By Glenda Canipe
In the fall of 2015 I went for my annual checkup. After looking at my A1c results, my doctor told me that I was in danger of developing [type 2] diabetes. He recommended a healthier lifestyle through better eating habits and exercise. I did diet and lost some weight; however, during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays I gained most of it back!
At the beginning of 2016 I decided to try the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. It has proven to be the best thing that I have ever done for my health! Through the weekly inspirational sessions presented by my Life[style] Coach and the loving support of the wonderful ladies on my TEAM, I have been motivated to develop new eating habits. One of the key components of the program is tracking what you eat. This has been vital to my success. I have found that this has helped me see that I can indeed eat things that I did not think that would be allowed…just in reasonable portions and in combinations that allow me to stay on track with my plan. I DO NOT feel deprived, instead I feel empowered to control what I eat!
Another major component of my success has been the physical activities that I do daily. I have a knee that needs replacing so I am limited to what I can do to exercise. I found the perfect answer in water aerobics. I walk in the water daily for 30 minutes and then take part in the water aerobics classes. This low impact exercise is my salvation! The social aspect of the classes further motivates me to stay on track. I am planning to investigate the new program called “Enhance Fitness” in August. This sounds like something my arthritic body could tolerate!
I have just completed session 20 and so far I have lost 42 pounds. When I went for my 6-month checkup, my A1c had dramatically improved. My doctor said I was his hero! My journey to a healthier lifestyle has not always been easy, but most things in life that are worth achieving are not easy! I thank the Y for the [YMCA’s] Diabetes Prevention Program, my Life[style] Coach for her guidance, my teammates for sharing our struggle, successes and laughter, my husband for buying me new clothes as I lost weight, and my water aerobics instructors for making me work hard even on my lazy days. I realize this must be a life-long change. As for my journey…I have only just begun! Life is good and I want to enjoy the ride!
Creating a Healthy Balance
by Cheryl Farfour
My journey began with ‘Know Your Numbers’. In May of 2015 I participated in the yearly PPG initiative. At the conclusion of the test, I was surprised when Dr. Lewis suggested to me that I was a candidate for a new program that PPG would be offering through the YMCA—a program aimed at preventing diabetes. At risk for diabetes??? Who me??? I had never given much thought to type 2 diabetes. Yes, my grandmother had diabetes, as did one of my aunts, but I really never thought about having it myself. Sure, I had put on weight over the last several years and tried unsuccessfully to lose it. I wasn’t a big eater and it seemed that I couldn’t find a way to get it off. I am a very active person—yoga, golf, walking—was I really at risk for diabetes?
[My doctor] explained to me that my weight, combined with my elevated triglycerides, identified me as a candidate for this new program and asked me if I was interested. I agreed to give it a try.
Beginning in early September 2015, I joined a group of six other PPG employees for this year long journey. This program, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, is referred to as a Lifestyle Balance Program which will help to prevent [type 2] diabetes by helping you reach a healthy balance between two parts of your lifestyle: what you eat and how physically active you are. Our goals from day one were simple: lose weight through healthy eating and be more physically active.
The challenge: reduce your weight by 7% and do [at least] 150 minutes of brisk physical activity each week. (Results from the original Diabetes Prevention Program show that being physically active 30 minutes a day and reducing weight by 5-7% reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58-71%.)
The requirements: come to each session, do your best to reach your eating and physical activity goals, and keep track of your eating and activity 7 days a week. The class would meet each [week] for 16 weeks before switching to bi-monthly and then monthly meetings.
Day 1—we all weighed in and figured out how much weight we had to lose to meet the 7% goal. Each participant was also given [a] daily fat gram goal to help us meet the 7% weight loss goal. We could eat anything we wanted but we needed to stay within our daily fat gram goal.
Have you ever tracked everything you eat? If not, give it a try sometime. It’s not easy but it is interesting. Our instructor provided us with logs for tracking which included the time we ate, the food, how many fat grams, how many calories and how many carbs. That first week I spent more time looking up information on the food I ate than eating it! I figured there had to be an easier way to track what I was eating, so I found an app for my phone—MyFitnessPal—and the tracking became a lot easier.
Each week the class began with a weigh-in and then a group discussion of the week’s topic—ranging from “Be a Fat Detective” to “Ways to Stay Motivated.” I was fortunate to have a great group of very supportive individuals in the class that I attended. Everyone was very open about the struggles and ways they had found to make a difference in their activity levels and eating habits. This support group approach makes it much easier to work through a program like this. You know you are not alone. The other people in the class are trying to accomplish the same thing that you are.
Our class had to navigate through all the holidays—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and even the Super Bowl! It wasn’t easy, but we stayed the course. Did we eat something that wasn’t particularly healthy? Sure, but we had learned how to counteract that slip by exercising more and not letting the bad habits come back into our daily life. Balance!
Our instructor [was] a great motivator. She was truly invested in our success. She cheered our victories and helped us to find ways out of our bad habits. She made the class fun.
As I write this article, I have completed 22 sessions of the program. We will continue to meet monthly through September.
Do I consider this program valuable? Without a doubt. Did I meet my weight loss goal? Yes—I met the goal by week 16 of the program and still continue to lose [weight] gradually. As I stated earlier, my weight and my elevated triglycerides were the factors that identified me as a candidate for the program. I am very happy to report that since May 2015 when I participated in “Know Your Numbers,” I have been able to lower my triglycerides from 242 to 138, which is well within the suggested limit, and I have also lost 15 pounds.
This program teaches you to make good decisions about what you eat and how to balance food and activity—something that I had not been able to figure out on my own. If you are identified as at risk for type 2 diabetes, please give this program a try. It is well worth the time and effort. It truly teaches you a way to live a healthy balanced life.
Thanks to the [YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention] Program, I am a healthier person today.
Cheryl Farfour is just one of the many success stories coming out of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. To date, the Cleveland County Family YMCA has delivered over 50 classes (each with 25 sessions), helping more than 400 individuals works towards preventing diabetes through a healthier lifestyle. For more information, eligibility requirements, or to discuss joining the program, contact Jessica Bridges, Program Director, at (704) 669-3631, or visit CleveCoYMCA.org/Diabetes.