Your Helmet Won’t Stop A Speeding Car…

I grew up during as time when the wearing of bicycle helmets wasn’t really a thing. And how could it be? I couldn’t wear a helmet while wearing earphones to my walkman, now could I? This was long before the advent of earbuds but honestly, as long as I was wearing a ball cap to protect my scalp from the sun and I was home before dark, my parents never imposed the wearing of a bike helmet. These days? Depending on the community you live in, the requirement of a bike helmet may be law. But there isn’t a day where I don’t see multiple people cycling in heavy traffic areas without a helmet.

It is what it is. Some people are more apt to follow rules and best practices than others. But the curious thing is, what purpose does a bike helmet serve? If you’re a young child and you happen to topple sideways on your bike, a helmet may save your skull from cracking on the edge of a sidewalk; no question. But whether you’re a child or an adult, you’re helmet won’t save you from any significant incident, such as getting struck by a moving car. This makes one wonder why it’s considered so necessary on most cases. And this post is about all of those little “rules,” not just bicycle helmets.

The reason behind certain rules and regulations isn’t always clear. And more often than not, it can seem unnecessary and perhaps even excessive. Especially if you find yourself on the receiving end of a penalty in relation to any of it. One good example is last week, when I was issued a traffic ticket for performing an “illegal” turn. I won’t get into the specifics of the ticket, other than to say that I definitely performed the alleged action, and the section of legislation does render it unlawful. So I really can’t argue the traffic ticket. But I couldn’t help but feel that I had done nothing wrong or unsafe and that being issued a ticket because of it was rather ridiculous.

The point behind today’s particular rant, is that even though it seemed perfectly safe and acceptable to me, doesn’t mean that it would be to everyone. In most cases, an incident likely occurred that led to that action becoming unlawful. By that logic, it becomes important for people to observe those laws and abide by them. Not only for their own safety, but the safety of others. At the risk of opening my comments section up to a plethora of argumentative points of view, this concept applies to a lot of rules, regulations and laws that are being enacted in response to the current state of the world. Some of them may seem unfair or excessive, but they all have the aim to protect and safeguard the population as a whole.

Most people can’t discern the difference between their “rights” and doing “what’s right.” The two often don’t go hand-in-hand and don’t always apply to one another. And sometimes, we need to abide by certain rules in order for society to continue to function normally. This is the cost of living in a modern society where we live in mass gathering of populated towns and cities. I’m quite certain that if a vehicle clips me while I’m out cycling, my helmet likely won’t do a damn thing to save me. Just like wearing a face mask “may” do nothing for me or the people around me. But I acknowledge two things: the first is that I can still observe my rights as a person while abiding by the rules. The second is that it costs me nothing, which tends to make peoples’ theatrics over most of these issues more than a bit ridiculous. this is why you’ll always see me do both those things, so long as it’s required of me. Food for thought… ☯️

Snowy Saturday Sliding…

I’m not a big fan of snow or the winter. Besides the pleasure of sitting in front of a window during a snowy episode with a hot drink or a stiff one, adult usually means that snow brings shovelling, trouble starting one’s car, difficulty getting into work or being cold while outside. That being said, there’s something to be said for being outside when the weather is mild, enjoying the crisp air and winter scenery. Last Saturday, Nathan and I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours ripping down a small hill located in our neighbourhood.

Nathan was lucky to have this ski-based sled as a Christmas gift from his uncle Jayden. For almost a month, it’s been sitting in our newly-renovated basement space with Nathan sitting on it to eat and watch Netflix, dreaming of the day he would be able to rip down a slope with it. With recent temperatures getting as low as -50 degrees Celsius with the wind factor, it’s been difficult to get Nathan or even myself, outside for any extended period of time. But Saturday showed a cold of only -4 degrees with some sunny conditions. So we were good to go and not a day too soon.

We arrived at a site in northern Regina called Mount Pleasant, which has been groomed and is the location of dozens of people who were sledding as well. Nathan was a champ, dragging his sled up the hill himself with every run. I also brought along a crazy carpet that our neighbour donated to Nathan a couple of months ago. I took advantage of the opportunity to take a few rips down the slope but it was quite a different experience from what I recall in my youth. My added age and weight made it so that I essentially felt every lump and hole on the slope. It was actually a bit painful, although I enjoyed the experience.

After a few runs, I let Nathan have at it while I stayed at the top of the hill and chatted with some of the other parents. Despite the mild temperature, a cold wind started to whip through and make it difficult to stay warm. Nathan was having a blast, so I sucked it up. I also couldn’t help but enjoy the scenery, as the hill allowed for a very nice view of the city of Regina (pictured above). Some of the other parents were well prepared, having brought hot drinks, water bottles for the kids and sporting thermal snow pants and such. I had a pair of long underwear under cotton pants, since I have no snow pants.

