What’s stopping you from getting to your goal of a healthier life? Here’s how to handle some common excuses:
“I don’t have time to eat healthfully.” Today, there are more healthy choices than ever available at supermarkets and takeout counters—but perhaps you doubt that it’s much easier to eat better (and spend less money) if you cook most of your meals at home. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult; with planning ahead—say, picking out a few 20-minute recipes or roasting a chicken and chopping vegetables on weekends—your weekday meals can be a simple matter of assembly.
“I don’t have time to exercise.” Try getting up a half-hour earlier to make time for a morning walk or catching up with a friend while you help her weed the garden instead of over lunch. 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. 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 recognize it. Saying things like “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “One bite won’t hurt” are red flags. Practice catching yourself when you say these things. Ask your family, friends and diabetes-care team to help.
“Why bother?” Feeling this way can be a 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. Other warning signs: feeling as if nothing seems to make you happy, loss of appetite, feeling tired all the time, changes in your sleep patterns, trouble concentrating or remembering things, feeling like you can’t do anything right and suicidal thoughts or thinking about ways to hurt yourself. Depression can create a vicious cycle of feeling 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 makes you want to fight back by taking care of yourself. But being so angry about having diabetes that you refuse to deal with it 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 keeping an “anger diary”: before you go to bed, grab your journal and jot down the things that made you angry. After a while, you’ll probably notice patterns that can help you understand what makes you angry and you can start thinking about changes you might make. Talk with your health care specialist about ways to help you deal with your angry feelings.
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.