Put Some Oomph In Your Ouch! 🎶

Music is awesome. It has the means to allow a person to express themselves in a very unique way. Music also has the means to reach every person. There are so many types of music that there is always at least one genre that appeals to any given person. Music can also communicate. There are few genuinely universal ways of communicating, but shaking your booty to great music is well understood anywhere in the world.

Music can also play an important role in how your workout plays out. It’s no secret that having an awesome playlist and some sick beats (I promise never to use that term again) can improve your workout and make you push harder towards a wicked sweat. So, why is this? IS it just our imagination? NO. There are actually some measurable reasons why music can help improve your fitness.

According to an article by the Huffington Post, “Listening to music while exercising can release feel-good chemicals – such as dopamine and opioids – that may boost your mood, dull pain and make you less tired […]” (https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/how-music-affects-workout_n_55d746a3e4b0a40aa3aaa9da?ri18n=true) If this is true, than having some music blaring while you workout is definitely beneficial.

Some other theories include the fact that music is a distraction. If you are distracted from the agonizing shin-splints keeping you from completing your 3K-run in record time, you’re more likely to push hard and keep going. Speaking from experience here, folks! Another theory is that good music, or rather what may be good to you, will help increase your confidence. This causes us to push harder.

No matter what the reasons, and no definite evidence has been found despite many studies, you can’t argue that having your earbuds in while you push yourself adds a definite plus to your workout. Think about it. When was the last time you went to a gym that DIDN’T have at least some of the people wearing headphones or earbuds? And it’s almost a sure guarantee that fitness locations will usually have music playing on the intercom system. Unless it’s one of those heathen locations that have a sporting event blaring, but that’s an entirely separate problem.

My current karate school even uses music during the warm-up portion of the class. This is a bit of a controversial thing, considering that most martial arts schools include an aspect of discipline that doesn’t include having Metallica blaring while shadow boxing! But I’d be lying if I said that the addition of music didn’t get even the laziest of students moving a bit better.

So whatever your reasons for doing so, crank up the tunes. Whether it’s to make you feel better, distract you from the now or simply helps you follow along with a beat, it can be nothing but beneficial. Unless you work out to country music. Then you’re just asking for trouble. You know who who are! ☯

Don't Try To Walk In Others' Footsteps

Life is pretty dynamic. If you don’t wake up in the morning wondering what the day will bring, you’re not facing it head-on the way you should. Life also doesn’t care about your plan. I’ve said that more times than I can count, to more people than I can remember. No matter how well you plan, life will usually find a way to throw a wrench into your gears. Although it’s important to have goals, plans aren’t always ideal.

“You Don’t Always Need A Plan. Sometimes You Just Need To Breathe, Trust, Let Go, And See What Happens.”

– Mandy Hale

I was talking to an old friend of mine, some time ago. He was in his 30’s, single, still had debt and hadn’t met any of his goals. He was pretty disappointed and hard on himself, and he was of the opinion that he was “behind in life” because of these things. He had a good career-level job and was saving up nicely, but the missing aspects that he considered societal expectations weighed on him.

I tried explaining to him that his life was exactly that: his life. And there was no expectation to follow any kind of set expectations where life was concerned. Every person is different and so is the manner in which their lives will play out. All the so-called rules that say you should be married and settled down by a certain age are made up.

“Although No One Can Go Back And Make A Brand New Start, Anyone Can Start From Now And Make A Brand New Ending.”

– Carl Bard

My friend is now about to get married, owns a house and is building a family. It took him longer than he PLANNED, but he’s still reaching his goals. And that’s what’s important. There’s no need to be so hard on ourselves. As long as we keep trucking forward and working towards goals, life will keep you exactly where you need to be. ☯

It's A Big Fat Lie! 🍫

Obesity is fast-becoming one of the biggest problems in North America. According to a report written by Stats Canada, “In 2018, 26.8% of Canadians 18 and older (roughly 7.3 million adults) reported height and weight that classified them as obese. Another 9.9 million adults (36.3%) were classified as overweight – bringing the total population with increased health risks due to excess weight to 63.1% in 2018.” That’s a pretty horrible statistic! That means that more than half and almost three quarters of the Canadian population falls under a category associated with obesity. Scary.

