The follow is an interview between the Tri-County Diabetes Awareness group (TCDA) and Gigi, a member of Worcester County Health Department's Lifestyle Balance class.


TCDA: Good morning, Gigi. Thanks for taking the time to chat about the Lifestyle Balance program. To start from the beginning: why did you and your husband join Lifestyle Balance?


Gigi: We were going downhill and needed to make a change. My blood pressure and sugar were on the rise, and I was having foot, back, and hip pain. We knew we both wanted to lose weight, so we started eating cleaner, but struggled to take the weight off. A friend of ours was in Lifestyle Balance, so we decided to give it a shot.


TCDA: Once you found out about the program and joined in, how’d it go?


Gigi: Great! The class gave me the tools I needed to understand weight-loss through calories in versus calories out. It was easy to incorporate what we learned about in Lifestyle Balance into my day-to-day life. Because you’re learning about fitness and nutrition in a group setting, there’s a lot of co-motivation from the other people in class. The coaches were also incredible.


TCDA: Could you tell us a little bit more about that? What was it like working with the coaches?


Gigi: They were wonderful; whenever you were struggling, even outside of class, you could reach out to a coach. If I slipped or failed at a goal for the day, I could always email Kathy Wool, and she’d remind me that being healthy was a journey, not a quick fix. Sometimes the number on the scale would be discouraging that week, but Kathy and the other coaches always told us that the number on the scale doesn’t define the work we’ve put in that week, and every other week. But I knew that if I stayed on track and remembered calories in versus calories out, that number would eventually drop. I’m down 40-pounds since I started the class.


TCDA: Congratulations! To wrap up, two-part question for you: how do you maintain what you learned in Lifestyle Balance every day, and how is your life different now compared to before you joined?


Gigi: Calorie tracking is the easy part. You can use a journal, or do what my husband and I do and use an app like My Fitness Pal so you can log what you eat right on to your phone. We learned enough about nutrition and food planning in class that it never feels restrictive to stay under my calorie limit for the day. The classes really did result in a lifestyle change; we’re eating better, we’re moving more. Instead of going home and watching TV every night like we used to, my husband and I started exercising together in the evening after work. We have a new goal of running a half-marathon in every state.


I really can’t measure the feeling of self-satisfaction I have after the class, setting goals for myself and reaching them. It’s not just the weight-loss-I’m fitter, happier, my blood pressure is better and my risk for Type 2 diabetes is drastically reduced. I can even keep up with my two-year-old grandchild! I don’t think I’ll stop paying attention to what I eat or how I move ever again.


          
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Lifestyle Balance is a free, locally available program that includes regular group meetings, nutrition and fitness education, and evidence-based learning, led by a registered dietitian. The goal of the program is to help participants lose weight, improve their activity level, and reduce their risk for hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. For more information on classes in Worcester County, included dates and locations, visit worcesterhealth.org or call 410-632-0056.