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CYL2 Success Stories

 Black Women for Wellness – Los Angeles, CA

City of Los Angeles Employee

Prior to joining Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life., I had a history of gestational diabetes and also my mom had diabetes.  The fact that it was offered at work and I have been on a health journey myself, the program was perfect. One of my favorite things about the program is the group setting and support system that evolves from sharing common goals as well struggles. The camaraderie with coworkers, who are looking to change their lifestyle, has been great. The group has helped me get over a few roadblocks such my own weight loss journey.  Then I hit a plateau, but this class is helping me get over the hurdle. I’ve lost 70lbs. So it has been very motivating. We lift one another up when needed and provide positive support and or suggestions. Some of us have similar experiences and we are able to work through them together and that’s been helpful. We were a group of strangers, who convened together for a common goal to change our lifestyles and lives to prevent type 2 diabetes. We share information that we come across like recipes or new ways to prepare foods we share with each other. Everyone pitches in and provides their input, I really enjoy it. Having it in the work place has been great!



City of Los Angeles Employee

The weight that I gained over the last few years and the people I knew who are living with diabetes really motivated me to join Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life program. I even know some people, who have died because of complications from diabetes.  So I was looking for a way to live a healthier life.  I knew about eating a healthier way and exercising, so when I joined the class, I was looking to hear from others and get tips about how to be healthier.  The stories that came up and the work sessions we have during each class have been helpful.  For me having it as part of my daily routine and being able to have this at work, presented a perfect opportunity to change my health. I did not understand what to look for when looking at labels in the past and this class has taught me to really understand label reading. This has been very helpful and life changing. The program has created a buzz at work! I think that if more employers offer this program people will become healthier.



City of Los Angeles Employee

My entire immediate family has diabetes – both of my parents and all of my siblings. I wanted to be proactive, so I am trying to prevent it as much as I can.  It has been really hard for them to keep it under control. Unfortunately, several of my family members are insulin dependent. I found out about Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. through a company email that was sent to all employees and I thought it was a good opportunity to begin changing my lifestyle. I have learned a lot about myself since starting this program.  I have more control about what I eat and I have begun to make better choices related to food.  I recently had knee surgery. Despite this, I will never quit!! I am more motivated to move more and to continue to be active.


Lifestyle Coach

City Hall

A participant in the Year 3 BWW class was challenged with regulating healthy food intake. Though he walked for at least 30-40 minutes daily, he did not lose weight because he often visited and enjoyed meals with his elderly parents (both already diagnosed with diabetes) who did lots of frying and used high calorie condiments. In the past, this participant tried to speak with his parents about cooking more healthy meals and they felt cooking healthier would mean sacrificing taste. After joining a class and sharing weekly stories with his parents, the participant has noticed his parents’ shift toward healthier cooking and eating. To support his efforts, they now bake meats more often and often replace potato salad and macaroni and cheese with green beans, greens and salads, resulting in meals with fewer fat grams. Since then, the participant is consistently averaging a loss of 1 lb. per week and his parents are doing a better job of managing their own diabetes by selecting foods and condiments that are lower in fat. The National DPP is contributing to a healthy change in the culture of this family.


Indiana Minority Health Coalition

Indianapolis, IN

Making Important Lifestyle Changes….

Vanessa Summers
Diabetes Prevention Coordinator

Meet Vanessa Summers, Diabetes Prevention Coordinator at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition for the Imperative’s Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. Program.  Vanessa is a native of Indianapolis, a state legislator, the 1st Black female Democratic Caucus Chair in Indiana and a woman living with diabetes. This is her story.

My earliest memory of diabetes is from my maternal grandmother. I was really young when my grandmother died, but I always knew that she had diabetes.  She was insulin dependent, but miraculously, none of her 8 children had diabetes; oddly enough, some of her grandchildren developed diabetes, so it skipped a generation.

It was always in the back of my mind that diabetes had been in my family’s history.  I also knew that my weight gain could potentially put me at risk. I think I was really impacted when my cousin died from diabetes complications about a year after I was diagnosed.  That really convinced me along with other family members to start working on losing weight.

