Healthy eating and increased physical activity can prevent or delay diabetes and its complications. Techniques that facilitate adherence to these lifestyle changes can be adapted to primary care. Often, the patient's readiness to work toward change must be developed gradually. To prepare patients who are reluctant to change, it is effective to assess and address their conviction and confidence. Patients facing the long-term task of making lifestyle changes benefit from assistance in setting highly specific behavior-outcome goals and short-term behavior targets. Individualization is achieved by tailoring these goals and targets to the patient's preferences and progress, building the patient's confidence in small steps, and implementing more intensive interventions according to a stepped-care model. At each office visit, physician follow-up of the patient's self-monitored goals and targets enhances motivation and allows further customization of the plan. A coaching approach can be used to encourage positive choices, develop self-sufficiency, and assist the patient in identifying and overcoming barriers. More intensive intervention using a team approach maximizes adherence.