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When Spencer's diabetes worsened he needed to manage better.

AbleTo helped.

Spencer’s Story

“I realized that these were the things that were holding me back; AbleTo helped me to overcome them.”

– Spencer C., AbleTo Graduate

SpencerC-enlargedRegaining Capability

When his doctor first diagnosed him with type-2 diabetes, 20 years ago, Spencer C. figured out how to care for himself with the right diet, exercise, and medication. Over time, other areas of his life got in the way of prioritizing the ongoing management of his condition. He became less active and started gaining weight. “I’m not sure why I stopped [diet and exercise],” Spencer said.

When he received a call from AbleTo’s engagement specialist, Spencer nearly said “take me off your calling list,” and hung up the phone. But when the engagement specialist asked whether Spencer was OK with how he was handling his diabetes, Spencer realized he wasn’t. His health had deteriorated.

“My [AbleTo therapist and coach] certainly were able to get me started with little steps and gave me a lot of encouragement for my successes. From that first phone call 10 weeks ago until today, I never thought I could have this type of improvement,” the 63-year-old said. “I’m now jogging more frequently than ever before…and I never thought I would run again!”

Karen Robinson, LCSW
AbleTo Behavior Change Therapist

Marci Parsley
AbleTo Behavior Change Coach

Small Steps for Large Gains

Part of the reason that AbleTo’s behavior change treatments work, is the unique, two-professional approach: patients meet with the same therapist and coach each week, for eight weeks, either by telephone or secure video, conveniently and privately from their own home.

“I am beyond proud of Spencer’s commitment to getting better. I would love to take credit, even partial credit. But, the truth is, he chose to engage, committed to change and made the most of his goals,” said Karen Robinson, Spencer’s Behavior Change Therapist.

“Usually, if you’re not caring for yourself physically, you’re also not focusing on how stress is affecting your medical health. If emotional issues are assessed and met head on, your medical health improves,” said Aimee Peters, AbleTo’s Chief Clinical Officer. “Most people have a basic knowledge of what they are supposed to do; but, if you set your expectations too high, too soon, and you don’t meet them, you lose motivation.”

AbleTo’s behavior change treatment focuses on identifying small, achievable goals and building on each success. Learning how to set and reach those specific goals also helps individuals maintain gains over time. For some patients, eating balanced meals, exercising, or even just learning to find personal time for themselves represent significant achievements. For others, like Spencer, it comes down to admitting he’s overwhelmed, learning to focus on real health issues and doing what he needs to do: like a regular assessment of blood glucose levels.

“I knew the basics, but one thing I did not understand is the importance of testing my blood four or more times a day, and logging those test results to keep me honest and focused,” Spencer said.

Finding a support network outside the AbleTo treatment program kept Spencer motivated too. His wife, Ann, not only gave him emotional encouragement, but also jointly participated in his health quest. They exercised together, ate the same meals and even went shopping for new clothes together after both of them lost weight.

“Between the two of us, we’ve lost more than 80 pounds and we’re both in new wardrobes,” Spencer said. “Who would have ever thought I would enjoy wearing skinny jeans?”

Aimee Peters, Chief Clinical Officer, AbleTo

…if you set your expectations too high, too soon, and you don’t meet them, you lose motivation.

After Graduation

“My AbleTo team [therapist & coach] has been great. They helped me focus my efforts and develop a positive mindset,” Spencer said. “I am going to miss checking in with them.  But they certainly were able to get me started back on course.”

Five months after his last session, Spencer was completely off insulin, had lost more than 40 pounds, was running two miles, three times per week, and “eating more veggies and fruit than I ever thought possible!”

I did not understand… the importance of testing my blood four or more times a day and keeping a log of the test results. That’s kept me honest and focused. — Spencer C.

AbleTo’s behavior change solution for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, is designed to help improve medical health by focusing on mental health and behavioral changes. Spencer’s emotional health dramatically improved. And being in control of his diabetes meant he spent less time at the hospital and would face fewer complications in the future.

Now Spencer and Ann are preparing for retirement and Spencer is confident that he can stay in control of his health.

Life looks good!