Arapahoe Friends Put Brakes on Diabetes with Simple Solutions

Two Arapahoe women are taking steps now to avoid diabetes problems that have affected both of their families.

“We’d like to stop it with this generation,” JoDee Walbridge said.

JoDee and her friend, Deb Eichenberger, registered together for Phelps Memorial Health Center’s Simple Solutions class, which is a National Diabetes Prevention Program that educates individuals to try to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. It is a year-long evidence-based lifestyle change program led by Jenny Spaulding, RN, CDE, at Phelps Memorial.

The class meets weekly for the first sixteen weeks followed by six monthly sessions. Topics include healthy eating, increasing activity, weight loss, core principles of tracking food and activity levels, stress management, coping with triggers, travel tips, and how to facilitate support for their healthy lifestyle.

This year, the Don Sjogren Community YMCA partnered with PMHC and is offering free memberships to all 14 Simple Solutions class participants if they exercise at the YMCA at least twice a week.

JoDee and Deb, who both live in Arapahoe, exercise at the YMCA after their class on Tuesdays and try to exercise at least one other day per week at the YMCA.

“The YMCA partnership with the hospital makes this program even more successful because we are getting every aspect of a healthy lifestyle,” JoDee said.

Y staff trained class participants on how to use the Y equipment and introduced them to group exercise classes, which are free to Y members. Y staff members are also participating in the class.

JoDee and Deb have enjoyed the YMCA group water classes and yoga class and plan to exercise in the swimming pool even more.

“The Y has been very supportive,” JoDee said. “I really like this Y, the people, the atmosphere, the equipment.”

Deb, who operates a daycare in Arapahoe, said despite two family weddings and a funeral since the class started in early January, she still has managed to lose 10 pounds. She had tried many different “diets” in the past and likes this program because there are no expensive supplements to purchase, and it focuses on changing habits for her lifetime.

“And, we can eat real food,” Deb said.

She has learned that she can still enjoy eating out with a few adaptions. For instance, at Mexican restaurants, she now orders fajitas without the tortillas to avoid a carb overload.

Class participants track their food and exercise, and a nutritionist reviews their records each week and gives advice on what they could do better.

Deb already has signs of prediabetes, and her aunt lost both of her legs to diabetes. She is determined to avoid that outcome with the help of this class.

JoDee, a retired teacher who now raises Alpacas, is taking the Simple Solutions class for the second year now, and she has lost 30 pounds since she started in January 2021.

“I just enjoy being part of the class,” JoDee said. “It’s just really nice to have that kind of support, especially the last two years when we haven’t been around a lot of people.”

YMCA Executive Director Brett Bebensee said he is happy to offer the YMCA’s support to the Simple Solutions class.

“I know from past experience that this life-changing disease can be hard to manage and being able to provide support to PMHC for this initiative is a great opportunity to help our community,” he said.