There are some obvious problems and exceptions with this total, however. As I’ve written about before, the first problem is with a tool known as BMI. BMI, or Body Mass Index, takes a person’s weight and divides it by the square of the person’s height. Unless assessed by a health professional, the readings can provide a false shadow on an otherwise healthy person.

For example, I happen to have a BMI of 32.1, which falls under the obese category. Anyone who has ever seen me in person could definitely confirm that I am not obese! BMI fails to take body mass, age, muscle and pregnancy or bodily changes. This means that if you visit Dr. Google for your BMI calculations, you’ll likely starve yourself into depression thinking that you’re obese!

The reason I bring up obesity is because I read a post by a fellow blogger who discussed this very thing. I took note of the fact that he wrote that obesity can be a cause of Type-2 Diabetes and I sincerely appreciated the fact that he took the time to make the discernation. Especially since obesity DOES NOT cause Type-1 Diabetes. You hear that, world? OBESITY DOES NOT CAUSE TYPE-1 DIABETES!!!! (Takes deep, calming breaths…)

Just to clarify, even if I’ve done so multiple times before, Type-1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys the insulin-producing cells in one’s body, preventing the processing of glucose. It can have a genetic component and has often been referred to as “Juvenile Diabetes” due to the fact that most sufferers are diagnosed quite early in life. That being said, it is possible for a person to contract Type-1 Diabetes much later in life. My father is an example of this.

Type-2 Diabetes is essentially an increased form of insulin resistance where the body still produces insulin, but the body is either “less” able to use it or unable to do so. Obesity has been directly linked as a factor behind this insulin resistance, which is why people so readily associated obesity with Diabetes.

Although there have been some studies related to wether or not obesity has any effect on someone with Type-1, it’s almost the opposite for the two types… Type-1 Diabetes can LEAD to obesity, of a number of different reasons. Obesity is one of the direct causes of Type-2 Diabetes. Make sense?

One of my biggest pet-peeves is how many times I’ve told someone I have Diabetes, only to have them look me up and down and say, “But you’re not fat!” One does not necessarily have anything to do with the other. It’s important to make the discernation between the two types and use them correctly.

Last but not least, here’s the page to Stats Canada and WebMD, if anyone wants to check them out ☯:

Swimming In The Benefits!

I brought my son to a public swimming pool, yesterday afternoon. He enjoyed that pool party for his classmate so much a couple of weeks ago, that I thought it would be a great way for us both to get some exercise and burn him out for the night. It would have been nice to snap a photo or two of the fun, but you DON’T want to be that adult taking photos at a public pool!

Swimming is often an overlooked activity by most people, because it seems rather inconvenient. You have to pack swimwear and towels, go to a specific location to swim (especially if it’s winter) and you need to worry about getting properly dry and dragging a bunch of wet things with you when you leave. But is that really any different than working out at a conventional gym? If you said yes, there’s something wrong with your workouts. Unless you have a full gym in the basement of your home (a slight tinge of jealousy over my brother-in-law’s basement comes to mind) then you still need to pack or wear workout gear, go to the gym’s specific location and if you aren’t soaking wet when you finish your workout, then you aren’t pushing hard enough!

Spending time in a pool can have a number of benefits, from a health and fitness standpoint. If you happen to be swimming with my son Nathan, I guarantee that you’ll lose track of the number of calories you burn. And that’s the nice thing: you’re burning through calories while having so much fun that you don’t notice it.

You work just about every muscle group. Even if all you’re doing is splashing around with your kids, working your way around under water requires the use of just about all your muscle groups, making for a great workout. It’s also a very low-impact way to workout, since the water takes a portion of the weight off of your back and joints.

