Maybe It’s (Diabetic) Complacency

I know it’s just me. I know I’m the only person in the world who has Type 1 diabetes[1] who doesn’t get right on it when it comes to breaking bad habits. I rationalize. I retreat. I avoid. And I slip mildly into… dip my foot into — up only to my shin or maybe to my knee — those two sins of sloth and gluttony that provide the immediate comfort of putting off today.

What habits? Well, as you may have read in my blog entry from last week[2], I need to get back to the gym. I seem to write about this a few times a year, so forgive me if this grows old, especially because I know it doesn’t happen to you, because no one else grows complacent in their self-management of their diabetes. Y’all are just pictures of excellent self-management. Textbook. Right?

What habits of mine are in need of some tweaking? Well, one habit I need to break is excuse-making for not going to the fitness center after work. I ought to get there two or three times a week. For only an hour, ninety minutes at the most. But it’s difficult to go after work. And I’m hungry. Or it’s been a long day. And of course I want to get home to see my wife, scritch the dog, maybe go on a walk with both of them instead of spending time at the gym with those people.

Yeah, sure. Viable reasons, all. But in addition to the few extra pounds I’ve put on over the past year (not too many, but I’d like to lose some), and aside from my LDL being slightly high, my doctors tell me that I’m doing pretty well.

The nagging, though. My mind’s nagging. My gym avoidance is really the one that I worry about, and really an easy enough thing to correct. And if I don’t correct it, I fear it may cost me in a couple of decades. Those diabetes complications[3]. I need more intense cardio for my heart[4], something more strenuous than 40-minute dog walks. I need some lifting for my liver, something more demanding and structured than garage cleaning and yard work, because my I’m worried about nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

And, maybe more importantly: I need all of that gym stuff for the maintenance of my mental well-being: 30 minutes of cardio and 30 of weights and stretching does wonders for the endorphins that feed my happiness.

Yet the gym? Mostly an off-again relationship over the past year, with six weeks on, then two months off; four weeks on, then one month off.

Now, please don’t assume that I’m a complete couch potato. I’m not. I walk a good hour each day, do lots of yard work in the spring, summer, and fall, and remain active on the weekends. I walk during the day, a few blocks here, a few blocks there…

Will you look at what I’m doing? As I write this, I’m listening to myself, the voice in my head. Can you hear that? This whole thing seems to me another way to avoid, another exercise in rationalization.

Lately I’ve been torn by my circumstances. See, I love my life. Yet in those moments when, dejected and frustrated with myself because of lack of the gym, or lack of healthier diet, I feel the pangs of yesteryear, when my corrective was to jump headlong into lifestyles that weren’t healthy — weren’t mentally healthy.

Back then I’d issue myself ultimatums. It was a mode I fell into all too often in college and at different times in my twenties, when I saw things only as black and white, all or nothing: I would have to go fully vegetarian, eat only uber-healthy foods, get two hours of exercise daily, take everything to its illogical and unhealthy what-I-thought-was-healthy extreme.

And I grew miserable because of it. I’d fail, and faltering, grow dejected, depressed.

So I’m working, as I so often am, to not listen to the voices in my head that want to overdo it right now. I need to learn to accept moderation in my gym attendance, moderation in eating healthy foods while allowing the middling meals on occasion, those occasional fast-food sojourns that, in extreme infrequency, aren’t debilitating.

  1. diabetes:
  2. blog entry from last week:
  3. diabetes complications:
  4. heart:

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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

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