By Kelli Mitchuson, YMCA Health Innovation Specialist

Imagine you are sitting around the dining room table with eight family members or close friends. What if I told you that statistically speaking, three of you already have or will develop prediabetes, but that only one of you will find out in time to prevent Type 2 diabetes?

Can you picture everyone looking at each other and wondering, “Is it me? Is it you?”

According to the CDC, “Approximately 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. What’s more, 90% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it.”

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and the YMCA is in the national fight against chronic diseases like prediabetes and diabetes. The good news is that Type 2 diabetes is preventable, and you can reduce your risk naturally with the following five healthy habits.

1. Engage in frequent exercise

Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, plus two or more days of muscle strength activity. Moderate exercise includes things like walking around the neighborhood, bicycling around the park, or ballroom dancing. Vigorous exercises would be running or jogging, swimming laps in the pool, or jumping rope.

There’s no time like the present to start your fitness journey! Sign up for a wellness consultation and let the Y's trained staff help you navigate your goals.

2. Follow the 80/20 rule

I’ll let you in on a little secret: healthy eating is not just about what you eat, but how you eat. Are you a crash dieter or are you trying to build a lifestyle? If you have ever been on a fad diet, you know that results can come quickly; however, it’s hard to sustain them.

Instead of thinking so much about restriction and limitations, follow the 80/20 rule. This rule says to eat healthy (ideally, plant-based) foods 80% of the time and enjoy less healthy foods 20% of the time. By practicing portion control and consuming less healthy foods in moderation, you can achieve a consistently healthy lifestyle!

If you are unsure where to start or would like guidance, sign up for one-on-one nutrition counseling with one of our Registered Dietitians.


3. Cut down on carbs

When you hear prediabetes or diabetes, you might immediately think of controlling blood sugar and cutting back on sugar intake. While watching your sugar intake is good, it is just as important to watch your carbohydrate intake. A diet filled with refined and processed carbohydrates can cause high levels in blood sugar. Instead of eliminating carbohydrates and sugar altogether, we can limit portions or choose alternate foods to keep blood sugar levels down, while still enjoying our favorite foods! Instead of buying more processed foods like white bread or white rice, for example, you can choose whole wheat bread and brown rice. Read more about carbs, calories, and weight loss.

4. Reduce stress

We have endless opportunities to stress ourselves out. Whether it's brought on by work, the kids' schedules, or taking care of an aging parent, it’s hard to get stress under control. But there are healthy, effective ways to cope, one of which is exercise. 

At the Y, we offer a variety of group classes like yoga, kickboxing, barre, and Pilates to reset your mind and sweat out your troubles. And for those days you can't get to a class, try one of our DIY workouts on the wellness floor or at home.

Another healthy way to reduce stress is to talk about it with someone. The YMCA’s Spirit-Mind small groups are a great way to get plugged into a community and gain perspective, support, and guidance. 

5. Set SMART goals

When you begin something new like a job, volunteer opportunity, or project, you have a goal in mind. The same should apply to your health. To be effective in your healthy lifestyle journey, it’s important to write down your short-term and long-term goals to refer back to from time to time. A great method to use is SMART Goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time sensitive). If you're serious about healthy living, learn how SMART goals will change your life and download our simple worksheet to get started.