Chaka Khan: “Diabetes Was My New Beginning”

The singer-songwriter shares how she’s conquered the disease—and her secrets for healthy living.   

Ellen Byron
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Chaka’s words of wisdom

  1. Get inspired to live more healthfully. Chaka hung pictures of herself when she was thinner for motivation. Still, her biggest source of inspiration was her desire for a better quality of life, she says. “I decided I was going to live life fully—and not just lie around.” That motivation has to come from within, though. “You have to do it for yourself or it’s not going to work.”
  2. Make realistic changes. “Make sure that whatever approach you take to healthy eating and exercise is not a chore,” advises Chaka. “It should be something you can do easily.” Plan not working? Change it up, she says.
  3. Reward yourself. Once Chaka’s diabetes was under control, she designated every Sunday “reward day,” when she could eat whatever she wanted. But after six months, she says, “I found myself coming around to Sunday and thinking, Today’s my reward day, but there’s nothing [unhealthy] I want to eat. That happens. Your body begins to respond to what your mind is telling it to do.”

Photo credit: lev radin /

January 2013