What’s stopping you from getting to your goal of a healthier life? Here’s how to handle the most common excuses:
“I don’t have time to eat healthfully.” Today it’s easier than ever to put a nutritious meal on the table quickly with the array of healthier choices from supermarkets or take-out counters—but there’s no denying it’s much easier to eat better if most of your meals are home-cooked. That doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult; with planning ahead—say, cooking big batches of vegetables and beans, roasting poultry and preparing salad greens on weekends—your weekday meals can be a simple matter of assembly.
“I don’t have time to exercise.” If something is important enough to you, you’ll find a way to make it work with your life. Often that means cutting out other activities that aren’t so crucial, or being flexible: getting up a half-hour earlier to make time for a morning walk, or spending your lunch hour at the gym instead of the cafeteria.
Just about anything that gets you moving counts, whether it’s raking leaves or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The American Diabetes Association recommends being active for a total of about 30 minutes a day most days—more if you’re trying to lose weight. Start modestly if you need to: try just 5 or 10 minutes a day, and work up to more time each week. Finding activities you can do in your home, such as fitness videos or investing in a home-exercise machine, might also do the trick.
“Problem? I don’t have a problem.” Some denial is natural, especially when you first learn you have diabetes. Many experts feel it’s a first step toward accepting the diagnosis. But when denial persists it can keep you from the day-to-day care that’s essential—and lifesaving—in diabetes.
The key to managing denial is to expect it. Usually, denial follows a typical script, with recognizable catchphrases like “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “one bite won’t hurt.” Learn to recognize these signs in yourself and make sure your family and friends know them too. Ask your diabetes-care team for help.
“Why bother?” This hopeless attitude can be a warning sign of depression. If you find yourself feeling “down” most of the time for more than two weeks, talk to your health-care provider right away and get help. Other warning signs you should heed:
Loss of pleasure; nothing seems to make you happy anymore.
Loss of appetite.
Feeling tired all the time.
Changes in sleep patterns.
Trouble concentrating or remembering things.
Feeling like you can’t do anything right.
Suicidal thoughts or thinking about ways to hurt yourself.
Depression can create a vicious cycle of feeling hopeless and overwhelmed, letting self-care slide and worsening diabetes symptoms. Don’t keep your feelings to yourself.
Why me? It’s not fair!” A little anger about having diabetes can be helpful if it summons your energies to fight back by taking care of yourself. But you might be so angry with your diabetes that you refuse to deal with it. That can make you sicker—and angrier.
If you think anger is getting in your way, find out what you’re really mad about and why. Try an “anger diary”: before you go to bed, review your day and write down the situations in which you found yourself angry. After a while, you’ll probably see a pattern that can help you understand where your anger comes from and how better to manage it. Perhaps you still haven’t accepted that you have diabetes or feel as if you’re battling something all alone. Talk with your health-care specialist about ways to help you deal with your angry feelings.