Couples Who Sweat Together, Complain About The pain Together

One of the more pleasant aspects of working out is being able to enjoy a solid workout with your significant other. I don’t get to enjoy that pleasure often, as between work, the kids and other obligations, we never seem to sync up with the times when we individually work out. My wife has taken to using a program called T25. They’re fantastic circuit workouts that only last… you guessed it! 25 minutes! She usually does these workouts during the morning when I’m at work while the baby naps.

My habit is to slip in some quick 30-minute workouts of varying types during the evening, when I’ve gotten home from work. I either hit the bag, do some weights or get on the bike. I’ve started hammering out some 10k runs on the bike, which is nice. Considering I was hitting the 60 and 70 kilometre distances last summer, it’s about time I started building that endurance back up. Especially after the harsh winter I just endured.

We’ve been talking about having some workouts together for weeks, now. It just rarely works out. But as I always say, if it’s important, you make the time. So, on Sunday we decided to hammer out a workout. I wanted to try one of the circuit workouts she’s been doing and she agreed to find one that would include dumbbells so we could get some weight work in. Considering I’ve done Meta-Shred, which is one of those 30-minute circuit routines as well, I figured it would be reasonable.

It. Was. Brutal. There we were, each doing our own thing, but doing it in tandem. We were both struggling, but getting through it at our own pace. By the time the workout timer ended I was sprawled on the floor, covered in sweat. My wife was blasted as well. It was loads of fun and it was something we were able to do together. Spending time together can be such a simple thing and it can be made all the more special by working on each other’s health together. Even with the busy schedule of life, one should always make time to share interests with one’s significant other. After all, couples who sweat together, complain about the pain together. ☯

When The Pressure Builds

Yesterday, I wrote a post about some of the medications that I’ve been prescribed. These medications started out as preventative, but as the years passed, it became apparent that they were no longer “preventative” and were playing an active support role in my overall health. One of those medications plays a role in helping to control high blood pressure. When people hears “Diabetes,” they don’t automatically think of high blood pressure. But as it turns out, it can be one of those inevitable side effects that eventually catch up to anyone with Diabetes, controlled or not.

it’s no secret that Diabetes damages the body’s blood vessels and causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). That hardening will eventually cause an increase in blood pressure, which is where the problems start. High blood pressure can lead to heart attack and renal failure as well as problems with circulation. An increase in blood pressure can also lead to various eye complications related to Diabetes.

According to a post by WebMD, “most people with Diabetes should have a blood pressure of no more than 130/80.” Although I can admit that my blood pressure is usually spot on or close to that (when it gets tested), I’m sure there are days when it ain’t so great. The article goes on to explain that good blood pressure control can be almost as important as proper blood sugar control.

One of the big problems is that unlike a lot of other complications, a person can run for quite a long period of time without ever knowing they have high blood pressure. This is why it’s important to test your blood pressure regularly. You can purchase your own blood pressure cuff at your local pharmacy for a reasonably low price. They usually run from anywhere in the low $20 all the way up to well over $100, depending on how fancy you want to get. Personally, my blood pressure cuff is about as old fashioned as you can get, without having the old style that also requires a stethoscope. It’s a simple arm cuff connected to a pneumatic tube, which runs into a reader that takes “AA” batteries.

There are a number of things, some obvious and some not, that you can do to help improve your blood pressure. Regular exercise and proper blood sugar monitoring and control are the common ones, of course. But a healthier diet, quit smoking, drinking alcohol and limiting your intake of salt are also important to maintaining good blood pressure. Your endocrinologist will usually smack your fingers if you allow your blood pressure to run rampant.

If you happen to fall under the category of folks who can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a personal blood pressure cuff, you can visit your local pharmacy or big box retail store. They usually have a publicly-available blood pressure machine that you can use. Moderation on some of the more common bad habits as well as healthy diet and exercise are key. Don’t let high blood pressure be your undoing. ☯

Don’t Be A Pill

I can be a bit of a stubborn bastard at the best of times, which comes from a lifetime of having every adult around me dying to tell me how to eat, how to sleep, what medications to take and when to take them. As a child, I would often be resentful of having to wake up on the weekends to take insulin injections, to the point where my mother started getting into the habit of simply yanking down my pyjama bottom and injecting me in the buttock as she felt it simply wasn’t worth the fight. I’ve obviously gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but kids don’t usually understand the NECESSITY of the medication they may be on, and I was no exception.

In 2009, I faced a new aspect to my Diabetes therapy. I had just moved to Saskatchewan and got myself a new doctor. After a couple of appointments to “get to know each other,” he introduced something that I had promised I would never allow: pills. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against pills. They’re necessary, required and important. So long as they’re used for their intended purpose, that is. But I grew up watching my brother ingest dozen different pills, first thing in the morning and again around dinner time. And we all know how THAT ended as he passed away in 1991.

