Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Terry Gray, RN has every reason to be very proud of herself – in the past six months, she’s lost 25 pounds, changed her eating habits and exercises a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. She works nights on the medical/surgical floor at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital; working nights in any job can make healthy self-care and lifestyle changes challenging.
Terry joined the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program (YDPP) at NVRH in June of this year. Since diabetes runs in her family (mother, aunt, uncle, sisters, etc), she decided that proactive self-care and education was the way to make the changes she knew she had to make. Additionally, her daughter urged her to get and stay healthy.
Prediabetes affects over 86 million Americans. The YDPP Program helps those at high risk of developing the disease make lifestyle changes. The program focuses on healthy eating, increased physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight.
The program is FREE and led by Erica Owen, RN and Certified Diabetes Educator. Criteria to participate in the program are to answer “yes” to two questions from the following four: Do you have a family member with diabetes? Are you overweight? Are you 45 years old or older? Do you exercise less than 30 minutes most days of the week?
One of the major goals is to keep one’s A1c down. A1c is a blood test that provides an index of average blood glucose for the previous three to four months. For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is between 4% and 5.6%. A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes, and levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes. Additionally, losing 7% of one’s weight is a program goal. Terry is 8 pounds away from losing 14% of her weight.
The class meets for an hour a week for the first four months, then an hour a week every other week, then monthly. Terry credits the group dynamic and support for a lot of her success -- Erica credits Terry’s determination and creativity as well. For exercise, Terry measured the size of the floor tiles on the med/surg floor and calculated that walking the loop 17 times, when time allowed, equals a mile. She normally walks the loop 20 times, which takes 30 minutes.
The program counts fat grams, rather than calories or carbohydrates. Terry’s “go to” were potato chips – a 1oz bag packs a walloping 10 grams of fat. By comparison, a 1 oz bag of pretzels is .7 grams of fat. She limits herself to 50 grams of fat per day, by substituting mustard for mayonnaise, and eating more fruits, vegetables and cheese for low fat snacks.
Lifestyle changes incorporate the increased amount of time it takes to plan her meals and snacks, which she’s become accustomed to. She carries a paper in her scrub top and records what she eats daily. Whereas she used to pick a meal at a restaurant that tasted good, she now looks at the menu prior to going to the restaurant and chooses something that not only sounds good, but keeps the fat gram count at a realistic level. During her research, she recently found a meal with 74 grams of fat – that’s in ONE meal. Ironically, one of the outcomes is that that she’s eating more now – 3 solid meals a day; she rarely feels deprived and finds the program straight forward and simple to use.
“I have more energy, sleep better and feel so much better about myself. Erica brings very positive energy – she’s fabulous, and the group shares ideas,” Terry says with a huge smile. “Erica brought the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail map one day, and group members really use it. She’s wonderful about informing us about community resources.”
The group is constantly finding ways to effectively decide what to eat prior to going out, exercise despite time constraints, bake low-fat food that tastes good, and share with others what they’ve discovered for themselves. The YDPP will be offered again in January, 2016; please call Erica Owen, RN at 802-748-7433 if you have questions or would like to sign up for the class.