By Jina Berro, First Mile Care DPP Coach

Lifestyle change, whether deliberately undertaken or thrust upon you by circumstances, is not easy.  We tend to want to fall back into old habits. Even if the change is one you really want  — for example, following an intervention program to prevent the development of diabetes — it can feel very challenging at times.

Life is finally taking on a “normal” sheen after two-plus years of disruption, anxiety, loss, and separation. As we return en masse to in-person celebrations, indoor restaurant dining, crowded events, airline travel, school classrooms, and shared office space, you may find that managing the way you eat and drink, your activity level, and even your sleep are affected. The new habits you have developed are subconsciously struggling with your old ingrained behaviors. Life can feel challenging at times. 

Good health results from consistent behaviors. Making lifestyle changes that endure can be a slow process, but a rewarding one that pays big dividends. In the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), coaches work with participants to determine a set of realistic goals and an action plan that works because it’s tailored to each person — and within your control.

Did you know that your mindset towards change can make it easier — or harder? By replacing negative thoughts with helpful thoughts, you can stay on track to achieve better health outcomes. To quote one of Johnny Mercer’s many entries to the Great American Songbook:

“You got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive

E-lim-i-nate the negative

And latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

Now, it’s easy to say, “think positive thoughts” but how do you do it?  The key thing is to recognize that not all negative thoughts are the same. The DPP identifies six types of negative thinking that can derail you on your path towards lifestyle change.

  1. All or Nothing. You see only the extremes; for example, “I can never drink wine if I want to lose weight.”  But denying yourself something you really enjoy isn’t a sustainable solution. Instead, find the path of moderation. Allow yourself to have a glass of wine when you’re with other people, or allow yourself one bottle of wine a week. 
  2. Excuses. You blame situations, things, or other people for your choices. Haven’t we all said, “It’s too hot this week to go for a walk,” or “I can’t lose weight because my roommate is always making desserts.”  Instead, take a walk outside at a cooler time of day, or exercise in an air-conditioned room. Share recipes for healthier dessert alternatives with your roommate.
  3. Filtering. You focus on your failures instead of your successes. You’re downcast that you went off your healthy eating plan during vacation and gained two pounds. Did you have a good time while doing it? Then don’t stress about it. Instead, remember that you stuck to your nutrition plan five days out of seven, and focus on how many pounds you’ve lost since you started the DPP. Talk with your friends or DPP coach about how to stay on track in the future.
  4. Self-Labeling. You belittle yourself and your efforts towards long-term lifestyle change. “I’m in terrible shape and I’m a lousy cook.” Instead, think about what exercise you do now or dishes you make that you didn’t used to be able to do. Can you climb stairs without huffing and puffing? Do you walk a mile without stopping for rest? Are there a couple of easy recipes that you have added to your repertoire?
  5. Comparing. You compare yourself with other people and find yourself lacking. This is truly dangerous thinking, as every person’s journey towards lifestyle change is different. Instead of feeling disheartened by the progress made by other DPP participants, be encouraged. If they can do it, so can you! Ask them for tips. Discuss your action plan with your coach and see if you should adjust it, or try a different type of physical exercise.
  6. Pessimism. You assume the worst. “I’ll gain weight on vacation so what’s the point of sticking to my action plan?” Or, “I know I’ll hurt my back using this machine, and then I won’t be able to work out.” And worse, “I’ll get type 2 diabetes because my parents had it, so there’s no point in trying to reverse my prediabetes diagnosis.” Instead, undertake different types of activities that you can do safely. Get in movement during vacation that balances out the meals you eat.  And remember that you probably know a lot more about how to prevent type 2 diabetes than your parents did.

Once you identify the negative thoughts affecting your progress towards change, call a timeout on them instead of dwelling on them. Some people imagine a big red stop sign or a referee blowing a whistle. Ask yourself about triggers for negative thoughts in terms of timing, causes, routines, and even people. What new routines can help you pause your negative thoughts and guide you to more positive, helpful thoughts?

“You got to spread joy up to the maximum

Bring gloom down to the minimum …”

When negative thoughts enter your mind, it’s important to remember how well you are doing and how far you have come on your journey to prevent type 2 diabetes. You have the tools to replace those negative thoughts with helpful messages.

Here are some additional tips to manage negative thinking:

  • Practice helps. Practice recognizing negative thoughts and substituting positive ones.
  • Be realistic. Make sure your action plan for healthy lifestyle change  is do-able, specific, and flexible.
  • Laugh at yourself. Keep a sense of humor about your progress to lifestyle change — or lack of it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  • Spoil yourself. Practice self-care by managing stress, getting enough sleep, eating right, and staying active.
  • Maintain perspective. There are ugly, divisive things happening in the world that can bring your mood down, but there are even more acts of beauty and love.
  • Find your tribe. Be around people who practice helpful thinking and support you in your choices.
  • Reward yourself. Celebrate your progress towards your goals.

It can take time to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. But keep practicing and it will become a new habit! The First Mile Care DPP provides the coaching you need to self-manage your behaviors and create healthy habits that stick for the long term.


To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!