When it was suggested, I firmly told the doctor that I had no need or use for pills and that I had no intention starting on them. He then asked me if I took a multi-vitamin. Yes, I did. He was quick to point out that multi-vitamins were pills and I was voluntarily taking those, so why would I object to the ones he was proposing? Mostly, it was because I didn’t know what the pills he was suggesting did, so there was a fear of the unknown. This is where he actually took the time to explain the medications in detail and what they would be for, which if you’re even mildly familiar with doctors in recent years, they aren’t big fans of taking extra time when you visit.

Once they were explained, I learned that I would be taking a medication call “rosuvastain,” more commonly known as Crestor. This one helps prevent raising cholesterol. Not a problem I’ve ever know to have, but okay. The other one is Ramipril, which is commonly-used to treat high blood pressure and renal failure in folks with Diabetes. The explanation made sense until he the doctor pointed out that these were “preventative” measures… What the fuck?! So, I’m basically starting to take pills I don’t need? That’s like getting open-heart surgery IN CASE you eventually have heart disease…

I know, I was a little over-dramatic and it’s not really comparable, but what would think about starting to take medications you don’t need? Although renal issues are a recognized side effect of Diabetes, it seemed odd to me to take medication for it when, by all accounts, my kidneys were clear. Alright, he’s the doctor and I’m the patient, so I trusted him and accepted the prescription. I’ve been taking those two medications as part of my Diabetes therapy, ever since.

Flash forward to over ten years later. I’m still on both medications AND as of last year’s endocrinologist’s appointment, both medications have been increase to satisfy the demand of my body’s condition. In fact, during my last appointment with my endocrinologist, which was las February, tests showed that my kidneys showed some mild level of struggle, meaning that the medication was providing some active support. It kind of makes me wonder where I’d be at and how far gone I would be if I hadn’t accepted these “preventative” therapies.

I guess my point here today, is that it can be extremely important to take ownership of one’s health and be clear and understanding about what’s being put into one’s body. By the same token, preventative medicine can be an effective way of putting off some of the difficulties that one may face when dealing with Type-1 Diabetes. Although it can be difficult to take it on faith when it comes to taking pills, well-trained doctors will often be able to identify the need for such prevention early on, where the patient may miss it or be unaware. Food for thought…

A Jab In The Arm…💉

I need to start this post by premising the fact that I’m not a doctor, I’m not a health specialist nor do I have any formal medical training. What I do have is a lifetime of knowledge and skills accumulated through trial and error. And if you read that sentence in Liam Neeson’s voice from “Taken,” I applaud your imagination because that’s what I did as I wrote it. But I digress… You know that if I’m starting my post with a disclaimer, it’ll be something special. But what’s more is, this will be strictly my opinion and should be digested as such. What I want to talk about today is vaccination… (ducks and covers head, realizes no stones are being thrown and gets back up) Alrighty then, here we go!

There’s a significant amount of controversy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. And with good reason. With the internet making the world’s news and information literally available at one’s fingertips, everyone researches and “investigates” just about everything in their daily lives before making any sort of a decision. And what’s worse, people have a tendency to suddenly turn into armchair warriors that have a loud and prominent (and oftentimes annoying) voice that would generally be silent if they had to face people in person. And that’s a problem, because these folks are contributing to the dissemination of misinformation, which is often from sources that are offering opinion based on their own experiences and not necessarily hard science.

This is one of the reasons why I take pains to cite my sources when I can and otherwise only speak to my own experiences as they relate to the content I write. But this line in the sand with the COVID-19 vaccines is something special. Given the state of the world and the situation we face, the majority of governments have made it clear that they want a certain percentage of the population to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before lifting all restrictions and allowing the return to some semblance of normalcy. At least, that’s the state of things in Canada. I can’t speak for what may be happening in other countries. Personally, I’m of the opinion that the pandemic has irrevocably changed us all. The world may never go back to what it once was. Between the acknowledgment that many if not most jobs can be performed from home, people suddenly shifting gears in their lives and changing careers, leaving their spouses and all around deciding to live it up as there’ only one life to live (according to them), the world has changed in a way that may never go back to what it previously was.

And that’s fine. Moving forward is the only way to go in life, and is important if one intends on accomplishing anything. But the choice whether to get vaccinated or not is a personal one. For example, I’ve been getting the flu shot for over ten years. Having Type-1 Diabetes means my immune system is rocky at the best of times, so it’s a smart move for me. So, here are some thoughts on the flu vaccine…. If I don’t take it, I can POTENTIALLY get sick. That illness can POTENTIALLY be fatal to me. If I catch the flu, I can without a doubt transmit it to others, who may face the same consequences as I do. People have died from taking this vaccine and others. It all depends on a person’s specific body, biology and overall health. The flu vaccine is not a GUARANTEE that I won’t get the flu; it simply helps my body to create the antibodies that will help to overcome the flu, should I catch it.

Sound familiar? It probably should, because this is all the same shit that applies to the COVID-19 vaccine. It doesn’t GUARANTEE that you won’t catch it; it simply prompts your body’s defences against the virus if you get it. Yes, there are people who have died AFTER taking the vaccine. The question as to whether it was a direct result of the vaccine or not is debatable. It’s right up there with number of deaths due to COVID-19 being argued and disputed because some of the deceased had a pre-existing condition. The internet went nuts when the Provinces were calculating and gathering their numbers, claiming that they were using death due to heart conditions, cancer and other ailments as an umbrella to claim it was COVID-19.

