Wanda Craig may be 63-years-old but she doesn’t let her age slow her down. She volunteers, walks and goes to the gym three times a week. Her active lifestyle is a new, positive change for her.
"I can breathe better and move faster. I have more stamina and I’m not out of breath going up the stairs. It’s amazing the difference."
Craig changed her lifestyle a year ago after a blood test revealed she had elevated blood glucose levels, indicating she was at risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes. Craig says she refused to let that happen.
"I was like, ‘oh no, I’m not going to do that.’ Diabetes affects your whole body, every organ and that’s scary to me because it could lead to amputation and losing your eyesight," said Craig.
Progression from prediabetes to Type 2 diabetes isn’t a guarantee. With lifestyle changes such as weight loss, medications and incorporating a healthy diet, many people can bring their blood sugar levels back to normal. Wanda was determined and she knew exactly where to go for help.
Wanda is a long-time volunteer at Memorial Hospital and knew Memorial was in the process of starting a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention lifestyle change program. She immediately signed up. A CDC-recognized lifestyle change program is a structured program developed specifically to prevent type 2 diabetes. It is designed for people who have prediabetes or are at risk for type 2 diabetes, but who do not already have diabetes.
A trained lifestyle coach leads the program to help participants change certain aspects of their lifestyle, like eating healthier, reducing stress, and getting more physical activity. The program also includes group support from others who share similar goals and struggles.
"It shows me the importance of eating healthy and doing some type of activity to get moving, plus there’s great accountability from the other participants in the program," said Craig.
In order to offer a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program, Memorial had to submit an application and meet certain standards—such as having trained lifestyle coaches and use a CDC-approved curriculum. Memorial must also track results and send data to CDC every six months to show the program is having an impact on preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes. CDC reviews the data and provides feedback to the program. It’s a year-long program focused on long-term changes and lasting results.
"We’re so glad we can offer this program because the number of people in our community at risk for Type 2 diabetes continues to increase," said Memorial Hospital Certified Diabetes Educator Kathy Zoumberis, RN, BSN, CDE. "As diabetes healthcare professionals we’ve always known that lifestyle changes and a small amount of weight loss is very helpful in the management of Type 2 diabetes but now we know those same changes can help prevent or reduce the chances of developing diabetes."
Today, Craig is down 23 pounds. Not only did she lose weight but she also learned how to eat better and become more active. She says she’s improved her health, feels better and is proud to be a part of the national movement to prevent type 2 diabetes.
"Why wait until you have it. This is a better option than getting it," she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as more Americans are living longer and become more overweight or obese.
Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week
- Ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
Anyone with any of these risk factors should see their health care provider for further testing.
Memorial is still enrolling participants in the program. To sign up or to learn more, call (904) 702-1541 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.