It's the beginning of the New Year - the perfect time to review what you are already doing to take care of your diabetes and what changes you can make to manage it better. Most Year Year's resolutions begin with a great start, but often fail due to lack of motivation or burnout issues. Managing diabetes is not easy, especially with the many roadblocks that one may face. When trying to make a lifestyle change, one of the biggest challenges of individuals with diabetes is not knowing how to set appropriate goals. Here are some tips to help you be successful in implementing lifestyle changes:
1) Set up a goal: As you work on setting your goals, it is important to set specific and realistic goals. A specific goal has a greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal because you know the behavior you would like to change and the estimated time-frame needed to achieve the goal. Goals such as, "I will eat three servings of vegetables at least 6 days a week," are more specific and realistic than, "I will eat more vegetables every day." Another example might be, "five days a week I will walk for 20 minutes after dinner," rather than saying "I will walk everyday."
It always helps to have the goal written down as a visual reminder. This means you could write it on a sticky-note and place it somewhere you can see it multiple times a day; or you can set reminders on your phone, tablet, or daily personal calendar.
Once you have set a goal and have been successful in its implementation, you can advance the goal. You can now say, "I will eat four servings of vegetables everyday," or, "five days a week, I will walk for 30 minutes after dinner."
2) Have a Plan: Now that you have set goals to work on, set a time frame for implementing them. You also want to think about barriers that may prevent you from accomplishing your goals. Barriers may include something like not having the time to prepare recipes that include more vegetables. You could work around that by buying more frozen vegetables or salads and you can revamp your traditional recipes to make them easier and quicker to prepare.
3) Implement your Plan: Have a daily log that helps you track changes you have already implemented.
Remember that in spite of your best possible efforts, there may be days when you are not able to follow through on your goals. That's OK, as long as you don't lose sight of the bigger picture.
Now that you have set some realistic, achievable goals and have actually implemented them, it's time to reward your accomplishments. It is important that the goal is relevant to you and that you have a reward and recognition system in place. You want to reward yourself with something that is appropriate to what you have accomplished. It needs to be affordable, available soon enough after successful implementation, and valuable and meaningful to you.
In addition to specific goals you may want to implement, here are some general goals to help keep your diabetes under check:
- Follow-up with your Healthcare Provider 3-4 times per year and more often if situations arise
- Check your blood sugars daily
- Take your medications as prescribed
- Check your feet daily
- Schedule an appointment with the dentist twice a year and an annual comprehensive eye exam
1) www.joslin.org (Joslin Diabetes Institute)
2) www.diabetes.org (American Diabetes Association
Vidya Sharma, MA, RD, LD, CDE