But I’m getting WAY off topic, here. My point with today’s post is that there has already been a shift or a societal trend, where people are beginning to ask the question; “Did you get vaccinated?” Honestly, when you get right down to it, this is almost akin to asking about ANY private, medical history. There are issues arising where employers are starting to test the waters in regards to requiring people to be vaccinated and asking about it. All of that is private information. If someone WANTS to share the fact they’ve gotten vaccinated, good for them. But people honestly shouldn’t be asking others. The other issue is the CHOICE to get vaccinated. I know plenty of people who choose not to get vaccinated against the flu. But you won’t see them posting every five minutes about how the flu vaccine isn’t guaranteed, how it’s ineffective and how it can potentially kill. But this is true of any and every vaccine. One needs to make the personal choice between choosing one path over the other. For myself, contracting COVID-19 will almost assuredly end my life. Taking the vaccine has an infinitesimal chance of being lethal to the person who takes it. So ultimately, I had to make the choice…. Go with the thing that is likely certain to kill me, or the thing that almost impossibly but could possibly kill me.

All life is choice. We choose to get up in the morning, face life and deal with the issues of the day. The big secret is that most of those choices should be kept to oneself. If you choose to get vaccinated and want to let people know because it’s something you’re proud of having chosen, fantastic. If you choose NOT to get vaccinated and want to let people know because it’s ALSO something you’re proud of having chosen, good for you. But the propaganda and misinformation should be kept out of it. Make your choice, stand by it and move on. An import aspect to consider is that since most governments require we reach a certain vaccinated level before re-opening society, some may say that refusing to get vaccinated is contributing to the problem as opposed to proposing a solution.

As I said in the beginning, this is simply and strictly an opinion. I believe in having the choice. There are a lot of aspects of the pandemic that I feel could have been done differently, perhaps even better. But as I also mentioned, I’m not a doctor. And if we stop trusting the professionals, we may as well ditch society as a whole and just go live off-grid in a cabin in the woods. Granted, some weeks that feels like the ideal solution. All I can do is make the best informed decision for me and my family and stick to it. At the end, that’s pretty much all anyone can do. ☯️

In The Absinthe of Good Sense… (A Long Read)

In some respect, I was kind of what some would call a “late bloomer.” I never had a rebellious phase, never got brought home by the police and contrary to the majority of my age group back home, I didn’t spent my teen years partying and drinking alcohol. In fact, I only drank my first beer at the age of 23 when I was training in Okinawa. And during those first few tastes of golden, alcoholic bliss, I was hanging out in a climate that required my body to retain every single drop of fluid I was taking in, which meant I was pretty much drinking beer AND water with impunity. That first little while saw me drinking with little to no after effects (other than raised blood sugars from the occasional high carbohydrate beer) and never a hangover.

Because of that fact, I thought I was somewhat invulnerable to the effects of alcohol. At least where hangovers were concerned. I didn’t learn my lesson until about six months AFTER my return from Okinawa where, on my way to a friend’s party, I couldn’t decide between two brands of beer, and bought a 6-pack of both. And then consumed them all. In one evening. Within about three hours. Ironically, I remember my evening quite clearly and it was a lot of fun. No worries or concerns, really. But the physical pain I was in the following morning taught me the error of my ways and why I should never drink with such impunity again.

I woke up soaked in what I hoped to Light was sweat, and my body sending out warning signals of varying sorts. My blood sugars were through the roof and my bowels and stomach were having an extremely loud argument over who had the right to kick out their unwanted guests first. I decided that my parched and swollen tongue required some water before giving attention to anything else. The water aggravated my stomach further, causing me to rush to the washroom where I managed to sit on the toilet while simultaneously testing my ability to aim by unceremoniously throwing up into the sink next to me.

It was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was throwing up. I walked away having learned an extremely valuable lesson about alcohol, after that night. Despite being in my early 20’s, it would prove to be only one of two or three times in my life (so far) that I would actually get drunk. Putting aside the story of the staff party where I don’t remember being dropped off at home, the recollection of the third and last instance where I got truly drunk is the topic of today’s post. It involves an unplanned road trip coupled with a legendary and often-feared drink: absinthe.

Because of the first two instances of getting drunk, I had a strict “no getting drunk” policy, which involved never drinking anywhere but the comfort of my own home as well as never drinking enough to go beyond the enjoyment of simple libations and the flavour of whatever I may have been consuming at the moment. That isn’t to say that I don’t have the occasional beer when out at a restaurant or bar with friends. Far from it. But as a personal policy, I never allow myself to drink to excess. I think this is an important self-policy and should be followed by everyone. But my third and last time of getting drunk hammered it home for me. Here’s what happened…

Sometime between my return from Okinawa in 2001 and moving to Ottawa in 2007, I had a friend who lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The capital city of New Brunswick, it sits near the south-west corner of the Province and is about four hours away from where I was living at the time. My friend had moved there some years’ prior and had an apartment on the south side of the river. Although some locals may argue this point, the south side is where it’s at. It has the university, the shopping, the coffee shops and the bars. It also has the best comic shops.

