Chew, Don’t Inhale…

Look, I totally understand that in the fast-paced environment we all live in these days, there’s a propensity to do everything quickly.  We live by the clock, and sometimes we’re moving so quickly that we fail to realize the consequences of being so rushed.  This is certainly the case when it comes to our meals.

There are a number of disadvantages to rushing your meal.  According to an article posted by Medical News Today, “eating too quickly may add an extra size to your waistline, as well as raising your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke”. Further, the article goes on to explain that studies have shown that eating too fast can contribute to insulin resistance.  Here’s the article, if you want to give it a read: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320056.php

The big problem is that it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to signal that your stomach is full.  So if you rush your meal and stuff your face as though it’s going out of style, you’ll shovel in way more food than is necessary for you to actually be full. The problem is that you’ll overeat before you start realizing that you’ve eaten enough.  The additional calories will inevitably lead to weight gain and can contribute to the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

That’s why eating at a buffet is such a problem; you rush through your first and possibly second plate of food in the interest of getting your money’s worth but you outrun your nourishment requirements before you can realize you’re full.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the lion…  A lion will take the time to hunt its prey and kill it.  Then, the lion will settle in and take its time eating its prey.  And once the lion has had its fill, it will go lay in the shade, clean and groom itself and take a nap.  Doesn’t that sound WAY better than shoveling food into your face like a preschooler? Granted, very few of us have the benefit of being able to nap after a meal, but the message is clear: you should take your time while eating your meal.

There are a number of things you can do to help the process of eating at a slower pace: 

  1. Take smaller bites.  This will allow your brain the time to register and send the appropriate signal once you’re full.
  2. Eat regular meals at regular intervals.  It’s easier to slow your pace if you’re never hungry to the point that you’re starving.  Make certain that you never leave more than four hours between meals.
  3. Drink plenty of water.  It’s been documented in several different forums that dehydration can cause feelings of hunger.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day and include a large glass of water during your meal to prevent overeating.
  4. Skip second helpings.  Once you have your planned plate of food, avoid filling up on a second plate. Depending on your caloric requirements, the average person will never need more than one average plateful of food per meal, especially if you eat at regular intervals.

In a world where everything tends to whip by at break-neck speed, do yourself a favor and slow down your meals.  Take the time, whether it’s a 30-minute lunch hour at work or all the time you need at home, to enjoy the eating experience and allow yourself to eat and digest properly. You’ll avoid heartburn, indigestion and long-term complications.  Your body will thank you.  So will your stress levels! ☯

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Go With The Flow

Energy is a strange thing.  We can’t see it, under most circumstances.  We fail to acknowledge its presence and some even doubt its existence. But everything is made of energy. From the eraser on your pencil to the very core of your physical being, it’s all energy!

George Mattson, a karate practitioner from the United States, once wrote, “A workout should be like a painting.  Each one has a characteristic of its own.”  The meaning behind this is that a classroom workout is much like a painting as well.  Each and every student is a separate characteristic of the class as a whole and lends one more piece to the workout.

Each and every student in the class affects the overall tone of the workout.  Think about it; have you ever participated in a class where the instructor was less than motivated?  Maybe he or she had a low, baritone voice with no enthusiasm behind it…  You can easily guess how motivating THAT would be to the students.

The same can be said about the students themselves.  If every student doesn’t put forth their best effort, they drag on the overall energy of the class.  The top students will no doubt put forth their best effort and potentially raise the bar, if you will.  But it’s up to each and every student to put in his or her maximum effort.

We all have bad days.  Some days we may be feeling ill, tired or simply lack the motivation to give it our all. This leaves us with two options: dig deep to find the energy needed to get through the night’s training, or take a break and stay home.  There’s no shame in that.  Everyone needs a break on occasion, so long as it doesn’t become extended or start interfering with your overall progress. ☯

Power Of The Printed Word.

Books! Books are awesome.  And they’ve been around for a hell of a long time. Books can contain anything: information, stories, reference materials and more.  But little by little, books are becoming somewhat obsolete in favor of the digital frontier.  This makes me sad on levels I can’t even express.

