How Do You Like Them Apples?

Once in a while, I’ll hear about something enough to make me look into it. Even when it’s something I have no intention of taking part in, myself. One of these things happens to be apple cider vinegar. I’ve been hearing about this stuff for years and have even had some friends and family recommend that I try it for various reasons, but the “vinegar” aspect has always scared me off. I’m not a big fan of swallowing vinegar. Back home, people would have a nasty habit of sprinkling vinegar on their french fries. It’s usually delicious, until I remember that I’m sprinkling acid on my food. But I digress…

As usual, I’ll take a brief paragraph to point out that I’m not a doctor, dietitian or medical practitioner and everything I point out in my posts are based solely on unsolicited research that I perform myself. One should always consult their health professional before starting on anything new that could adversely or significantly affect their bodies, including workout routines and diets. Now, on to the apple cider vinegar!

I’ve been seeing this stuff advertised everywhere for a number of years now. Most prominently online. You know, those annoying advertisements that pop up when you’re trying to access something on a website or you’re trying to read something? (whistles softly as he remembers his page is ad-supported). I’ve even got some friends back in good ol’ New Brunswick who swear by the stuff. So, what’s the real deal with apple cider vinegar? It popped up again in something I was reading about a week ago, so I decided to look into it.

First, I’ll explain what apple cider vinegar is, since providing definitions is one of my defining characteristics (see what I did there?). Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice, which creates the resulting vinegar. It’s actually incredibly low on carbohydrates, making it ideal for Diabetics, but I’ll get to that in a moment. It’s been used for all sorts of food-related functions, but also for household cleaning and hair washing. Although I can’t seem to find a definitive source, the stuff is said to have been first used thousands of years ago.

According to an article posted by HealthLine.com, apple cider vinegar is said to contain “helpful substances” and can kill harmful bacteria. I put “helpful substances” in quotations because apple cider vinegar essentially contains no vitamins, minerals or nutrients in its basic form. But a “substance called mother, which consists of strands of protein, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance,” is what’s generally credited with all the benefits.

The article goes on to explain that apple cider vinegar can help with skin health, can boost the heart health of some animals (not humans) and can help with weight loss. No, it won’t melt fat like some of the infomercials you see online. Effectively, nothing short of liposuction simply removes your body fat. But apple cider vinegar is said to help increase how full you feel, when used in conjunction with your meals. This means that you’ll potentially need to eat less to feel full, which is what ultimately leads to loss of weight. There have been studies linked to this, but no definitive evidence that it genuinely helps.

The aspect I find interesting is that it’s also said to be beneficial for folks who have Type-2 Diabetes. Yes, I totally recognize that I’m Type-1 but I also like to think that I’ve had Diabetes and researched on it enough over the past 38 years that I can occasionally speak to some aspects of Type-2, as well. Besides, the information comes from someone else. So, I’m in the clear. But as some of you may know, Type-2 Diabetes is a condition in which the body’s ability to produce/use insulin and process the body’s glucose is compromised. A marked departure from what causes Type-1 Diabetes. Apple cider vinegar is said to help improve insulin sensitivity by a significant amount.

Because of this, it’s important to be mindful when combining apple cider vinegar with prescriptions that are intended to help do the same, as it can cause dangerous drops in blood glucose. Especially medications that also help to increase insulin sensitivity. It’s also worth pointing out that even folks who don’t have Diabetes can benefit from better insulin absorption.

It’s always interesting to read about a substance that’s not only consumable but also holds so many potential health benefits. Studies are still on the fence about apple cider vinegar’s potential for weight loss, but like everything else in life, it’s up to the consumer as to whether they decide to try it and decide if it work for them or not. ☯

Is It Ever “Too Late?”

There comes a time in every person’s life when they begin to notice certain physiological changes starting to take place. Oh, we all like to think those changes will never happen. But the reality is that it sneaks up on you as time marches on. And no, I don’t mean puberty. Maybe some of your hair gets a little greyer. Maybe your muscles are bit stiffer and your movements are a little slower. Time makes a fool of no one; we all know these changes are coming, we simply choose not to acknowledge them.

