Want To Change? Believe You Can Change!

Written by Bill Paquin

OnTrack Diabetes provides advice on how to live a full, happy life as a person with diabetes.  For those with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, happiness quite often depends upon learning how to prevent the progression of the disease. Google the term “Type 2 diabetes treatments” and you will find 16,300,000 results; all recommending everything from drugs to diet to exercise.  While many, if not all, of the suggestions are worthy of consideration, no one tells you how to change your behavior when bad behaviors are ingrained in us.  I have a secret about behavior change regardless of the treatment you are following; if you want to change, believe you can change.

Before I get into behavior change, let me tell you why I decided to start blogging on this topic. In January of 2013 we acquired HealthTxts.com.  HealthTxts was built by behavioral psychologists at Columbia University through a grant from the NIH for the sole purpose of helping people change their behaviors and maintain that change over time. It turns out there are thousands of researchers and companies (like us) working very hard to understand the science behind behavior change as it relates to different diseases, and then to deploy those strategies using new technologies to alleviate suffering from chronic disease. Our job as entrepreneurs and publishers is take the available research and turn it into easy-to-use tools that work. 

For instance, take the term “self-efficacy,” which was coined by Dr. Albert Bandura, one of the leading thought leaders in behavioral psychology.  Self-efficacy is a fancy way of saying “I believe I can change.” This is an incredibly important concept.  Evidently, the greatest single predictor of whether you will change is whether you believe you can change.  

For those of you with type 2 diabetes who already KNOW exercise and diet are key to stopping the progression of this disease but find it hard to adopt healthier behaviors, if you LEARN  to believe in yourself, you will put yourself on the path to a healthier, happier life. 

Here are some tips to believing you can change.

  1. Set a goal to change your lifestyle and measure your performance against that goal.
  2. Set small achievable goals “Today, I will walk during lunch for 20 minutes” or “Today, I will not drink any soda.” Stick with your goals for 1 month. 
  3. When you wake up in the morning say out loud “I can change my habits” or “I believe I can change”
  4. If you cheat, know that you are only 1 day from being back on your plan.  
  5. Find alternatives to the people, places, and feelings that trigger your cheating.
  6. Enlist your family and friends to help.  
  7. Get support from tools like our HealthTxts: SMS Diabetes Health Coach that provide support and counseling through your mobile phone.

Building a health habit is hard, but keeping a positive attitude and sticking with it even when you