That Life, That Exercise (Part 1.5 of 2)

In part 1[1] of this brief two-part journey into my life with exercise before I was diagnosed almost four years ago with Type 1 diabetes[2], I wrote about my prediagnosis personality — my perception of my physical self. The way I saw me, thought about me, and thought others saw me was not the most healthy of ways to move through the world. In my teens and twenties I was insecure and gave way too much mental space to self-untruths and unreasonable expectations.

These days, in my mid-thirties, I can tell you that so much of those neuroses and the accompanying anxiety — and any other number of problems stemming from a skewed self-perception — are mostly in the past. Age may have something to do with it, but so, too, does a dedicated examination and a working-through — a sometimes painful working-through — of the root causes as to why I saw myself the way I did. Seven or eight years ago the thought of writing about this subject would have given me chills. Yet here I am in 2010 writing about it not just for my own edification but sharing it with you.

Yeah, big change. But…

When I mentioned in my last entry that I had another confession to make about exercise and sports in my life, that there was something very damaging — and very contradictory to the content of last week’s blog entry — that stuck around after I’d been diagnosed with diabetes, it was something, and it still is something, that is rather elusive for me to try to explain. I’ll try to articulate it, though. (Bear with me. I won’t finish the explanation this time around. Oh, and as you read, feel free to take me to task if the content leaves you scratching your head and saying, “What?” You can rest assured that it’s not you, it’s me.)

You see, despite my desire to blend in, and despite not being a very competitive person in any aspect of my life — at least to other people I probably rarely seemed as such — I also had this internal egotistical streak (or you can call it a coping mechanism) that helped me to rationalize my lack of ascension to the next level in anything — academics, sports, you name it. I had a pesky, achievement-minded inner voice that showed up when I was about 20 that started telling me I could be like that guy, whoever that guy was: The star academic. The popular basketball player. The rich golfer. The amazing cross country runner. The impressive cyclist. A wonderful poet. A famous novelist. On, and on, and on, and…

I could be him. If I put my mind to it. If I dedicated myself to that one thing.

The problem with this — apart from genetics or nurture or opportunity or luck — was that I didn’t want to dedicate myself to any of these things. Not in a way that I’d need to do so to make it to that next level, and the next, and the next. I liked my laid-back renaissance-man approach to life. I was no genius or expert or star in any one area, so instead I adopted a way of being in which I broadened my interests and pursuits and cast a wider net.

What does this have to do with exercise, my diabetes diagnosis, and how I’ve learned to find a healthy, sustainable exercise routine these days? I’ll get to that in the next entry. I promise.

  1. part 1:
  2. Type 1 diabetes:

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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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