The New You
Finding the motivation to achieve a healthier lifestyle in 2012.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
January 2012 — New Year's is the time for resolutions and good intentions. We all start the year off with plans to exercise more, eat less, and lose weight, but many of us have a hard time sticking with our resolutions, even through the month of January. What is it about envisioning that "new you" that makes you forget how hard it is to really stick to healthier habits? We tend to forget about the monotony and boredom that usually go along with dieting and many kinds of exercise. With diabetes added to the challenges, there are even more incentives to stick to healthier habits. But with added reasons to stay healthy comes added pressure. This added pressure can cause resentment towards that disease for the additional dietary restrictions or pressure to be healthy that diabetes can create. It can also create an unhealthy relationship with food or an overwhelming fear of failure in our struggle to stay healthy.
Our son is a teenager, with all of the hormones and changes that go along with being a teenager. Even when he does everything "right" for his diabetes, sometimes his blood sugars don't reflect that. He has an unexpected low and he can't trace the cause, he goes low while exercising or hours after, he has a problem with his pump site and his blood sugar goes very high, and so many other possibilities.
So what can we do to avoid the normal pitfalls of resolutions and dieting in order to be successful and take steps toward that "new you" in 2012? It seems to me that a key to that success is finding something that motivates us...something other than food. Maybe we put money in a jar for each week that we are successful with our healthy eating and exercise. After a period of time, we can use the money for something that we really wanted. Finding a form (or forms) of exercise that is fun and something we really want to do can obviously make a huge difference. If it doesn't feel like work, we are far more likely to want to do it. At the same time, we reap the rewards of the hard work. Hopefully, as we begin to lose weight and feel better it will motivate us to continue. Having people around us who support our efforts, not sabotage them, is also very important.
As we envision the new and healthier version of ourselves, we should remember that a large part of our success is determined by our attitude. This year when I found a form of exercise that I truly loved (rollerblading), I discovered that for the first time in my life, how I felt was more important to me than how I looked...because I felt GREAT! As challenging as it will be to maintain that passion for exercise through the winter since I live in Central New York, where we won't be able to see the ground until at least April, I really want to strive to hold onto the attitude and passion that rollerblading gave me all spring, summer, and fall. Maybe the key to that positive attitude is finding something that leads to a healthier lifestyle that we are motivated to keep doing.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
As a Type A personality with a perfectionist streak, diabetes management is something that easily gets under my skin. If I can’t do something perfect, then I’d much rather just not do it at all. Which is why burnout creeps up on me super fast. A few days of pesky numbers and I am ready to throw all things diabetes out the window and watch it get hit by an 18-wheeler. So attempting to get my A1c into the lowest possible range ever has proven incredibly tasking for my perfectionist...