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Finding Better Health Through Diabetes Prevention

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It, Diabetes Care Author: Natalie Mathiowetz,RDN,LD

Weight loss and health goals help one local woman prevent diabetes.

Judi Waterfield knew it was time for a change in her life. At a primary care visit with Terri Malecek, CNP, in late 2022 it was suggested that Judi work on losing some weight; something she'd always watched and thought she'd kept under control. Judi's mother had type two diabetes and it was always in the back of her mind.

Getting connected

After that appointment, Judi received a MyChart message about an upcoming Diabetes Prevention course being put on by CentraCare - Redwood. She decided to give the program a try and complete the first meeting. With the help of Natalie Mathiowetz, registered dietician and the class facilitator, Judi was set up on her phone to attend the virtual class.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is held in-person, virtually or as a combination. The program meets weekly for the first eight weeks, twice a month for four months, and then once a month for the remainder of the year-long program. Participants meet with a trained lifestyle coach to help with weight loss, eating healthier and increasing physical activity.

"I have been offering this program since 2018," Natalie explained, "However, a prior Registered Dietitian started offering the program before myself. I decided to continue to offer the program because of its lasting impact on those who have participated."

Judi's journey

Judi's course started in January and finished in December of 2023. She knew the nutritional information shared during the course — Judi worked for ten years with Head Start doing nutrition education. But she did learn more about carbs and calories.

"I told Natalie I was not going to count calories when I started, but I ended up counting them," said Judi. "The program helped me put the knowledge I already had of nutrition into practice."

Another tool Judi gained from the program was journaling.

"Journaling helped me to see what I was eating and the calories, which helped me to keep my weight going down," Judi said. "It also helped as a stress reliever – if I had something going on with my family or work, I could write it down. I could express myself with journaling."

Judi started exercising more — mainly walking her dog and incorporating light weights to exercise her upper body during the program year. She continues to walk her dog often, whenever she can. "I found it rejuvenating to walk outside in the sun and nature and would journal about it," Judi said.

Tracking goals was another component of the program. "When I decided to journal, I could keep track of what I was eating and doing and how I was feeling," shared Judi. "I would note when I met my goals and then set new ones. I recently went back through my journal, and it made me feel really good to see the progress I made."

Finding success and community

Judi also found a wonderful new community and support from her classmates, who were great motivators and helped inspire one another on their journey. The group even created a Facebook group to connect outside of class. They shared tips, walking maps, recipes and more.
"Judi is a wonderful example of how successful lifestyle change can be, despite the craziness of life such as working a stressful job to living with others who are at different stages of life," said Natalie. "I could tell Judi was skeptical at first, however, she soon realized she could be more successful if she tried to put the class concepts into action. Judi was willing to come into my office for a test run and practice a virtual meeting. After this, she made small but consistent changes that lead to meeting her goals!"

In September 2023, towards the end of her program, Judi had another physical scheduled with her primary care provider, Terri Malecek, CNP. At her appointment, the nurse asked her if she'd recently lost weight.

Judi before her weight loss journey.

Judi about 6 months following the Diabetic Prevention Course – June 2024.

"I responded, yes," said Judi. "She asked me if I did it on purpose. I told her yes and that I had taken the diabetes prevention course with Natalie. The computer was asking her if my weight was correct!"

Judi had lost 30 pounds over the program year. Even Terri was interested in how she lost the weight. In addition to her weight loss, Judi saw better blood work results and feels better.

"I even had to buy new clothes," said Judi. "It was a double-edged sword, but great motivation."

"This program is more than just about losing weight (although a nice benefit), rather the reduction of Hgb A1C (improved glucose control) to delay the onset or prevention of diabetes is the goal," explained Natalie. "I have also witnessed other non-intended benefits from being an active member of the class, such as friendships, support, healthier eating styles, and improved lipid panels (cholesterol numbers) and blood pressure. Some participants have even been able to reduce the amount or dose of their current medications."

Judi's advice is, "I think, just give it a try! I dragged my feet at first, but once I got into it, it was good."

New courses with Natalie Mathiowetz, Registered Dietician, at CentraCare – Redwood begin each January and July. You must be at least 18 years of age, do not currently have diabetes, are not pregnant, and have been told you have pre-diabetes to participate. Pre-diabetes is defined as a fasting glucose greater than 100 or a Hgb A1C between 5.7-6.4, along with a BMI greater than 25. For eligible participants, the program is free.

To find more information and upcoming courses visit, choose "Diabetes Prevention Program" and enter your zip code under Find Classes. Or contact Natalie Mathiowetz at (507) 637-4500.