Everyone is guilty of making boisterous and enthusiastic claims of their new lifestyle on January 1st, only to find themselves regifting the expensive “As Seen on TV Shake Weight!” a week or so into February. Personally, I rarely make it more than a week into the New Year. I’ve found that when we make projections of a reinvigorated exercise routine or diet that is completely out of character for ourselves, we generally give up hope and chalk our failure up to unreasonable expectations. The best way to combat this inevitable defeat is to set goals that are SMART–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. This means, for example, instead of deciding to swear off alcohol entirely you might consider instead setting a goal more like, “I will cut down to three drinks a week” and move forwards from there.
For diabetics, there is already a great deal of self care and medical awareness involved in their lifestyles. New Year’s is an opportunity to not only grow as a person and bulk up your exercise habits, but to set forth patterns that will ultimately help you avoid later-in-life health complications. Doing small things now for yourself like using moisturizing lotion on your feet daily or scheduling an appointment with a podiatrist to check up on nerve damage in your feet and remove callouses may in the long run prevent diabetic neuropathy from developing. If you set small healthy patterns in your life now, it will leave room for even more improvement in the following months and years.
Another approach is to set annual goals. Something that will not necessarily affect your day to day but you think should happen before 2018 comes to a close. For example, see a dentist twice this year or schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to test your vision. These are easy to follow and do not impact your day-to-day life in a big way. Telling your friends and family about your resolutions may help you stay true to them. Of course, I am not advising that you hold others around you accountable for your goal reaching, but spreading the word that you are going to go for a 30 minute walk every evening may increase your likelihood to follow through. Plus, who knows, one of your friends may want to join you in your resolution or agree to remind you and keep track of your habits.
Here are some examples of SMART New Year’s Resolutions for diabetics:
- I will ask my doctor for my health statistics and keep track of them myself, and make goals to lower and raise all those that could stand to be improved upon
- I will check my blood sugars twice a day
- I will drink at least 4 glasses of water per day by February
- I will consume at least two vegetables per day with my meals
- I will read the directions for all my medications and ensure that I am taking them in a timely manner as well as employing proper protocol when taking (or applying) doses.
- I will see an optometrist for an eye exam this year.
- I will check the nerves in my feet (or have someone else check the nerves in my feet) once a week.
- I will get a renal function test and microalbumin test each year.
- I will get a flu shot in the fall.
- I will see my physician four times this year.
- I will get my HbA1c levels to where I want them to be.
- I will change lancets and needles every day.