We’re closing in on another big national celebration, several of them in fact.

First up is Mother’s Day, which happens to be this Sunday for all you kids and fathers who need to do something special for the most important women in your life.

Then comes Memorial Day, followed by Independence Day — all occasions for back-yard barbecues and the inclination to over-indulge.

It’s the over-indulging part we’re focusing on today, as in eating too much, not exercising enough, gaining too much weight, thus putting your health at risk.

Obesity is one of this nation’s leading health issues, so much so that being seriously overweight is no longer considered a cosmetic problem. The World Health Organization has reclassified obesity as a disease, in which case it is a disease that branches out into so many other highly dangerous diseases.

The disease of obesity is costly not only in terms of economics, but also in terms of individual and societal health, longevity and psychological well-being. Obesity is a progressive disease that requires life-long treatment and control.

Keeping that in mind, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute and the YMCA are offering a lifestyle change intervention program to community members for the prevention of type-2 diabetes, beginning next month.

Here in the Valley the program is being offered at the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA in Santa Ynez, providing participants with the skills needed to positively impact their health.

Here’s why such a program is so important: Obesity is linked to the kinds of health problems that kill — heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, many forms of cancer, gallbladder disease and gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout, respiratory problems such as sleep apnea, and asthma.

The Y program beginning in June is designed to promote a collaborative, non-judgmental approach to overall wellness. Participants will learn how to eat and enjoy healthy foods, add more physical activity to their daily routine, manage personal stress, and solve problems that often interfere in a person’s ability — and desire — to make meaningful lifestyle changes.

This program runs for a full year. Groups will meet once a week for the first four months, then once a month for the rest of the time.

Among the benefits of such an approach is that participants will function in a fully supportive environment, which in turn fosters in those taking part the ability to encourage each other. It’s not unlike a 12-step program.You take it one step, and one day at a time.

The main focus of the program is to prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes, which is a precursor to so many other debilitating diseases.

If this approach interests you, you can determine if you’re eligible to join the program, via an online test, which is available at www.sansum.org and www.ciymca.org. To learn more about the program, call 682-7640 ext.221 or visit www.sansum.org.

We will warn you right up front — the program won’t be easy. It is rigorous. Reversing life-long habits can be among the most difficult things a person can try to do. Changing diet and exercise habits is not unlike trying to kick a years-long smoking habit.

But the importance of completing such a program is underlined by the fact that obesity and related diseases cut short thousands of American lives each year, and cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Those are technical reasons to get with the program. The personal reason is — you will feel so much better.

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