The increased heart rate will improve your heart and lungs, and will help to reduce stress while improving your flexibility and mobility. That last one is particularly important if you need to maintain your fitness level through an injury like, oh let’s say… shin splints! The low impact will allow your injury to heal while still allowing you to burn calories.

It goes without saying, even if I’m saying it, that anyone with Diabetes needs to closely monitor their blood glucose levels while swimming. Often, your blood sugars can start to drop suddenly, especially if you’re caught up in the fun. When going to a public pool, I always arrange to keep my gym bag close by. It contains fast-acting glucose, my glucometer and my cell phone, which allows mw to test my blood sugar through my Freestyle Libre.

Last but not least, it’ll fire up your hunger and make you tired. This is a good sign that you’ve had a god burn and can retire to your home for a rest. One of the first things Nathan told me as we were towelling off to leave was, “Daddy, I’m tired…” Yes! He’ll be sleeping early tonight… No such luck. He got his second wind and was his typical destructive self.

Swimming can be beneficial in all sorts of ways and do nothing but good for the body. I spent most of my life living in the East Coast of Canada where i could spend the entirety of my summer, swimming on beaches, rivers and lakes. It was glorious! If you do swim outdoors, be sure you know how to swim and are aware of how to swim in bodies of water that may have currents and other dangers. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong. So get out there and dive in; the water’s fine! ☯

Winter Freezes Everything But The Sun ☀️

When the cold weather hits, everyone bundles up when they head outdoors. It can be really easy to forget that even though it may be -40 degrees, the Sun is still up there, blazing bright and true. Although a bit of natural sunlight can be beneficial to help your body generate the dose of Vitamin D it requires (see yesterday’s repost from June 2019), too much exposure to sunlight can be bad for you. I am referring to, of course, tanning.

Getting a tan is a practice through which the skin on a person becomes a darker shade due to exposure to UV Light. The body responds by producing melanin in order to prevent further damage from UV radiation. In the past, getting a tan was evidence of social status, having travelled to sunny destination or good health. But nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that the result is your body TRYING TO PROTECT ITSELF is a sign that tanning is bad, m’kay?

There are different ways to get a tan. The first and most direct, is natural sunlight. This basically involves exposing your flesh to the Sun. Pretty simple, right? The next is through the use of a tanning bed. This involves laying or standing in a specially constructed booth that exposes you to UVA rays, causing the production of melanin and darkening the skin. The last is a spray tan. Spray tanning is done by well, spraying yourself. A chemical called Dihydroxyacetone is misted against the skin, which in turn reacts with the body’s naturally occurring amino acids to turn the skin a darker shade.

Although this is a topic that has been widely debated in recent decades, and public opinion has gone back and forth, tanning is not good for you. The DHA mist used in spray tanning has no evidence of being harmful to the body. Okay, fair enough! But any form of tanning that causes the creation of melanin has been proven to be exceptionally bad for you. And it all begins with that very first tan…

If you tan your skin, you will cause a number of complications that you definitely want to live without. According to an article posted by WebMD, tanning is known to be a cause of Melanoma, which is a cancer of the skin cells. Tanning will also cause the premature aging of your skin, or what doctors refer to as “photo aging”. Other sources suggest that damage is caused with the very first tan and that being tanned does NOT prevent potential sunburns. Getting a “base tan” does nothing to help you.

Here are some good articles that cover these points in greater detail, should you want to have a read:

The point I’m making today, is that people tend to associate sun burns and sun exposure with the summer months because most people spend more time outdoors. But the Sun’s rays shine on, regardless of the season. The Sun’s rays will reflect off snow and ice and exposed skin can still suffer the same effects. So while you’re out and about in your winter wonderland, or if you’re crazy enough to be running during the snowy months like I’ve been, make sure to cover up and protect yourself accordingly.

