Symon is an engineer, which means numbers are often the best way to get his attention. In 2019, one number became particularly concerning to Symon and that was his latest A1C blood test result. Used as a gauge to diagnose type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, a healthy A1C number is usually below 5.7 percent. Anything 6.5 percent or higher indicates an individual has diabetes and needs to make adjustments.
"From 2015 to 2019, my A1C fluctuated between 6.6 and 7.0 percent,” said Symon. “At the end of 2019, it jumped to a record high of 7.4 percent.”
He knew instantly that it was time for a more serious intervention. Thankfully, a friend of Symon’s had forwarded him an email about a program offered by El Camino Health’s Chinese Health Initiative that might help him develop healthier habits around eating, exercise, sleep and more to get him back into the safe zone.
Symon decided to enroll in the Chinese Health Initiative’s Diabetes Prevention Program. This six-month curriculum was developed based on the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program and adapted to cater specifically to Chinese community members and conducted in Mandarin. The intensive program includes everything from workshops, one-on-one coaching sessions, access to a Registered Dietitian, a stress reduction and meditation workshop, informative handouts and more. Most importantly, workshops are led by bilingual dietitians or diabetes health educators who are familiar with Chinese culture.
“With help from the Diabetes Prevention Program and my coach, my A1C was much improved at 5.9 percent at the end of the program,” Symon shared. “What helped me most about this program is that it encouraged partners to join as well, so my wife could observe for free.”
Symon enrolled in the program shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began and was able to continue without difficulty as the program transitioned to an all-virtual format conducted in Mandarin.
“Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, using what I learned, I lost 23 pounds instead of gaining weight,” he explained. “And my BMI is now at a healthy level.”
Symon shared that one of his favorite parts of the program was working with his health coach, who regularly checked in on his personal progress and gave him tips on how to adjust his habits and stay on track.
“Especially at this age, changing diets and lifestyle requires continuous effort,” Symon shared. And that’s why being able to follow up every week with my coach was very helpful to me.”
Even though the six-month program is over for Symon, he says it’s only the beginning of the work he will do on his own. Symon continues to attend classes offered by El Camino Health’s Chinese Health Initiative, which has been serving Chinese community members for over 10 years, and will keep up with his regular exercise and healthy eating habits. One of his favorite classes is the Dayan Qigong series, which is an ancient and widely practiced Qigong in China, and had been proven to be safe and effective for all ages. Symon has found it to be extremely helpful on his A1C improvement.
“With the continuing effort to keep up the work with diet and exercise, my A1C is normal at 5.5 percent now,” Symon shared. “Many thanks to the Diabetes Prevention Program,” Symon concluded. “This program worked for me.”
The Chinese Health Initiative’s Diabetes Prevention Program is open to all members of the Chinese community — not just current El Camino Health patients.