‘POWER’ against diabetes

Published 8:58 pm Saturday, March 30, 2013

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories leading up to the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure in Suffolk on April 20.

Zina White has had diabetes for about six years, so she knew she needed to start eating right and exercising before she developed serious complications.

Last year, her church participated in the Project POWER, a faith-based outreach of the American Diabetes Association that focuses on black churches to get out the anti-diabetes message to a group of those at higher risk. Blacks have a higher risk of developing diabetes than most other races.


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White admitted she was not eating well or exercising before starting the program, although she was taking a diabetes medication to help manage the disease.

“Before, I was eating exactly what I wanted to eat,” she said. “I kept telling myself, ‘I don’t have diabetes.’ But when I went to the eye doctor, she said, ‘I can tell you’ve been doing what you want to do.’ I said, ‘Oh, no, I’m not going through that’” — a reference to a common side effect of diabetes that leads to blurry vision or blindness.

She began the Project POWER program, which is funded by a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation, and enjoyed the weekly sessions that showed her how to eat better.

“They actually show you and tell you and give you ways of cooking food,” she said. “That really helps, instead of just reading it from a book and going on the Internet.”

She has found a healthy diet and active lifestyle can help more than medication.

“It really does work,” she said. “I feel a whole lot better, now that I’m eating right and I’m exercising more. It makes my knees feel better, and my whole body feel better, and I have more energy.”

White’s typical blood sugar readings dropped about 20 points after the program, and she lost two or three pant sizes, depending on which pants she’s wearing. She said she would recommend the program to anyone else, whether diabetic or not.

“They can get a benefit out of it,” she said. “All they have to do is follow what they’re saying and don’t give up. You’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself.”

The American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure is coming to Suffolk on April 20. The cycling fundraiser allows riders to choose routes of 10, 30, 65 or 100 miles, all starting from King’s Fork High School and looping through back roads of Suffolk and Isle of Wight County.

For more information on Tour de Cure, visit www.diabetes.org/hamptonroadsvatour.