Small Changes Make a Big Difference for Diabetes – One Woman’s Journey

Does this sound familiar to you?

Do you realize how small changes make a big difference? Let me tell you about a client.

Diagnosed with diabetes, needing a nap every day, trying keto and then calorie counting – and nothing ‘working’ – Debbie was at her wit’s end. Read my client interview (or watch the video) about where she was, what happened, and where she is now.

After completing our 12 sessions in my BE FREE Blueprint® program, I was so impressed with my client De

Debbie Tudor headshot

bbie’s insight, I invited her for an interview.

Debbie Tudor is a licensed professional counselor and author specializing in treating adult children of narcissistic parents. Read on!

What was going on in your life? What prompted you to reach out to me?

Neily, I was at my wit’s end. I had just been to the doctor, gotten a diabetes diagnosis, very high A1C (A1C is a measurement of blood sugar over 2-3 months) and I was tired.

I was needing a nap every day and couldn’t figure it out. As a researcher, by nature I really thought I could do this on my own. I read about keto and tried it – only to have sky high cholesterol numbers. And when I tried cutting calories, I was starving all the time and it wasn’t sustainable. I didn’t even lose weight.

So I was at the point where stepping on the scale was exhausting. I never knew what I was going to find, and I didn’t know what to do. You coached my husband years ago and very successfully. He’s kept his weight off. And so I turned to you.

What changes did you make?

You really calmed me down.

I tend to get very stressed about things. If I do one thing, then I think six things must be better.

I had an attitude of all-or-nothing. You showed me how to change in small steps.

  • I quit depending on the scale and eventually quit weighing. I don’t weigh anymore.
  • I started thinking about “How did I feel?” You had me emphasize how food and different foods made me feel.
  • You taught me that no food is forbidden.
  • You did not restrict foods. In the opposite way you encouraged foods…plenty of protein, reasonable healthy carbs.

And so those are the changes we made. It sounds so simple.

Nobody who hasn’t been through your program can just take those things and dothe be free blueprint it. It’s very specific to how you approached it with me.

Neily: Every one of my clients has different needs. Like you were talking about keto. You tried keto. And I mean, it may work. And I say ‘work’ for getting some weight off for some people, but the sustainability … I think you were ready for a more sustainable approach.

Watch my video with Debbie

Talk to me about the small changes and what you called white- knuckling

Small changes.

What I’ve always done is restrict, restrict, restrict. It’s what I think the majority of people do when they’re trying to lose weight.

When you do that, you don’t sleep because you’re hungry and you can do it for a day or maybe a week, but you can’t sustain that.

That’s white-knuckling. It’s so stressful and negative.

What we did instead was just say adding some protein to a snack and you would give me good ideas for those. Or you would say, add one extra push-up to your exercise routine.

It was very easy. Anything that is easy, you get a good endorphin rush and you’re like, I can do this. Rather than trying to do 60 things and throwing up your hands because you can’t.

[Related content! The Secret To Why You Lose Weight On A Diet (the First Time)]

Can you talk about protein?

carbs are not badI came to you with the belief that carbs are bad. If you just get rid of carbs, you’d have this magic weight loss and it’d be forever, and I mean – it’s typical keto thinking.

What you taught me was to nourish my body instead of restrict and starve and punish.

You didn’t make me do anything severe, like write down how many protein grams or anything like that.

We just played with it. You’d say, try these foods and gave me a list of foods that had more high protein. And there were so many of them. It was easy to incorporate them into my diet. There was a learning curve but once I figured out several foods that were high protein or how to combine foods, like, if a meal is short on protein, I’ll chop up some fruit and put it in cottage cheese and that bumps it up.

So just ideas like that made it just so much easier to get the protein. And that is when my body really changed – when I started being mindful about protein.

How did protein help?

The protein seemed to give me more energy. Like I said, when I started with you, I was exhausted after lunch had to have a nap, things like that. So more energy and I don’t know what it did for me scientifically, but I started having muscle that was replacing fat, not necessarily a drop on the scale because muscle also weighs, but there was some drop on the scale.

Most of all, my body changed. My blood sugar went down, cholesterol dropped, everything changed just by that. I didn’t restrict anything. If I wanted a piece of pie on the holidays, I had it. But just getting enough protein was a huge change and it worked so well.

Speaking of, I want to brag on you for a minute. I love oatmeal, but instant oatmeal would make my blood sugar go way up, so I couldn’t do it. I had just given up.

You took an overnight oats recipe that you had, and you tweaked it until it worked for my blood sugar. That seems like such a little thing, but it’s a huge thing. So that is my breakfast many mornings a week. And I wouldn’t have begun to know how to do that. That was something that you know with your expertise. And I love my overnight oats.

