Gearing Up for a New Year

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Happy New Year! By the time you read this, it will be a brand new year. It’s the time of the year, too, when the inevitable "top stories of 2007" appear—the most notable people, the top business stories, the top news stories, etc., etc. Oh, and don’t forget that it’s time to set those traditional New Year’s resolutions.

Yes, there’s even a list for the top resolutions! Our own government has gotten into the act. If you go to, you’ll see a list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Guess what’s first on the list? “Lose Weight.” And “Get Fit” is number five.

While many people make resolutions, most of them can’t seem to stick with them for long. We’ve all heard about the people who join health clubs and maybe even go for a while, but by March, their memberships have fallen by the wayside. There’s nothing wrong with setting resolutions. It’s just like setting goals. The difference may be that resolutions tend to be broad and vague in nature.

In previous postings, I’ve discussed how to set SMART goals, which are goals that are more specific, focused, and achievable. Resolutions, on the other hand, are pretty vague: “lose weight,” “get fit,” “stop smoking,” “eat right”. Maybe the reason people don’t seem to follow through with resolutions is that they really are too vague. For example, what does “eat right” really mean? Eat with a fork and knife instead of your hands? Eat sitting at the table instead of on the couch? It’s hard to know.

Or, how about this one: “Get my diabetes under control.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do that. But what does it mean? Getting your HbA1c under 7%? Aiming for fasting blood glucose levels between 90 and 130 mg/dl? Checking your blood glucose four times a day? “Control” can mean different things to different people. What does it mean to you? And what’s your plan for how you’re going to “get under control”?

For 2008, I encourage you to think about what’s important to you when it comes to your health and, especially, when it comes to your diabetes management. Chances are, you’re probably already doing a lot of good things for your diabetes self-management, whether it’s counting your carbs, taking a daily walk, checking your blood glucose, and/or seeing your health-care provider regularly. Focus your energies on one or two things that aren’t going so well for you. Ask yourself what the barriers are, and then think about possible strategies to tear down those barriers.

For example, if your LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol is above 100 mg/dl, what might you do to bring it down? Eat fewer high-saturated-fat foods? Talk to your health-care provider about medicine? Or, if you’ve been meaning to join a gym to fit in some physical activity, think about reasons why you haven’t joined—maybe it’s the cost, or the location, or it just isn’t appealing to you. Ask yourself what it would really take for you to become more physically active. If you’re feeling stuck, ask for help. Maybe your spouse or a close friend can help you sort out your priorities. (Talking with a diabetes educator is always a good idea, too!)

Keep an open mind—after all, it’s a new year and a new beginning. Start off with a clean slate and do away with old assumptions. And if you’re into those “Top 10” lists, here’s one for you for 2008!

Top 10 Medical Tests/Exams To Get In 2008

Test/Exam: HbA1c
Frequency: 2-4 times per year
Goal*: Less than 7.0%

Test/Exam: LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
Frequency: At least once a year
Goal*: Less than 100 mg/dl (or less than 70 mg/dl for some)

Test/Exam: HDL (“good”) cholesterol
Frequency: At least once a year
Goal*: Greater than 40 mg/dl for men; greater than 50 mg/dl for women

Test/Exam: Triglycerides
Frequency: At least once a year
Goal*: Less than 150 mg/dl

Test/Exam: Blood pressure
Frequency: At every health-care provider visit
Goal*: Less than 130/80 mm Hg

Test/Exam: Microalbumin
Frequency: At least once a year
Goal*: Less than 30 milligrams of albumin per gram of creatinine

Test/Exam: Dilated eye exam
Frequency: Once a year
Goal*: No retinopathy

Test/Exam: Foot exam
Frequency: At least once a year
Goal*: No foot problems

Test/Exam: Dental exam
Frequency: Twice a year
Goal*: No dental problems

Test/Exam: Flu shot
Frequency: Once a year
Goal*: No flu!

* Or as determined by your health-care provider.

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