I write this post after waking with severely sore muscles, a cramp in my neck and a need to rock back and forth twice in order to hoist myself out of the bed. I recall a time when I could vault out of bed single-legged when the alarm went off, be showered, dressed and out the door in under ten minutes. Now, if I happen to have slept wrong, I need to sprawl on the couch for the first two hours of my morning before I restore enough circulation to start my day; a benefit that is only possible due to COVID-19 and being at home.

Have I sufficiently bummed you out, yet? I may be exaggerating the facts a bit (although I am starting to show quite a bit of grey) but it’s important to acknowledge that we all get there. There is no magic potion, no fountain of youth and no way to go back and do it all over again. This is why it’s critically important that we take care of ourselves and develop ourselves as best we can, while we can. An idle engine will eventually seize, and the human body is the most complex engine there is.

I’ve often chatted with folks who are no older than I am, about martial arts, my chosen career and how I’ve accomplished these things despite Diabetes and other associated issues in my life. Almost 9 times out of 10, these folks will usually say something along the lines of, “I always wanted to try karate,” or “I always WISHED I’d tried karate.” I use karate as the example, but I’ve had people utter theses sentences for a variety of activities, jobs and fitness aspects, including karate. When I ask why they don’t try it, I always get the same answer: “It’s too late for that, now!”

No. No, it’s not. Unless you’re unfortunate enough to be afflicted with a terminal illness that prevents movement, it’s never to late. A person may not be able to turn back the clock, but there’s nothing stopping a person from making a start from right where they are. In fact, I’ve watched people in their late 40’s and even their 50’s make their way through basic training. I’ve seen people of all age groups, body types, weight categories and backgrounds join karate and do quite well. In some circumstances, it may not necessarily mean that they go on to be an action hero or anything, but there’s nothing stopping them from trying.

The idea is that you can’t allow yourself to become idle. It’s important to take at least twenty minutes a day to stretch, move and get some sunlight. I know the current state of the world has reduced how often we leave the house, but most people can still manage walking outside, taking a drive or simply standing in their back yard and breathing in the fresh air. Physical activity is important. You need to be able to work your body physically, in order to maintain it. You can eat well, but this only provides the fuel. What happens to your car if you keep adding gas to the tank without driving it? Eventually, the gas will overflow, make a bloody mess and the engine will eventually still seize from lack of use.

I always like thinking of my grandparents for this comparison. My grandmother was a sedentary woman. She gave birth and raised seven children and was by no means lazy. But once those children were all grown and out of the house, her life pretty much ground to a halt. She never worked, never exercised and never moved (and no, knitting doesn’t count!). By the time she reached the age my mother is at now, she became hunched over, her body started having serious difficulties and her muscles became slack and useless. She passed away in her 80’s, unable to walk and function.

My grandfather joined the army when he was young and fought on the European front during World War II. He worked as a blacksmith, carpenter and always kept himself moving. When the sun rose, he’d be up and about. By the time retirement came around, he made use of a wheelchair, but he was still using dumbbells and exercising up until the week before he passed away, which was at the age of 95. Physical activity and working his body was a part of his life, which resulted in better mobility and health for longer, as well as almost ten added years of life than my grandmother.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… There’s no way to confirm what the difference may have been. After all, if my grandmother had done everything my grandfather had done, maybe she’d have fared better for longer as well. And there’s no accounting for the differences in inherent physiology, differences in hormones, etc, etc, etc… But that’s exactly the point: she didn’t! It can debated ’til the cows come home, I’m simply offering a true example of how two bodies will differ, based on two different lifestyles.

