As the new year arrives, so do familiar resolutions: promises to eat clean (whatever that means), abandon alcohol, and up your exercise.
According to social researchers, by the 19th of the month, most of these vows have been abandoned. It’s not about the quality of the resolutions, but it appears there is something about human behavior that resists being told what to do, even if we’re issuing the commands.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you probably more than understand. Although most of us know the right things to do, we often fail to execute them. I can’t count the times I’ve left my endocrinologist’s office, swearing I’d weigh less, have lower A1c readings, and conquer my stress by the next visit.
Eventually, however, I found success in all three areas, but it wasn’t due to resolutions. What worked? For me, devising a plan: setting down what, why, and how I wanted to accomplish my goals. And knowing, even as I composed my plan, that none of it was written in stone. What worked, I’d keep and what did not, I’d ditch.
So what was my plan? Like I said, it was basic, but here goes:
What: I want to lose 16 pounds.
A few words here. Notice that I didn’t say in 5, 10, or 20 weeks, which I often did before. That turned out to be important since deadlines often give me hives. For you, maybe setting a certain date will work: a reunion, a wedding, or a family vacation.
Why: I want to feel better in my jeans and have more energy.
I had carried extra weight since my two pregnancies, and my kids were way out of their teens. You might want to get more specific: I want to lift my grandchildren or take up pickleball. Or it may be a health goal to lower your blood sugars or blood pressure. Your pick.
How: I will try a vegetarian diet and leave three bites on my plate.
Based on research extolling vegetarianism for people with type 2, I decided to give it a try. The clean plate club was instilled in me as a child, and I wanted to see if breaking the habit might lower my calories. You can try any number of things: a scoop of ice cream twice a week to quell a sweet tooth, or subtracting alcohol from your diet.
Unlike resolutions, which are often general and dependent on waxing and waning willpower, my plan provided concrete reasons why I wanted to lose the weight and how I might achieve my goal.
But most importantly, it was my plan, designed and executed by me. I could change it at any time. And I did, adding extra exercise, deciding I would eat more vegetables, and sometimes eat everything on my plate. And other things. Over time, I did lose the weight and have kept most of it off for years.
What made this different from before? Maybe it was because it originated from my needs and my preferences rather than a prefab plan.
Or maybe I was simply ready for a change.
The important part of a new year isn’t the resolutions but working toward your future health and happiness. If you do have some goals, consider giving some thought to what makes them important to you and how you might go about accomplishing them.
And there may be a bonus: Whether you meet your goals or not, you may know yourself better than before.
Learn, share, and connect with others on WebMD’s Type 2 Diabetes Facebook Support Group.
Photo Credit: Supreeya Chantalao / EyeEm via Getty Images
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