Since I had a lull in my career, I found myself between jobs and had recently become single (unrelated) so I decided to pay my friend a visit. I haven’t spoken to him about retelling this, so for the purposes of this story I’ll simply call him “Treats.” If he reads this, he’ll be the only one who knows this involves him. I swear on my right hook that this is how the night went down, but his recollection may be different. I’ll let y’all know if he ends up reading this and reaching out to me. But I left early in the morning and arrived at Treats’ apartment around lunchtime. This worked out well, since we decided to go have brunch at one of my favourite breakfast restaurants called “Cora’s.” Although it’s nothing special beyond the fact they serve fresh fruit with every dish, one of our mutual friends also work there.

Treats had managed to gather a small group of mutual and new acquaintances to join us for breakfast, which included Treats’ brother and made for a pleasant, social outing. That’s right; I can be social. After an uneventful afternoon of coffee shops, comic book stores and good conversation, we discussed what we would be doing for dinner and with our evening. This is where things began to slowly roll downhill. Innocently enough, we decided on a local pub where we could indulge on a dose of unnecessary calories while having a few drinks. Once again, we had a few people with us but everyone kind of melted away as the evening progressed. A combination of university, work and the fact it was a week night made for a quiet party.

We got bored and didn’t want to spend a fortune on every beer we got, so we stopped by a local liquor store and got a case of beer for the apartment. We decided to binge watch some Family Guy. This was before Netflix was the big thing, and Treats actually had all the current seasons on DVD, so we watched and giggled like drunken school girls until we watched a scene involving Peter Griffin and the giant chicken. This prompted a heated discussion about fighting and martial arts, as I had been training in karate and he had apparently been doing kickboxing for quite some time. We already had quite a few drinks and despite being heated, it was nothing but conversational until Treats spoke the words that would change the tonality of the evening: “We should do a shot of absinthe…”

Folks, absinthe gets a reasonably bad rap. There was a this misconception that it had hallucinogenic properties and was mostly banned in North America, as a result. This concept has been mainly disproven in the past twenty years, and you can now buy the stuff at most liquor stores. Its no more dangerous than consuming any other spirit. Treats had brought over bottle from his travels in Europe over the previous couple of years and wanted me to experience the stuff, since I had never tried it. On the flip side, this shit is about 150 proof and is meant to be consumed by sprinkling sugar over ice and combining the absinthe with water. Treats took out two shot glasses and poured straight from the bottle. Asshole.

We were already drunk and bearing in mind that both of us had likely consumed close to a 12-pack each, albeit over the course of several hours, I wasn’t keen on the prospect of downing a shot. My previous experience with spirits hadn’t ended well. But I figured, what the hell was the worst that could happen? We were in the relative safety of Treats’ apartment and weren’t planning on going anywhere. Famous last words…

I take an experimental sniff of the greenish liquid and compared it to a bad combination of surgical-grade antiseptic mixed with antifreeze. I watch Treats throw his head back and down his shot. Suddenly, my self-confidence is shaken since Treats is about half my size and weight and he’s drank as much beer as I had. I do my best not to be a prideful person, but booze makes all the smart thoughts go, “Fuck it, I’m outta here!” So, like a true drunken idiot, I also throw back my shot and down it in one gulp.

It almost felt as though my entire body went into panic mode as every molecule in my esophagus was suddenly screaming at me and asking why I had brought this unwanted guest to the party. My stomach responded in kind, akin to a bouncer trying to tell someone they weren’t on the list and didn’t belong in the club and to get out of there. My stomach threatened to reverse impulse engines and expel right there in Treats’ kitchen. Sharp beads of sweat break out on my forehead and my knees buckle as I get dizzy, wondering what the hell I just did to myself.

Treats is laughing at me, mostly because he’s drunk and he sees me swaying in place but also because half the absinthe bottle was empty. This meant it wasn’t his first rodeo and he intentionally wanted to see what effect it would have on me. This makes me indignant and I consider this a slight against me the likes of which karma needed to correct. Once my momentary weakness passes, I decided it would be a good idea to test my blood sugars. This is a true testament to my muscle memory and control over Diabetes. Most people would have put that shit on the back burner.

When I come out of the guest room, Treats is back on the couch and has continued to watch Family Guy without me. This makes me morose as I sit in silence and begin to watch with him, having missed a portion of the episode. Somehow the conversation returns to our respective fighting styles and becomes more argumentative over the value of certain methods and techniques. I pride myself on being open to others’ interpretation. But as I mentioned earlier, drunk Shawn has a much different perspective. I berate and belittle his perspective. This makes him openly angry. Absinthe has joined the argument!

