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How to Start Managing Your Diabetes

If you've recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you have a new job. The good news is that it’s a high-level management position with lots of freedom, and the power to make important decisions daily.

Even better, the long-term benefits for a job well done may include an extra ten healthy years of living. If you’re 50 years old now that could mean every day you do this job well adds an extra half day later. It’s hands down the best deal you’ll ever see.

Is there bad news, too? It all depends on your attitude. Diabetes self-management — you would be the self in that phrase — requires your attention and commitment to act. This responsibility for self care on a daily basis is somewhat unique to diabetes. Effective diabetes self-management involves not only faithfully taking your medication and monitoring blood glucose, but also adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes a focus on diet and exercise.

Unfortunately, too many people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes either don’t get the message, or the message doesn’t sink in. Adherence to diet and exercise recommendations tend to be less than 40 percent, and the percentage of people with diabetes meeting all of the ABCs targets is closer to 10 percent.

If you want to thrive with diabetes, and you certainly can, here are three commitments that will keep you on the road to success:

  • Embracing reality: There is, of course, the terrible reality of diabetes-related complications that must be acknowledged, but turn your focus on the motivating reality that you have an incredible opportunity to directly affect the quality of your future health every day. The inconvenience of doing diabetes self-management effectively, and there are inconveniences, is a small price to pay for the extraordinary benefits.

  • Prioritizing your attention and time: Proactive diabetes self-management behaviors, like preparing healthy food and making time for exercise, can’t be the last thing on your list of priorities. You undoubtedly have much competition for your time and attention, but diabetes self-management should get the nod more often than not.

  • Learning: You’re already on the right track to using your brain by reading this book, but don’t give up. You never have to be a diabetes expert, but you must be open to learning new things.

Your relationship with diabetes and diabetes self-management is long term, and you can choose in great measure how it goes. The medical professionals and medications you can have as part of your management team are powerful partners. But, in the tug-o-war with diabetes for control of your long-term health, your team can’t win unless you choose to do some tugging, too.

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