For College of the Mainland student Holly Napoli, a required course became life changing.
Recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and weighing more than she’d like, Napoli discovered that her associate degree plan required taking a physical education class.
The thought of adding one more item to her schedule daunted her.
“Being a mom of four kids, I (thought) how am I supposed to control (diabetes) and eat healthy and do school?” she recalled. “I told myself, ‘I am going to epically fail this course, and who fails physical education?’”
The first week of Coach Jason Abshire’s class convinced her otherwise.
“I was so pleased with the results I saw,” she said. “I knew I was going places with listening to his lectures, proper cardio and nutrition. I felt I was actually accomplishing something.”

Abshire tailored the class to help Napoli and each student meet their goals.

“They figure out what they want for the semester. We set goals. It’s a class for all levels,” said Abshire. “What we want students to take away is to be healthy. It’s not just to get an ‘A’ and get out.”  
Napoli embraced the challenge and began preparing healthy meals, reading nutrition labels as Abshire taught and exercising.
“We had to log every day we worked out,” said Napoli. “And we looked at all the calories I was consuming. If you don't understand the words (on a food label), it’s not good for you.”
At the end of the 16-week class, she had lost weight, but the change didn’t just appear on the scale.
“I’m diabetes free,” said Napoli. “Coach Abshire hands down pushed me to my limits, and with the best of his abilities made me who I am this semester. It just shows if you really put forth the effort and have a professor to guide you, it makes it so much better.”
Her story inspires others, said Abshire.

“30 years ago about 5 percent of the U.S. population had type 2 diabetes.  The prediction for this generation, our COM students, is that 30 percent will develop type 2 diabetes. That is a staggering number and one that will have a negative impact on health care costs,” Abshire explained. “Holly embraced a positive change and the results speak for themselves. She has become a wonderful role model for living a healthier lifestyle.”

Her children noticed a difference.
“They were thankful that I can keep up with them and I’m not winded,” said Napoli. “When you eat healthy, you have so much more energy.”
Napoli also realized that the class she dreaded will assist her as she pursues an associate degree in occupational safety and health technology at COM.
“I want to work in a refinery,” said Napoli. “You have to have good physical fitness.”
After 16 weeks, her new habits have become ingrained.
“I make time to go to the (COM) gym now because I could go back to diabetes and I don’t want that,” she explained.
She is grasping new challenges as well.
“I did the 5K run in May (at COM), and Coach Abshire was right there cheering me on with my kids,” said Napoli. “A year ago could I have done that? No.
“I could take this class every semester, every morning just to empower my day.”