Community health educators Karla Larsen, left, and Jennifer Brockman await patients needing their weight checked with a scale in the hallway of Craig's Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. The VNA will offer a program called Lifestyle Change Challenge starting Wednesday that will allow participants to lose weight, reduce their risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and learn more about maintaining a healthy weight.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Community health educators Karla Larsen, left, and Jennifer Brockman await patients needing their weight checked with a scale in the hallway of Craig's Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. The VNA will offer a program called Lifestyle Change Challenge starting Wednesday that will allow participants to lose weight, reduce their risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and learn more about maintaining a healthy weight.

Your Health: VNA’s weight-loss program promotes lifestyle changes

Advertisement

— Ignoring a weighty issue often can make it worse, especially when it’s actually your weight. Those who address weight management on their own might have success and they might not, but the aid of professionals and people in a similar situation can make the process less daunting.

Lifestyle Change Challenge

The health program, available through Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Craig’s VNA location, 745 Russell St, and consists of 16 weekly sessions aimed at helping patients at risk of developing chronic health conditions lose weight and become better educated about nutrition, stress management, physical activity, realistic goals and other factors involved in good health. The program is free and open to any residents of Moffat and Routt counties. For more information, call 970-871-7634.

Diabetes details

• Type 1 diabetes, the complete inability of pancreas to produce insulin, usually is diagnosed early in life. Only 5 percent of diabetics have this form.

• People who are at risk for the Type 2 version of disease — marked by high blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels and an imbalance with the functions of the pancreas — often don’t know it until it’s too late. Obesity, poor diet and family history can contribute to this. Typical symptoms include frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme fatigue and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.

• Gestational diabetes can occur for women during pregnancy as hormonal changes affect blood glucose and insulin levels. Although it's manageable and not necessarily permanent, gestational diabetes can affect the mother and baby. Gestational diabetes affects about 18 percent of pregnancies.

• Prediabetes comes from blood glucose levels being higher than usual but not quite enough for Type 2. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can be averted by losing about 7 percent of your body weight and exercising moderately.

• Severe diabetes can require lower-limb amputations and also can lead to an increased risk of other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease and neuropathy.

• In 2011’s National Diabetes Fact Sheet, it was estimated that 18.8 million children and adults in the United States had diabetes, with another 7 million undiagnosed, making up about 8.3 percent of the country’s population at 25.8 million.

Source: American Diabetes Association

The community health educators of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will offer the Lifestyle Change Challenge to Northwest Colorado residents starting Wednesday. The free program consists of 16 sessions throughout the course of four months focusing on working with people seeking to drop weight and reduce their risk for chronic health concerns.

Lindsay Biller, one of the organizers and a VNA community health educator, said those currently at risk for diabetes are the target group, with the metabolic disease and a healthy body weight closely linked. People who are overweight or obese can have what is known as prediabetes and a greater chance of developing the Type 2 version, which comes from high blood glucose — blood sugar — levels affecting the pancreatic production of the hormone insulin.

And once your body is afflicted fully by diabetes, there’s no going back, Biller said.

“There’s really no cure for it,” she said.

Biller and colleagues Jennifer Brockman and Karla Larsen advise those in the program to first get screened for the possibility of diabetes by checking height and weight according to the body mass index chart and performing the A1C test, which measures the average amount of blood glucose in the body for the past two to three months.

A reading of 5.7 percent or lower is typical, while a reading above 6.5 percent indicates a person already is diabetic.

Those in between still have a chance to do things differently.

The VNA’s program encourages people in the prediabetic stage to set a goal of losing 7 to 10 percent of their body weight. For instance, a person at 200 pounds should aim for shedding 15 pounds.

Keeping a reasonable goal is one of the lessons the program offers, also touching on the details of nutrition, the need for physical activity and how to cope with triggers such as stress that can lead to weight gain.

Additionally, it provides a support group of people who are in the same circumstances and can help give a participant feedback about what might work best for them.

The first run of the Lifestyle Change Challenge went from November to March, and facilitators saw widespread success with the small group involved. Biller said one woman’s initial resistance to changing her diet was linked to a “love affair” with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

“In January, she told us, ‘I’m no longer in that relationship,’” Biller said.

The same woman later admitted to a relapse of the sweet stuff, but Biller emphasized that people don’t need to completely cut out certain foods to belong — learning moderation and balance is what it’s all about.

The VNA staff said they hope to see people from Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs or surrounding areas get involved, ideally with referrals from other health institutes.

One testimonial comes from the director of the organization, Gisela Garrison, who engaged in the first set of sessions, attaining a goal of 7 percent weight loss. She also was able to discontinue blood pressure medication as a result.

Even those who are knowledgeable about the body’s inner workings can find their maintenance easier when put together with a network of like-minded people, Garrison said.

“The personal approach and the sense of how every conversation is geared toward what an individual needs is what works best,” she said. “Working together as a team is really helpful.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.