Attendees who have made significant progress from diabetes self-management classes are celebrated at the A1C Champion Breakfast.

Triumphs in health celebrated at A1C Champion Breakfast

Diabetes Education Program participants share success stories of healthier living
October 5, 2018

Diabetes self-management is a full-time job that requires a lot of commitment. To be successful, you must watch what you eat, exercise, check your blood sugar and manage your stress.

Ask anyone with diabetes about what it’s like maintaining their condition on a daily basis. Chances are, you’ll hear the same thing: It isn’t easy.

To honor the hard work and exceptional results of participants in the Diabetes Education Program, Texas A&M Healthy South Texas hosted a breakfast celebrating “A1C Champions” recently in Corpus Christi, Texas. Along with providing community and professional education, the program offers free diabetes-self management classes. Participants learn how diabetes affects their bodies and what behavior and lifestyle changes can help keep it under control.

An A1C test shows the percentage of a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past three months. Most health experts say an ideal reading should be less than seven percent. Diabetes class participants who showed a drop of at least three percentage points were named A1C Champions and invited to the celebratory breakfast. Several in attendance were celebrating drops of more than 10 A1C points.

“Education makes all the difference,” said Juanita Garcia, RN, CDE, manager of the Diabetes Education Program in Corpus Christi. “When people who have diabetes know more about how to manage their condition, they’re more likely to succeed.”

About 35 people attended the event, which was held at the CHRISTUS Spohn Hector P. Garcia Memorial Family Health Clinic.

Katia Uriarte, a local TV personality, emceed the event, congratulated attendees and encouraged them to share their stories.

“You have taken the tools you need to succeed and applied them to your life,” Uriarte said. “Living with diabetes is a big responsibility, but you all have shown you can do it.”

Many guests talked about their struggles with cutting back on sweets and starchy foods, such as bread and tortillas.

“I was addicted to food and sweets,” said Natividad Fuentes, an A1C Champion who also said she lost 88 pounds this year. “I substitute stevia for sugar when I’m baking to help me cut back on carbs.” Natividad said she was up to 330 pounds at her heaviest and is now down to a much healthier weight.

Another guest said he thought carbohydrates were only in sweet-tasting foods. “I didn’t eat sweets,” Alex Diggs said. “But I love bread and pasta. I didn’t know those foods also broke down into sugar after you eat them. The educators with the Diabetes Education Program taught me about keeping track of carbohydrates to help me manage my blood sugar.” Alex said he gave up sweet tea and sodas and now drinks mostly water.

Those who attend a diabetes self-management class also receive yearlong support from the program’s educators. Participants are eligible to take part in the Wellness Program, a 12-week physical activity program. Participants receive a physical assessment and education on exercise, work out under the direction of a certified personal trainer and get personalized exercise plans. Every three months, class attendees can have an A1C test to check their progress and receive further coaching on diabetes self-management.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires daily dedication. However, those who have triumphed in managing their diabetes will likely tell you something else: It’s absolutely worth it.

— Leslie Cockrell

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