You Don’t Have to Be Alone

This is Dr. K and today I’m going to step away from the pharmacy side of things and talk to you about a lesson I’ve relearned recently that pertains to success, not just in diabetes but in all parts of your life.

Have you ever felt lonely? Isolated? Like you are fighting an uphill battle, with no one on your side? I’m sure we all have, at one point or another. And when you are doing battle with a foe like diabetes, life can feel pretty lonely. Diabetics don’t wear a special name tag or letter on their shirt. Even mealtimes can feel isolating: most of the people around you probably don’t have to pay as close of attention to what they eat. Sometimes you feel like the only one trying to manage proper nutrition, exercise, taking medications, and just simply living with diabetes. How are you supposed to manage it all on your own?

The truth is, you don’t have to. In fact, this is a lesson that I have learned quite recently in my own life. Let me start by saying that I am not a diabetic, but I hope that for a few minutes you will allow me to share some personal lessons from my life with the “club.” You see, I have a few pounds to lose (a “few” might be putting it lightly, no pun intended!). I am well aware that extra weight as well as poor nutrition and lack of exercise can increase my chances of getting diabetes. So, I have decided to make some changes in my life to put myself on the path to better health.

This will not be the first time that I’ve tried changing my eating patterns and exercising. Growing up, I struggled with my weight. I came from a family that loved to eat, anything and everything. Activity was never a priority in our house, and unfortunately neither were home-cooked meals. Fast food was a good friend, and we all know that spells disaster! I would try to watch what I ate on occasion, but it never stuck. One of the challenges I faced was that I was doing it alone; no one else in my family would consistently eat proper meals or exercise. I was battling in the trenches without backup.

About 2 1/2 years ago, I again decided to try to lose some weight and get healthy. And for the first time in my life I made some progress, I lost almost 20 pounds! What made the difference? I found someone who not only believed in me, but also took an interest in making sure I was taking care of myself. We walked together, when we could. And when we didn’t, he would make a point of asking how I’d been doing with my exercise and eating routine. Never judgmental, he simply provided a gentle assurance that someone cared and wanted what was best for me. He was an accountability partner for me. And that kept me going, even when I didn’t want to. I knew that someone cared, and I knew that they would be asking and following up with how I was doing.

I was able to keep up with my routine for awhile, until the accountability faded away. Life got busy and our walks together stopped. And, surprise surprise, so did my weight loss. My eating habits went back to what they were, and I gained the weight back. And ever since I have struggled to start up again on a good routine. Now don’t get me wrong, your accountability partner is not the one fighting the battle for you – you have to make the choices that lead to success every day. But, without a support system, you will have a harder time staying the course. It is always easier making the right decisions when someone is cheering you on to victory.

Fortunately, my story does not end there. I’m back in the fight again for my life. For the past week I have started walking daily with another good friend of mine. She works nights and I work days, so we go walking when she gets off and before I go into work. Now there is something you should know about me – I’m not a morning person! But every day my friend texts me faithfully, asking if we are going walking. It might grumble about it (over text message of course!), but I manage to drag myself out of bed and get my shoes on because I know she is counting on me. She is also trying to make exercise a habit in her life, so we are accountability partners for one another – the best combination! So we’ve made a promise to each other that we will keep walking, even when we don’t feel like it. Some days it is her encouraging me to continue, and some days I have to be the gentle nudge for her. But the point is, we are doing it together.

And sometimes finding someone to keep you accountable is as simple as sharing your goals with the people in your life.  At work I have mentioned the fact that I’ve taken up walking in the mornings.  The other day, one of my pharmacy techs surprised me by asking if I’d walked that morning.  She said that they are all going to be keeping me accountable now and checking up on me.  For me, it is even better that my fellow employees know what I am going through and what my goals are, since work is one of the places where I tend to falter on my eating habits.  It will be nice to have them encouraging me to skip the can of soda or morning doughnut and instead opt for a bottle of water and cup of yogurt.

I really hope that you can learn from my mistakes. Don’t try to go about your diabetic routine alone. No, you might not have anyone close to you with diabetes. So my suggestion is, find someone who cares about you. Being an accountability partner is not hard, it just involves taking an interest in your life and encouraging you. You’d be amazed at how much a little bit of kindness and encouragement can change your behaviors. Maybe your problem is finding time to exercise. Your accountability partner could go walking with you. Even if they don’t walk with you, they can check in with you once a week or so to find out how you are doing. They can’t live your life for you or make you take care of yourself, but they might just be the gentle nudge you need to remind you that someone cares and is looking out for you.

Dr. K.

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Posted in Diabetes Control, Exercise & Diet, Lessons From Diabetes

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