Treats finally decides he needs to demonstrate the effectiveness of his kickboxing prowess and invites me to spar in his entryway. We’re talking a less than ten-foot by ten-foot space inside an upper floor apartment. I start picturing Jean-Claude Van Damme’s drunken fight scene in Kickboxer and decide that this is a fantastic idea. We move his dining table slightly and square off. I can only imagine how ridiculous we must have looked; two grown-ass men, drunk beyond reason on beer and absinthe, planning to “spar.” I use the quotation marks because of what was to come next…

He starts with a couple of simple jabs. He’s using the typical boxer’s stance that I despise; his guard is firmly against the side of his head as he delivers his jabs. I block the first one. Then I block the second one. I begin to realize that my excessive martial arts training allows me to operate almost on instinct and I stop TRYING to block and simply let the blocks happen. I am in the zone. He delivers a couple more jabs and punches without any success. Although my guard is still up, I start laughing. And that’s when it happened.

Because of my drunken stupor, my laugh involved my eyes squinting shut. This is not a good thing during a fight. His next straight jab catches me right in the face. My eyes were no longer closed, let me tell you! I look at him in shock and surprise and try to deliver a jab of my own. As I do, he suddenly remembers the “kick” aspect of his art and delivers a firm, roundhouse kick to my right ribs; right underneath the arm I was jabbing with. I fold over on the injured side, which opens up the left side of my face. BAM! He delivers a right hook to the left side of my face.

The hook jars something loose as a flood of all the times I had been bullied and beaten up in school came flooding to the surface (Yes, I was bullied in school! One story at a time, people!). I was drunk on more alcohol than I should have consumed and my inner filters and controls melted away by Mr. Absinthe, and I saw red. I threw a quick rounded punch into Treats’ gut. He grunts. I am displeased at his lack of folding over, so I deliver a front kick to his solar plexus. As he doubles over, he guards the left side of his face. Since his fist is firmly against his head, I strike and it’s as though the fist isn’t even there. I bring a knee up into his abdomen and back kick him into his living room, sending his sprawling over the coffee table.

Maybe I should have mentioned that his girlfriend was also there at the time. Did I mention his girlfriend was sleeping there, at the time? She got up and was not impressed. We were both battered and bruised, with fine rivulets of blood at our nose, mouth or both. Everything had happened over the course of about five minutes. She used a rather matronly voice to “suggest” that we quit our bullshitting or she’d get “involved.” This this day, I don’t know what she meant. I didn’t want to know then, and I don’t want to know now. We watched a couple more episodes and the mood lightened significantly. Probably because we had drained out all of our testosterone in those few moments. Who knows?

I awoke the next morning and staggered my way to the washroom. The left side of my face had some mild swelling and it hurt to move my rib cage. I stepped out into the kitchen and found Treats seated at the table. He offered me coffee, which I gladly accepted and then grinned devilishly while making some off-the-cuff comment about how I couldn’t handle my booze. I left it alone. I didn’t know how much he remembered from the previous night, but I have the significant advantage (or disadvantage) of always retaining full memory of what I’d done despite the alcohol.

We decided to have a second round of brunch at Cora’s before I got back on the road to home. I had a reasonably low after-effect and little to no hangover, considering the amount of alcohol AND the strikes to the head. We chatted, we laughed and I got back on the road having thoroughly enjoyed my time with Treats. Good times and good memories. It would prove to be the last time I would ever consume that much alcohol of any type, and one of the last time I ever went beyond “tipsy.” Even though I didn’t have a rambunctious youth, I recognized that my capacity for violence when inebriated was significant. And I didn’t want to ever chance inadvertently bringing harm to someone.

So there you have it! A little insight on lesser moments in my 20’s. I definitely wasn’t proud of how I was that night. Anymore than I was of the other two instances when I allowed myself to drink outside the home. But this is why I make a point never to consume to intoxication. And for the most part, I never drink outside my home. My personal and professional life have taught me that there’s too much room for error. To this day, I enjoy my wine. I also enjoy beer much the same way many folks do: cold and while barbecuing. But sometimes we need to learn about moderation the hard way. Maybe some of you will see my story as a way to learn that lesson. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll need a couple of hits to the head, like I did. ☯

Weigh In On Your Food Groups…

I’ve been trying to thin my gut for the past few years, now. The current pandemic hasn’t helped. I’m sure that I’ve gained almost twenty pounds in the past two years. I call it my “COVID-19,” as in 19 pounds gained. My father is an extremely heavy man, sitting at roughly 330 pounds. Through my teens and my 20’s, my goal was to never allow it to happen. In my father’s case, his genetic predisposition and the fact he’s paralyzed and wheelchair-ridden contributes to his overall condition.

The point is, I’ve allowed my fitness to take a seat (pun fully intended) as I started a new job a couple of months ago and felt that I should focus on THAT. It’s been great and wonderful and I’m happier in my weekly grind than I ever have been before. So that part is not the issue. But finding myself suddenly rooted to a desk for 45 hours a week has had a negative result. This is in contrast to the previous year, where I was home and could contribute full afternoons to cycling for 80 kilometres and train when I wanted.

For the past few weeks, I’ve indulged in a reduced-carb diet. I haven’t eliminated carbs, mind you. It’s important to remember that carbohydrates are a source of fuel for the body and are necessary for the proper energy levels required to maintain one’s daily life. Although insulin acts to reduce the blood sugar levels caused by the consumption of carbohydrates, there must be a balance. Not an elimination.

