When 2019 began, Freehold resident Ernesto Hulipas was taking medication to manage his cholesterol and blood pressure. He drank soda every day and often felt tired. When he learned that CentraState, his employer, offered a Diabetes Prevention Program, he dove right in and took advantage of the opportunity to improve his health.
Ernesto, 67, who has worked in the medical center’s housekeeping department for eight years, joined the Diabetes Prevention Program in April. The 12-month evidence-based program uses health coaching, group education sessions, and ongoing support to help individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes reduce their chances of getting the disease.
“We encourage participants to set a goal of losing 5 to 7 percent of their weight over the course of a year,” explains Brandon Eldershaw, BA, CHC, healthy aging wellness coach at CentraState. “This often goes a long way in improving diabetes risk factors like elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels.”
Losing Weight and Feeling Great
While Ernesto participates in the employee version offered during the workday, the program also is available to the public at CentraState’s Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center. It covers topics ranging from getting more physical activity to making long-term dietary changes, such as portion control and reducing salt intake. To date, participants have exceeded the minimum 5 percent weight loss recommendation, which translates to at least a 58 percent reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes.
“I feel great and have more energy,” says Ernesto, who lost 14 pounds in 15 weeks, now weighing 179. “I’m eating much better, I gave up soda and wine, and I exercise every day. I even swam laps this morning before work.”
He replaced his usual drinks with water flavored with cucumbers or lemons, and joined CentraState’s Fitness & Wellness Center, where he likes to swim. He uses a food journal, weighs in weekly, and reviews his progress with his health coach. In addition to losing weight, he’s been able to stop taking or reduce the dosage of his medications.
“Ernesto started the program not knowing a lot about healthy lifestyle habits, and now he’s a great example of how you can make simple adjustments to improve your health,” Brandon says. “Making these types of lifestyle changes is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistency is the key to success.”