The choices we make everyday impact our health. You can choose what to eat, how your food is prepared, how much to eat and when to eat. Additionally, you can decide when to exercise, how much to exercise, and how to be more physically active. You are in the driver’s seat making decisions everyday about how you want to change your lifestyle and promote healthy habits. Few people don’t want to change to be healthier, so why do many of us stay stuck in taking action?
Often frustration, feeling overwhelmed, and lack of understanding or clear direction may prevent one from moving forward to change health habits. People with chronic diseases, like diabetes, have to actively participate in their care. Around 98% of that care deals with the daily decisions one makes. Following a healthy diet, being physically active and losing or maintaining one’s weight, and glucose monitoring are all part of the treatment plan for a healthy lifestyle. But how do you change and move past your “comfort zone” of staying the same? Develop an action plan. This can work for anyone, not just those with diabetes or chronic diseases.
First, choose a goal that is specific (what, when), realistic (can do), attainable (can I handle it) and measureable (how much or how often). To decide your goal, choose things that are consistent with your likes and dislikes. And pick something that you know you can do and can fit into your schedule. A sample goal is “I will walk 15 minutes, three times week, before work, starting tomorrow.” Always check with your health care provider if you choose a more strenuous physical activity. The plan of action should include two to three steps that will help to reach the goal. For example, having comfortable walking shoes and selecting where you will walk (good & bad weather).
What is your goal? ___________________________________________________________________
What 2 to 3 steps can help reach this goal?
Use these scales to help rate this goal for you. Circle where you feel you are with this goal.
How important is it to reach this goal?
Not important at all 1___2___3___4___5___6___7___8___9___10___ Very important
How sure am I that I can make this change?
Not sure at all 1___2___3___4___5___6___7___8___9___10___ Very sure
How ready am I to make the change?
Not ready at all 1___2___3___4___5___6___7___8___9___10___ Very ready
A rating of 5 would mean the goal is somewhat important, that you are somewhat sure and that you are somewhat ready to make this change. The higher the rating, the more likely you will be successful in sticking with a new habit. A rating under 7 would indicate this may not be the right goal for you. Examine why you selected your goal and ratings and consider adjusting them.
And, remember, everyone gets stuck sometimes. The challenge is to take action to get unstuck. Don’t make unhealthy habits a way of life. You have the power to make a change.
Darby Schaub CRNP/CDE
Atlantic General Outpatient Diabetes Education Manager