Beasley Best Community of Caring – National Heart Month

Getting into a new fitness routine is very hard, whether it be the exercise portion or eating healthy.  This has always been a struggle for me.

When I was younger and in high school I would eat whatever I wanted, and would stay the same weight, all while swimming for Sallies in the winter season.  I thought, I can eat this thing of fries and large diet coke and be good to go.  That is not the way it is now.  My metabolism is nowhere close to where it was back in high school.

I noticed something was wrong

In the early 2000s I was diagnosed with diabetes but didn’t really take it seriously.  I thought, I am young, I’m good to go, I only have to take medicine and could continue the way I was eating.  Boy I was wrong.  Yes medicine did help, but it wasn’t the magic pill to get rid of my diabetes.  My doctor told me that my A1C was so high that it could compare to having battery acid go through my veins.  At that point I figured I should probably do something about it.  So, over the past few years, I would swim at the YMCA, run outside, or lift some weights, but nothing that I stuck to.  I always felt like I was letting myself down when I didn’t succeed, lose weight, or couldn’t lift what the other people were lifting at the gym.  So it was a continuous battle with myself.  So I would continue my bad eating habits and not continue at the gym.

What changed my outlook

In January of 2020 that all changed.  Right as I was preparing to put together our WJBR Bridal Extravaganza, something weird started happening in my right eye.  It looked like a black shadow in the shape of an eyebrow.  I thought, oh this will go away.  It did not.  But I had to make sure that I continued on and the Bridal Extravaganza went off as planned.  It did and had a great team helping out.  The week after, I decided to call my eye doctor and get an appointment.  He got me in right away that Friday and determined that I had a broken blood vessel or something like that in my eye and I needed to see a specialist right away.  I got right in to the specialist that Monday and she determined that I had a retinol hemorrhage.  I said to her, what is that.  She said, it is abnormal bleeding within the delicate blood vessels of the retina.  I once again asked her, what could cause that.  And she said, DIABETES.  This was the first time that my diabetes had affected me.  Right at the first appointment she said she need to do a shot in my eye to stop the bleeding.  At that point, I had a huge emotional breakdown.  Diabetes finally affected me and it was time to take it seriously.  My doctor, Dr. Ko, reassured me that this could be corrected but it was going to take a lot of work on my part.  She told me that I needed to get my diabetes under control or this could really effect my vision.  So I needed to do something for my diet and also needed to start working out.  I sat down with my family and needed to figure out what I needed to do to fix this.  So first was my diet.

What was the next step

At the time I was trying to figure out what to do with my diet, my sister in law, Julia, told me to come to one of her Arbonne events.  I went to it and decided to give it a try.  I was hooked.  It’s not for everyone, but within the first week or so, I felt so much better and also started to see my daily blood sugar numbers go down to where they needed to go.  All while doing this, I had multiple appointments with Dr. Ko, where she proceeded to do more shots and lasers in my eye to stop the bleeding.  It was not a fun experience.  While I did the shots and laser I had to watch what kind of exercises that I did because it could cause more damage to my eye.

Fast forward to the end of February, the bleeding had stopped, but that eye brow shape that was in my eye had now separated and I could barely see out of my right eye.  I was scared as can be.  At that appointment in February she scheduled me for surgery on my eye to clear the blood that was blocking my vision and that really hit hard.  One week prior to everything shutting down, I had surgery on my eye and was on my path to healing.  I could not run, workout, swim, or do any strenuous activity for at least a full month.  Luckily for me I still could continue with my Arbonne diet and would have to wait on exercising.

On the path to a healthier me

Toward the middle of April I got the go ahead to workout.  Now that Dr. Ko had woke me up, I know that  I needed to get my diabetes in check, I made a commitment to myself that I needed to get to work.  During quarantine I would make sure to walk 5 miles a day and focus on healthy eating and exercising, since we weren’t able to work out in a gym.  It felt amazing to finally start seeing my diabetes numbers where they needed to be, my vision corrected, and my weight go down.  It was not an easy road.

Once gyms started to open again, I was ready to get back in and start.  But I am not knowledgeable about lifting and doing certain exercises.  The basic stuff was easy, but expanding on that was hard.  So, I reached out to one of my friends, Nick R.,  and asked him how he came up with his different exercises that he did and he told me about this app he uses on his phone.  I figured I would try it out and see how good I did with it.  After using the app, Shred one time, I was hooked.  It was the thing that I needed to excel in the gym.  Without this app I would still be lost.  But each time I work out, it is pushing me the whole time.  I continue my journey with healthy eating and exercise.

What I learned

What I learned is that I needed to take care of myself.  Just because my diabetes wasn’t effecting me physically, didn’t mean I shouldn’t take care of it.  There are going to be days that I fail at eating right, days that I skip the gym, and days that I want to quit, but I have to remember that I need to do this for me.  We all have down days and I need to pick myself up and get back to it.

No, I’m not where I want to be, but each day I am working on getting better.  It’s the support that I have behind me that makes this journey a lot better.

Below are some progress pictures along my journey from the beginning of 2020

I would love to hear from you about your journey to a healthier you.  Email me at

Don’t give up and know that you got this.

Best of luck.

Chris Leonard