Staying the Course
Goal-setting strategies that may help you stick to your exercise routine
By Joy Pape, R.N, C.D.E.
For years, Terri was good about following her meal plan, taking her medications, monitoring her blood glucose and managing her stress. One thing was missing though—she hated to exercise.
Terri knew that exercise was an important part of managing diabetes, but she could never find a way to stick to a regimen. When her weight and numbers started getting higher, she realized she had to do something.
If you are like Terri, you may also be looking for ways to include more exercise in your life.
Know your targets
Exercise can help you achieve some basic benchmarks. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following for most people with diabetes.
- A1C (your blood glucose control during the past three months): less than 7%
- Blood glucose before meals: 90-130 mg/dL
- Blood glucose 1-2 hours after a meal: less than 180 mg/dL
- Blood pressure: less than 130/80 mm/Hg
- LDL (“bad”) cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL (“good”) cholesterol: more than 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women
- Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dL
Setting realistic goals
Long- and short-term goal setting is a good way to start your exercise regimen and work toward losing weight. Remember, diabetes doesn’t go away, so realizing that you are in this for the long haul is important.
For the most part, long-term goals are relatively broad. Broad, long-term goals may include wanting to be healthier, wanting to lose weight, wanting to exercise more, and wanting better numbers.
Examples of precise, long-term goals that may take some time to reach are:
- Wanting to lose 50 pounds. It is important to note that losing this much weight will take some work. It’s not something that will or should happen right away.
- Wanting your cholesterol to be normal.
- Wanting your A1C to be less than 7%.
- Wanting your blood pressure to be lower.
Contrary to long-term goals, short-term goals are more specific steps that you can immediately take in order to reach the long-term goals. Examples of short-term goals include:
- Being more active by walking 30 minutes per day five or more days per week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities five or more days of the week.
- Trying some new activities. Enjoying what you do may help you stick with it. Try some different activities to avoid boredom, like ballroom dancing, gardening, swimming or going to the gym.
- Moving your exercise equipment to a convenient place and use what you have. If you already have exercise equipment, take the clothes and other junk off of them. Move them to a place where you will use them. If you like to watch TV, move the equipment to a spot nearby. If you like to listen to music, use a personal music system. If you like to read, get a bookrack so you can read as you move.
- Making a date. Make time for exercising, put it in your planner and show up!
- Telling someone. When you decide to exercise more, tell a friend who can share your commitment and help to ensure that you both reach your goals.
- Meeting with an exercise physiologist or physical therapist. If you don’t know what to do or if you have some health problems holding you back like a sore knee or back, meet with an expert. They can give you some ideas that will work for you.
Remember, being more active usually decreases your blood glucose. Check your numbers frequently to see how it’s working for you.
And, don’t forget to EnJOY!