Diabetes: The Value of Just One Step

The Just One Step website is part of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), which was created by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program aims to make sure people who have Type II diabetes understand that small changes really can make a difference—and that even if the changes seem overwhelming at first, it’s possible to make them without a lot of stress and difficulty.

What Should You Do First?

To get started on the Just One Step approach, you first need to go to the NDEP site. The genius of Just One Step is its drop-down menu approach: by choosing only one item at a time, you narrow the bewildering number of choices available to you down to a single, concrete strategy for fighting Type II diabetes.

Since weight is such a critical factor in Type II, Just One Step gives you three options to start, and so your first choice is to lose 5, 10, or 15 pounds over the coming year. But how are you going to lose weight? By exercising or by taking charge of your diet? It’s up to you, and that’s the beauty of Just One Step. You get to choose whatever is the lightest lift, and your choice guides the strategies you’ll use to meet your goal.

Does Diet Matter Most?

While both diet and exercise are important in lowering the severity of Type II diabetes, experts agree that working on both at once can be too big a lifestyle change. If controlling your diet works best for you, then Just One Step gives you some specific options. Would you rather eat lean meats? Cut out sugary drinks? Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables? Wait a little longer for seconds? It’s up to you. But you can choose one of these options secure in the knowledge that experts in Type II diabetes have identified them as good strategies.

Your final choice is how many meals a day you want to use this strategy. Choose one meal or all. And again, that’s the beauty of Just One Step when it comes to managing or avoiding Type II diabetes. To get healthier, all you have to do is take a single concrete action—even if it’s the smallest step possible.

Exercise is Important

Dieting may not appeal to you, but Just One Step can still give you a plan. Choose to “move more,” and you’ll get another range of options, from walking to dancing to climbing stairs. Do work or other life commitments prevent you from following through on some days? That’s fine, too, because you can choose to exercise on alternate days, if that’s more convenient. As long as you’ll follow through, it’s good enough to fight Type II diabetes.

Even if you just start off by walking around the block a few days per week, you can get big benefits from getting some exercise. That helps your body process sugar better, and when that happens your blood sugar numbers go down. That reduces the amount of damage done to your body, and can also reduce the amount of medication you have to take. It you don’t have to do a lot of exercise to help yourself in the fight against Type II diabetes, and that’s the beauty of Just One Step: it encourages you to do something rather than cross your arms and give up early.

Making a Commitment

Among the biggest concerns for people who need to fit diet and exercise into their schedule is how they can stick with the choices they’ve made to fight Type II diabetes. Here again, Just One Step can help. It allows you to send out notices to your friends on Facebook or Twitter that you’re committed to doing this one small thing to get healthier. It allows you to print out your pledge so you can put it in a prominent place in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or office—or anywhere you’re likely to see it and get inspired to follow through.

If you’re looking for strategies more tailored to your personal situation, you can also commit to a plan written using the NDEP’s “Make a Plan” function, which is on the same web page. Fill in a form with your biggest concerns, your biggest reasons for staying healthy, and other pertinent info, press a button, and you’ve got a personalized diabetes response plan.

Taking That First Step

The Just One Step initiative is focused on what you can do quickly and easily to start making a difference. If you set a goal to lose 5, 10, or 15 pounds, you’re likely to lose some weight, and possibly every pound you aim for. And if you need to lose a lot more than that, breaking it down into smaller steps is a great way to make sure you reach the overall goal.

You don’t have to plan to lose 50 pounds, work out five days a week, and not eat anything that’s unhealthy ever again. That’s not realistic for most people, simply because it’s such a large lifestyle change. So instead of trying to change everything at once, focusing on a small step and doing one thing at a time is the best way to be sure that the needed changes stick. And that’s the goal of Just One Step: it takes everything you could do, condenses it into a single task you will do, and puts you on the road to improving or eliminating your Type II diabetes.

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