Basics, Day To Day, Tips

Basics: manage expectations

Like for all activities that will take time, managing diabetes requires you to manage expectations. The worst thing you can do is set aims you can’t possibly achieve or that make your life so hard, you give up. It’s one thing to give up going to the gym, it’s another to give up managing a condition that is potentially life threatening.

Once diagnosed with diabetes, there are 3 main targets you need to set: lose weight, do exercise, and change your diet.

When I started my journey, I set weight loss in terms of weight, not time. I’d get there when I’d get there, and no sooner. I intentionally didn’t set goals based on parameters I couldn’t control. So I set several targets to be achieved over time: the nearest round number, 10kg, 20kg, then end weight (32kg). On top of that I set 2 stretch goals: my weight when I was 16 years old, over 30 years ago (roughly where I am now), and a few kilos more to get to the nearest round number (something to look forward to). Weigh yourself every day (some people say you shouldn’t, but I like to see daily variations), and record it so you can’t cheat.

Set exercise targets you can sustain. There is no point aiming for 3 hours of hard physical activity every day. You won’t be able to do it. And when you give up, you’ll feel that you failed. Aim for small goals: 10 minutes gentle walk after meals. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Park a bit away from the shops’ front door so that you have to walk to/from your car. Over time, when it becomes easy, increase your targets (more time or higher intensity). It’s especially important since if you use exercise to lose weight, results might take a while to be noticeable.

For your diet, the easiest is to change it as much as you can, without making yourself crave food. I’ve been on Weight Watcher diets in the past, and they rely exclusively on calorie restriction. That’s bad because you starve all the time and it’s psychologically difficult. At best you can stick to it through will power, but once you stop you put on the weight again. At worst, you just give up and you achieve nothing. As a diabetic, you’ll need to change your diet for the rest of your life, so remove as much of the carbs as you can from your normal diet, order your meals right, replace carbs with proteins and fats, find diabetic-friendly recipes. Don’t count calories.

If you do those things, you’re setting yourself for success and hopefully remission.

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