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SJLH program helps establish healthy lifestyle

by The Western News
| January 19, 2012 1:07 PM

Prevent,  a St. John’s Lutheran Hospital program, is a successful weight-loss and exercise program designed to assist and motivate individuals to reach and maintain a healthy lifestyle through group activities, educational sessions, and individual guidance from their life coaches.

The Program targets people who are pre-diabetic and/or are at risk for developing Cardiovascular Disease. 

The local Prevent Program, sponsored by St. John’s Lutheran Hospital and the Montana Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program began one year ago. 

Since that time the program has helped 60 South Lincoln County residents lose a total of 931 pounds and gain new perspectives on healthy living. 

Prevent is based on a national clinical trial that has demonstrated that these lifestyle changes gives reduction in the incidence of diabetes by 58 percent. 

Program participants also saw marked improvement in their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.   Studies have proven that mere two pounds lost can give 13 percent risk reduction.

Becky Brundin, Registered Dietitian, Diabetes Educator, and Prevent Program Team Leader is excited about the new twists the Program will offer beginning in February.  

“In addition to grant funding that already allows us to refund 100 percent of tuition, and offer scholarships, we now can offer the Prevent program free of charge to Medicaid recipients,” said Brundin. 

“St. John’s and the Montana Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program are making sure that no willing participant will fall through the cracks due to lack of funding.”

About one in four adults (57 million Americans) have pre-diabetes.  Pre-diabetes is defined as a fasting blood glucose reading of 100 to 125 mg/dl.  Approximately 11 percent of those 57 million Americans will develop diabetes within three years, and more than half will have the disease within a decade. 

 “Diabetes is growing rapidly, and to complicate matters further, the disease goes undetected a good percentage of the time,” said Brundin. 

“Only a very small percentage of Americans with pre-diabetes realize they have it.  Unfortunately, people do not take the necessary steps to reduce their risk of full-blown diabetes and its numerous complications.  Many studies have shown that eating a healthy diet, losing weight, and exercising regularly may reverse pre-diabetes and delay and/or prevent the disease altogether. That’s why we encourage people to consult their doctors to get their blood glucose checked regularly; just like you would with your cholesterol.” 

According to Matt Larsen, St. John’s Registered Dietitian and a Prevent Team Leader and Life Coach, the Program targets individuals who are ready to make lifestyle changes. 

“We are looking for men and women who are at the point in their lives when they are ready to make healthier changes.  They need to be ready to eat healthier, embrace exercising regularly, and most importantly, they must be ready to commit to healthy lifestyle changes,” said Larsen. 

“Criteria for the group includes people who have one or more of the following conditions: they are overweight, have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, are pre-diabetic, or may have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.”

Prevent is a 52-week diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention program.  The tuition fee is 100% refundable if participants follow the program through to completion. The program begins with a personal assessment by a Lifestyle Coach to determine the best guidance that will get life-long success. 

The 16 weeks to follow are known as the Core Sessions where participants attend weekly classes led by Lifestyle Coaches, who are also skilled Registered Dietitians, to create new, healthier behaviors.

The remaining 35 weeks are dedicated to Relapse Prevention Sessions and are tailored to help participants maintain the healthy lifestyles that were taught in the Core Sessions.  

The participants are in monthly contact with Lifestyle Coaches to identify barriers, problem solve, revisit goals, and celebrate progress.

“Meeting in a group increases the support and helps keep people motivated for long term success,” added Larsen.  “The Prevent program is an opportunity for many people to get on the road to better health.”