Managing diabetes is a journey that requires a good navigation system.
When you take a road trip you need to figure out the best way to get there right? I was going to say you need to get out the map but now we just pull out our GPS and let it guide the way. My point is that you need to know where you are going and how to get there. And managing diabetes is also a journey that takes a good plan in order to reach your goals.
One example is knowing where you want your A1c to be.
Or having a clear food plan.
Make sure you are on the right path.
So once you know where you are going and you have planned your route you are ready to hit the road! Sounds easy enough right?
Have you ever had directions that seemed easy but for some reason you keep going in circles and can never get there? You look at the map or plug your directions into your GPS but it takes you to a completely different place. How does that happen? In my experience it is usually because one part of the address is typed in wrong.
Trying to keep up with healthy eating and exercise for weight and diabetes control is a lot like that. You know where you are trying to end up but you seem to keep going in circles.
Have you heard the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”? If you think about it that is what we often do with our diet and exercise habits. We keep buying the same food or doing the same routine and we think magically the outcome should be different.
So what is the answer?
Get a good team to help you navigate.
Diabetes is a complicated health condition. You need a good team to help you. That team needs to be your medical care, good information resources, a blood sugar monitoring system, an exercise program, a food plan, a stress management plan and if needed a medication plan.
Too often people are told by their doctor they have diabetes, prescribed a medication and sent on their way.
If you get no other advice, here is what you should do next.
- Find a diabetes education specialist you can work with. A successful diabetes management plan needs to be personalized for each person and the professional with the best time and experience to do that is a CDCES, a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist.
- Get a monitoring system. Least expensive would be a blood glucose monitor and you can ask your local pharmacist which one to get. An even better system would be a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Freestyle Libre is one that is affordable for most people but you do need a prescription from your doctor. You may be eligible for a free sample at Get Started with the MyFreeStyle program. Or if you can connect with a CDCES, they can help you get set up with CGM or a fingerstick meter.
- Learn the basics on what to eat and how much to eat. You can read more about that in my blog post on starter tips when you are newly diagnosed. A dietitian CDCES can also help you with a food plan personalized for you and teach you about the connections between your blood sugars and food habits.
Know You Will Run into Road Blocks
A favorite saying in my state of Minnesota is that we have two seasons . . . winter and road construction. So if you are taking a trip in Minnesota there is a good chance you might run into detours or bad roads depending on the season.
You might run into road blocks when trying to changing your diet or exercise habits also. Family commitments, finances, job stress, illness are all common road blocks to making lifestyle changes. Don’t give up. That is simply life happening. Your diabetes roadmap needs to include ways get around the road blocks or alternate routes. Get support from a group, other family members, friends, or hire a diabetes coach.
Years ago I thought I would try becoming a “runner”. I started the couch to 5K program on my treadmill and did well for a few weeks. Then I hit a road block. I lost interest when I got up to running 20-25 minutes on the treadmill and soon I just quit. At first I felt like a failure but then I realized that I was still motivated to exercise but just not THAT type of exercise. All I had to do was revise my exercise routine to be interval training with a variety of different types of exercise instead and I got back on track.
Rumble Strips Help Keep You on the Right Path
What do rumble strips have to do with diabetes? This is just one of my favorite explanations of how we need boundaries. Those bumpy strips they put on the edge of the road to keep you from going in the ditch or over the center line into oncoming traffic definitely get your attention, right?
What are the rumble strips of diabetes? What lets you know when you are going the wrong direction and diabetes is getting out of control?
Having your own personal continuous glucose monitor is alot like the rumble strips. You can set alarms to let you know when you go too low or too high and by looking at your graph you learn over time how your meals, exercise, stress and other things affect your blood sugar.
You also want to see your doctor every 3-6 months for labs. When I work with clients, the information we learn from lab results and daily blood sugar monitoring guides us to the next steps in adjusting food, activity, sleep habits, stress management, and for some – medication.
Are You Ready for a Diabetes Road Trip?
Set up your diabetes roadmap for a smooth journey. Decide on your destination. Map your route. Find ways to get around the roadblocks. Use your “rumble strips” to keep you on track.
With a good roadmap and support you can reach your destination of wellness! If you have questions about diabetes contact me or if you want to hire me as your CDCES, you can book a call here to talk more about that.