Dr. Phil (yes, THE Dr. Phil) doesn’t always practice what he preaches. Why? Because Dr. Phil is human, and humans mess up, a lot. And Dr. Phil is not shy about admitting his failures. In fact, he embraces them and learns from them. I was lucky enough to interview Dr. Phil last Thursday about how he has managed to live a very full and active life managing his Type 2 diabetes for the last 25 years, and how he is now turning his attention to helping others do the same.
There are 29 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with diabetes, and another 86 million adults – more than one in three U.S. adults –that have pre-diabetes (people whose blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes.) Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/
Dr. Phil is on a crusade to help the millions of people in the U.S. who suffer from Type 2 diabetes live healthier, more productive lives. People with diabetes are at increased risk of serious health complications including vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputation of toes, feet or legs, and premature death. https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/
I came away with the feeling that Dr. Phil is doing really important work, and that he is as genuine as he appears to be on TV—a really down to earth, candid and caring man.
One key to managing Type 2 Diabetes is making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and sticking to it. And Dr. Phil knows that it ain’t easy- even when your life depends on it. He has teemed up with AstraZeneca and the Onitmovement.com to help provide people with diabetes with information and support to develop the right personal mindset to be successful.
Dr. Phil has come up with 6 Rules that are the key to the ON IT Movement:
- Move Forward: Stop blaming yourself.
- Get educated: Knowledge is power.
- Build a Team For Support.
- Replace Bad Habits With Good Ones.
- Make a Plan.
- Stick With it.
But it was Rule #6—the “Sticking With It” part–that was what Dr. Phil really wanted to talk about during our interview, because we all know- the psychological barriers to sticking with a healthy lifestyle are the toughest.
Anyone who breathes (and especially those of us over 50) knows that sticking with a plan to eat right and exercise, well…it ain’t easy. For me, the hardest part of a weight loss or healthy eating lifestyle has not been at the beginning when I am psyched to be eating right, but months later when I am bored and tempted and then fall off the wagon. How many times have you tried and failed to stick to a healthy eating regime? For me, it has been too many to count.
What I gleaned from Dr. Phil is that many of the strategies that he suggests for Type 2 diabetics to “stick with it” can also help anyone that struggles with their weight. It wasn’t what Dr. Phil sought out to tell me, but I have struggled with keeping to a healthy diet regimen so many times in my life (without type 2 diabetes) that I couldn’t help but think he was talking directly to me also.
Here is some of the advice that he had for “sticking with it”:
- It’s not a 100-yard dash; it’s a marathon. There are going to be times when you don’t stick with a healthy lifestyle. It’s inevitable. And when it does, there is no time for self-recrimination or guilt—in other words, don’t beat yourself up. Minimize the damage, then move on and get back to it.
- Recognize your high-risk situations, whether it be holidays, birthdays, or travel (Dr. Phil has the hardest time sticking with his program when he travels) and plan what you are going to eat beforehand. The time to decide how you are going to eat is not at the party when the pigs in the blanket are being passed around, it’s before you even leave for the party. For example, Dr. Phil will often have a large salad with protein before he goes to a party so he is not tempted by empty calorie foods.
- Redefine your rewards. Stop rewarding yourself with processed sugar products!
- Remember that you are not a victim. Your diabetes (and I add… your struggles with weight) can be managed and minimized and do not have to dominate your life.
- Exercise on a consistent basis. It’s the consistency that is key, not the difficulty of the exercise.
- Limit alcohol. Dr. Phil told me that he hasn’t had a drink for 50 years, but he knows that alcohol is sugar intense, and lessens control for keeping with a plan, so should be limited.
- A support system is key. For Dr. Phil, his support system is his “ridiculously healthy” wife.