Six Of One, Half Dozen Of The Other…

That time came once again to visit my endocrinologist. If you read the previous post, my last appointment was last May, when I received news of the lowest A1C reading I’ve had in almost two decades: 6.9. Why is this reading important? For you non-Diabetics, the A1C results basically calculate a Diabetic’s average blood sugars over a period of three months. Although still an important reading, one’s A1C can be manipulated through extreme highs and lows, making it a less efficient means of proper blood sugar control than one’s percentage of “time in range.” Time in range can’t be manipulated; either your blood sugars are good or they aren’t.

I made my way downtown quite early this morning; well before most businesses were open. The air was crisp and the morning had the feeling of autumn. I was only semi-caffeinated but the walk did its job and woke me up properly before I reached the doctor’s office. I was almost half an hour early, which wouldn’t have been an issue, pre-COVID. Now, most clinics and doctors’ offices frown on arriving early, since they try to keep patients from interacting as much as possible. But my laptop was outdated and couldn’t update to support the Medtronic CareLink Uploader, meaning I needed the office staff to do it for me. This did not please them.

Once my pump was uploaded, I saw my endocrinologist and discovered that my A1C had increased to 7.4, which was disappointing but I had expected a rise of some sort. I expected it because I’ve had a significant amount on my plate since the last appointment. Between starting a new job and a new routine in April, we’ve got major renovations happening in the house as well as my son Nathan, deciding to use his bedroom as a public washroom and basically hosing down every corner. This resulted in the removal of the carpet and discovery of asbestos tile, which obviously needed to be replaced. Then, we repainted, put in new flooring and new baseboards and basically dropped some serious G’s into renovating his bedroom far ahead of plan. And budget. FML.

Long story short, added stress and life issues caused some variations in blood sugars that I’m not proud of. What can I say? I’m human and far from perfect. As I said, I expected it. What I didn’t expect, was the increase in cholesterol and blood pressure. To the point that my doctor has increased some of the “preventative” pills that I take. My Endo considered me a bit of a medical oddity, since despite the increase in cholesterol, I somehow managed to lose about ten pounds. Ain’t medicine wonderful? He also added a new pill that would work in tandem with my other medications to help bring my cholesterol and blood pressure in check.

Despite the medicine aspect, we discussed some things that I could do to improve things on my own. The reduction (but not elimination) of sodium in my diet, increased water intake and reduce my alcohol intake (I don’t drink constantly, but everyone could stand to drink less) and ensure I cut back on foods that may be fried or processed. He also suggested trying to eliminate some of the stress in my life. This aspect can be a bit tougher, since some stress is inherent in the course of normal life and can’t necessarily be eliminated.

I left the doctor’s office feeling a little down. It was a strange combination of victory and defeat, considering one of my main goals has been to breach the 200-pound weight level. It was nice to have the doctor acknowledge my hard work in losing ten pounds, even though I haven’t crossed that 200 mark, yet. But the raise in cholesterol is concerning. Certain lifestyle changes will need to take place. I think that first and foremost, and if this wasn’t written here, many who know me wouldn’t believe it, that I need to cut back on the caffeine I consume in a day. I should refocus my efforts towards some herbal teas and water. I can easily recognize that the multiple caffeinated beverages I consume throughout the day easily contributes to my increased blood pressure.

My wife and I have been on a decent salad kick, recently. We fell away from that, somewhat. So tonight’s supper involved some chicken with a very lovely salad. The best part is that there was enough salad left over for me to bring to work tomorrow. The day wasn’t all bad. I got notice today that karate classes will resume tomorrow evening. That’s been a long time coming. I haven’t trained with others since March of 2020, so it’ll be good to get back at it. And last but not least, I’m currently typing this post on my newly purchased MacBook Pro. Since my old laptop could no longer support any updates or sync my phone, I decided it was time. In today’s world of technology, I think that six years is a pretty good lifespan for a computer. ☯️

Carbs vs. Calories, The Battle Continues…

This is going to be one of those posts where I make a point of saying that I’m not a doctor or health professional, nor am I a nutritionist or dietitian. If you want the real Slim Shady on any of the facts I’m describing in this post, you should consult one of the professionals mentioned above. But I certainly have information I can contribute for the sake of conversation, so take what I write with grain of salt. But not literally, since you shouldn’t be salting your food. But I digress…

I’ve often written that the most important and consistent factor behind proper fitness and weight loss is being able to burn more calories in a day than you consume. I’ve also mentioned on many occasions, the importance of reducing one’s overall carbohydrate intake in order to promote better blood sugar control and to help with weight loss as well. So, which one is the important one? What should you be focusing on for your weight loss efforts? Well, the easy answer is… both.

