Happy Saturday, the last of 2013! The year may be ending, but don't worry, our weekly advice column Ask D'Mine isn't going anywhere.  We're happy to continue bringing you veteran type 1, diabetes author and educator Wil Dubois — who's never shy in tackling the tough questions.

With the New Year almost here, today Wil's talking about those pesky resolutions and how PWDs (people with diabetes) can think about making good on them.

{Need help navigating life with diabetes? Send your questions to AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

 

Mandi, type 2 from Florida, writes: Hey, Wil, the new year is just around the corner. I'm toying with the idea of some New Year's resolutions on the diabetes front. Any thoughts? Oh, and thanks for the snarky/entertaining/educational old year. I love your column!

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Well, let me just check my list from last year. I jotted down all my resolutions on my day planner on the first day of the year. OK, let's see here... April, March, February, January... Ah! Here it is! Last year I resolved to give up binge drinking, skirt chasing, my eBay addiction, and brownie hot fudge Sundaes. And swearing, too. Ah, shit!

Innovation 2015

Clearly, I'm not doing too well.

But I don't think I'm unique. According to the Internet, 88% of all New Year's resolutions fail. How one can calculate—much less report—such a statistic with a straight face eludes me, but I'm sure we can all agree that regardless of the exact numbers, most New Year's resolutions fail. And I think I know why.

First, let's ask: what is our hang up with trying to change who we are each year with the rollover of the calendar's odometer? I guess I'm not qualified to answer that question as I'm pretty happy with mnew-year-resolution-cartoon-1yself as I am. But for what it's worth, there's a long history behind the tradition of trying to change oneself at the New Year that dates back to pagan times. In times past, New Year's resolutions have ranged from religious, to social, to personal. I think in today's world the modern resolution is just an external kick in the pants to help make a change.

So let's talk about change. Change is hard. Experts say that even if we really want to change it takes 30 days to break a habit (or start a new one). This doesn't surprise me; from the cellular level on up, we humans are built to resist change. In biology it's called homeostasis. In physics it's called Newton's First Law of Motion. Our bodies and our universe are designed to avoid change, yet the pressures of our societies encourage us at the close of a year to look backwards, look forwards, look deep inside, and to resolve to find fault in ourselves and do better going forward.

Now, you didn't tell me what kinds of changes you were considering making, so let me give you some blanket advice: Avoid changes to your diet. It's easier to change your gender than it is your diet. But seriously, now that I got the snarky and entertaining part out of the way, here's the educational part: I think most New Year's resolutions fail because we've resolved to make changes that someone else wants to see in us. If you want to succeed, you need to make sure your resolution is your resolution. All my resolutions failed because they were changes someone else wanted. I'm perfectly happy with my boozing, skirt-chasing, eBay-buying, or Sundae scarfing ways. It's those other people who live with me that seem to have some mysterious aversion to my favorite activities.

I have no doubt whatsoever that if you resolve to make changes in yourself that someone else wants to see, you'll be solidly in the 88%. On the other hand— if that number really is true—then 12% of New Year's resolutions actually do succeed! So what separates the wheat from the chaff? I'll bet the ones that succeed are the resolutions the resolver really wants.

To illustrate my point, let me tell you the story of two fat people: Fat Lady and Fat Man.

A while back, the Feds decided all the federally-funded clinics needed to provide clinical weight-loss programs. Of course, they didn't provide any extra funding to support this mandate, so it fell to my desk. Imagine the surprise on my face, looking up from my brownie hot fudge sundae, upon receiving the news that I would be the clinic's new weight-loss guru. Anyway, not one to shy away from a challenge, I rolled up my skinny sleeves and began to research the issue of weight loss and weight gain. After much research, I came to the conclusion that, like diabetes itself, small steady change with lots of support was the way to go.

Enter the Fat Lady.

I guess they posted on the website we were now in the fat-busting biz, because this very hefty lady came to see me one day. She was unhappy with her weight. "Oh," I said, "You'd like to weigh more? I think we can help you with that."

She was aghast. "No, I want to lose weight!"

Oh... OK. Well, we can do that, too. We worked together to create a personalized plan that I hoped would help her. She's come in every two weeks since then for a boxer-style weigh in. How's she doing? Hold on, I'll tell you in a sec, but I also need to tell you about the Fat Man.

The Fat Man didn't come to me. He was SENT to see me. His primary care provider told him he was dangerously overweight and he needed to lose weight ASAP, and he needed to see the skinny diabetes educator at the clinic who would get him squared away (seriously, this whole weight-loss program is the first time in my life that being thin has ever embarrassed me).

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Naturally, the Fat Man hasn't lost any weight. In fact, I think he's put on a few pounds now with the holidays. And my Fat Lady? Well, she left singing last week. She's lost an un-frickin-believable 60 pounds! I actually dragged her out of my office to the nurse's station and loudly announced her achievement, which got her cheers and a standing ovation from the nursing staff.

Happy New Year, not-so-fat-anymore Lady.

Now 60 pounds isn't typical. That's like losing a dozen Chihuahuas, five house cats, three auto tires, or two mid-sized microwave ovens. Do I dare say 60 pounds is the rough weight of a bull elephant's penis? (High on the list of jobs I don't want: Recorder of Elephant Vital Statistics.) But my whole point here is that this lady wanted, deep down in her soul, to lose this weight. I'm no weight-loss expert. I just served as her "spotter," so to speak. I was there to support her in a new move she had already decideNo Resolutionsd to make.

And I think that's the key to success when it comes to change: If we want to change we need to want to change. We might need a little outside help to get us there, but it starts inside. If we aren't truly committed, no amount of resolving or other outside pressure will do the job. On the other hand, if we are ready and want it, perhaps a New Year's resolution might just be the compass we need to stay on track.

So, Mandi, I want you to resolve to pick a New Year's resolution that you, and only you, really want. Not something your mother, your mate, or your little monsters want you to do. Resolve to change something that YOU want to change, and I'll bet you join those who succeed in keeping their resolutions. As for me, I think I'll resolve to quit making New Year's resolutions.

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.