Meet Lauren - a Life! participant
Lauren lives with her husband and their two small children on their beef farm in regional Victoria. She has many hobbies and especially loves photography, yoga, walking and motorbike riding. Apart from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, for which she has been taking medication for some years, Lauren, who is 34, considered herself to be healthy until a routine blood test showed that she was pre-diabetic. While researching pre-diabetes, she came across the Life! program. She contacted the team, hoping to find support in turning things around, and decided to join up. Here, Lauren shares her thoughts on what the program did for her.
What were the best parts about the Life! program for you?
The best parts were the connections I made and the support I received. Being part of a group of people who are all facing similar challenges and being able to share our successes and struggles was great. It certainly helped me knowing I wasn’t so ‘alone’.
The fact that the program was run via Zoom was a bonus: even though I have young children, I was still able to attend all the sessions and remain committed to the program, without needing to leave home.
The resources that were provided were a great source of inspiration, especially when I was feeling a bit off track or needing new ideas for meals. I was able to open up one of the links we were sent and find something new to cook.
What were some of the most important things you learnt?
To remain positive and that every small step you take will add up and contribute to the change you’re aiming for. I felt I was making such small changes to my life that surely they wouldn’t be enough; I was used to making very restrictive changes when trying to lose weight or increase my activity, and these were never sustainable – and they felt even less achievable after having children. The Life! program’s approach is definitely not like that.
I took on board information from each area we discussed in the sessions and began making lots of small changes, things like: adding nuts to my breakfast smoothie; folding the washing standing up instead of sitting down; parking the car further away at the shops; reducing portion sizes; changing the type of bread I ate; and making exercise a priority for at least 20 minutes on a minimum of three days per week.
How has the program improved your health?
It helped me reduce my fasting blood sugar level so it was back in a ‘normal’ range. At the start of the program, my fasting blood sugar level was 6.4 and after only three months of making small changes, I was able to bring it back to 5.5. I feel very proud of this achievement, and it has motivated me to continue with the changes I’ve made.
Has participating in the Life! program helped you during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The program has helped me to feel connected throughout the pandemic. I’m a stay-at-home mum, which can feel isolating at times anyway, but knowing I had the Life! meetings to attend gave me a reason to connect with others – OK, they were strangers, but they were friendly strangers! Being able to do the program online was so helpful and I’m not sure I would have been able to attend group sessions in person.
Would you recommend the Life! program to others?
I absolutely would. It has been a game changer for me. I have a lot of life left to live, and I certainly wouldn’t be at the improved stage of health that I am without the program. Thank you to my Life! Facilitator Kim for her guidance and ongoing support. Without that, I wouldn’t have been as successful as I have been so far.