FITNESS OR FATNESS – THAT IS THE QUESTION

By Terry Carter, Editor

I have weighed more than 200 pounds for about 25 years now, topping out at a mountainous 262 pounds about 3 years ago. As a chronic, Type 1 diabetic with a recently disabled knee at the time, my recovery prognosis for the knee was debateable. 

After surgery and about six months of rehabilitation three days a week, the doctor said I was permanently disabled, would always walk with a limp and may never run again. At this weight and an average diabetic diet that included fast food, taking more insulin to compensate for my sugar cravings and sodas, I was nearing 50 years old and losing a life-long health battle that began when I was 11 years old.

Back then I played 5-6 sports – including baseball, golf, tennis, wrestling and football – and led most teams I played on due to good hand-eye coordination, strength, flexibility and some athletic ability. After a baseball all-star game in June 1976, my mom bought me four Cokes, and I guzzled each one while eating two hotdogs. Then I asked for a fifth Coke.

As a registered nurse, she recognized this much sugar was a bad sign for my health. Two days later, I suffered through a 5-hour, glucose tolerance test and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. 

Thirty days in the hospital was the rule back then. So this hyper, athletic 11 year old bounced up and down the hospital halls in a wheelchair. It was the nurse’s way of preventing my blood sugar from falling due to extra exercise. Thus began the complicated daily adjustments in insulin, diet, exercise and even shoes that changed my life for the better.

Better, you say? How so? Well, the doctor was matter-of-fact and told me early on that if I listened and did everything he suggested, I may live to be 60 years old. We didn’t discuss the alternative.


So for more than 35 years, I had analyzed blood sugars, adjusted insulin doses, eaten OK and stayed semi-active as our three children grew up. But dietary knowledge and fitness gurus improved the system while I was preoccupied as many of us are today. Calories didn’t matter as much as Carbs. And cardio and cross-training became the fitness trends.

When I fell and hurt my knee, the Meniscus tore. And I was forced to walk like Festus in the old TV series Gunsmoke, kind of dragging my right knee behind me because the knee would no longer bend to lift it off the ground. Some of that was caused by the knee injury; some of the limp came from the hard scar tissue after the surgery.

So after the rehab doctor tells me I will likely never run again and am permanently disabled, my inner athlete chose to challenge those findings immediately. First I signed up for several seasons of slow-pitch softball. The first season, no one let me run. The second season, I ran the bases slow but steady after spending almost six months jogging sprints and trying not to fall on my face..

And the third season, I batted exclusively from the left side to get closer to first base, and I ran hard… for an old guy with one leg. On infield grounders, I forced myself all out to first base, and I beat a handful of throws. Playing infield was good training for the legs too because I simply didn’t give up.

Back to today: I walk about 30 miles a week and go running 3-4 times weekly. With my injury, I am forced to consciously take every step carefully and precisely to prevent stumbling on hilly terrain and stairs. I still fall, but I get back up and move on. As part of this rehab mission, I have always become a 3-day-a-week regular at my gym. It’s like CHEERS: They wave to me when I enter.

I have made good progress on the weights, treadmill and swimming once a week. I am not concerned about sweating hard and growling during my last 2-3 repetitions on a challenging weight. And I am now leg pressing as much as the machine can handle, and that leg press is the best rehab exercise for my knees, bar none.


As I mentioned earlier, I weighted 262 about 2.5-3 years ago after the surgery. Now I am 224 pounds, a 38-pound drop based on taking known weaknesses and focusing on them – intently! I never ran cross country or sprints. So my 5K runs for practice and in competition are new stimulus to my body. Your body and mine alike dislike the same excercises over and over. I mix long walks with pure sprints with quarter-mile jogs, but the running itself is my body’s best cardio workout.

It may be different for you. And 224 pounds is the lightest I have weighed in more than 20 years. I could not have imagined that after I reached 35 or 40 years old. It’s incredible to be moving down in weight while eating well and taking all-natural supplements from Plexus. The combination of eating healthier, exercising consistently and taking vitamins and the right supplements is a rare combination that gave me more energy, endurance, focus and better results.

