We know from program surveys that participants in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program self-report many benefits. For instance, 94% say they have reduced their portion size and 88% say they have increased their level of physical activity. Perhaps more surprising, 83% say they have improved their self-esteem, 84% say they have more energy and 91% even say they have improved their overall health. However, sometimes it’s best to hear from folks in their own words.
Meet some of our program participants, and let them share their story:
Meet David H. from the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities (Twin Cities, MN)
David lost 12.4% of his body weight and went down two sizes.
After a blood test, my doctor said I was in the prediabetes range and really stressed [diabetes] is a route I don’t want to go. It really didn’t sink in at first. My mother-in-law had diabetes and I have friends with diabetes, so I’ve seen how hard it can be to live with it. [The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program] was very thorough and progressive. Each session gave a little different aspect, and eventually you put it all together. I really liked how it all fit together: the way you eat, the physical activity, managing stress—it all matters. I didn’t realize how poorly I was eating until I started logging my food and counting fat grams. For the first time, I recognized I really needed to change the way I was eating. My wife wasn’t in the group, but she was really doing the program (in the background) with me, and we worked on it together. We find substitutions for foods we liked that still satisfy us. We have more energy, feel better, and gradually started exercising by walking together. I am down two sizes! My wife and I made the commitment to do this, and I can’t believe how well it’s gone. My doctor was really impressed with the changes I’ve made; my most recent blood test showed I was in the normal range. I have to stay committed to this way of life and the change I’ve made. It doesn’t mean I can’t have pizza every once in a while, but I can’t have pizza every day. My wife and I feel that we need to do this. We don’t want to go back to how it was before. We’ve made a lot of changes, and it’s had a huge positive impact on us and the people in our life.
Meet Jeanne C. from the Eugene Family YMCA (Eugene, OR)
Jeanne lost 18% of her body weight, and her A1c is back in the normal range. In addition, Jeanne’s blood pressure and cholesterol are now in the normal range, and her doctor has taken her off medications for these conditions.
The program has taught us to make reasonable lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, and this next phase—LIFE—will be an ongoing test of everything we’ve learned during this year together and a challenge to stay focused on our health goals. Always. I know that we will all stay in contact, because we’ve created a strong bond that goes well beyond a weekly or monthly meeting. I use my old (food and activity) trackers to plan healthy menu ideas and create my weekly grocery list. Of course, there are some pages that are shameful, but life isn’t perfect. And when I look at the page where I slipped and lost control at the all-you-can-eat buffet, I turn the page and see how I got back on my feet and ate healthy the rest of the week. I was a perfectionist and was very hard on myself whenever I made mistake. I am gentler with myself now; I avoid the negative self-talk, and if I slip, I get up, brush myself off, turn the tracker page (of life) and keep going. Moving forward, sometimes slowly, other times faster, but always moving forward. Because I can, and will, take control of my health. Now, I can’t imagine life without exercising, and I enjoy the energy I feel with a good workout and the challenge of trying new physical activities. Show up to class. Keep in touch with your coach and fellow participants, and when you slip, get up, write it down in your tracker, then TURN THE PAGE and keep going. You can do it! I hope it will be a long and healthy road.
Meet Weyman D. from the YMCA of the Greater Houston Area (Houston, TX)
Weyman lost 42 pounds!
Because of my family history [UnitedHealthcare] offered to pay for the program, which I thought was very forward thinking. I was aware that both my father and his brother had diabetes and that side of the family tended to be obese. I had to qualify for the program and found out for the first time my BMI was 37. I was very naïve and uneducated about the connection between BMI and type 2 diabetes. I just figured I needed to lose some weight and thought it was certainly worth a try. I was really encouraged to know that simply reducing your weight by 7% would cut your risk for type 2 diabetes by half, and that kept me motivated. [I] got into the habit of journaling my diet and weighing in each day. Because I was between jobs, I had plenty of time to follow through on the diet changes and journal food intake. I enjoyed cooking and looking at recipes and embraced making changes. I am fortunate that my wife was very supportive and happy as long as the food tasted good. The biggest surprise came when I started reading labels and saw how much fat and calories were in foods that were being touted as ‘healthy’. I also got interested in gardening, and that became my activity. Because I lost weight, activity became easier, and my strength and energy increased. I’ve done it gradually and consciously and with the support of my wife, Gina (my Lifestyle Coach), the Y and UnitedHealthcare.
Meet Sue H. from the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
Sue lost 31 pounds and reduced her fasting glucose from 116 to 92. In addition, her total cholesterol and triglycerides (which were both above normal) are both in the normal range!
In August 2011, I went to my primary care doctor for my annual physical. When the results for my blood work came back, she sent me a note indicating that my fasting blood glucose count was at “116,” just 9 points away from having type 2 diabetes. The doctor told me that I was “prediabetic,” a condition or term I wasn’t familiar with. Additionally, my cholesterol numbers were all in the “high” range, even though I’d been taking cholesterol medication for years; my triglyceride count was off the chart as well.
In September, I decided to rejoin the Y, which I’d been absent from for over two years. I starting attending one water aerobics class a week, and as I was leaving the Y one morning after my class, I noticed some flyers on a table in the hallway advertising an upcoming 16-week “Preventing Type 2 Diabetes” program. I quickly took note of the opportunity to try to do something about my prediabetic condition and signed up for the class, which began in November. Talk about “divine intervention”!
To date, I have lost 31 pounds; I currently attend six water classes at the Y each week; and at my six-month check-up with my doctor (June 2012), my numbers tell the story of a successful program with results I am proud to report: fasting blood glucose of 92 (well within normal range of 70-99) and cholesterol levels all within normal range, including triglycerides.
I can’t thank the Y enough for the great program they provided. What I learned and put into practice have changed my life for the better. I’m in my 60’s, and I feel better than I have in years! I’ve learned how to eat less, eat healthier, and enjoy exercising. I have 29 more pounds to lose before I achieve my personal weight loss goal, and I hope that by my next six-month check-up, my doctor will take me off the cholesterol meds that I’ve been taking for over 20 years!
I would also like to give a “shout out” to Bruce Watson, the “Preventing Diabetes” facilitator, for keeping me motivated and for providing a good example for the entire class.
Meet John S. from the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
John lost 52 pounds (more than 15% of his starting body weight)!
When I started the program, I was at 342 pounds. Currently, I weigh 290 pounds, a 13 percent decrease in my weight. At age 51, this program and the weight I’ve lost have made me a more confident person.
Eating smaller portions was difficult at first, because I’m a food guy. I really enjoy eating food, but this program taught me about nutrition and helped me establish a habit of eating healthier foods that I enjoy. I am more confident with meal planning and consumption, and I’m not mindlessly eating anymore.
This whole experience is having a positive effect on my family. I am able to engage more with my 16-year-old son and be a role model for him. For the first time, he’s eating and enjoying nutritious foods. He learned that healthy eating is important for everyone.
The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program changed my life. I am balancing my life better and am altogether healthier, happier and more confident.
Meet Nancy R. from the YMCA of Greater New York (New York City, NY)
Nancy lost nearly 10% of her starting body weight!
I feel healthier—terrific even—and my friends tell me I look great. I’ve changed the way I cook for myself and my daughter, and now [she] is checking the packaging on foods, taking smaller portions for dessert and making wiser food decisions.
I’m now doing something that is positive for both of us, and I want to tell everyone about it.
Want to know more about how it “feels” to participate in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program? Watch this short video to get a sense of what our classes are like: