When Nathalie Stewart's doctor told her to lose weight or be at serious risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the Richmond mom finally decided she had to do something. "My doctor took a blood test and told me I'm on the fence for diabetes," said the 45-year-old mom of 10-year-old Heather.
"I have a friend who is on insulin pills and there is no cure and no turning back once you have diabetes."
It scared her straight into a workout and diet regime.
She started walking on her treadmill, a few minutes a day, gradually increasing her speed and distance.
"I joined Richmond Spirit Runners at Thompson Community Centre and I train with the Running Room program," said the retired RCMP officer.
(According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes. If you have type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy; insulin medication is needed).
She then investigated the most popular diets and amalgamated the best from each one to suit her lifestyle.
"The first week was really hard, I was starving all the time, but I kept reminding myself to hang in there, diabetes was worse," Stewart said.
That was September. Five weeks into her training schedule, Stewart now runs four times a week, watches her diet and has lost 30 pounds.
"I'm getting stronger, feeling better, waking up more refreshed and my husband tells me I don't snore anymore," said a grinning Stewart. "I've tried three times in the past to lose weight and I never stuck to it.
"I've also spent thousands of dollars on personal trainers, but for some reason this time it clicked."
Not only is she feeling better and keeping diabetes at bay, she's gone from wearing a men's extra-large sweater to women's extra-large sweater and hopes to lose another 50 pounds by next summer.
Stewart recently took part in the World Diabetes Day on November 14 and ran along the streets of Richmond to raise awareness about diabetes.
"I ran with blue hair so that people saw me and read about the cause," she added.
Now, Stewart is preparing for her biggest challenge yet.
She has signed up for the Canadian Diabetes Association's Reykjavik's half-marathon in Iceland on August 18, 2012. The catch? She has to raise $6,000 before February 2012.
So far, Stewart has raised nearly $800.
"I'm going to hit up my dentist, my doctor and my favourite restaurants and stores," she said. "I'm planning a social event, a pub night or a silent auction- the money goes towards diabetes research and programs."
The French-Canadian Stewart grew up as many Quebecers do - loving carbohydrates of all kinds, sugar, pie and cheese.
Her mother's sister died of complications from Type 2 diabetes in her sixties.
"My aunt was in her forties when she developed diabetes and her eyesight went, her hands and feet swelled and at one point she had to be placed in extended care," said Stewart. "When the doctor told me I was at risk for diabetes, my aunt's death crossed my mind.
"I have cut out all the bad carbs and only eat whole wheat bread and tortillas."
If you would like to help Stewart in her goal to raise $6,000 (which is the entry fee) so she can compete in the half-marathon in Iceland this August, visit her website at www.nathaliestewart.com or Team Diabetes B.C. to donate, sign up or learn more at www.diabetes.ca.
"People can donate directly to the Canadian Diabetes Association in my name," Stewart added.