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Living with Diabetes: How to Overcome 3 Common Barriers to Change

A stopwatch.

Year after year, we set those obligatory New Year’s resolutions in December. You have to, right? Everyone does it. Blog posts, news channels, magazines—they all talk about making resolutions. But year after year, January comes and goes and the resolutions inevitably fall by the way side. While setting a goal is a necessary first step to making a resolution, it is arguably the easiest step. The hardest part is following through with your action plan. While most social media outlets only talk about setting goals, let’s talk about why it’s hard to keep those goals.

Here are the three most common barriers to change that I see (although there can be many more) and how you can overcome them. 

Difficulty Breaking Old Habits 

Habits don’t change overnight. They take years to develop and they will likely take a long time to break. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to make breaking those old habits easier.

For example, if you can’t remember to test your blood sugar, simply trying to remember probably won’t solve your problem.

  • Perhaps setting an alarm on your phone will help remind you.
  • Could you keep an extra meter at work if you can’t remember to grab it each morning? 
  • Maybe set your meter out in plain sight so that it is a physical reminder to take your blood sugar.

Focusing on Specific Outcomes

“My A1c must be under 7%.” While having this goal is great, be sure to measure success in other ways. An A1c is not always the best indicator of your progress and is only taken every three months. Waiting that long to check your progress might make you feel discouraged. Be sure to take note of positive signs that you’re moving in the right direction:

  • You’re more energetic or less thirsty.
  • Your fasting blood sugar has been trending down.
  • You have taken your diabetes medications more faithfully (record on a calendar to keep track).
  • You aren’t short of breath when you go for a walk.

No Purpose

You must figure out why you chose a specific goal. In other words, what’s the purpose of this goal? If your answer is: “my doctor told me to” or “my spouse thinks I should”—you’re destined to fail. Think about why YOU want to change.

  • If you chose to lose weight, then ask yourself, why do I want to lose weight? Maybe you want to be able to keep up with your grandkids or you want more energy to do your favorite hobbies.
  • If you want to lower your A1c, how will this benefit you? Maybe you want to have less doctor’s appointments or want to use less medication.

The Value the Purpose of Your Goal

Whatever your goal, you must value its purpose in order to be motivated to change.

So how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Do you need to re-evaluate your goals or change how you go about them? Hang in there! It’s never too to make purposeful change!

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Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN

Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Lancaster General Health.

Education: A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Nichisti values both education and counseling to connect with her patients. Passionate about leading an enjoyable, healthy lifestyle, Nichisti strives to help others overcome obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Call: 717-544-5923

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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