Because I’m wordy and I like to write, let’s start by pointing out that “fad diets” are bullshit. I’m sorry, but they are. At their core, most fad diets (which I won’t name here because I don’t like the potential for getting sued) target a certain core demographic based on a gimmick, or a trend. The whole concept of “don’t eat this” or “only eat that” will always work for JUST enough people that the masses will quickly jump on the bandwagon to try and slim down using these methods, fully unaware that like everything else in life, it’s subjective to the person and that maybe eating like humans did in paleolithic times isn’t ideal, because our bodies have evolved past those methods and that method may have worked for your neighbour who now looks great in their yoga pants, but it won’t necessarily work for you.

Even if you partake of one of these trends or fad diets, it won’t change three very important realities. That being that no matter what the diet, 1) you need to include regular exercise, 2) you need to burn more calories than you burn, and 3) you need to make good lifestyle choices. It’s a holy trifecta of fitness that simply can’t be ignored. If you start dieting consistently, you may shed some pounds, but your efforts will plateau pretty damn quickly. You have to include some exercise in there to help with muscle tone, blood circulation and calorie burn. This is especially important for us Diabetics.

The lifestyle choices can apply to a significant number to things. For example, you may have gotten a solid workout in and ate a green salad for lunch. But those efforts are wasted if you cap off the evening by sitting back with a six pack of beer and nachos. Mmm,…nachos…. Umm, moving on! The point is, there has to be a balance. So, while I’m not saying that you shouldn’t occasionally treat yourself, since life is meant to be lived and it’s been proven by multiple sources that depriving yourself will make your efforts all that much harder, you still need to be smart about it. Still with me? Good. Let’s examine the difference between calories and carbohydrates.

Good old calories…. If you want to get all scientific about it, a calorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a quantity of water by one degree. For the purposes of food consumption, calories are the measurement of energy contained within the food. When a person consumes more calories than they burn, the body tends to store the excess as body fat, which results in weight gain. On the flip side, consuming too few calories can lead to some dangerous deficiencies in the body, as one may not be getting all the vitamins and nutrients required throughout the day. Depending on the source you draw on and your age, metabolism, level of fitness and even gender, the average person needs to consume anywhere between 1200 to 2000 calories a day.

You may be asking, what’s the point of consuming them if you’re only going to burn them to lose weight? Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply keep reducing one’s overall calories? The answer to that is no. Look at that previous paragraph, again/. While burning the calories is important in order to maintain good weight loss potential, you still need the vitamins and nutrients you draw from food. Eating at a calorie-deficit will prevent you from getting everything you need to keep your body running smoothly. Make sense? Good. NEXT!

Carbohydrates are a naturally occurring compound, found in most foods but not all of them. Carbs are a source of fuel for the body and since they are a key nutrient, are a requirement, as much as I’d like to eliminate them altogether. Mainly comprised of sugars and starches, they get broken down into energy for the body. There’s that word again: energy. And in case no one was paying attention, you need energy to well,… live. Because of the nature and composition of carbohydrates, they’re usually the nemesis of someone with Diabetes, since we need to take insulin in response to the amount of carbs we consume.

So, what’s the difference? One is the measure of energy, the other is fuel that gets burned as energy. Am I the only one who feels that they both kind of sound like energy? I found a good article posted by The Cleveland Clinic, and I apologize because I didn’t seem to be able to copy the post. But it discusses the fact that “a gram of fat has about 9 calories, while a gram of carbohydrate or protein has about 4 calories. In other words, you could eat twice as much carbohydrates or proteins as fat for the same amount of calories.” That sounds like a lot of math to me, but you can go to my.clevelandclinic.org and check out the article entitled “Fat and Calories: The Difference & Recommended intake.”

For me, the difference still ins’t clear. But for weight loss, you need to burn more calories than you consume. We’ve already covered that. For carbs, you need to count the number of net carbs you consume, which involves subtracting fibre from the total carb count on your nutritional label. That is to say, if what you’re eating even has a nutritional label AND if they’’re count is accurate. That’s why portion control is important. Whether you count calories or carbs, portion control is important. I would say the latter is more important for Diabetics, since it involves insulin consumption.

No matter which you choose to reduce or limit in order to help with your weight loss journey, bear in mind that reducing either by too much will leave you feeling weak and may not actually help in weight loss. Instead, consume healthier foods that are lower in calories or carbs but still contain a lot of the nutrients your body needs in order to function properly. Vegetables, lean proteins and limited starches made of whole grains are ideal. And don’t forget to consult a health practitioner before starting any radical change in food regimen. ☯️

Where Should You Be Sick?

Getting sick sucks, and I should know. I’ve spent most of my life, especially during my youth, being sick in one form or another. When Type-1 Diabetes is involved, illness proves to be something of a “chicken or the egg” scenario, where it can be difficult to tell if a particular illness has caused the chaos with your Diabetes or if your Diabetes caused you to become ill. In my youth, Diabetes was referred to as one’s pancreas not working, which we now know if not ENTIRELY accurate. But before I get completely off topic, the subject of today’s post is getting sick, not necessarily Diabetes.