Books have been around for longer than recorded time.  Although there are some articles out there that cover this very subject, the exact time that the printed word became a “thing” is mostly unknown.  And when it did become a “thing”, it may not have been in any form we would readily recognize as an actual book.  I’m talking printed tablets, scrolls and such.

It might seem counterintuitive for me to be bringing this subject up, considering your reading a digital blog as opposed to an actual book, but there are a number of benefits to picking up a musty stack of pages and reading a physical book:

  1. It exercises your brain.  I’m a big fan of saying that when you aren’t exercising your body, you should be exercising your mind.  Books do that very thing.  And through that development and sharpening of the mind, you help yourself to focus when doing others things that are important.
  2. You’ll learn new words.  Believe it or not, there are a s&*t ton of words out there that we don’t know the meaning of, or have never even heard of.  Reading helps you to expand your vocabulary and may even help you to learn new things in general, depending on the style of book you’re reading.
  3. It relaxes you.  Believe it or not, reading a book will help reduce stress and calm you.  Stories help transport you to a different world and take you out of the immediate moment; a step which can help people deal with the hectic routine of daily life.
  4. It helps make you a better writer.  Think about it: if you learn new words and are often reading sentence structures and seeing proper grammar (at least you hope it is!) then those aspects become routine and you transfer them to your writing. So for all you bloggers reading this, it can be a great help!
  5. It will help you sleep better.  Remember the reduced stress it provides?  Well, less stress means better sleep.  And if you choose to read for a short period before bed instead of staring at your phone or other devices, it guaranteed to help you get to sleep easier than having the bright back-lit screen messing with your body.

This is just some of the benefits of reading.  Don’t even get me started on how much information and learning one can do by reading about a specific topic.  Look, we live in a world where technology is progressing at a lightning-fast pace.  But we can still take time to slow the world down and pick up a good book.  

Whether it’s to learn something new, let your imagination run wild or simply to relax, nothing but good can come of it.  I always have at least three different books on the go at once. Usually a story of some sort, a martial arts book for study and something educational. you can’t go wrong! So kick back, grab your favourite beverage and lose yourself within some pages. ☯

Beware Of Diafeeties…

I got today’s title from a Twitter post I found that said, What idiot named them Diabetic Foot Ulcers and not Diafeeties? I found that pretty amusing.  The actual condition, however, is not.

Diabetic foot ulcers are a condition caused by a number of different factors including but not limited to poor circulation, bad blood sugar control and untreated wounds to the feet.  They can go unnoticed for a long time before pain and infection set in.  But there are lots of things that can be done to help prevent them.

First of all, any type of injury to your feet can be problematic if you have Diabetes. Badly fitted shoes, poor foot hygiene and even unrelated Diabetic complications can lead to foot ulcers. Poor circulation to your feet will not only contribute to ulcers but will make any injury take much longer to heal, which will potentially also lead to ulcers.  High blood sugars will also slow the healing process, but any loss of blood sugar control will be bad in the long run.

There are a number of little things you can do to help prevent Diabetic foot ulcers besides proper blood sugar control.  As usual, I’m a big fan of exercise as managing tool.  Ensuring your feet remain clean, warm and wearing shoes that fit your feet properly will go a long way.

If you start to notice any kind of fluid discharge from your feet or if cut, scrapes or wounds on your feet start to turn dark and/or black, it’s time to go see your medical practitioner.  Although Diabetic foot ulcers are a serious issue, they can be treated and reversed. But if you have developed sores or ulcers, try staying off your feet to relieve pressure that could make an infection worse, and see a health professional as soon as possible.