As kids are usually inclined to, Nathan befriended a couple of young boys and they traded sleds back and forth so that everyone had the opportunity to try out different ways to go down the slope. Nathan also tried out the crazy carpet, which was entertaining since there’s no way to steer that thing so one is more inclined to wipe out while sliding. Nathan had a blast whipping down the hill and tumbling as he went.

Winter can be a challenge, since the cold and inclement weather can have the unfortunate effect of making people turn into hermits and stay indoors. It was definitely good to get outside and spend some time in the fresh air, even if I was shivering towards the end. It was also important to let Nathan run wild outside for a bit. Kids don’t do very well when they’re cooped up for too long. Although Nathan has the opportunity to spend every morning outside when he walks to school, it isn’t quite the same as getting outside to run and play.

Last but not least, since Diabetes is an ever-present consideration in everything I do, there had to be some blood sugar involvement. I’ve noticed that cold weather usually drops my blood sugar levels significantly. I did suffer a low while we were at the hill but I was prepared with some fast-acting carbohydrates, so it was a non-issue. It’s simply a reminder of the constant need to stay on my guard. We had a lot of fun and a huge thank you goes out to my friend Jayden, Nathan’s uncle, for such a wonderful gift. I know Nathan is looking forward to going back and using his sled further. ☯️

Spectators Have A Role…

As the father of two young boys, nothing would make me prouder than attending a sports event or extra-curricular activity to watch my kids in action. And I know that day is no doubt coming. Although Nathan i 7-years old, he hasn’t actively expressed any interest in sports or outside hobbies beyond playing with me, at home. But I’m sure it’ll happen eventually. It would be all the better if he joined me at karate, but I don’t believe it would be constructive to push him into that.

However, there are a lot of parents who DO attend karate classes to watch their children. And although some of it can appear dry or boring to a non-practitioner, adhering to dojo etiquette is almost as important (if not more so) for the parents and observers as it is for the children and practitioners who are part of the class. After all, those children and practitioners are looking to their parents and visitors as an example of how to behave, right? Here are some key points to remember when visiting a dojo as a non-practicing observer:

1. Remove Your Shoes: Okay, I get it… You’re not participating and the thought of removing your footwear in a public space isn’t for everyone. The takeaway here is that the removal of footwear within a karate dojo is not only a sign of respect but also a matter of cleanliness for the dojo. If it happens to be a rainy or snowy day or you simply drag mud and/or dirt in from outside, your causing an issue for the practitioners who NEED to be barefoot in the dojo environment;
2. No Food Or Drink: Although this one obviously makes sense for the students and practitioners, observers don’t usually give it much thought. But even though the thought of sipping on your favourite mocha-choca-latte with skim milk and non-fat foam while your child trains may seem like a reasonable idea, not only is the potential for spills and messes a bad idea, the smell of food can be incredibly distracting to someone who’s working hard at their training;
3. Get Off Your Device: Look, be in the now! If you’re there to observe your kids, then observe your kids. That game of candy crush can wait until later. Be respectful enough to pay attention and be present for your child or whomever you may be visiting with/for. If it’s a phone call and it’s necessary to answer it immediately, have the respect to excuse yourself out of the dojo to answer it, which brings me to my next point;
4. Keep Noise And Idle Chatter To A Minimum: This one is a personal pet peeve of mine and should go without saying but since I’m here I’m gonna say it, since some folks don’t seem to understand. Quiet while observing a karate class is a must, not only from a respect standpoint but from a training one, as well. Not only does karate require a certain level of focus and concentration, which can be broken by the distraction of a couple of Karens trying to decide who’s voice can reach the highest volume but it can be difficult to properly hear instructions AND is incredibly disrespectful. Conversation among the observers should be saved for outside the dojo, for break periods (if your dojo has them) or for after class; and
5. Be Respectful In All Things: I get it. Even if your kid is in this class or you’re visiting a friend or family member who’s a participant, this world may not be yours and it can be confusing and the rules may not be clear. That’s why it’s not only important to ask but once you know for certain, be respectful and follow those rules. Be seated only where you’re told you can sit and do no more than what you’re told you can do. Respect for the dojo and maintaining the ambiance of the environment can be critical for proper training.

Every school of martial arts is different and even two schools of karate may have different rules and protocols, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting kicked out of your 5-year old’s karate class because you decided to answer the phone and laugh loudly while chatting with someone DURING class. Not that I’m speaking from experience… Jus’ sayin’. But by clarifying the rules from the get-go, you can better ensure that you won’t cause unnecessary distractions or disrespect the rules of an art that holds respect as one of its core values. ☯️

What Goes Up Must Come Down, Then Go Back Up Again!

