My faithful readers might be missing some of my posts, as of late, and I dully apologize. Sometimes, life throws us much more than diabetes to handle. :)
Close to a month ago, we discussed some of the knowledge basics of Taking Control
of Diabetes, the significant role that carbohydrates play in our diets, as well as learning how to read nutrition labels, and how and when to use our glucose meters. We learned that not just knowledge is power, but that data derived from that knowledge is, also, power.
We reviewed quite a bit of information... and perhaps what is one of the more challenging aspects of managing diabetes is that the weight and volume of this information can be signifficantly overwhelming for a patient -- whether they be newly diagnosed, or often times, a veteran. It may even be enough to make us throw our hands in the air, and proclaim we're doomed, without even starting.
Which brings us to this week's baby step: Finding the Motivation.
Just how exactly do we find the motivation, and the *oomph* to really start doing the things we need to take care of ourselves...? Well, that, my friends is a question which will NEVER stop getting answered during the lifetime you live with diabetes, and for as many struggles as you face in your daily life.
However... we'll discuss at least, a few very important steps to get you started.
Quieting the 'I just can't do it' voice.
- I'm too ingrained in my habits -- I just can't do it.
- I'm too addicted to sugar/fat/salt -- I just can't do it.
- I'm too fat -- I just can't do it.
- I'm too old to change -- I just can't do it.
The fact is... that while there might
be some truth to some of these excuses, there are also a lot of lies.
For one, you are NEVER too ingrained in your habits to change, especially... when the price of staying the same exceeds the price of changing. If you have found 20 ways around getting nailed by the rising price of gasoline, or 20 different ways to be a cheapskate, then you can change; if you have found 20 different brands to use, in protest of a company giving you crappy customer service, or not doing something your way (or the right way)... THEN YOU CAN CHANGE. If you got mad at your cell phone company and found another one... Oh, guess what? You can change! :)
There is no habit too ingrained, which with a little patience, can get changed. *But I have tried, and I can't get a single day of dieting and exercising in place!*
Of course we're going to fail. If we can barely climb a hill, why go for Mount Everest? We have to realize that our habits were formed over years, and decades, of mentally stimulating, and instantly gratifying behaviors. It's going to take some time, and some delicate work, to rewrite and rewire some of those messages that we were CONSTANTLY receiving.
Many folks fail because a common misconception is that we need to start an entire clean slate of healthful eating and exercising -- from January 1st -- or some other epic date, in order to "do it right." This is just NOT so, and in fact, might be incredibly overwhelming for a beginner.
So how do we start, then? Work on small steps, and small habits. For example:
- Instead of pursuing an entire day of healthful eating, why not simply try to add vegetables to ONE meal of your day?
- Instead of pursuing an entire day of blood glucose testing, why not try to at least test around ONE meal of your day?
- Instead of thinking you need to do 15 or 30 minutes of intense exercise, why not just go for a relaxing walk around the block, after a meal?
- Instead of sticking to X number calories a day, why not try to focus on not overeating during meals? (You know... eating so much, you can tell your body has long ago told you it was full...?)
For someone who has never done some of these behaviors, these are small steps that can pack quite the punch. While these small steps might not seem very large ones, over a small amount of time they can become powerful, ingrained habits... and lead to many more. You might feel so good, health-wise, on your walks... that you might want to add 15 or 30 more minutes to them, or even intensify your pace; you may love those veggies so much that ALL your meals will have to have them. We can create a snowball effect of good habits with just one little baby step.
Personalizing your journey.
Have you ever put on someone else's glasses? It's really quite uncomfortable, and even painful. It's so annoying, you quickly take them off. We never put on someone else's glasses, or their underwear, or use their toothbrush... and frankly, we understand those are intimate, and personal things.
One thing we might not understand is that what we eat every day, is also, an intimate and personal thing. We are individual beings, with refined tastes, and often those tastes go unnoticed, and unidentified. In this day and age of technology, and instant gratification, it's really not easy to listen to our internal dialogues anymore. Eating the "wrong things" is often the same as wearing a bra that doesn't fit, or a shoe the wrong size.
The dieting industry BANKS on that you do *NOT* know what to eat, and will sell you their notions, and ideas, as your own. They know you're going to fail, and frankly, your success is not their goal. Their goal is to even get you hooked for a little while, long enough to add to their bank account. The business of recurring business is their business.
But you have EVERYTHING you need, within your self... to succeed. Trust me: You *KNOW* which foods are healthy; you *KNOW* which foods your blood glucose meter tells you are a no-no; you *KNOW* that portion size matters and you can read labels; you *KNOW* that food doesn't have to be bland; and you *KNOW* you ought to stop when the belly says you've had enough. Just knowing these five things, you can put Jenny Craig, and Weight Watchers, et al, out of business.
The rest is merely experimenting with your taste buds. Really, why the heck settle for frozen food, or pre-made food, or live within checked boxes of exchanges? Those programs are NOT personalized; they do not know your height, your age, your specific body wants and nutritional needs... They were not meant with your specific YOU in mind. So... eat without distractions, and buy a lot of spices. :)
Not exactly easy, I know... you won't always be distracted. You *WILL* have moments, though, when you can pay attention to your body, your hunger signals, your taste buds.
Do you realize that half the time we eat something, we don't even like it, and just eat it out of habit?
Yes, it's true... I don't like Hershey's Kisses. They taste like the cheap wax they're made with. Give me 80% fine dark chocolate, any day, instead.
Aside from the things we mindlessly eat, and mindlessly follow... we give up, because it's simply disheartening to just eat boring food. Healthy food does NOT have to be boring. You don't have to eat boiled green beans, with no salt, in order for them to be good for you. You don't even have to eat them fresh.
Become your OWN culinary science experiment. Steam, broil, grill, sautée. Use olive oil, and spices; discover thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, savory, cumin, etc. Why make bland food? I will never understand many peoples' desire to make bland food, and feed their kids bland food.
While I tried to live the bland life, I'd always give up, and never eat vegetables, or tried healthier ways of cooking... Now, the broiler is my friend, and every veggie dish packs a fantastic punch. I could *NEVER* give up my veggies. No way! ... And a serving of broiled, seasoned asparagus has more appeal to me than a bowl full of macaroni and cheese. Any day.
You might think this is not going to happen to you... but trust me, I once weighed 248 lbs. I've struggled with morbid obesity since I was around 7 years old. It can, and it WILL happen to you. One step at a time.
Self Awareness is Power.
The magic of self motivation, is self awareness. Learning to establish, and keep an internal dialogue going will go far in helping us identify the blocks that might make us stumble in our life time path of diabetes management. It is critical to know that not only will our diabetes management vary, but that so will our tastes, our drives, and motivations. We are all individual persons, and we need to address ourselves with as much respect and awareness of that individuality as we reserve for others. Take a moment, today, to go discover yourself. Visualize it!