For people with Diabetes, tanning exposes you an increased risk of dehydration and hypoglycaemia. You’ll also be at greater risk of excessive sweating, dizziness, headaches, nausea, increased heart rate and cramped muscles. Last but not least, I’d like to point out that tanning is actually defined as treating an animal hide in order to make leather! That should tell you all you need to know about what it’s doing to your skin. ☯

Let's Boost That System, Shall We?

This is a re-posting of an entry I posted way back at the beginning of June, 2019. Considering the winter weather and how everyone is catching every little bug that comes about, I thought it would be a good idea to remind people of the importance of vitamins and minerals in the everyday diet. if you remember this post and read it already, my apologies. I promise to have some fresh content tomorrow.

One of the key reasons behind the consumption of food is to obtain carbohydrates for energy. The human body requires energy to carry on normal functions and, well… stay alive! But what else do we get from the food we eat?

A proper diet will also include a number of vitamins and minerals that we require to maintain proper health, growth and energy levels within the body. We’ve all heard about getting enough vitamins from a young age; I remember getting my Flintstones vitamin everyday as a kid.

But if you’re like most people, you’re likely wondering what these vitamins are for and what they do. My goal is to cover off the main ones here:

Vitamin A: This is an all-around vitamin that provides a number of functions including but not limited to the proper health of various bodily functions, tissues and helps to fight chronic disease and is known to be good for the eyes.

Vitamin B: This one is a bit complicated, as there is a large grouping of enzymes, vitamins and minerals that fall under the “B” category. In general, B-vitamins are used for energy production, immune function and absorbing iron. Some them include B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folate) and B12. There are a few more that I can’t recall, but B12 is considered amongst one of the most important of vitamins overall because it helps you turn food into energy.

Vitamin C: At some points, this one has been referred to as the sunshine vitamin. I’m thinking that’s mostly because people’s main source of Vitamin C is from citrus fruits. But this vitamin also helps with iron absorption, immune function and is a natural antioxidant that helps with the elimination of free radicals. Eating citrus fruits are also what sailors used to eat on long voyages to prevent scurvy.

Vitamin D: This vitamin helps with the strengthening of bones and teeth. Our bodies are designed to self-generate this vitamin naturally through exposure to sunlight, but obviously that needs to be done in small doses. Modern life has created an environment where more people spend their time indoors, away from the sun. So supplementation becomes important.

Vitamin E: A pretty straight forward vitamin, this one helps with proper blood circulation and clear skin.

Vitamin K: This vitamin is essential for blood-clotting. In order words, if you’re deficient in this vitamin, small cuts or injuries can cause excessive bleeding that can become dangerous.

Folic Acid: We hear people speak about this one as being necessary during pregnancy. And they would be correct! Folic Acid helps to prevent certain complications during childbirth but is important to everyone for proper cell renewal. This one is also known as Folate, or Vitamin B9 (as listed above).

Calcium: Most people should be familiar with this one. Teeth and bones, people! Teeth and bones! Good calcium levels are required to keep those body parts healthy.

Iron: This helps to build muscle tissue naturally and helps with proper health of the blood. As an interesting sidebar, it’s also what makes your blood red through the reflection of light!

Zinc: Immunity and Fertility. I’m a little unfamiliar with this one and haven’t had the opportunity to research it a great deal.

Chromium: This one is near and dear to my heart. Because it helps to control blood sugar levels. Chromium is what helps all the systems of your body to get the energy they need when they need it. Some traditional medicine practitioners will suggest Chromium supplements for Type 1 Diabetics who may have difficulty in maintaining proper levels.

Magnesium: This one helps your body to absorb all the other vitamins and minerals. It also acts as something of a relaxant to muscle tissue and play a role in proper muscle contraction.

Potassium: This mineral helps with the proper hydration of your body and helps to control blood pressure.

