Frustrated with Your Diabetes Goals? Try This Approach Instead


 2022-03-02

Setting the same old goals year after year without much success? By simply changing that goal statement—and adding a daily focus of your goal—you could change the outcome of your efforts!

Too often, our goals are focused entirely on the result we’re trying to achieve instead of the daily actions and decisions it actually takes to achieve them. And keep in mind that we can’t always control the outcomes of something like “lose 15 pounds” or “improve A1c” with our initial plan. You may set that goal and later learn that your body needed more support from an additional medication, etc.

What we can control is the effort we put into managing our health every day, but our goal statement needs to get us started on the right foot.

Usually, we set goals that sound something like this:

But these goals can feel like they start at the top of Mount Everest. They set you up for frustration and failure.

The details of your goal matter.

Where’s the room for gradual progress? Where’s the encouraging daily vision? Where’s the reminder you need that focuses on the little steps, little decisions and little moments that will get you to that ultimate result?

Where’s the emotional and mental acknowledgment you’ll need during certain hours of the day when you’re doubting yourself or struggling?

Losing weight, for example, doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even necessarily show up on the scale every week. And between every change on the scale are a million little moments that can help you lose weight.

Examples of those little moments include: taking time to make breakfast, eating vegetables during the day, going for a walk every afternoon, taking your medications consistently, choosing water over soda, resisting fast food on your way home and making dinner yourself…the list goes on and on!

This focus will also lead to building new long-term habits.

If your only check-in on your weight loss goal is by stepping onto a scale, there could be far too many days where it feels like you aren’t making progress at all. The scale doesn’t move every day.

Instead, let’s break the goal down further. Let’s break it down to the moments that add up over time and lead you to that desired result.

Create a goal that focuses on daily choices, actions, and thoughts.

Put more power in your goal statements by making them focus on the actions you’re going to take that will help you achieve the results you’re after.

Here are a few examples to get you thinking about what might work for you:

Instead of: “Lose 15 pounds in three months.”

  • Try: “I will take time to eat a homemade breakfast every morning.”
  • Try: “I will make space in my diet for a less-than-perfect treat once per day, aiming to eat whole-food healthy choices the rest of the day.”
  • Try: “I will exercise for 30 minutes every day before eating dinner.”
  • Try: “I will track what I eat for two weeks straight to learn about my habits, caloric intake and overall food choices.”

Instead of: “Get A1c below 7.0 percent.”

  • Try: “I will check my blood sugar every morning as soon as I wake up.”
  • Try: “I will put an intentional serving of food on a plate, count my carbs and dose my insulin at every meal.”
  • Try: “I will fine-tune my background/basal insulin dose(s) with my healthcare team.”
  • Try: “I will wear my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) every day.”
  • Try: “I will start correcting high blood sugars above 22.5 mmol/L180 mg/dL.”
  • Try: “I will treat low blood sugars with 15 grams of carbs, and resist binge-eating by then drinking a glass of water and chewing gum unless I’m still low after 15 minutes.”

Instead of: “Exercise every day.”

  • Try: “I will put my gym clothes on in the morning and walk the dog after getting my kids to school every weekday.”
  • Try: “I will take a 45-minute break from work every weekday to walk.”
  • Try: “I will go to the gym every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 6:30 a.m.”
  • Try: “I will dance in my living room for 20 minutes every morning before getting ready for work.

Instead of: “Eat keto/vegan/fad-diet.”

  • Try: “I will experiment for five days with this type of restrictive diet and see how it feels, how it affects my behavior around food and my mental health.”
  • Try: “I will reduce the processed carbs in my diet during my daytime meals, and eat more non-starchy veggies with fat/protein instead.”
  • Try: “I will focus on including vegetables/plants with three meals every day.”
  • Try: “I will try three new recipes with whole-food ingredients every week.”

Instead of: “Stop binge-eating during low blood sugars.”

  • Try: “I will remind myself, ‘I am in control of how much food I eat during this low.’”
  • Try: “I will use ‘medicine foods’ only, like juice/tabs/gummies, instead of opening the cupboards/fridge.”
  • Try: “I will treat the low with 15 grams of carbohydrates, then eat carrots and cucumbers slowly as my symptoms calm down.”
  • Try: “I will treat the low with 15 grams of carbohydrates, then lie down and close my eyes for 10 minutes as I let my body recover.”
  • Try: “I will treat the low with 15 grams of carbohydrates, then I will slowly drink an ice-cold glass of water.”

Instead of: “Stop binge-eating during stress or boredom.”

  • Try: “I will check-in with myself before every urge to binge-eat. Write down how I’m feeling, and ask myself if food is truly going to help me feel better.”
  • Try: “I will drink a glass of water and spend two minutes taking deep, calm breaths when I feel the urge to binge-eat.”
  • Try: “I will give myself true permission to eat a reasonably-sized meal or snack—of any type of food—without guilt or shame.”
  • Try: “I will distract myself with a different method of acknowledging my emotions: go to bed, dance, read, walk, brush my teeth, fold laundry, call a friend, cry, write in a journal, scream at the top of my lungs, drink a glass of water, etc.”

The bottom line…

As much as we’d all like to lose 15 pounds at the snap of our fingers, real progress comes from daily little actions and habits. Realizing how powerful every little decision and moment can be in helping you achieve your goals is the most valuable step of all!

WRITTEN BY Ginger Vieira, POSTED 03/02/22, UPDATED 08/21/22

Ginger Vieira is the senior content manager at Beyond Type 1. She is also an author and writer living with type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism. She’s authored a variety of books, including “When I Go Low” (for kids), “Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes,” and “Dealing with Diabetes Burnout.” Before joining Beyond Type 1, Ginger spent the last 15 years writing for Diabetes Mine, Healthline, T1D Exchange, Diabetes Strong and more! In her free time, she is jumping rope, scootering with her daughters, or walking with her handsome fella and their dog.