Type 2 and Motivation: A New-Year Call to Action
Dear patients and friends,
Many voices may be telling you that now, the start of a new year, is a time for change. A time for a refresh.
For Type 2 diabetics, this call for changes to your diet, exercise, blood testing and other habits, may be initiated by the new year calendar turning over, or because of an annual appointment where your numbers aren't looking the way you'd like them to look.
But even in the face of a wake-up call, changing our behaviors is hard. It takes time. It can feel overwhelming.
I get it. I really do.
In times like these, it helps me to think about January 1, 2022 — one full year from now. That day will come, and we can make a choice now to feel better, feel the same, or feel worse, on that day.
The impact of diabetes on our bodies can be more significant, the same, or we can decrease our risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation, dialysis, blindness and gain more energy on a daily basis to do the things we love.
I welcome you to join me on my own journey to better health over the next year. Each month, right here on our website, I will focus on one of seven “self-care behaviors” that are key to successfully managing your diabetes. I will discuss some of the many new technologies can help you identify trends in your glucose readings and make the most effective changes to take control of your diabetes.
But even after unpacking all seven of these behaviors, it will come down to you and your individual motivation to come along with me.
One of the first things I ask someone when they meet with me, is to think about their “why” beyond the health benefits. What end goal is meaningful enough to motivate you through your toughest challenges? Why is this goal important to you? Perhaps it's seeing your grandchildren graduate high school. Perhaps it's taking a big trip – maybe being healthy enough to hike through that National Park you're going to visit next year. Visualize yourself when you have reached that goal. Write it down. Be very specific, use lots of adjectives, cut out images of things you want to do, places you want to go, and how you would feel doing those things. Next, set small goals with rewards to help you achieve your “why”. Identify triggers that steer you away from getting to where you want to be. Sometimes just realizing what the triggers are can be enough to avoid them, but most of the time, we need to come up with alternative actions to stay on track.
Motivation is tricky. Motivation is not constant, and that is normal. Be prepared for setbacks and keep them in perspective. Setbacks are a moment in time. Sometimes they are in our control, sometimes they are not. Accept that it happened, that it is normal, and move on. Focus on your successes and the progress you're making – which can mean different things to different people. Make a list of wins, beyond weight lost or inches lost. Maybe your last walk felt easier, maybe you prepped meals this week, maybe you resisted the homemade sugar cookies and opted for some crunchy carrots and hummus. These are all steps in the right direction. You'll need to have lots of self-compassion along this journey, and not let one misstep turn into days of missteps.
Recently, a close friend shared this with me in a discussion about feeling overwhelmed: