Director of Nutrition Services
When it comes to my passions in life, three things come to mind: Nutrition, Family & Friends, and ROCK!
So, when I got the chance to combine two of those loves in one shot – let’s just say, sometimes, it just doesn’t get better than this! Nobody rocks more than Bret Michaels (Poison forever!), and to get an interview with him about nutrition – priceless!
Whose better to talk to for the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) American Diabetes Month than Bret Michaels? He has been living with type 1 diabetes since age six. With about 24 million children and adults in the United States dealing with diabetes every day, he’s helping to change the perception of this disease.
Michaels’ passion, lifelong battle with diabetes and commitment to the cause is above and beyond what most of us perceive. Diabetes is not just near and dear to him, but a cause he lives with daily. He is hoping to share the things that he has been through and learned.
When you hear his name, blood sugar levels may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but in Michaels’ world, it is the first thing he thinks about every morning. This rock star is focused on his health – “custom building” his life through his passions. He is mentally and physically dealing with the cards he’s been dealt (living with diabetes) and he’s rocking it!
Talking to Bret Michaels (what a great interview!) was like talking to an old friend – no holds barred, just pure emotion and up-front answers. Of course the focus was nutrition and health (the dietitian in me!), but even more important was how individuals living with this disease face the physical issues — and especially the mental issues.
“Life is not perfect, but it’s how you roll with it; I have been knocked down professionally and even worse medically, but I am a kicker and a fighter – mental attitude is what it’s all about,” says Michaels.
When it comes to most things in life – diet, fitness, disease, lifestyle changes – it is all about getting the facts and being ready to make changes.
Don’t get him wrong, his knowledge, dealing with diabetes, and living with it hasn’t always been easy. We are talking about Bret Michaels — and his lifestyle has been a little crazy at times. But early on, he realized that diabetes had been a blessing and a curse all in one.
“As a kid, I felt isolated. There were no other kids in my school who were diabetic,” remembers Michaels. ”My mom formed the Harrisburg Diabetic Youth Camp, which saved my life. Being around others like you is empowering.”
“As I got older, (around the age of 17) I realized I was in the sleaziest businesses ever created, where most were most were trying to get rich. Early on I had to realize that it all comes down to how you guide yourself and live – being positive and loving people — your family, friends and fans.”
While many of us (me included) take a lot longer to understand and become secure with ourselves, Michaels and his family didn’t have a choice but to make it work for him. Whether he was out on the football field as a kid, or touring across the globe, his blood sugar test kit and insulin were in tow.
Nowadays his schedule is pretty routine – his blood sugar testing schedule, anyway. His day-to-day schedule is a different story.
“Look at a rock star’s schedule, it is insane,” says Michaels. ”One night you are going to bed at 3 a.m. in the morning, the next, well, that could be anytime!”
But one thing holds true: he is up the same time every morning regardless (more than I can say) to check his blood sugar, take his insulin and start the day with a good breakfast — balanced and portioned, of course, he promises!
To Bret, it comes down to what he has been saying for years:
“Diabetic or not, one of the most important things when it comes down to living healthy is eating the right foods in the right balance. It is all about the way you feel, not just talking about weight. Whether it is weight loss or weight gain, I am just talking about your body feeling good and that mind over matter makes a difference.”
I didn’t even have to coax him into saying that – I love it!