Ten Ways to Be Healthier in 2010

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December and January editions of magazines often feature articles on New Year’s resolutions — how to make them, how to keep them, or reasons not to bother setting them in the first place.

Some people do feel motivated at this time of year to set goals and work on improving their lives. Others are dealing with post-holiday distress (too much food, too much drink, having to go back to work or school) and have no intention of making resolutions. For those of you who have set goals for 2010, congratulations!

But if you’re thinking that it’s just too hard to change the way you eat, do more exercise or have a better A1C, maybe this is the year to rethink and reframe. In other words, rather than setting goals that you know you probably won’t accomplish, why not make a “Top Ten” list of your own to use and refer to over the course of this year? Maybe aim to try something new each month or so. The list doesn’t have to be filled with super-challenging steps, either. On the other hand, your list shouldn’t be populated with things you already do. Keep your list with you. As you accomplish each action, check it off or cross it out. But keep at it. Soon you’ll have formed several new habits that will improve your health.

Feeling stuck? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Circle the high glucose readings in your logbook in red and circle the low readings in blue.

    Why? To look for patterns and work with your health-care team for solutions if your readings are regularly out of target range.

  • Talk to your health-care provider about new diabetes medicines and technologies that might work better than your current treatment plan.

    Why? A newer diabetes pill, a different kind of insulin, or a new meter may be the ticket for helping you achieve your blood glucose and A1C goals.

  • Spend two minutes every night before going to bed checking your feet for signs of problems such as cuts, swelling, redness, sores, or hot spots.

    Why? As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Catching small foot issues early on can prevent debilitating problems (including amputation) down the road.

  • Take advantage of your lunch break at work (or anytime) to do some wall push-ups and leg squats or march in place. For more “office exercise” ideas, check out this Web site.

    Why? Because you really do have time to do physical activity!

  • Eat a sweet potato in place of a white potato (no, sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving).

    Why? Sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins A and C, fiber, and antioxidants. And they’re low on the glycemic index scale, too.

  • Relax! Stress is part of everyone’s life, but there are ways to manage it. A quick way is to slowly inhale through your nose for four seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Do this anytime you’re feeling harried or anxious.

    Why? Deep breathing lowers your blood pressure and heart rate and releases endorphins, those “feel good” chemicals that help you relax and fight pain.

  • Protect your teeth and your heart for less than $3. How? Floss every day.

    Why? Daily flossing can prevent periodontal disease, an infection of the gums and bones that help keep your teeth in place. Periodontal disease is often called the sixth complication of diabetes. It’s also linked with heart disease.

  • Help your heart and your blood glucose with a handful of raw almonds (23, to be exact) .

    Why? Almonds contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, flavonoids, and magnesium. A 1-ounce serving of almonds has 163 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate, and 3 grams of fiber. Not bad for a low-carb afternoon snack.

  • Put a reminder in your 2010 calendar to schedule appointments to see your physician, diabetes educator, and dentist, and to get your eyes examined and your annual flu shot.

    Why? Planning ahead ensures that you receive important screening tests and exams to reduce your risk of complications.

  • Catch some Z’s. Aim to go to bed an hour earlier than you usually do, at least a few times a week.

    Why? Getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night helps with weight and glucose control and helps you fight off infections.

Happy New Year!

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