Living with diabetes – Lifestyle Intervention class helps patients deal with the disease |

Living with diabetes – Lifestyle Intervention class helps patients deal with the disease

After the Nevada County Meltdown helped about 1,000 people shed pounds and address their health last year, Mike Carville kept thinking about how to take the concept to another level.

The South Yuba Club’s manager found allies in Craig Roberts, a chiropractor with interests in nutrition and conditioning, and medical exercise specialist Georgia Brown. Together, they signed up a small group for a free class on how to deal with Type 2 diabetes.

Most people in the six-week class have Type 2 diabetes at some level, but one man at high risk for the disease wants to avoid it. Most of the class members are middle-aged, and all want to lose or maintain their current weight.

During the free, six-week class, their trio of teachers will show them how to eat, exercise and hopefully keep their blood sugar levels and diabetes stable.

Debby Sandoval is a breast cancer survivor who learned to control her stress during that illness. “This leapt out at me” when she read about it, and Sandoval thinks it could put her in better shape.

Suzanne Lujan switched to natural foods to control her diet, but lately, “I’ve been baking cakes and pies and playing Russian Roulette with my diabetes.”

Jim Blodgett is “not a very disciplined person. I’ve been overweight all my life.” Now that he has managed to lose 50 pounds, he has turned to the class to keep his steam up.

Gig Caisse recently moved to the area and said, “I’m not a joiner; I’m here to renovate me.”

About 90 to 95 percent of the 17 million U.S. citizens with diabetes have Type 2, and 80 percent of them are overweight, according to The Mayo Clinic. Type 2 diabetes patients either don’t produce enough insulin or their cells ignore the chemical that regulates blood sugar.

When the blood sugar levels go above or below normal in the short-term, a flu-like illness can occur along with drowsiness, weakness and constant thirst. Unattended, those symptoms can progress to coma or even death.

Long-term diabetes complications can include damage to the nerves, eyes, kidneys, heart and blood vessels, creating a variety of diseases and conditions. The other diabetes, Type 1, occurs when the pancreas produces inadequate amounts or no insulin at all, but both types are dangerous.

“With lifestyle changes, 75 percent can control their blood sugar,” Roberts told the group at their first meeting almost two weeks ago. “There’s lot of habits and misinformation you have to get over.”

The class will concentrate on three areas, Roberts said: nutrition, activity and stress reduction.

“When you’re eating good, you have the vitality you need” to exercise, Roberts said. He will expect them to work out three hours a week, “and the beauty of exercise is you adapt to it quickly.”

The stress reduction will be handled partially by the first two areas and with whatever the participants are comfortable with, be it meditation, yoga or prayer.

The final idea is “to develop a lifestyle you can maintain at the end,” Roberts said.

Brown will develop exercise regimens for the class members. She got involved “because I have a passion for working out, and I’m frustrated with diabetes.” When she was a paramedic riding in ambulances, “50 percent of the calls I was on were diabetes-related.”

The exercise will come in great for class member John Soares. He weighed 365 pounds when diagnosed with diabetes five years ago. He’s got himself down to 225 with a natural diet of vegetables, fruit and grains.

“I walk quite a bit, but I still don’t get enough exercise.”

Brenda Macmillan has high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and is enrolled “because there is a history of diabetes in my family.”

Mack Abbott does not have diabetes yet, but he has been told he is a prime candidate, “because I’m 45 pounds overweight” and loves his sweets.

Deborah Ramirez has had diabetes for six years and lost 32 pounds during the Meltdown. She does aerobics, “but I gained back 12 pounds. My excuse was it was too hot to exercise in the summer,” and she wants back on track.

Roberts is determined to help her and the other class members to get there. Type 2 diabetes is manageable, but only if people take the advice, he said.

“You can control it with lifestyle changes.”

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two stories following the class. When they complete it in about one month, we will see how much progress they made.

Signs of diabetes

• Blurred vision

• Flu-like feelings

• Fatigue, weakness

• Swollen, red, tender gums

• Sores that heal slowly

• Gaining or losing weight

• Loss of feeling in hands and feet

• Frequent infections

Information from the Mayo

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