Warding off diabetes with group-based, lifestyle intervention

Dot Rutledge at the community garden in Clemmons, N.C.

Dot Rutledge has learned a lot in the five months she’s been in the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program at the Jerry Long Family YMCA in Clemmons.

She didn’t believe she was overweight, but she’s lost 10 pounds.

She’s given up her salted potato chips and her bedtime snack of cheese and crackers.

The most important thing she’s learned, however, is the bigger picture – living a healthier lifestyle, which she hopes will rub off on her children.

“It’s a way of life,’’ Rutledge says. “And it’s not just a fad.’’

The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina currently offers its YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program, a group-based lifestyle intervention, at the Jerry Long and Wilkes Family YMCAs, with sessions at additional branches planned for the future. The program is partly supported by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Its goals are to help participants lose 7 percent of their body weight and gradually increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

The program is divided into four months of weekly education sessions followed by eight once-a-month maintenance sessions. Participants must be 18 or older, have a body mass index of 25 or higher and be determined as pre-diabetic.

“This is a lifestyle program, not a diet,’’ says Meaghan Coale, who has been coach of three of the four classes held at the Jerry Long Family YMCA; five to 15 people participate in each class. “Basically, we give them information for transformation.’’

Karen Bartoletti, executive director of the Jerry Long Family YMCA and vice president of health and wellness initiatives for the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, says the idea is to give people manageable goals in changing their lifestyles.

Participants are encouraged in the weekly classes to discuss their viewpoints on topics that range from nutrition to physical activities to the obstacles they face.

“I am not there to tell anybody what to do,’’ Coale says. “As a coach, you give them the plays, you give them the tools, and you give them the information and resources. It’s up to them to make it happen in their lives. In the meantime, I’m on the sidelines as one of their biggest fans.’’

Rutledge says she decided to join the program because diabetes runs in her family; two of her siblings have diabetes, and her husband, who died a couple of years ago, also was diabetic.

She says the program is helping her to make better choices in what she eats, and also adjust in simple ways so that she gets more activity. Two examples she shares are that she now parks her car further from her destination, forcing her to walk more, and she tries to order first when she is at a restaurant with friends or family, which reduces the temptation of eating something less nutritious.

Planting at the community garden.Rutledge says she hopes to plant healthy vegetables this spring in a community garden plot; gardening is something she did even before she joined the program. Her participation in the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program is reinforcing the importance of the nutritious vegetables—Swiss chard, lettuce, onions, cucumbers—that she grows.

More than anything, Rutledge says, she hopes her involvement in the program rubs off on her loved ones.

“My son has asked me questions about how to get started,’’ she says, “and that was one of my main goals in participating. So this looks like success to me.’’

If you’re interested in the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program, call Lindsey Kimble at 336-712-2000 or email l.kimble@ymcanwnc.org. For more information, visit ymcanwnc.org/diabetesprevention.



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Last Updated: 06-16-2014
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