By Dan Lea, Public Affairs Specialist, Mayo Clinic Health Systems
Ken Moore had lost his get-up-and-go.
“My wife said, ‘All you do is come home and sit in your chair. You have no motivation,’” said Moore, 55, of Eau Claire. “She said I should go see a doctor.”
He did. And that was when Moore learned he had Type 2 diabetes.
Home page photo: Ken Moore of Eau Claire has improved his health since learning new habits in a “Healthy Living With Diabetes” workshop. (Photo courtesy of Mayo Clinic Health System)
“It has been a struggle since then,” Moore said recently after five years of dealing with the disease.
At the start, his A1C test — a common blood test that can be used to diagnose and assess diabetes — fluctuated between 6.8 and 8.5. A test result of less than 7 percent generally indicates good control of diabetes.
Not a healthy start
“I knew that wasn’t healthy,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I learned how to get off that roller coaster.”
That’s when he learned about the seven-week “Healthy Living with Diabetes” class offered by Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS) and the Eau Claire County Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). At first, Moore said he was skeptical about learning anything he didn’t already know.
“I thought, ‘What could they really teach me? I’m a grown-up. I know what I’m doing,’” he said.
As it turned out, he did have a few things to learn.
Joanne Walker, a registered nurse and wellness educator with MCHS, was one of the instructors for Moore’s course. Walker said that different people manage their diabetes in different ways, so the goal is to help participants find the tactics that work for them.
Different tactics for different folks
“Some people choose weight loss; others choose medications or other things from the toolbox, like managing emotions,” Walker said. “We emphasize that it is different for everyone.”
At each meeting, Walker puts a poster of a toolbox on the wall. Those “tools” include healthy eating, physical activity, blood sugar monitoring, stress management, meditation, understanding emotions, not smoking and action plans. It was making an action plan that Moore thinks helped him the most.
“I’d walk before, but I never really set a goal,” Moore said. “Once you write it down, you seem to follow through with it.”
Exercise plus a different diet
Besides adding exercise to his routine, Moore said he has cut his food portions in half and now eats more salad and other foods that don’t cause weight gain or raise his blood sugar. Besides feeling better, Moore said his test results have improved. His last A1C was 7.5, and his daily blood tests have been under 200, compared to the 250–310 results he got before he developed his healthier habits.
Letting participants choose their own path to healthy living is an essential part of the course, according to Walker.
“They bring the problem; we teach the process of solving the problem,” she said. “Some tools work well for some people, but not for others. Maybe a year later, one of the other tools will work better.”
Moore said he’ll continue to work to lose weight the smart way, using his action plans to help maintain his focus. He has high praise for the course and his instructors.
“They were fantastic. They were never judgmental,” Moore said. “I would recommend the course to anyone who struggles with diabetes or prediabetes.”
Next Eau Claire workshop
The next local ADRC-MCHS “Healthy Living With Diabetes” workshop is scheduled to start on Nov. 6 and run through Dec. 18. It will be held on Monday afternoons from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 202 W. Grand Ave.
The workshop is intended for people 18 and older who have diabetes and prediabetes or who live with someone who does. Among the topics to be covered will be medications, sick days, monitoring blood sugar and skin and foot care, with the goal of helping people manage the disease in order to maintain an active and fulfilling life. There is no cost for the workshop, but a minimum of eight participants must register for it by Oct. 30 for it to be held.
Registration can be completed by calling 1-888-338-4636.