New Y program helps prevent diabetes

By Sara Bruestle | Mar 13, 2014
Photo by: Sara Bruestle Stefanie Roth and Leslie Knudsen-Wells, who are both participating in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, exercise together on Feb. 28 at the Mukilteo Y.

The YMCA has a new program to help participants reduce their chances of developing diabetes.

YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes take control of their health by adopting and maintaining habits that have proven to reduce that chance.

According to the National Institutes of Heath, research shows that programs like the YMCA’s can reduce the number of cases of type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent.

The year-long program is comprised of 16 weekly sessions followed by monthly maintenance or check-ins. The sessions are led by a trained lifestyle coach.

In the program, participants have two goals to meet: reduce their body weight by 7 percent and increase their physical activity to at least 150 minutes per week.

“All of the research that went into it found that if people met these two goals they were most successful in reducing their risk of developing diabetes,” said Andrea Weiler, the program coordinator. “Everyone in the class has the same goals, but how they reach their goals is going to be different.

“The same strategies and techniques aren’t going to work for everyone, so they’re all learning the same information and skills, but they’re empowered to decide what is going to work best for their life, their routine, and their likes and dislikes.”

A Mukilteo program is scheduled to start April 3. Participants meet at the Y on Thursdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Each session, participants work together to learn about eating healthier and exercising more in order to reduce their risk, as well as making other changes to improve their overall health and well being.

Session topics include: ways to eat less fat; move those muscles; tip the calorie balance; four keys to healthy eating out; you can manage stress; and ways to stay motivated.

“The lifestyle coaches ideally do the least amount of talking in the classes,” said Weiler, who is the healthy living director at the YMCA of Snohomish County.

“They’ll introduce the topic for the week and explain information or the skills to the class, but then the class will do the most amount of talking. It’s a lot of idea sharing and supporting.”

Leslie Knudsen-Wells, who is participating in the program at the Mill Creek Y, said she’s met her 7 percent weight loss goal and has made a new goal of losing another 7 percent.

“Instead of looking ‘big picture,’ I’m going to just do another 7 percent goal,” Knudsen-Wells said. “Once I get that 7 percent, then I’ll do another 7 percent. It’s like looking at short-term goals versus, well, yeah, I want to lose 85 pounds.

“It keeps it doable, more achievable.”

Knudsen-Wells joined the program because her family has a history of diabetes. She has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Her grandfather died from diabetes when he was 58, and her father died when he was 63, also from diabetes.

“It’s been a lifesaver for me,” she said. “It’s helped motivate me to eat healthier as well as exercise. Exercise was not on my agenda. I am now exercising and meeting the goal of 150 a week if not more, and I just feel so much better.

“I feel like I’m in control now, and I didn’t feel that way before. I think this is the best thing to ever happen to me. I want to live my life.”

Stefanie Roth, also in the Mill Creek program, joined because she has watched her husband’s diabetes progress for more than 30 years – and doesn’t want to have to deal with the disease herself.

“I had gradually put on weight over a 15-year period, and a lot of it was just stressful eating,” she said. “Just coming home feeling like I deserved – after a hard day at work – ice cream.

“The total experience is motivating to me. I feel like I’m in control. I now have occasional ice cream.”

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is nationally supported by the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance.

The program is available at several YMCA of Snohomish County branches, including Mukilteo, Marysville, Everett, Monroe and Mill Creek.

In order to qualify, participants must be at least 18 years old, overweight and at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

If you have already been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you do not qualify for this program.

For more information, or to find out if you are at risk, go to HYPERLINK ""

Sign up for the program by contacting Andrea Weiler at or 360-453-2190.

National facts and figures for diabetes

• The following are some national statistics about diabetes from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:

• Diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans in the U.S.;

• About 79 million adults have pre-diabetes, yet only 11 percent know they have it;

• Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.;

• In 2010, about 1.9 million new cases of diabetes in adults over the age of 20 were diagnosed;

• Medical expenses for those with diabetes are 2.3 times greater than those without;

• Those with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke or die from heart disease;

• Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in those ages 20-74;

• Those with diabetes are at a greater risk for nerve damage, dental disease, lower limb amputation, depression, and complications during pregnancy.

This information was provided by the YMCA of Snohomish County.

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