How to find enough self-control and keep it?

When I was first diagnosed, I was scared out of my mind and that fear kept me perfectly controlled.
I remember one the clinicians in diabetes ed. class saying to everyone that the fear fades in time and won’t keep people in line after a while. She was right. I’m still really worried when I think of complications that could possibly come later, but it’s easy to block it out because its not a clear picture in my mind.
I’m not totally careless. I have my insulin every day and check my bg constantly. But for a few reasons, I let it get up too high sometimes. Partly because I fear lows, especially when I’m going to be leaving the house, and other times because I enjoy food–too much, and some times eat things I’m better off not to, or too much…at a wrong time, etc.
Every now and then, I’m able to be really self-controlled, and would give anything to hold onto that, but it never lasts for more than a couple of days before my #'s are all over the place again. My last A1C’s were around 7.4, and if I have it done again any time soon, I think it would be much worse.
What does everyone use to stay focused and motivated?

A good plan for eating helps me. I count my carbs. I am not perfect but my routine is in my head so to speak. I don’t stress about going low but carry my meter and glucose with me. I seldom stress about complications having done well for 23 years . I do exercise daily. I love the pool,walking ,and gardening. It is like my rhythm. Nancy

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23 years is a long time! It’s encouraging to read about type 1’s who are doing well for so many years, just to know that its possible to stay really healthy. Routine is the word that stands out to me here. I think I would benefit from a routine (and some more fun exercises besides my walking) Thanks Nancy. :slight_smile:

I think the most common motivator is the dislike of the lethargy one feels when blood glucose is high, the desire to be all one can be, the good feeling one gets from some good stable blood glucose. I can’t stand the idea of dieting but I eat what I think will make me feel better often. And I’ve learned that I can have treat food. My dietician says try to limit treats to one per day. I overdo them and try to treat with insulin. Of course that doesn’t work great but it helps me get more callories. My appetite changed when I started Invokana somehow. I don’t want to pig out as often on that drug. It makes the kidneys pee out sugar to get it out of the blood.

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My issue is that I feel perfectly fine at high blood sugars. That being said, I am not at those levels for more than a few hours. I am eternally frustrated that it takes multiple injections/pump boluses to move those highs down to normal. Most of the time those corrections eventually result in lows.


Maybe I’m the odd one here, but I’ve never feared complications. I just do what I need to do to avoid them. I spent a lot of time educating myself and think that as long as I keep my BG levels in a good range, the chances of complications in my lifetime are relatively low, since I was age 70 before becoming diabetic. I’m at high risk for heart attack or stroke and would have been whether diabetic or not, so I don’t really count that.

I’m on MDI. No CGM, either. But I’ve managed to keep my A1c between 5.5 and 5.9 ever since the first full three-month period after going on MDI. I do have hypos, but nothing I couldn’t handle myself. Since I don’t have a CGM, it is possible that I’ve had some highs that I didn’t record, but the last BGs I recorded over 200 were back in February. Most of the time the highest I’ll see in a week is in the 160s.

I know that I have a stronger BG reaction to carbs than average. A 4-gram glucose tab will raise my BG by 40 points. So I’ve just tried to figure out ways I could live with that “handicap” and still eat. I don’t have a pump to super-bolus, so I do my own version of a super-bolus. Eating 56 grams carb at a meal would send my BG way over 200, so I bolus for 56 grams before the meal, but eat only about 36 of it at the meal and save 20 grams for a snack a couple of hours later. That way my BG stays in a more acceptable range, and I still get my food. I think it is mainly tricks like this that have helped me to keep my A1c in a good range.


I think that fear is never a good motivator. I am grateful it has never been mine.
What I try to do is keep things interesting. I try to think of it as if it were a game. In fact, it has a lot in common, trying to aim for the BG to be in range, guesstimating carbs, etc. the app mysugr can help you to get into that mode. The feeling i get when i nail my blood sugar is like i completed a level in some sort of game! :slight_smile: and that feeling makes me want to try to do well every day.
I really aspire to like what i do, even diabetes management. And usually you like what you are good at. And i am the best at dealing with my diabetes!!! :muscle: (even if i do a crappy job in comparison to a working pancreas, but mine quit, so i am the best at it!) look at all your non-diabetic friends, they would suck at it!!!
If you like what you do you don’t even need to motivate yourself!
I know it will take some time to get to that “I love it”-Mode, but i am in it and it really makes stuff easier! I guess you just need to tell it yourself often enough! And come here and discuss with us all of the interesting things you find out about your body!


Sorry,I didn’t clarify that I am a type 2 ,insulin user. .Nancy

“Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, and I’m going to be happy in it.” - Groucho Marx (comedian, movie star, TV game show host)

As you said @Maria32, fear can only motivate you for so long. What I try to do is do my best in this moment, because my future (including complications from diabetes) will most likely be affected by what I do today. What happened yesterday, or even 3 hours/minutes/seconds ago is over. The past can only attempt to inform what I do today, especially the diabetic past.

