Weight Loss and Diabetes
Be Realistic and You’ll See Better Results
Nearly nine out of ten individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are either overweight or battling obesity. We know there is a tremendously high correlation between being overweight and being diagnosed with the disease. We also know that shedding those unwanted (and dangerous) extra pounds is one of the most effective ways for an individual to lessen the impact of Type 2 diabetes, and in some cases, even reverse the disease.
If you count yourself among those with diabetes related to carrying too much weight, you already know that planning to lose weight and succeeding at it are two vastly different things.
Look, it’s not easy to lose weight. If it were, there wouldn’t be a million different fad diets out there or exercise gurus promising weight loss and fitness if you simply follow their plan.
The difference for people with diabetes is that losing weight is about more than looking and feeling better. It’s also about gaining greater control over your diabetes and blood glucose levels, which can help you avoid the many health complications associated with diabetes, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, ketoacidosis, nerve damage, eye problems, foot problems, and many other dangerous conditions.
If you’re carrying around too many pounds and have been diagnosed with diabetes, there’s no question whether or not you should lose weight. You should. The challenge becomes finding ways to effectively manage weight loss and stay motivated long enough to see positive results. The right combination of diet and exercise can get you there, but it can take some careful strategizing to be successful.
Remember, before beginning any weight loss program it’s important to discuss your specific diabetes care plan with your physician. It’s also important to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding blood sugar testing and any medication requirements. At Diabetic Warehouse, we make this a little easier with a complete selection of glucose meters, test strips, lancing devices, insulin syringes, pen needles and other diabetic equipment and supplies at prices that are up to 65% less than most pharmacies. Choose from brands like Accu-Chek, Clever Choice, FreeStyle, Easy Comfort , and DexCom, plus enjoy free delivery on every order.
Realistic and extremely specific goals make losing weight easier.
It’s simple enough to surmise, “If I go on a diet and begin an exercise program, I will lose weight.” This statement is true. However, it’s also somewhat of a pie-in-the-sky promise. The reality is that most people have an exceedingly difficult time sticking to a weight loss routine - both in terms of diet and fitness.
One big reason is that people tend to set very general goals. For example, “I’m going to start walking each day,” is open ended. When? Where? How far? How fast? These key aspects of the walk are left entirely undefined in such an open promise.
Additionally, “I’m going to eat less sugar,” is a promise that, while a noble overall goal, is not measurable or definable. How much less sugar? How often are you going to eat less sugar? What specific foods are you going to avoid?
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the best way to approach weight loss is to set smaller, realistic, and extremely specific behavioral goals. Their rule of thumb is to consider three things:
- What is the behavior that you will change. Be specific!
- How often will you do it. Again, be specific.
- Don’t try to change too much at once. In other words, be realistic.
A few examples of realistic and specific goal setting
“Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will walk for 20 minutes each morning between the hours of 8 am and 9 am. This gives me a one-hour window to complete my promise.”
“I will no longer eat my favorite ice cream during the week and will limit my weekend treats to one small scoop on Saturday or Sunday. But never both.”
“I will bring my own healthy lunch to the office each day rather than dining out. If I am required to dine out, I will order a healthy option from the menu.”
“I will go straight from the office to Yoga class a minimum of two days during the week. I will also strive for one class on the weekend.”
“I will eliminate all processed white breads and those excess carbohydrates from my diet and switch exclusively to organic multi-grain “brand X”.
“Whenever I get hungry between meals for the next two months, I will eat sliced vegetables or fresh fruit instead of indulging in my usual snack of chips.”
You can see that these are examples of quite specific promises that clearly state the intended behavioral change and how often it’s set to happen. They’re also entirely reasonable goals. One of the worst things you can do when trying to lose weight is to get ahead of yourself. If you set goals that are next to impossible to achieve, it will likely lead to frustration and, eventually, give you a good reason to give up on your diabetes weight loss goals altogether.
S.M.A.R.T is another way to look at it.
S.M.A.R.T is a methodology that was first designed to guide business teams in achieving their goals. But it certainly applies to weight loss and regulating your blood sugar levels. In fact, in many ways it echoes exactly what the ADA recommends.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Limited. So, let’s break it down in terms of a weight loss goal.
