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Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Jumpstart Your Health diabetes prevention program has been so effective that it’s been cited twice for Full Recognition by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most recent honor came in August 2018 for “effectively deliver(ing) a quality, evidence-based program that meets all the standards for CDC recognition.”
According to Julie Sanfilippo, RD, LDN, Lifestyle Coach, Elmhurst Hospital Diabetes Learning Center, some of the standards were exceeded.
“The CDC looks for program participants to achieve an average weight loss of 5 percent,” says Sanfilippo. “Our groups averaged 8 percent.”
Jumpstart Your Health is available to people who are prediabetic or otherwise at high risk for diabetes. Having prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. However, it may lead to type 2 diabetes, which increases a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness and more.
The program is headed by Sanfilippo, who is certified as a master trainer through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She emphasizes Jumpstart is not just about weight management.
“While we cover nutrition and exercise, the focus is on learning a new lifestyle,” says Sanfilippo. “We also cover such topics as stress management and becoming more active.”
Jan Fordon, 77, of Berkeley, and Len Dompke, 61, of Bensenville, joined the Jumpstart program after learning they were prediabetic.
Fordon began the one-year program in fall 2016 and by January 2017, she met the program goal of losing 7 percent of her weight. By the end of the program, she achieved her personal goal — a total loss of 30 pounds. The result was a drop in her previously high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
“The weight loss also helped my back problems,” says Fordon. “Learning to focus on portion control probably changed my eating habits the most. Writing down everything I eat makes me so much more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth. It’s also been helpful to learn that if I go off my plan I can get back on track the next day.”
Fordon and Dompke credit much of the program’s success to Sanfilippo’s style. They describe her as extremely knowledgeable, non-judgmental and able to make the sessions feel like a casual conversation with the group members, rather than a lecture.
Says Fordon, “I like that no one knows whether you gained or lost any weight when you get weighed in. It’s not like that in other types of groups.”
While Fordon has finished her first Jumpstart series, Dompke has a few months to go, but he’s already shed 80 pounds.
“The education part of the program has been key for me,” says Dompke. “We started by learning to manage our calories. I learned to bank them. I now eat a light breakfast and lunch if I know I’m going out to dinner. Education on exercise was next. Julie suggested some people just start at 10 minutes a day and work their way up. She explained how exercise boosts our metabolism — I finally learned why exercise is so important in managing weight.
“Before this I could never get my head around exercise. Though I am used to working hard, I wasn’t sure I would have the energy for workouts at my weight. But now I joined a gym and arranged for a personal trainer to design two exercise regimens for me. I alternate them to avoid getting bored. I work out three times a week and check in with my trainer quarterly to update my workouts.
“I asked Julie if 80 pounds was the most anyone in all the Jumpstart programs has lost — I wanted to know if I’m the “Biggest Loser.” She told me, ‘I think you’ve got that nailed.’ I would like to lose another 20 pounds so there’s a margin in case I gain a little.
Dompke’s wife joined him at most of the education sessions. Together, they learned techniques for planning meals. In addition, Dompke uses the MyFitnessPal app to help track what he’s eating. He says the support he gets from his wife, trainer and Sanfilippo has been critical to his success.
“I’ve met my primary goal — lowering my A1C. Now I would like to be able to go off cholesterol and blood pressure medications,” he says.
Says Fordon, “The health benefits of the program are fantastic and you get to meet and share ideas with some nice people. Signing up for Jumpstart was one of the best things I ever did for myself.”
“The program gave me the opportunity to fix something before it gets worse,” says Dompke.
Jumpstart Your Health is offered at no cost to participants due to support from the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Foundation and funding from the Lions Club International Foundation, Lions District 1-J and Elmhurst Lions Club.
Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst’s Jumpstart Your Health program.
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