You go in for your regular diabetes check and the nurse stands you on the scale. You’ve been avoiding the scale for some time now, and you’ve gained a few pounds. Inside your endocrinologist’s office, you feel – or imagine – her annoyance that you still haven’t taken yourself in hand. As you leave with her familiar instruction to cut the carbs and the number of a nutritionist in hand, you try not to get down.
You know you should lose the weight. If not for the sake of your diabetes, for how you feel. Your fat pants are tight, and you get winded going up the stairs. And then there are the complications from diabetes that you’ve read about online; you certainly don’t want to go there.
So, for the hundredth (or two hundredth time) in your life, you vow to slim down. Sitting behind the wheel of your car in the parking lot, you formulate a plan. Maybe you’ll try Weight Watchers. Or Paleo – a guy at work had good luck with that, losing 25 pounds.
And no matter how many times you’ve made this vow, you swear today will be different. On the back of your parking stub, you figure out how many pounds you can lose by June – 10, 20, maybe the complete 30? You carefully do the math. After all, you’ve been dieting most of your life and you know a lot of numbers – calories, carbs, and fats.
So why can’t you drop the pounds?
Well, you can. You actually lost weight last summer, almost ten pounds, but then you got annoyed. Watching everyone at the Labor Day picnic downing fried chicken didn’t seem fair, so you gave up on picking around the skin and ate the whole leg – skin and everything. It was only one time, and it was a holiday, so it seemed like no big deal. But then there was a birthday in the office, and though you debated for a moment, you allowed yourself a little piece of cake. Later, in the afternoon, you saw all that was left and you let yourself have a second slice -–no sense letting good cake go to waste. And then…
No. But maybe, this time, you do it differently. For the first time, you walk away from diet plans and you figure out not what you need to subtract from your life, but what you need to add. Things that are doable. And enjoyable. That fit in with your twin goals: a lighter you and improved diabetes care.
How about exercise? A walk in the morning and a walk at night? How about vegetables? You know some have more carbs than others, so what kinds? Maybe you try a food tracking app, where you log everything you eat. Sure, you could eat a bag of M&M’s during break, but could you try a bag of baby carrots? If that doesn’t work, could you settle for half the M&M’s rather than an entire bag? How does that impact your sugar? Could you eat half the M&M’s two days a week and the carrots the rest of the time?
The problem with diets is that they often deprive, making you fixate on what you can’t have, which often makes you want that thing more. And when you begin to step outside the rigid rules of the diet, it can be hard to get back on track.
But what if you break down the imposed boundaries of the most popular diets and re-learn what to eat on your own? What if you thought of eating and exercise not as punishment, but a way to understand what you truly need and like and – to paraphrase Marie Kondo – what brings you joy?