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ConnectCare3’s Chronic Disease Management Program offers participants the opportunity to be assisted by a registered dietitian, a certified health coach, and a registered nurse. This multi-faceted program piqued my interest at my former employer’s health fair as I knew my dietary habits and lack of exercise could use some improvement. I was approaching retirement age and was overweight, along with other high-risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Members of my family share these chronic conditions and shortened life expectancies due to health issues. I knew that I needed to make a concerted effort to improve my health if I wanted any chance of enjoying my golden years. I called ConnectCare3 and enrolled in their Chronic Disease Management program.
My first contact was with one of their health coaches. I explained that I had tried numerous weight loss and exercise programs over the years. I knew from experience that I would be most successful if I implemented both exercise and diet changes together versus one or the other. My health coach suggested I set small goals as I began my exercise journey. I started out by riding a stationary bike at home for 15-minute periods a few times each week while I watched TV. When the weather was nice, I started walking on an outdoor trail and challenged myself to increase the distance each time I would go out. My health coach and I talked about ways to pass the time on my walks such as music, audio books, or podcasts to make it more enjoyable. When the weather turned cold, I joined a gym. I am happy to report that after committing to exercise six months ago, I now walk on the treadmill or outside for an hour at least 6 days/week, and I still ride a stationary bike for three miles several times each week. I have made exercise a priority and find that scheduling it into my day every morning at 5:30 is a consistent routine that works for me.
A registered dietitian was the second ConnectCare3 staff member to contact me. She provided nutrition education applicable for a person with diabetes and for my goal of weight loss. As I increased my exercise, we also discussed how I should eat energy-producing carbohydrates prior to exercising and drink a large quantity of water throughout the day. In addition to the salads my family and I eat almost daily, my dietitian inspired me with other healthy recipes meant to help me achieve my health goals. I frequently roast a tray of vegetables and make a pot of healthy soup every week that even my family enjoys. After getting a new glucometer with the aid of a ConnectCare3 Patient Advocate, I received guidance from my doctor on acceptable blood sugar ranges. Following this, my dietitian supported my goal to regularly test my blood sugar level and educated me on how the results related to my food choices.
The third ConnectCare3 staff member to reach out to me was a registered nurse. She encouraged me to track my blood sugar levels consistently with my new glucometer, and I learned of lancets that are better suited for my skin type. My ConnectCare3 nurse provided education on diabetes, how to interpret lab results, and my medications. She also identified rheumatologist options for evaluation of osteoarthritis and provided questions for physician appointments. Knowing I could consult with a registered nurse about my health issues was so comforting and informative.
In summary, having the ability to be assisted by a health coach, dietitian, and nurse was paramount to my success. Knowing I would hear from them several times each month held me accountable, and their encouragement helped me persevere. They were my cheerleaders as I shared success stories and picked me up when I slid backwards. I was motivated to make lifestyle changes, and I have seen improvements already with my cardiovascular health and energy levels. I’m no longer short of breath when I exercise and can easily walk or ride a bike for 60-70 minutes. I have lost 23 pounds and plan to lose even more. My arthritic pain has improved as a result of my weight loss, and I can climb stairs much easier. More importantly, I believe I have established good habits that I can sustain and carry into my retirement.
As I reflect on my progress the past six months, I am proud of my accomplishments. There have been ups & downs, of course, but I felt very supported by the ConnectCare3 Chronic Disease Management team. The education they provided has given me a greater understanding of my health issues and made me more confident about managing my own health moving forward. If you are ready to commit to making changes in your health, contact this team so they can implement a personalized plan for your own wellness journey.