People often ask me how I’m in such good health, despite having Type-1 Diabetes. In my 40’s, I essentially suffer from none of the typical complications associated with someone who has had my condition for decades. My nervous system is clear, my kidneys are in excellent health, none of my toes have had to be amputated and I keep being told by my doctors that I have the heart of a horse. Now, if only my efforts would start to melt this “dad bod” I seem to have developed…

I’ve been moving, training and working out for as long as I can remember. Although I remember the specific details of how I started on all these different journeys, the images of those memories have started to blur. But I know that if I had never started karate all those years ago, I would still find it within myself to try it now. In my early 40’s, I could still conceivably reach some pretty high levels. The lesson is that it’s never too late.

If you’ve always wanted to try something, try it. Have a sport you want to attempt? Go for it. Have a career you’ve always wanted to have? Work for it. It’s never too late. Want to join karate in your 60’s? Bow and step inside, I’ll teach you! You may have to research what you’re looking to try and take the proper precautions, but there’s no reason you can’t do it. Your body is your engine, and you’re the only one who can keep it running smoothly and clean. Even the most efficient engines only hit their stride once they’ve geared up to increase their momentum. So, you need to get started. Start by getting off the couch. Start by stepping into the dojo/gym/outside. Start. Your personal motivation is what dictates what you’ll try, not how many candles were on your last birthday cake. ☯

The Unexpected Workout

I was having a conversation with someone a while back about working out and tracking the number of workouts per week I was doing, when an interesting question was asked: “Does sex count as a workout?” For most people, they’d be inclined to automatically say yes. There’s a reason why a couple will often be out of breath and covered in sweat afterwards. Besides perhaps being old and out of shape. Cough, cough… But let’s steer this conversation away from me, shall we?

Once the question was out there, I decided to look into it a bit and I’ve found that there’s a fair amount of conflict about the subject. Some sources will say that it can be a decent workout while other sources say it falls significantly short of the elements required to be considered a worthwhile workout. Of course, sex is a bit like discussing politics. It makes people feel awkward talking about it, despite always having an opinion. Unless you’re on social media, in which case people have NO issue voicing their opinion. But I digress…

The issues surrounding sex and Diabetes is are obvious. You need to plan ahead, ensuring that you have plenty of fast-acting carbohydrates on hand. Communication is also key, since you may have some explaining to do if you’re partner isn’t aware that you have an insulin pump and/or CGM. It may be a bit of a shock seeing a bunch of hardware attached to your body. And for the gents, the unfortunate reality is that you may have to explain why your “little soldier” doesn’t want to respond, as circulatory and neurological issues may hinder arousal.

Now that I’ve made things sufficiently awkward, let’s get on to the actual topic at hand. Can sex be considered a workout? Yes. And no. It’s complicated. And here’s why. According to an article posted by HealthLine.com, “[…] sex burns about 4.2 calories per minute, for men, and 3.1 calories per minute, for women. But with the average sex session under 20 minutes, it’s not exactly a win-win solution.” So you WILL burn calories during sex. It’s impossible not to, really. Any movement of the body burns calories, so something as intense as sex will, as well.

But you’re looking at well under 100 calories for a full hour of sexual intercourse (not including foreplay), which is why it can’t generally be considered a workout. The low caloric burn and short time span that it lasts (sorry fellas, nobody believes you went to pound-town for HOURS) explain why it doesn’t constitute a workout that can be used as an effective means of burning calories or fat. On the flip side, like any fitness expert can easily admit, any calorie burn is better than zero. So when in the boudoir…

Another article, post by Muscle&Fitness‘ online site, agrees with the “better than zero calories” concept, but also states that it couldn’t be considered a workout in the traditional sense. The only way to do that is to extend the act. The article does go on to point out that sex has a number of health benefits that go beyond calorie burn, including increased cardiorespiratory health, increased serotonin levels and improved sleep. The article also indicates that sex can help to relieve anxiety, depression and high blood pressure.

So even if having sex won’t burn as many calories as say, lifting weights or doing cardio, it’s still better than nothing. And even if it doesn’t constitute a workout, you still get to have sex, so why are you complaining? Just make sure to keep an eye on your blood sugars, keep good communication open and rock your partner’s world. Now, get in there! I didn’t hear no bell! ☯

New Year, New Lancet!

