Class supports those making healthy changes

By Tamera Manzanares

We’ve all probably heard that eating better, exercising and making other lifestyle changes can reduce our risk of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Knowing how to achieve these goals can be another matter. Making changes to routines and managing stress and thoughts that feed into longtime habits is difficult and, at times, can seem insurmountable.  An upcoming free class at Northwest Colorado Health helps people wherever they are in this journey, providing practical guidance and support in making gradual but lasting changes for better health.

The 12-week Healthy Lifestyle class is ideal for individuals who know they are at risk for type 2 diabetes or have risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or being overweight. It will be offered noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays beginning Feb. 1, occurring weekly for six weeks then every other week for six weeks. Participants will gain key information and tips about how to eat better, exercise and manage stress and will have the opportunity to delve deeper into questions they have and barriers they are facing.

Saylre Sawle, a community health educator at Northwest Colorado Health, facilitates the class. “What I like about the program is it meets you where you are,” she said. “It’s all about your personal goals and what you would like to change for a healthy life.” The class offers a comfortable setting for participants to share ideas and experiences, and helps them think in different ways about challenges.

A person with physical limitations, for example, may not be able to walk very far. Instead of walking a longer distance at one time, they could break that up into short walks throughout the day. Many people wonder where they will find time to exercise, prepare healthy meals or meditate.   A healthy routine doesn’t have to take a lot of time; small gradual changes can be powerful. With some thought, most people can find time they can reallocate toward their health. “With some digging, we see what the challenges are and what the excuses are,” Sawle said. “Being aware of that and focusing on your goals can help clear the way toward progress.”

Diana Hornung, medical director and primary care physician at Northwest Colorado Health, said it’s important to have these types of programs available for individuals who are overwhelmed by the prospect of making changes or find themselves continually hitting road blocks. Sometimes the camaraderie of others can provide the motivation and encouragement they need to stay the course. “Many of us know we need to make changes but don’t really know where to start,” she said. “A class or program can help you identify the thing you want to change and how to go about doing it with the support of others, who are in the same boat.”

Some people may not be comfortable with the idea of a class or aren’t sure what to expect. But change can only happen by taking a step out of our comfort zone and trying something new. “It’s ok to feel that way, but just try one class,” Hornung said. “Lasting changes start with small choices.”

For more information or to sign up for the Healthy Lifestyle class, call Saylre Sawle at 970-871-7618.

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