I can’t tell you how many times I dealt with the important aspects of my life while sick. Whether it was school, work or karate, the prevailing attitude back then was “suck it up” and you were expected to carry on, unless you were in such a condition that you were hospitalized (which was often the case for me). These days and especially in the past two years, the concept of pushing through while sick is not only less encouraged, it’s frowned upon. Employers are pushing staff to stay home when they’re sick in an effort to prevent spreading illnesses.

Since I’ve had everything from severe dehydration, polyps, influenza, bronchitis and this little thing called Diabetes, I’ve had the opportunity to o deal with some pretty bad scenarios as it relates to all of these environments and I have stories relating to all of them. Of COURSE I have stories…. This is me. Here’s the top ones:

Being Sick During Karate
To say that I was mildly obsessed with my karate training in my youth would be an understatement. For the most part, I not only participated in all three weekly classes, I would also spend the remainder of the week cycling and practicing on my own time. This meant that whenever I wasn’t eating, sleeping or at school, I would be doing karate (and since I would often dream about karate, I’m not sure the sleep aspect can be included in that statement.

I remember this one time when I was doing bunkai with another student. For you non-practitioners, a bunkai is a pre-arranged, practical application of kata techniques. Moving on. It was one of those nights where we dissected and practiced every technique until it was burned into our brains. As such, I had been with the student I was partnered with for almost an hour. During that time, i noticed his voice had a nasal twinge and he kept sniffling, as though he couldn’t keep his snot in. Since this is karate class and one doesn’t carry a purse with them, at one point, he drags the sleeve of his uniform across his nose and face in an effort to dry up the flow of nasal discharge.

I was mildly disgusted, but who am I to judge? If my nose wouldn’t stop leaking, I likely would have done the same. During a particular exchange, I learned the hard way that some of his snot had gotten on his hand, which conveniently made it’s way across my forearm and hand as we executed a couple of techniques. Given the discipline requirements of the class, I continued on but my focus was mainly on the fact I had the contents of a Petri dish on my forearm. once the exercises were over, I bowed out and ran to the washroom where I thoroughly washed my arms and hands with soap and water as hot as I could stand.

Apparently the damage was done, because two days later, I got sick as a dying dog. Runny nose, head felt like it was stuffed with cotton. If I could prove beyond a doubt that he was the cause, I’d have cursed his name (or at least had at him in the sparring ring). But i guess it’s nowhere near as bad as having the runs during karate class. I’d say to say I’m assuming, but that’s happened on occasion, as well.

Being Sick At School
Classrooms are almost a perfect description of a Petri dish, with almost three dozen people crammed into a fitted space where everyone shares the same space, air and germs. Wow, I sound like such a germaphobe. But seriously, how often have you heard parents say that as soon as their children start school, they get sick? And that’s for good reason. Because it’s almost a statistical guarantee that if only one person in a classroom is sick, all of them will be, depending on what they have.

I had one of my many instances in high school where I was dehydrated. I hate to admit it, but this usually happened to me every few months, to the extent I had to spend a night in the hospital on an IV drip to properly rehydrate. Unlike most of my teenage counterparts, I didn’t rebel by drinking on weekends or being brought home by the cops. I displayed my stubbornness by neglecting to drink enough water. Such a rebel, eh? In an y event, this was one of those occasions where my insides were drying up.

By this point in my life, I had gotten used to the feelings and sensations associated with dehydration, so I kind of knew that this was what was happening. I was in biology class the one morning, after waking up feeling like absolute crap. I went to school anyway as most parents can agree, it tends to fuck the entire day when an unexpected illness keeps a kid at home. But once I was in class, my condition started to get the better of me. The teacher was in the middle of an impassioned lecture about one damn thing or another, and she was the type of teacher who not only despised being interrupted for any reason, she made that displeasure obvious by ruling her class with an iron fist.

I tried to relax my abdomen and keep myself calm for as long as I could, but I could feel the bile rising in my throat and I knew that if I continued to ignore the feeling I had, I would end up emptying what little contents I had in my stomach, all over my desk. As such, I started by taking the polite route and raised my hand to ask to be excused. I was answered by a firm, “Hold all your questions until the end, please!” The student seated next to me even asked if I was okay, as I could feel the clammy sweat on my face and could only imagine how pale I must have looked. This pre-dated my use of an insulin pump or even carrying a glucometre with me, so I had no idea if my blood sugars were wreaking havoc, as well.

I decided to take my life into my own hands by simply cutting in and asking to be excused. The teacher rolled her eyes and began giving me a lecture on the intricacies of paying attention and showing respect. My body chose that moment to cross the point of no return. I felt the heated sensation at the back of my throat that signalled the coming of the apocalypse. I rose from my seat and began staggering to the door. I hate to take pride in what happened next, but the teacher grabbed my arm in an effort to stop me from stepping out of her class, which resulted in my stomach emptying its contents right there on the classroom floor. Right next to her desk.

