I first heard about Crow Wing Energized in the Brainerd Dispatch through a Monday Motivator. After reading the article, I looked into the movement more and I registered my email to get information on the programs offered.

I learned that Crow Wing Energized had a Lifestyle Coach training coming up that June, and I was instantly excited ... and terrified. I've always been passionate about the benefits of fitness, for both physical and mental health. This would be so perfect, as I love working with people on their health through workouts and activity, but didn't know a lot about the nutrition end of things. I am not a public speaker, so this seemed like an extra challenge. I try to do something that scares me every day, as I know this makes you a stronger person, so I registered!

The training was very detailed, and was run very well. The room is set up in U-shape, and taught as a group training vs sitting in rows of desks staring at the instructor. By the end of the two-day training, you are a family of trainers, and you feel as if you have a network of great leaders beside you. All the materials you will need are included and so there is no cost to you as a coach. I loved that we had hands on activities to learn the different ways to teach the curriculum and that we had an opportunity to present and practice the lessons we would be teaching.

After undergoing the two-day training session, I began coaching a lifestyle change class at noon Tuesdays at CTC in Brainerd in January of 2017. I was initially nervous to lead a class filled with strangers, but knew it would be a great experience.

The community-based classes are free and meet once a week for 16 weeks. After six months, the group meets once a month to check in with each other through the end of the one-year program. The 22-session diabetes prevention program helps people lose weight, eat healthier, and get physically active. Participants also gain valuable support through the one-hour group meetings, facilitated by a volunteer lifestyle change coach.

I have loved seeing the changes that the participants experience with this program. They come in nervous, excited, anxious, some angry or frustrated to even be there. You see them change over the course of the program as they reach their goals. I love to congratulate and celebrate the weight loss victories, such as the 10-pound mark! I also love the non-scale victories, like when participants come in and say they had to make new notches on their belts or buy a new winter jacket because last years was way too big.

I always ask my classes before we start on our week's lesson if anyone has exciting wins from the week to share with the class. I love to start out with that as a group building activity. The first few weeks I am lucky to hear from one person, but as people get to know each other better and better that question can take the first 15 minutes of class. This shows how much people get comfortable with their group but also that this program works. People have all sorts of things to share. It's especially great to hear that participant's doctors congratulate them or tell them to keep up the great work. I have had people stop taking blood pressure meds and anxiety meds after starting this program. Amazing stuff is happening!

I wanted something that would push me to speak in front of people and motivate people. You have 60 minutes with them a week, and then they're off to use what you've taught them. Becoming a lifestyle change coach became life-changing for me, too. I encourage anyone interested in helping others achieve their health goals to consider becoming a trained coach. Anybody can be a lifestyle coach, as long as you have a passion for helping others and for wanting to better yourself at the same time. It really does change you. It's inspiring to see people changing their own lives and in turn their families' lives.

I was trained in June of 2016, and started teaching my first class in January of 2017. Since then, I have taught six classes, and now work for Crow Wing Energized as the community health educator. I get to oversee the whole National Diabetes Prevention Program and all the volunteer lifestyle coaches. I never would have thought three years ago that I would be getting paid to do something I love!

Join a Lifestyle Change Class

Choose a location/day/time:

• Trinity Lutheran Church in Brainerd Sundays at 9:20 a.m., starting Jan. 6, 2019,

• Pequot Lakes City Hall Mondays at 4:30 p.m., starting Jan. 7, 2019,

• Bremer Bank in Brainerd Tuesdays at 7 a.m., starting Jan. 8, 2019,

• Brainerd Dispatch Fridays at 1 p.m., starting Jan. 11, 2019,

• Essentia Health-Baxter Clinic Mondays at 10:30 a.m., starting Jan. 14, 2019,

• Essentia Health-Baxter Clinic Tuesdays at 5 p.m., starting Jan. 15, 2019.

Register online: crowwingenergized.org/events

There is no fee for this class ($429 value).

Become a lifestyle change trainer

Become a certified lifestyle coach by taking this two-day course so you can learn how to facilitate and utilize the evidence-based curriculum for the National Diabetes Prevention Program by supplying diabetes prevention education and support to people with prediabetes.

This two-day course will prepare participants to launch at least one NDPP class offering over the course of the next year. Trained instructors lead 16 group sessions offered over 6 months, and six monthly follow-up sessions for the remainder of the year.

• When: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Jan. 8-9, 2019,

• Where: Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center,

• Register: Training is free ($750 value), but registration is required at crowwingenergized.org/events

All trained NDPP coaches will be expected to facilitate at minimum of one-year long course following being trained. Questions? Contact Kara Schaefer at Kara.Schaefer@Essentiahealth.org or 218-454-5901.