You need to help me a lot with this one.
All of you who read my articles here are motivated to control your diabetes. Almost all of you have a positive motivation. I doubt if many of you have a primarily negative motivation based on fear of the consequences of uncontrolled diabetes. Negative motivations just don’t keep us doing what we need to do for long.
What are your positive motivations? What do you tell people you know who have diabetes to encourage them to tame it?
Every week someone writes or tells me that they just don’t have the motivation to do what they know that they need to do. This week I got another plea for guidance.
She is a wife and mother whose husband and children don’t accept that she has to change. Food is of course the biggest issue.
“I still have a family to cook for,” she writes, “and it is very hard to cook a meal for them and decide what I can eat. Should I cook my own meals?”
And exercise is a problem too. Because of injuries, she can’t do most forms of exercise.
Then, she tells me, as I read it, that negative motivation doesn’t do it for her. Here’s how she closes her message.
“I am worried I am wasting precious time…to improve my health. I do not want to lose a limb or have a heart attack or stroke.”
In my reply I tried to steer her toward positive motivations to control her diabetes. But what I wrote simply wasn’t good enough. And this article isn’t either. I know what works for me, but I don’t know what has worked for you or what will work for her.
She knows what she has to work on, as all of us do: The amount and kind of food that we eat and the weight that we need to lose. The exercise that we need to get. And, implicit in her message, the need that we have to control the stress in our lives so we can control our bodies. All of the above just to keep our blood glucose in check.
Ever since a doctor diagnosed my type 2 diabetes 15 years ago this coming Saturday I’ve been doing that work. My work on these issues went very slowly at first. And even now I need to work a lot more on controlling the stress in my life.
But it does get easier with practice. At first it’s so hard to change because of inertia. I wrote here earlier about overcoming exercise inertia, and inertia is everywhere, including our diet and weight control. Eventually, it becomes hard not to continue all of these practices. Then we are putting inertia to work positively.
I could tell my correspondent — as I tell you now — that for me the positive motivation is that I feel better. I feel better than I ever did. I have more energy and am happier (most of the time). I feel more alert. None of this is surprising; it’s the direct result of lower blood glucose levels.
But how can I show that to somebody who doesn’t know me? Who doesn’t know how I was? Why should she believe me? Why should she think that I am not more of an outlier than an example, as somebody suggested last week? How can my correspondent know that what works for me will work for her?
That’s my dilemma. Please help. What is your experience? What are your positive motivations?
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.