My retching couldn’t of lasted more than about ten to twenty seconds, but it felt like ten to twenty minutes of my body seizing every muscle it could while a sound much like humpback whales and alligators mating with each other came out of my throat, all while a hot, yellowish fluid splashed all over the classroom floor. Did I make that descriptive enough? There was a brief moment of complete silence and a look of utter shock and aww on the teacher’s face. then everyone in the classroom started screaming “Eeww…” like some sort of morbid choir and everyone started trying to vacate the classroom to escape the smell.

I felt briefly better upon emptying the contents of my stomach, so I managed to stand up straight and started walking out of the class with the intention of making my way to the classroom. The teacher once again tried to stop me, this time to order me to get something to clean up the mess I had made. Since I was a cheeky, sarcastic teenager at the time, my response included a verbal plethora of inappropriate language, somewhat suggesting to the teacher what she could do to herself and where, all while questioning her parents’ use of heavy narcotics while conceiving her. I don’t know what had pissed me off more; the fact she was ignoring a sick student who was trying to alert her to a problem or the fact that she was trying to get the same student to clean up a mess that was a result of her ignorance. I walked out and went home.

Obviously, I got into “some” trouble over this. I went to school back in those days where the students COULD still get in trouble as opposed to parents giving the teachers all the crap. They have an unbelievably difficult job, and I wasn’t an easy student. But even I have my limits, and that limit usually involves my health. Moving on…

Being Sick At Work
I’m not certain how many stories I have about this specific aspect, but there are a lot. The unfortunate phenomenon that seems to take place, especially in non-unionized environments, is that management will frequently expect you to work despite being under the weather. When I started to claw my way up into management, I started being made to administer those same expectations. Imagine this scenario, if you will. You’re working a job for minimum wage. You wake up feeling like absolute shit and you already know that any efforts to go to work will leave you feeling worse. Maybe it’s simply a cold. But either way, you make the conscious decision to phone in to your boss and tell them you won’t be in due to illness.

You’re already dealing with the fact that you’re likely losing a day’s wages, unless you’re lucky enough to have paid sick days. But then they hit you with the bombshell. They tell you that if you’re calling in sick, they’ll require a doctor’s note. You calmly try to explain to them that you’re not going to the hospital, you’re simply feeling under the weather and need some rest. they tell you that if you aren’t sick enough to see a doctor, you aren’t sick enough to miss work and they expect to see you on shift. You begrudgingly get dressed and go to work, sick.

I’d like to say I just made that scenario up. But I’ve actually had that exact conversation at a previous job. I think we can agree that most employees would just suck it up and go in, not wanting to risk the trouble they may get into with their respective bosses. The result is a lot of people going into work sick, which can be disastrous for all parties involved, regardless of what industry you work in. I had just such a disastrous situation that happened some years ago, while running someone else’s business…

I had been having pretty bad stomach pains for a couple of weeks. It was one of those things where the pain was bad, but it wasn’t so severe as to be debilitating, so I kept going in to work. During a particularly busy peak hour of work, I started to get dizzy and swayed on my feet a bit. I leaned on the table that was in front of me, but I suddenly fell sideways sand crashed to the floor. Next thing I know, I wake up in a hospital bed with an IV coming out of my arm. After some tests and description of what I had been feeling, that’s how I discovered I had polyps. Wonderful, eh?

The point behind these stories, besides being insanely entertaining to write (the classroom one is a favourite), is the fact that self-care is not only important; it starts with you. Is training hard in karate important? Absolutely. Is it worth it to try and make it through a class when you’re sick? Definitely not. Is education important? That’s a big 10-4! But how much actual knowledge are you absorbing when you’re sick? Likely not much. And even though money is needed for the basic necessities of life, money will never be worth your overall health.

The important thing to note here, as well, is that is only takes one person whose sick to pass it on to everyone in their environment, whether it’s at home, work or during leisure activities. This is especially important in today’s context, as it relates to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. Tried coughing in public, recently? It’s highly not recommended. But no matter what environment one is referring to, take care of your health. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health. ☯️

Hungry For Some Information?

I think that one of the worst “non-injury” related feelings in the world, next to being sleepy, is hunger. Unless it’s the evening and you’re binging a show and decide you’re hungry and need a snack, feelings of hunger can be uncomfortable, distracting and have an actual and measurable impact on your health, blood sugars and even you’re overall fitness.

So, what is hunger? At the most basic level, hunger is felt when your stomach is empty of content and your body releases certain hormones into the body that gives you that “hunger feeling.” Please don’t quote me, I’m not a doctor. But this is what was explained to me BY a doctor. So, there. But hunger is usually triggered when the stuff you need to properly keep your body up and running is running low. So it isn’t just that your stomach is empty, it also has a lot to do with your glucose and nutrients being low in your blood stream.

Now that I’m done telling you all that I’m not a doctor WHILE continuing to talk like one, let’s discuss what hunger does to you. When your body starts to run low on its necessities, it can start a number of processes. If you’re Diabetic, some of those processes won’t work well and if they do, will affect your overall blood sugars (like just about EVERYTHING does). If you’re performing exercise, the type of exercise you’re doing can have some detrimental effects, if you’re hungry.

