Start slow. Patients who have just been diagnosed often come to Pat’s office overwhelmed. “Sometimes their doctor has said, ‘I want you to have lost 25 pounds by the next time I see you,’ ” she says. “But I don’t put too many restrictions on them right away. I tell them to cut out regular soda, and then I say we’ll work on fine-tuning it from there.”
Keep your tank full. While it’s easy to fret over food choices, the number-one thing Pat tells her patients is never to skip meals. “Think of your body as a car—it gets its best mileage on cruise control,” she says.
Get moving. Like many of us, Pat’s patients often feel like they’re too busy to exercise, so she offers tons of suggestions on how to fit in workouts. “I like to keep weights next to the television. If I’m watching the Packers, I’ll do bicep curls and planks during the commercials. In a one-hour program, that’s 17 minutes of exercise,” she says. “Even standing on one leg in the grocery line will help with core balance.”
Then move even more. “Patients will ask me, ‘Should I go to the health food store and buy this supplement?’ and I’ll say, ‘I don’t know, but I do know if you walk to the store and back, that will work!’” Pat says with a laugh.
Surround yourself with a top medical team. She may be an expert herself, but even Pat needs support. “I still go to see an endocrinologist and a diabetes nurse.
I know all the knowledge about diabetes, but I think the hard part is the motivation. You need that team that says, ‘I’m here for you if you need something,’” Pat says. “I hope that’s what I do for my clients.”