2017-05-04 / Healthy Living

Greater Naples YMCA ‘chips’ in to help Neapolitans learn to make healthy choices

Special to Florida Weekly

A recent CHIP graduating class. A recent CHIP graduating class. Among the more than 160 programs offered each week at the YMCA of Greater Naples, perhaps none has been more effective in creating positive lifetime changes and affecting our members’ health as CHIP. The Complete Health Improvement Program was developed by the Lifestyle Medicine Institute in California. More than 80,000 people in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand have completed a CHIP course.

Our Y began offering the program in the summer of 2015 and already has 100 graduates.

CHIP is a 12-week lifestyle education program designed to reduce many disease risk factors by combining better eating habits with exercise, stress management and good sleep habits. The primary goal is to lower blood cholesterol, hypertension and blood sugar levels and reduce excessive weight. This is achieved through nutrition education, a personalized daily exercise program and a support system provided by the group setting. Lifestyle modification as taught through CHIP has been shown to prevent, manage and even reverse chronic disease such as arthritis, certain cancers, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, impotence and stroke, often as well as or better than many medicines without any side effects, except for weight loss.

CHIP sessions often include exercise, in this case tennis on the courts at the Greater Naples YMCA. CHIP sessions often include exercise, in this case tennis on the courts at the Greater Naples YMCA. After an initial two-hour introductory presentation, enrollment commences for a total of 18 evening classes lasting 90 minutes each. Sessions include educational videos, class discussions, periodic food samplings, individual counseling, progress evaluations and three health screenings to measure fasting glucose, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, HgbA1C, blood pressure, weight and abdominal girth.

Dr. Amy Chappell and Heidi Roderick facilitate our CHIP program.

THEIN THEIN Dr. Chappell also practices neurology as a volunteer at the Neighborhood Health Clinic. She facilitates CHIP as her way of helping put people in charge of their own health.

“CHIP graduates have all the tools they need to make good decisions in regards to their health,” Dr. Chappell says. “If they make poor decisions, it is not out of ignorance.”

Ms. Roderick, director of community wellness for our Y, complements Dr. Chappell’s expertise with her work in the exercise component of CHIP, providing guidance for individual and group exercises.

After completing the program, CHIP graduates are invited to monthly events to help them stay motivated. “Club CHIP” events have included tennis clinics, 5K walks and potluck dinners.

A nominal fee covers educational materials from the Lifestyle Medicine Institute (including a CHIP toolkit with a workbook, cookbook, water bottle, pedometer and textbook, all representing the tenets of the program: Live More, Eat More, Drink More, Move More and Learn More). The three sets of labs and a three-month YMCA membership are also included.

CHAPPELL CHAPPELL Carleton Case, a longtime Naples Y member, volunteer and a former board chair, is a proud CHIP graduate. He and his wife signed up for the program’s very first session in June 2015.

“CHIP was a marvelous experience for both of us,” Mr. Case, who had become pre-diabetic, says. “I became aware of how much sugar I consumed, and the dangers of eating too much red meat … I lost more than 25 pounds, took several inches off my waist size and started to feel much better.”

He set an exercise goal to take daily steps and still tries to do 10,000 steps every weekday and 15,000 on weekends.

RODERICK RODERICK “I continue to watch my weight and perform a regular regimen of physical exercises each day,” he says. “Best of all, I continue to feel better, and my family continues to support me and appreciates me more.”

Mr. Case, whose business involves employee benefits, says he continues to see how much money companies pay out because of employee health problems.

“Some of this could be avoided by better lifetime choices like those that I learned to make through CHIP,” he says.

CHIP is also widely endorsed by the Collier County School System, which pays for 10 of its employees to attend each CHIP session.

For more information about CHIP and when the next session begins, call Ms. Roderick at 597-3148 or visit www.greaternaplesymca.org or www.chiphealth.com. ¦

— Paul Thein is president and CEO of the Greater Naples YMCA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

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