I recently wrote about how working out on an empty stomach can actually CAUSE muscle loss, since the body will usually start by breaking down muscle tissue to compensate for the lack of energy needed for exercise. This doesn’t apply to ALL fitness situations. After all, working through a karate class on a full stomach can have some pretty detrimental effects, as well. On you AND the others in the dojo. But consistent and sustained cardio can often be better done on an empty stomach.

According to an article posted by WebMD, “the real trick to managing weight is to eat less, but not to feel hungry or deprived.” This is key, because it’s often been proven throughout the years that depriving yourself can lead to binging later, which is a definite slide backwards in your weight loss or fitness efforts. Kind of like me, when I hit a really bad low and I nearly empty out the fridge. But I digress…

The article goes on to suggest that if you’ve eaten less than 2 to 3 hours prior, your hunger likely isn’t genuine and suggests drinking a glass of water or eating a small, high-fibre snack in an effort to stave off real hunger until your next meal. I often try this tactic on my 6-year old, as he’ll claim hunger within an hour after eating until he’s full. Mild dehydration will cause similar symptoms to hunger, so sipping water is usually a big one for me.

The article caps off by providing a short list of tips, such as exercising portion control, eat high-fibre foods or foods bulky with water and air to feel more full, include lean proteins and avoid buffets as having more options will often lead to eating more than you need to. Portion control is important as people always tend to dish up more than they need. And taking the time to appreciate your meal is important, as well. If you watch television or read while you eat, you may want to consider putting a stop to that.

I’m really bad for doing the second one. In the past year, I always seem to spend my mealtime at home with a book in front of my face. Habits can be hard to break. The takeaway here is that your body is a machine and like all machines, requires fuelling, maintenance and care. Hunger can impact ALL of those aspects and as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, can be distracting when it’s important not to be, as well as reduce performance in key areas, such as fitness. Food for thought… (pun intended). ☯️

No Pain, No Blog Post…

I’m way later than usual on posting my daily blog. Since my wife was off today, I decided to be as smart-ass and see how far I could get on the bike before my legs gave out. I recently wrote a post about how you shouldn’t work out hungry, although there can be some exceptions. Since my blood sugars were normal and I wasn’t hungry, I though it would be a good idea to get some fluids in and head out, since it would be a sustained bout of cardio.

I’s like to say it was a smart decision. I recently signed up for the Conqueror Challenges, an app that allows you to sign up for virtual marathons for a small fee and complete them on your own timeline. I was a little sceptical of it at the beginning, but I’ve recently earned two completion medals with a third one on the way. I was so motivated, I signed up for a fourth, which requires a total of 502 kilometres, I gave myself a timeline of 8 weeks, and the past week was squandered, thanks to rain and inclement weather (and renovating Nathan’s room).

I was all smiles, when I started out…

Since I had to make up some Lowry time, I set out with the goal of reaching 60 kilometres, This would be the first time this summer that I go beyond 20 kilometres, and the first time using my new iPhone 12 to track it through Runkeeper. I made my way over to Winnipeg Street then cut south on Arcola, all the way to the Regina Bypass. The Bypass was built in recent years and circumvents the main portion of the city. It makes for a significant route.

I managed to enjoy some of the walking trails on my way south

I was pretty lucky, There was essentially no wind except for a light breeze, so I enjoyed the benefit of an unhindered ride. About halfway at the 30 kilometre mark, I checked my pump and noted that I was at 4.8 mmol/L and dropping, so I took ten minutes to scarf a granola bar and a half dozen jellybeans. Another 10 kilometres and I had to pause my pump, which I should have done to start with. Or at the very least, I should have used a temporary basal.

So flat and straight…. And I’m so tired…

By the time I made my way around the Bypass and was able to rejoin civilization, I got my first battery warning on the phone. This was a bit of a problem, since I had at least another 15 kilometres to go before I’d reach home. I was listening to music on an iPod and locked my phone screen, to ensure I could save as much battery power as possible. My muscles were lactic as fuck, and it started to feel like my whole body was dragging. It’s warm but not overly hot today, but I was exposed to the open sun.

My time sucks!

I managed to make it home without the phone dying, so I got the total mileage tracked. If you look at the photo above, the total time is pretty damn disappointing, when compared to last year. With only 15 minutes left to the hour, I should have been getting close to the 60-kilometres mark. But by the time I pulled into my driveway, my legs had little feeling left in them and I was only at 5.0 mmol/L despite wearing a suspended pump for over an hour.

I managed to hit 10% of my current marathon’s goal. Theoretically, another 9 days of doing what I did today and I could be done. But I have several weeks left, so I may be able to spread it out a little, especially if karate is expected to start back up. As I type this, I’m sitting in the shade of my garage, drinking electrolytes and relaxing. Not the worst way to spend a Sunday morning…☯️

It Ain’t All About The Caffeine…

Those who know me personally have read title and are thinking, “Who is this person? And what have they done with Shawn?” It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of coffee and caffeinated beverages. I never used to be. I first drank a cup of coffee all these way back in 1997 while attending college. It was a particularly harsh day and one of my classmates suggested that I grab a cup of coffee. Until that point, caffeine had never touched my system (minus whatever trace amounts may have been incidentally ingested, passively). That afternoon, I felt like I could have climbed Everest in record time. My love/hate relationship with caffeine was born!

