Jaiza Ortuno, CMA-I, Medical Assistant, Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center
At age 10, Jaiza was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. While the other kids were enjoying candy and other treats, she had to avoid those sugary foods to manage her disease. With her mom’s guidance, Jaiza began incorporating exercise into her life as a way to maintain her health. She continues that habit today and wants to inspire other diabetics to live a healthy lifestyle while still finding joy in their daily lives.
Tell me about your health background and why wellness is an important part of your life.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 10 years old. As a kid it was hard being around other kids eating candy and sweets – and I had to avoid all of it. I had to begin eating healthier and learn to monitor my sugar intake.
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, they may feel as if it is the end of the world. They may feel they can’t do anything. I’ve been living with it for nearly my entire life and want to let people know that you can still enjoy your life.
What changes did you make?
At age 17, my mom motivated me to start working out. She showed me how to do workouts along with a DVD. That is when I started enjoying working out. To this day I do virtual workouts – I particularly like working out with Sydney Cummings on YouTube. I love those videos! I also jump rope or sometimes do yoga. I’ll take five or 10 minutes during my lunch break and do some stretching. I get off work at 6 p.m., and sometimes I’m tired, but I never say ‘no’ to my fitness – it is something I have learned to love to do every day.
What about your diet – how have you managed what you eat?
I like to change things up and eat different foods every day. I like mostly grilled food – I enjoy chicken or a fish filet with black beans and a side salad. I like to top my salad with red bell peppers, almonds, or cranberries. I try to avoid carbs as much as possible. I only drink almond or oat milk. And I like to make smoothies with berries. I always measure my food for portion control as well as to manage my carbs.
What do you eat when at a special event or out with friends and family?
When it comes to parties or celebrations, it’s hard to say no! My family likes to celebrate with nachos or hamburgers. I will eat the nachos, do a correction with insulin and monitor my blood sugar. Or I will eat the hamburger, but only half of it. That is how I allow myself to enjoy those events.
How has your diet and fitness routine affected your diabetes?
Making wellness changes in my daily life has affected my diabetes for the better. My A1C level was 8, but I’ve managed to bring it down to 6.8 and I’m working on getting it lower!
What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes?
There are so many resources and tools to help you. We have continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, and insulin pens. There’s so much you can do – you can even just take a walk for exercise. I would tell them to try to fight against diabetes and beat it because things get better. Diabetes isn’t the end of anything. Never stop – keep being positive.