Spending money is never fun… Unless it’s money you intentionally saved up for something fun, but that’s rarely the case. Bills, debts and monthly obligations take all the joy out of having a bank account and I think we can all agree that money is some of the dirtiest stuff in the world. It makes the world go ’round while throwing rust into the gears, if you will. If you have Type-1 Diabetes (or any other condition requiring regular therapy of any kind) money can be especially important, since Diabetic supplies cost a damn fortune.

I covered expenses in a post I wrote in June of 2019, The Cost Of A life… where I explained that in Canada, insulin therapy involving the use of an insulin pump can run close to $1,000 a month. That was before I got onto CGM, so it would likely tip the scales over that one grand total per month now. If one is lucky enough o have medical insurance (which I do at the moment), this isn’t a big concern. But for those who don’t, cost-cutting methods are often employed that may not be ideal, no matter how necessary they may seem.

This is where the title of today’s post comes in. Before starting my current job, I found myself without medical insurance and as a result, I used to undertake a lot of nasty practices. I’d skip meals so I’d use less insulin. I’d only test my blood once or twice a day to save on test strips. On a few occasions, I even slept through some days to avoid taking insulin as I couldn’t afford it until the next pay check. But one of the habits that I know we all have, regardless of financial situation, is the reuse of needles.

Photo found on DiabeticsDaily.com

I say “regardless of financial situation” because I’m still guilty of this one. The auto-mode on my most recent pump has seen me testing my blood sugar more frequently than before. It’s almost as though I’m punished for good behaviour. Blood sugars have been stable for four hours? Better check your blood sugar, something must be wrong. Pump hasn’t HAD to deliver insulin for two and a half hours because of regular readings? Something off, check your blood sugar! And that’s not including the mandatory, twice a day calibrations the pump requires.

My point is, the temptation to test my blood via fingerpick and simply leave the lancet in there for next use is very real. Especially if the damn pump wakes me up for a test at 3 o’clock in the morning. I’ve had enough things outside of my body waking me in the middle of the night; I get pretty pissy when it’s a medical device that’s supposed to make my life easier. Waking me up doesn’t make my life easier (or anyone else’s since I tend to get cranky).

As you can see from the photograph I included above, the needle begins to dull and suffer damage to its surface after just one use. After six uses, the tip becomes something that one would never consciously use to inject themselves. But because the damage is microscopic and we can’t see it, we usually succumb to the temptation to reuse needles. I’ve often fallen prey to this and in fact, still do. But there are a lot of problems with doing so.

The multiple reuse of a needle can potentially introduce unknown contaminants into your insulin vials and into your body. Your needles are sterile when they’re opened, but once used and exposed to open air they can be subjected to any number of untold filth and bacteria on surfaces and in the air. When you reuse the needle that second time, you may be pushing something into your insulin vial and contaminating the entire supply. Or you could be pushing it into your fingertip and potentially introducing something to yourself.

A common risk and side-effect of reusing the same needle repeatedly is developing Lypohypertrophy, which I described in great detail in my post The Needle Jammed Into Your Haystack… (Yes, I refer back to my own posts a lot! It’s MY blog, what can ya do???) Basically, the condition describes the accumulated lumpy, scarred tissue that develops under the surface of the skin when it’s pierced by a needle. Since we Type-1’s tend to inject ourselves frequently, the risk of this condition is greater. But reusing a dull, used needle will increase the chances of infection and scar tissue.

