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January 2020


At the end of a year or the beginning of a new one, many people resolve to make changes in their lives.  For some it’s to save more money, be more organized, exercise more, or lose those last 10 pounds.  For others it’s about numbers (not picking the right lottery numbers), the numbers that indicate pre-diabetes that warrants a change.

Vicki and Mark Kennedy of rural Kasota had the right numbers.  Vicki learned through her primary care provider that her glucose numbers were going up and should be concerned about it.  Her provider gave her a flyer on the I CAN Prevent Diabetes program at River’s Edge Hospital.  Vicki was interested in learning more and joined the class.

Mark received the same news from his primary care provider.  “But I ignored it,” he said. It was not until he saw his wife have success that he decided to start the program too.

The I CAN Prevent Diabetes program is a community-based lifestyle change program that offers diabetes prevention education and support for people with pre-diabetes.   At River’s Edge Hospital, the program is led by Jen Donkin, a registered and licensed dietician and certified diabetes educator, and Nicole Boelter, an exercise physiologist.  Together they teach group members how to create a healthier lifestyle by learning to eat healthier and increase physical activity.  The class meets weekly for 16 weeks then once a month for 8 months. 

Mark and Vicki said Jen and Nicole are teaching individuals how to be healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.  “They know their program and keep it fresh,” said Mark. Vicki added, “Without these two as good as they are, then success would be tough.”

Vicki recently completed the program and Mark had one more meeting to go.  When Vicki started the program she missed the first meeting but was determined to do the program.  “I focused on the 16 weeks first,” she said about the time commitment of the program.  After that, she said, she’d take on the rest of the meetings.

When Mark started the program, he knew what he was getting in to because of Vicki’s experience.  “The 16 weeks is difficult,” he said.” It is a transition. You start to change your eating habits.”

During their time in the program the Kennedys experienced other health-related benefits.  Mark lost 20 pounds during the course of the program. Weight loss is common for those in the I CAN Prevent Diabetes program.  Typical weight loss can range between 10 and 15 pounds. 

“If you buy into the program, you’re going to lose weight,” Mark said.

Mark had an unexpected benefit as well.  “My acid reflux disappeared.”  Mark explained that he has had acid reflux for a number of years and was taking medication for it.  “I took the class and it went away.” 

Both agreed that one of biggest takeaways from the program was learning how to journal – keeping track of what they are eating and how much they are exercising.  It was hard, they said to start journaling.  They both use the My Fitness Pal app to track food and exercise.  “It makes life so easy,” Mark said.

“I don’t know if I’d be as successful without using it,” Vicki added.

Their success is shown in the lifestyle changes they have made.  They eat more fruits and vegetables, measure portions, and look closer at nutrition labels. 

“We still go out to eat but are more cautious of what we order,” Mark said.

Now that both have gone through the I CAN Prevent Diabetes program they have sage advice for those considering the program: “Do it and commit to it,” said Vicki.  “It’s hard but how much do you want to take care of you?”  Mark added, “Do this knowing you will backslide and you have the tools to recover.”


Pre-diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes – What’s the difference?

Pre-diabetes involves blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diabetes.

An individual with pre-diabetes can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes by making simple lifestyle changes.

Diet and moderate exercise resulting in a 5-7% weight loss (usually about 10 -15 pounds) often work to bring blood sugar levels back down to a healthy range.


The I CAN Prevent Diabetes program at River’s Edge Hospital is accredited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  A doctor’s note is not required for participation.

The program is offered bi-annually in February and August. Groups meet Wednesday evenings.  For more information on the program and the next class session, contact Jen Donkin, RD, LD, CDE at 507-934-7694.