Problem-solve ahead of time
Approach your weight-loss goals with strategic planning in mind. Since you are working on lifestyle changes for the long haul, give yourself variety in your exercise and meal plans so that feelings of boredom and deprivation don’t pull you off track. Schedule time for exercise so that you don’t feel rushed by other demands. Similarly, schedule time for meal preparation so that you have nutritious foods on hand to eat when you are hungry and won’t be tempted by vending machines or fast-food restaurants.
By sticking to a schedule and creating a routine for your new behaviors, they will gradually become more reliable habits for you. However, it’s still a good idea to devise a game plan ahead of time for how you might handle times when you are feeling bored or too stressed to exercise or cook, as well as for how you will handle changing seasons and unpredictable weather. Over time, your new habits will become your everyday approach to how you live your life. They will be just part of “what you do.”
Be prepared to give yourself a break when life intervenes and pulls you off track. Slips and setbacks are a normal and expectable part of working to change longstanding habits. Accepting that you cannot anticipate every crisis before it happens will help you to bounce back from those times when you are faced with the unpredictable. This is when it becomes necessary to take a deep breath, look at the situation with fresh ideas, and try to recommit to healthier choices. Self-criticism will only pull you further off track.
You may also sometimes experience setbacks in your weight-loss progress even when you’re doing everything “right.” This is normal. You can expect some ups and downs along the way, but you should see a gradual downward trend over time. Losing one or two pounds a week is considered a healthy rate of weight loss, but this is often too subtle to keep people motivated. Focusing on your monthly weight-loss pattern instead can help you recognize the progress you’re making.
Get support from family and friends
Find the supports you need. This may include your spouse, other family members, friends, and coworkers. In addition, consider joining a club focused on an activity you enjoy, such as walking, hiking, or biking, or a support group focused on weight loss and health. Reach out for exercise partners or weight-loss partners and connect to advocacy groups such as the American Diabetes Association.
Be on the lookout for people in your life who offer misguided helping, or who take on the role of the “diabetes police” or “food police.” These are usually people who love you and are worried about your health but simply do not know how to express their concern in a way that feels supportive to you. Help them to understand what it is that you need from them through patient and assertive communication. This involves first knowing yourself and tuning in to what it is that you need for support. For example, do you need someone to take care of your kids while you exercise? Or do you need the companionship of an exercise partner? Perhaps you need both.
It helps to assume that your family members and friends love you and are doing what they are doing out of love and concern. That does not mean that you should just put up with what they are doing. But it may make it easier to approach them and communicate your needs clearly and openly so that they can change their behavior to something that really is helpful to you.
Seek a supportive health-care team
In addition to finding supports in your social and family life, take the time to build a supportive medical team. This ideally will include a primary-care doctor and an endocrinologist and may also include a nutritionist, nurse educator, exercise physiologist, and mental health practitioner. Look for team members who are willing to help you define specific and clearly achievable goals together as a collaborative process. If you’re not sure which targets to prioritize, ask your team members for advice. For example, should you focus first on improving your blood glucose levels or your blood pressure? Or should you focus on establishing a maintainable exercise routine? Keep in mind, however, that your input is important because you are the one who will be carrying out the steps to reach your health goals.