Although it’s taken me years to do so, I’ve slowly come to realize that making exceptions and changing up daily routines often isn’t worth it. And yes, this is going to be a bit of a rant about a Diabetic issue, so buckle up. This realization struck me in the face like a snowball with a rock in the middle, last Wednesday night.

I got home at about 9 pm after an excellent karate class. I felt good, my blood sugars were in normal range and I guzzling water and electrolytes to stave off the easy and slippery dehydration that tends to sneak up on me when I train. Although I had some writing and studying to do, my wife mentioned she would not be working any later that night and asked if I wanted to watch a couple of episodes of something. I obliged.

A little after 10 pm, my wife headed off to bed, which is what I would have typically done, as well. But I had laundry going and since I had another karate class the following day, I wanted to make certain my gi was clean. So I told her to go ahead and crash and I’d be joining in a little while, once I had laundry completed. As luck would have it, I got into watching some Star Trek (don’t judge) and got laundry done, getting my head on the pillow at about half past midnight.

Considering I wake up anywhere between 5:30 to 6 am, this wasn’t the brightest move, since it would only allow of drive or six hours of sleep. I made my peace with, convinced that I was reaching the end of my week and that I could get away with the loss of a few hours’ sleep by supplementing with caffeine and staying busy at work. My dark passenger (Diabetes) had other plans…

My wife got up at about 2 am, as she has this system where she starts her work from home before everyone else has woken up. Good for her, but I’m not down for that bullshit. In fact, my years as a police officer taught me to appreciate being able to stay firmly in my bed until morning. But about thirty minutes after she vacated the bed, my pump went off. 3.9 mmol/L. Fan-fucking-tactic. I scarfed a dozen jellybeans I had at the side of my bead and closed my eyes.

At about 3:15 in the morning, my pump went off again. 3.7 mmol/L. Not only had the jellybeans not raised my blood sugars, they were continuing to drop. Not good. I wolfed down the remainder of the jellybeans I had in the bag, which was a little more than a dozen, and tried to go back to sleep. I got to almost half past four when my pump started blaring an alarm at me and display a sensor glucose of 2.9 mmol/l!

What the hell was happening??? My blood sugars were in normal range when I finally hit the sheets. The only thing I could think of, is that I usually have a small snack in the evenings but that night, I chose not to. Maybe that would have been enough to cause my blood sugars to drop? I staggered out to the kitchen, since I had exhausted my jellybean supply and found my wife still working away at the table.

I gulped down a couple of packages of grapefruit segments and about two cups of Froot Loops before passing out once again. When I woke up at 6 am with my alarm, I felt like I had been struck by a freight train. When I checked my pump, I was reading at over 20.0mmol/L. Of course, I was… I had apparently overdone it and my blood sugars slingshot to the other end of the spectrum. I spent the next four hours of my day, slowly reducing my blood sugars and bringing them back to normal.

You may be asking, why am I telling you all of this, besides to bitch about the difficulties surrounding Type-1 Diabetes? It’s simply to show that even when the waters are calm, there’s always the potential for rough currents beneath the surface, In this case, despite having normal blood sugar levels and everything appearing normal, it didn’t take much to send me into a rollercoaster ride of bad readings. Maybe next time, I should stick to my routine and have a snack before bed. Food for thought…(pun intended). ☯️

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

No, this isn’t a quote from the Bible as many people are inclined to believe. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume the quote was penned by my late grandmother, who had an intense form of OCD that had her constantly cleaning to the point where she’d walk around her house by sliding her feet on a couple of pieces of paper towel for the following two days. Luckily I’m not THAT bad, but cleanliness is important, which brings me to the point of today’s post…

Maintaining a consistent workout routine can be challenging, especially if you happen to be working a full-time job and handling personal and family responsibilities on a daily basis. For some people, working out can be a very relaxing thing, but many people neglect proper cleanliness AFTER the workouts and this can lead to some smelly and disgusting issues.

If you’ve ever been to a public gym, you’ve noticed that they always (or at least should) provide spray bottles and rags to disinfect and wipe down equipment after each use. The same thing applies to one’s personal workout items. Oh, and one’s body. You gotta wash that body! Nothing worse than someone funking up the immediate area because they hammered out a workout and chose not to shower. Just take the five minutes and wash yourself up. Damn! But I digress…

One of the most well-known issues with sweaty gym gear, specifically clothing, is that leaving them unwashed will make them smell bad. That’s a no-brainer, right? But besides the smell, which no one enjoys, leaving them in this state for long enough can also lead to some nasty staining on your clothes and can even lead to the development of mildew. This is especially problematic if you’re the type to get home or go back to work and drop your gym bag in the corner and ignore it for hours on end.

