What’s Your Motivation?

I think I can relate better to the demands of diabetes self-management now. I’ve been having a hard time with my multiple sclerosis (MS) recently. I’ve started going to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic. They do acupressure, herbs, exercises, and other methods that Western medicine doesn’t believe in. It seems to be helping.


But it’s a lot of work and a tremendous challenge. For various TCM reasons, they want me to give up the exercises I used to do—deep water aerobics and weight-lifting—and do lots of tai chi instead. But I loved getting in the water, and I liked having defined muscles. I also miss my pool and gym friends. Tai chi is hard for me and not nearly as much fun as water exercise.

They’ve also changed my diet radically. The TCM approach is almost opposite to what I have always believed. They say eat everything cooked, nothing raw, avoid nuts and whole grains. Eat lots of rice and well-stewed meats. To avoid constipation on this low-fiber diet, eat lots of prunes.

It’s also two hours each way by public transportation to get to the clinic and a two-hour treatment twice a week. So that’s two days of the week devoted almost exclusively to treatment. And they want me to rest more and work less, especially think less. I don’t mind resting, but I do love to use my mind. So that’s another challenge, as is paying for treatment. Insurance doesn’t cover it.

Changes in everything you eat and do. Sound anything like the challenges you deal with in managing diabetes?

But like I say, I seem to be getting better in a number of ways. Not dramatically, but some significant improvements in walking and some other things.

Why bother?
There’s no guarantee any of the benefits will continue, of course, and I’m really depressed about giving up the foods and activities I love. I told the therapists how I was feeling, and they said, “It’s up to you. You have to decide how much your life is worth to you. Do you want to get better, or keep sliding downhill?” Reminded me of some Western doctors I know.

So I have to decide: How much effort do I want to put into my health? What’s worth giving up, what’s worth doing and paying for? And why do I want to put out this effort? Why do I want to get well? What’s my motivation?

A life of resting, eating, taking herbs and doing tai chi doesn’t feel like much of a motivator to me. Some people might find it heavenly, I suppose, but I don’t want to just be taking up space in this world. I want to be doing something interesting, pleasurable, helpful to others.

Here are some things I advise other people looking for motivators. What are some things I could do if I got better that I can’t do now? What horrors are in store for me if I get worse that are worth some effort to avoid? What are good things in my life that are worth some effort to preserve or expand? How can I get more good things, even with illness and disability? What does my body need from me now? How can I make self-care itself a source of pleasure and good feelings?

I realize you can’t solve these problems for me. But I suspect some of you may have asked yourself similar “why bother?” kind of questions at times in your career of dealing with diabetes. What have you come up with? How do you keep yourself motivated, especially when things don’t seem to be going well? Who or what has helped you deal with motivational issues? Is your faith an important part of it?

Please share your experiences, ideas, and questions with us by commenting here.

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Diabetes Self-Management.
About Our Experts >>

  • Rog

    Life is very much worth living and the quality means a lot. I’ve had 2 bypass surgeries,and type 2 diabetic among other things. With the last surgery, I got CHF and can only have 300 mgs of sodium per day, plus watching the carbs and other things. I can pretty much control if I want to feel good or bad each day. Been doing this for the last 6 1/2 years. I also get to pass on to others to my experiences to help them deal with things.

  • Pepper

    I am sorry that you have both diabetes and MS to deal with. I was reading your blog and wonder why you can’t continue with water aerobics and weight training in addition to the TCM?

  • Lee

    There must be hundreds of people feeling as you do. I have had type 2 for 10 years and am just coming out of a month long of “why bother”. My health care provider helps me with my attitude as well as my health. I am very lucky. Having MS also must really mess with your mind at times. Did you know Montel Williams has just come out with a book about his personal findings on dealing with MS. I have noticed when I watch his show that he looks very, very healthy now compared with a few years ago. You might want to read his book and see if his changes would help you.Also, faith is a part of my life at all times. Blessings to you! Lee

  • Donna

    Faith,reading God’s Word,writing His Word every morning first thing with prayer for insight and blessing to do His will..YES..answer to your question..it is a HUGE part of staying focused. Raw veggies are a must for diabetes. Work the water exercise in warm water and see how it affects your new results.

  • Mary Lee

    I cannot imagine coping with all that you have to. Your courage and persistance are so admirable! Part of what motivates me to continue ( and I also have the why bother syndrome from time to time) is the fear of blindness. Also, we didn’t give ourselves life and we are not allowed to take our lives. So we must do the best we can for as long as we can and leave the rest to God. You didn’t say how old you are, but you may have many years ahead of you and you want them to be as good as possible. God bless you in your struggles…your courage is inspiring.
    Mary Lee

  • dove

    faith,is what keep me going to,and my family
    i think you needed to do what best work’s for you, and go with it.


  • arshamae

    I was diagnosed with M.S. in 1997, and it has been a uphill battle for me. I was in denial at the begining I refused to believe that my ability to go roller skating with my daughter would stop, and most importantly I would stop doing my art.I love artI draw every day at first I did slow down,I was depressed I was in shock. The years passed and I had a diffrent attitude, I wanted to fight as much as I could to be as normal as I use to be. I went online and read all I could about this illness. I found out that vitamins were very important, and eating healthy was another factor, I bought vitamins and changed my eating habits, and although it was challenging I started drawing again, I draw every day, and I exercise every day which includes walking, I use to fall a lot but I haven’t fallen in months. My mental is better, so is my physical I might have M.S. but my quality of life is back, I have M.S.but it does not have me.