Diabetes : Healthy Changes Help Grandma Live Active Life

Mark Richens Sundra Tate finds the most joy in playing with her grandchildren.

Living with Type 2 diabetes and knowing her family's history of heart disease, she decided to change her ways.

"I just wanted to do better. I wanted to be here for my grandkids and for my family," said Tate, a home health care nurse who turned 47 on Monday.

In July of last year, Tate began to change the way she eats.

She cut back on sweets, breads and pastas, and began to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and water into her diet.

"I substituted carrots for chips, and just started eating more fruits for snacks," she said. "And I didn't eat anything after 7 at night."

Her love affair with Butterfinger candy bars proved to be a little more problematic.

"At first I thought I would just buy the little ones, but then I would end up eating a whole bag of them," Tate said. "Now I don't even go down the candy aisle."

These days, a spoonful of peanut butter curbs her addiction. And she opts for sprouted-grain Ezekiel bread.

A month into her dietary changes, Tate began to include exercise in her weekly routine, attending classes at the Church Health Center Wellness facility twice a week and using the exercise equipment two days a week.

"At first, I couldn't stay longer than a minute on the treadmill," she said. "Now I can go a good 45 minutes on the elliptical."

Her workouts include cardio kickboxing classes on Tuesdays, step class on Thursdays, and working out on the elliptical or treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes as well as the stationary bike or walking for 30 minutes on Mondays and Fridays.

"Sometimes I'm here until they start telling us to leave," she said.

In one year, Tate has lost close to 40 pounds and substituted size 16 clothes for her former size 20 wardrobe.

"I have had a total knee replacement, and I had a lot of muscle issues, joint issues, and a lot of pain. Now I don't hurt like that anymore," she said. "I get around better. I stretch better. I bend better. I do a lot of things I couldn't do before."

She's seen other improvements as well.

"My overall everything is better. I'm more cheerful and happy. My attitude is just beautiful," she said. "I feel like I'm accomplishing something I want to do, which is to keep myself around and keep myself healthy. I have five grandchildren. I have got to be here for them."

Sundra Tate

Age: 47 on Monday.

Home: Memphis.

What she did: She changed her eating habits, cutting down on sweets, breads and pastas and including more fruits, vegetables and water in her diet, and she began exercising four days a week.

Gym info: Church Health Center Wellness, 1115 Union, 901-259-4673, churchhealthcenter.org/wellness.

Advice: "Eat to live, don't live to eat."

(c)2012 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

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