I decided to write this post because I’ve often heard other folks with Diabetics sarcastically say things like, “Oh, it’s Sunday! It’s lancet changing day!”The reality, although I fully understand that I represent the kettle in this equation, is your lancet and needles should be changed after EVERY use. Although it’s an easy way to save a buck (sometimes), the complications it can cause are too frequent and serious to risk. And I think we can all agree that Diabetes carries enough complications on its own without intentionally causing more. ☯

The Carbohydrate Conundrum

Without a doubt, one of the hardest aspects of Diabetes HAS to be carb counting. It probably doesn’t help that I really didn’t start carb counting until 2015 when I started using an insulin pump. Before that, the subject of carb counting was never bought up by any medical practitioner or dietitian that I had retained. This likely isn’t any fault of theirs; they no doubt did the best with what they thought was working. But I have to admit that I certainly don’t miss the days of randomly guessing how many units of insulin to inject at mealtimes.

First of all, I’d like to remind everyone that carbohydrates are a necessity for a healthy life. Carbs are a fuel source and in fact, is the body’s primary fuel source. This means that you can’t TOTALLY eliminate carbs from your body, or you’ll suffer the effects. That being said, a reduction in carbohydrates can result in weight loss when the body starts to depend on its secondary fuel source: fat.

But carbs are insidious. They pop up where you least expect them, and not always in the amounts one would assume. A good example would be a vegetarian snack I purchased some week ago. Kung Pao broccoli. Yes, you read that right! I don’t know what’s worse, the “Kung Pao broccoli” part or the fact I bought something vegetarian. Regardless, I decided to try it out (along with its counterpart, “Buffalo Cauliflower.” Totally not kidding!). On a particular day, I decided to try it out as my lunch. I figured, why not? A bowl of broccoli is healthy and there are worse ways to have a reduced carb lunch.

When it was done baking, I mixed it with the Kung Pao sauce and checked the box to see how little I would have to bolus for it. The contents of the small box totalled in at about 80 grams of carbs! I daresay, I was flabbergasted! I could eat half a frozen pizza for the same amount of carbs! The problem is the light coating of batter over the broccoli as well as the sauce itself. It packed a bigger wallop than I thought. Then again, the makers probably didn’t count on someone eating an entire box as a meal; broccoli or not.

The next big problem is family. Not that family IS inherently a problem, but they can be a hindrance to proper blood sugar balance at mealtimes. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve prepared myself a bowl of food, sat down at the table and started eating only to have Nathan come running up, “Daddy, I’m hungry! That looks good, can I have it?” Knowing he has neither the patience nor the attention span to wait, I’ll usually surrender my meal to him and go make something else. In the meantime, the insulin I just bolused in response to the expected meal is coursing through my system and lowering my blood sugar, which will likely result in a low.

Trying out new foods is also a problem. Sometimes I’ll try something new like the broccoli, especially when I see that everyone else is eating or has had their lunch already. But something new will usually result in one of my family members deciding they wants to try some. The Kung Pao broccoli was an example of this. I asked if it was to be split or if they’d just be trying a piece to see what it tastes like. “I’ll see after I’ve tried it” is the usual response, which is the worst thing I can hear. This leaves me in a position where I don’t know if I’m calculating my bolus for half the amount or the entire amount of food.

Last but not least is incorrect or inaccurate nutritional labels. I always check the nutritional information label on the food I eat. Everyone should, Diabetic or not. And sometimes my blood sugars will go crazy despite a precise serving and supposed exact amount of carbs. There can be a lot of reasons behind this, including how quickly specific foods are absorbed, a person’s insulin sensitivity or a score of different physical conditions. But more often than not, bolusing for 10 grams of one type of carbs will require a different insulin dose than 10 grams of another type.

Carb counting is not only important but it prevents problems on a day-to-day basis. I can’t tell you how many meals I’ve consumed where I bolused what I thought I needed, only to suffer a low because the food was processed too slowly or an extreme high because it was more than I thought it’d be. Then I’d take added insulin to correct the high, only to have it boomerang and crash. Diabetes is a lovely roller coaster of bullshit. ☯

Resolutions Revisited

This will be a pretty bitter post. And to be honest, I’ve been avoiding it (mostly because I had to finish out the last week and scan the paper) considering some aspects of what I set out to do didn’t go QUITE according to plan. In early December of 2019, I posted Here Comes The New Year… where I outlined my intention to work through a resolution for 2020 that would see me cut down and/or eliminate alcohol, cigars, processed foods and exercise regularly. I tried not to be a pest about it, since most people don’t want/need to hear about someone else’s New year’s resolutions, but this is MY blog and here we are!

