As another new year arrives, it’s the perfect time to take stock of what you’ve accomplished in the last year and what you aim to improve in the coming year. If you hope to achieve a healthier lifestyle in the new year, allow us to share some tips to make resolutions that will lead to long-term success.
Set concrete, realistic goals. Every goal consists of numerous small steps in the right direction. Rather than resolving to improve your hemoglobin a1c, break it down into attainable, bite-sized pieces: For example, plan to see your endocrinologist quarterly, your ophthalmologist yearly, and schedule those appointments. Maintain a glucose logbook with 4 checks per day, and create a plan to share these numbers regularly with your provider. Create a medication schedule or set alarms so you no longer miss doses. Choose appropriate target numbers with your provider: If a hemoglobin a1c of 7.0 is too ambitious, then aim to decrease your a1c by at least 1 point in the next 3 months.
Remember that you are more than a set of numbers. Targeting a specific body weight can be stressful. It can lead to overly close monitoring of the bathroom scale, provoking anxiety and frustration when that weight doesn’t respond immediately to efforts. Make your resolutions more holistic, and remember that your self-worth is not tied to these goals. Instead of aiming to lose 20 pounds, set your sights on a well-balanced diet and increasing physical activity with the ultimate goal of feeling energized, healthy, and HAPPY. Don’t neglect stress and sleep either – mental and physical health go hand-in-hand, after all.
You can resolve to change at any time – not just January! Recognize the stage of change that you are in: Pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. Regardless of what your healthcare provider, friends or family tell you, a behavioral change cannot occur until you are ready. Whether it’s quitting smoking or eating less fast food, it’s never too late to take that first step towards your goals.
Understand your healthcare. You are the single best advocate for yourself. Next time you go to the doctor, find out what all the lab results represent. Ask why certain treatment decisions are being made and ask about the alternatives. Know what resources your provider and your insurance plan can offer to you.
Know when to ask for help. Don’t carry the entire burden on your shoulders. Build a support system to help make sustainable changes that will last throughout the year. Let your medical providers help you build a customized plan and hold you accountable for your goals.
Happy new year from all of us at Diabetes and Endocrinology Associates!