Have Reasonable Expectations for Your Diabetes Self-Management

Want to know the surest and quickest way to become completely disenchanted with your diabetes management efforts? Simply expect perfection, and wait a day or two.

Starting any lifestyle change with unreasonable expectations is a certain path to disappointment. Unreasonable expectations could apply to both the anticipated results like an extreme weight loss or lofty goal to improve A1C, or your own capacity to carry out an overly ambitious plan. Going from a mostly sedentary lifestyle to running five miles every day, for example, is likely to be discouraging starting on day one.

But, even if you have kept your expectations reasonable, sometimes things just don’t go the way they should. Religiously cutting 500 calories per day for a week to lose one pound, according to the standard formula, may not work precisely for you the first week.

Covering 45 grams of carbohydrate with your mathematically perfect and proven five units of insulin won’t keep your blood sugar levels perfect every time. There are simply too many variables for perfection.

The real risk with unmet expectations is that constant disappointment and frustration can lead you to stop trying. Wandering away from your meal plan one time shouldn’t trigger weeks of unmanaged binge eating, but that’s an all too common a response among dieters. Likewise, an unexplainable glitch now and then with your insulin/carbohydrate equation is no reason to stop pre-meal blood glucose testing in favor of guessing.

Embrace imperfection because imperfection is reality. Focus on the big picture, that being adopting healthier behaviors. Weight loss is about eating fewer calories on average and increasing physical activity slowly but surely.

Glycemic control comes when you are more often in a normal blood glucose range than a higher than normal range. It’s simple arithmetic that three steps forward and two steps back equals one step forward — and that’s progress. If you reject expectations of perfection, accepting detours as reality, success is infinitely easier to find.

A survey of more than 2,000 members of the weight loss website SparkPeople looked to identify keys to successful weight loss. Among the common characteristics of strong starters, who lost five times more weight than false starters, was listing their number one goal as “building a strong foundation of healthy habits.”

On the other hand, false starters tended to list a number, like lose four pounds in two weeks, as their main goal. Two thirds of false starters lost momentum in two weeks, 18 percent after just three days.

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