YMCA Center for Community Impact
YMCA DIABETES PREVENTION PROGRAM
When Georgia was young, her father always nagged her about her weight. A merchant seaman, Georgia would try to lose a few pounds before his ship came in so he would be proud of her. But the weight always came back. Georgia always went crazy with food. She overate, snacked between meals, and tried to lose weight through a series of diets.
“I’ve been on every diet that you can imagine,” Georgia said. “I lost 75 pounds and oh God, I thought I was hot stuff, but I ended up gaining it all right back, because I didn’t learn anything.”
Georgia struggled with her weight for years, but found it hard to commit to a lifestyle change until her sister and brother were both diagnosed with diabetes. Her brother had to have both a liver transplant and a kidney transplant as a result of the disease. Her sister developed congestive heart failure and died.
“I don’t have it, thank God, and I don’t want to get it,” Georgia said. “It’s scary to me.”
So, when she heard that the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties was bringing the Diabetes Prevention Program to the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, she signed up. Early on, she learned that this wasn’t a diet – it was a lifestyle change. Georgia learned to combat her food addiction by making mindful choices about what she was going to eat, keep a food journal, learned about what foods to choose, and strategies to avoid overeating.
Over the course of the 12-month program, she noticed that she had more energy and that she could walk without huffing and puffing. She can now fit into clothes she hadn’t been able to wear in years, she added with a smile.
“I used to really go crazy with food. This program has really helped me to look at my food issues,” Georgia said. “I’m really thankful that I don’t have to think that way anymore. I can make decisions about what I’m gonna eat…and if I want to have one piece of candy or something that isn’t really that nutritious, I can do it, but I don’t have to go crazy.”
Georgia encourages her friends and family at risk of developing diabetes to sign up for the program. She is considering going through it again to reinforce what she’s learned and to continue to find peace with food and her body.
“If you want to live a healthy life, you can, you just have to be mindful of the choices that you make,” Georgia said. “I’m very grateful for the program. It’s really changed my life.”