It became a reality when I was diagnosed in 2008.  I started experiencing frequent urination, which is a common symptom for diabetes.  I had two doctors’ appointments that day. It turned out that my sugar levels were well in the 400’s.

Before I was diagnosed, I was not used to being on a schedule; I like to say I am chaotic by nature.  So it was really hard to get used to being on an “eating schedule”. This was the hardest part of taking care of myself.  If I am working late at the State House, instead of having the pizza the group gets, I usually plan ahead with cooking healthy food to bring in, I will get an alternative option. I have learned to take care of myself first, and as a caregiver for my mother I have embraced cooking healthier food for the both of us. The holidays are hard because I make all the sweets, but I just taste a sliver of what I make.  I learned to try out a few recipes recommended for people with diabetes.

As the Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator for Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. , I’ve noticed that people don’t seem to be concerned with having prediabetes.  It also does not help that the medical community does not stress the importance of prevention once a person is diagnosed with prediabetes.  I would tell anyone who has been told that they have prediabetes, or who may be at risk of type 2 diabetes, to enroll in the National Diabetes Prevention Program in their city and learn to eat differently and increase their physical activity. I have watched people in my classes really embrace this program and have seen them make healthy lifestyle changes. I’d also stress the importance of having breakfast and keeping healthy snacks around. I’m also reading labels before purchasing certain foods.  Really if you have an opportunity to delay or stop diabetes by attending a program like Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. , just do it!  I’m trying to live the program I’m teaching! With me talking more about the National Diabetes Prevention Program, Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life, I have become the actual “message” because my friends and family are noticing that I am eating differently and moving more. 


Lifestyle Coach

Latino Health Organization

A 56-year-old Spanish-speaking female enrolled in a class at the Latino Health Organization.  As a Lifestyle Coach I determined that this participant qualified for the program on the basis of her score on the risk assessment form.  The participant was very excited when told the course could help her prevent diabetes.

The participant weighed 170.2 pounds at the start of Class 1 and indicated that she did not do any physical activity.  But as the classes went on, the participant began to change her lifestyle.  She started doing little things.  For example, instead of eating 4 slices of bread and 3 eggs for breakfast she began to only eat 2 slices of bread and 1 egg.  Then when she went to the supermarket, she stared examining food labels and decided to reduce the size of meal portions.

To no surprise, by using what she learned in class as the basis to adopt the aforementioned behavior changes, she began to lose weight.  But she continued to refuse to do physical activity. But Session 7 became a turning point for her.  The class started doing group exercises and walking and the participant joined in.  Then she started parking her car a distance from the class site so as to force herself to get more physical activity.

She became very motivated to apply what she learned from the program.  She wrote everything she ate on the food tracker and came to all but three scheduled classes.  She missed one class due to vacation and the remaining two due to weather conditions as she does not like to drive on snow.  She was able to make up two of the three sessions by coming to meet with the Lifestyle Coach.  But snow prevented her from coming to the Coach for the third make-up class.  So, with the participant’s consent, I made a “house call” and went to her home to carry out the class so that the participant could keep up with the group.

At the end of first six months, the participant made her goal as her weight dropped to 158.0 pounds. During the second six months of the program, she continued to eat healthier and increased her physical activity.  Her final weight was 156.0—a weight she continues to maintain.

Whenever I see her, she thanks me for the opportunity to attend the program and become motivated through it.  She still contacts me when she has question or needs guidance.


Mays Chemical Company

Employee Participants
Mays Chemical Company

Research has demonstrated that workplace wellness programs can help employee’s live healthier lives while improving their on-the-job productivity and decreasing absenteeism.

The Imperative is committed to ensuring that Black women receive the support and encouragement they need to adopt healthy lifestyles not only in their communities but in the workplace as well.  The Imperative is one of six national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement the National Diabetes Prevention Program throughout the country.
The goals of the program are clearly defined and realistic: lose 5-7% of body weight and maintain 150 minutes/week of physical activity.  Participants meet in a group setting and a trained Lifestyle Coach shares numerous strategies and tools to make the necessary lifestyle changes that promote weight loss and increased physical activity.

