I was first introduced to Connie when I heard her sing the national anthem in front of 10,000 dietitians at the opening session of the annual convention of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her powerful voice and engaging on-stage presence made me want to get know my fellow dietitian. Fast forward many years later, and many more times performing the nation’s anthem (10 times more, to be exact) and I’ve come to admire her commitment to helping her patients get well and stay well, and her personal commitment to prevent a chronic disease that runs in her family.
Connie is a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator . She is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes, and her new book, Diabetes Guide to Enjoying Foods of the World, will be available soon (information is available on her website.)
Connie’s personal commitment to eating well, moving well, and being well stems from her desire to prevent diabetes. “Diabetes affects family members on both sides of my family and that inspired me to not only become an expert in diabetes, but to practice what I teach by leading by example.” Connie says she had always done a little bit of exercise, but as she approached her mid-60s she ramped up her activity by hiring a personal trainer for twice weekly strength workouts and does cardio work three times a week. She says, “I am running away from diabetes!” She loves challenging her mind and body in her strength and conditioning workouts. Her latest challenge was to set a goal to complete 1,000 feet of “Jacob’s Ladder.” This Jacob’s Ladder is not the biblical ladder that connects earth to heaven, but rather a tough workout combining aerobics on a stair stepper with power, balance, and agility. “When I set the challenge, I could barely do 100 feet, but I made 1,000 feet with hard work and persistence.” Connie finds it motivating to be able to perform feats “that some younger people cannot do in the gym!” Check out Connie lifting 155 pounds at age 66!
Connie says that it is hard to keep up her fitness routine when she travels, but that traveling isn’t an excuse to abandon working out. While many hotels have great fitness centers, it isn’t always easy to get to the gym at 5 AM when morning meetings start at 6 or 7 AM. Connie found a solution; she packs a travel hula hoop. She says, “I have been known to rearrange hotel furniture to find a spacing for hooping.” She also uses apps on her phone to download workouts that she can do on the road. But, she also says the goal with exercise is “persistence, not perfection.” She tells people not to beat themselves if they miss a workout, but instead take the very next opportunity to move it.
Thanks for inspiring us with your story, Connie, and making me want to hit the gym…now!
It is also available from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.