Just before the new year I came across this blog post on Pinterest suggesting a method for staying motivated with resolutions and goals. It seemed a little too easy but since I’d decided to work on a few goals in 2013 I decided to give it a try. After one month I can tell you that it is incredibly easy but amazingly enough, it also works (at least for me)!
Accountability, mostly to myself, as well as clearly defined guidelines seem to be the key to my sticking with something long term. These bold marks on the calendar offer both. I simply mark a big red X on the calendar for each day that I accomplish my goal. It’s great because it works with any goal. My most pressing issue as the new year began was getting my blood sugar back under control so that’s what I decided to track on the calendar. After one month I’ve shaved about 15-20 mg/dL from my average fasting blood sugar (checked upon waking in the morning). Though I’d still like to lower it a bit more I am supremely happy with these results in such a short amount of time.
The guidelines I outlined for myself were pretty basic, I don’t want to spend my life counting carbs, questioning every bite of food or pricking my fingers several times per day. I know what foods spike my blood sugar and which I can tolerate so I simply decided not to eat the foods I know cause spikes. This means eliminating all simple carbs. No added sugars, no flour (not even whole grain), no potatoes, no rice. It’s really not so bad because I’ve learned lots of great substitutions and I love fresh fruits and veggies (even as a child I loved broccoli and brussels).
In the past I struggled with the idea of “once in a while”. I knew if I never allowed myself to have certain foods I would be setting myself up for failure. Forbidden foods become so tantalizing that they are nearly impossible to resist. But what constitutes once in a while? It becomes really easy to think you’re not indulging that often because we have so many temptations that we do resist the ones we finally indulge may not seem like a big deal. But it doesn’t matter if I’m resisting 50 temptations per day and only indulging in one. One a day is not once in a while, neither is once a week (not for a diabetic anyway). So, I followed the lead laid out by the blogger (link above). She gave herself 3 weeks worth of “vacation” days per year. 21 days where it’s okay to indulge and still consider yourself on track.
I debated with myself a bit about the number of days (hence all the scribbles in the upper left corner of my calendar). I thought 3 weeks was a lot and then not enough (I was veering between 14 days and 24- 2 weeks or 2 days per month). I did eventually settle on 21 days but not because of the original blog post. 21 days is one day per month plus the number of days we’ll spend vacationing out of town this year. That seemed reasonable for my purposes, others may need to adjust this for theirs. I mark these vacation days with a V instead of an X to help myself keep track of how many I’ve used, then I write how many I have left at the beginning of each month. It’s okay to use more than one day in a month but that means I’ll have to skip a day in another month. This isn’t about perfection, it’s about the big picture.
The accountability (which is semi-public since my family sees the results hanging on the fridge) has helped me a lot. Several times in January I resisted the urge to have “just one bite” of something I knew wouldn’t be healthy for me because I didn’t want to have to either give up a vacation day or break my chain. I’ll continue using this method as long as I feel it’s necessary and it continues working.