January 2013                                                                                                                    View previous issues


Goal-setting in the new year for diabetes self-care

Adapted from a flyer by the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center (NIH grant P60DK02572)

Solving problems and staying motivated

Caring for diabetes is a lot of hard work. And most of that work is up to you. It's a lot for most people to handle.

As you learn more and live with diabetes, you probably have chosen some changes you want to make. You may have set goals and made a plan with the steps you will take to reach those goals. You may find it easy, but for many people, it is a daily struggle.

If you are having a hard time reaching your goal, it may be helpful to think about a change you made in the past. It does not matter if you choose something that worked well or something that did not work at all. In fact, sometimes the best lessons come from something that did not work out.

Ask yourself these questions:

What did I try to do in the past?
What motivated me to make that change?
What helped me?
What got in my way?
What did I learn about myself?

As you think about your answers, you may see that all you needed to do was to make up your mind. You may have found that you need the support of others. What you learned about yourself can be a guide for how to solve problems and stay motivated in caring for your diabetes.

Breaking down barriers

Keep in mind that change takes time. Once you choose a goal, figure out the steps you will take this week and each week to reach that goal. Think of these as experiments, or things you will try to see if they work. If a step does not work, think about why, and what you will do differently next week.

It is common to face some barriers as you work to reach your goals. Often these are problems that can be solved. The first step is to define the problem. A clear view of the problem will lead you to a clear solution.

You may think you already know exactly what the problem is. But often what you believe to be the problem is really only a symptom. When you face a barrier, the question to ask yourself is "why?" Keep asking yourself "why" until you get to the heart of the problem. A sign that you haven't figured out the real problem is that the solution does not work. Try not to get down on yourself, but keep asking "why" until you are clear about the real reason this is a problem for you.

It will also help to understand how you feel about the problem. Our feelings have a strong effect on our behavior. Many people believe that there is nothing they can do to change the way they feel. While this is somewhat true, you can try changing or reframing your thoughts. Ask yourself if there is another way to think about this problem.

Ask yourself these questions:

How do I feel about my problem?
What are my thoughts about this problem?
How will I feel if things do not change?
How will I feel if things do change?
How is this affecting my ability to enjoy my life?
What would help me to think differently about this issue?

Staying motivated

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to get the support you need. Talking with others who have diabetes or being part of a support group can be very powerful. Your family, friends, other people with diabetes, and your health care team can all be cheerleaders for you. Studies have shown that getting ongoing support for your self-management efforts can help you to do better in the long run.

Keeping up to date can also help you to stay motivated. You have probably learned a lot about your own diabetes from your experiences. But there is always more to learn. As you live with this illness, it is likely that you have questions that are different from the ones when you first were diagnosed. It is also likely that the way your diabetes is treated will change over time — and there are always new discoveries.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or dietitian the following questions:

  1. Where can I get the support and help that I need?
  2. Are there support groups in the area?
  3. Are their trusted websites to which you can refer me?

Finally, write a "SMART" goal — pick something important to you and break your larger goals down into small steps that you can really achieve, which are:

S Specific Your goal should be simple and very clear
M Measurable You should know how you will reach your goal.
A Attainable Your goal should be one you really "can do."
R Relevant Your goal should be important to you.
T Timely It should have a beginning and an end.

The 7 areas that you can work on to improve your diabetes are:

  1. Healthy Eating — Eat at regular times, add whole grains, fruits, vegetables, decrease portions
  2. Being Active — Increase activity by walking 15 minutes 3 days/week, take the stairs, park farther away
  3. Monitoring — Check blood sugar 1-2X/day or 3X/week, record results, keep a journal. Monitoring can also include weight and blood pressure.
  4. Taking Medications — Take the right amount at the right time, learn how your medication works and what the side effects are.
  5. Problem Solving — Take care of high and low blood sugars, sick days, know who to call and when.
  6. Reducing Risks — Stop smoking and start preventive care: get eye exams, foot care, flu and pneumonia shots, and dental care.
  7. Healthy Coping — Know when to ask for help and who you can talk to when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Paper diaries versus digital cameras for food tracking:
MEND patients with type 2 diabetes sought for new lifestyle study

Making healthy lifestyle changes can be difficult and frustrating if you have diabetes. Research has shown that most successful lifestyle programs for overweight diabetic patients involve some form of logging the foods and snacks that they eat, in addition to diet and exercise. But we also know that creating and maintaining such a food diary takes a lot of effort to complete.

