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For Central Vermont Residents, Healthier Living is a Workshop Away

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The Central Vermont Medical Center is offering free “Healthier Living” workshops for residents looking to jump-start better habits in the new year. Programs currently offered by the medical center include tobacco cessation, wellness recovery, diabetes prevention, and chronic pain management. The Stanford evidence-based workshops meet once a week in several central Vermont locations, including Berlin and Plainfield.

Healthier Living Self-Management Regional Coordinator Paige Loeven said the workshops, paid for by a grant from Vermont’s Blueprint for Health, help Vermonters take a proactive approach to self-care and health management.

“It [the program] started out with chronic disease and chronic pain workshops and has evolved to include tobacco cessation, diabetes prevention, and emotional wellness,” Loeven said.

The organization 802 Quits Vermont supplies class materials and programming to support Healthier Living tobacco cessation programs.

“802 Quits offers phone and online options, and we are the in-person partner,” Loeven said. “We use the Freshstart curriculum from the American Cancer Society.”

According to Loeven, it can take smokers “up to seven times” to quit, and many participants return to the workshop several times before kicking the habit for good. Workshop attendees are given nicotine replacement therapies, including gum, patches, or lozenges.

“We have a tobacco treatment specialist who is trained to work with the participants,” Loeven said. “They help them to set goals.”

Loeven stressed that participants in the program are under “no obligation” to give up tabacco.

“We’re here to support,” Loeven said. “And there is support from other people who are trying to quit and who know that it’s challenging.”

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan workshop offers a broader focus on general emotional well-being and coping skills.

“The idea of it is that everyone has something that they’re dealing with,” Loeven said. “Life is hard for everyone at different times, so this workshop is designed to help work on coping skills and ways to get around what might trigger you.”

The workshops are available “to anyone who is interested” in Washington County and throughout the state, Loeven said.

“Our diabetes prevention program is a 24-week program for those who are at risk for diabetes, and we see a huge weight loss with those people,” she said. “And in the tobacco cessation workshop, we have people who quit smoking and it stuck [the first time], and we have people who return to the program to get back into it and have that support.”

The workshops are offered in various communities according to interest and need, Loeven said.

“We try to circulate around to the different areas of Washington County,” she explained. “If we find we’re getting a lot of referrals from, say, Waterbury, we’ll try to bring the workshops to the Waterbury area.”

Loeven said the diabetes prevention program has been especially popular in recent months.

“Right now a lot of people are interested in the diabetes program, kind of starting the new year and getting those behaviors off to a good start,” she said.

The Tobacco Cessation Workshop begins Jan. 23 at CVMC, and the Diabetes Prevention Program follows in Plainfield on Feb. 13. Upcoming workshops include Diabetes Self-Management (for those diagnosed with diabetes), Healthy Living for Kids Workshop for children and their families, and a Tai-Chi program integrating movement and mindfulness for people with chronic disease.

Future workshop topics are determined by community needs and the goals outlined in the Blueprint for Health grant.

For more information, visit

cvmc.org/wellness-resources/healthier-living-workshops