Maria’s Story: How She Took Control of Her Health with Help from Scripps

Diabetes prevention helps grandmother of 11 live healthier life

Maria Ambriz participates in the Scripps Diabetes Prevention Program.

Diabetes prevention helps grandmother of 11 live healthier life

Being diagnosed with prediabetes didn’t come as a surprise for Maria Ambriz of Chula Vista. As the mother of a quadriplegic son and grandmother to 11 grandchildren, she never had the time to focus on her own health. The last time Maria had visited the doctor was 10 years prior, when she was diagnosed with lupus.

“I knew about diabetes and I knew the symptoms about it before going to see the doctor.”

After experiencing several prediabetes symptoms, including dry mouth, fatigue and excessive hunger, she finally decided to see a doctor. She was diagnosed with prediabetes that same day. Although the diagnosis was not a surprise, Maria was still stunned at the news. Facing two serious health conditions, she knew that it was time for a huge lifestyle change.

After her diagnosis, Maria was overwhelmed by the process of reversing her prediabetes. Having attempted dieting techniques before, she was adamant about staying away from fad diets and calorie-counting programs.

“I always failed with my diets and went back, and I even gained more weight.”

Turning to Scripps for help

When her younger sister extended an invitation to a diabetes prevention class at the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, Maria was hesitant to join. How would this be different from the bounceback dieting techniques she had already tried? But, she decided to join her sister and attend the class.

Maria was ecstatic to find that the class wouldn’t entail diets that didn’t work and calorie counting. Rather, she says, the program teaches you to be more aware of your weight and your eating habits.

“At first, the hardest thing was losing the weight and eating right because it’s like you get addicted to sweets and salt. I used to eat donuts like three times a week, even two donuts because I couldn’t decide on one.”

Despite the challenge of completely changing her eating habits, it wasn’t long before Maria grew to enjoy the classes and started to see a real change in her health, and in her life.

Why the program works for Maria

“They teach you that we eat because of stress and because of emotions. They also teach us about being more conscious of our food because some of the foods, have so many calories or sodium.”

At the classes, Maria found the education, lifestyle and support she needed to take charge of her life and health. But, what she loves most about the classes is bonding with the other members of the group. She says, “All these women had trouble losing weight, and this program has made us more conscious. We share what we went through.”

Since starting this program, Maria has lost 42 pounds, which is a full 26 pounds over the average weight loss goal of 16 pounds. “I’ll keep going,” Maria says. “This program has completely changed my life. I thought that I wouldn’t know how to start. I just wanted something that would show me how to eat in portions with my favorite foods, and I did find it in Scripps.”

Maria maintains her motivation to stay healthy by thinking of her faith and her family. She says, “My Lord is number one in my life, and my family, that’s what keeps me going. I’ll continue to go on this program, not as a diet, but as a lifestyle.”

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