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Motivation in diabetes – a myth?

12/4/2014 by Fredrik Debong

Motivation in diabetes – a myth?

“Wow, your sugar’s really high! What did you do?!?” – a perfect example of a comment I've heard many times in my life with type 1 diabetes.

Yeah… we know

We know that the number is high, and we’re most likely already about to do something about it. Oh – and probably we’re already on a shame/guilt trip. This is a classic example of how motivation can be killed. We believe that one of the major problems in diabetes therapy is the so-called long negative feedback loops. Sounds complex, but it ain’t.

We’re in it for ‘The Long Haul’

Type 1 diabetes is a 24/7 job, which we’re not the first ones to point out. Testing, estimating, injecting, thinking and adapting all the time. We have to replace a bodily function and that’s not easy! It pays off, we know this – we can live just as well and as long as those with fully automated pancreases. But the truth is that we don’t really feel the positive effect in our day to day lives since the nasty complications we could develop usually wouldn’t show up until many years later. See where I’m going with this?

Feedback and Nagging

If you grew up with diabetes, you can still hear all the nagging in the back of your head. Many of us break out in cold sweats as we visit our doctors…we’re scared of what they’ll say! The stories we remember being told are the bad ones, not the good ones (unfortunately we don’t always hear so many of these). All of these events are clear examples of the “negative feedback” which taint every blood glucose test we do. To sum it up, we have a negative experience, being nagged/judged, connected to a forced behavior which feels like it’s being put on endless repeat, 24/7/365. Ouch! No wonder we don’t feel supercharged to always go that extra mile!

Flipping the Loops

We believe that we can change those loops! Motivation needs to come from a positive emotion but can it be as simple as that? Instead of abolishing bad behavior through fear and guilt, let’s try to trigger good behavior in ourselves through smiles and giggles! That’s what brought me out of three years of diabetes ‘burnout’ and what we built into the mySugr app – the idea is that we should all get a pat on the back for making progress and for each and every goal we achieve! Can an app instill a feeling of awesomeness? As my son puts it, “Yeah baby!”!

Feel free to drop us a line to let us know how we’re doing on our mission!

Fredrik Debong

Co-Founder and living with type 1 diabetes since the age of 4. Swede. A little crazy sometimes, but definitely full of inspiration.