Candi and Doug Elmore connected through a chance meeting on a bus. It was 1985, and they were on a choir tour for the United Theological Seminary in Ohio.
“I was out of my seat, standing in the aisle talking to someone, when Doug passed by me to use the restroom. On his way back, I was still there talking, and he said, ‘We have to stop meeting like this,’ and I asked, ‘Why?’” Six weeks later, Doug asked Candi out on their first date. Since then, they have been inseparable.
Fast forward a few decades, and you find Candi at age 71 changing healthcare providers. To gather a fuller picture of Candi’s health, Candi’s provider ordered baseline blood tests. An A1C blood sugar test revealed diabetes. “I wanted to know all I could know about the disease, so I could manage it better,” she said. While flipping through a Sarah Bush Lincoln publication, the “Living with Diabetes” class caught her eye. She called for more information.
“I talked with Paula Enstrom (program coordinator) at length. She listened and asked in-depth questions about my background and health history. She was very helpful,” Candi explained. She started the program in September, through which Enstrom, a registered nurse, and Cindy Foster, a dietitian, combine diabetic education with exercise and class participation.
“When I started, I began at the lowest possible fitness level: zero. I wasn’t physically fit, yet I worked on the recumbent stepper for 40 minutes,” Candi recalled.
Speaking of herself and her classmates, she said, “We learned about the effects of diabetes on our bodies and how much of which types of food to eat and what to look for on the labels. I definitely increased my knowledge of food and nutrition. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the class.” Candi attended two times a week and graduated in January.
Her goal is to exercise five to six days a week. She uses the Sullivan Civic Center facilities, including walking in the indoor pool three days a week, plus she uses a stationary bicycle at home. “I do the things I can do, at my fitness level,” she said. Change hasn’t been easy, she conceded. “It’s hard to make changes in the foods you eat. They don’t always taste the same as you’re used to them tasting. But I’ve learned to track my calories and carbohydrates, which is the most important thing for me to do,” she said.
Candi has infused more fruits and vegetables into her diet, and she has slowly replaced wheat flour with almond flour. She also tests her blood before eating rice, noodles and potatoes, and she tests it before and after exercising.
“I am breathing easier, my blood pressure has improved, I can move more easily; I used to use a cane to stand up, but I don’t need it any longer. I am still morbidly obese, but I can now use the bike for more than 25 minutes at level five. I have steadily increased my strength and stamina. Most importantly, I can play with my grandkids,” she said.
“There is no way I could have made all these lifestyle changes on my own, but by attacking this one small bite at a time, I have been able to make changes, and now I feel better.” Candi is working diligently on setting achievable goals. While she has already lost 55 pounds, she has set her sights on losing 10 more pounds in two months. “My next goal is to get my A1C below a pre-diabetic number, so I never have to use insulin,” she said.
For her early success, Candi credits the support that “Living with Diabetes” offered, plus that which family and friends offered. The Elmore’s son, Paul, is a weightlifter who owns a fitness center. His wife, Crysta, has recently started coaching women. “He’s very proud of what I have achieved, and I am too,” she said.
For more information about Living with Diabetes classes, call Paula Enstrom at 217 238-4808 or Cindy Foster at 217 258-2199.