As a rock star, reality star, spokesperson, businessman, and philanthropist, Bret Michaels does more jobs in a single day than most people do in an entire lifetime! Depending on the hour of the day he’s a cultural icon, a rock god, an entrepreneur, a TV star, a father and the face of the American Diabetes Association. In this exclusive interview with BELLA, Bret talks about life in the fast lane and how living with diabetes has affected his life and the life of over 24 million Americans.
BELLA’s tagline is “Beauty as Defined by You.”
Our readers would love to know: How do you define beauty?
There are a lot of different ways to define beauty. I’m a lifelong, Type-1 diabetic, and as someone who’s faced some serious health challenges and has had to come to grips with my own mortality, I see beauty as being healthy, happy, and being able to do what you love 100%. I don’t take anything for granted, and I make a point to live my life to the fullest, by being healthy, spending time with my family, and making music. All of those things are beautiful to me
What can we expect from Bret Michaels in 2012?
2012 is going to be huge for me. I have a new solo album coming out later this year called “Get Your Rock On” and I’m so excited about that. I also had the opportunity to create my own signature line of guitars for Dean Guitars, which is just a dream come true for me because I use them all the time out on the road. Also, I’m a huge animal lover and I have tons of pets, so I recently partnered with PetSmart to create my own line of pet toys to be released in the summer of 2012.
As a lifelong diabetic, my work with the American Diabetes Association is extremely rewarding as well because I have such a personal connection to the cause. Snapple actually just renewed my Diet Trop-a-Rocka tea, which supports diabetes research and is one of the best-selling diet drinks on their roster.
I’m also developing a new show called “Something to Believe In” with Donald Trump that I can’t wait for everyone to see! There are always dozens of things I want to do, especially more projects. I definitely don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
You were diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at the age of 6; how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road?
Being a diabetic and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is just a nonnegotiable for me. About six to eight blood sugar tests and four shots per day have been working for me. I wake up—whether it’s 8 a.m. or noon—and the first thing I do is test my blood sugar. I notice I’m high or low and adjust my insulin accordingly. I eat egg whites with turkey or chicken in one of those burrito wraps, and throw in a little fresh fruit. One thing I’ve learned about diabetes is to really lessen the portions you eat. If I could cut loose, I’d eat potato chips from day to night. I have to mentally fight it.
I exercise every day as well. If I’m on the bike, I turn my cell on and do a bunch of business calls so I don’t realize I’ve ridden for an hour. Find whatever motivates you—go out and play hoops, just find a way to exercise. It’s not been a joy ride for me. I don’t want people to think I wake up at 105 [mg/dl] and life’s a breeze. I just find a way to control it. You have to accept that you have diabetes because it is the card you’ve been dealt.
You have such a busy life traveling the world, touring, and filming for your upcoming series. How do you juggle career, health, and parenthood on the road?
I’m a really motivated, passionate person, and I find a way. I wish I knew a magic formula. It depends on self-motivation and how much you want to take on. You have to decide what works best for your life. For me, I’ve found that the more I do and the harder I work, the luckier I get. It’s not easy to balance everything, but I find a way because I want to–my career, my health, and parenthood are the most important things in my life.
You were the big winner on the “Celebrity Apprentice” and raised so much money and awareness for the American Diabetes Association. How can you suggest BELLA readers help in their own way?
Lead a healthy lifestyle so you can be a role model and influence others. If you can donate money, that’s great. But volunteer or mentor a child who has diabetes—there are so many ways to help the cause and spread awareness. I personally pay for kids who have the disease to go to special sleep away camp with other kids who have diabetes so they know that they’re not the only ones going through this and that they don’t have to deal with it on their own. Diabetes is a disease that affects millions upon millions of Americans, so I encourage everyone to do what they can to raise awareness and help the cause.
You have overcome so many serious health problems and are still ROCKIN’ on – how are you feeling these days?
I’m feeling great. There are three things that keep me going no matter what: My family, my music, and my fans. Those are the biggest blessings in my life, and without them I’d be nowhere; those are the things that inspire me to get up and get out there, and give it my all day after day after day. Last year, was without question, a rollercoaster for me. But when you have an amazing family and you still have a lot of music left to make, and you have such incredible and supportive fans behind you, you’re going to fight until the very last breath before you throw in that towel.
You have millions of adoring fans all over the world, but I am sure your most cherished fans are your beautiful daughters Raine (age 10) and Jorja Bleu (age 6). What is the best part about being a dad?
There is nothing I don’t love about being a dad. My girls are everything to me, and it’s been incredible to watch them grow. I love to travel with them and have them come out for shows whenever I can. In my down time, there’s nothing in the world I’d rather do than hang out with them. I actually just re-recorded “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” with both of them for “Kidz Bop Monster Ballads,” which was by far one of the coolest collaborations I’ve gotten to do. It was released last May and it was such a fun project to work on.
We recently heard that your oldest Raine was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes; how is she doing?
Raine is doing really well. I first found out while I was filming “Celebrity Apprentice” and it was obviously a really scary thing to hear––no parent wants to find out that their child’s health is at risk. But diabetes is a really manageable disease if you look out for your health and take the proper precautions. We’re doing everything we can to make sure she has a normal and healthy childhood.
What advice can you offer other parents who have children with diabetes?
Do everything you can to help your child stay healthy. Teach them good habits; with diet and exercise and monitoring your insulin and your blood sugar it’s all about consistency. When you learn healthy habits at a young age you can carry them with you throughout your life. And know that your kids can live perfectly fun, normal lives with Diabetes. Diabetes is a serious disease, but it doesn’t have to limit them in any way; I do my best every day to be living proof of that.
Recently you played a fantastic sold-out show at the St. George Theatre in Staten Island. Anything you want to say to your NYC fans?
Well, first of all, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to see the show. It was a blast and so much of the great energy came from the crowd. My NYC fans are amazing! I always have such a blast when I get to go out to NYC.