*For the first time with the Redskins, defensive lineman Ziggy Hood will be the American Diabetes Association Health Ambassador in preparation for Sunday's "Tackle Diabetes" game. *
When Redskins defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was just a little kid, his friend was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. He noticed that she couldn't drink too many sugary beverages and was testing her glucose levels on a regular basis.
"I was young and didn't know too much about it," Hood said. "As I got older and saw it starting to affect every day people -- and if you don't have the awareness of taking care of yourself, it can have a long-term effect on your life."
Hood found that out years later, as a junior attending the University of Missouri, when his aunt passed away from complications related to type-2 diabetes. It's what prompted Hood to become a Health Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, focusing on the importance and wellness in life.
"One way I can at least try to attempt or motivate folks is [tell them] get to working out, taking care of yourself, eating well," Hood said. "You don't have to go at it full speed or anything like that, it starts one day at a time, whether that's 20-30 minutes of walking a mile or two miles, gradually building up, eating the correct foods."
As part of being an ambassador, Hood met and toured the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park with two diabetes heroes, Shawn Lacey and Major Lewis, last week. Both men were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and upon their diagnosis have worked to turn their disease around by changing their eating and workout habits.
Among the highlights of the tour was a meeting with the team's nutritionist Jake Sankal, who spoke with them about strategies to improve weight loss, staying healthy and maintaining the right dieting track. He reassured them of their changed lifestyle methods and answered any of their questions.
"When they found out [of their diagnoses], they had to change their lifestyle, so working out became a huge part of it," said Hood, who showed them around the weight room and discussed his workout regimen as an NFL player.
Almost 30 million Americans are affected by the disease, including someone being diagnosed every 23 seconds, according to the ADA.
This upcoming weekend marks the fifth annual Tackle Diabetes game as the Redskins host the Arizona Cardinals. The Redskins created this game five years ago to as a way to create awareness and highlight healthy living habits to help those affected manage the issues that come with the condition. This is the fourth year ADA has been the presenting sponsor of the game with the proud support of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. This Sunday, the Washington Redskins take on the Arizona Cardinals at the 5th Annual Tackle Diabetes game, presented by the American Diabetes Association and proudly supported by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. For more information on how to manage your diabetes, visit diabetes.org/teamup