Real Life Benefits of the Diabetes Prevention Program

Karen Davis and Benham Pouya, employees who have completed the one-year Diabetes Prevention Program, share their experiences and outcomes of the program. They discuss their motivation for joining the program, the positive health changes they made, how they overcame challenges, the many benefits of the program, and how their lives have changed since.

Health Plus Diabetes Prevention Program

Begin Transcript

Bridgette Butler: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt Health and Wellness Wellcast. I’m Bridgette Butler with Health Plus. Health Plus offers the National Diabetes Program a one-year, evidence-based lifestyle change program to Vanderbilt faculty and staff, or spouses, with prediabetes, a history of gestational diabetes or are at high-risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. I am here with Karen Davis and Behnam Pouya, Vanderbilt employees who completed the one-year program. Welcome.

Karen Davis: Thank you.

Behnam Pouya: Thank you.

Karen Davis: Tell me, Karen, what motivated you to take action to improve your health?

Karen Davis: I have family history of Type 2 diabetes, and so I was at risk. I was overweight, and although I was active, there were still things about my lifestyle that was not healthy at all. I had a surgery the year before, and I didn’t recover as quickly as I thought I should, and that took much longer and it zapped a lot of my energy, and I just reached a point where I knew I needed to make a change.

Bridgette Butler: And how about you, Behnam?

Behnam Pouya: I do have diabetes, Type 2, on my mother’s side of the family, and on my last physical check in July of last year, I found out that my hemoglobin A1c was creeping to 5.7 for the first time. Also, my fasting blood sugar was at 110. That was a big alarm for me to start seeking help.

Bridgette Butler: Karen, tell me, how much weight did you lose in the program?

Karen Davis: I lost about 25 pounds on the program.

Bridgette Butler: And how about you, Behnam?

Behnam PouyaAfter I started the program, I have lost 44 pounds.

Bridgette Butler: What were some of the positive changes that you made? Behnam?

Behnam Pouya: I learned really not to eat late. I used to eat late. Then, I was not aware of the calorie intake of the foods that I was eating, especially snacks. For example, with my hot tea, I would have 8 to 10 dates. Now, knowing that each date has 50 calories, that is right there at 500 calories that I did not even know I was taking in. So, that is just one example. Overall, eating foods that are healthier, more fruits and vegetables, spending my calories in a wise way with fruits and vegetables for almost half of my calories rather than a high-fat diet.

Bridgette Butler: Those are some great, great, positive changes. How about you, Karen?

Karen Davis: My biggest changes came with eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, eating in more instead of eating out all the time, even though with a busy schedule, I could find a way to come home and cook vegetables, cook food that was healthier for me than just going through a drive-thru on the way home.

Bridgette Butler: Now, were there any unexpected benefits of the program? Karen?

Karen Davis: I guess for me, I found that I had a little bit more energy, and it wasn’t the burden I thought it might be of changing my diet. So, that became an unexpected positive thing for me, just to know that I can change my diet, I can still find those things that I like, and I discovered so many more foods that I actually do like.

Bridgette Butler: And how about you, Behnam?

Behnam Pouya: As a matter of fact, I used to have high blood pressure at 150/110. After the program, I started for about four to five months into the program, and my blood pressure came to 120s/80s with a pulse of 70. So, I am off blood pressure medication almost halfway into the program.

Bridgette Butler: What was the hardest challenge during the program, and how did you overcome that challenge, Behnam?

Behnam Pouya: There are a couple of challenges that I faced. One was recording everything in the beginning. It was really time-consuming. But the fact that as I was recording it, I was finding out about the calories, about the details of food, that helped me overall. So, in the beginning, that was hard, but I got used to it. Also, it still is a challenge – finding time to exercise. I am still working on it. It is an ongoing challenge that I have to really tackle on a daily basis.

Bridgette Butler: Do you have any tips on how to tackle that challenge?

Behnam Pouya: I use my weekends, for sure, so I get almost 100 to 150 minutes of my exercise on the weekends. Weekdays, I will try to get a minimum of two, or sometimes three, if I am lucky.

Bridgette Butler: That is great advice for overcoming that challenge. And how about you, Karen? Did you find any challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Karen Davis: My biggest challenges were probably the social aspect of eating, going out with friends, either for lunch, or meeting up with someone for dinner, and for me, it just became an understanding – it’s okay to say no once in a while. I can back off a little bit without affecting the relationship, and fortunately for me, my friends were very supportive.

Bridgette Butler: Now, tell me, how did your lifestyle coach and the Diabetes Prevention Program group help you along the way?

Karen Davis: It was just nice to go and hear that I wasn’t alone, that I might face a challenge on one day or have a challenge one week, and then the next week someone else would have a different challenge. So, it was just offering being able to get support from the group, but also being able to offer support to the group.

Bridgette Butler: And how about you, Behnam? How did your lifestyle coach and the program help you along the way?

Behnam Pouya: I couldn’t have done without them – Lisa and Mallory. Mallory would always comment on my food log with a wonderful, gracious comment, encouraging me and also giving me good feedback, and also Lisa, to the class discussion, I would always find out about challenges that I have in class groups, or we would talk about those, and then I would learn a lot from listening to overall group discussion.

Bridgette Butler: I’m glad to hear it. How is your life different now?

Behnam Pouya: I feel better. I look better in terms of going down from pants size of 40 to almost 34 now, getting close to it, and more energetic and knowing that my numbers every four months and my lab values are indicating that I am on the right track. So, that makes me feel good.

Bridgette Butler: How about you, Karen?

Karen Davis: For me, I think the way I look at myself. I have a more positive image of myself, because others, I think, have a more positive image of myself. So, I feel better about going out, wearing clothes that fit, and not always loose, baggy clothes, and people treating me differently. They look at me and say, “Oh, yeah, she’s an athlete, okay, sure.” It makes me feel better and it makes me feel stronger, and it just makes me want to go out and do more.

Bridgette Butler: That’s great. Thank you both so much for sharing your experience about the Diabetes Prevention Program with me today. I appreciate it very much.

Behnam Pouya: Thank you. I definitely highly recommend this to the people that are on borderline diabetes, because I tried it, it worked. It is a gradual program. Really, the first three or four weeks you learn about the food – what are fats, what you are eating in terms of calories, what are better choices. So, it is a graduate program that really lets your body get used to it, and schedule-wise, you will find ways to get adjusted and adopt it as a lifestyle change, really. It is not a fad diet. So, it is working if you make it into your lifestyle changes.

Karen Davis: And I have had so many people ask me about the program, and I just can’t say enough good things about it. It is an excellent program. People at Vanderbilt and even friends who don’t work here just asking me – how do you do it and what do you do. So, it is an excellent program. So, thank you for letting me share.

Bridgette Butler: Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page. If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at, or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at