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A Wealth of Health

December 6, 2023
NEWS + STORIES
What would you do with $8,000? Really. Think of one item, experience, or provision you could add to your life for $154 a week or $22 a day in the span of one year. Now, what if everything in your life stayed, but the cost would be that the $8,000 were subtracted from your bank account in the next 365 days? Would you look into making a change? And, what if that change also helped you feel better and live longer?

What’s up, Doc?

“I’d go on a lot of vacations! I’d have some nicer handbags or something!”
Those are just a couple of ideas thrown out by Anna McIntire, the Association Director of Community Health for the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis. She shares that the average cost of managing diabetes once you are diagnosed is – you guessed it: $8,000 per year. This is calculated through the cost of various doctor appointments, medication, and supplies. Once diagnosed with diabetes, you would need to see a doctor that specializes in diabetes. You also need an endocrinologist. One common side effect of diabetes is neuropathy in your feet. With this condition, you might cut your toe and get infected and you likely wouldn’t know. So, you also need to visit a podiatrist often to check your feet. You would need a kidney doctor because diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure. That’s a lot of doctor visits! And with all of these specialists comes a list of costly medications and treatments.

Move it AND Lose it!

So, we know the effect: poor health and a suffering budget. We’ve learned the cause: diabetes and associated ailments. But how exactly do we AVOID this chronic disease? Enter the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. “The economic burden of diabetes alone is reason enough to consider the measures recommended by the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program,” Anna says. Chronic diseases tend to come in pairs. So, being overweight does correlate with higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and prediabetes or diabetes. So, what's the most effective way to steer clear of these life-altering diagnoses? Losing that excess weight! To help reduce your risk for diabetes, our primary methods in the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program are to reduce your body weight by 7% and to increase your physical activity by at least 150 minutes per week within the first half of the program.

Thinking Out Loud

You may have the head knowledge. But change is hard. So, say hello to your new cheerleader! Elen is currently a lifeguard at the YMCA in Westfield and she’s coached fencing for twenty years. Having had a grandmother who suffered from diabetes, Elen has experienced the effects firsthand. So, when given the opportunity to get even more involved in promoting the health and well-being of those in our community, she was all in. “I love all health-related prospects,” Elen says. “I love working with groups… motivating people and inspiring them in any capacity that I can.” Elen is excited about creating a safe space for participants to be encouraged. She says support is paramount, but sometimes if we rely on family members or friends, discussing healthy choices can become too personal. With the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program, you achieve accountability while relieving other relationships of that responsibility. And, accountability is key. For example, you may think you can make a small change, like finding a lower-calorie coffee creamer. But, Anna explains, “When you know Elen is going to ask you, ‘Hey, did you find a lower-calorie coffee creamer last week?’ you would be more likely to perform the task because she heard you say it and you know she’s going to ask about it.”

How to Get There

Both Elen and Anna agree that success isn’t only achieved by having an encouraging and motivating instructor. Most people know that to be healthy we need to exercise and make smart food choices. The YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program isn't necessarily about learning any new information. The program isn't rocket science. If it were easy, we’d all be at a healthy weight and not at risk of diabetes. It’s about the comradery of a small group of people that really makes the difference. If Elen is your cheerleader, the other participants are your team. And this team scores! Here’s an example of a goal met by one of our past participants at the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program in Westfield: “This was a terrific program for me to get my weight and glucose under control. The program was easy to follow and had helpful tips for healthy eating and it motivated me to exercise. I am very pleased with the 27 lbs I have lost in just the first six months of the program.” So, what have you got to lose? Maybe a few pounds of unwanted weight. What have you got to keep? That $8,000. What have you got to gain? Better quality of life – and perhaps a longer one – and maybe a few friends along the way. There are Diabetes Prevention Programs running throughout the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis at various centers. To find out if you quality, or for more information, contact: (317) 269-6004 or changemylife@indymca.org.

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