There’a lot you can do to improve things, from a carbohydrate standpoint. I, for example, focus on having two out of three meals a day without carbs. A good example is the breakfast I have shown in the photo above. What you’re looking at is six scrambled eggs with ham, lightly sprinkled with some grated nacho cheese. Completely crab-free (although not entirely fat-free) and filled me to last until lunch. Another important detail is that I don’t always eat six eggs in one sitting. I just happened to make breakfast on a morning that I realized my eggs were expiring the following day.

Full meals can be had on lean proteins and vegetables. It’s important to remember that some types of dairy DO contain carbohydrates, like milk for example. And not al vegetables are carb-free. Starchy vegetable like potatoes and some other ones like corn, are also ridden with carbs. It’s important to recognize those facts when meal planning, so that you don’t get caught by surprise with a sudden blood sugar spike. My final meal of the day will usually include some bread or a small portion of pasta. Even though I SHOULD include carbs, it doesn’t mean I consume a massive amount.

What’s the point, you may ask? Good question, and the answer is simple. Through reduce-carb meal planing, I’ve shed almost ten pounds in the past month. It fluctuates on a day-to-day basis, as it does with most Type-1 Diabetics. But having reached almost 220 pounds when I last visited my endocrinologist, I was tickled pink to see the scale stop at 208 pounds, just last week. Fitness needs to be included in this, of course. I did a nasty workout last week that still has my legs feeling sore. But my motivation is strong and my focus is true. Not elimination but reduction can be a way of helping you reach your weight and fitness goals, Diabetic or not. ☯

What The Hell’s The Difference?

I’ve made reference to nutritionists and dietitians a lot in many of my posts.  In truth, I’ve used them both during my many years of dealing with Diabetes and especially anytime there’s been a major change to my therapies.  For example, I spoke with a dietitian when I started on the insulin pump, back in 2015. I casually rolled my eyes at the prospect, wondering what this person could possibly teach me about eating well after over three decades of being Type-1 Diabetic.  Imagine my surprise when that appointment led to learning about carbohydrate counting.  Everyone was blown away by the fact that I had come so far and no one had tuned me in to the concept before that.  It’s no wonder that my A1C’s used to be in the mid to high 8’s.

Since I just posted about dieting and fitness yesterday and made mention of both dietitians and nutritionists, I had someone reach out and ask me, “What’s the difference, if any, between a dietitian and a nutritionist?”  Well, shit! I don’t know…  Or at least, I didn’t know until I decided to research it and look into it. My search brought to me to a Canadian website call Dietitians Canada. What I learned is that in Canada, “Dietitian” is a protected title, much like physician, nurse or pharmacist. “Nutritionist” is also a protected title, but only in the Provinces of Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia. But what’s the difference between one or the other?

We’ll, for the most part, anyone can provide nutritional information or guidance and call themselves a “nutritionist.” They’ll still help individuals reach certain health and fitness goals by aiding in the implementation of proper diet and exercise. Although nutritionists can have varying degrees of education fro what they do, the problem is that because there’s no regulatory body overseeing nutritionists, some may have no nutrition-based education at all. I’m certain that some of you could see the potential problem with that…

Dietitians do a lot of things that nutritionists don’t, such as research, influencing policy and creating diet and food plans for people with chronic conditions such as, oh, you know… DIABETES! In order to become a dietitian (in Canada), one requires an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in human nutrition and dietetics, followed by over a thousand hours of supervised on-the-job experience. Then they need to actually register with the regulatory body within their Province or Territory.

Quite a journey to take, and they do a lot more than what the every day patient sees when visiting them in the clinic. The article I linked above goes on to explain that, “dietitian are committed and required to stay on top of emerging research, skills and techniques.” In other words, their training is constantly ongoing as they have to keep abreast of new information and developments that relate to their field. The article also explains that to ensure you get the most qualified nutrition professional, look for the acronyms “RD” or “P.Dt.” Since dietitian is a protected title in Canada, a nutritionist shouldn’t have those included in their names.

Lastly, the article ends by warning about titles such as “Registered Holistic Nutritionist” and “Certified Nutritional Practitioner” as these are not provincially regulated health professionals and there’s no telling what level of education they’ve obtained from a private institution in order to gain that title. There you have it. Now, you know. And now, I know. One of the things I love most about writing this blog is that I practically ALWAYS find something new to learn and research. ☯

Your Body Needs Balance

Nothing quite beats those exciting first weeks of making a major change to your life. Especially when it’s for the overall improvement of oneself.  Maybe you’re deciding to take your fitness in hand and start a new workout regime. Maybe you’ve decided to try a new diet and alter your eating habits.  And maybe…  Just maybe, you’re smart enough to know that you likely need to do both in order to reap the rewards from either.  Maybe.

It’s safe to agree that every person is different.  Everyone’s bodily functions are basically the same, when you get right down to it.  But each and every one of us will respond to different things in different ways.  This is why certain fad diets will appear to have greater results for some people than others.  And those are usually the ones you see advertising the product or diet. But I digress.  The same can be said for fitness routines.  And I’m not talking about preference.  I’m talking about results.  Maybe you prefer to lift weights but you get more results from doing cardio.  That kind of thing.

