How to Incorporate New Habits To Balance Blood Sugar
Do you set New Year's resolutions every year? Then when you check it in mid-February and see how well you’ve done you’re always disappointed? Well, you aren’t alone. New Year is usually the time of year where good health habits start to fall apart, but 2023 can be different.
This year is a great opportunity to put unhealthy habits in the past, and start fresh. If you ate too much at your holiday meal, or haven’t been honoring your exercise commitment, it’s ok! It’s the ideal time to reflect and make a simple plan to reset, change behaviors, and continue your health journey. Especially for blood sugar management, it’s critical to make new behaviors habitual for a long happy, and healthy life.
So, here are our top tips to make new healthy behaviors become daily habits for better blood sugar this year:
Analyze & Transform Your Real Motivations
Have you ever thought about what drives you to do the things that you do every day?
We all have preexisting beliefs that shape our daily behaviors. The belief system model suggests people will start to make changes to their behaviors when they realize real harm will be caused without change.
Studies suggest many diabetics have a pre-existing belief that blood sugar is not something that can be managed by their own abilities - by changing their lifestyle. Thus without realizing it, often diabetics sabotage their ability to follow through on a new goal if a pre-existing belief isn’t reflected upon and changed.
One way to help is to be aware of your current motivations for change and rethink your existing beliefs about the importance of lifestyle for healthy blood sugar management.
For example, consider asking yourself:
- What do you want to accomplish this year?
- How can this New Year be one of better health and diabetes management?
- How can you not only form new habits but have them stick and become part of your daily lifestyle?
- If losing weight is the goal — why? What’s the true driver of that goal?
- What about your current situation is so unacceptable, you will do anything to change it?
If your goal is losing weight, take some time to reflect on the true motivation behind that goal. Are you trying to lose weight to improve your appearance or please your spouse? Or do you truly believe the amount of extra weight on your body is interfering with your ability to manage diabetes and enjoy life?
Try to imagine all the negative costs of not losing weight. Feel deeply how much extra weight is impacting your life and health; and then, see the benefits you’ll get if you can drop it. How you will have more time outdoors, play with your grandchildren, etc.
For most, changes out of fear-based thinking can be counterproductive. Thinking “if I eat this piece of fudge I will end up in the hospital with complications” won’t result in a lasting lifestyle change.
It’s also hard to “imagine nothing.” For many swings in daily energy, cravings, missing out on events, and feeling bad has already become a part of normal life. It’s hard to use this as motivation because it can be hard to see how good you will feel once these daily challenges are out of the picture. Instead, you may experience “I don’t feel bad now syndrome.” It’s of course hard to get motivated when you’re feeling ok.
So, a diabetic needs to be mindful of motivations, believe not only they are capable of making a change, but also the benefits of the change will outweigh any difficulties. Most diabetics who make a behavior change successfully are the ones who are the most honest with themselves. Setting a specific goal, being aware of what you are capable of, and laying out steps in a logical manner is crucial.
Best Practices For Staying Motivated
Studies show changes in healthy habits will be successful if they are more tangible — things that can be seen and done.
One way to stay motivated for the long term is to practice positive psychology. For example, what will actually result from the healthy changes to your lifestyle? What can you accomplish in the future that you can’t accomplish now? For example, “If I make these changes when I’m 75 years old I will be able to play with my granddaughter.”
An additional suggestion is to find pictures of other diabetics close to your age. Maybe 5 or 10 years older than you. Cut the pictures out and put them on your refrigerator. This can be a great way to help encourage you to stay on track. Seeing other people with diabetes leading active, healthy lives will serve as a reminder that changing your daily habits will have a positive impact.
Also, consider adding pictures of friends and family to your refrigerator. Imagine activities, events, and gatherings that you will be able to do with them if your habits become part of your regular lifestyle.
Write it Down
Next, ask yourself why is now the time to go through the change? Do you believe you are capable of making this change?
Practicing mindfulness and writing down resolutions will make them more likely to be followed.
This year write not only the goal but why achieving the goal for the long-term will benefit your health. Try to think, reflect, and plan the new behavior and actualize the stages in a realistic way to actually make that transformative change last.
Also, consider sharing your goal and analysis on "Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together" Facebook group and know you aren’t alone. Your community will help keep you on track, if you ask them to.
Anticipate What Will Get In Your Way
People who are able to make transformative changes take time to look at things that might get in the way. For example, a busy work schedule, nagging spouse, holiday temptations, business dinners might be barriers and are some common roadblocks.
Being aware of challenges ahead of time can allow these things to be less of an emotional brick wall and more of a slight detour on a journey to better health.
It’s more than possible to get around these or any barriers and continue along the road to healthy blood sugar in 2023 and beyond!