Yashica Milton knew she was at risk of becoming diabetic. She has a family history, and previous testing had revealed elevated blood sugar levels, but she says the results were still shocking after a 2018 health screening with OurHealth revealed prediabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to signify Type 2 diabetes. It affects roughly 84 million American adults, and of that group, 90 percent are unaware they have prediabetes. Without lifestyle changes, people with prediabetes are very likely to progress to Type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately for Yashica, prediabetes can be reversed with healthy lifestyle changes, and she was more than up for the challenge. “I wanted to take control of it before it got there,” she says.
Yashica could access health coaching through her OurHealth benefits with Centier Bank in Merrillville Indiana. That’s where she first met Heather Semento, a certified health coach with OurHealth.
“I was kind of hesitant on doing health coaching,” she says. “Honestly, in my mind I didn’t think it would help. I don’t know why—I just assumed they would make me cut out everything and give me some really strict plan to follow, but it was nothing like I imagined.”
Yashica and Heather began meeting weekly to plan a path forward that focused on increasing her physical activity and making healthy changes to her diet. To Yashica’s surprise, she didn’t have to stop eating the foods she loved. Instead, Heather had her focus on moderation. That meant she could still have some of her favorite guilty pleasure foods like cookies and potato chips.
Yashica says the moderation approach made it easier to stay on track, and eventually her blood sugar started to tick down.
“At first it didn’t drop as fast as I thought it would but the more changes I made and the better I ate, the more it dropped,” she says. “It was awesome just to see I was moving in the right direction.”
Boosting her exercise was more challenging, and Yashica admits she spent most of the day sitting at her desk. But just like with her diet, they focused on small, attainable goals that ultimately began to pay off.
“Initially, it started with walking around the department a little bit, and then I started walking around our building,” she says. “Then it moved to the treadmill and elliptical and now I do jazzercise five days a week – and I absolutely love it.”
Within a year of starting health coaching with Heather, Yashica lost over 30 pounds and her A1c has dropped to a healthy measure without the use of any medication. She credits her success to her personal drive, but also having Heather to hold her accountable.
“I feel great,” she says. “Some days are better than others, and even when I don’t feel like working out I still do it because I always feel better afterward. I have so much more energy, I can walk more and my feet aren’t hurting anymore. I absolutely love exercising now. Who would’ve thought?”
Yashica believes she will maintain her new lifestyle moving forward and encourages others to stay focused and work hard toward achieving their health goals.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” she says. “I think all of us want it to happen tomorrow, and that’s just not the case. If you keep pushing and moving forward, eventually you’ll see results.”