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U.P. Diabetes Outreach Network available

MARQUETTE — Since COVID-19 started, are you having trouble taking care of yourself? Have you gained weight, found yourself frequently eating junk food and sitting in front of the TV or computer?

This can be harmful if you have diabetes, kidney disease, heart problems, a physical disability, or other lifelong condition.

The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and the U.P. Diabetes Outreach Network are working together to offer a Better Choices, Better Health, an online, interactive program that guides people to positive health behaviors for free.

Participants will join a small group of people experiencing similar struggles and trying to create their best life with an ongoing health condition. The program provides a supportive environment for people who are facing health challenges and trying to make changes. Together, participants find ways to overcome obstacles and celebrate their successes.

New BCBH groups are starting every week. Enrollment is ongoing and no-cost to adults living in Michigan with a health condition or a physical disability. After a person signs up, they set their own pace. Start the program from the comfort of home or wherever the participan can access a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. Read short weekly lessons, share what works with the group, and get help from an online group via a message board.

Set small goals each week, such as eat more vegetables or take a short walk every day. Those who need help, the group leader and other members are there for.

“It was very organized and easy to access. The leaders gave good suggestions in a way that made them feel like helpful friends,” said Lisa Schutz Jelic from Houghton in a news release. She took the program last year. “Interacting with other class participants was interesting and fun. I think I helped others view things in a different way, and other participants did the same for me. Since that time, I have added more exercise to each day, and have made mindful eating something I strive to do more frequently.”

Past BCBH participants report the following improvements: fewer symptoms; learning to talk with health care providers; increased physical activity; creating and following an action plan; dealing with emotions; and eating better.

“This is an easy to use online health program that works well no matter what type of internet connection you have,” said UPDON Director Ann Constance, who leads BCBH groups. “It’s exciting to see group members make lifestyle changes, improve their health, and feel better.”

To sign up for the program, go to diabetesinmichigan.org. For questions, call the NKFM at 800-482-1455 or the UPDON office at 906-273-1120. Sign up for the program soon as space for the free slots is limited.

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