Bob Greene: Find Your Motivation With Diabetes

Oprah’s personal trainer shares how to overcome the emotional and physical stumbling blocks that stand between you and getting a tight grip on your diabetes.

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Even as a boy, Bob Greene had a heightened awareness of what healthy living was all about. His great-grandmother was bedridden because of obesity—“I can’t remember ever seeing her get out of bed,” says Bob. “My sister and I would talk to her while standing on top of a chair that had been placed next to her bed for visitors.”

While most kids would shrug off such a situation, Bob took it to heart: “I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t conscious of what was good for you and what was bad for you, and that was particularly true when it came to my family’s diet.” And his great-grandmother’s obesity wasn’t his only motivator: Both his parents had type 2 diabetes—and Bob, who says his whole world was about “running, jumping, kicking and climbing,” was bound and determined to avoid following in their footsteps. What’s more, he made it his life’s mission to help others dodge the health concerns that plagued his family.

So he went about trying to figure out why. “Why do most people who change their eating and exercise habits change them right back again? I asked myself. Why don’t they stick?” If his great-grandmother had known, “I think deep down her days could have been better,” he says. And his parents might not be dealing with type 2 diabetes today.

“I want to give people hope,” says Bob. “But they need to realize this is serious. I want people to manage their condition. You can live a normal life by modifying your lifestyle. That’s the overriding message.”

So how do you get the motivation to make the changes that will give you better control of your diabetes? For more than 30 decades, Bob has helped people do just that, and here, he shares the insights that can help you.

Get the right mind-set.
Often, your biggest barriers to long-term fitness aren’t ineffective diets or inadequate exercise routines. Says Bob: “I’ve never worked with anyone who was able to stick with healthy eating and physical activity if she didn’t have her emotional life in order.” Take an honest look at yourself and your motivations, triggers and fears. What else in life are you dealing—or not dealing—with? Maybe you’re in an unsupportive relationship, or coping with the stress of financial struggles or a recent death in the family—these all can be barriers to mustering up motivation. When you aim to change what’s going on inside you, changing your health behaviors will be easier.

April 2013