But the big secret behind coffee and caffeine (I’ll simply say “caffeine” from this point on, as to include energy drinks), is that it’s a stimulant that alters brain chemistry so that you feel less tired. And eventually, that’ll only get you so far. Especially if you’re running the gamut through a day where you’re especially tired. And considering there’s a finite amount of caffeine you can ingest before you cause damage to yourself, So what are some alternatives to help you stave off fatigue and get you through your day? Here are a few ideas…

1. Break Your Routine: If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’re likely surprised by this. But as much as I like structure and routines, breaking those same routines can help get you out of a slump, when you’re tired. I can’t seem to find my source, but I read a research study that showed that monotony can be as exhausting as lack of sleep. If you feel yourself starting to get groggy through your day, switch things up and come back to what you were doing later;
2. Drink Plenty of Water: I know, I know… water isn’t caffeine but considering your body is mostly made up of it and dehydration will leave you feeling increasingly tired, it MIGHT be a good idea to consistently gulp some down throughout your day. you know, BETWEEN cups of coffee and energy drinks;
3. Take a Walk And Get Some Fresh Air: People take this one for granted but in reality, if you don’t subscribe to yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises, a walk is the next best thing. Not to mention that that whole daylight thing helps to balance out the circadian rhythm and gets that old Vitamin D thing involved;
4. Exercise, Damn You: I think I mention that increased exercise and fitness is a benefit in almost every post. It stands to reason that regular exercise will help increase blood flow, improve blood sugar levels and will stave off fatigue. Speaking of blood sugars…;
5. Monitor and Control Your Blood Sugars: As a Diabetic, nothing quite takes the wound out of your sails like fighting your way back from an extreme blood sugar drop; and last but not least
6. Take A Nap: No need to remind everyone that I’m a HUGE fan of naps. And Japan has already proven that naps during the work day help with fatigue increase productivity and some companies even provide dedicated break rooms for napping, now. I had a supervisor who used to close her door during every launch hour to “meditate” for 30 minutes. Although napping at work can be problematic at the best of times, if you have the opportunity, you should grab a quick snooze. Sometimes, a person genuinely just needs a quick snooze.

There you have it. bear in mind that fatigue, sleepiness and exhaustion should be temporary. If you find that you can’t keep yourself awake, even during critical times, maybe talk to a doctor. There are a number fo conditions that could cause it. But if you’re just having an off day and coffee doesn’t quite seem to be kicking in, switch up your routine, go take a walk, have a workout or grab a nap. Hmm,… a nap sounds like a great idea! Excuse me… ☯️

You Can’t Walk A Mile In My Shoes, They’re Too Worn Out…

Most people who know me would agree that I can have a stubborn streak. And while dealing with someone stubborn can be tedious and even exhausting at times, there’s a lot to be said for stubbornness. I consider it to be one of the deterring factors that’s kept me alive for as long as I have been. If I were never this stubborn, I never would have overcome Diabetes complications as was child. I never would have reached the level of martial arts training that I have. And I definitely wouldn’t have made my way through basic training and enjoyed a reasonable foray into law enforcement over the past decade and a half.

But there were a lot of nay-sayers along the way. People who didn’t believe that any of those things could be accomplished and that I shouldn’t have been attempting them. In some cases, a lot of cases, I wish those people could be here to SEE what’s been accomplished. But such pride-filled fantasies are not only unnecessary, they accomplish nothing. But it’s always difficult when you have people who seem to want nothing more than to watch you fail. And I’ve seen this happen a lot.

The most classic scenario involves being at the gym. You walk in, change and start working up a sweat. Public gyms have a lot of positives and negatives, as I’ve often written about. But at one point, you look up and see a heavy-set person on a treadmill or elliptical machine. You can see that they’re soaked with sweat, breathing heavily and are doing their damndest to push through the inevitable fatigue that comes with moving a vessel that large. But they’re doing it. And then the inevitable happens: a couple of snooty bitches (male or female) will come by and “subtly” say something about the person on the treadmill. Maybe something to the tune of, “Wow, you can tell that they sure don’t belong here..” or “Why would they let someone like THAT in here? I didn’t come here to see someone fat in my gym.”

I wish I were making those sentences up. But these are ones I’ve personally heard while USING a public gym. It ties into my whole concept about how some people just want to watch the world burn. Folks, obesity and excess weight is no joke. But setting aside the whole concept of body-positivity and loving yourself as you are, excesses weight can have serious health repercussions and shortens your life in a plethora of ways. So, it would make sense that a person in that position would WANT to work towards getting into shape. And last time I checked, wasn’t the POINT of a gym to GET in shape? By that logic, it stands to reason that everyone in the locale isn’t going to look like a bad scene out of Baywatch.

