This week I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org:

I have diabetes and I’m having trouble staying consistent and motivated.  I’m usually good for about 2 weeks and then I go back to my old ways of eating and lack of exercise.  How can I stay motivated?

You are not alone. It is completely normal to fall back into old habits, or to “fall off the wagon”.  Being diagnosed with diabetes is a life-changing event, and it often means a lifestyle change. Your current habits did not develop overnight, so it’s understandable that a new and improved lifestyle takes time too. Remember that by making these new habits you are taking charge of your health, something no one else can do for you. By doing so you are extending the quality and years of your life down the road.

Evaluate your current 2-week periods of healthy eating and exercising. Might you be restricting too much? Expecting too much from yourself too soon? Is it something you can realistically maintain with your schedule? These are questions to ask so you can figure out what is manageable.

This being said, I am definitely not saying that a healthy lifestyle is not maintainable. It is! The secret is baby steps. If you can’t get out and exercise every day at first, it’s alright, try every other day. Look at your schedule and see how exercise does fit in. Maybe you don’t have time to walk an hour at a time  but you can break it up 30 minutes in the mornings and 30 minutes in the evenings. This may feel more manageable and be easier to keep up with.

If you restrict your diet too much at first, you’re much more likely to feel deprived and want to eat more than usual later, which is harmful to your blood sugar.  You may also feel deprived if you are cutting back too much on carbohydrates and fats, which contribute to a sense of satiety.  Remember women can have 2-3 servings and men 3-4 servings of carbohydrates (1 serving=15 grams) each meal. If you incorporate healthy fats such as nuts, avocado, canola oil, olive oil, or maybe a little slice of butter you may also feel more satisfied In addition to protein, fats do not raise your blood sugar.

Maintaining healthy eating habits takes practice before it becomes routine. Planning your meals ahead of time is an important time-saver step, so you can grocery shop and cook when it is convenient for you. Once you become accustomed to this, it is common for to find unhealthy foods that you used to crave aren’t appealing anymore, and may even make you feel sick.

When it’s all said and done, a new healthy lifestyle takes committment, and practice. No one is perfect all the time. Taking small steps to reach your new lifestyle goals of diet and exercise will help you meet your goals and will more likely be maintained. This is a much better alternative than trying too much at once and then later feeling guilty for not keeping up with it.
Whenever you lose motivation, remember that YOU are taking charge of your life, and preventing these problems from slowing you down!