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Unified approach helps control weight, diabetes

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Michele Martin made a promise to herself on her 42nd birthday. Now, she will celebrate her 43rd birthday more than 100 pounds lighter.

Weight has been an issue all of Martin’s life. Over the years, she tried all of the fad diets and diet pills, losing significant weight only to gain it all back.

In April 2012, the number on the scale reached its highest point.

“It got to a point that I never felt full, no matter what or how much I ate,” Martin said. “I was very depressed, but I didn’t know what to do. I had tried it all, and nothing worked. My weight robbed me of enjoying life.”

A visit to her health care provider changed everything. A blood test revealed that her unhealthy lifestyle had led to more than a bigger waistline. Martin had Type 2 diabetes.

“I was sad and scared and knew I had to do something about it,” Martin said. “You hear about people losing their limbs or their eyesight. I didn’t want that to happen to me.”

Shortly after receiving the diabetes diagnosis, Michele was referred to Columbus Regional Hospital Outpatient Diabetes Services, where she began working with Sheri Couch, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator.

Lucina Kessler, CRH diabetes clinical nurse specialist, said, “This is a perfect example of health coaching at its best.”

Currently, the CRH certified diabetes educators are working with diabetes health coaches on a unified team in a demonstration program to improve patient outcomes in the community. One goal of the diabetes team is to help patients focus on seven healthy behaviors: eating healthy, being active, taking medication, monitoring, problems solving, reducing risk and healthy coping.

“If patients incorporate these behaviors into their lives, their blood sugar, weight and cholesterol will improve,” Kessler said.

Martin meets with Couch regularly to set goals, identify barriers and to celebrate. Follow-up is critical to success.

“They say that I’ve done the work, but everybody has been so helpful and encouraging,” Martin said. “I’m just so grateful. People need to know how wonderful they are.”

Martin attributes her success to exercise, keeping a food journal, commitment, support and strength from God.

In her food journal, Martin records everything she eats. Motivational quotes scattered throughout the journal serve as encouraging reminders.

“In the first month I learned what to eat and about portion size,” Martin said. “I used to eat a lot of sweets and fast food. I eat a lot healthier now, and I can control myself.”

She works out two hours a day, five days a week at the Columbus Regional Health Wellness Center at Mill Race Center, 900 Lindsey St., Columbus.

“At first I was really nervous and embarrassed about working out in a gym because I felt like gyms were for people who were already in shape,” Martin said. “But the Wellness Center wasn’t like that at all. Everybody is so kind and supportive. I actually enjoy working out now. It gives me an opportunity to put my music on and groove.”

Couch is proud of Michele’s dedication.

“She has been successful because she committed to do what she needs to do,” Couch said. “She has wonderful support from home and is willing to use support from the health system. Her improvements are phenomenal; and the health benefits are extraordinary, especially when you look at overall risk reduction.”

Martin said she also is proud of what she has accomplished.

“I wanted to show my son that if there is anything you really want, you just have to work hard and good things will happen,” she said. “I wanted to be a positive role model and show him that no matter your age or circumstances that you can make positive changes in your life.”

Martin said that one of the best rewards of her weight-loss journey was a hug from her son.

“One day my son hugged me and then he looked up at me and said, ‘Mom, I got my arms all the way around you,’” she said. “That was really something. I’m very proud of what I have been able to accomplish. It is without a doubt the best birthday present of my life!”

Paige Harden is public relations and marketing specialist at Columbus Regional Health. She can be reached at 376-5342 or

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