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Living With Diabetes: May 11, 2011

When someone learns they have diabetes, they often find themselves overwhelmed with information. Managing the disease is much easier if they take the opportunity to educate themselves.

George Pickel was diagnosed with Type II diabetes a year ago and knew his life was going to change. "My downfall is milkshakes but that's not good if you're diabetic because you're taking in too much sugar." His diet needed work and he also needed to work out more. Current health guidelines recommend 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise along with strength or resistance training at least three times a week. This helps your body improve insulin use and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.

This is a whole new way of living for most diabetics and made easier through programs like Lee Memorial Health System's outreach program called Lee Health Solutions. Sharon Tilbe is a certified diabetess coordinator. "We initially do 10 hours of education" she says. That includes "an overview of diabetes, prevention of complications, nutrition, exercise and behavior modification and stress management."

George learned all about diabetic health guidelines, everything from changing his diet and monitoring his blood sugar levels. The program includes three follow up visits, spaced throughout the year. George credits it for his success, "We are creatures of habit and it's like being in school" he says, "the teacher is watching and you're going to do the right thing."

Feedback shows and educated patient is much more likely to build good routines and stick with them.