Goal setting can seem like an unnecessary task, and the goals themselves can seem very obvious: eat healthy, lose weight, learn something new. They’re usually fairly general, and are often quickly forgotten, allowing old (and sometimes bad) habits to creep back up on us. However, when managing a disease like diabetes, you have the ability to make a pretty dramatic positive change in your health by setting the right ones (even those seemingly obvious choices) and sticking to them! Read on to learn how to set achievable goals that will help you improve your diabetes management!
Managing your diabetes is a challenge. It’s time consuming, stressful, and calling it an inconvenience is a massive understatement. Adding to daily management concerns, you also most likely know your physician better than most. However, there’s no overstating the importance of working with your doctor to monitor your disease. Maintaining consistent appointments (you should see your physician between 2 and 4 times a year) is a good way to prevent complications and improve trust and communication between you and your health care team. During your visits throughout the year, make sure to get a renal function test as well as a microalbumin test. As people with diabetes are also at risk of retinopathy and dental problems, make sure to maintain yearly exams, as well. You should be getting an eye exam once a year and seeing your dentist twice a year.
We know, we know. This is on everyone’s list of goals, which is why so many gym memberships go unused after a brief period of time, creating an unnecessary expense for all of their owners. However, maintaining a consistent form of exercise is crucial to glucose management, and should be more than a fleeting ambition. Not only does exercise increase insulin sensitivity, muscle contraction during exercise stimulates a mechanism that allows cells to utilize excess glucose for energy.
Try to make specific, attainable goals you can, and will, stick to. For instance, rather than, “exercise and eat healthy,” try, “I will walk each morning,” or attempt to change a specific bad eating habit such as, “I will eat breakfast every day.” Remember that even small steps are steps in the right direction. If you are attempting to incorporate new or more exercise into your daily routine, make sure to allot yourself a convenient time to do it each day. If you miss a day, don’t consider it a failure. Just return to your routine the next day. Remember to reward yourself for your achievements!
Keeping track of your numbers is incredibly important, and keeping a journal with your daily exercise and food intake is a great way to assess any fluctuations that might be occurring and determine their causes. By keeping track of your diet and exercise, you can get a better picture of what your day-to-day truly looks like. I often find it’s easy to lose track of small snacks consumed throughout the day. When reviewing your journal, you might find you got more off track that you’d thought, or been significantly less active… or, you might be pleasantly surprised by how well you stuck to your exercise and meal plans. Either way, journaling will place focus on your goals and cause you to be more aware of your actions and how they affect your blood sugar.
People with diabetes are more prone to the skin problems that are nuisances to everyone. They are also susceptible to issues, like dermopathy and diabetic blisters, which happen solely or more often to people with diabetes. However, there are things you can do to prevent these uncomfortable (and sometimes painful) problems:
While dental care is important for everyone, it is especially vital for people with diabetes. Because the disease decreases the blood supply to your gums, infections are more likely. The dry mouth associated with high blood sugar creates a safe harbor for tooth-decaying bacteria and increases risk of plaque buildup. Brushing and flossing at least twice daily can help mitigate these issues.
L.D. and her eleven-year-old lab, Eleanor Rigby Fitzgerald, moved from Seattle to Grand Rapids earlier this year, and are currently enjoying exploring their new city! She likes books, music, movies, running, and being outdoors as much as possible.