Find Success One Step at a Time

When Mary. Age 50, found out from her nurse practitioner that she had type 2 diabetes, she was actually relieved. It helped explain the symptoms—tiredness, hunger and a vaginal yeast infection—that wouldn’t go away. The nurse practitioner encouraged Mary to lose a few pounds, become more active and return for a follow-up visit in three months.

follow up

Three months later, Mary hadn’t lost weight and was finding it hard to change her eating habits. She was a bit more active, however. She walked more sets of stairs and parked farther away from where she was going.

Much of the problem for Mary was due to her hectic life. She worked full time and still had two of her three children at home.

Plus, she was involved with many activities in her church and the children’s school. Mary had never been good at making her needs a priority.


For two years, Mary did little about her diabetes. She was in denial. Then, one day, she got a wake-up call. She had chest pain and thought it was a heart attack. She went straight to her nurse practitioner. After a few tests, Mary was assured that what she experienced was not a heart attack. However, her nurse practitioner did note that now not only was her blood glucose high (at 246), but her LDL and blood pressure also were high (LDL was 139, the goal is at or under 100), blood pressure was 137/86 mm/Hg (the goal is at or under 130/80 mm/Hg). Mary was prescribed a medicine for each condition. But her practitioner reminded her that the best actions for her to take were to lose ten pounds and become more active.

Mary now was ready to take action. She asked for a referral to a diabetes education program. Mary wanted to learn more about diabetes. She wanted to get support to make these hard lifestyle changes. Mary scheduled a visit as soon as she got home.

Small Changes Lead to BIG Results

Two weeks later, Mary found herself in a group of seven people. Many were in her situation. She learned a lot about diabetes and the steps to take to get her blood glucose, blood pressure and LDL under control. She also learned about the long-term problems from diabetes that could occur if she continued with her denial and lack of activity.

She met with a dietitian who asked about her current eating and activity habits. She asked what Mary felt were the easiest and hardest things in her life to change. She then asked Mary if she was willing to make a few changes to eat healthier and become more active. The dietitian encouraged Mary to focus on losing just a few pounds by making a few changes in her eating and activity habits. She didn’t need to lose all thirty pounds, go on a strict diet or become a long-distance runner. The dietitian asked Mary to come up with three steps she was willing to take on NOW.

Three realistic changes:

    1. Three days each week, Mary would eat breakfast at home rather than eating a large muffin and cappuccino from the local bakery. She would either take two slices of whole wheat bread with cheese and a small apple to eat in the car or have a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk and a small banana at home.
    2. She agreed to reduce the number of meals she ate out to fewer than six each week. When eating out she would try these tips:
      • At fast food hamburger restaurants she would order a single small burger, share an order of French fries, order a side salad and drink water. At other restaurants she would consider having a soup and salad or salad and healthy appetizer, rather than a large entrée. Or she would order an entrée and take half of it home.
    3. To increase activity, Mary agreed to:
      • take at least one 15-minute walk at least four times per week, either when she woke up or after dinner
      • park farther away from the elevator in the parking garage at work and walk up the four flights to her office four days per week

Mary left the diabetes education program feeling good. She didn’t feel like she had to change her life completely. Most importantly, she felt that she could succeed at these small changes.

One Month Later

Mary returned to the diabetes group. The dietitian asked her about how she did. Mary felt down because she had fallen short on a few of her goals. She was able to put into action the plan for breakfast, but when it came to restaurant meals her success was about fifty-fifty. Sometimes, her old favorites just “called out to her.” Becoming active was the hardest thing to change. She got the extra activity at work, but she was only getting in two walks per week. The dietitian encouraged Mary to pat herself on the back for the changes she did make. She reminded her that managing diabetes is about making small changes over time.

The dietitian asked Mary if she would like to adjust or change any of her goals for the next few months. Mary wanted to continue to work toward the same goals.

Three Months Later

Mary was excited to see her nurse practitioner to discuss her progress. In three months, Mary had lost six pounds. She was walking about 20 minutes four days each week and had found a friend in the neighborhood to walk with. And the proof was in the numbers. Mary’s blood glucose was down. She knew it would be because she was checking it at home. Her A1C decreased from 8.5 to 7.3 percent. Her LDL decreased to 97, and her blood pressure was 134/78 mm/Hg.

Clearly, some of Mary’s improvements were because of her new medicines. But Mary knew that much of her success was thanks to her hard work at making tough lifestyle changes. She knew that this was just the beginning of the battle she had to wage each day to stay healthy for her next fifty years and not let diabetes get the best of her.

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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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