When Donald found out he had diabetes, he was terrified. He had seen the negative effects of the disease first-hand through his family members. Some of the diabetic complications he’d witnessed in his family included eye loss, amputations, heart attack and liver problems. He truly understood the damage this disease can cause if not managed properly. So when he got diagnosed, he wanted to take control of his health.
A sports lover, Donald is a New Jersey man who likes to travel and meet new people. When he saw a flyer for a free diabetes program taking place at the Gateway Family YMCA, where he is a member, he didn’t second-guess if he wanted to attend. He was determined to make a change to his health, and this was the perfect opportunity to start.
The Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) workshops are part of the Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program. The curriculum was created by Stanford University and aims to give people with diabetes and their caregivers the skills and confidence they need to be in control of their health and life. The program consists of a free six-week workshop series and covers the topics of diet and exercise, medication management, effective communication with health care providers, preventing health problems and more.
“In four months, I’ve lost 30 pounds and it’s all because of eating right. My doctor couldn’t believe it.”
Donald went to the first workshop session not knowing what to expect. Workshops are interactive and include brainstorming and one-on-one communication with other participants. Since Donald had only witnessed the consequences of diabetes in his family, he was impressed and relieved to meet people who have had diabetes for years, and who are still doing well for themselves by putting in the effort to manage their disease.
The lessons on nutrition and diet proved particularly beneficial for Donald. “In four months, I’ve lost 30 pounds and it’s all because of eating right,” Donald said. “My doctor couldn’t believe it.”
He added that without his knowledge attained in the workshop about reading food labels and understanding nutrition, he might not have been able to change his lifestyle and lose the weight. Donald has integrated vegetables, white meat and fish into his diet, and now exercises regularly.
The weight loss accomplishment was just a start for Donald. His A1C (blood sugar) levels have dropped, his skin looks and feels better, and he feels stronger.
The workshop also teaches effective communication, positive thinking, decision-making and problem solving. Donald now has a positive outlook when it comes to his health. He credits the upbeat attitudes of the two workshop facilitators for his newfound reassurance and confidence.
Workshops also incorporate action planning, in which participants set a specific goal, rate their level of confidence and then try to reach that goal by the following week. Donald, like the other participants, made realistic goals each week and enjoyed achieving them. He says he will continue to use action plans in the future.
“I beat up a bully,” Donald said, referring to his diabetes.
Donald is proud of what he’s done so far and feels confident that he will continue to be in control of his health and diabetes. He highly recommends the program for people recently diagnosed with diabetes as well as people who have had it for years. He also believes caregivers can benefit.
“I’ll carry the sign and beat the drum,” Donald said.