Would you like to help researchers study the best way for people to log the food they're eating? Patients with type 2 diabetes who have seen a U-M endocrinologist within the last six weeks are being sought to volunteer for this research. The new study compares the use of two food logging methods: the digital camera versus paper diaries.

The study lasts for two weeks. One week, study participants complete a paper diary of the foods they eat. For another week, study participants are provided with a digital camera to take photos of their meals and snacks. At the end of each week, they will answer a short online survey of four questions each about the different food logging methods.

At the end of the study, patients will return to the Domino's Farm MEND clinic twice: The first time, they will supply two weeks of their blood sugar readings and return their digital cameras. The second time, they will meet for a brief presentation of the photos all the study participants took. The photos are kept anonymous. Participants also fill out a two-question survey about the photo presentation afterwards.

The dates of these two visits will be shared with you by the study team if you are interested in volunteering for the study.

You may be eligible for this study if:

  • You've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (confirmed by a physician)
  • You are ages 18-70 years and are NOT pregnant
  • Your last hemoglobin A1c reading was between 7.5 and 9 (your doctor can confirm this)
  • You are overweight
  • You can understand and write in English
  • You measure your blood sugar daily
  • You are able to access the internet
  • You can attend the two sessions at the end of the study

Benefits of participation include:

  • Help us learn more about these methods for food logging

  • Receive a $50 Visa Gift Card

  • Receive two weeks of glucose testing strips for free

This study is sponsored by the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes at the University of Michigan Health System and the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research. The study team includes Dr. Liselle Douyon and U-M medical student Brett Ehrmann. Please contact Sonja Hughbanks, assistant to Dr. Douyon, at (734) 647-5400 to volunteer for this study or for more information.

Thanks for helping us to break down the barriers to healthy lifestyle changes in diabetes management!


We're grateful for our U-M Diabetes Health Fair prize donors!

The 6th Annual U-M Diabetes Health Fair was held on Saturday, November 10, 2012. As if it weren't enough to have dozens of exhibit booths, three lectures, and seven different free health screenings at the Health Fair, we had one more perk to offer: DOOR PRIZES!

The following organizations generously provided door prizes (the attendees who won them are below):

Sheraton Ann Arbor Hotel:
One-night hotel stay with breakfast buffet for two
Won by: AG, Onsted, Michigan

Holiday Inn Hotel Near the University of Michigan:
One-night hotel stay with breakfast for two
Won by: DW, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Weber's Inn:
$75 gift certificate for food and beverage
Won by: PB, Canton, MIchigan

The Ann Arbor Y:
Backpack with waterbottle, flashlight, t-shirt, and other Y-branded items
Won by: JL, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The U-M Transplant Center:
Faux leather tote bag with three "Recycle Yourself" t-shirts and a polo shirt
Won by: PH, Ann Arbor, Michigan

If you can, please patronize these businesses for supporting our Diabetes Health Fair.

Stay tuned for an announcement soon about our 2013 date for the U-M Diabetes Health Fair!


Upcoming diabetes-related events

Friday, March 15, 2013
10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
U-M World Kidney Day Health Fair
U-M Hospital, Dow Auditorium Lobby
(Taubman Center, 2nd Floor, near Cafeteria)
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Free health screenings, educational materials, giveaways, and more.

Saturday, April 13, 2013
8:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
ADA Diabetes Alert Mini Health Expo
Southfield Center Pavilion
26000 Evergreen Rd.
Southfield, MI 48076
Free admission and parking.
Pre-register online. The first 450 registrants will receive a goody bag when entering.
Free health screenings; cooking demonstrations; exhibitors with product demos; exercise demonstrations; free workshops; product samples and goody bags; interactive Kidz Zone; Shop to Stop Diabetes

Adult Diabetes Education  ~  Pediatric (Child) Diabetes Education
Adult Diabetes Support Groups

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