As 2013 was drawing to a close former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom addressed a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce for what some might have anticipated would be a politically oriented presentation. To the contrary Mystrom’s talk was related to his new book “My Wonderful Life with Diabetes” and was 100% inspirational as he related his empowering story of living a healthy active life while living with a dreaded disease. Mystrom was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1964 while attending University of Colorado. Soon after his diagnosis, he committed himself to living a healthy, bold and active live while dealing with the disease and promised himself he would never complain about having Diabetes. According to Mystrom he wrote the book not only for those who also are dealing with Type 1 Diabetes but to inspire anyone facing life challenges, “It’s intended to be an inspiration for anybody that is facing any kind of debilitating disease or other life threatening barrier. It’s about the power of a positive attitude and understanding the barriers that you’re facing,” Mystrom told the Dispatch in an interview following his presentation.
As a 50 year old Type 1 Diabetic he told the gathering that he has tested his blood sugars 6-10 times a day since self testing became available over 30 years ago. Through over 60,000 self tests he has learned which foods cause the greatest rise in blood sugar, the speed of that rise in blood sugar and how much each food contributes to weight gain, as well as which foods cause the least blood sugar rise and therefore cause the greatest weight loss. “A perfect diet does not lead to a perfect life,” said Mystrom, “Only a boring life. In my book I show how to develop good eating patterns and how they will become good eating habits and how you can be healthier, trimmer and feel better. I have learned that unless you’re training for a specific competition or event, the no pain no gain platitude only results in quitting. Going to the gym and working too hard only results in one certain action and that is quitting,” he said.
The title of his book alludes to the impression that Mystrom feels he has had a better life because of Diabetes than he might have had without it, “It’s true and it took me a long time to convince doctors that I’m healthier now because I’ve had Diabetes than I would have been without it, but they’ve come around and all the doctors I talk to now have to agree. As a matter of fact I had a stress test about two years ago and tested out as an active 42 year old and I was 68 at the time. So I think I’m healthier now because of Diabetes, having learned what foods to eat and what foods not to eat and the importance of activity and exercise,” he said. When originally diagnosed Rick says it took awhile for him to adopt his positive attitude, “It’s scary when you first get the diagnosis, I was a young healthy guy and I spent a lot of time walking along the creek in Boulder, Colorado crying and trying to figure out what was going on and why it was happening to me and it took me nearly three months to come around and say okay you can’t always choose the road you have to take in life but you can choose whether you want to walk on the sunny side or the shady side of that road and I chose to walk on the sunny side and that has made all the difference,” he said.
Mystrom is planning a sequel to deal with a deeper look at the issues of nutrition and diet. His “My Wonderful Life with Diabetes,” is at Carrs/Safeway in Kenai or Soldotna or on line at rickmystrom.com or at Amazon.com.