Picture this: you just finished a wicked run of cardio, you’re coated with sweat and you need to get back to the work day. You go back up to your office and drop your gym bag on the floor by the door. Over the next few hours, that warm, moist sweat (yes, I used the word “moist,” get over it) is contained inside your gym bag where bacteria breeds and mildew can form. Do this often enough and stains that form will become permanent.

Something that most people don’t realize is that sweat itself is inherently odourless. It’s the oils and bacteria on our bodies that cause the smell and when that’s soaked into a fitness garment, it needs to be washed as soon as possible. As do you. Failing to do so can cause blocked pores, rashes, acne in places you don’t want (not that you want acne anywhere, necessarily) and increased chafing if you’re foolish enough to re-wear an unwashed garment.

The ideal scenario is to launder your workout gear as soon as the workout is done. Even removing them from your bag and dropping into the laundry hamper isn’t ideal, as you’re just letting the funk sit there. But I if you find yourself in a position where you CAN’T launder your clothes right away, they should be laid out somewhere with good ventilation and permitted to dry. When you DO launder your garments, it’s best to use hot water to help kill the bacteria. Depending on the garment and your comfort level, a splash of bleach can help, as well.

Also, it’s easy to forget some of the unsung heroes of your workout routine. Namely, your gym bag and your sneakers/shoes. These tend to get neglected and the unfortunate reality is that your sweaty gear gets piled into that bag constantly, so if you don’t wash your gym bag regularly, you’re basically piling clean, pre-workout clothing on top of a bacteria colony. Most canvass/nylon/polyester bags can just be dropped into the washing machine, which is a good practice to observe to keeps things clean and smelling nice.

Sneakers can be a bit more problematic, since putting them in the washing machine can alter their shape, ruin the binding holding them together and potentially damage the machine. you ever sneakers in the wash? It sounds like the bass drum from a marching band booming over and over. One option is to spray an alcohol solution inside and outside the shoes in order to kill bacteria. There are plenty of sources on the web that will explain how many parts of isopropyl alcohol to water you should use. Grab yourself a spray bottle from your local retailer and you’re off to the races. And since alcohol tends to evaporate quickly, your shoes are dry in no time.

Last but certainly not least, never skip a shower if you’ve worked out. Ever. That is all. Seriously, even if you feel you haven’t sweat much and can get away with it, you should still clean yourself up to prevent ALL of the issues I mentioned previously. If you’ve had a light workout and towelled off and returned to work, remember that others are more likely to smell what’s coming off of you than you will. Not the reputation you want and not something others deserve in their work environment. Food for thought… ☯️

Home Is Where You Hang Your Belt

I’ve often written that finding a martial style/school that suits one’s wants, needs and expectation sis a subjective thing and can be a difficult step in the journey towards learning the martial arts. In fact, it can be even worse if you’re experienced in martial arts and are trying to get back into it. this is something I learned the hard way, this week. Since you’re all here reading, allow me to elaborate…

I recently decided that as part of my commitment to better myself overall that I would seek out and join a local karate class. As most of you know, I had been training at a local school for quite some time until they shut down due to COVID-19, something that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In fact, we were doing classes over Zoom for a while, but lo and behold, I logged on one night to discover that it wasn’t happening and it wasn’t until I reached out that I found out that they cancelled them in lieu of starting in-person classes the following week.

I would have been nice to be told but regardless of what the situation may have been, I’ve opted for a closer dojo whose style more closely resembles my own. Located five minutes down the road from my home and boasting three classes a week instead of two, I was pretty excited to try them out and even observed a class the previous week, which proved to be a good idea as it confirmed it would be a positive experience.

I walked into the dojo on Monday night with excitement and great expectation. I changed into my gi, although I was taken aback by its’ “snugness” and walked out to the dojo floor. An advanced youth class was finishing up and I couldn’t help but observe and see the promise of the young students learning something that would stay with them for years to come. In a way, I was a bit jealous, remembering my own youth and how large a role karate had played in it.

I met the instructors and was welcomed with open arms. They included me among their ranks and class opened. We started with what I’ll describe as a “light” cardio workout because in my head, I can’t seem to picture it as anything but. However, my body responded as though I was putting it through military basic training. Everyone was required to wear masks and I thought it would be a fun gimmick to wear my yin yang mask. Big mistake! The cloth began to cling to my face and the harder I tried to breathe, the more the mask clung to my mouth and nose.

This compromised many of my techniques as I repeatedly tried to pull the mask away from my face as I trained. Besides the difficulty breathing, I had the opportunity to see myself in the dojo mirrors facing me and I have to say… I did NOT like what I saw. I’ve often spoken to friends and family members about the state of their health and gaining weight as one gets older. It’s been a significantly long time since I’ve had the opportunity to see myself in a full-length mirror and assess just how far down that rabbit hole I had fallen, myself.