I was going to include a stock photo of a Diabetic foot ulcer but to be honest, it was disgusting enough to deter even me! With winter creeping in, it’s important to keep your feet dry and warm.  Wear proper footwear and maintain those blood sugar levels. A regular exercise routine will help with that.  Worsened complications or untreated foot infections can lead to amputations or worse. Be sure to take care of your dogs BEFORE they start barking! ☯

A Decade Of Blood, Sweat and Literal Tears…

Yesterday was an important milestone for me:  I celebrated ten years in my chosen career.  I chose to celebrate the same way as I have for the past ten years.  I did one shot of Fireball for every year of service!  The burning sensation reminds me of the pain I’ve endured.  The warmth of the alcohol reminds me of the benefits of peace.  The headache I get the next day generally reminds me of the occasional cost of that peace and the existence of suffering in this world!

And yes, before anyone gets in on me about the amount of alcohol that involves, I’m quite aware.  And in my defense, it wasn’t a big deal for the first few years!  But now that I’ve reached ten years, I’ll admit that it’s becoming a bit more difficult to keep up the tradition and I may soon need to find a different way of celebrating.  Especially since Fireball has a fair amount of carbohydrates per shot, so blood sugar control becomes a bit convoluted throughout the evening.

What made yesterday all the more difficult is that I celebrated by myself.  Since the birth of my son Alexander, my wife can’t partake since she’s nursing him.  I guess the only silver lining is that I likely won’t have to take eleven shots next year as this may likely be the last year I will have such a celebration…

I remember when I started this career.  I had a lot of hopes and aspirations for the future and the good that I could do.  I woke up every morning grateful for the work I did and went to bed every night grateful that I had survived another day. I can say with firm honesty that I’ve met some amazing people and seen some incredible (and sometimes ridiculous) things.  It’s been quite a ride.

As I nurse the headache I woke up with and take my first steps in my eleventh year of service, I consider it all bittersweet.  The career I committed my life to may be coming to an end because of someone else’s lies and destructive nature.  But the mindset, the mentality and the hard lessons I’ve learned over the past decade will stay with me for the rest of my life.  The values and discipline I developed will remain and hopefully be passed on to my sons.  It will be difficult to let go.

I have no regrets.  I can’t. Every event that has come to pass has brought me to the here and now.  And I would not be the person I am today without each and every single one of those events, good or bad.  And even if it sounds like a conceit, I like the person I’ve become.  I’m pretty awesome.  Since starting on this journey, I’ve become a role model, teacher, mentor, husband and father.  I have already gained a lifetime of wealth in only a decade.  Imagine if I could continue for another decade?  Who knows what good I might accomplish. Unfortunately, this won’t be so. Such is life.

I guess if someone were sitting next to me as I toasted last night, they would hear me toast the lives I’ve saved, regret the lives I couldn’t reach in time and weep for the lives I won’t be there to help in the future.  Such is the way of the protector and one such as I.  

I will begin another chapter.  Life won’t allow me to do otherwise.  Perhaps the next chapter will be filled with as much as this one has been.  Who knows?  Only time will tell, but I promise that I will continue to share the adventures as they come.  There are always stories to tell… ☯

The Fitness Buff’s Supplement…

Everyone occasionally tries to make their workouts easier, or find a way to get the most of out their exercise.  This often includes the use of supplements and training aids.  One of the most popular among these supplements is whey protein, which I’ve written about in previous posts.  But another supplement that is often used by fitness buffs is something that has been the subject of argument over the past decades: Creatine.

Creatine is a substance produced naturally by the human body.  Found in muscle cells, it helps your muscles to produce the energy required for heavy lifting, exercise and fitness.  The reason one would take a supplement of Creatine, is that it is purported to enhance your performance during fitness and can help gain muscle mass and strength.

There are tons of studies that have shown that Creatine can help improve certain outlying conditions.  In fact, Creatine has been shown to help lower blood sugars and fight Diabetes, although the jury is still out on that one.  According to an article posted on Healthline.com, “a 12-week study examined how creatine affects blood sugar levels after a high-carb meal.  People who combined creatine and exercise were better at controlling blood sugar levels than those who only exercised.” (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-creatine#section7)

Some studies (which I can’t seem to locate) have reported that using high levels of Creatine can have adverse effects on the liver and kidneys, but the majority of studies (including the one quoted in the above-noted article) indicate that the use of Creatine in five-year clinical trials showed no adverse effects in healthy individuals.