I cannot tell you how happy I am with the strength, quickness, flexibility and overall health I am feeling right now. Also I take less than 50 percent of the insulin I injected three years ago. To all of you real runners out there, I’m not Clydesdale size yet, but my goal of 205-210 is within sight. Then I will bust that 35-minute barrier in a 5K race.

And if a 51-year-old man with a chronic disease and one knee can do that, I’m sure you can at least walk 15-30 minutes after you get home from work. How about it? Are you willing to join me?

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THE SAMUELS NAME LIVES STRONG

By Terry Carter, Editor

My mother was a superb mom, grandmother, friend, mentor. She was a member of the Samuels family, a group of go-getters and achievers who have left a permanent mark in our family history.

Her two older brothers survived her and attended her funeral a few years ago. Both are amazing men, who exemplified the Samuels men with high intelligence, ethics, style and class. Both should have written books about their upbringing and achievements in life. It must be said they are the sons of a great father, my grandfather.

And grandpa Samuels was the most talented people I have ever met. He could play probably 12 musical instruments, had professional baseball skills and opened one of the best welding shops in the Midwest. Grandpa apparently worked miracles in welding and blending metals together. Yet he could smack a baseball over everyone’s head at family picnics as easily as he could lay down a soft bump in front of his 5-year-old grandson standing near third base. 


As great as my grandfather Oren D. Samuels  was, it appears he conceded the top billing to his wife and my grandmother, Lucille Samuels. Because of her strong will and effervescent personality, Lucille led the way for 20th century women, setting standards reserved previously for g0-getter males in society. She had an opinion on every subject and led by example. 

During my childhood, I heard rumors that my grandmother was a leader among leaders and perhaps had the governor of Indiana and Mayor of Richmond over to her memorable home on Southwest First Street. True or false, I cannot say. But everyone respected and obeyed Lucy. In retrospect, she was treated like a former mayor in that town of some 50,000 residents. 

She inspired each of her children and each generation thereafter. We still tell stories about her achievements. Two of my cousins, Susie and Vickie, lived closest to Grandma Samuels. They inherited her inner strength, integrity and her will. Growing up in Michigan, my family seemed to spend 2+ weeks each summer near the Indiana-Ohio state line to get a healthy dose of home cooking, baseball with grandpa/cousins/uncles/aunts, play Euchre all night and soak in the words of wisdom from grandma.

I recall once that my sweet Aunt Mert had called on the phone several days after we arrived to see if the Carter kids wanted to join her family for some shopping. I may have been just old enough to think I was smart. So I checked with my brothers and told Mert that may not be too interesting with the pool and golf course calling my name. She politely said OK and goodbye.


Not 30 seconds after I hung up did I learn from Grandma Samuels that Aunt Mert had spent weeks researching and devising a list of things she and girls thought we would enjoy doing. Then Lucy looked at me with her no-nonsense stare and said these fateful words, which I will always remember: “Your Aunt Mert does a lot for you. Don’t forget that when she calls back– and she will call back. When when does, you better jump at whatever she offers next because it’s the right thing to do. Do you understand me?”

Big gulp from the 9-year-old boy. Then a “Yes, ma’am.” Sure enough, Aunt Mert called back five minutes later – after talking over options with her brilliant daughters – and offered a chance for us to go pick our own strawberries in Ohio. Without even asking my brothers, I volunteered all three of us for about four hours of picking fruit and taking home enough for our family after delivering 10 times that amount to the farm we visited. Lesson learned from the  wisest grandma I’ve ever met. 

Lucy and Oren passed on some amazing intelligence and strong personalities to their two handsome sons and one outstanding daughter. My mom was the youngest of the three Samuels children, and June was also about as peaceful a soul as you could find – nearly the opposite of her strong-willed mother in the 1930s-1940s…

More on this later…