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Fredrik Debong


July 8, 2013

Motivation in Diabetes – a Myth?

July 8, 2013 | By | 7 Comments

“Wow, your sugar’s really high! What did you do?!?” – a perfect example of a comment I’ve heard many times in my life with type 1 diabetes. We know that the number is high, and we’re most likely already about to do something about it. Oh – and probably we’re already on a shame/guilt trip. This is a classic example of how motivation can be killed. We believe that one of the major problems in diabetes therapy are the so called long negative feedback loops. Sounds complex, but it ain’t. :)

We’re in it for the Long Haul
Type I diabetes is a 24/7 job, which we’re not the first ones to point out. Testing, estimating, injecting, thinking and adapting all the time. We have to replace a bodily function and that’s not easy! It pays off, we know this – we can live just as well and as long as those with fully automated pancreases :) But the truth is that we don’t really feel the positive effect in our day to day lives, since the nasty complications we could develop usually wouldn’t show up until many years later. See where I’m going with this?

Feedback and Nagging
If you grew up with diabetes, you can still hear all the nagging in the back of your head. Many of us break out in cold sweats as we visit our doctors…we’re scared of what they’ll say! The stories we remember being told are the bad ones, not the good ones (unfortunately we don’t always hear so many of these). All of these events are clear examples of the “negative feedback” which taint every blood glucose test we do.

To sum it up, we have a negative experience, being nagged/judged, connected to a forced behavior which feels like it’s being put on endless repeat, 24/7/365. Ouch! No wonder we don’t feel super charged to always go that extra mile!

Flipping the Loops
We believe that we can change those loops! Motivation needs to come from a positive emotion but can it be as simple as that? Instead of abolishing bad behavior through fear and guilt, let’s try to trigger good behavior in ourselves through smiles and giggles! That’s what brought me out of three years of diabetes ‘burnout’ and what we built into mySugr Companion – the idea is that we should all get a pat on the back for making progress and for each and every goal we achieve! Can an app instill a feeling of awesomeness? As my son puts it, “Yeah baby!”!

Feel free to drop us a line to let us know how we’re doing on our mission!


  1. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve just started using mySugr about a week ago and it has made a phenomenal difference in my sense of motivation. Those tiny, almost imperceptible pats on the back have a profound psychological impact.

    Plus, it’s just the prettiest damn logbook I’ve ever seen.

    • Hi Sara,
      this is Ilka from mySugr. Many thanks for your comment. Fredrik is on holiday, so i´ll give you a quick response! ;)
      So great to hear what impact the Companion has on your motivation. Hope you´re still logging like crazy and showing the d-monster who is the boss!? Let us know if you have any questions or ideas. Simply drop us line to
      Oh, and “Plus, it’s just the prettiest damn logbook I’ve ever seen.”….i love love love this!!!

    • Fredrik Debong

      Thank you so much for your kind words Sara! They mean a lot to us here at mySugr :)

      Keep taming the monster, and who knows, maybe we can come to see our therapy as an exciting challenge instead of a chore? :)

  2. gerri häfele

    Hi Fredrik

    i’d like to tell what Sarah tells. Unfortunately i’m not using an iPhone….;-)

    But i would tell you about my experiences with motivation managing Diabetes.I’m a typus 2 since about 2 years. I was really lucky finding my. diadocs and.consultants. They give me positive feedback and a lot of freedom handling my diabetes. So i can prevent a negative spiral. My results are very good, the last Hba1C was 5.8 and there ‘s no need to be afraid of docs.

    Finally: If you have a good Doc you’ll never be afraid of him, because you trust him/her…if not: Change the Doc!

    • Fredrik Debong

      I totally agree Gerri!

      I’ve had many good docs, but sometimes we need a tad more :) Sounds like you’ve got it well under control, well done! How often do you go visit with your coaches?

      If you’ll head over to you can sign up to help us develop the android app in the next few months! Up for it?

      I’ll echo you on that sentence: if you don’t trust or like your doc, change. It’s not hard to find diabetes experts, but to find someone you’ll like and trust for the rest of your life is vital.

  3. Rene Mertens

    Hi, Mysugr peeps!

    I just started using your app and trying to gear up to logging everything. I have been Type 1 for over 20 years with no hospitalizations. I know first hand of negative effects because my bro was a teenager when his pancreas stopped. We hovered and nagged and wondered what foods were ok for him. After my diagnosis and subsequent education I have and continue to apologize to him for my stupidity. I am on a pump so logging, monitoring are already part of my routine. So far it has been good. I am always looking for tools to help


    • Fredrik Debong

      Hi Rene! Great to hear from you!

      Sounds like the two of you can be called a power team of diabetes – must be awesome to have someone so close to you who understands well and in detail how your life is and what’s on your mind!

      I hope you like what you experience in the Companion, feel free to reach out to us at any time, we’re always happy to learn from others and not just develop based upon our own needs :)

      Where do you live? We’re considering setting up a lill event here in Vienna in the next few weeks where many of us can get together and get to know each other!


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