How to Stay Motivated with Diabetes

Motivation and attitude are everything with diabetes. So find what you value in life and get recommitted to your health.


Learn What Motivates You

If you've ever woken up and had the urge to throw your meter out the window and toss your metformin down the drain, what stopped you? The thought of your spouse or children? An inspirational phrase taped to the fridge?

Riding the glucose roller coaster every single day takes a lot of work. And after 10, 20, even 50 years of living with diabetes, it's easy to lose steam and want to give up at times. And yet, you are the only person who can decide whether to stay on track.

Diabetes sets up a particularly difficult challenge because the payoffs from your efforts today are down the road of life. A person's inner motivators are rooted in beliefs, and for people with diabetes (PWDs), those beliefs can sometimes be so self-demeaning and self-defeating that you may feel doomed.

"I can do my best 'rah rah, run faster, jump higher' coach cheer, but the biggest key to control is finding what you value in life," says Barbara Walz, R.N., CDE, a diabetes education coordinator at South Texas Veterans Healthcare System in San Antonio.

Come explore strategies from the real experts -- PWDs who have found their inner motivators -- to get recommitted to your health. Then read our three ways to pump up your attitude.

Explore Simple Ways to Relax

Alfred Schwab, age 73

My story: I've had type 2 for seven years. I've gradually added more oral glucose-lowering medicines and now take the max doses of metformin and glipizide. My weight crept up to 210 pounds after retiring as a commercial airline pilot. I got religion about a year ago. Though I was staring that insulin needle in the eye, losing 30 pounds has kicked that step down the road. Today I've got way more energy and even spend a few hours as a tour guide for the city of San Antonio.

What are your inner motivators? When I can tighten my belt one more notch. My biggest motivator is staying alive and being by my wife's side.

What keeps you going? Weighing myself daily. Drinking plenty of water. And shoveling dirt in my vegetable garden.

What gets you back on track? It's great to grow older, but with years come losses. Realizing how I live my life every day impacts the quality of my aging. I like to explore simple ways to relax.

Focus on What's Important

Sarah Sclarandis, age 44

My story: Having had borderline high blood glucose during my first pregnancy, gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy at age 43 was no surprise. With an RD-CDE's help, I was quickly counting carbs, taking insulin, and checking my blood glucose. My reward: my full-term baby girl, who weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds. I'm back to my trim prepregnancy weight and am holding that weight to prevent type 2.

What are your inner motivators? Delivering a healthy baby was goal No. 1. With a 60 percent chance of developing diabetes, I have a goal now of prevention. This motivates me to eat healthfully, be active, and stay slim.

What keeps you going? My two young children and my husband. I want to live a long life and see my children grow up. If I overindulge, I just think of my risks and get back on track.

Advice: Keep your focus on what's important -- a long and healthy life.