A visit with my favorite fitness guru


Interviewing Bonny Damocles at his home in Midland, Mich., earlier this month. On the fireplace mantel are photos of his youngest son and “guardian angel,” Arnold, who died in 1999 of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Of all the diet and fitness folks I’ve consulted in seven years of doing this blog, the one who inspires me most is an 82-year-old diabetic chess addict who’s never run a race or joined a gym.

Bonaparte C. Damocles doesn’t  own any fitness equipment, not even hand weights. He doesn’t walk or jog around his neighborhood. In fact, he rarely leaves his home.

But the man who may hold the world’s record for reversing type 2 diabetes (nearly 27 years, using only diet and exercise, no meds) believes he’s found the optimal exercise formula for human health — and it’s much simpler than most people realize.

Like Tim Ferriss, the best-selling hero of the human potential movement, Bonny experiments on himself. Though Ferriss’ ideas are more exciting, Bonny’s philosophy ultimately resonates more with me because of his focus on frugality and simplicity; you don’t need money or connections to follow his lead. After a recent visit in Midland, Mich., I came away feeling inspired on all kinds of levels – not just new ways to tweak my own diet/fitness plan, but a renewed determination to see the positive side of the most challenging situations. Because nothing I’ve had to deal with comes close to the trials this Filipino immigrant has endured throughout his life.

Bonny controls both his weight and his blood sugar by keeping one simple principle in mind: Exercise is medicine. And the right dosage for him is 15 minutes four times a day.

He used to run the stairs in his home; I’ve written before about how my attempts to replicate his workout left me gassed. He’s since discovered that simpler, easier sessions work nearly as well, so he now mixes in power walking around his house and jogging in place on a mat in his kitchen to his workout routine.

For a look at Bonny’s unique style of power walking, check out this video on the new Type 2 Diabetes Pioneer Youtube channel . And for more on Bonny’s inspirational story of overcoming challenges – from enduring starvation as a child during the Japanese occupation of Manila during World War II to coping with losing his youngest son to Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy – check out my book   Type 2 Diabetes Pioneer  ($8.78) on Amazon.


Always re-evaluating his best practices for good health, Bonny recently took up drinking coffee for the first time in his life at age 82 because he’d read enough to finally be convinced that one cup a day provided some positive effects. At breakfast at Bob Evans, he ordered a veggie omelet and told us how his wedding to Nemia, left, was delayed by flooding in Manila on June 2, 1958, that had him taking a roundabout route to her house — only to discover that she had done the same thing trying to get to his house. They will celebrate their 60th anniversary this year.

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5 Responses to A visit with my favorite fitness guru

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Geez, Tisch! You were 45 minutes from my house. My wife and I would have met you for dinner!

  2. Steve Miler says:

    Bonny has been an inspiration to myself ever since I became acquainted with him about 15 years ago. His kindness and generosity along with his willingness to share his wisdom proves to me he practices what he believes. “Thank you” Bonny for all you have done to help so many others like myself, it means more than you know!!!

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