published Sunday, July 20th, 2014

YMCA of Cleveland diabetes program stresses lifestyle choices

Stephanie Toombs, a lifestyles coach, addresses participants of a year-long diabetes prevention program conducted at the YMCA  facility in Cleveland, Tenn.
Stephanie Toombs, a lifestyles coach, addresses participants of a year-long diabetes prevention program conducted at the YMCA facility in Cleveland, Tenn.
Photo by Paul Leach.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on the diabetes prevention program, visit the YMCA of Chattanooga website at www.ymcachattanooga.org/diabetes-prevention-program.

Or contact Megan Vermeer, diabetes prevention program coordinator, at 423-877-3517 or by email at healthyliving@ymcachattanooga.org.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A 12-month diabetes prevention program conducted by YMCA of Cleveland has received good marks from its participants.

The program is run by a lifestyle coach who counsels a small support group seeking to improve themselves through healthy eating, increased exercise and weight loss.

Participant Sandy Kmett said the small groups are important for sharing personal tips and strategies to meet goals of achieving 7 percent weight loss and gradually building up to 150 minutes of exercise a week.

"If you had a bad week, you needed the group," Kmett said. "But if you had a good week, the group needed you."

The Cleveland YMCA's diabetes program just reached its 16-week milestone, said Megan Vermeer, program coordinator.

For the first 16 weeks, the group members met weekly to study topics, turn in food and activity data and share their experiences and strategies, she said. For the remaining eight months, the group will meet monthly.

Kmett said her classmates are considering meeting on their own between scheduled meetings with lifestyle coach Stephanie Toombs.

The classes were important for developing "self-help thoughts" used to counter challenges to healthy living, she said.

During the last of the weekly class sessions, Kmett and her fellow classmates brought fruit and other healthy, low-fat dishes to celebrate the benchmark.

Knowledge has played as large a role as discipline, exercise and support in achieving healthy living goals, said Kmett, who displayed a large book of fat gram data for "just about any kind of food you could imagine."

She never mentioned the word "diet" while discussing the program, but simply referred to "a new way of eating."

She praised all the different ways the program could meet the exercise needs of participants

"You don't get burned out like in other programs where you are doing the same thing over and over," said Kmett.

Another advantage of the program is that it only calls for gradual, small changes instead of comprehensive, immediate changes that can be overwhelming, she said.

The YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program is based on the landmark program funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vermeer said.

That program showed that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person diagnosed with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease, according to the YMCA.

The next 12-month diabetes prevention program at the Cleveland YMCA is set to begin in September, Vermeer said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Contact him at paulrleach3@gmail.com.

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