Jackson told the Los Angeles Times his days of fried food and leisurely rounds of golf quickly gave way to workouts, tennis and lower-calories meals.
"I was eating like I was still in the South, like a crazy wild man, and I wasn't working out," Jackson recalled. "I was playing a lot of golf and I thought that was a workout, but if you're using the cart, with the hot dogs and the beer, it's not."
A trip to the emergency room nine years ago culminated with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and doctors' orders to clean up his act through diet and exercise. "Like me, there are a lot of people walking around that don't know they have it," Jackson said. "I want to get the awareness out -- especially since diet and exercise are such big contributors to Type 2 diabetes."
Jackson said a key to moving into vigorous exercise and more vegetables is to take baby steps instead of trying to make a complete change all at once, especially because eating can often be an emotional response to stress. "It's hard for people to change habits -- it takes months to make them but years to break them," he said. "I would suggest people go to a psychologist, or sit down with somebody and talk about what happens before you dive into that bucket of ice cream."