Melissa Joy Dobbins MS, RDN, CDE, is the founder of Sound Bites, Inc. where she promotes “sound science, smart nutrition, and good food.” Melissa has been a Certified Diabetes Educator for 20 years and enjoys helping people make their own well-informed nutrition decisions based on facts, not fear. She is host of the Sound Bites podcast. You can follow Melissa on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

As a Certified Diabetes Educator for 20 years, I truly believe the most important thing you can do for your diabetes is to “meet yourself where you are” and feel empowered to take charge of your diabetes. That doesn’t mean you must be in control of every single aspect of diet, exercise, medications, and other lifestyle behaviors. Because, of course, it’s not possible to control everything. But when you are empowered to take a more proactive role, that’s when you realize what you’re truly capable of.

It’s not about doing more—it’s about getting more, having more, and enjoying more out of life through empowered diabetes self-management. And since diabetes is a progressive disease, it is necessary to take a progressive approach to managing it. In other words: you have to walk before you can run, and you have to run one mile before you can run five miles. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Key questions

As you consider where you are and where you want to go, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are your diabetes and/or health goals? What is working for you now and what is not? What results do you want?
  • Are you making health choices based on facts or fears? How can you take a guilt-free approach to taking care of yourself?
  • How does your personality influence your habits, choices, and diabetes self-management style? How can you use that to your advantage?

> Author, podcaster, and “happiness expert” Gretchen Rubin has a quiz you can take to help you get a better handle on how to change your habits for the better.

  • Do you prefer to moderate or abstain from certain foods and/or beverages? Why? Does it depend on the food or beverage?
  • Are your eating habits working for you? How do you prioritize what to focus on? What is one thing you could do to improve?
  • What benefits do you get from exercise beyond blood sugar control or weight control? Are you aiming for something fun or challenging? Is there a “guilty pleasure” activity that keeps you motivated? Is there something you want to “try on” to see if you enjoy?
  • Stress has a wide range of implications for diabetes health—how do you manage yours? Are there activities you find soothing or relaxing that you could do more often?
  • What does your support system look like? Where and/or how could you engage more support? Who and/or what could you utilize more effectively for better diabetes self-management? Can your healthcare provider answer questions about medications or provide more external accountability? Would an online or in-person support group give you that extra boost?

With so much to be mindful of, it’s important to find practical ways to set yourself up for success. By thinking about your personality, priorities, and preferences you can take your diabetes self-management to the next level and reap the rewards by enjoying more of what life has to offer.

For more information about the “Do M.O.R.E. With Diabetes” blog and podcast series, visit “Do M.O.R.E. With Diabetes” is an extension of “Do M.O.R.E. With Dinner: Make Ordinary Rituals Extraordinary.”