Numbers. Numbers can tell us many things, including how good or bad something is. When the numbers are low in my bank account, that’s bad. When the numbers are high, that’s good. As a member of the External Quality Review (EQR) team, numbers are part of my daily routine. As a nurse and an auditor, I’m trained to interpret different numbers. In quality review, numbers tell us about the effectiveness of an organization's objectives. In our personal lives, numbers tell us if we are meeting our own objectives or if we’re headed in the wrong direction.
Last year, when our staff underwent biometric screening, I had my blood drawn, just like many of my co-workers. Unlike many others, my numbers were bad. As a nurse, I know about lab results and what patients should do when the results are bad. When I saw how high my hemoglobin A1C was, I paid attention. I knew what this number meant – if I didn’t do something soon, I would soon be diabetic and need insulin, just like my parents. I needed to figure out how to do the improvement.
I decided to approach it by combining my auditing and nursing backgrounds. I began to treat myself as an organization and I did an internal audit on my own body. With numbers in hand, I began.
I knew about the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) from when our staff did a proposal for the training a few years ago. I researched the program and was impressed with their results.
The National DPP is a partnership of public and private organizations that work to reduce the growing problem of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The program isn’t for diabetics: it’s for people who may be heading down that road but aren’t there yet – just like me. Like a good audit, I knew this program could be a valuable tool to focus my efforts on preventing diabetes.
National DPP research showed that when people in the program lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, they could reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Initially, 7 percent weight loss –10 to 14 pounds – sounded hard, but I knew I could do it. I was already exercising more than 150 minutes per week. I just needed to eat healthier and get support. I signed up for their weekly class.
Each class began with the Fitness Marshall video to help us get moving. After that, a different educational topic was discussed. The dietitians explained that the National DPP isn’t a diet, but a lifestyle change that can reverse changes in our bodies and positively affect our future health.
I felt one of the key items in the curriculum was documenting everything we put in our mouths. My auditor brain said this was a very good idea – documentation is key to knowing if your efforts are successful. I faithfully logged everything I ate.
At first, I didn’t know if it would work, but I found out differently. When I passed the 10-pound mark, I really started feeling better. A recent eight-mile hike on the crest trail in the Sandia Mountains was much easier to do at altitude (10,512 feet) without the extra weight. Thanks, DPP class!
With the support of the dietitians and my family, I met my goal, and I’m confident I can continue on this path and complete the yearlong program. My sister saw my results and started her own internal audit of healthy eating, which led to having a very colorful and healthy salad with dinner daily.
Although I have nursing training and I work in a health care organization, those things alone didn’t help me prevent diabetes. I needed a structured program and the support of trained dietitians to help me prevent a very serious disease. If you or someone you know is prediabetic, visit the National DPP for more information.