The Antidote to Diabetes is Living Proud

What motivates people to manage their diabetes well? Probably many things rush to mind, but likely not the one thing I have discovered may be the most powerful. It’s something we never talk about, hear about or read about regarding diabetes management, and yet can be more compelling than fear, guilt, threats, worry, shame, acceptance, perfection, a positive attitude and chasing target numbers. It is pride.

I know this because of a key event in my life, one that had nothing to do with diabetes. I got married. I was 48 and had lived with diabetes for 30 years, sometimes well, sometimes not so well. Having a loving partner whom I would now make my life with, I wanted to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. So I changed my ways. I did everything I could to learn more, take more positive actions and get my blood sugar in tighter control.

The visible results were fairly dramatic: Already near my target weight I got fitter, my cholesterol improved and my A1cs dropped into the 5s and have remained there. Yet, the invisible result was unexpected and even more dramatic. I no longer resented diabetes but befriended it, because I was proud of how I was managing it. Managing my diabetes well on a daily basis also showed me how strong, courageous, committed, responsible, resourceful, flexible and smart I am. My newfound pride sneakily made me want to continue to manage my diabetes well. So every day I wake now, I meet diabetes’ challenge willingly, knowing that I can, and will, do my best.

Pride is like an intravenous drip continuously providing nourishment and support, as in: good control, liking how I look in my clothes, feeling fit and strong from my exercise, having cardiologists praise my heart, ophthalmologists my eyes, seeing love and praise reflected back to me in my husband’s eyes, and managing my diabetes with gumption and grace, even with diabetes’ inconsistencies. Pride has given me something else too, the desire and assuredness to help others manage their diabetes better. So, over the past few years I changed my life once again. Today I share my experience and learning from the podium at health fairs; from my living room chair through my web blog; and at New York City’s Mt. Sinai hospital where I mentor a young girl still finding her way, and her pride. This is the rhythm of my life now and it has never beat so sweetly.

Pride is a powerful motivating force for managing diabetes foremost because it feels good. It’s also a natural by-product of doing well and is self-perpetuating ⎯ when you feel proud you want to sustain the feeling, and you do this by continuing to manage diabetes well. While we’re all eager for scientists and technology to create a closed-loop artificial pancreas, it gives one pause to think that pride may the equivalent on the emotional side.

Lastly, for me pride does not “go before a fall” as in the biblical sentiment, but I do bow before others. When someone reaches for my hand to thank me for inspiring them or I see a flash of insight in others’ eyes that will help them regain their power, it is pride that put me in their path. Each day pride inspires me to ‘thrive’ with diabetes rather than ‘survive’ with diabetes and to show others what’s possible. Until there is a cure, I believe pride is the antidote to diabetes.


I can totally relate! I went from resentment to acceptance due to a major health scare. Now I am working towards integrating diabetes education and support into my new career as a counselor. And to think I didn’t even test my blood sugar for years, I was in that much denial! I am proud of what I have accomplished and how healthy I now feel. Thanks for sharing!

That’s a great post, Riva

amazing post thank you


Hoping others can find the pride. It’s hard viewing our disease as something to do battle with, even though it is a battle. Accepting, making peace with & staying motivated for the long haul is difficult. Your words are inspiring.

chi karma no ‘pride’ !
yes, self worth is ever so powerful a tool

Beautiful post…this makes a lot of sense to me, although I don’t think I would have thought of it in these words. Thank you so much for sharing!! :slight_smile:

Amen to that. But not false pride. That will sabotage any progress.

Great post Riva! :slight_smile: Joanne

This is an interesting and compellingly written post, Riva. I, too, have experienced the pride of successfully managing my diabetes; however, I’ve found that, for me anyway, making a powerful connection between the state of my diabetes control and my own efforts, and then taking pride in those efforts, is problematic. I’m a reasonably intelligent and well-organized person, but, for a number of reasons that I believe are unconnected to my own interventions, I’ve found it very hard (especially over the past 6 of my 23 years with D) to sustain what I would consider to be really good control. When things briefly go well, I resist taking too much personal credit for the outcome, so that when the seemingly inevitable turn for the worse happens, I won’t be as critical of myself for having "failed."

Sure, I can take credit for and pride in a certain amount of my success — in the absence of my own efforts, I suspect my diabetes control would be a complete disaster. But I hesitate to treat pride in my diabetes “accomplishments” as a primary motivating force. My former (now retired) endocrinologist used to ask me how my diabetes was behaving itself — a turn of phrase that I always appreciated, for it acknowledged that although I was trying my best, diabetes has a will of its own that does not always bend to the pressures of my efforts.

Heather: I like the line from your former endo regarding “how my diabetes is behaving itself”. I have to remember that one. Certainly we deserve to take pride in our efforts to maintain good health and, if the diabetes doesn’t “behave”, I guess we can still take pride in our efforts and then try something new. Thanks! Joanne

Great post! I totally agree about the role of pride and a sense of accomplishment. One way I work this is to look at each test as an opportunity to either say “good job” if it’s where it’s supposed to be or to do a good job 1) fixing it and 2) accumulating data for “next time” if it isn’t.

I think it makes good sense for us to take pride in our conscientious efforts, as you’re suggesting, Acidrock. I was getting the impression from the original post, however, that the source of the pride Riva is discussing, is the result of those efforts (ie. good numbers, absence of complications etc) …

[Pride is] also a natural by-product of doing well and is self-perpetuating ⎯ when you feel proud you want to sustain the feeling, and you do this by continuing to manage diabetes well.

I suppose one might argue that "managing diabetes well" doesn't necessarily require achieving good numbers, but I have a hard time thinking of the strings of highs and lows that I experience, in spite of my conscientious efforts, as constituting effective management!

To me, the result= the sum of everything else you do. Even when things get screwed up, they still produce data. I got by for years not even bothering to turn a log in or anything like that. “A1C is ok, you are ok…” sort of approach. Which was ok but it was a lot of work. It’s a lot of work whatever one’s result is I think and we “win” if we can get something out of the results. I don’t like terms like “well” to be locked in. If you look at a survey (e.g. the TuDiabetes results or perhaps google “National Average A1C” and see how “we” are doing? If a number is the only target, everyone who misses “the” number is not going to feel good. Obviously, everyone won’t feel good ALL the time but there are victories lurking in defeats, all sorts of approaches that can work and be effective.

Great post, Riva! Thanks for the perspective. It is tough to stay motivated for the long haul, and carefully analyzing how and why really helps.