Through our diabetes prevention program, Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life., we have come to know and work with Mays Chemical Company, a 34 year–old, Indianapolis-based business that also serves as a program intervention site for the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, one of our partner organizations. We are recognizing Mays Chemical Company not only for hosting Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. for the past several months, but also because the late owner William Mays and senior management spent several years creating a healthy environment and culture of wellness for their employees.

We asked Jeanette Lackey, VP of Human Resources, to share the Mays’ Chemical philosophy on employee health and wellness:

Mays Chemical Company has taken a holistic approach to employee wellness.  Our wellness programs are designed to focus on the mind, body and spirit. We look at wellness as an integral piece of the puzzle to enhancing employees overall well-being and work productivity. We know that by providing wellness programs we do more than just impact the overall bottom-line by reducing healthcare cost and absenteeism, but our wellness programs also build teamwork, productivity and work performance which are all key to a healthy work environment.  And support from the senior management team is also key.

Our programs like Zumba, Weight Watchers, gym membership reimbursement, smoking cessation and Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life.  are offered to help employees maintain balance in their lives while at work. We also host Sweat Day Wednesday, when all employees wear workout gear so they can exercise onsite after work.  Five-minute increments of music played at random times during the day encourage employees to stop working and dance! Lunch and Learn workshops on financial health have also been offered because we believe that financial wellbeing also contributes to wellness.

Here at Mays we have implemented our wellness programs to support and enhance a healthy way of living on and off the job.  Our goal is to help strengthen the mind, body and spirit of our employees.


Kate Chargualaf, Participant

Mays Chemical Company Employee

Through this program, I have gained the knowledge to eat properly, not only for myself, but for my family and I share the knowledge with my friends. I personally have lost 10 pounds, 2” off my hips and 7” off my waist. Mentally I am ready for any meal challenge because I will not give in.  The knowledge of good nutrition and being physically active sounds so simple, but I, and everyone in our group, was open to learning as if we were never taught what is healthy and what isn’t. Only a couple of years away from 40, and I am just now learning how to eat properly for my body and how to cook for my children and husband.

The camaraderie of our group, the lessons we learn from and with each other, the encouragement of our successes as well as the support we receive with any of our dietary or activity setbacks, is priceless. Doing this alone would not be easy and our successes would not be the same.

Our instructors have been the little voices inside our heads cheering us on during a good workout, or encouraging us to make better food choices if we stray. It’s the simple things we’ve always thought were ok, but we quickly learned that a little cheating on our daily food intake can lead to an extra pound or two on the scale by the next weigh-in. This program is about making a lifestyle change, but it is one that will lead everyone and anyone to a healthier, happier and leaner life.


The Community Wellness Project

St. Louis, MO

The first story that I would like to share is about KC.  KC came into our group as a recruit from a newly formed exercise class.  She was committed to one exercise class per week and really enjoyed the instructor.  KC was eager to be a part of the National DPP class and brought two of her friends with her to begin the class.  At the first weigh in, KC weighed 206 lbs.  She was participating in a 20 minute exercise class once per week, and though frustrated with her weight and overall appearance, was excited to get started with us.

KC’s attendance was consistent, and even though one of her friends decided not to participate in the program, she continued to stay focused on her goals.  KC had steady weight loss with minimal plateau challenges.  She went from turning her nose up at all the new suggestions of different ways to prepare good food, and refusing to try some of the healthy snacks that we brought to class, to begrudgingly trying some things and eventually becoming an advocate, and encouraging the group to tastings.  We had weekly tastings to demonstrate how vegetables/fruit and protein can be paired deliciously.  I was energized at the stories she told of how she brought food to the family events and told her family and friends,” if you start eating like I learned to eat in my class, then you can look like this too”.  She would laugh and pose with her arms stretched out wide and hip cocked to one side, with her signature Cheshire cat grin on her beautiful brown face.  I reveled in her smiles as they grew bigger and her laughter more enchanting each week.

During the course of the 16 weeks, she has increased her physical activity to 240 minutes. She took additional exercise classes to boost her metabolism and even started walking during the week and doing lunges when she wasn’t able to make an exercise class.

