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Diabetes and Getting motivated: How to do it

What does it take to get motivated? That's a tough question. A motivation to lose weight, for example, might be a wedding, a high school reunion, or fear of dying from a heart attack. I'm more motivated to clean my house when I know that I'll be hosting guests.

As diabetes educators, we often hear people say that they just don't have time to test their blood glucose, take their diabetes medication, and do other similar important self-care tasks. I can't possibly imagine the amount of time it must take to have good diabetes control, but I do wonder about the dire consequences awaiting those who "don't have the time" or just don't want to.

I realize that there are many other factors involved, such as fear of low blood sugar, financial concerns or peer pressure. Anger at having diabetes, depression, denial, and other such emotions can also be obstacles to managing diabetes.

Often it's just lack of diabetes education. We most often hear "I don't feel sick, so why do I need to do ____?" But diabetes is different from other chronic diseases. You may feel just fine at first. Unlike other chronic diseases, 99 percent of diabetes management is self-care. Daily decisions about what to do or not do with regard to diabetes self-management affect quality-of-life now and in the future.

So, what can you do when you need to get motivated for better self-care? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Join a diabetes support group

Whether you're new to diabetes or have had diabetes for several years, it helps to share your experiences with others and learn from their experiences. A support group is a great place to exchange tips. And a support group is just that — they're there for you to lean on when you need support.

If there isn't a diabetes support group near you, start one. You are not alone!

Identify personal diabetes goals

Make sure your goals are SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited.

Make a list of the health benefits of good diabetes control

Some of these benefits include:

  • Stable blood glucose readings — avoiding widely fluctuating blood glucose levels
  • Reduced risk of complications such as blindness, kidney disease, heart attack, problems with your feet, and the list goes on
  • Increased energy
  • Clearer thinking

Surround yourself with people who encourage and motivate you

  • Family, friends or both
  • Healthcare professionals — work with your healthcare provider and diabetes educator
  • A support group, weight-loss group or both
  • An exercise buddy

No doubt about it, diabetes is challenging and time-consuming to manage. Pat yourself on the back! Please share with us and others your tips for staying motivated.

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