There are many others of course, but I’ve tried to cover off the main vitamins and minerals required for a proper diet. For more information and possible food sources for these vitamins and minerals, I’ve found the following two online articles that provide a lot of good information:

https://www.comvita.com/blog-article/10-essential-vitamins-your-body-needs/4100544

https://www.goodnet.org/articles/11-essential-vitamins-minerals-your-body-needs

We get most of what we need by eating regularly and including a variety of healthy foods. A lot of people take a daily multi-vitamin, which is fine. But unless you are experiencing symptoms or unexplained illnesses, there shouldn’t be a need to actively try and take added amounts of anything. Your medical practitioner should be able to advise you if further supplementation is required. For example, patients who are recommended to take Folic Acid and Iron during pregnancy.

Obviously, all of this is extremely important; not only for proper health and fitness, which is important to me, but to help with Type 1 Diabetes as well. A big shout out to my wife, Laura, who provided me with this blog post idea by asking about B12 yesterday. ☯

A Real Ankle-Biting Problem…

I recently posted that I’ve incorporated running into my exercise routine. I don’t usually run; I tend to think that I have the centre of gravity of a boulder. This doesn’t mean that I don’t incorporate cardio into my workouts; it simply means that I’ve recently felt the need to up my game a bit.

Now just to be clear, the terms associated with running are subjective. Depending on who you speak to, what I’ve been doing may or may not be “running”. I was speaking with a colleague a few days ago and when I mentioned that I had started running, he said, “Are you actually running, or you’re just jogging? To me, jogging is just jogging. But running is when you go all out!”

I was quick to point out that running all out was usually referred to as sprinting, to which he was quick to offer suggestions that my smart-ass go fornicate itself on a hot rock. But I digress…

Running on different terrains and surfaces present different issues while running

Running, much like any exercise, has many different complications and injuries that one can suffer while enjoying it. And “enjoying” is a very lightly-used term… You can pull or tear muscles, twist joints, suffer micro-fractures or experience dehydration or exhaustion. But the condition I want to address today is one that I’ve suffered before and that I seem to be revisiting now: shin splints!

Shin Splints, or what’s medically known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, is a condition that one develops from repetitive, physical stress on the musculature in the leg between the knees and the ankle. You can usually recognize it from a dull or sharp pain in the muscles of the lower leg when exercising and can often be accompanied by some swelling. Sometimes the pain can be excruciating enough that one is forced to stop the physical activity. Continued exercising when one has shin splints can result in micro fractures, which can result in a complete fracture.

What causes shin splints? It can be caused by a number of things, such as starting a new running regiment (sound familiar?), running on a hard surface (I unfortunately run on the street!) or using worn-out shoes that no longer provide proper support to your feet (like my tac boots). Shin splints can also result from the exhaustion of the specified muscle groups, where one continues to exert stress on them. These are only the most common causes and there are many more.

So, what can one do to prevent shin splints? Well, this is one of those situations where less is more. If you’re starting to run, do it gradually. Don’t try to run long distances at great speed on your first week. Stretch out the muscle group, same as you would for any other muscle group before any other type of workout. Make sure your shoes are replaced if worn out, and this will also help to lessen the impact if you’re forced to run on concrete or asphalt.

Some stretching exercises found on Pinterest

If you think you may have developed shin splints, there are a few things you can do from home. Keeping your feet elevated and icing your shins is the first step. As with any icing of tissues, keep an ice pack on your shins for no longer than 15 minutes at a time. Massaging the shins can also be a help. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen can be taken. But only temporarily and in small doses. Depending n what caused the actual shin splints, the time needed to recovery will differ from person to person. The general recommendation is about two weeks, and if you haven’t recovered by that point, you should consult your medical practitioner.

The important thing is not to rush back into it. This is one of those injuries that genuinely require that you allow your body time to rest and heal. Pushing yourself in this situation can result in true fractures of the leg and force an even LONGER recovery time. Take your time getting back into the routine and be sure to start in small increments. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go ice my shins! ☯