Mother Love, co-host of CNBC's "dLife" and Glucerna spokeswoman, had no intention of becoming a poster child for diabetes. "I didn't want people looking in my shopping cart and I didn't want to eat any differently -- but I also didn't want to be sick," reveals the motivational speaker and author of "Half the Mother
, Twice the Love"
(Atria Books), which details how she went from a size 22 to a size 10 to beat diabetes. After watching half her family die from complications of the disease, she decided to take charge of her health -- and help others do it, too. Here, her best advice for overcoming a disease that affects 3.7 million African-Americans. ESSENCE.com: What are two questions you wish our readers would ask in their doctor's office? MOTHER LOVE
: What is my A1C? That's a blood test that diagnoses diabetes and tells how well you're controlling it. And don't be afraid to get on that scale. You have to get to the truth to deal with the truth. Yes, it's overwhelming, but this is the cloth we come from. We are queens at overcoming adversity. Why stop in your purpose now? ESSENCE.com: Why is it important to speak up in your doctor's office? Doesn't the doctor know best? LOVE
: It's important that you make your own PhD: Personal Health Decisions. Doctors know what to do, but you've been living in that body and should know it a lot better than any physician. When you walk into that office and he asks, "How are you?" you need to know your body well enough to say, "I'm going to the bathroom too much" or "I'm depressed" or "I'm gaining weight." ESSENCE.com: Some people feel getting sick is just a part of getting old. Is that true? LOVE
: No. That's such a defeatist attitude. The first thing we have to do with anything chronic is change our mindset and attitude. If you go in with a defeatist attitude, yes, my sister, you're going to be defeated. But if you go in there with the attitude that "I'm gonna have diabetes, it's not gonna have me," you'll take control. ESSENCE.com: So how do I start taking control? LOVE
: With baby steps. Tell yourself, "Today I will work on monitoring my blood sugar." Or, "Today I will make an effort to eat a normal size portion of food." ESSENCE.com: Are there any surprises that come with turning your life around? LOVE
: I never expected to lose so many friends I thought were close to me [but turned their back on me when I started making healthy changes]. But I was also amazed by the people who stepped up for me. They said, "Girl, you can do it! I'm so proud of you!" And to be able to empower them has given me strength. ESSENCE.com: Who did you ask for help and how did you start turning your life around? LOVE
: Speaking with a nutritionist, and trial and error in my own kitchen. I make an amazing low-fat cheesecake. I became an avid label reader. If I can't pronounce it, I'm not eating it. And I always pray for strength. If I can get strength, I can do all things. So I asked family and friends to pray for me. ESSENCE.com: What's the one thing readers can do right now to fight diabetes after reading this? LOVE
: Take control. Take command. Make your personal health decision to be well, live well, think well, and do well. Only you can make that decision.