I harp on diets quite a bit, because I subscribe to the fact that it isn’t so much what you eat. It’s how much of it.  The number of meals a day isn’t as important as total calories consumed.  This means that all the fad diets out there (and I’m hesitant to bash them by name or brand, for obvious reasons) really don’t do shit for you, unless your body’s system requires something specific that may be provided by the diet.  Granted, if the average adult consumes between 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day, I wouldn’t recommend eating 2,000 calories worth of cake. Or butter.  You’ll do damage to yourself in ways I can’t explain because I’ve never been stupid enough to try it.  Not least of which is to wonder how that would affect someone with Diabetes. But anyway, moving on!  I’m not a doctor, so take this in with grain of salt.

It’s pretty important that there be a balance between your eating habits and your fitness goals.  If you’re typically a non-active person, you may start to notice some negative side effects if you suddenly jump into a new and increased fitness routine.  This is especially true if you don’t alter your eating habits to keep up/accommodate whatever physical activity you undertake. If you start working out 3 to 5 times a week without increasing your caloric intake or altering your overall diet and eating habits, you could experience symptoms like fatigue, irritability, weakness, dizziness and crankiness.  Not to mention that if you don’t include proper hydration in there, that’s a whole other ball of wax.  The same can be said if you try to diet without any physical activity.  You may be eating better/healthier but you may not see any noticeable results because the HUMAN BODY NEEDS TO MOVE!

It can occasionally be rough waters to navigate; especially if your fitness goals involve weight loss.  The average person has this belief that eating less means fewer calories, which means loss of weight.  In truth, the human body is designed to do everything possible to keep you alive and functioning.  This can lead some people to actually gain weight.  The idea behind that statement, is if you’re running hungry through most of your day your body will recognize that it doesn’t know when you’ll feed it next and will double down on storing the extra calories for later.  Guess what?  All the extra calorie storage?  That’s called fat.

So what can a person do to ensure they’re doing it right?  Well, there are a number of things that one can do and a number of professionals that you can get involved, such as a nutritionist/dietitian, personal fitness trainer and especially your family doctor.  Any and/or all of those people can help get you on the right track for your goals.  Have you ever purchased a workout DVD (do people even buy DVD’s, anymore?) and noticed that it practically always says, “Don’t start any new fitness routine without first consulting your family physician?”  There’s a reason for that.  Maybe your specific medical history conflicts with what the workout would have you doing and cause injury or put you at risk.

A dietitian or nutritionist can help you by providing nutritional information, meal planning and eating habits that can help you make the most of your workout without making yourself sick.  Picture yourself doing Cross Fit after eating at a Chinese buffet.  Not the greatest idea, right?  Sometimes, we all need a bit of guidance to do things properly. Fitness trainers, especially if they’re certified, can help you find fitness routines that fit your lifestyle, body type and can accommodate medical conditions that could hinder you or put you at risk.

Lastly, you need to hydrate.  This is true whether you work out or not.  The human body needs water.  If you do a heavy workout in the summer heat, you need to be mindful of hyponatremia,which is a condition where you sweat out all your mineral salts.  It can cause headaches, nausea and loss of balance.  I’ve had it a couple of times, when I’ve gone cycling in the hotter weather. In those instances, you need electrolytes and mineral salts and you can drink water until you die, it won’t make a great deal of difference.  Wow, don’t I sound like the harbinger of death…  Bottom line is, stay hydrated.

The take away lesson here, despite how long-winded and wordy I tend to get, is that if you start a new workout routine, be prepared to alter your diet to accommodate.  Maybe there are vitamins and minerals you simply aren’t getting enough of.  Maybe you need to ACTUALLY eat three balanced meals a day.  Be prepared to adjust, and remember that any fitness or dietary changes you make may be slow in showing results.  Proper health and fitness is a marathon, not a race! ☯

Goodbye, Old Faithful…

When you get used to certain equipment, it can be pretty horrible when it fails, breaks or gives out on you. I had just such an instance last week, when my lancing device broke. I don’t know how these devices are put together inside. In my head I picture a simple mechanical construction of a rubber band going taut as you pull the trigger back, only to be released when you push the button. No matter how simple or complicated it may be inside, the lancing device I’ve used for the past half decade finally decided to give out. I’d pull the trigger back without the tell-tale click, and there would be no response when I’d push the button.

For the non-Diabetics who may not know what this is, a lancing device is a small, pen-like plastic device that holds a lancet, which is the small needle that’s used to pierce your fingertip in order to test your blood sugars. Despite being on an insulin pump with continuous glucose monitoring, I still need to test my blood glucose via finger poke at least three times a day in oder to calibrate the CGM. I also need to test occasionally because apparently my blood sugars are TOO normal and if you go 2.5 hours without needing any microbolusing, the pump gets all pissy at you and wonders if there’s something wrong. It’s SUPER annoying when you’re trying to get eight hours of sleep. But I digress…

Since this was the evening and everything was closed, I had no choice but to do something that I haven’t seen done since the 1980’s. I had to hold a lancet in my fingers and manually jab my finger. Now, you may be thinking that this sound like such a big deal. The problem, you see is that doing it that way is extremely painful and usually causes injury in the form of bruising and sensitivity to the finger. A lancet’s needle can be anywhere from 1/8″ to 1/4″, and the lancing device controls how hard and how deep the needles punctures your flesh, making for a controlled and more comfortable experience.

