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Crow Wing Energized: Making a lifestyle change. Linda Eiesland reflects on healthy changes made with NDPP class

Linda Eiesland

Last year, 195 Crow Wing County residents participated in the free National Diabetes Prevention Program's Lifestyle Change Class through Crow Wing Energized.

Together those community members had a total weight loss of 2,116.5 pounds, a 10.85 percent reduction. To wrap your head around how much that is, consider that amount of weight is equivalent to 6,348 bananas or 4,232 water bottles using the 8-ounce size.

Linda Eiesland of Brainerd participated in the Lifestyle Change Class two years ago and recently reflected on her experience.

What inspired you to join a lifestyle change class?

I had seen this class being offered when the program first began, but I wasn't sure it would be for me or be something I wanted to commit to. No more thought was given until I was with a good friend who was participating. She had lost a considerable amount of weight and thought the program was great.

Also, I lost my husband several years ago due to a heart attack and I wanted to be healthier and be around as long as I could with my family, be more active with my grandchildren, and be able to try and do more things of adventure in life. With this in mind, I kept my eyes open for a new class to begin in January of the new year.

My mindset was to make a lifestyle change, not just be on a diet. My weight has fluctuated up and down for most of my adult life, lose/gain, lose/gain. Knowing that activity would be my biggest challenge, I joined the YMCA and the fall prior to starting the Crow Wing Energized program, I began attending a yoga class and a cardio class, each two times a week.

What did you learn during the lifestyle change class?

Our group had a terrific instructor, bringing each topic to us weekly with an intent to help us make real changes in our eating. She weighed us in each week (privately) and was trustworthy in keeping the numbers confidential. The folks in our class were serious about being there so the questions or contributions from anyone always helped. The factual information raised my awareness of my prior eating habits and guided me in turning my thinking to better choices and changes. While this isn't new, applying the idea of grocery shopping and staying out of the middle aisles was revolutionary to me!

What a difference my cart looks like now. I also drink at least 64-72 ounces of water daily.

Did anything surprise you?

Probably the biggest surprise was the fat content in so many foods—especially processed ones. Also the serving sizes! In my head, I was adding only a serving size of let's say, salad dressing, only to find out when I actually measured, it was usually over twice the serving size. Measuring was key and something I still do.

How did this class help you in making healthy choices?

During one lesson, we spent our time "ordering" at a restaurant, using menus from some of our favorite places. This was so helpful to talk about if you order this, it has this much fat and this number of calories. BUT if I ordered the same thing and had something on the side or no butter but I could have salsa instead was pretty life changing.

Did what you learned/your own changes impact family or friends?

Most definitely. Supportive, but sometimes I'd get the comment that I had worked so hard, didn't I deserve a treat, or life's too short to eat so healthy! Sometimes I felt like that, too! And sometimes I had treats or snacks, but not often. Embracing this as a lifestyle change doesn't mean you can't have ____, it just means "be smart about it!" One of the smartest things I did was buy a lunch box. Instead of grabbing a fast food order if I couldn't be home at mealtime, I'd plan ahead with my own food. I also used it when I traveled on airplanes and never bought airport food. I still use it!

Life often throws setbacks our way. Have you experienced any since taking the class, and if so, how did what you learned during the class help you build resiliency?

One of my biggest downfalls is sugar/candy. Ugh!! I will battle that the rest of my life! Right now I'm up 3-4 pounds from my ideal weight. It started last Halloween and traveled into the new year! I also have trouble with moderation. Another ugh! Because I have incorporated activity into my life, I weigh in every week to keep myself aware of what's happening. I WILL NOT go back to where I was. So I go back to measuring portions and using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I learned that regaining balance takes effort and determination to climb back on the wagon of making good choices. But SO worth it.

Why would you suggest someone take the class?

Do it for yourself, your family, friends and lifestyle. You are worth the effort to feel better. Try it, don't be afraid. Step out and do it. It's FREE, for goodness sakes! (One of the big appeals to me too!)

How is your health today in comparison to when you first took the class?

My doctor was thrilled with the success that I had, but not more than I was. I am on blood pressure meds and was able to decrease the dosage on that because of the weight loss. Last fall I broke my ankle and I attribute my prior weight loss and consistent activity level to a much easier recovery. I'm very thankful to be stronger, more heart healthy and active than I have ever been. I'm not a skinny minny, but I feel good about myself and where I'm at physically and that's a nice place to be in.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I know that for me, it was the right time to join a Crow Wing Energized class. My mind was ready to commit to re-learning and I believe the mind is where most of our changes have to start. I also know that for me, it will be something I need to be aware of the rest of my life ... hence, lifestyle change!

Thank you, Crow Wing Energized, for the opportunity to offer this class in our area, thank you for my instructor and the information and encouragement she provided and thank you for asking me to share this life-changing part of my journey.

Interested in joining a lifestyle change class?

Learn how to create a healthier lifestyle in this year-long prevention program. Groups will meet with a trained lifestyle coach once a week for 16 weeks followed by eight monthly sessions (duration is one year total) to help participants set personal goals to lose weight, eat healthier and increase physical activity.

Lifestyle change programs starting in April include:

• Brainerd Family YMCA—8:30-9:30 a.m. Thursdays, starting April 4.

• Crosslake Lutheran Church—2-3 p.m. Tuesdays, starting April 23.

Register at or contact Kara Schaefer at 218-454-5901.