Like @AARON10, I also find that being in range gives me more energy and all the motivation I need to try and stay on top of what I eat, when I eat and how much I eat, along with how much I bolus, when I bolus and any needed changes to my basal rate.

I also know I won’t succeed every single day. I’m human, after all!

I know I will have too much of some food (cookies!?!), or a mismatch of food digestion and insulin absorption, or this, or that. The result is I use the numbers from my meter/CGM (especially the trending) to help me take the necessary steps to get back in range. The numbers aren’t viewed as good/bad, just data to help me make a decision right now.

BTW, I am complication free except for some neuropathy in my feet - working on my 43rd year with diabetes. The first 23 or so had no carb counting or testing and one shot of NPH/day.


“You can’t fix yesterday.” Don’t know who said it first, but those are words to live by. I have them hanging on the wall.

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Sorry to say fear was and still is a factor for me. 45 years ago we were told death and doom. There was no pretty flower pictures with diabetes back than. I was told I’d be blind in 5 years, I’d never have children and I’d be lucky to make it to 30. Fear of all those horrible things was a huge motivator for me. I didn’t want any of it. And while my teen years were not the best but what teen who has diabetes is on target, I did have my routine. And I think for me routine has helped me make things work. I have never not taken my insulin, ever. I hate that high feeling and will do anything to not have that sick draggy high feeling. I test all the time and now use a CGM so I always know which way I’m heading. I have all the new technology and it makes things so much easier for me but I still have that routine. And while I don’t think actively about what I’m doing, it is in my subconscious and always working.
Fear still works for me. I am still waiting for the shoe to drop and something to go wrong just like they said it would. And 45 years later with no complications, I still wait. Fear is probably not the best tool for most people and I sure wouldn’t recommend it but it has worked for me and I continue to fight the fight and I continue to win he war. One day I will see a cure and the fear can leave my mental war chest.

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You are right Maria. Fear is not the most healthy motivator, but it does have its place. Fearing complications is one of those places. They are the wild animals hiding behind the trees waiting to pounce. These complications (of which I have several) have a much greater impact on my life than the underlying cause, diabetes.

That being said, several people have hit the nail on the head in their responses. We all do things different. We are all motivated differently. We use different tools and different treatments. This thing that will make you successful is beyond self-control (which can be elusive and inconsistent). What will really work for anyone in managing their health is to make the practices a natural part of life. As has been said here, they become part of your subconscious. It takes patience, practice and focus. Not to mention time.

One thing that helps me is to place a value on the choice I face. In other words; is what I am about to eat worth chasing with that much insulin? Maybe it is, so I eat it. But many times when I take the time to evaluate the value to me I determine that that doughnut is the equivalent of a quart of used motor oil (yes, I actually draw that analogy visually in my mind). Silly as it may sound this little trick has made those tempting choices much easier to deal with.

We each need to find the things that work for us. You know what motivates you. Only you can decide how you want to treat your diabetes. It has to be your choice and to be successful in the long run it has to be second nature.

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I never thought of it like that :slight_smile:

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43 years and complication free! That’s good news!

For me it is a matter of trying to keep things stable each day and not starve to death…ugh… fear unfortunately does play a role just in keeping stable each day.

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Hi,I’ve been a t1 diabetic for 4 years I have never been under control I’m either high or low, I’m finding myself doubling my insulin cause I’m high constantly and then going onto very little insulin because I’m having problems with lows then going back onto more insulin then I ever was on… I am getting no help from the doctors in am on the novorapid and levemir pens, for the past year I have been trying to get the pump but I’ve been told I need to get control over my sugars but no matter what I try it just cant… does anybody have any ideas what could be going on or any advise for me? I am alooking having problems with very high ketones going over 5 and I’m still getting no answers

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there are some great books out there! instead of me explaining you the whole ABC, i refer you to this two books:

  • “Think Like A Pancreas” by Gary Scheiner
  • “Using Insulin” by John Walsh

Hope you get somewhere, @meganrundle2000 and good luck :four_leaf_clover:


That’s great thanks a million :slight_smile:

Megan, I totally agree with the book recommendations swisschocolate gave. They were critical in my ability to achieve the level of control I have. In fact, my endo has tried to “fire” me, saying I don’t need him any more.

What happened originally is that my PCP treated me as a type 2 for a year and a half while I struggled and had to starve myself to achieve some semblance of control. She finally referred me to an endo, who diagnosed me as type 1, put me on insulin, gave me starting doses, and was then going to turn me back over to my PCP. Based upon my previous experience with her, I had absolutely no confidence in her ability to guide me on insulin. I don’t think she even knows the carb counting method. So I got the Walsh book and did all my adjusting of doses before I even saw her again.

Of course, one can get additional hints about diabetes control from others on boards like this, but I firmly believe those two books should be able to get most insulin-using diabetics on a firm footing of control.

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