The answer to the question “Why can’t I change and do diabetes better?” is quite simple. You are stuck in a rut and your approach is wrong. (Don’t freak out! It’s not that bad and I have some help! Take a deep breath and keep reading!)
Stuck in a Rut
“Well what does that even mean?”, you ask. Simply, it means that you have forgotten your options. You are doing the same things you have always done, sticking with what’s familiar, and telling yourself the same stories about why it’s impossible. That doesn’t make you a bad person. Quite the contrary, it makes you normal. We all like comfortable and cozy.
But when what you have been doing is making you sick, sad or miserable, the truth is you really aren’t comfortable and cozy. When you are sick, sad and miserable, you likely want anything that feels “better”. Better mood, better luck, better circumstances, better blood sugars, better mojo…..better anything.
I have some good news and bad news. Good news – something better is always possible. Bad news it requires change and effort. But it isn’t actually such bad news because being sick, sad and miserable also requires effort. If you are going to put forth effort and struggle with something, I invite you to consider struggling with a change that lands you in the land of “Better”.
It’s likely you anticipate and expect enormous work to make a change. It “feels” really big and difficult. The truth is you are changing every second of every day whether you mean to or not. Every social post you read changes you a bit. Every success or failure changes you a bit. Every relationship you have changes you a bit. Every meal you eat changes you a bit. Every walk you take changes you a bit. Every book you read changes you a bit. Every conversation you have changes you a bit.
The Process of Change
Since you are already changing without thinking about it, consider what would happen if you think about it a little bit (not even a big bit). You influence the change. Think thoughts of how bad it is and you will find some bad news to live up to your expectations. Conversely, some intentional thoughts about what you desire, also influence the direction of your change. Consider some new possibilities and churn up a bit of hope, and you might find some “better”. Sounds stupidly easy. Why can’t you “Just Do It!” like the Nike commercial says??
The reason it’s so hard is because you have been misguided. Our medical modal is all about “action”. Do this. Change that. Take this. Lose that. Every doctor visit wraps up with a list of changes you “should” make – whether you agree, understand, know how or are ready. Because your doctor “said so”, is the supposed reason to make the change. Unfortunately this is THE WRONG way to make lasting changes. People change when they are ready to change.
A Bit About Change
James Prochaska, a renowned American psychologist, introduced a model for change in the 70s. It has been studied, refined and utilized very successfully to help people break addictions and adopt healthier behaviors. It is a step-wise approach that allows people to make little, small adjustments in their thinking, warm up to the benefits of the change, begin to want the change, plan for a change they can agree to and then successfully make it happen – when they are ready.
The actual “action” or “doing” the thing, doesn’t happen until you have figured out A LOT. It’s not where you start! The model helps individuals make small changes they agree with and find value in doing, so the effort doesn’t feel so daunting and the changes don’t feel so foreign. It’s about getting your mind and your spirit ready, so your body becomes willing.
Stages of Change
So if you don’t start right away with “doing” something, where do you start? Glad you asked! It starts with your beliefs, thoughts, ideas and perspectives Here is how Prochaska’s model works (in my terms) with a diabetes spin.
- Precontemplation (“not ready”). I am fine how I am. It’s not worth my time or effort to take care of diabetes. If I die sooner, then that is how it is.
- Contemplation (“getting ready”) – I know I should do better, but I don’t know where to start. I feel like I am missing something, there has to be more than this.
- Preparation (“ready”) – I need to make a doctor appointment. I am looking online to see what other people are doing. I will stock up on supplies and check my blood sugar more often.
- Action – (“doing it”) – I am checking my blood sugar and keeping a journal. I signed up for a class to learn how to count carbs. I enrolled in an online coaching course.
- Maintenance – (“almost a habit”) – It doesn’t seem like such an effort now. I am getting the hang of this. I see the benefits of my actions. Oops forgot to test, need to get back on track.
- Termination – (“why did I ever think this was hard?”) I could never imagine not checking my blood sugar every day. I count carbs without even thinking about it. This behavior is now my normal.
If you are in Step 1 (Precontemplation) and your doctor tells you to change your diet (Step 4), it makes sense that you aren’t ready and it will be HARD!. It’s likely it will take some time and a few tricks to get you moving through these stages.
A Tip to Get Started
I have found the fastest and easiest way to get out of a rut, is to tap into your curiosity. Curiosity is wonderful because there is no commitment, no right or wrong, and no judgement. You get to just “wonder” and see what comes to mind. If you are not even thinking about change (stage1) but wonder “what’s possible?” – you might pick up your phone and google something. And in doing so get some new info that resonates with you. If you are thinking about change (stage 2) and wonder “what are other people doing” – you might get on a FB group or ask a friend. And so it goes.
If you are curious and not finding anything that peaks your interest, there are other strategies that can help. But what I want you to take away from this post is that it’s a process you must work through to make changes. And just being told to do something, isn’t enough. It’s a recipe for failure. There is work to do – mostly in your own mind – that will make your effort towards change pay off. What stage are you in??? Let me know! You can comment here or email me at [email protected]
Take care my diabuddies! I am here for you.
Peace and blessings,
I enjoyed reading your blog. I am looking into Intuitive Eating to help me manage my diabetes.
Thanks so much! I like the sound of “intuitive” eating. Sounds like using mindfulness and awareness to help you choose. Is that it? Tell me more!