I don’t consider myself out of shape, by any means. I work out consistently, although my diet often leaves something to be desired. But that first class had me feeling as though I was a tired old man. The class was only an hour in length but by the time it was done, I was coated in sweat, struggling to catch my breath and wishing I didn’t have to wear that DAMN mask. But i felt good. I went home that night with a feeling that I had taken a positive step in the right direction towards regaining some of what I lost.

I didn’t help myself by going running for an hour on Tuesday. I like to take advantage of the free access to a gym facility at my work, and since I already have some weights at home, cardio is usually my go-to in that regard. So on Wednesday night, my legs may have been a bit more tender than they COULD have been. As with all things that take effort, the more you push yourself, the more familiar and easy it potentially gets.

Although I won’t say last night was “easy” in the traditional sense, the familiarity made it possible for me to get through the workout with a bit more ease than on the Monday. So, here I am… I’ve been welcomed; in fact, they want me to demonstrate forms of my own and share techniques and learning. Sounds promising. It may have taken some time, work and effort but I may have found a place to hang my hat. Time will tell, I guess. There’s another class tonight, so wish me luck! I don’t know how much more my legs can take, this week… ☯️

Ah, Symptoms…

I scarcely remember life before I was diagnosed with type-1 Diabetes. bearing in mind that I’m in my 40’s and I was diagnosed at the age of 4 years old, that should be all that surprising. But I do have memories of enjoying certain foods with impunity, drinking sugared soda and being able to go to bed without getting poked by needles and wondering if I would make the night. And no, before anyone starts commenting, the aforementioned consumption didn’t play a role in my being diagnosed with Diabetes.

Although the content of some of my posts tends to repeat itself, I find that some of them are worth a reminder, every six months or so. I’ve written about Diabetic symptoms before, but it’s never a bad thing to get a refresher. This can be particularly important for folks who WORK with Diabetics, as not everyone is as forthcoming about their health in the workplace as I am. There a lot of reasons for this, including embarrassment. Some people are embarrassed at the prospect of divulging ANY health condition, but there’s often a stigma behind Diabetes where a good portion of the population assumes it’s caused by poor diet and lack of exercise.

I’ve always lived by the concept of full disclosure, choosing to divulge my condition and its potential symptoms and treatments, as opposed to claiming privacy or keeping it hidden. When it comes to a condition that could potentially kill me if something happens and no one knows what’s happening, I prefer this method to the alternative. But that’s just me; to each their own. But it’s good to recognize some of the outlying symptoms of Diabetes, in the event someone in your life may be diagnosed with this condition.

In someone who hasn’t been diagnosed, it may be noticed that they’ll have an increased thirst, increased hunger and frequent urination. In fact, these three symptoms may be the most common in someone who hasn’t yet been diagnosed. But body weight fluctuations, mood swings and irritability, fatigue and blurry vision will also appear. In children and even some adults, they may catch themselves wetting the bed in stages where they wouldn’t have done so before.

One would think that bed wetting may be a strange symptom. The problem is that since a Diabetic person doesn’t process glucose properly and creates that increase in urine (frequent urination, remember?), the strain on one’s bladder can cause wetting of the bed where there was none before. I know that when I was first diagnosed, I wet the bed for the first few weeks until my blood sugars were brought under control. The temporary solution was to have me wear a diaper to bed, which was SUPER fun for a 4-year old. But i digress…

But for someone with Diabetes, there can be different symptoms based on whether you’re experiencing high or low blood sugars. I should point out that these symptoms can also be subjective to the person and are not all-encompassing. For example, high blood sugars will cause many of the overall symptoms of someone who hasn’t been diagnosed. This can include thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, nausea and body pains. Someone may get close enough to you to realize that your breath also has a fruity tinge to it.

The increased thirst is the worst, in my opinion, since it causes what I call “the Diabetic Loop.” You have increased thirst and dry mouth, so you drink more water. This aggravates the frequent urination and makes it worse, having you running for the bathroom constantly. But you’re still thirsty, so you pile more water down your gullet. Rinse and repeat. It can be a particularly huge pain in the ass during the night when you’re trying to sleep but your bladder wakes you almost every hour.

If one is suffering from low blood sugar, they may experience or demonstrate symptoms such as shaking, sweating and pale skin. They’ll have difficulties concentration and may be irritable or even violent. This is a particular one because in my case, the irritability comes out when my blood sugars are high. Low blood sugar may cause confusion and numbness in some extremeties (I used to know I was low because my tongue would go numb, of all things).

