In this episode, we interview Eric Dutcher, who completed the World's Toughest Mudder as part of project M.U.D., or More Unstoppable Diabetics. In this episode, Eric shares the story of his diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes, his struggles, and how he got involved with Tough Mudder, and pursuing endurance events to help drive his motivation.
Eric Dutcher was 26-years old in 2013 and doing well in his job when he was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. Before the diagnosis, Eric was involved in different sports, including basketball to baseball and, although he was not a standout performer, he was energetic and always put 100% of himself into whatever he was doing.
Being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes was hard on Eric. His life seemed to have taken a sharp U-turn, and all the things he loved doing were put on hold.
In this podcast, I spoke with Eric Dutcher about his journey as a Type-1 Diabetes patient and how he started his journey to endurance races and lifestyle coaching.
Eric’s diagnosis wrecked him psychologically. While many people talk about the physical hindrances being a diabetic brings, they don’t talk enough about the mental struggles that patients go through.
Eric said it took him ten years to come to terms with his situation. He was caught in the limbo of his ‘new reality’. Being unable to do what he used to do before and live his life as he once lived it was devastating for him.
“I became a couch potato, just sitting there and allowing everything to happen to me,” Eric said. He admitted to having abandoned an important side of who he was before being diagnosed. He saw himself as new person, and he felt as though the world was closing in on him.
It was after his divorce to his ex-wife and marrying his new wide that Eric started to redefine who he was. He had a shift in mindset: he said that he had always had the “I Can’t” mindset. but his wife had challenged him to ask a different question: “What if I…?”
This change in mindset helped Eric rediscover who he was and strengthened him to complete in a 24-hour Tough Mudder challenge.
Eric advises people who suffer from Diabetes, whether Type-1 or Type-2, to do the following:
- Take time to grieve. Eric said it is important to admit that things have changed, and that things will not be as they were before the diabetes happened. Admitting that things have changed and “grieving your loss,” as he called it, will help people become better. Although we live in a world where people would rather just “move on”, Eric advises diabetics to grieve. It took him a decade to grieve, but he’s stronger for having done it.
- Start small and learn along the way. Eric’s journey to becoming an endurance athlete didn’t just happen on a whim. When he realized the he needed to change, he started exercising again, in small doses, and then increased as he progressed. Eric says that when you start small – with any activity you prefer, after you’ve grieved – you realize how much you can do. You aren’t so different from who you were before the diagnosis.
- Find and stay with a community. Eric found hope in a community of other diabetics who were doing amazing physical activities. Being a part of a community helps diabetics realize that they’re not alone.
Eric also advises diabetics to intentionally search for positive things in their situation and to see themselves as whole. He advised diabetics who want to engage in physically strenuous sports to understand their body and live healthy.
Take a deep dive with me as we explore Eric’s journey to becoming a 24-hours Tough Mudder champion.