(BPT) – When Monique Wright-Williams lost her mother to diabetes-related complications, she became determined not to follow the same path.
In 1991, Wright-Williams of Syracuse, New York learned that she had prediabetes, meaning her blood glucose levels were elevated, but not to type 2 diabetes levels yet.
Back then, Wright-Williams learned what many in America still haven’t: the condition is more prevalent than many think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 86 million Americans – more than one in three adults – have prediabetes, a significant jump from the 79 million reported in 2010. Only about 10 percent of those 86 million people recognize they have it.
Wright-Williams knew her risk was heightened given her family’s history of the disease. Several other elements also factor into a person’s risk, including age, weight, race and activity level. Not taking action greatly increases the likelihood of developing kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs.
Being diagnosed with prediabetes doesn’t have to lead to severe medical complications. With increased awareness and simple lifestyle changes, it’s possible to reverse the track. Programs like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program have been shown to reduce the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent for individuals with prediabetes.
Wright-Williams decided to change her lifestyle to ensure she’d be around for her family for many years to come. She enrolled in YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program at her local Y.
The program begins with 16 weekly sessions followed by monthly meetings for the remainder of the year. In a small group environment, a trained lifestyle coach and group participants share tips on how to infuse each day with physical activity and how to make choosing healthy foods second nature.
To aid in reducing the risks for developing type 2 diabetes, participants focus on ways to encourage healthy eating and increase physical activity. This involves daily food and activity tracking, measuring portion size and understanding the social or environmental cues that influence progress toward overall health goals.
The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program aims to educate each group member on making lifestyle changes that help reduce his or her body weight by 7 percent and reach the target 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
Wright-Williams armed herself with this preventive information and decided to extend her get-moving efforts to other women in her community who were at risk. She started a running club, the Syracuse Sole Sisters, which quickly grew from two to 60 women. The group gathers for weekly runs and has gradually built their endurance from walking around a track to running races competitively. Wright-Williams lost 7 percent of her total body weight, reduced her diabetes-related symptoms and inspired other women to join her in her efforts to get healthy.
To assess your risk for prediabetes, visit YMCA.net/diabetes to take a quick seven-question quiz, locate a program near you and find additional ways to reduce your risk for diabetes.