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‘Celebrities’ glad diabetes challenge is over

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If Mary Martinson had to prick her finger one more time for a blood test, it probably would bring tears to her eyes.

That’s because three times a day for seven straight days, she had been doing just that as part of her participation in the “Celebrity Challenge” organized by the local Canadian Diabetes Association.

Martinson was among 11 participants who took on the lifestyle of a person with Type I diabetes last Tuesday. Their ordeal wrapped up Monday and most of them are very glad it’s over.

“Doing the blood tests--by the end of the week it really hurt my fingers,” Martinson, co-owner of MarTe Sporting Goods here, said yesterday.

“I think if I was a borderline diabetic, I would make a real effort to do whatever it took just so I wouldn’t have to take those blood tests every day,” she added.

But Martinson didn’t have trouble with Hallowe’en. At the start of the “challenge,” she was worried she’d have a tough time staying out of the treat bowl.

“I made it through Hallowe’en no problem [and] I didn’t miss the candy or sweets,” she enthused. “I think I did pretty good.”

The other “celebrities” included David Schwartz, Heather Johnson, Eric Alcock, Linda Hamilton, Linda Plumridge, Ray Engelbertink, Phyllis Johnson, Mike Scott, Robin Wright, and Sherri Kaun.

The challenge required each “celebrity” to follow a strict diabetes management plan that included a regimented diet, exercise, administration of insulin shots (distilled water) to a teddy bear using a real syringe, and monitoring their blood sugar.

The participants also had to record their progress daily and rate their achievements using a point system. The one with the highest score will be awarded the trophy during an awards supper tomorrow night at the Ukrainian Hall.

The daily “pricking of the finger” was what the participants disliked most about their week, with the regimented diet coming a close second.

“Well, it was a big adjustment,” said Alcock, an envoy with the local Salvation Army. “I never had to be on a diet before and, quite frankly, at times [the ‘Celebrity Challenge’] was not that enjoyable.

“And pricking my finger three times a day--painful and unpleasant,” he added.

“It taught me to be very thankful and appreciative of my good health, and also to be more empathetic towards people who have to deal with diabetes,” Alcock reasoned. “This was a mild treatment compared to what some people have to go through.”

Scott, manager of the Canada Safeway store here, said he lost nine pounds during the “challenge.” He also found the ordeal tough.

“Actually it was a bigger challenge than I thought it would be,” he admitted. “When they say it was a challenge, that’s exactly what it was,” he stressed, noting the strict regiment was hard to adhere to.

“My normal eating schedule is to get up, have a shower, and go to work,” he explained. “On the [‘challenge’], I would get up, take my blood sugar, have breakfast, give insulin to my bear, and then be 15 minutes late for work.

“It was a whole new routine.”

Linda Plumridge, office manager at the Fort Frances Times, found the regimented diet a bit frustrating. As a member of Weight Watchers here, she is accustomed to a healthy eating plan but found the diabetes one didn’t allow her to be as free with her meal choices even though it also followed the Canada Food Guide.

“On Weight Watchers, if I know I’m going to be going out for a big supper, I can just have a salad for lunch but on the diabetes challenge you have to eat what you have to eat,” she noted. “You can’t save up your calories for the rest of the day.”

“The big lesson for me was that when you’re younger, you take things for granted [and] you don’t always have the most proper eating habits,“ Scott noted. “You don’t realize how good you have it.”

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