That’s only one example of such a scenario and it’s a classic one. One I dealt with was actually from my parents. Yes, you read that right; the first people I had to deal with being negative about a choice I made was my mother and father. During my childhood, complications resulting from insulin resistance didn’t provide much of a positive outlook on the possibility of living to see my teens. When I took my health into my own hands and decided to join the martial arts, I was told that I was too weak, too frail, to join karate. They’d hit me and hurt me, and I’d never make it through a class without my blood sugars bottoming out. Ultimately, my parents and family at large were of the opinion that it would be contributing to my early death to join karate.

As a result, I wound up doing what a number of people have done through the centuries, in my situation. I joined in secret and did it anyway. The result was not only improved health, reduced insulin sensitivity and a lifestyle I never would have been exposed to otherwise but I went on to excel and teach others. Not too shabby, for someone who was told they could never do it. And that’s something that unfortunately happens far too much. This example involved my family, but I’ve faced this sort of negativity from friends and associates through the decades, as well.

Folks, one of the worst things you can do in this life, is knock down someone who‘a trying to climb. Everyone has a story, everyone has a journey and it’s far better and easier to help lift these folks up than try and knock them down. Imagine if I’d actually listened to my nay-sayers (parents notwithstanding) and stepped aside from martial arts? Maybe I wouldn’t be here today. Or if I was, maybe I’d be in much worse health and unable to enjoy life to the level that I do. I was lucky enough to have people who pushed me and encouraged me. So when you see someone working towards something amazing, be one of those people. ☯️

Don’t Let This Post Keep You Up…

I love my sleep. When I can get it. When I can’t, it becomes my worst enemy; ever elusive, avoiding all attempts at capture and making for a rough ride the following day. I’m going to start by getting the Diabetes aspect out of the way by pointing out that blood sugar levels can affect the quality of your sleep and amount and quality of sleep you get can affect your blood sugars levels. Seriously. It’s an annoying yin yang effect. We good? Because I totally intend on focusing on the sleep aspect and not so much the Diabetes aspect, for a change.

I think we’ve all been there. You spend the majority of your day in a slump, yawning and wishing that your office had a nap pod in the break room. But that’s seldom the reality, and you tough it out until you can get home. You struggle your way through supper, spend some time with the family before finally reaching the day’s finish line and crawl into your haven of slumber. Then, because life doesn’t care about one’s plans, your eyes crash open with the sound of broken glass and stay that way despite your best efforts. No matter how tired you feel, sleep has eluded you and doesn’t seem inclined to come back. What can you do?

I’d love to say I have some all-encompassing solution to these types of problems, but I really don’t. All the articles I’ve read, even from my favourite medical sources, talk about insomnia, which is an actual condition as opposed to simply having a sleepless night. But there are some gems that I’ve gleamed from a few different places that everyone should generally accept as common sense. The first and most prominent one is to cut caffeine intake shortly before supper. Unless your intention is to actually stay awake, you should not consume tea, coffee or caffeinated beverages beyond 4 p.m.

Good sleep habits can help, which include but are not limited to maintaining a routine for bedtime so your body recognizes that it’s “that time,” avoiding smart devices or screens for a period of time before bed and not eating heavy meals for many hours prior to dropping your head on the pillow. Hutu assuming that you’ve done all of that and find yourself glaring at the sheep you were tying to count as they laugh at your inability to close your eyes, what should your next step be? There are a few things that you can try, presuming that your sleeplessness isn’t medically-related…

First of all, don’t try to force your sleep. The harder you try and “force” yourself to sleep, the more awake you’ll become. If you see that you’re awake and simply can’t fall under, make your peace with that and physically get out of bed. Go read in another room until you get tired and can fall asleep. Look out the window at the stars. Try to avoid backlit screens or televisions as these won’t help and will just wake you further. Once you start feeling sleepy, simply make your way back to your bedroom and crash.

Breathing exercises and a white noise machine are usually helpful for me. Given my propensity for meditation, there are a number fo breathing exercises I know that can help lower heart rate, clam my body and make my body receptive to the sleep process. However, this doesn’t always work. White noise machines are a godsend and aren’t very expensive. I use an app on my phone called “Noisli,” which includes variations of white, pink and brown noise as well as a variety of soothing sounds such as rain, thunder, railroad tracks and such. The best part is being able to combine sounds, set timers and even some mild ambient glowing colours to help send you off to Layla land.

I once wrote a full post on the use and effects of white noise and why it actually works. But after almost a thousand posts, I can’t recall what it was entitled and can’t seem to find it. WebMD has some pretty good articles if you search “white noise” in their search bar. But if you haven’t tried to use white noise to help you sleep, take my word and try it. That shit works wonders! Barring those things, make sure your blood sugars are level and that there isn’t anything weighing on your mind. If someone external is stressing you out, it can be more difficult to overcome. After all, stress is stress, despite the fact you should do what you can to reduce it.