I am going to lose five pounds (SPECIFIC) by limiting my dinner plate to X number of proteins, X number of veggies, X amount starches (MEASURABLE). I might be able to lose more than five pounds, however, this is what I know I can do (ACHEIVABLE). It matters to me because I am striving to lose weight in order to try and lower my required dosage of insulin (RELEVANT). I give myself three weeks to lose five pounds and then I’ll set new goals (TIME-LIMITED).
As you can see, the purpose of the S.M.A.R.T method is to provide a roadmap for realistic weight loss. Why? Because if you need to lose 50 pounds there is no point in focusing on that goal from day one of your weight loss program. It’s too big, too much, and quite frankly, to darn daunting. There’s just no easy way to get there. The S.M.A.R.T method, however, encourages you to break up that daunting weight loss goal into manageable “chunks” that you can realistically attain and, which over time, can lead to amazing progress in weight loss and your diabetes health.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I really hungry?”
There are two primary types of eating. One is done because you’re genuinely hungry and your body requires energy. The other is tied to emotions, old habits, and environmental cues. The first is healthy. The second is a fast path to putting on excess weight.
For example, the smell of fresh baked bread can surely set off a hunger pang even if you have recently dined. A particularly stressful or difficult day can cause you to feel anxious and inexplicably hungry. A large buffet spread at a friend’s party can spark a seemingly endless appetite.
The point we’re making is that weight gain is often due in large part to eating when the body does not require more nutrients. In other words, you feel hungry but you’re really not. If you can recognize the signs, you can avoid unnecessary eating and the unwanted pounds that come with it.
In fact, the ADA has created a handy Hunger Rating Scale shown below (you can download a copy here to carry in your wallet or purse:
Full 10 = Stuffed to the point of feeling sick
9 = Very uncomfortably full, need to loosen your belt
8 = Uncomfortably full, feel stuffed
7 = Very full, feel as if you have overeaten
6 = Comfortably full, satisfied Neutral
Neutral 5 = Comfortable, neither hungry nor full
4 = Beginning signs and symptoms of hunger
3 = Hungry with several hunger symptoms, ready to eat
2 = Very hungry, unable to concentrate Hungry
Hungry 1 = Starving, dizzy, irritable
How does the scale work? It’s simple really. Before you take that first bite, use this scale to rate where your hunger actual lies. The goal is to try to maintain your eating between levels 4 and 6 – at 4 you’re getting hungry, so you eat, but you stop at 6 as soon as you feel comfortably satisfied.
Why not wait until you are hungrier to eat? Because when the body is deeply in need of energy, such as with levels 1 and 2, it means your mind is not functioning at 100%. Not being able to focus or think clearly can lead to binge overeating. On the other end of the scale, if you’re eating for emotional or environmental reasons, you may be pushing the higher numbers for no good reason at all. Either way, you’re putting on weight.
Look for these signs of true hunger:
– Grumbles in the stomach
– Pain in the stomach
– Difficulty concentrating
If you feel any of these symptoms, your body probably needs nutrients, and you should eat something healthy. If you’re not feeling them, however, ask yourself if you really need to eat. Stop for a moment and assess the situation. Have you eaten in the last hour? Are you being tempted by a sumptuous treat that’s right in front of you? Are you hungry in response to an emotion, such as stress, anger or even boredom?
Learn to recognize the signs of unnecessary eating and you will have an easier time shedding those pounds and sticking to a weight loss program.
No one is perfect. Don’t get discouraged.
Weight loss isn’t a sprint. It’s a long and winding road. You might do everything according to your diet and exercise plan and still fall short of those goals - no matter how realistic they were when you set them. Maybe you fall off your plan for a day or two. Maybe you break that walking schedule for a week. Maybe your blood sugar level didn’t drop as far as you’d hoped, and your doctor can’t lower your insulin dosage just yet.
You’re only human and life often gets in the way of our best intentions and careful planning. Don’t beat yourself up if you hit a roadblock. Keep going. Stick with it. Push forward in realistic and achievable ways and you’ll get there.
Decreasing your overall weight by just 10% can dramatically improve your body’s glucose tolerance. Beyond that, you might even be able to put your Type 2 diabetes into remission. So don’t get discouraged. Get inspired to keep trying. Good luck!
If you found this post insightful, we hope you’ll check out our others highlighting tips, trends, and latest news on living with and treating diabetes. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to keeping you informed. We also invite you to save up to 65% on a huge selection of test strips, lancets, glucose meters, insulin syringes, pen needles, and continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGM). Shop online and enjoy fast, free delivery on every order at Diabeticwarehouse.org.
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