Donna Kinney

Aroostook County  -  The nation marks National Diabetes Month in November and for one Presque Isle woman, the occasion holds special significance. Donna Kinney will be celebrating the fact that she is no longer insulin dependent for the first time in over a decade.
Kinney, who is 48 years old, has worked for The Aroostook Medical Center (TAMC) as an environmental specialist for the past two and a half years. She was diagnosed with diabetes in her mid-thirties. Growing up, Kinney has always struggled with a weight problem which affected her diabetes in a negative manner.  Kinney said even after being diagnosed she wouldn’t watch her food intake.
“I ate what I wanted to, even though I knew it would affect my diabetes,” said Kinney, “I ate what I wanted and when I wanted to eat it.” Her diabetes was out of control and her typical blood sugar range was between 150 and 220. To control such high blood sugar levels she was prescribed a variety of medications.
“At one point I was on the maximum amount of pills a diabetic is allowed to receive,” said Kinney. “My body couldn’t create enough insulin in order to use or store blood glucose so I was prescribed two high doses of insulin. I would take one before each meal and the other twice daily.”
Throughout the day she would be consuming pills: three in the morning, one in the afternoon, and three before bed. This was the only way doctors could keep her diabetes in control since she wasn’t watching her diet.
It wasn’t until this past year that Kinney realized how important it was to maintain a healthy weight to ensure that her diabetes wouldn’t spiral out of control. This wouldn’t be the only thing affecting her health since both heart and lung complications are prominent issues in her family history.
“I wanted to take back control of my life. I can’t stop what genetics will do to my body, but I can take charge of my weight and diabetes,” said Kinney. “I didn’t want to die from something that I could prevent. It’s never too late to start making life changes; it doesn’t matter your age or your size.”
To adapt to a new lifestyle Kinney visited a dietician, began attending regular meetings and appointments with her doctor, began exercising six times a week for 50 minutes, and portioned out her serving sizes. She said she never went on a diet but it was about eating appropriately and to never over eat. Kinney said that it’s important to measure your portion sizes, look over every label, and to plan out eating habits.
“Before, I would never even think to look at a label to see the amount of sodium, carbs, or sugar in a product. Now I take into consideration all of these factors to determine what is the better option for maintaining a healthy weight,” said Kinney.
According to Kinney, you have to determine when is the best time to eat meals or snacks when trying to maintain a healthy weight. “If you were to place a plate of cookies in front of me I may take one, but I may not eat it right off. At that moment it may not be the best time for me to indulge in a snack,” said Kinney. “I no longer eat when I want, but I will still eat the cookie when it is appropriate to have food intake.”
It is important to have a support group around you when deciding to make a life change. Kinney’s support group consists of family, friends, co-workers, and doctors. Kinney says she reaches out to this group for advice, encouraging words, and for information. With so much encouragement from her support group, Kinney is trying to encourage others to adapt a new life style.
“In order for someone to stick with any weight loss program, you have to want to lose the weight for yourself,” said Kinney. “When you are ready to start a lifestyle change, do it for yourself, don’t do it for anyone else because losing and maintaining a healthy weight won’t last otherwise.”
Kinney has yet to reach her weight loss goal and she is determined to lose the extra weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. “Over the past year, I have managed to lose between seven to ten pounds per month,” said Kinney. “This is impressive since I only began in January of this year, but I intend to lose thirty more pounds to reach my goal of an ideal weight.”
“I deserve to be healthy,” said Kinney. Today she is completely off all insulin medications and is down to taking one pill a day.  “When someone is ready to change their lifestyle, I hope my story will reach them and encourage them to accomplish their goals.”
TAMC is encouraging all of its employees to live a healthier lifestyle even if they don’t necessarily have diabetes.