A routine appointment at her doctor's office became a wake-up call for Elva Valasek. "Your blood pressure is up," said the nurse practitioner. "I'm going to order a full blood work panel to check on you."
Valasek flashed back to her family's health history of diabetes. Her father passed away from diabetes when he was 65 years old. Valasek, one of seven children, was the only one without diabetes. Or so she had always thought. The blood test would reveal the truth. Valasek prayed for acceptance and the ability to deal with diabetes if she had it. And if she didn't have diabetes she prayed for a "push" to get her on the right health-and-wellness path to avoid the disease.
The news was good—no diabetes—although her tests revealed elevated cholesterol levels. Valasek knew what to do. She called the Sutter Options for Success (SOS) program, a diabetes prevention program, and enrolled in the 12-week course to lose weight through healthy eating and being more physically active.
Registered Dietitian Debbie Lucas teaches the Sutter Options for Success class in Roseville where Valasek attended. "The first night Debbie said something that really spoke to me and made me realize I was in the right type of class," Valasek says. "Debbie said, 'If you are here for me to tell you how to diet, this class is not for you. I'm going to teach you how to choose and prepare meals that will aid in your weight loss success.'"
Valasek says the Sutter Options for Success program was great. Each week Lucas focused on a new topic, breaking down information to make it easy to follow. After several weeks of information about healthy foods, correct caloric intake and more, Lucas introduced exercise into the curriculum. "Debbie provided gradual, healthy and reasonable changes to transform our lifestyles, including health options for holiday eating," Valasek says. "She also gave us her encouragement and support because making these changes successful takes a lot of planning."
After completing three months of the SOS program, Valasek's cholesterol levels went from 203 to 148 and her triglycerides plunged from 241 to 48. She also gained two points of good cholesterol in the process, going from 47 to 49 in her HDL.
Once the Sutter Options for Success class ended, Valasek and other students signed up for the weight maintenance class, which meets with Lucas once a month for nine months. After nine months of the weight maintenance program, Valasek is pleased with her success. "Once I changed my food choices, I noticed a big difference in how I looked and felt," Valasek says. "I noticed I had more energy and stamina which helps me keep up with my five-year-old daughter."
Valasek and her husband have since joined a gym, and she and her co-workers just finished a six-week "clean eating" challenge.
"I've learned a lot about my body this past year," Valasek says. "I'm finally on the right path."
Coincidentally, Valasek's first Sutter Options for Success class fell on her daughter's first day of preschool. Valasek snapped a photo of the two of them that day. One year later, after going through Sutter Options for Success and the weight maintenance program, Valasek's daughter started kindergarten, and the two snapped another photo together. As you can see, Valasek is correct. She is on the right path—the path to success.