80 pounds lighter: Retirement looks brighter for Oxford woman
Donna Sliter, of Oxford, lost her job of 17 years and then came more bad news - if she didn’t make some lifestyle changes, she would soon develop type 2 diabetes.
One year later, at 66, Sliter is 80 pounds lighter, more active and feels good. She credits Beaumont’s free Diabetes Prevention Program and the support of her instructor and family with her improved health and happiness.
“I joined the program a few days after visiting my doctor in October 2020,” Sliter explained. “I was 283 pounds and my elevated hemoglobin A1c number indicated I was on my way to developing type 2 diabetes.”
Rewind one month, in September 2020, after 17 years of service, Sliter abruptly lost her job due to the pandemic.
“I was depressed and when I thought I was facing retirement in poor health, I decided I would rather enjoy a healthy, active retirement than spend it checking my blood sugar and going to doctors,” said Sliter.
Because of the pandemic, Beaumont Health offers its Diabetes Prevention Program via Zoom.
Said Sliter, “A lot of what we learned focused on the healthy plate concept and the importance of eating lots of fruits and vegetables. We discussed limiting fats and using fat substitutes.”
Along with healthy eating, the program also encouraged participants to increase their physical activity with a goal of at least 150 minutes of activity per week.
“I never understood why people enjoyed exercising,” Sliter said. “While I’m not sure ‘enjoy’ is the right word, I do know that, after a year, I just don’t feel right unless I do four or five days of exercise each week: walking or exercising in the gym.”
When it came to lifestyle changes, it became a family affair.
“My husband followed the Diabetes Prevention Program with me, and as a family we became more active and all ate healthier, including my 24-year-old son. Between us, we’ve lost about 175 pounds.”
The Diabetes Prevention Program, developed and led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is an education program for those with prediabetes. Participants learn how to eat healthy, add physical activity to their routine, manage stress, stay motivated and solve problems that can get in the way of healthy changes – all in an effort to prevent type 2 diabetes.
“The program emphasizes gradual changes in habits,” said Sliter. “It’s not about fast weight loss, rather lifestyle changes with support from your classmates and instructor.”
The program emphasizes gradual changes in habits. It's not about fast weight loss, rather lifestyle changes with support from your classmates and instructor.Donna Sliter
Said Theresa Butler, a Beaumont Diabetes Prevention Program instructor and lifestyle coach, “Donna was a willing participant and so committed to the program. Even when her weight loss seemed to plateau, she never gave up. Her family was behind her efforts. And she is so supportive of others in the program. In fact, Donna still offers support and encouragement. She is a part of our year two program that meets once a month.”
Sliter continues to experience weight loss, with a short-term goal of having her weight start with a “1” instead of a “2” and eventually shedding a total of 100 pounds.
“But, the largest measure of success is how much better I feel today than a year ago. My blood pressure is down and my A1c is now in the normal range,” said Sliter. “My doctor has eliminated my diuretic, reduced my thyroid dosage twice and has cut my blood pressure medicine dosage in half. This has changed the face of our retirement.”
She has taken up crocheting - making baby blankets for charity. It keeps her hands busy, while helping others. Sliter and her husband also enjoy travel throughout Michigan including Frankenmuth, Holland and Traverse City.
“The Diabetes Prevention Program was a wonderful experience. Theresa Butler was a great coach - very affirming and motivating. Maybe it was just because I was finally ready, but Beaumont’s program has been the support I needed to stick with it and, as Theresa says, ‘Be well and thrive!’”