Here’s my daily routine – roll to the left, swipe my finger across my phone, open Facebook. I look to see if I missed anything in the news last night.
Deny it if you want, but your morning probably looks much the same as mine. It’s a habit that was formed from days, weeks, and months of repetition.
Most importantly, it was completely effortless. Not once did I tell myself that I was going to make Facebook a part of my daily routine.
However, the reality is that most habits are nowhere near as easy to form as a Facebook habit. They take an overarching goal and an easy and simple set of actions. They also often require a catalyst to serve as initial motivation.
How to make managing diabetes a habit
So, let’s talk about the motivation for managing diabetes. Every 21-seconds in the U.S., someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes.
Almost 10% of the population is currently living with it. In fact, it is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. It claims more lives every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
Diabetes is also the costliest chronic condition in our country with one in every seven dollars spent on its treatment and its complications.
There’s no cure but diabetes can be managed
The good news is that although there is no cure for diabetes, it can be managed. Research shows that lifestyle choices and forming healthy habits play an important role in preventing, delaying, or managing the condition.
It’s clear that the diabetes care industry is ripe for innovative solutions that can help deliver the ease and simplicity that people need to form healthy habits.
Related story: Is There Really A Way to Reverse Diabetes?
There is an increasing focus on this space. Startups and social enterprises are now delivering solutions that help people on their journey towards better managing their diabetes. They do this by emphasizing behavior change and the importance of taking one step at a time.
Four holistic resources to help you
Here are four holistic resources to help you take the first step toward forming healthy habits and leading a healthy life with diabetes.
1. The ‘Let’s Be Well Diabetes Box
Research shows that the key to forming healthy habits is setting goals that are both specific and challenging. They must be specific enough to have actionable steps and yet challenging enough to push the goal setter.
For example, if your overall goal is to reduce your A1C by 2 points in six months, start by creating a monthly action plan that incorporates activities such as portion control, meal preparation, and daily exercise in increasing amounts.
The “Let’s Be Well Diabetes Box™ is a new product that helps millions of Americans living with diabetes reach their health goals.
Developed as a collaboration between AARP and the American Diabetes Association, the box is for people with type 2 diabetes who are looking for practical ways to help manage their condition. It includes a carefully selected mix of wellness products and information that people can use to achieve their specific and challenging goals.
Available online at www.LetsBeWellBox.com for $19.99, the box can be purchased by caregivers, friends, family members, or people with diabetes, and shipped directly to the recipient
2. Headspace App
Meditation and visualization have positive effects in helping people achieve their health goals. Recent studies have shown that meditation can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
Other benefits include reduced stress associated with managing diabetes, helping to relieve chronic pain, and minimizing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Many meditation apps have appeared on the scene. The Headspace App is a simple tool that allows you to begin experiencing how meditation can help you achieve your goal.
Founded with the mission to improve the health and happiness of the world, the app uses research-proven methods to teach people the basics of meditation and mindfulness.
The app provides a free Basics pack for those just starting out and a paid subscription service for those seeking to go deeper into their practice.
3. ADA’s Living with Type 2 Diabetes Program
The power of peer pressure is an age-old tactic that, when spun the right way, can help you achieve your goals.
By committing your goal to someone else, you increase your chances of following through by 65%. If you set accountability appointments with this person, the chances increase to 95%!
The process starts by identifying a community of people to act as your accountability partners. A great resource to get started is ADA’s Living with Type 2 Diabetes program.
This free, yearlong program provides participants with information on emotional health, eating healthy, physical fitness and more. Most importantly, it gives members special access to online support communities and local events.
All of us know how difficult it is to form healthy eating habits. Cost is a factor but research finds that convenience, or lack thereof, is the biggest hurdle to people practicing healthy eating habits.
Many people opt for the convenience of fast food and other highly-processed cuisines to feed themselves and their families.
Meal delivery services are stepping in to fill the void. Companies are offering those with diabetes a way to form healthy eating habits, by giving them convenient and simple ways to design their own culinary experiences.
Fresh, diabetes-friendly food is delivered directly to your doorstep as prepared meals from BistroMD Silver Cuisine. With a range of prices, there’s an option that can meet most budgets.
Taking the first step is the hard part
The most difficult part of making any lifestyle change is taking the first step.
The key to success is your commitment to an overarching goal. But it is also important that you take a consistent set of actions each day. Luckily, innovative resources for managing diabetes are available to help you achieve your goals.
Related story: Is the future of American healthcare digital?
With a little patience and consistency, managing your diabetes will soon come as naturally as rolling over and checking your Facebook feed.
Originally published on May 5, 2018, this post has been updated for republication.
Andy Miller joined AARP as the Senior Vice President, Innovation and Product Development where he is responsible for driving the development of radical, breakthrough and incremental solutions that serve the needs of the 50+. Andy is working to enable the growth of the enterprise and build a new entrepreneurial culture at AARP through the use of human-centered design, lean methods, and a dual-operating model.
Andy manages all physical and virtual assets of innovation at AARP, including The Hatchery, as well as engaging leaders, business units and other key stakeholders to drive alignment and successful execution around developed solutions.
Prior to joining AARP, Andy spent several years as an investor and advisor to technology start-ups, including FamilyID, Blush Messenger, Campseekers and Sidewalk. During that time, he also served as the Chief Innovation Architect at digital marketing company Constant Contact.
He has been the co-founder and CEO of several businesses, including Quece (acquired by Intellectual Ventures), Lumifi and CardStar (acquired by Constant Contact). Andy holds a patent for "Identification Related Technology" that was awarded in 2013.
He is a member of the board for the Center for Innovation & Change Leadership at Suffolk University, and with YouthCITIES (Creating Impact Through Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability).
Andy earned his Bachelor's degree in Economics from SUNY Oswego; and his Master's Degree in Entrepreneurial Studies from Suffolk University.
Today Andy lives in the Greater Boston area with his wife and two sons. He enjoys golf, car shows and he is a huge soccer fan.