AskNadia: What’s Your Exercise Story

Dear Nadia:

I know I need to exercise because of my diabetes, but I just can’t get motivated to get going.  Any tips on how to get started?


De Moines Iowa

Dear Katherine,

People with and without diabetes face the same challenge, in staying motivated to exercise on a regular basis.

My advice? Try to find something that fits into your everyday life. This way it becomes a lifestyle and not a task that you have to stay motivated doing.

I am preaching to the choir when I say exercise is good for your blood sugar levels, not to mention the added benefit of weight loss. The fact that you reached out to me means you are serious about creating change.

So How Do You Get Started?

First, figure out what your story is. Why can’t you exercise?

My story played over and over in my head as an old phonograph melody stuck on the same tune, “I am so busy running DiabetesHealth.Com I cannot possibly find time to go to the gym.” After working long hours, “ I am too tired to exercise today.” I said this believing that tomorrow was going to be different.

One day I got fed up with myself. My excuses did, in fact start sounding like excuses. Once I realized that being too busy and tired was my story, I decided to take baby steps to change the way I thought and started looking for simple ways to incorporate exercise into my life.

I went into the shed at home and pulled my son’s bicycle out of storage to ride short distances. Next, I found myself adding a basket to the bicycle so that I can go shopping. My bicycle now stays parked outside. If I can take my bike to run an errand, I will choose it over driving.

 One Habit Builds on Anther

Riding my bicycle strengthened my legs and gave me more stamina. I found myself calling my sister and other friends to see if they would like to go on a long bike ride.

Then a good friend I use to work out with on a regular basis gave me a three-month pass to her gym. All of a sudden, I got excited about going to the gym. Not to exercise but to meet my friend and enjoy spending time with her at the gym, catching up on life.

I have anther friend that asked me if I wanted to go on a hike. This friend walks three to five miles at a time. When she first asked me to join her, I was concerned I would hold her back. Then I caught myself telling a different story. I fought the “ I cannot hike like she does” story and decided to join her, believing if she can do it, so can I.

Our walks turned out to be much fun. It gave us an opportunity to catch up on work, family and our personal aspirations.

What Changed Me?

I no longer perceived exercise as something that will take me away from my responsibilities. It became a social event for me to enjoy myself, exercise and catch up with my good friends.

Family and work will always dominate my day. Carving out time to workout with my friends is now one of my priorities. Plus I have the added benefits of socializing and maintaining friendships that I value.

My tight clothes are looser. I am craving better foods to eat. My caffeine requirements have decreased to get through the day.

There is a domino effect to getting out of an exercise slump. I now look for friends that have a regular exercise program that I can join. This approach has prevented me from getting bored with my regime because my friend’s routines offer me the variety I need to stay motivated.

Make sure you speak to your healthcare professional about which type of exercise is best for your diabetes.

Good luck on creating positive change. Remember, it is OK to keep starting over. Just don’t give up on yourself.

For more tips, read this article that the American Association of Diabetes Educators wrote on exercise Don’t Let Exercise Stop You in Your Tracks


Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professional’s therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:

Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia has received 19 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
 She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and other major cable networks. Her publications, medical supply business, and website have been cited, recognized and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, Ann Landers advice column, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, Entrepreneur magazine, Houston News,, Brand Week, Drug Topics, and many other media outlets.


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