That Life, That Exercise (Part 1 of 2)


To begin with a bit of a side note: When I introduced my plan in last week’s entry[1] to spend the next several weeks writing about myself in relation to exercise and diabetes, I didn’t realize at the time that it coincides with the Big Blue Test[2]. I encourage you to go to the Web site, watch the video, and participate. I’ve watched the video once, but I’ve played the video at least three times this morning because I love that song they’re using.

Now, away from that side note and on to “That Life, That Exercise…”

I’m 36 years old, I have Type 1 diabetes[3], but I’m not a lifelong person with diabetes.

In March of 2007 I found out that I had diabetes. I was 33 at the time and in decent shape. In fact, in the few months prior to my diagnosis, I’d made a confident return to the gym and was taking spinning classes and doing some strength training. I was a dedicated man. Of course, I was exhausted a lot, too, but I was convinced that this was because I was working out so much.

Relatively speaking, I lost a lot of weight. Fast. About 20 pounds. It came off quickly from December 2006 through those first few months of 2007. My wife found herself annoyed at my weight loss because she was working out too, but she just wasn’t seeing the same results, and that wasn’t fair.

Now, I wasn’t overweight to begin with, but when I saw a few extra pounds come off without any change in diet, it was a huge bonus. I’d been pounding unhealthy huge taco salads during most of my lunch breaks at a nearby Mexican restaurant. I was drinking lots of caloric drinks (if they were around), and I’d adopted an all-around too-frequent dining-out sort of lifestyle that, prior to the shedding of the pounds, I was ready to change. But, hey, if I was working out, losing weight, and I could still eat as I desired — in my thirties, even — then who was I to give extra thought to what was going on? Enjoy it, Eric!

You see, I’ve always had a mildly unhealthy desire to be one of those gaunt, no-fat-whatsoever guys. Male-model, waif-thin. Maybe shorter, too. A blend into the crowd, no-one-sees-you sorta dude. Don’t ask me why. Oh, OK. You can ask. I might tell you, even — the long version, with lots of detail — but it would take a lot of correspondence or a long evening over several beers.

The short elevator speech as to why I used to pine for the exact opposite of what most guys want would be something like, “I’m six foot four, and I used to be incredibly self-conscious and insecure. I didn’t like that I stood out in a crowd because of my height. And the weight thing? That goes back even further, before during my preteen and early early teen years, back to the cruelty of junior-high kids and an impressionable prepubescent who hadn’t yet had his hormones fully kick in, when it seemed to him everyone else’s were.”

So, yeah, even during my track and cross country days in college, when I had less than 4% body fat, I thought I was overweight.

Why am I telling you this? Because I promised that I’d share a bit of my history with exercise. I have a rough master plan here for the next several entries, and so that’s all for this time around.

In my next entry I’ll continue with more of this prediagnosis stroll through my past. I have another little confession to make next time about exercise and sports in my life, and how an almost imperceptible thought — contradictory though it may be to everything I’ve just said here — would be a major hurdle for me (one I find I continue to fight). It’s one of the reasons it’s taken me a long time to find a healthy, sustainable exercise routine as someone with Type 1 diabetes.

  1. last week’s entry:
  2. Big Blue Test:
  3. Type 1 diabetes:

Source URL:

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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