Small Steps in a Good Direction: Mary Sue Duffy

Incrementally, Mary Sue Duffy's blood sugar kept inching higher and higher, until she decided she couldn't ignore the numbers anymore. "I couldn't accept the fact I had something like diabetes, but I finally decided the tests weren't lying and I had to do something," Duffy says.

Mary Sue Duffy

Mary Sue Duffy

Her official type 2 diabetes diagnosis came in January 2012, and her one-on-one sessions with the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center at Mary Greeley Medical Center soon after. There, diabetes educator Sarah Haveman quizzed Duffy: What kinds of food was she eating? How much? What was her exercise level like?

The answers to those questions, Duffy knew, would portend change. "I worked at a hospital for 30 years, and when I retired in 2009 I knew I wasn't getting as much exercise," says Duffy, who formerly worked at Mary Greeley Medical Center. "I also wasn't watching what I was eating."

But Duffy threw herself into Haveman's recommended changes. She learned portion control, balanced eating, and the value of lean meats, fish and vegetables. Haveman encouraged Duffy to join a gym or walk. She chose walking. And in just 10 months, she had lost well over 100 pounds. She walks two hours a day and has incorporated fruits and vegetables into her regular diet. She still has weight to lose, but has lowered her cholesterol.

Most important, though, Duffy proved something to herself: She could maintain lifestyle changes to battle type 2 diabetes, lose weight and keep the disease from causing further problems. "If you are diagnosed with this, you have to make changes," she says. "This was a life-changer for me."

Just in case she has a bad day, Duffy has a very visible reminder in her kitchen: a cookie jar half full, unopened since she began her journey. "Early on, I kept thinking I would like some, but I would remind myself that I have diabetes and I wanted to get it under control, so I'd make a conscious choice to grab fruit or go for a walk or do something else," she says. "There will be times when I'll be losing weight and then I'll stop, but I have to work through that. I have to talk to myself and keep going."