Sleep is important. You need it for all sorts of reasons and even though having one sleepless night isn’t the end of the world, you should speak with your doctor if you start to notice you have more restless or sleepless nights than restful ones. Although I’m not an advocate of it, personally, don’t ignore or fight pain. If something in your body hurts, you have a headache, heartburn or stomach pains, take something over-the-counter to help mitigate that pain to help you sleep. Last but not least and as is the case with most things in life, regular exercise and proper diet will go a long way towards helping to stem problems. Diet can help with stomach and heartburn issues that can keep you up at night and regular exercise will improvise blood flow and help tire you out by the end of the day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go grab a nap…☯️

Truer Words…

I think I’ve posted this image every few months over the past couple of years, but it has an air of truth behind it that’s rather important. I can’t remember where I found it and when I try to locate it online, I usually come up empty-handed but sometimes it’s nice to post something positive instead of just bitching about my condition, right? Here’s the image:

Take a look at all those descriptive words in the second paragraph of the image. To some, it may seem like bragging and maybe it is, to an extent. But when I take stock of my life and the things I’ve been through, I recognize that a good number of those descriptive words ring true. Had I never been diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes, I may not have developed the determination and will to keep fighting through things that I have, With an simpler, easier life free of Diabetes, maybe I would have become soft.

Or worse, maybe I would have become boastful and a bully, none of which would be a good thing. That’s why if you’re fighting the good fight against Diabetes and you recognize yourself in some of those words, do as the image suggests: Take that and fold it up and put it in your pocket for a while. ☯️

Don’t Let The Carbs Get Ahead Of You…

It still amazes me to recognize that carb-counting was never a thing for me until I started on the pump. I remember the look on the dietitian’s face when she asked how I count my carbs to account for my meals and my response was, “How do I count what??? I just estimate an insulin amount…”. I think a little part of her soul died. I’d gotten so used to just guessing how much insulin I needed for certain foods that carb counting never entered the equation. It was definitely not something that was ever brought up during my childhood by doctors or my parents. I just always thought it was normal…. Eating a sandwich? Take 6 or 7 units. Going to a buffet? Maybe take a dozen units instead…

I can’t even remember the last time I ate at a buffet. It’s more trouble than it’s worth, considering the combination of different foods can lead to difficulties in the difference between slow and fast-acting carbs, fats and whatever else…. I either bolus too much, despite my efforts to count how many carbs I’m eating, or I don’t bolus enough. It’s bullshit I don’t need, simply for the purpose of making a restaurant owner cry at watching me go up for my fifth plate of food. Not least of which, is the fact that I have historically ALWAYS felt like crap after eating at a buffet. But i digress…

I posted about this a few years ago, but counting carbs involves a bit of math. Most commercially purchased foodstuffs will have a nutritional label on the packaging that should allow you to have a reasonable idea of how many carbohydrates you should be bolusing for. I say a “reasonable idea” because it isn’t always accurate. But what’s more is, you can’t just read the label and bolus for the carbohydrate total listed on the label. The image below will illustrate:

The image above is what a typical nutrition label on packaged food will look like. AT the very top, you’ll notice that they list a “portion” amount. I put that in quotations because, if you’re anything like me, you’re not counting out 27 pieces when eating chips. So, recognizing the portion you’re eating versus the portion listed on the label becomes important so you can add it all up.

Let’s say this portion says 55 grams but the total box, which may be consumable in one sitting, is 250 grams. This means you have 4.5 portions to account for. Whatever total of carbohydrates is listed will need to be multiplied by 4.5 in order to know the total you need to bolus for. Still with me? Good. Next, look at the numbers I’ve circled. Dietary fibre needs to be subtracted from total carbohydrates, as we don’t bolus for fibre. So the actual amount for one portion of this label is 37g – 4g = 33 grams of actual carbohydrates per portion.

Now, even if your head is totally killing from the math, should you decide to consume the entire package of 250g, which is 4.5 portions, this is the math you’d use:

33g (carbs/portion) x 4.5 (# of portions =
148.5 grams of total carbohydrates

That’s a pretty hefty total. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever consumed that many carbs in one sitting. This is mainly to illustrate the math. It works much better when I’m eating something like chicken wings or bites, which are only about 8g per portion. With the same portion sizes as described above, you’d only be looking at 36g total carbohydrates instead, which makes more sense for one sitting. I think the last time I actually tried to bolus for more than 100g of carbs was when I had a full meal of a certain fast-food chain that boasts a creepy smiling clown. Wink, wink…

Estimating how many grams of carbs you’re eating will sometimes be necessary. If someone slaps a plate of rice in front of you at dinner, how will you know the EXACT amount? But knowing how much cooked rice may sit at, you can still make a pretty educated guess. But guessing for the sake of guessing can put you in a position where you may wind up too high or two low. So, it’s important to makes the effort. Yes, it involves a bit of math, but it can make the difference between a balanced day or riding the BS roller-coaster. Anyone else craving a Chinese buffet, now? ☯️