One of the things that was most memorable, was her blossoming willingness to try new foods and bring in recipes for healthy snacks and meals.  KC changed how she dressed and began to wear more fitted clothing, began wearing make-up, cut and colored her hair, even her jewelry choices were more colorful.  She spoke about being a more confident person, enjoying life more and loving being a part of the class.

KC lost 20 lbs., reached her 7% weight loss goal set by the National Diabetes Prevention Program, and is maintaining her weight loss.  She has referred 4 people to sign up for the next class and is still rocking her beautifully coifed red hair, colorful earrings and enchanting smile.

Lifestyle Coach

Beyond Housing


Collins Wellness Center

Prince Georges County, MD

Jane Doe

This is my testimonial for the National Diabetes Prevention Program.  Over the past 16 weeks, I’ve learned the importance of NOT skipping meals.  Life can be hectic and oftentimes I become so busy the time just passes and I don’t realize that I haven’t eaten until I’m really hungry at the end of the day.  And by then, I’m looking for anything to put in my mouth including fast food.  Not skipping meals keeps me full and healthy.  Since I’ve decided beforehand not to skip a meal, I prepare my food and choose my healthy snacks. It’s a healthier choice.  Since I’m not getting really hungry, I can wait to get home and eat whole foods and fruits.

Clearly this program has changed the way I think about food.  Before my thoughts were “well that’s good for me” but now my thoughts are “yeah, it’s good for me but how much fat is in the food?”  I’ve learned to budget my daily fat intake.  Limiting fat intake controls weight as well as how I feel.

Another benefit of the program is my Coach encouraging me to be physically active.  My thoughts about exercise was another obstacle to overcome.  I had to be intentional and plan to have time for physical activity. It’s like anything we plan to do, it gets done.  Physical activity is the habit and the habit is a good one.

What I’ve learned in this program is “I CAN DO IT”.  I can control my appetite and my diet.  I’ve made the necessary changes to prolong my life.  I’ve changed my lifestyle and making better choices. I’ve decided to live, really live abundantly.



Greetings Dr. Collins, this is my testimony for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. During this first 16 weeks of the program, I have been enlightened in so many ways about diabetes, caring and feeding your body, and getting the proper amounts of exercise. It has made me realize that God has only blessed us with one body. If we want to get the most out of it and live a long time, we better start taking care of it like we should. Since owning my own business, it has been a challenge with all the ripping and running you do in life to try to eat healthy. During my twenty years in business, I must say that I have made some poor choices in how I was caring for myself. My Lifestyle Coach and this program have taught me that healthy eating and exercise is a lifestyle. With that being said I knew that I had to make some changes in the way I ate and care for myself if I wanted to see another twenty years. From week one till week sixteen I have made great progress in eating healthier, counting calories and fat grams, and exercising. This class has taught me so much about caring and fueling my body that I have lost 28 pounds. With the help of my Lifestyle Coach and this program, I am confident that I will meet all my goals by the end of this course. I look forward to learning more in the second half of this course and improving my way of life.


Urban Health Resource

Detroit Michigan

Ifetayo Johnson
Co-Diabetes Prevention Coordinator and Lifestyle Coach

When I first became a lifestyle coach for the Imperative’s National DPP, I was a bit skeptical about how the program could really achieve everything it states in just 16 weeks.  I had just learned that my A1C level was in the pre-diabetic range and decided to try out the techniques myself before I tried to teach them. As I told my class “I don’t sell what I can’t buy.”

During the last month of class, I shared my personal goal with the class. My 25th wedding anniversary was approaching and my husband and I had planned to repeat our vows.  My goal was to surprise my husband by fitting into the same unaltered dress I wore as a bride 25 years ago! I started my journey at 148 lbs. and by the end of the 16 weeks; I tipped the scales at 128 – my actual weight when I first got married! I’ve gone from a snug size 10 to a very comfortable size 6. My husband has noticed the change in my weight, energy level and attitude and has picked up on some of the techniques, and actually lost about 8 – 10 pounds.

