In December 2019, Jeff Libbey went to a doctor’s appointment to get blood work done. His doctor delivered unexpected news. “You’re 52-years-old and your A1C [a test that measures average blood glucose levels over three months] is starting to get too high,” his doctor said. “If you don’t get this under control,” he continued, “you’re going to end up [diabetic and] on insulin.”
This was difficult to hear: Libbey was stunned but not completely surprised. When he asked his doctor about treatment
options to lower his A1C, his doctor mentioned the FitScripts program at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center (UVAC). His doctor wanted him to try exercise and dieting to lower his A1C rather then having to take medicine.
FitScripts allows a primary care provider to write referrals for their patients aged 16 or older, who are living with one or more chronic conditions, and for whom the cost of a gym membership is a barrier.
Libbey waited for a referral phone call to join the program. Thankfully, in early 2020, he was admitted. He then met with a personal trainer and underwent a preliminary wellness screening at UVAC. In February 2020, he began “hitting the treadmill.” After a forced hiatus due to the pandemic, Libbey returned to the gym in the summer of 2020.
In early 2021, Libbey saw a poster for UVAC Strong. He swallowed his fear and nervousness about beginning another new program and signed up. He completed two sessions with UVAC trainer, Carrie Borowy, and is now on his third session with UVAC trainer, Shelby Gordon.
Borowy says the UVAC Strong program, “is great because it’s centered around resistance training, which is something Libbey was starting to branch into.”
“As I started to feel more comfortable and not feeling as sore, I started doing Circuit Training with Alan, TRX with Susanne, and Zumba with Katherine. And that’s when I really started to see the weight melt off,” says Libbey. Mixing it up paid off. And then, Libbey tried indoor cycling.
Never thinking he would enjoy cardio, Libbey says he “enjoys spinning a lot!” Thanks to UVAC small group training and class offerings, Libbey tries new exercises he would not have otherwise attempted without a knowledgeable trainer there to teach, push, and encourage him.
“I know my core is getting stronger,” he says. “I can put my feet in the TRX straps and complete planks – the dividends are there.” Although some exercises still prove challenging for him, when he reflects on his pre-UVAC body from 2019, he knows his balance, coordination, and leg strength have greatly improved. “Doing squats, deadlifts, lunges, has paid off. I have a way to go, but I’m making progress.”
To help track and motivate himself, Libbey uses MyZone during his workouts at UVAC.
“It’s a head game for me,” says Libbey. “If I’m not hitting 500 MEPs/ Day, that’s a problem.” So, he switches it up rather than get bored or frustrated with himself. “If I haven’t hit 500 MEPs with my cardio before my UVAC strong class, I’m heading to TRX or some other program after.”
Libbey also uses a meal tracking app called “Lose-It.” This aids him to track his food portion sizes and dietary intake. He has also applied other behavioral changes to help shift his intake and ensure he feels full and satisfied at meals. A competitive person, MyZone works well for Libbey as a tool to continually challenge himself. Libbey still feels “big”, but he also feels strong, and that’s what keeps him going.
“I don’t often get on the scale because it can be a disappointment,” he says. “I get in my head a bit, because I work out a lot, but I also know I’m gaining muscle.”
Although Libbey dreads coming to the gym and some days it’s harder to force himself to show up than others, once he arrives, he thrives on the community aspect of UVAC. “One thing I love about MyZone is seeing others doing the same thing as I’m doing. I find the community here extremely supportive. People always comment on my numbers, which helps push me to continue. It’s just an overall positive experience,” he says. “Once I get inside and start moving, I have a blast!”
A year after that initial doctor’s visit and blood test, Libbey’s A1C went from 7.8, which is high, down to a 6, a healthy level. If he continues to lower his blood glucose levels through a healthy diet and exercise, he will not only lessen his chances of becoming diabetic, but he will also not have to rely on any medications to keep his blood sugar levels in check.
Libbey credits Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital and the UVAC staff and trainers for all their efforts to assist him on his wellness journey. Alice Peck Day partnered with the Carter Community Building Association (CCBA) in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and UVAC in White River Junction, Vermont, to offer this program. For more information visit https://www.alicepeckday.org/fitscripts.
Interview conducted by Carrie Borowy
By journalist, cyclist, and UVAC member Chris H. Hadgis