The irritability thing is subjective but tends to happen because your brain needs glucose to function properly. This means that if you’re suffering from low blood sugar, your brain isn’t being fed adequately and may malfunction, for lack of a better term. It can cause a whole slew of emotional responses, most of them not good. I usually get angry, although I prefer to think it’s “hangry.”

If you have Diabetes, you can avoid many of these symptoms with a few lifestyle adjustments and being prepared. Exercise regularly, eat properly, get enough sleep and test your blood sugars often. Just doing these few things will go a long way towards ensuring you don’t have to do battle with a constant armada of Diabetic symptoms.

If you’re a friend, co-worker or family member of a loved one w you believe is experiencing Diabetic symptoms, the situation will always fall under two categories. If the sufferer is able to communicate clearly, he/she will tell you what they need or take care of it themselves. If they are unconscious or unable to communicate clearly, simply call 911.

Although opinions vary, I always advise people never to try and feed a Diabetic any glucose. Setting aside the fact that they could potentially choke on whatever you try and feed them, without knowing whether the person is suffering a high or a low, you run the risk of aggravating the situation. Better to wait for the professionals to arrive and deal with the patient accordingly.

If you choose to keep your Diabetes private, good for you. That’s your choice and you’re free to exercise it. Myself, I’ve discussed my Diabetes at length with my boss and my family, including what treatments I obtain and what preventative measures I take, as well as what they can do if something happens. It’s a hell of a safety net and makes me feel safer. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved, right? ☯️

Protein Candy Bars…

Protein is an integral part of a person’s health; not just for workouts but for one’s overall body. The jury is still out on the best type of protein but from a personal standpoint, I try to stick to lean proteins, like fish and chicken. The frequent consumption of beef and red meats tend to lead to potential health concerns that I won’t get into here, so let’s not jump on the vegetarian band-wagon, shall we?

My point is that if you exercise consistently, you may seek out additional protein to supplement your diet. Some folks will consume whey protein in a daily shake. Since I’m a fan of consuming a shake as my first meal in the morning, I’m fine with this and there are certainly enough varieties of whey protein on the market to have something for everyone (provided you do your research and consume what’s right for you).

Protein bars can be an easy and effective way of getting your added protein punch, but it’s important to be wary of the bars you buy. If you’re anything like me, the amount of protein contained in the bar will be the first thing your eyes go to. But if you’re not careful, you may catch yourself getting more than what you bargained for. A good example was on a recent trip to a bulk retail location where I wanted to purchase a bulk package of protein bars. For mornings when I don’t have time to make lunches AND prepare a breakfast smoothie, a protein bar can be an easy go-to.

As I was walking down the aisle and trying to decide which brand to purchase, I was watching the front of the box for the protein count. I was pleasantly surprised and excited when i saw a box that boasted over 30 grams of protein per bar! I quickly grabbed a box and dumped it in my cart, satisfied that I had gotten what I was looking for. It wasn’t until we were lingering in a different section that I had the opportunity to pick up the box and start looking at the ingredients.

I should start by pointing out that these bars were chocolate-covered. Alright, chocolate isn’t some all-encompassing devil that needs to be avoided at all costs, but it’s an unnecessary source of sugar and fat. And for Type-1 Diabetics, chocolate is a bit of a nightmare, because it takes a long time for the body to process, so you with won’t notice the blood sugar spike right away, or it will take forever for chocolate to help correct a low. So it’s important to point out that a chocolate covered protein bar is basically a high-protein candy bar, with many of the same pitfalls as simply eating a candy bar.

According to an article posted by HealthLine.com, “Some protein bars are so high in calories and added sugar that they might as well be in the candy aisle.” The article goes on to explain some of the content of various protein bars, including the addition of sweetness to enhance the flavour of the bar. Some of these sweeteners can add an extra amount of oomph to the overall calorie and carb count, making it an unhappy start to your day. If this is the case, you may be better to lean on some other protein-rich foods, such as cheese, hard-boiled eggs, nuts or lean meats.

Protein bars are a subjective purchase, depending on what your overall goal is. They won’t necessarily replace a meal, but they can do in a pinch. I favour Quest bars. They come in at about 200 calories, which is great for helping me get to lunch, and have 21 grams of carbohydrates but 14 grams of that is fibre, leaving me with only 7 grams to bolus for. At 21 grams of protein, it sits at the higher end of things and provides a small hit of calcium and only 8 grams of fat.

The important thing is to read your nutrition labels carefully and choose based on your health, fitness goals and overall bodily requirements. Remember that not all bars are created equal and nothing is more important than your health, so read carefully. And once you find a protein bar that suits your requirements, enjoy! Some of them have some interesting flavours that can add a bit of satisfaction to your day. And your workouts. Food for thought… (pun intended) ☯️

Belated Well-Wishes…

Yesterday was Sensei’s birthday. And although I did wish him happy birthday yesterday, it didn’t dawn on me to share the good tidings here. So here we go… Happy Birthday, Sensei. For over three decades, you’ve changed my life, improved my life and motivated my life.

