats low carb pasta and skips dessert in favor of going for walks together. "There's an Italian expression ... 'Not every ill comes to destroy you,'" explained Sorvino in a video interview with his daughter for <em><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/medical/diabetes/2010-11-30-sorvinoonline30_ST_N.htm" target="_hplink">USA Today.</a> "One of the things that this does for you is forces you to take care of yourself."
The iconic TV presenter was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the early 90s, but only went public with his condition in 2004 as part of his effort to educate people about the links between diabetes and cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, that same year, he suffered from a stroke. Since that time, having recovered his speech and mobility, Clark -- who is commonly known as "America's oldest teenager" -- has continued to make appearances in support of diabetes awareness.
Billie Jean King
Tennis legend King wants people to know that even fit, active people can get Type 2 diabetes. "Anyone can develop diabetes, even an athlete," <a href="http://health.msn.com/health-topics/diabetes/tennis-legend-billie-jean-king-in-match-with-type-2-diabetes" target="_hplink">she told Health.com</a>, adding that her behavior wasn't always healthy. "I have an eating disorder; I was a binge eater. I don't binge eat anymore, but for about 10 years, I was being very cruel to my poor little pancreas." Along with continued regular exercise and a healthy diet, King credits getting enough sleep with helping her manage the disease, by decreasing her appetite. She also takes metformin, a medication that helps manage blood sugar.