September 7, 2021
Diane Fausak of Vegreville says she’s grateful for all the Alberta Healthy Living Program workshops and local health professionals who’ve helped her to manage her diabetes and focus better on her health journey.
Story by Yolanda Genu | Photo by Jennifer Jakubec
Diane Fausak has an attitude of gratitude for the gentle nudging she receives from her team of health professionals. In fact, it’s helped her to manage her Type 2 Diabetes and improve her health.
Diagnosed 12 years ago, the Vegreville resident made some initial improvements to her health. But it wasn’t until she met Trista Tesolin, a registered dietitian with Alberta Health Services (AHS), and took part in Alberta Healthy Living Program (AHLP) workshops, that things really started to click.
“Trista seemed to pick up on what might be getting in my way of making the right changes,” says the 66-year-old. “She listened and seemed to know what I needed when I didn’t. She was the catalyst on my health journey.”
Tesolin partnered with the Kalyna Country Primary Care Network (PCN) and suggested Fausak attend programs she believed would be beneficial.
“I knew Diane would enjoy the group setting of a class. Hearing stories and experiences from people living with the same condition helps the whole group learn. It tends to be more impactful than only hearing from a facilitator,” says Tesolin.
Diabetes the Basics sessions helped Fausak refresh and remember the knowledge she’d lost over time. Eventually, she got back on track. Managing Emotional Eating classes further encouraged her to figure out her food triggers and helped her to form a healthy relationship with food. After completing the Better Choices, Better Health workshops, Fausak says she felt empowered for the first time to make better choices — not excuses.
The different workshops also helped Fausak learn more about her body and better manage her nutrition. She also found the information cumulative as it reinforced simple and helpful strategies in daily living.
But Fausak noticed the most dramatic results after participating in a year-long program called CHANGE (Canadian Health Advanced by Nutrition and Graded Exercise) with Tesolin and Sarak Osko, an exercise specialist at the Kalyna Country PCN. CHANGE is a nutrition and exercise program for clients with diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
“I felt that my body shape changed, and I held myself better. It was great because the exercises were geared for seniors as well as younger clients. I improved my balance and flexibility and felt better,” says Fausak. “Walking or any form of exercise is simply part of my day now.”
Osko says: “Working with participants for a whole year is a fantastic opportunity. When we worked with Fausak, we met obstacles as they came and found real-time solutions together.”
In the past, Fausak’s pattern was to exercise and lose weight, then have tough days and give up again.
“I realized patience is the greatest virtue here, along with putting into place the suggestions and ideas we were learning about,” she says.
Fausak adds that she’s grateful to have had supportive facilitators who knew how to get her and other participants back on track, without hurting anyone’s feelings.
After each session, participants were given homework and asked to make simple changes in their lives or challenge themselves. We were encouraged to set small goals without saying, ‘I will try to,’” says Fausak.
She increased her water intake weekly until it reached two litres per day. She also learned to schedule specific days to complete specific goals, such as exercise on certain days. Once she started, she experienced a taste of success, felt empowered and kept herself accountable, even if it were only a small goal.
“I always enjoy seeing our participants make small but significant changes throughout their time in our programs,” says Tesolin. “Groups tend to help and encourage each other with goal-setting.”
For her part, Fausak found everything she learned proved beneficial.
“I felt motivated, and even decluttered my space and mind and other areas of my life. Looking at my to-do list made me feel lighter.
“I’m doing this to be healthier, and for the first time in a long time, I feel I can do this. I have children, and I want to be around them,” she says.
“I’m a normal person, after all. I’ve made great strides, but I’m not perfect, and still have days that I could do better. Now I’m more aware of myself.”
Visit Improve Your Health - Central Zone | Alberta Health Services for upcoming Alberta Healthy Living Program workshops. Learn more about the Kalyna Country Primary Care Network.