Diabetes isn’t a reason to not exercise and eat right. Doing both will only help you manage your disease. But before you do that, manage your expectations – and come up with a plan!
Losing weight can be a journey. So, if all you’ve done so far is plan your trip and pack your bags, you still get an “A” for effort. Just deciding you want to improve your quality of life by shedding pounds is a huge achievement that takes courage and commitment. It really is a declaration that things need, and will, change. And having diabetes is a powerful motivator, because managing your disease often becomes easier as you lose weight.
Let’s face it, life’s tough enough. You’ve got enough to manage already. Your kids, your job and just the myriad of errands that make life happen. It doesn’t all run smoothly, but having your weight under control, and consequently your diabetes, makes all of life’s little curve balls just a tiny bit easier to deal with.
After you’ve come to the conclusion that you want to come up with a real plan to lose the weight, moving the idea from the drawing board to real life requires something very important from you: you need to have realistic goals and the know-how to realize them. You’ve heard it before. Everyone has a friend who failed at a crazy diet, or went out and bought the expensive treadmill or fancy gym membership, only to walk away from their good intentions, ensuring their perpetual absence at the fitness club and dooming their treadmill to dusty obscurity.
But your treadmill becoming a coat rack doesn’t have to happen to you. You may not even need a treadmill. And that’s the whole point! The first step is not to get consumed by the planning phase, and to not adopt a one-size-fits-all goal or approach. We’re all different sizes, so just because your best friend dropped 20 pounds in three weeks, doesn’t mean you will, or should. Stop and ask yourself: What can I realistically accomplish reasonably?
Realistic and reasonable. Two very important words, for sure. What do we mean by that? Well, for starters, when you have diabetes, like all dieters, you need to have realistic goals. The reasonable part is to not go it alone. For sure, losing weight is one of the best ways to manage your diabetes, but it’s important to enlist the help and support of your doctor, too. Weight loss poses some unique challenges to you as a diabetic, but none of these are insurmountable. The fact that you have to monitor your sugar levels or take insulin are not dieting deal-breakers. With the help of your doc, and a hearty belief in yourself, a healthier you is still very much in reach!
To get you on your way, you want to complete a lifestyle assessment. It sounds about as fun as a tax form, but it’s just a matter of sitting down and asking yourself a series of questions. Think of it this way: You probably wouldn’t go into the grocery store without understanding what it is you needed back home. You’d ask yourself, “Do we need milk?” “Are we good on bathroom tissue?” “Did the kids like that last box of cereal we brought home?” You make a list and off you go. This is no different.
But take a minute to ask yourself where you’re at; your body and mind deserve this reflection and care. Take a mental inventory of what foods you have been eating. Just like spending can come as a surprise when we get an itemized credit card bill in the mail, what foods you’re eating can come as a surprise when you sit down with a pad and a pen and capture it all on paper. You may discover that you are snacking way more than you thought (“Boy, I really do love potato chips, don’t I!”) or that – and this is good news – running your Saturday errands actually burns off way more calories than you give yourself credit for (“Is it really a mile walk from here to the convenience store down the street?).
This itemized list of what you eat and your physical activity is more important than you know. If weight loss is a journey, this snapshot of what you eat and how much physical activity you actually do (yes, even one flight of stairs counts!) becomes your roadmap to a better you. You don’t need a GPS to get you where you’re going, either. This roadmap will suffice. Why? Think of it as paint-by-numbers. Once you have the outline of what the “picture of you” looks like, it’s time to start adding the color (the fun part!).
But before you grab your paintbrush, take a long hard look at your picture and remember those magic words: realistic and reasonable. Remember them when you are deciding on a start date (No, the day before Thanksgiving is probably not the right time). Also, your start date doesn’t have to be a gun going off and a mad-dash to the finish line. This transformation could be a marathon, meaning slow and steady wins the race and you’re in it for the long haul. It could be a trial run, as in you’re just going to give it a shot. Whatever it is, take comfort in knowing that everyone begins at the same place: start.
Then, it’s important to avoid being “myth-led.” There are many myths about weight loss. The Internet has 439 million pages on the topic, many credible, many not. We tell children not to believe everything they read, but this is one of those times we should take our own advice. Bottom line: you need to burn more calories than you take in. It really is that simple.
How we lose weight is, of course, simpler than actually losing it. But the difficulty of this endeavor will lessen greatly if you read the labels on your food items and visit the American Diabetes Association website to read about a number of tips that will help you plan out specific meals and clue you in on what foods to avoid. Mindful eating, coupled with a reasonable and realistic regimen of physical activity (hint: Walk! Walk! Walk!), will put you on your path to better health. A path you will assuredly walk down soon!
For those looking for a little extra boost this holiday season, we invite you to join an exclusive savings program at CVS/pharmacy® called ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes®. Membership is free and provides savings year-round on 100+ diabetes products, as well as access to recipes and resources. Visit www.cvs.com/diabetes to learn more.