The nine participants currently enrolled in the Grove City Medical Center-Franklin/Grove City YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program were all facing a crossroad earlier this year. Each was at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, a life-altering disease that is now an American epidemic. Every participant was rolling the dice with their health; they met the criteria for prediabetes, which includes elevated blood glucose levels, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, excessive weight, being older than 45 and having a family history of diabetes.
DPP participant Vaughn MacGregor had been overweight most his adult life, with his last serious weight-loss attempt lasting just two weeks before he slipped back into unhealthy habits. He credits his fellow DPP participants with helping him find the courage to give it another try and the support to stick with it.
“I’ve told coworkers and family members who have asked me what my secret is, that there is, in fact, no secret,” MacGregor says. “The hardest part of losing weight is just getting started.”
For Cindy Witt, the program is a learning experience. “It’s enlightening,” Witt says. “It is truly an eye-opener.” Witt points to her ethnic heritage as the root of her lifelong struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “I’m Italian, Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch,” she says. “I love food and I love to eat.” And, although she admitted to having a rough time adjusting to the DPP guidelines early on, within a few weeks, she was all in. “DPP showed me how I can still enjoy all the things I love to eat and remain healthy.”
In weekly sessions, the participants have gained insight, support and new life skills. Midway through the yearlong program, the group has exceeded the goals set for them. They’ve lost a total of 270.8 pounds and increased their average weekly physical activity to 256.2 minutes. MacGregor has lost nearly 80 pounds and developed a new outlook on life. “By making these healthy choices I have not only reduced the possibility of developing diabetes, but gained a more meaningful and hopefully longer life,” he says.
Along with dropping four clothing sizes, Witt has lowered her cholesterol and has run longer distances for the first time in years. “I’m really having a great time with this life change,” she says.
DPP lifestyle coach Kathy McGill couldn’t be more pleased with the group’s success, due in part, she believes, to the camaraderie that has developed among them. “Our meetings are fun, with lively and real conversations about the frustrations, success and the progress being made toward a healthier lifestyle,” she says. “We have all made new friends through the program.”