Doing it manually just means you’re decimating your fingertips, especially when you get a brute like me with no control over how hard he does stuff. After three tests of doing it the ol’ fashioned way, once before bed and twice when I woke up, I decided that was enough to look into a replacement. I have three other USB glucomètres as shown in the photo above, but none of the lancing devices were with them. I searched in all my supply boxes but I never found the extras anywhere. I’m quite positive I haven’t ripped through 4 lancing devices in the past ten years, but the question remained as to where I put them.

Anxious to find some comfort and fervently aware that my pump would be pestering me for a calibration within the next hour or two, I ventured out to my local pharmacy with the hopes of purchasing a new one. Upon my arrival at the pharmacy, I explained my situation to the pharmacist who explained that lancing devices are usually included in glucometer bundles and don’t come as a standalone item. because of this, the only way to get a new lancing device is usually by purchasing a new glucometer package.

Luckily, he had some samples left over from distributors, and one of them happened to be the Bayer MICROLET next, which is the next generation above the one I had been using. He offered it to me, free of charge. I held my hands out and accepted the lancing device akin to receiving a great gift. I was grateful to my pharmacist for taking this step. And after several days of using this lancing device, I can say it was definitely worth the trip. Small favours… Sometimes you get lucky. Jus’ saying’… ☯

Here Comes The Heat! 🔥

Sunshine can be wonderful… Some warmth, Vitamin D is produced, flowers and plants begin to bloom… There can be a lot of benefits to there warmer season approaching. There can also be some pitfalls, and one needs to be aware of the requirements to enjoying the sunny outdoors without getting burned! I’m no fan of extreme heat, but even I can enjoy a sunny afternoon, albeit in the shade. In recent days, the temperatures in Regina, Saskatchewan have reached the mid to high 20’s, even reaching the high 30’s on the Celsius scale. It’s made for some dangerously high temperatures leading to several heat warnings for my area.

With those high temperatures, there are a number of things you should bear in mind before venturing out into the heat. Especially if you’ll be working out or exercising. And ESPECIALLY if you have Diabetes. Different people will have different reactions. In my case, being out in the extreme heat for too long tends to make my blood sugars drop. A doctor once told me its because my body is working harder to lower my core temp and as a result, my system works harder. Maybe so, but I remain skeptical. I’ve been in high temperatures on enough occasions where nothing’s happened to my blood sugars to convince that may not be the case.

But dehydration can be a very real thing, and it can sneak up on you if you aren’t careful. This can be the case whether you have Diabetes or not. Keeping a water bottle and consistently sipping water throughout the day can help to prevent dehydration and will help to regulate your body’s core temperature during your time outdoors. It can also help prevent nasty conditions, such as heat stroke.

Make sure you wear a hat, loose-fitting clothing that allow the expulsion and venting of heat and apply healthy doses of sunscreen to prevent sunburning. The sun emits ultraviolet rays, which can cause damage to living tissue after prolonged exposure, as well as being linked to skin cancer and a whole bunch of other nasty conditions. thesis the same celestial body that’s responsible for all life of Earth. Ironic, isn’t it? The same thing that’s responsible for our survival can also be deadly, after too much exposure. Such is the balance of life.

This is where sunblock comes in. Sunblock is defined as a gel or topical ointment that helps by reflecting UV rays away from the flesh, which prevents sunburns. You should always apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, before stepping out into the sun. In Canada, I’ve never seen anything lower than 15 and nothing higher than 50. When I visited Okinawa, they actually had some SPF 110 and they apologized for not having anything stronger as we were there in october and it was “off season.” Wow. 110, and they had nothing stronger.

I’ve read some articles that have explained that anything more than SPF 30 to 45 doesn’t offer any ADDED protection and should be reapplied just as often. And to clarify, SPF stand for Sun Protection Factor and is a multiplier to how long you can be in the sun’s light. So, if you step outside and you’d get a sunburn in 10 minutes, and SPF 15 allows you to be out in the sunlight for 150 minutes before needing to reapply. This is theoretical and like all things in life, is dependent on the person in question. If I were to burn in 10 minutes and apply and SPF 110, I find it hard to believe that I could spend 18 hours in the sun before needing to reapply.

Men’s Health has a pretty decent article about how much sunblock you should be applying. The takeaway is to ensure that you apply liberal amounts and be sure to cover all the areas of exposed flesh. Most people tend to dab some on, here and there. You want to make certain you spread your sunblock on evenly and properly. And if you use a spray sunblock, make sure you spray uniformly and evenly, to ensure you prevent UV damage to any areas of your skin. As per my usual preaching, drink plenty of fluids and test your blood sugars often. It can mean the difference between maintaining proper health during the summer months or succumbing to the hotter weather. ☯