LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 23, 2020) — In the spring of 2019, Fred Wohlstein made a choice to change his health and his life. “I was in the morbidly obese category, taking numerous blood pressure medicines and I had prediabetes,” he said.
At the recommendation of his nurse practitioner, he joined the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) at Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. The DPP is a series of small-group classes offered to people who are at serious risk of diabetes. Participants make a year-long commitment to attending classes, changing their lifestyles and improving their future health. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Barnstable Brown is now making the program available virtually.
“My goal was to enter a program where I had more accountability and I thought doing it in a group setting where it was structured, I would have a better outcome. It would hold my feet to the fire.”
Wohlstein making the commitment and setting substantial goals all while spending his days surrounded by donuts and other bakery items as he is the owner of Donut Days Bakery in Lexington. He calls it the “ultimate temptation” to be in a bakery getting sweets off the line virtually every hour during the day, seven days a week. “It does take a level of personal commitment and discipline to achieve the goal.”
Thanks to the DPP, Wohlstein had the accountability, structure and support needed to succeed. The DPP isn’t just about meal plans or exercise — it’s about learning to change habits and make better choices. The program focuses on portion control and seeking healthier alternatives. Advice from lifestyle coaches (such as diabetes educators and dietitians), guest speakers, and regular private weigh-ins are incorporated into the program as motivators. The DPP encourages walking for at least 30 minutes a day five days a week as a primary form of exercise.
“It is not a diet. It is a lifestyle change, which is more encompassing than just a diet. It is better choices, it is exercise, it is really monitoring the types of foods you eat. If you adhere to the program, I am definitely living proof that it works.”
Wohlstein attended every class offered during the one-year program, made serious changes to his eating and exercise habits — altering his health and his life completely. “At this point, I’m no longer taking blood pressure medicine. I no longer have prediabetes. I have less joint discomfort than I had when I was carrying about 25% extra weight. During Christmas, I actually played basketball with all three of my children and we went on a hike. We went motorcycle riding.”
His new lifestyle changed his appearance so drastically that at times regular customers at his bakery don’t even recognize him, which he sees as positive reinforcement. “People that haven’t seen me, who maybe haven’t been by the bakery in a couple of months, the first thing they do is they look at you in awe or they don’t recognize you at all. You go to shake their hand and they’re like, ‘Oh hey, you’re Fred.’”
Since graduating from the program, Wohlstein says he has done pretty well maintaining a majority of his weight loss even though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused some difficulties as he has been working increased hours due to his specific situation in the food industry. He credits the DPP with equipping him to handle the challenges. “I know what I should be doing with my food intake and exercise routine. Walking with the change in eating was and is key for me.”
Wohlstein says staying committed to the changes has allowed him to succeed and he hopes his story encourages others on a similar journey. “If you find that you have faltered with the program, just forgive yourself and stay with it because it works.”
The Barnstable Brown Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is being offered virtually via TeleCare. To schedule an informational session, please contact the education center at (859) 323-7391 or email email@example.com. Barnstable Brown's business hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.