Mechanical Difficulties… (A Long Read)

Last week, as part of my all-encompassing plan to better myself as a whole instead of making a New Year’s resolution, I visited a local karate class to see if the style would suit my wants, needs and expectations. Since I’m not here to endorse any one given school or style, I’ll keep what school I visited to myself until I’ve officially joined and have decided to stay in. Although I HAD been training at a local karate school since 2016, the pandemic put a chink in that when restrictions hit and the school was forced to close its doors. At one point, they compromised by having classes over Zoom, which wasn’t great but it kept us all seeing each other and practicing techniques as a group instead of training alone.

The Zoom classes topped without notice and when i inquired about it, I was told they had halted and we would be returning to classes in September. I was happy but also a bit curious as to why I hadn’t been advised. The school opened back up, albeit in limited numbers and with increased restrictions on paired training and direct contact. Fair enough, I could work with that. We got through about a week’s worth of class before the Provincial association that oversees that dojo decided to shut us down due to increased case numbers in Saskatchewan and further restrictions. That was last September. Now, even with most dojos operating, I haven’t heard anything from the school or even know if classes are happening.

On the one side, I could just suck it up and reach out to them. But there’s something tickling the back of my mind about the fact that I was overlooked on the group email that discussed the end of Zoom classes and the start of in-person training. For years, the head instructor’s wife included me on a group email that went out to all students whenever there were cancellations, plans or events. So, it isn’t as though she simply didn’t have my email address or contacts. It’s left a bit of a sour taste and since the basic fundamentals of that style didn’t mix well with mine, I’ve decided it’s simply easier to seek out a new dojo.

I visited a local karate school with a style that’s closely related to my own. There is a school of Uechi Ryu in Alberta, which would be easier than flying 3,400 kilometres to go home for the possibility that Sensei would accommodate me. But I’d still find myself travelling for about 7 to 8 hours by car, would need to take days off of work and leave my wife and children behind as I do. How often could I do that before the cost and the toll would begin to be too much? So, I’m back to the thought of starting over, somewhere else. With that in mind, last Wednesday, I walked into the dojo and introduced myself to a young black belt who was sitting at the door.

Through our conversation, I was honest about the fact that I held a black belt in another style. My preference would have been to keep that information to myself, but he asked if I had trained before and what rank I had obtained. Given my personal policy of honesty, I answered truthfully. When the head instructor arrived, she asked all the same questions and explained that it was up to me how I chose to train; I could wear my black belt and they would integrate me and within a couple of years I could continue on my black belt voyage. Or, I could start from scratch as a white belt but I was warned of how long it would potentially take for me to once again reach black belt grade. Ultimately, not matter what colour is around my waist, I was there to learn.

I was asked why I didn’t bring a gi, to which I answered I preferred to observe a class to see how well I would potentially fit in to how they trained. I was given a place to sit and class begun. I was a bit concerned over the fact that class was only an hour in length. I was raised with classes no shorter than two hours and I had difficulty picturing how they would cover enough material in that amount of time. The previous school I trained in had classes that lasted an hour and a half but they spent 30 to 40 minutes of that time on stretches and warm-ups (which should be done by the practitioner BEFORE class), which pretty much cripple their available time.

I was impressed to see that they spent a brief 10 minutes of calisthenics and warm-ups before moving on to actual, structured techniques and forms. They focused the majority of their time on forms, doing them slowly, quickly, individually and together by count. So comprehensive were they, that I caught myself leaning forward in my seat in anticipation of getting on the floor with them. I found myself trying to analyze their katas and predict their movements. Without trying and without skipping a beat, I became vested in their training and was suddenly immersed. When the hour was done they closed out the class and they were all breathing hard, which is how practitioners should be, after training.

I was totally sold and I told them I would return for the following night’s class. And then life happened… On the following morning, which was a Thursday, I was driving down the main strip on my way to work when I received a warning message on my dashboard that said “SERVICE STABILITRAK.” What the fuck is Stabilitrak??? This was followed by another message that said “TRACTION CONTROL DISABLED” and “ENGINE POWER REDUCED.” What the hell is going on??? Bearing in mind that it was about -50 degrees Celsius with the wind chill, I wasn’t entirely surprised at the vehicle having difficulties.

