BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — Approximately 29 million Americans have diabetes and more than 86 million more are at risk of getting it.
In the Valley, approximately 35 percent of adults are diabetic and face a myriad of health problems that range from neuropathy to blindness.
A new program at the YMCA aims to reduce those numbers, which is good news for people like Paul Mahin, who has had diabetes for more than 10 years.
“I would do good and end up doing bad. I just could never get it under control,” Mahin said.
For years after he was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, he struggled with his weight and his blood sugar. He was living on the edge, terrified of what could happen.
“I knew a lot of people that had diabetes. And you get scared. Because I talked to people that lost toes, lost feet, lost legs,” Mahin said.
He was in his 40s when his doctor first told him he had diabetes.
“It’s very serious. The bad thing about diabetes is it sneaks up on you. You think everything is good and then you go to the doctor one day and he’s like ‘you’ve got some issues’,” Mahin said.
The Youngstown YMCA is looking keep people like Mahin from being surprised by diabetes. A new program is getting under way on Monday at the Davis Center YMCA in Boardman. It is a year-log course for people with pre-diabetes or multiple risk factors.
“It’s a really big issue,” said program coordinator Michelle Edison.
She said a lot of people think of diabetes as something that is inevitable.
“What they don’t realize is it can be prevented or at least delayed. I think a lot of times people believe it is unavoidable, that they are just going to get it,” Edison said.
The class will teach people about changes that can keep them from developing full-blown Type II Diabetes, and the health problems that go along with it, including proper diet and exercise.
Mahin said he eventually learned for himself about diet and exercise and it totally changed his life. He said he hopes people take their diagnosis seriously, and make the changes to stay healthy.
“That’s the only good thing that came from diabetes. Got me in the right direction,” he said.
Now, he lifts weights and takes spinning and pilates classes. And he took control of his diet by cutting out carbohydrates and sugar.
“If I can do it, anyone can do it. Trust me,” Mahin said.