A big part of managing your diabetes revolves around goal setting. Whether it be sticking to a healthier diet, staying on track with an exercise routine, or cutting back on carbs; everything must start with a goal. It’s almost impossible to quit something cold turkey without a “weaning off” period. It is often during this weaning period that we fly high or crash and burn on our journey to a healthier diabetic lifestyle. There’s an old saying that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit. Trying to stop eating your favorite sweet snack can be as difficult as breaking a drug addiction. After all, candy, sweets, or other good tasting high carb foods are a drug for many people. Gummy bears and gummy worms were my addiction. Before being diagnosed with diabetes, I was eating 2-3 bags a day. Getting the word that I was a diabetic didn’t stop my habit either, at least not right away. The Same thing can be said for beer drinkers, pasta lovers, and fast food fanatics. It’s hard to quit doing something that we enjoy so much, particularly when it has a soothing or pleasing taste to it.
So how do we set goals? The answer is that we set them in small increments. For instance, tell yourself that instead of eating out for lunch tomorrow, I’m going to take my lunch. After you do it the first day, do it again the next day. To help stay on track, try making a bet with yourself and see if you can win. See if you can go three days without drinking anything other than water. If you make the first three days, then shoot for four more days. Before you know it you will have gone a week without drinking anything but water. While your taste buds may not prefer it, your kidneys will certainly appreciate it. After the first week is over, shoot for another week. Before long you’ll be halfway there to that magical “21-day” mark, at which point you should be in a habit of drinking water as your primary beverage.
While it’s good to challenge yourself personally with goals, nothing beats a friendly competition against someone else. It’s not hard to find someone who wants to lose weight or is interested in starting a new exercise routine. Studies show that you are much likely to stick to the routine if you have a partner. It’s not uncommon for people to form weight loss or dieting clubs as a way to harness the power of comradery and group support. Social media makes it easy for us to be a part of a virtual group and to post our results for the world to see. One word of caution when it comes to groups and partners; don’t let the group or partner be the reason for you not to stay on course. It is common for people to set goals, and then fade away like a melting snowflake. Stick with it, even if you are the only one making putting forth an effort.
Finally, keep a journal of your progress. It will serve as visual encouragement when you see the consistency that you are putting towards your goals. Maybe it’s a week of healthy eating or a month of walking three miles each day, whatever your goals, start small and work your way up or down to where you want to be. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your goals, but by taking it small and steady- you can get there.