An Inspiration to Her Family: Olga’s Journey to Better Health
When Olga Aguirre’s husband got sick, she dedicated herself to taking care of him. This meant she didn’t always have time to take care of herself. As time passed, the anxiety and stress of taking care of her husband combined with a lack of time for physical activity caused Olga to gain weight. During an appointment with her doctor, she was referred to a lifestyle change program that was part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) to improve her health and to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Olga was delighted by the idea of participating in the program. She had heard about what it offered so she knew that it would be very helpful. And she was right! The program taught Olga new strategies for how to eat healthy, be more active, and reduce stress.
For example, Olga already loved to cook, and through the class she learned to read nutrition labels, eat appropriate portions, and choose foods that helped her whole family improve their health.
“Cooking is my work of art. Even though I’ve always liked eating healthy, with the program I learned to improve my eating habits,” says Olga. “Now I know how to make delicious and healthy foods. Every time I go to buy food, I look for the healthier options and I look at the nutrition labels.”
The Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. Program
The program has helped Olga gain skills and knowledge to take better care of herself and her family. She has used what she learned to teach her family members the importance of eating healthy.
“When I prepare my meals, I send pictures to my family members that live in other states and I share recipes with them so they can take care of their health too,” says Olga. “I tell them ‘you need to look at the nutrition label and look at the amount of salt.’ I explain it so they can take care of themselves.”
The program also helped Olga to be more physically active and to see physical activity in a different, positive way. She learned that there are many things she can do to stay active during the day even without leaving her house.
“I have been doing more exercise. I go out for a walk every day and I make the most of the chores in the house to move more. I work in the garden and I gather the leaves, and I sweep the front of my house,” said Olga.
Through the program, Olga lost 10 pounds and lowered her A1C and cholesterol levels. With all the progress she’s made since joining the program, Olga has become an inspiration for her family. After she talked to her family about how much she loved the program, two of her family members who met the qualifications for the program also signed up and are now learning how to make lifestyle changes that will help them prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and live healthier lives. Not only that, but Olga loved the program so much that she joined again and is now retaking it with her family members by her side so they can support each other.
“I really liked this program. It has changed my life and the life of my family because I tell them what I learned when I see them or when we talk on the phone,” says Olga. “That way they can also start learning. I will continue to motivate the people around me that are at risk or have family members with diabetes to help them prevent it.”
Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Eating healthy and increasing your physical activity can help you manage or reverse prediabetes. In the United States, Hispanics and Latinos are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have prediabetes, which is when a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Olga changed her lifestyle to improve her health and passed on what she learned to her loved ones to help them improve their health too. You can do the same by learning more about the program today. Talk to your doctor to learn if you have prediabetes and know your risk for type 2 diabetes. Then learn more about Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. (CYL2) program, a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program.
Visit https://www.thewellnesscoalition.org/cyl2/ to get more information about the program.
This project is conducted in partnership with the Black Women’s Health Imperative through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.