But the reduction in power caused the vehicle to be unable to go much faster than about 30 km/h. I was driving in a 50 km/h zone, so you can imagine the plethora of car horns and middle fingers I was subjected to, during this time. Don’t believe all the hype about Canadian friendliness. It ain’t all maple syrup and Timbits! I managed to make it into work, albeit much slower than usual. I took a few moments to search online for the messages I received and confirmed that it could be some significant issues with the accelerator assembly and that I should get it looked at. I managed to book an appointment for 8:45 that morning. The current time was 8:20.

I updated my boss about my short-term absence and drove to the repair shop and dropped off my vehicle. I was told that they had vehicles that were brought in the previous day that they hadn’t looked at yet and that I would need to leave my car with them for the entire day. I was a little pissed about the fact I had scheduled an appointment and now it wasn’t being honoured, but the vehicle needed to be checked over so I took advantage of their shuttle service and made my way home, where I worked remotely for the remainder of the day.

It was a little after 4 pm when they finally called to say the repairs were completed. I asked for their shuttle to come pick me up, which I was told would take upwards of an hour. By the time I reached the repair shop, it was about 5:30 pm and then i had to fill the tank, putting me back home at about 6 pm. Then, supper had to be made to feed the kids and my oldest had a batch of addition flashcards sent home by his teacher since he was apparently unable to perform basic math when asked. Lovely. Where I’m going with this is that I didn’t make karate class, which is unfortunate as I was hoping to see how well my gi fit after gaining my COVID gut.

Here we are on Sunday, and the next class is tomorrow. I’m trusting the fates to make it possible for me to attend without throwing any other monkey wrenches into my gears. After the last few years I’ve had, it would be nice if life would stop kicking me when I’m down. Hopefully, with a bit of effort and luck, I can make it to karate on Monday and start a new leg of my martial arts journey without any further issue. Here’s hoping… ☯️

Your White Lies Could Make You Black & Blue…

Medical professionals have a pretty rough existence. Besides the long hours, shift work and overall lack of appreciation by their patients, they’re usually living their daily lives within the confines of everyone’s else’s physical and mental ailments. And the current pandemic makes it no easier. On the flip side of that coin, patients usually hate divulging information about themselves, especially information about their private lives and habits.

Where those two sides meet in the middle is when medical professionals ask patients certain key questions, only to have the patients flat out lie about. Or at the very least, stretch or omit the truth. Everybody does it. Hell, I’ve been guilty of answering differently than what I should have on a few occasions. There are a number of reasons why people do this.

For some, it’s to prevent embarrassment. From bad habits to potential addictions, some feel that lying or omitting certain pieces of information related to their habits will save face. Fair enough, I can see that as being a normal human instinct. For others, it may be because they don’t know better. Asking if you’re on any other medication or supplements may seem like an easy answer until you say “no” despite taking multivitamins, workout supplements over even over-the-counter meds.

Then, we unfortunately have the stubborn bastards who simply think, “They don’t need to do that to do their jobs…” When one’s life depends on the outcome of your doctor’s findings, maybe you should let THEM decide what they need to know or not. And that’s the takeaway. Instead of withholding information or lying about it, some transparency can help avoid some unnecessary complications. Let’s examine a few, shall we?

It Can Alter The Effectiveness Of Treatment
Lying or omitting information from your doctor can lead to complications with prescribed medications and treatments, rendering them ineffective or changing how they react to the body.

It Can Alter A Diagnoses
Picture a doctor asking someone if they smoke, who in turn states that they don’t and never have. Meanwhile, the patient in question actually DOES smoke. The problem with this is it can lead to your doctors or medical practitioner looking for the cause of a symptom in the wrong place. Same applies to alcohol, excess sugar, sedentary lifestyle (not exercising) and bad eating habits. This will all cause particular ailments and symptoms that your doctor will have difficulty treating if they aren’t “in the know.”

It Can Cause Severe Harm Or Death
Think I’m exaggerating on this one? Think again… This piggybacks on the earlier point I made, but lying or omitting anything you may be taking can cause severe reactions with medications your doctor prescribes. Imagine dying because that weird workout supplement you decided to order online that comes from someplace you can’t spell, interacted and reacted with your actual prescribed meds?

Doctors and medical practitioners are here to help. If they’re asking, assume they need to know or have a valid reason. If you have someone with you whom you feel less comfortable answering in front of, perhaps you should reschedule or ask that person to leave the room. One good example is a doctor asking how many sexual partners you’ve had but you don’t want to say more than one because your significant other is there… Awkward!)

Ultimately, this is a bit like a bad, 80’s zombie movie where one of the main characters gets bit but doesn’t tell anyone until it’s too late. Then, not only do they end up dying anyway but they take a bunch of folks out with them. Don’t be that person. Be honest. Be transparent. Be open. At the end of the day, not only does it make your doctor’s job significantly easier, it also ensures your increased safety when dealing with medical matters. Food for thought…☯️