More Great Advice from diaTribe on Changing Habits Now for Better Living
As many of you know, I've been following Adam Brown's blog series on diaTribe about changing diabetes habits to manage your condition better and improve overall health. Almost all of these blog entries come from Adam's outstanding book "Bright Spots & Landmines – The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Would Have Handed Me." This is Mr. Brown's first-hand account of what he has learned both as a long-time person with type 1 diabetes, as well as a student of the disease, and champion to find a cure.
His latest submission – "How to Change Any Diabetes Habit, Part 3: Time Warp" – focuses on what I feel is the most important habit "Re-framing your time."
Whether we are talking about changing diabetes habits, or any unwanted habit, Mr. Brown makes an excellent point that when we resolve to change, we are cognizant of a BIG time delay between the effort and the ultimate reward. Obsessing over the longtime commitment makes you feel weary, depressed and perhaps less motivated to start right away.
"My new diet starts tomorrow," or "I will begin my new workout plan next week." How many times have we made these statements but have never followed through on the big change? We understand the "long-term WHY's" as Brown calls them, but because they are a long way off we get this false impression of having a time cushion that enables us to procrastinate or make exceptions on the big plan.
For those who are newly diagnosed, whether they are young or old, Brown asserts that there is "little energy or enthusiasm to make a different decision right now" when they think of avoiding long-term complications, especially when "high blood sugars have an invisible quality to them."
Instead of a long-term perspective, Brown calls for a shift in thinking towards "short-term WHY'S" which focus on the immediate health benefits.
There is considerable merit to this approach as there are immediate benefits when you take care of your diabetes today. Mr. Brown starts by citing the tangible rewards of working to keep that invisible blood sugar level in the proper range of 70-140 mg/dL.
Here is what Adam Brown cites to motivate himself: "When my blood sugar is in range, I know that:
- I'm a kinder, more patient person with the people around me – especially those I love the most.
- I have more energy to do things that make me happy.
- I smile more and am far less stressed and preoccupied.
- I can think more clearly, and thus, help more people with diabetes through higher quality work here at diaTribe."
Exercise is a notoriously challenging habit to start. Mr. Brown lists similar benefits about exercising today:
- I will lower my blood sugar levels.
- I will be in a better mood, and I will be more optimistic.
- It will improve my relationships with everyone I come in contact with.
- I will sleep much better, and my body will have more time to recover.
- I will be far more productive in both my work and personal life.
- It will help me think more clearly so I can generate new ideas and solve problems.
For Mr. Brown, he sees that exercising helps him balance his work by being more productive, and his personal life is more enjoyable because he is not as pressed for time. On how many occasions have we pushed exercise, diet, and wellness to the back burner in favor of work deadlines and other career priorities?
Using Brown's "today-focused" time frame he bundles personal and professional goals into a nice little package so that we are improving our overall lives and becoming what Brown calls our "very best self" today.
I would like to add to this discussion by emphasizing the immediate benefits of daily diet hacks.
- When I eat healthy snacks throughout the day like nuts, raw vegetables, or Greek yogurt – especially when I am NOT hungry – I beat my hunger pangs and hence, the urge to overeat. I also feel more energized and am more productive.
- When I use vinegar, oils and spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper or even black pepper INSTEAD OF SUGAR, I metabolize my food more slowly and lower my glycemic load. I also feel full longer, and my food tastes healthier and better. Furthermore, I am blocking the formation of new fat cells.
- When I use other daily diet hacks like drinking water instead of sodas, eating more slowly, and eating bland snacks, I am cutting out added sugars significantly. I am enjoying my food and beverage consumption more profoundly, and I satisfy my appetite without overeating.
What's more, daily diet hacks like eating 2-3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit, bringing your lunch to work and cooking at least one meal have immediate benefits like increased energy, improved mood, and an increased self-esteem. They also cut out terrible eating habits that make you hungrier, more lethargic and more depressed.
When you focus on the "short-term WHY's" and achieve them every day, Brown asserts that the long-term goals for better health will take care of themselves.