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Time for a Change

June 2, 2020 9:53 a.m.

  • Wesley Humphres

Ashmore farmer commits to the Healthy Living Medical Exercise Program to lower his risk of diabetes.

Wesley Humphres was on the cusp of developing type 2 diabetes when he decided it was time to make a change.

The 62-year-old Ashmore farmer already knew he needed to lose weight, but he was surprised to learn during a routine checkup in April 2019 that his blood sugar was alarmingly high. That’s when SBL Prairie Family Practice Advanced Practice Provider Jason Mathews, APRN, alerted Wes that his A1C, a common blood sugar test used to diagnose diabetes, was 6.6. Anything more than 6.5 indicates diabetes. 

“That was the first time I knew I had a problem, and I didn’t want to start taking another pill,” Wes said. He was on medicine to control his high cholesterol following an episode of chest pain 10 years prior that left him hospitalized. Wes’s weight began climbing after he had knee replacement surgeries in 2010 and 2015 and his activity level fell.

Determined to reverse his condition, Wes opted to enroll in the Healthy Living Medical Exercise Program at Sarah Bush Lincoln, after discussing his options with Mathews. “I’ve known some people who were diabetic and they didn’t take it seriously, and I saw what it did to them,” he said.

As a lifelong farmer, Wes was accustomed to hard work, but exercising in a gym was entirely new. “I didn’t have any idea where to start,” he said. After a complete medical evaluation, Wes eased his way in by working out with an exercise specialist, who had designed a plan to help keep Wes motivated, while also providing realistic, achievable goals. 

Fully committed from the start, Wes faithfully attended training sessions at Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Center for Health Living. He attended three days a week for the duration of the 120-day program. Wes gradually increased his endurance on the treadmill and completed several rounds of strength training on various weight machines. Wes is amazed with the results!

“I could tell it was making a difference after just a couple of weeks,” he said. “I didn’t get tired as easily when I was working on the farm, and I didn’t get winded like I did before.” Wes also made some minor changes to his diet, after receiving guidance from a registered dietitian during one of the sessions. “I started eating smaller portions and I refrained from pulling into Casey’s and getting a donut every time I drove by,” he said. 

It didn’t take long before Wes’s weight started to drop. Since beginning the program last spring, Wes has lost more than 50 pounds. He said he was especially thankful that his A1C count was normal six months after starting the program.  

“I feel like I dodged a bullet. If I kept going like I was, I would have ended up with more problems,” he said. “I feel so much better after losing the weight.”

Upon the program’s completion, Wes joined the Mattoon Area Family YMCA and returned to the Center for Healthy Living through its reciprocal arrangement. He’s thrilled to be able to continue his workouts three days a week and said that he’s often one of the first people at the gym when it opens. “When we’re in the field, I’m usually over here by 5 am; otherwise it’s between 5:30 and 6 am,” he said. “I just want to keep the weight off and keep feeling better like I do.”

“Support, education and accountability are the three biggest services that our program provides,” Exercise Specialist Melissa Pruemer said. “Wes was open to listening and learning, and that’s the bottom line. He stayed consistent and he worked really hard.” 

Pruemer applauds Wes’s decision to continue working out. “People can lose weight in four months, but it’s keeping it off that’s the biggest factor – it’s the consistency. We want people to continue to use our support system,” she said.

For more information about the Healthy Living Medical Exercise Program, call the Center for Health Living at 217 238-3488.

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