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The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

19 Years Ago

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19 years ago I sat in a hospital room holding my Granny’s hand. She was dying. I did not want to let her go, but I knew that the end was inevitable. Years of living with T2 diabetes had taken their toll on her, she was suffering greatly. We sat in the hospital room, alone, and talked. She gave me advice, told me to work hard, told me to find someone who loved me for who I was someday. She told me she was sorry for not being able to see me graduate, or get married or have children.

We cried together on that cold February night. Her biggest concern for me was my health. She looked at me and said “don’t get diabetes.” I told her that I would get healthy.

Somedays I feel as though I failed my Granny. It was a few years after her death that I would find out I had type 2 diabetes. After I was diagnosed, things only became worse, my weight sky rocketed to somewhere near 450 pounds, my t2 diabetes was out of control, I had neuropathy in my legs, and it was starting in my eyes. I was on 13+ medications, tons of insulin. I was sick, tired, depressed and I wanted it to all be over. At the worst of it, I understood why my Granny stopped all diabetes treatment. I understood the pain, and the thought that it would just be a lot easier not to live any longer. Easier on myself, easier on the ones who loved me. Thankfully, I found the answer before it was too late for me. There is not a day that goes by that I wish I could have found the answer before my Granny passed away.

My life would have been so much different with her in it than with her not in it. It was a senseless death, one that did not need to happen. Much like the 1000′s of others who die from the disease, T2 diabetes does not have to be something we see in our society, it does not have to be a disease that progresses, and it does not have to be a disease that takes away people you love far too early. Watching my Granny suffer and die from T2 diabetes is what pushes me each day to get the word out: Type 2 diabetes does not have to take lives. I almost let it take my life, and I feel like I was given a huge second chance to get the message out.

Is it hard? It might seem like it at first. But I promise you that having T2 diabetes or another preventable disease is MUCH harder than changing the way you eat. I cannot think of one meal or food that is worth the suffering, the agony and the pain that having a preventable disease causes. I am still very much on this journey. I will never give up, and I will keep fighting. I hope you will do the same, I hope that you will discover that you are well worth any effort that you need to put forth in order for you not to suffer, needlessly. I think you are worth it, and hope you do as well. For those of you who have not heart my story, I was a severe out of control T2 diabetic, facing partial amputation of my leg if I did not turn things around. Thankfully, I turned things around. Today I am medicine free and down over 200 pounds. Do I still have work to do? Of course, I do not think that will ever stop. However, I now look forward to each day of my life, and I can’t wait to see where I go from here.


The above photo is me around the time when I started (though, not at my heaviest weight)


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This photo is me currently, with the 2 people who saved my life. Dr. Neal Barnard on the right, who wrote “Program for Reversing Diabetes” and of course, you all know Rip :)

About the author

Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

18 Responses to “19 Years Ago”

  1. Sunshine99 says:

    Dear Natala,

    Thank you for sharing a few of your memories of your beloved Grandmother. How wonderful that the two of you had such a close and loving relationship! It sounds like her spirit helped keep you going through the worst of your disease. I appreciate the inspiration and the motivation and encouragement you provide to not give up. Congrats on such an amazing turn-around. It’s never too late to start the healing process. You are doing your best and working so hard to make sure that no one else has regrets based on, “If only I had known…” Thank you and keep up the effort for yourself and others! As we say in yoga, “Let the pain slide into the past. And let us use what we learn in our practice to go forth and do good.” You are working on the future, and your Grandma would be so proud of you and your efforts to help others. Warmest regards, xoxox – Karen

  2. Kathy McLean says:

    Thank you for sharing, that is great and such an inspiration.!!!!

  3. What an awesome story! Congrats to you!
    My grandmother on my father’s side, and my mother died from complications from Diabetes. Mom had several heart attacks, a stroke, and the last 10 years of her life was only an existance. Myself, my brother and 3 sisters watched my mom die. My oldest sister has diabetes, my next oldest sister has heart problems. Hubby and I are 100% plant based, and the comments I get from them are – diet has nothing to do with your health. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is, but we are hoping that living by example may change their thinking before it’s too late.

  4. Pam Honthumb says:

    Great Story, thanks for sharing and hopefully inspiring many other with T2

  5. Marie Seery says:

    Wonderful story! Thank you for sharing.

    Marie from Mass

  6. Kathy G. says:

    This should have come with a warning….tissues needed! You are awe inspiring. Thanks for your crusade in getting the word out.

  7. Sue says:

    I cried watching your video on E2X today and cried some more reading this. You are my hero, I don’t think you realize how many lives you are saving and how much everyone LOVES you. Please, please write a book.

  8. Dana says:

    I really wish you were a speaker at one of the immersions, I’d probably go. I am glad that E2 had the smarts to put you on their team even though you are not in the skinny club like the rest of them.

  9. John Sudduth says:

    That’s wonderful Natala…and you know what? I bet you are making your Grandma proud :)

  10. Cindi says:

    I agree, I wish you were speaking more or had a book. We need more REAL people talking about the reality of living with diseases and losing weight. I love all the plant based guru’s but none of them have been through what most of us go through.

  11. Sassy N Austin says:

    This is fabulous news for me. My Doctor has me on what I call the Solyent Green Diet, Everything has to be reconstituted from a packet. That you could follow a plant based diet and lose 200 lbs gives me hope. I am not on insulin injections, but that is always one failed bloodtest away when you are T-2. This week, I will get my kitchen Engine-2 ready! Thank you for your inspiration.

  12. Sarah says:

    That picture is adorable. I have family members with diabetes and they just won’t change how they eat. I’m very frustrated and worried about them but can’t do a thing about it. My brother is type 1 and on at least four injections a day and his attitude is: “I’m going to die young so I might as well enjoy myself.” It’s like watching a train wreck.

  13. JenO says:

    What an amazing story and journey! Congrats to you! Stay focused and keep up the great work – you truly are an inspiration to so many!

  14. Michelle R. says:

    Are you behind most of the stuff that Engine 2 does online? I read you were speaking at a business bootcamp on social media, and would love to meet you in person. I’d also like to see more of you speaking and writing. I know it’s Rip’s show, but you are a voice that needs to be heard and who has a message that everyone can actually relate to. I love Rip, but I don’t relate to a tri-athlete firefighter with no health worries at all.

  15. Michelle R. says:

    Are you behind most of the stuff that Engine 2 does online? I read you were speaking at a business bootcamp on social media, and would love to meet you in person. I’d also like to see more of you speaking and writing. I know it’s Rip’s show, but you are a voice that needs to be heard and who has a message that everyone can actually relate to. I love Rip, but I don’t relate to a tri-athlete firefighter with no health worries at all.

  16. Natala, that is such a touching story. Your Granny is with you in spirit, and I bet she is smiling big and proud – not just for what you’ve done for yourself, but also for how much you are helping other people.

  17. Allyoop says:

    Way to go! You’re an inspiration.

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