Contributor: Dr. Staci-Marie Norman, PharmD, CDE
Happy New Year! Did you make a resolution? Have you "blown it" already? Unfortunately, this aspect of not being able to keep the resolution is why I think the New Year's resolution gets a bad rap. But I think we should look at the New Year's resolution differently.
Have you ever run a marathon? If you have, I applaud you! It takes a ton of work, training, and perseverance to prepare and then successfully complete a marathon. It's not just a few trips to the gym and BOOM you can run a marathon. I have a dear friend that has a huge goal of running a marathon in every state. In his quest, he runs or does some type of strength training every day - even when we vacation, he will disappear for an hour or two to get his exercise in. But it's not just the daily training, he has had to overcome injuries - each time needing rest, then physical therapy, then rebuilding to get back to race form. Diabetes is really like preparing for and running a marathon. It is necessary to have that ongoing training to keep in the best form to stay healthy. And just like my friend, there will be challenges along the path that will need to be overcome.
So, how does this relate back to New Year's resolutions? I must admit that in the past, I have gone from making resolutions to not making resolutions (because I have failed so many times in the past) to the place I am now with resolutions. I look at resolutions as a mental "reset." It is a time to look critically at what I have done over the past year - what worked, what didn't, and to reevaluate what I want to keep doing or change to continue my quest for better health. I would challenge you to do the same.
Staying healthy does take a good deal of effort. Think about the foundation that all therapy of diabetes is built on – lifestyle modification. This encompasses diet, exercise, and smoking cessation. None of these are easy - no BOOM I've changed this aspect, and I'm done! Diet - in the cartoon Garfield, he referred to this as DIE with a T. I try very hard not to talk about dieting, but rather changing eating habits to be healthier. Because let's face it, probably every single one of us has tried a DIET at one time. And how many of us have continued with that method for more than a few weeks or months at best? I would challenge you to look at how you are eating as a way of keeping your body healthy. This is the mindset resolution I made this past year. Have I been totally successful- no, but have I made progress- yes. My husband and I have been eating more vegetables at each meal, limiting refined carbohydrates, and have been successful at losing a few pounds too. But, have we had to overcome "injuries"- you bet we have! I swear I've lost the same 5 pounds more times than I want to admit, but slowly and surely, the scale is moving downward.
This same mindset shift needs to come when setting goals for activity. Notice I didn't say exercise! How can you add more activity into your life? Find something you enjoy doing, and it does become easier- this is coming from one who claims to be allergic to exercise!
Being a pharmacist, I do want to include your drug regimen in the resolution conversation. I know that having diabetes means more than one medication for most of you. And I know this can become overwhelming and expensive. I hear from patients every day that they aren't taking this or that because they can't afford it. Please, please, please, if you are having trouble affording your medications, talk with your pharmacist and/or physician about options. If you have commercial insurance, there are typically co-pay cards that can help lower the cost of your co-pay. There are many new combo products that could decrease your co-pay cost by only having to pay for one medication instead of two. And even though the newer insulins are great, the older NPH and Regular insulin still may work well to manage blood glucose at a fraction of the cost. And if you are "stretching" your medication by not taking it as prescribed, please let your doctor know. You would hate for a dose to be adjusted based on what he or she thinks you are taking. This could lead to nasty adverse reactions if you begin taking the medication as prescribed. If you are taking your medications as prescribed, but are having trouble meeting your A1C goal, open the conversation with your doctor about new options. The world of diabetes medication is rapidly changing, and a discussion about what's new might be just what you need to hit your goals.
I hope you take the time to rethink your New Year's resolution and reset your focus on your health! Here's to a fabulous New Year!
Dr. Staci-Marie Norman, PharmD, CDE received her bachelors from Purdue University (’94) and her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma (’96). In 2000 Dr. Norman added to her credentials by becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator. She is currently the Clinical Coordinator and staff pharmacist for Martin’s Pharmacy. Dr. Norman is a national faculty member for the American Pharmacist Association, teaching certificate programs in both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She serves on the advisory board that oversees development and revision of these programs. Along with teaching and development responsibilities for APhA, Dr. Norman serves as a peer reviewer for research grants and publication submission. Dr. Norman has also spoken for Abbott, Bayer, Lilly, Mannkind, and Lifescan as a diabetes specialist.