Most of us tend to take our health for granted until there is a sudden change in it. Rarely do people want to give up their comforting routines unless they have a good reason. Many of the newly diagnosed patients with diabetes I worked with expressed anger over the expectation of changing eating habits, having to exercise, checking blood sugars, taking more pills and also be encouraged to lose weight all at once! No wonder they were angry. That’s a complete life upheaval. Combine that with a full-time job and raising kids and you have a recipe for clinical depression. But it doesn’t have to happen this way.
Don’t Wait For A Health Crisis
The reasons to make lifestyle changes has to be greater than the reasons to stay the same. Building your arsenal for change should start with your own health. Personally, my prediabetic blood sugar results were a huge reality check. And prediabetes in Maine doesn’t just happen to the middle-aged. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance system, under the CDC, collects data from telephone surveys to over 400,000 people in every state. About 3.5% of those aged 18-24 that were surveyed between 2008-2010 responded that they had been told they had prediabetes. At that age, most people are thinking about college, jobs and weddings, not their fasting blood sugar. Other risk factors for diabetes that affects a younger population are having gestational diabetes or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a collection of symptoms that leads to infertility problems and is associated with high insulin levels.
Unfortunately we can’t feel most symptoms of poor health. We can’t feel high blood pressure or moderately high blood sugars or high cholesterol until they’ve done enough damage to cause a heart attack or stroke. But we can get them checked, understand the significance of any changes and make lifestyle changes to improve elevated results.
Listen To Your Body
Our body does speak to us. It sends us messages when it’s not getting what it needs. These signs can help move us forward towards living a healthier life.
- Have you ever felt shaky and sweaty an hour after eating cereal and juice for breakfast or a plate of spaghetti for dinner? Those simple carbs cause a spike in insulin dropping your blood sugar enough to illicit the flight or fight response hormone, epinephrine. Not only do you get the adrenaline rush, but you are suddenly hungry, irritable and focused only on getting something to eat.
- Do you often feel tired an hour or two after eating? Chances are you are not getting enough protein and fiber, and you’re eating too many carbs.
- Do you frequently get heart burn? Could be what and how much you are eating, lying down too soon after eating, or carrying too much weight around your stomach.
- Are you constantly thirsty and peeing more often? Could be that your blood sugars are elevated and should be further evaluated.
- Do you feel tired most of the time? Could be that you are not getting enough protein and micro-nutrients from whole grains, fruits and veggies and eating too many processed foods and sodas.
- Does a pair of pants you haven’t worn for a few months now feel snug and is causing you to have a belly ache? Putting weight on around the waist is the leading cause of heart disease and diabetes.
- Do you get a lot of colds? Chances are you are not eating enough pro- and pre-biotics that build a healthy gut biome to boost the immune system and fight against viruses and bacteria.
- Do you ever tell yourself that tomorrow you’ll start exercising or quit buying fast food, and feel guilty the next day when you haven’t? That’s good. Guilt and shame are motivators. Making change starts with “shoulds” and ends with a realistic plan.
These are all reasons to make healthier lifestyle choices. The arsenal is getting bigger, but you need more to stay motivated.
Wrap Your Heart Around It
Emotions drive our behaviors. Get connected to why you want to get healthier. Picture it, feel it, hear it. Go back to a time when you were healthier. What did you look like? What did it feel like? Is there something you could do then that you miss doing now? What needs to change so you can will be able to do it again? Was there a favorite shirt, jacket or jeans that you saved and would like to get back into? Here are some reasons my clients wanted to get healthy:
to fit into a favorite outfit
to bend over and not have a roll of skin come with it
to move easier
to be able to play with their kids or grand-kids
to look better
to be more attractive to their spouse
to feel better about themselves
to prevent getting diabetes after witnessing a parent experience a stroke and amputations
The more you connect to the “why” of making lifestyle changes, the more lasting success you will have. There is a purpose behind every action we take, even unhealthy habits serve a purpose. Having strong “why’s” will help you overcome the temptation of unhealthy habits. Make your health a priority today so that it will give you many healthy tomorrows.
Barbara is a certified diabetes educator and health coach. She would love to help with any health questions and can be reached through her facebook page.