The new year is upon us, and with that comes fresh starts, new beginnings, and for many people, resolutions!
To tell the truth, we know that most resolutions fail. January is the time for new gym memberships and healthy meals, but come springtime motivations begin to slump. By the end of the year, something like 92 percent will have given up.
Here are a few general ideas that could help you succeed:
Set smaller, more attainable goals.
Resolutions are also easier to achieve if they are specific and measurable. “Eat more vegetables” is much tougher to stick with than “eat plant-based dinners twice a week.”
You’re also more likely to succeed if you make yourself accountable for your actions by sharing your goals with others, whether that’s family or a community of strangers on the internet.
Here are five ideas for New Year’s resolutions, including a few that don’t require ongoing commitment.
1. Join the Diabetes Online Community
There are hundreds of online communities for people with diabetes to talk, vent, and support each other. Our own Diabetes Daily forums are a great place to start.
A simple search in the Facebook search bar will also give you a huge number of groups you can join, many devoted to extremely specific topics. If you want help with any aspect of life with diabetes — whether it’s low-carb baking or mountaineering — chances are there’s a group for you, full of welcoming and supportive people. People you can’t easily meet in real life.
The more you engage with a community, the more support you’ll feel, and the more accountable you’ll feel to others. That’ll give you a kick in the pants and help you better achieve your health and lifestyle goals.
The community support is out there, so just start searching and you’ll quickly find you are not alone. Set yourself an easy goal: Join one or two communities in January, and then see what happens next.
2. Pump Some Iron
We bet you’ve made cardio exercise resolutions in the past that you didn’t stick with. Switch things up this year with a modest but achievable weight-lifting goal.
Did you know that weight-lifting, resistance training, and other high-intensity exercises are particularly beneficial for people with diabetes? Pumping iron:
Improves glycemic control
Boosts insulin sensitivity
Cuts abdominal fat
Why does it work? Recent research suggests that resistance exercise both expands “the storage capacity for blood sugar in the muscle” and increases “the effects of a protein that regulates blood sugar absorption in the body.” Whatever the explanation, the evidence is crystal clear: intense exercise is an extremely effective way of combatting insulin resistance, a defining characteristic of type 2 diabetes and a sneakily important factor in type 1 diabetes management.
Joining a gym is great, but you can lift weights at home too with a simple dumbbell set or even bodyweight exercises, like push-ups. You can also complete an effective workout much more quickly than a jog or bike ride. A minor time commitment, as little as 20 minutes per session, can create big benefits.
Consider lifting weights just twice a week: You should look better, feel better, and enjoy comprehensive health benefits.
3. Eat More Real Food
There’s exactly one thing that almost every diet guru, whether vegan or “carnivore,” high-carb or low-carb, agrees on: ultra-processed food has got to go.
If you want to make positive improvements in your diabetes management (not to mention your weight and overall health), then you should cut out the ultra-processed foods. Diets rich in ultra-processed foods are nutritionally meager, and these foods are carefully engineered to decrease the feeling of fullness, increasing the desire to continue eating. This can lead to overconsumption of calories, excessive weight gain, and insulin resistance. Simply put, junk food is making us unhealthy.
One of the easiest-to-implement diabetes management strategies is to eat whole foods as much as possible. This means natural, minimally processed foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish.
Set yourself specific and achievable goals, and base your goals on the diet you’re actually eating now. If you usually have two healthy home-cooked dinners per week, try and make it three or four this year. If you have a processed snack every afternoon, try and swap it for an unprocessed snack. You’re more likely to succeed if your goal is both modest and measurable.
4. Update Your Hypoglycemia Rescue Plans
If you use insulin, you need to be ready to handle a severe hypoglycemic emergency. The people that you spend time with — friends, family, and coworkers — should all know exactly what to do if your blood sugar drops and you can’t take care of it yourself.
We bet it’s been over a year since you last made sure that your hypo rescue plans were up to date. When’s the last time you instructed a new coworker on your glucagon? Do you still have some candy stashed everywhere you think you should?
And if you have type 1 diabetes or have struggled with significant hypoglycemia, you already know that you should have a glucagon rescue medication near you at all times: at home, at work, and on the go.
Glucagon, the hypo rescue medication, is the one diabetes drug you hope you never have to use. Is your prescription still good? Did the glucagon on your shelf expire months or years ago? January is a fine time to make sure that it’s ready to go when you need it.
If it’s been years since you last filled a prescription for glucagon, you might be surprised to learn that the old awkward red ket that required complicated a pre-mixing process is now obsolete. The new pre-mixed versions that are much easier to use, including pre-filled syringes and nasal spray.
Take care of your hypoglycemia rescue plan in January, and you’ll set yourself up for a year of success.
5. Volunteer for Diabetes
One of the best ways to stay mindful about your diabetes is to devote yourself to helping others with the same condition. Help yourself by helping others.
Organizations like JDRF and ADA in the United States make it easy to help out — they host many events, drives, and meetups that you can partake in. Sometimes volunteering just means meeting and chatting with someone who’s trying to learn more about diabetes.
Helping people in need can also give you a self of purpose, pride, and accomplishment. Unsurprisingly, volunteering is linked to reduced depression — mostly because it is such a good way to make new connections, but perhaps also because volunteering makes you happier too. You’ve also got something that most other volunteers don’t have — an understanding of diabetes! — so consider offering your support and experience to one of the many nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping people with diabetes.
Again, set a modest and measurable goal — even if you only volunteer once or twice a year, you’ll be helping yourself and others.