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  • MRH Diabetes prevention class begins Sept. 11; lifestyle changes promote weight loss, better health

    By Shelley Farrington   Lincoln News • September 5, 2019

    KATAHDIN REGION – Are you ready to lose some weight? To learn more about how foods can change your health? How simple exercise can lead to long term improvements in your quality of life?

    If any of those questions apply to you or you are just ready to make the lifestyle changes to improve your health then the upcoming Millinocket Regional Hospital Diabetes Prevention Classes could be just right for you.

    MRH Lifestyle Coaches Cheryl Carrell and Jane Danforth have announced the beginning of a new class on Sept. 11 at 3:15 p.m. in the MRH multipurpose room. Contact Carrell at 723-3393 or ccarrell@mrhme.org or Danforth at 723-5288 or jdanforth@mrhme.org for more information or to sign up. Participants are asked to register as soon as possible so course materials can be made ready for you.

    Danforth and Carrell said the curriculum, which is provided by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), is science based and includes among other topics educating participants on food labels, counting fat grams and the benefits of exercise. It is a lifestyle change and that is why the term “lifestyle coaches” is used to define the courses instructors.

    Carrell and Danforth recognized the benefit of having such a course available in the Katahdin region and became trained and certified in 2014 starting the first class in 2015. The class meets weekly for the first 16 weeks, Danforth said, and then less frequently as the group requires for a full year.

    “Cheryl and I work as a team facilitating the classes,” Danforth explained. “We don’t lecture but provide information for discussions. Participants talk as much or as little as they want. Because the program is a yearlong commitment, we become a close-knit group supporting and learning from each other. We’ve had many participants continue to attend classes year after year so they could have support to maintain their weight loss.”

    The class can boast many success stories including those of Millinocket residents Tom and Sharon Darling. Tom said if anyone is thinking about losing weight or has tried and can’t seem to get over the hump participants in this class “can’t help but benefit from the program.”

    Tom speaks from experience as he’s lost 83 pounds using the knowledge and skills he’s been taught. He and Sharon have participated for two years. In addition to diabetes prevention, he added that the benefit of losing weight helps in so many other areas of health including reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and getting an overall feeling of better health.

    Sharon Darling said it was that improvement in her general health that she was looking for when she signed up for the class.

    “I wanted to be able to get down on the floor and play with my grandson,” she said and after losing 45 pounds, improving her flexibility and strength she can do just that.

    Sharon Darling said she and Tom, who have attended classes for two years, have learned to eat differently; they’ve changed some of their favorite recipes to be healthier and have cut down on sweets. It’s hard at times, but the improvements in their health are all the motivation they need to stay on track.

    In addition, the Darlings also say a health tracker app like My Fitness Pal has helped them stay on course because it’s convenient and easy to use. It keeps track of exercise and weight loss, tracks goals, breaks down recipes to show the nutritional value and keeps you accountable they say.

    Carrell said My Fitness Pal has become a popular health app because of all it does and it’s free to use. The Darlings said the fact that it makes things convenient has certainly kept them accountable for their choices.

    Millinocket resident Shirley Rogerson has also participated in the class – this is her third year and she still finds out things that help keep her stay on track. She said she didn’t need to lose a lot of weight when she first started it was more that she was pre-diabetic and her primary care physician wanted her A1C numbers lower. Her PCP encouraged her to check out the class and she’s been coming ever since. She said she likes the camaraderie among participants and the fact that she can share stories, swap recipes and generally get support for her efforts to be healthier.

    “I didn’t have a lot of weight to lose,” Rogerson said, “it was more about the lifestyle and food changes.”

    Rogerson said she tries to exercise five days a week at Lifestyle Fitness but if she can’t make it to the gym then she finds physical activity to do in work outside her home. She said making the commitment to go to the gym keeps her motivated to exercise and not only is her A1C lower but it’s also helped with blood pressure and muscle tone.

    Tom Darling said when he first began the class two years ago he couldn’t walk at all and now he walks two miles a day. That’s why he said if someone commits to the class they will lose weight and feel better.

    “I’ve had several people ask me how I lost my weight,” Tom said, “and I said it’s putting less food in the pie hole. There’s no magic pill. This is not diet food it’s making a change in your way of life. You don’t have to give up the things you like you just eat less, change recipes, stay within your goals for the day and exercise. This class teaches you how to do that.”