Need some ideas for diabetes resolutions? If you’re looking to re-focus your diabetes management or diabetes prevention plan, I’ve got 12 ideas for you.
After recently discussing triumphs and setbacks with patients, I’ve come up with my wish list for you. These are not your typical diabetes resolutions. They’re not focused on single goals. Rather they are the behaviors and attitudes that will help you march down a happier, healthier path whether you have diabetes, prediabetes or simply want to live healthfully.
12 Diabetes Resolutions Worth Making
I hope that in the new year, you will …
- Look at your blood sugar numbers and your A1C as information, not a judgment. These numbers carry important feedback. Instead of berating yourself, ask yourself what you can learn from these numbers – both positive and negative.
- Look at your weight as information, not a judgment. It, too, gives you an opportunity to reflect on your diet and lifestyle. This number can empower you to move forward with a refined plan or it can frighten, anger or sadden you. Take the positive road. Your body will thank you and so will your psyche. Likewise, if you’re pleased with the number on the scale (or the number on your blood sugar meter), take that as feedback too. It’s not saying: “hey go eat some extra pie.” It’s simply letting you know that you’re working your plan and your plan is working. Your weight and your blood sugar levels are information. They are not judging you.
- Vow never to exercise as a form of punishment. Exercise is magical for the body and the mind – diabetes or no diabetes. As such, it’s a form of self-nurturing. Really! I’m not kidding. Exercising is you being good to you. Find reasons to be physically active and then find activities you enjoy or can learn to enjoy.
- Focus on the habit. Instead of plowing full force into your goal of walking 30 minutes 5 times per week, for example, just get started on building the routine in any small way. I often see the solid habit come more readily when my clients commit to 5 or 10 minutes everyday instead of starting with the full 30 minutes a couple times each week. Doing something – even something small – everyday solidifies the habit. So focus on the habit instead of the ultimate goal. Same with meal planning or meal prepping. Same with most any desired lifestyle behavior. By focusing on the habit or the process, you’ll be better able to meet all of your diabetes resolutions.
- Build in treat foods. Just say NO to cheats and YES to treats. One inspires guilt. The other is empowering. Give yourself permission to eat and enjoy your favorite foods. Just do it in a smart way.
- Set goals thoughtfully, not out of fear or panic. I see this a lot. A client with diabetes or prediabetes gets a disappointing lab result or a jolt when standing on the scale. He then makes a long list of diet rules and sets a lofty goal of losing 15 pounds in a month or dropping his A1C by three full points in a month. What happens next is usually feelings of failure because the goal is too big and the focus is on the outcome, not the process. See #4 above!
- Remind yourself that what you do most days is more important than what you do now and then. And because this is truth, forgive your indiscretions. Find those good lifestyle and eating habits. And on those days that you fail to eat mindfully or opt out of exercise, acknowledge it, learn what you can from it, and move on.
- Consider medications one more tool in the toolbox. That’s what they are. They are not a form of punishment. They are not a sign that you have failed. And they do not mean that lifestyle behaviors are any less important. If necessary – and it will be necessary for most people with type 2 diabetes and all people with type 1 diabetes – combine diabetes medications with lifestyle changes, so you can grab control asap and delay or prevent complications, including heart disease.
- Keep your medical appointments. I know that clients often want to skip appointments with their medical providers (or with me) when their weight is up or if they’ve been inattentive to their blood sugar levels. This is precisely when appointments are most critical. As healthcare professionals, our job is to help, empower and advise. It’s not criticize. Come to your appointment, no matter what!
- Elevate self-care to the level of priority that it deserves. I know you’re busy. So am I. Taking time to exercise, plan meals, prepare meals, measure your blood sugar, meditate, get a massage, yada yada is not selfish. Not taking care of yourself is more selfish because it leaves you less able to care for others and may even leave you needing others to care for you. Start everyday with intention to be good to yourself.
- Look for successes daily. It’s there every single day, so acknowledge it. Even if you regrettably ate two cookies – well you didn’t eat three. I’m not saying that you should justify deviating from your plan, but I do want you to notice that it’s not all failure.
- Assess your progress. Lots of people keep food records or blood sugar logs, but never review them critically. It’s smart to look at them daily or at least weekly to find what’s going well and what’s not going well. Look for what you can pat yourself on the back for and what you can do better. Then turn the page in your journal, and write your goal for the next day.
What else can you add to this list? Please share what’s working for you.
Cheers to a beautiful, healthful, happy new year!