A Shovelful Of Advice…

I hate snow. I have a pretty solid dislike for the cold in general, despite the fact that I don’t yearn for sandy beaches and hot climates, but the snow holds a special place in the dark recesses of my heart. Mostly because I have to shovel that white shit. And as much as I enjoy the occasional romp in the snow, or pelting my son with a solid snowball, shovelling snow is my personal version of hell freezing over.

The depth of snow behind my vehicle at 6:30 am

Last Monday, I awoke to the sight of snow on the ground. At first glance, it didn’t seem to be a big deal. Then I opened my door and noticed that the snow around my SUV was two-feet deep. FML! I have a pretty specific and time-sensitive routine during weekday mornings. Most of it involves getting my 5-year old fed, dressed and his lunch kit put together before ushering him out the door to his bus stop.

Since his bus driver has instructions not to pick up or drop off without a parent present, I’ve taken to driving Nathan to the bus stop in order to wait for the bus inside a warm vehicle. I know, right? First world pleasures, to be sure. But considering the weather reached -20 degrees on Monday, it wouldn’t have been ideal to stand outside waiting (despite the fact I used to walk in colder temps when I was a kid).

I whipped through my morning routine at double speed then bundled up in warm thermals and winter clothing in order to go shovel out my vehicle. After about an hour of shovelling, I was sweating inside all my layers and had barely cleared half of my driveway. The worst part? Three of my neighbours were smiling and waving while quickly clearing their driveways using a snowblower. I was thinking, what kind of a masochist am I? I’m 42 years old, Type-1 Diabetic and a heart attack waiting to happen!

The world is blanketed in white

After noticing that I was the only goon using a manual shovel, and the calls for service I’ve attended where people have dropped dead from heart attack while shovelling, I had decided that enough was enough. I had been complaining to my wife about it for the four years we’ve lived where we are; this winter would be the one where I purchase a snow blower.

Shovelling snow puts enormous strain on the human heart. One doesn’t realize it when doing it, but you’re moving hundreds of pounds of snow over a short period of time, when shovelling out your driveway. Add that to the increased blood pressure one suffers due to the colder weather, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Add weakened organs due to Type-1 Diabetes, and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll drop from the strain when all you were trying to do is clean out your driveway.

One of the worst calls I’ve ever attended involved a guy just a few years older than I am, coincidentally with Type-1 Diabetes. He was clearing snow with a snowblower and simply dropped on the side of his driveway. All those factors were in play. Last Monday was enough to convince me that even if I do consider myself to be somewhat in shape, I no longer want to be struggling with the evil white stuff at 6 in the morning. Bring on the snowblower.

If you routinely shovel snow, or are one of those idiots that try to make a few bucks doing so, you need to consider a few aspects. Like any workout, you should stretch and warm up before you go conquer the great, white yeti. Even while shovelling, you need to make sure to lift and push with your legs, not your chest or back. And you should exhale as you hurl your shovelful of white shit. These are all things that you would be doing for a traditional workout, so why wouldn’t you do it RIGHT before stressing your body in cold temperatures?

Take breaks, drink plenty of fluids and treat shovelling the same way as you would, any other physical activity. This means test your blood before, during and after as well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean the snow off my car and snow blow the driveway… ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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