The Godmother of Soul Patti LaBelle: The Better She Feels, the Better She Looks Patti LaBelle says "yes" to life's opportunties. As I contemplate writing about Patti LaBelle, I wonder what I can say that we don’t already know about this lovely legend. Patti not only radiates a sense of grace, style and elegance, but she definitely knows who she is and where she’s still going. She’s a joy to behold and to listen to, whether singing or opening up about how she sustains herself in the midst of so much always going on. At age 70, she’s also full-steam ahead, just like always. For example, this coming week, we’ll see her on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars premiere, Monday, March 16, partnered with professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev. Yes, she’s dancing, not singing those classic rhythm and blues renditions, pop standards and spiritual sonnets. Here, she talks about how “new” dancing this way feels to her. Plus, it’s only fitting that Patti appear on Fox’s mega-hit show, Empire. So be it, and you’ll see her next Wednesday night, March 18, on the season finale. I could go on about the Grammy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards and much more. Oh, and did you know she’s an author? But don’t expect her to suggest you make fried chicken. You’ll find out why below. Patti has given back generously as an advocate for adoption, foster care, Big Sisters, and the United Negro College Fund, among others. She’s grateful to God for her voice, and her fans are, too. Here on Mind Your Body, get to know how she takes care of herself. It’s all good. Q. Patti, first, congratulations on Dancing with the Stars! The Godmother of Soul and Queen of Rock n’ Soul is about to become a Queen of the Ballroom! So, I like to start with diet. Patti, how do you Mind Your Body with nutrition? What do you eat? A. I eat sensibly now—steamed, sautéed, baked—no more fried. I love vegetables! I might eat smoked turkey or no meat at all. I can’t eat fruit because of its natural sugar and my diabetes. Q What about diabetes, Patti? What have you learned? A I believe you have to prepare foods properly. The better I feel, the better I look. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 20 years ago. My mother had diabetes, along with my grandmother and aunt. I talk about my diabetes and a lot of people listen when I hold a microphone. It’s my duty and my pleasure. I encourage people to go to the doctor if they’re feeling weird, to get checked. That really helped someone I know who was very close to being diabetic, but got help from her doctor just in time. Q. What did you do and what will you continue to do for exercise when you’ve snagged that DWIS mirror ball trophy? A I like to walk around my neighborhood outside of Philadelphia. I go with Mr. Cuddles, my four-year-old Shih Tzu. I do get in the short end of my pool and kick hard, because I can’t swim. I use the exercise bike because it’s good for my knees. I’m taking care of my body. QTell us about rehearsals, because they have just got to be tough. A Right now my right toe hurts, and the balls of my feet hurt from dancing the foxtrot on the show. I ice those feet. But you know, I was asked to dance previously, and I always said “no.” Then I thought, “Why not say ‘yes’ at age 70?” It’s making me feel better, moving parts of my body I didn’t know I had. Q Anyone with your musical gifts should be feeling right at home on DWTS—you have an edge. You are known for your grace and style, but are you nervous—anything you have to work on specifically for this? A I’m ready to get out there, but I’m very nervous. I haven’t done this before, and I’m not a dancer but a “freestyle mover,” so I’m following my partner. Yes, he’s pretty cute. I’m worried about noise from the audience, worried it will interfere with me counting steps. Q Will you channel any of your Broadway vibes for this TV show? A Broadway is not nearly as hard this. I could remember the songs, the choreography. It’s totally different and I can’t really explain it. No talking and no singing—a different mindset in which you concentrate only on dancing. Q Stage, film, television: Which one do you love more? A That’s easy. My shows—my concerts. Q How do you balance everything you do? You’ve led and continue to lead a life that’s rich and full and so busy. Do you ever say to yourself, “I need some time to do nothing”? A I put my mind in a place that’s positive. Almost all the things I’m asked to do, I do, and I take them as lessons. As long as I can speak, sing, or move, I’m going to say “yes.” This balances my mind. Oh, I might have said “no” at one point in my life, thinking I “had” to do all these things and do them well, but now if I fail, I’m not afraid. Q About mental health and that “mind-body connection”: How do you look after your emotional outlook? A I’m a positive thinker. Here’s an example. I performed at the Dream Marches On concert in Montgomery, Ala. on March 7, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Selma march. So there was no luggage with me when I arrived. I said, “I’ll wear this beautiful low shoe and my tights. Stuff is stuff and I’m here to do a show. My six bags didn’t make it but I did.” I knew God put me here to do this. And I did it. Q What’s next for you? A big project, anything you want to share? A I continue to live a wonderful life. And I’m excited about my line of foods, hot sauces, barbecue sauces, and marinades, called Patti’s Good Life. They’re also available at Walmart and other retailers nationwide. I’m still touring across the country and finishing up a new album. We’re rooting for you, Patti. What a super week on TV for you! Thanks for sharing your wisdom.