Persistence With Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition. For many with the disease, they are able to accept the medical aspect. They understand that monitoring diet, tracking exercise, and testing blood sugar are essential tasks to avoid complications that can present later.
The problems begin to arise when focus is turned towards the chronic facet of the disease. Diabetes is truly a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t matter that you ate really well for 23 hours of the day because it only takes one bad meal or snack to throw you off track. It doesn’t matter that you checked your blood sugar in the morning if you neglected to do so in the afternoon. And it doesn’t matter that you attended all of your doctor appointments this year, except for those three you missed.
The level of focus, attention to detail and follow-through needed to minimize the unwanted effects of diabetes really set it apart from other chronic conditions. At least with others, you can have days or hours of breaks. With diabetes you must be vigilant constantly. Vigilance can be exhausting but refusing to do so is dangerous.
For you, the key is persistence. Persistence is the drive and determination to continue on with a plan or course of action in spite of the resistance, difficulty and opposition you receive. Persistence is what turns the sprint into the marathon. Do you want to persist with diabetes? Here’s how:
Set Your Goals
Is it your goal to effectively treat your diabetes? This question may sound overly simple, but think about it for a moment. Since your diagnosis, you have had doctors, friends, family and your spouse tell you what you needed to do. They tell you what to eat and when to eat it. They tell you to exercise and change your habits. They hound you about checking your sugar.
In the whirlwind that follows a diagnosis, it is easy to lose track of what you want to do and what your goals are. When other people tell you what to do, it is natural for you to become slightly reluctant or ambivalent regarding your treatment. You may act like a defiant teenager, since no one likes being forced into anything.
But if you are not committed to the treatment, you cannot be persistent. Without persistence, you cannot find success. This is why setting your own goal is the best place to start.
Take time to think about what you want and how you would like to proceed. What are your diabetes treatment goals? How are you going to accomplish them? Be sure to keep goals grounded in reality by removing denial. Since you cannot undo the diabetes diagnosis, your goal should focus on ways to maintain or improve your happiness and quality of life.
Track Your Changes
You are not a diabetes-fighting machine. No one expects you to be one. Because you are human, you are going to experience some ordinary fluctuation in your desire to stick to your diet, exercise plan and blood sugar tracking. The worst thing that you can do is ignore these changes. Ignoring allows the problem to grow and morph without you having the opportunity or awareness to address it.
Pay attention to yourself and be mindful about how invested you are in your treatment today. Honesty is the key component here. If you cannot be honest with yourself, how can you possibly be honest with your doctors, friends and family? Use a simple tracking sheet to understand days that are a struggle and compare them to days that you can find persistence easily. Take your data and look for trends or patterns that can be resolved.
Tell on Yourself
Perhaps, your tracking has indicated that you are having a bad day. Your energy is low. Your motivation is low, and it seems easier to do whatever you want rather than follow your treatment plan. At this point, you have options. The first is to keep this information to yourself. Surely, this will cause your symptoms to grow out of control as your persistence shrinks away. The second is to tell on yourself.
The second option sounds negative, but telling on yourself is such a fantastic thing to do when your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are pulling you towards an undesirable outcome. During this process, you call, text or reach out to a predetermined group of people and let them know what situations are preventing you from taking care of your diabetes today. From here, they can provide you with the information and motivation needed to get your self-care restarted.
Telling on yourself is not an admission of failure or a way to have other people take care of you. Instead, it is an acknowledgment of the idea that managing diabetes day in and day out is a challenging endeavor, sometimes you need some help. Telling on yourself is like radioing in to your pit crew to tell them your car isn’t handling too well. There is no shame in a tune-up.
Next page: More ways to be persistent with diabetes.