A little more than a year ago, Megan O’Hara, MSW, LCSW was on an unhealthy path toward type 2 diabetes.
Intent on getting back on the road to wellness, she enrolled in PrevenT2 at Work, a program to help Christiana Care employees with prediabetes to improve their health and avoid full-blown diabetes.
O’Hara committed to eating more vegetables and less starchy food. She began exercising 150 minutes a week at the employee fitness center and then increased her workouts to 260 minutes.
“I have lost 23 pounds and a whole size in clothing, and was able to get off of blood pressure medication and medicine for acid reflux,” said O’Hara, who works as a behavioral health specialist at the Center for Women’s Emotional Wellness.
She also shaved two points off her A1c score, a blood test that provides an index of blood glucose for the past three to four months. A1c levels between 5.7 and 6.4 indicate increased risk of diabetes.
Collectively, participants in the program have improved their A1c score from an average of 6.0 to 5.5.
“That is putting them out of prediabetic range,” said Karen Anthony, MS, CHES, senior program manager, Department of Family and Community Medicine.
The PrevenT2 at Work program requires a significant commitment from participants, who meet weekly for 16 weeks, then every other week for two months, then monthly for six months.
“A year is going to go by whether you make these changes or not, so you might as well see how far you can go,” said Jill Sullivan, MS, CHES, a health coach who teaches the classes along with Christiana Care registered dietitians.
Rochelle Ransom, an administrative assistant in the Physician Relations Dept., has so far improved her A1c score from 6.4 to 6.0 — and she’s lost 13 pounds. She credits a healthier diet and daily walks.
“I was so afraid of becoming diabetic because there is a history of diabetes in my family,” she said. “I want to be healthy for the rest of my life. I am reading all the labels and being mindful of everything I am putting into by body. I am excited to go to my class because our coaches are passionate about getting us where we want to be. I look in the mirror and I am happy with the person I am looking at.”
Barbara Doles, systems coordinator in the Legal/Risk Management Department, completed her program in September. Her A1c scores improved from 6.2 to 5.8. She is intent on keeping up the good work and gets up early in the morning to fit in a daily workout. She also has learned to modify her dietary habits, eating more vegetables, drinking more water and not eating after 8 p.m. each night.
“I am a snacker,” Doles said. “Now, instead of sitting in front of the computer with a whole bag of pretzels, I take only a portion.”
She placed sticky notes around her home with inspirational messages:
“I can reach my goal weight.”
“More exercise, less disease.”
“I’m very grateful that this program is available — and at no cost to us,” she said. “It’s a great benefit.”
Martha Zazzarino, RN, had an A1c level of 6.0 for three years.
“I promised my doctor I would work on it, but I did not do enough to move the needle,” she said. After enrolling in the program, she stepped up her exercise regime and started keeping a food diary to keep track of what she is eating. By the end of class her A1c was down to 5.4 and has since gone down to 5.3.
The convenience of on-site classes and the support of colleagues helped, too.
“I went to class at Wilmington Hospital, so having the fitness center right next to our classroom gave me an opportunity to use it,” Zazzarino said. “Having group support, listening to other ideas and celebrating their successes made the time fly by.”