Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists


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Remake Your Numbers: Sarah's Story

Jul 07, 2018

By Debbie Koenig 


Originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of Diabetic Living magazine


The Crisis

Sarah Brown’s husband of 34 years died of complications from diabetes in 2014. “I thought, ‘maybe I’m next,’” she says. Like him, she had been diagnosed a decade earlier, put on medication, and told to lose 50 pounds.

“I was busy and I had three kids and a husband,” she says. “I just took the medicine. Every year the doctor told me I had to lose 50 pounds, and it just seemed impossible.”

The Change

Once she was on her own, Brown realized she needed help. In 2015, she started seeing a certified diabetes educator who suggested Brown keep a “motivation box,” a document that records her goal and her answers to three supporting questions: Why are you on this journey? Why is it important to you? How will you carry this forward to the next improvement?

“We started with four very constructive things that I would do between that meeting and the next,” Brown says, like choosing healthier fast-food options and testing her blood sugar daily.

The Reward

In just over two years, Brown lost more than 60 pounds, and her A1C dropped to 6.1 percent. But to her, the numbers are just one indication of her progress.

“With the motivation box, you start with the small things, and over time you realize that life is like a mosaic painting,” she says. “If you get up close you only see the little tile, but when you pull back you see the big picture.”

Her current goal: to be whole, not to be perfect.

What Worked

Start where you are. “When I started seeing [my CDE] I wasn’t cooking. So, we focused on helping me make better choices at the drive-through.”

Set small, achievable goals. “[My CDE] knew that if she had me change too much at once, I wouldn’t do it.”

Plan ahead. “I keep [recipes for] meals that I love on index cards. When I go grocery shopping, I grab the cards and make sure I have everything I need.”

Find new motivations. “I’ll keep doing the motivation box after I hit my goal weight. I want to be strong enough in my 70s that I can take my grandkids to Paris.”

“Life is like a mosaic painting.”
Try Sarah Brown's method. Set a goal, then ask yourself:

  • Why am I on this journey?
  • Why is it important to me?
  • How will I carry this forward to the next improvement?

Sarah Brown

Newport News, Virginia

Age 62

A1C in 2014: 8.3%

A1C in 2018: 6.1%

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