Class participants have provided testimonials to share their story and have revealed with much pride their success stories. For me, I’m no longer pre-diabetic. I have several class participants, who can make the same claim. One went from 6.4 A1C level to 5.0!  Another lost 30 lbs. and proudly stood before the church, held up the model we use to illustrate 5 lbs. of fat and said “I lost 6 of these!” We have seniors, who now attend exercise classes religiously, three times a week. One woman quit her job because it interfered with the time the class met. She said this was too important, it was saving her life. We changed together and I have been humbled to know that in some small way I was part of a process that helped to change lives in just 16 week.


Beth joined the program in Year One. Although she had never really considered herself fat, she stepped on the doctor’s scale and at 150lbs. and 5’4” she was announced to be officially “overweight”.  To her increased surprise her A1C also showed her to have prediabetes. She remembered as a child spending the summer at her grandmother’s bedside after her leg had to be amputated and decided she needed to take this seriously and do something about it. She wasn’t sure why she had gained so much weight, but attributed it to middle age and reduced physical activity. She always considered herself to be a “fairly healthy” eater and pretty active. She joined the class a bit skeptical but willing to give it a try.

Her first shock was discovering all the places she was destroying her “healthy” menu with lots of hidden fats in things she previously thought were good for her. She also had to face the reality that she was far less active than she imagined. The “tons of walking” she did each day looked paltry on a pedometer. And she had to admit to doing lots of things to reduce her physical activity.

After taking the class and getting a great deal of support from her fellow class mates, Beth noticed a change. First it was just feeling better, then a few less pounds on the scale, then looser clothing, then comments from family and friends. She went from wearing size 10 – 12 pants to buying a size 8. Her doctor asked what she was doing and reminded her that weight loss from dieting doesn’t last. She’d gain it back. A few months later she was at the tailor having her 8’s taken in and buying size 6. A few months later even some of those were beginning to feel a little loose. Her husband began eating the meals she was preparing and decided he liked the taste. He joined the next class. His waist size when from a full 38” to 34”. He also started recruiting other men to the program. Now they both have given away closets of clothing and spend more time at the tailor and out enjoying life.

Beth now tips the scales at a slender 127lbs., her doctor is a convert and told her that he A1C is now normal.  She and her husband have lost the taste for most fried and fatty foods. They often fix delicious healthy meals for family and friends to get them to consider a healthier lifestyle. Many of them have changed their eating habits and some have joined the class. And at 60, Beth is enjoying things she hasn’t done in years, like riding bikes, dancing, wearing belts and fitted clothes, tackling major house repairs, eating lots of great healthy food, weighing in regularly and feeling like a million bucks!


Lifestyle Coach

During Week 3 of group #5, Becky weighed in and literally shouted. She had lost a total of 6 pounds since the first session and ran into the classroom to share her good news.  It was met with applause and warm encouragement. She said it was the first time she had experienced this level of success in any program and she was intent on continuing.


Fundamental Health Solutions

Jackson, TN

Johnny, West Bemis Missionary Baptist Church

I Lost 14 pounds in the first 4 weeks of class just by making small changes to how I eat! First and foremost, I thank God for giving me the strength and perseverance, my wife to go through this Journey with, and my Lifestyle Coach for her knowledge and wisdom for introducing Change Your Lifestyle Change Your Life to us.  I will continue this journey, not just for the weight loss, but because of my increased energy especially while I am at work delivering mail.



“So far I lost 10 lbs. with Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life.! Just like many others, as I matured I have struggled with my weight. About 20 years ago, I started to have issues with gout and after many doctor visits, and physical therapy the weight started to creep up on me, and I did my best to keep it under control, but it was difficult.

I was unable to do many of the physical things I used to be able to do, then one day in November, a dear friend who had been there for me and helped me when my faith was wavering mentioned she was about to do the Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. program.  I called the same day, talked to a Lifestyle Coach that night and enrolled in class the very next morning. Using the tools my Lifestyle Coach gave me, I embarked on a journey of renewed health, weight loss, and happiness that I had not experienced in years.  I felt better, my gout improved, I slept better and I dropped a pant size.”