How to help prediabetic friend with poor exercise habit

Ha! But seriously: we have an older friend with a pre-diabetes DX and he has really slowed down socially and physically. So…which came first, changes in BG or his behavior? And, how best to help him stay active?

1 Like

Sorry for taking so long to read this thread. It happened while we were in Canada.

The same thing happened to me while I was spending 80 hours a week working in startups. I started neglecting my health and my social life, gained a bunch of weight etc. My doctor put the fear of God into me at one time and made me realize the mistake I was making: this realization is what got me to radically change my exercise habits.

From that experience, I would say that the three things that could make a difference to him would be:

  • Graphic representations of suppurating unhealing diabetes injuries and amputations

  • The ability to do exercise in a social context with friends: regular walks with dogs, biking, whatever sports activities he has in common with local friends.

  • Some help with better diet and cutting carbs

1 Like

And I have offered to talk about this with him…

1 Like

It’s hard to make people want to take advice when they just don’t. For many people, thinking about making changes means accepting what’s going on and also facing a lot of uncomfortable things and activities. If he’s rejected your help already, my suggestion would be rather than offering suggestions, just asking him open-ended questions about how he’s feeling about it and validating that, reflecting back what you’re hearing.

Advanced tactics for dealing with argumentative/defensive people: playing devil’s advocate, where you state things like, “well I guess there’s just nothing that can be done about that” giving the person opportunity to argue back against you by suggesting there are options, rather than arguing against you by shooting down your suggestions. If they mention something when you do that, DO NOT switch into advice-giving mode, even if relevant—instead be like, “huh, really—what would that look like?”

These suggestions are all from Motivational Interviewing, which I highly recommend checking out as an empirically supported method of getting people to move along different stages of change (precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance) that occur as people face making behavior changes to improve health, whether quitting alcohol/drugs/smoking or taking up exercise or changing their diet or whatever really.


@cardamom, as an aside, I was fascinated by the sources you gave. I will definitely look into it!

1 Like