That being said, there are a number of normal warnings that go along with the use of Creatine.  According to WebMD, one of my favorite sites, Creatine will cause muscle tissue to draw on more water, meaning you’ll need to drink a lot more fluids.  I don’t need to tell you that this already an issue for Diabetics, so you gotta keep up with that water intake!  If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, you shouldn’t take Creatine. It should also not be given to children. (https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-873/creatine)

From what I’ve been told by trainers, Creatine should be taken immediately after a workout or first thing in the morning on rest days.  Like most supplements, there’s some good and bad, but it’s one of those things you don’t really NEED, per se.  If you have a full, healthy diet and exercise regularly, you’re body should be producing the amount of Creatine you need.  But should you want to give your workouts and added touch of “oomph”, Creatine may be the way to go.  As usual, don’t be afraid to consult a medical practitioner before starting any supplementation or change to your workout routine.  ☯

“Strike First. Strike Hard. No Mercy!”

Ah, who didn’t enjoy the original 1984 movie The Karate kid?  I was six years old at the time, and starting get into the martial arts groove.  The movie described a scenario where the underdog was able to train and develop himself to become a champion, a scenario that pretty much described me to a T (minus the champion part, but I still trained and developed myself).

A new series came out last year called Cobra Kai. It takes place thirty-four years after the events of The Karate Kid.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, especially if you grew up in that decade.  It airs on YouTube.  The Cobra Kai had a slogan in their dojo: Strike First.  Strike Hard. No Mercy.

Depending on what side of the argument you fall on, some people believe that the protagonist in the movie was the ACTUAL villain for winning a tournament against the antagonist with an illegal kick to the face (I won’t apologize for providing a spoiler to a movie that came out thirty-five years ago!)  No matter what way you chose to view their story, the Cobra Kai’s slogan holds a reasonable level of merit.

First and foremost, I don’t agree with the “no mercy” part.  I believe that being merciful shows us our humanity and sets us apart from the evil we like to pretend doesn’t exist.  But the concept of striking first and striking hard is an important one in the martial arts.

I often like to compare most martial arts aspects to real-life scenarios because, well… the real world is where you would have the most practical and violent application of whatever fighting art you may be studying.  We want to avoid these types of confrontations as much as possible, but should they happen we need to be prepared to respond.  After all, why do we train so intensely if not to protect others and ourselves?

A lot of fighting styles teach students certain techniques that are intended to stun and/or surprise the opponent in order to allow the student to deliver the power strike that will end the confrontation.  A good example of such a technique is the jab.  Throwing a jab at someone allows you to set yourself up for the second power punch.  That’s a cute concept on paper (or in the dojo, I guess) but what if the only strike you get against an opponent is the first one?

I wrote a post some time ago about the actual length of a fight in the real world, and what the realities of such a fight usual are.  So here’s some enlightenment: in a real fight, you’ll have a chance to deliver one, maybe two strikes before you either get struck yourself or need to get the hell out of the way!  That’s it!  The concept of a long, drawn out battle where both participants are blocking and exchanging blows for long periods of time simply doesn’t happen.  

First of all, unless you’re a professional fighter who trains to fight for long periods, such as a boxer, you’ll become exhausted within minutes.  Fighting tires you out, and doing it in the streets when it isn’t planned or expected can be even worse.  And since the idea is to simply end the threat so you can get out of there, more than a few strikes will usually decide whether or not you’re going to be the victor or if you need to run.

That’s why it’s important to make every strike count.  If you intend on doing a “one-two” combination, both strikes should have equal force and power.  If you only have time to deliver one strike, you want it to be as powerful as the second one was intended.  It only makes sense.

Although you want to try and avoid physical confrontations as much as possible, if there is no other option and you get backed into a corner you want to make sure you avoid injury and be the one to get home safely.  Strike first and strike hard. ☯