No more metformin!

After we did 90 days of work together, I went back for my test results. The A1C had dropped, a much better range. And the doctor saw no reason for me to stay on metformin. So that was a victory.

Can you talk to me about the scale? How did that change for you?

Neily: You don’t weigh yourself now. I know some people have this love/ hate relationship with it. I get that totally. I scale-small changes make a big differenceknow over the years and myself – because I had a history and issues with my weight – before I changed careers. Somebody asks you, how are you doing? Well, hang on a second. Let me jump on the scale and I’ll tell you.


It’s not helpful at all.

Debbie: I journaled about this for a long time and I tried to come up with reasons to weigh. I couldn’t come up with anything.

If this is going to be a lifetime journey and not some goal that I’m going to reach and then quit, then I didn’t see any need to do it.

(Previously) if I weighed it was either yeah-yeah – lost weight. I can feel good now and go eat 40 hot dogs.

And if I hadn’t lost, it was like throwing my hands – give up – oh it’s not working.

It took me a long time. And you’re encouraging to get away from the focus on the outer, the numbers, and to focus instead on the inner. How do I feel?

And to let go of what size my body might be and just go by, how do I feel?

If I’m doing my routine every day, getting a little exercise, eating mostly healthy with some splurges, then I’m a success.

I don’t need a number to tell me that I am, or I’m not. So where it lands it lands.

Moving forward, how are you going to continue these habits that you have formed?

It’s become second nature. I was trying out a goal journal where every day you marked down if you ate a healthy breakfast or whatever, and I did it for a while, and then I realized I don’t need to do this anymore because it’s just second nature.

After I eat lunch, I move somehow. I do a little bit of HIIT (high intensity interval training) or some Jazzercise or a walk. It’s just what I do now. It’s not anything I have to, to plan for. It’s just become part of my lifestyle to live this way.

It’s easy because there’s no pressure. There’s no forbidden food anymore. I think I said to you and you loved it – I feel like you helped me make peace with food. And it’s true.

Food is not the enemy. It’s not something we have to avoid or use terms like forbidden or cheat. We don’t have to do that. It’s just food. What is the big deal?

Regarding habits

Neily: You were talking about the habits you have. I had a recent interview with one of the experts, Jill Weisenberger, on the Best Diets 2021 with the U S News. And I loved how she talked about systems, having those systems in place.

small changes make a big differenceThat’s what you have. I remember us talking about this. You would have lunch and then you would move. It’s just become part of what you do and the habits that you form creating those systems. I think for lifelong success that is what is so very important.

Debbie: And what I didn’t realize before it doesn’t have to be 30 minutes of sweaty cardio. It can be 10 minutes of getting your heart rate up a little bit. You don’t have to change clothes. You don’t have to put on certain shoes. You just have to do something. Whether you dance, where you march or whatever, you just have to do something.

I never saw that as enough before, because if one is good, then six is better. Right?

So now I’ve realized that any little thing I do is a victory and all of it added up together. It’s momentum toward a healthy life.

To summarize – small changes make a big difference managing diabetes

Neily: So some things you did:

  1. You made small changes.
  2. You started having more protein with your meals, especially that morning meal.
  3. You quit restricting, which is so important.
  4. You’ve started to get those habits in place that are just a part of your lifestyle now.

Debbie: You have to have a mentality of patience and self-love.

The desire to change has to come from not how you look, but how you feel. Not the number on the scale, but what kind of energy level you have.

And when you tune into that and you tune out of what society tries to tell women about their bodies, then it just starts to fall into place.

How are you accepting? (It’s all about the mindset)

I’m deliberately not doing actions that would cause me to judge myself. I’m not measuring. I’m not weighing. Now I know when I get my next checkup, they will weigh me at the doctor’s and that’s fine. It is what it is.

  • I don’t listen to BMI charts anymore.
  • I don’t look for shoulds – I should be this size or should be that size.
  • What’s important to me is that I’m healthy and I have energy.
  • My blood sugar is in a reasonable range and…
  • I can have a sweet every now and then and it’s fine.
  • I can live like this long-term and that’s the key really.

A lot of us have lost weight before and put it back on because you couldn’t sustain what you were doing.

That acceptance comes from I love myself and I want myself to feel good. You don’t get that by beating yourself up or looking at a number or following a certain meal plan. It just doesn’t happen.

It has to be a mindset shift, which is what you really helped me do.

Do you need help controlling your diabetes (or prediabetes!) with diet?

I can help you just like I helped my client, Debbie Tudor! Simple changes have lasting results.

If you’re interested in having results like Debbie, learn more here or schedule a free call!


Image credits: Pixabay, Canva

Jennifer “Neily” Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach


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