It only takes a few words to stop any person dead in their tracks. For some in America, those words can be: “You have diabetes.” Larry Ford heard those words but has changed his life for the better and is making the best of a bad situation.
Ford was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in December of 2013. Type 2 diabetes, also called adult onset diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 3 million Americans each year. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make insulin or rejects insulin.
“I was losing a lot of weight rapidly,” Ford said, “and I was urinating about 15 times day.”
Since being diagnosed, Ford has had to change his lifestyle both on and off the field as a member of the Leigh Valley Steelhawks in the Professional Indoor Football League.
As most people do, Ford always enjoyed sweets and the occasional pizza. Now he’s cut back.
The WVU alumnus said that he’s cut out fast food from his diet and only eats pizza or Chinese food about once a month. Beyond that he’s begun to eat wheat bread instead of white bread and has substituted wheat this for chips. His diet now includes many sugarless or sugar free items including oatmeal and grape jelly.
“I used to eat things so much in bulk,” Ford said. “Now I eat things in moderation.”
But on the field, he’s increased his diet of quarterback sacks.
After being diagnosed and changing his diet, Ford has dropped from 260 pounds down to 230. That, he said, has helped his game tremendously.
“I’m a lot faster than I was before,” Ford said. “It’s Arena Football so I don’t necessarily have to be big. Speed kills in this game, so that’s really my number one asset, especially playing defensive end.”
After getting down to 230, Ford increased his sack numbers from 7.5 to 12.5.
Ford said that he’s made changes to the way he trains, too. Where he used to focus on his strength, he now spends time working on his speed.
Every day Ford has to check his sugar levels multiple times throughout the day. That includes game days.
“The trainers monitor me a lot during practices and games and check my sugar often,” he said. “They have glucose tablets in case my sugar drops, which it rarely does.”
Since being diagnosed, Ford has been working to learn everything he can about his condition so he can share his story with others.
Ford knows that having diabetes isn’t a hindrance when it comes to playing football, explaining that multiple professional football players play every day with the same condition.
“There are guys in the NFL and Canada with diabetes,” he said. “I’ve played I’m just about every arena league but have yet to get over the hump to the big stage. I’m still fighting and clawing, and if it happens one day, it happens. If not, then it just wasn’t meant to be.”
At the end of the day, Ford believes that getting diagnosed with diabetes has served almost as a blessing in disguise, giving him the opportunity to better himself on the field and to create a better lifestyle for himself.
“Getting diabetes was definitely an eye-opener,” he said. “My future, I believe, is still hanging in the balance. I’m not really toward the future; I just try to live day by day and live each day right and be on top of my game.
“Diabetes is a serious disease, so if you don’t take care of yourself now then there isn’t a future for you,” he said. “I’m doing pretty well on managing everything, and I look to God every day to guide me through. It was truly a blessing and an eye-opener to get diabetes. It has changed my life in so many ways.”