Experiencing success in your type 2 diabetes journey can be, let’s just say, ELUSIVE! Success is different for everyone BUT there are certain FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES that lead to sustained improvements in managing your T2 effectively. At the end of the day, this is really the bottom line -
Managing your diabetes begins with your LIFESTYLE HABITS!
Pretty simple, right? For most, this “simple” fact is what’s preventing them from achieving success. Why?
It comes down another important fact - Many of us know WHAT to do.
The challenge is putting that KNOWLEDGE into ACTION!
I have a saying -
“KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT ACTION HAS NO POWER!”
The key to an effective action “plan” is CONSISTENCY which is what habit formation is all about. So how do we devise an effective action plan that will help us achieve success in managing our T2?
It starts with 2 words - BABY STEPS!
Your action plan will most likely involve some form of behavior change. In order to get different results than what we are getting now, we need to CHANGE what we are currently doing or not doing. The most effective way to make those changes “stick” is to break it down into SMALL steps that lead to BIG results over time.
When I realized that I either had to change what I was doing or I was going to go permanently BLIND by ignoring my type 2 diabetes for so long, I decided to “practice what I had been preaching” to my clients. I took the training I received as a coach and came up with a “plan”.
This plan involved 5 very important steps that would lead to me successfully REVERSING the COMPLICATIONS from my T2.
So...let’s get to it!
- Step #1 - I began EATING TO MY METER!
The MOST dramatic effect, good or bad, on our T2 has to do with the FOOD we eat! Everything else is secondary.The ultimate goal for anyone with T2 is to avoid blood sugar spikes and stay, for the most part, in a LOW INSULIN STATE throughout the day. According the the American Diabetes Association, the majority of people with diabetes fail to achieve their glycemic goals. Elevated postprandial glucose (PPG) concentrations may contribute to suboptimal glycemic control.The ONLY way to know how your body responds to what you eat is to check your blood sugar just before you eat to establish a baseline, ONE HOUR after, then TWO HOURS after. If your BS is still elevated by the two hour mark, then the particular food or meal you ate is in question and may not be right for you. The general guidline is if your BS is 130 mg/dll or higher at two hours, either reduce the amount of what you consumed or eliminate it completely.
- Step #2 - I kept a detailed log!
YOU CAN’T MANAGE WHAT YOU’RE NOT MEASURING!
In other words, keeping a log of how your body responds to foods, in addition to your daily fasting BS goes a long way. It makes you aware of patterns. It tells you a story. The actual log can be an App or in a simple notebook. The preference is yours.
What should this log include?
- Fasting BS
- Postprandial glucose (PPG) reading
- Foods or meals eaten that preceded the PPG readings
- Sleep duration
- Daily stress levels
(Sleep duration and quality, as well as daily stress levels, can have a measurable effect on BS levels so it’s a good idea to track)
- Step #3 - I increased my SLEEP time and SLEEP quality!
As mentioned above, how many hours you sleep, as well as the quality of your sleep time, can dramatically affect your BS levels. More often than not, sleep AND stress levels go hand in hand. The hormone cortisol is released when stress levels are high and has been shown to raise BS significantly.
I was notorious for staying up late and getting up early. I took pride in saying I only needed 5 hours of sleep. It was like a badge of honor! Well, I was not doing myself any favors!. As soon as I adjusted my schedule and forced myself to sleep more hours by adjusting my schedule, my BS improved.
- Step #4 - I made the RIGHT TYPE OF EXERCISE a priority! The right kind of exercise that is compatible to your level of fitness, can have a very positive effect on helping your manage your T2. I’ve always known this.
So it's ironic that I had to take the necessary steps to make exercise a priority in my life! Why? At the time that I was struggling with many of the complications I had related to my diabetes, I OWNED A GYM! I was an award-winning personal trainer running a successful business.
But there were 2 problems -
- My exercise was inconsistent.
- I was working about 14 hours/day training clients. If I didn’t get up super-early to work out or try to get in an exercise session after training clients all day, I’d have to skip training. This occurred frequently.
- My training sessions were a “power-lifting” oriented.
- These types of workouts were focused on building strength and muscle. They did very little to lower my bodyfat levels or improve my cardiovascular fitness level,
- My exercise was inconsistent.
My ophthalmologist felt that my heavy workouts were also contributing to my frequent eye “bleeds”, which occurred due to the advanced retinopathy I had developed. In other words, these ego-centered workouts were not helping my situation!
Solution - I redesigned my exercise program where it became a PRIORITY. I focused more on exercising for HEALTH AND LONGEVITY, instead of satisfying my ego!
- Step #5 - I turned steps 1-4 into consistent LIFESTYLE HABITS!
Performing any or all of the previous steps INCONSISTENTLY almost makes them pointless. The key to implementing them or any habit, for that matter, into your life, starts with a BABY STEP approach.
This means that if you are not accustomed to exercising consistently, you don’t start by going to the gym 7 days per week for 2 hours each time. It means that you start the task of “eating to your meter” maybe twice/day for 4 days/week. This particular step only needs to be performed for about 14 days but the others should evolve into solid LIFESTYLE HABITS!
As we know there is no cure for type 2 diabetes. BUT, we can take targeted steps that will allow us to live full, productive lives without any of the complications that come with mismanaging it.
Start the above steps ASAP! The sooner the better. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve had T2 either. I experienced a dramatic “turnaround” after ignoring my disease for over 25 years. If I did it, the chances that you can achieve success are high!