I did provide two updates in the posts Getting Ahead Of The Curve and It’s Going Semi-Well, And I May Have Woken Up. That last one is a touch ironic, since I apparently didn’t wake up quite as much as I should have. But before I get into the meat and potatoes of how I felt this went, let’s take a look at the spreadsheet, which I’ll provide below as two separate images:

Page 1
Page 2

Now as you look at this spreadsheet, there are a few things you can notice. The first is that anyone who isn’t blind can obviously see what aspect is my weakness. And I’m quite unhappy about this. Although I’ve had some weeks where I completely abstained from alcohol, the majority of the year sees a red “X” under the “No Alcohol” column. I will admit, and I’ve pointed this out before, that limiting each row to a full week makes things difficult. After all, I can go to Saskatoon for my eyes and have a single beer with my dinner out, and it’ll earn me an “X” even if I abstain for the rest of the week.

What’s funny is that there is only one “X” under the “No Tobacco” column, which was all the way back in March. This is because I decided to treat myself to a cigar right before the world turned to shit and everything started closing because of COVID-19. Since I try not to leave my home for frivolous purposes, the purchasing of cigars hasn’t happened since then. The rest of the columns are self-explanatory, even if most of them are green all the way down.

My water consumption is always within the 3 litre arena, considering all the fluids I take in throughout the day from various sources. I’ve caught myself salting certain foods lately, so I’m admitting that those green check marks aren’t all accurate. And as a wise friend pointed out several months ago, some of the food I’ve consumed is processed even if I haven’t acknowledged it as such (Thanks, Kristen!). The “No Soda” column is likely the one I was the most disciplined with. Workouts are workouts, with some weeks showing as many as 6 workouts and a few that even had none.

All in all, the spreadsheet was top-heavy and tedious to maintain, as I’d forget to fill it some weeks and have to rely on memory in the weeks that followed as to whether I did certain things or not. The end goal wasn’t to completely stop all these things, cold turkey. I like to think that this was more an experiment in order to recognize and document the areas of myself I need to work on. And even though we can blame a certain amount of it on the current state of the world, this only carries you so far.

That’s why this year, there will be no spreadsheet. There will no grandiose blanket declaration of doing one thing or another. All I’m going to try to do better myself. Period. I’ll be cutting out alcohol and excess carbohydrates, working on developing a healthy calorie deficit. Not to be mistaken with starving myself. I’ll eat plenty, but I’ll be reading labels and taking conscious note of how many calories I’m taking in. I’ll re-assert my focus on personal fitness and hope to slim down, even if only a little. ☯

The Diabetic Addiction

I’ve had Type-1 Diabetes for about 38 years at this point (yes, you read that right). And for the most part, everything I need to do is routine and pretty much happens on auto pilot. Need to test blood sugar? No problem. Calibrate the ol’ CGM? Done deal. I can even change up my insulin pump’s infusion set in the middle of the night while still half asleep, if I had to. I generally try to keep that from happening by checking my insulin remainder BEFORE I go to bed for the night and calibrating my CGM right before I go to sleep.

These are reasonable steps, and ones that I KNOW I need to take and SHOULD be taking. But despite having Diabetes for almost four decades, I’m only human. This means that sometimes I still forget things. And as anyone who has had Diabetes for any number of years will tell you, it doesn’t take long to become physically and emotionally exhausted from all the testing, needle pokes and medical appointments that one needs in order to maintain proper health and blood sugar levels. Which unfortunately means that I also occasionally IGNORE things.

Just before the Christmas holiday, I did what I usually do before any holiday or long weekend; I went through all my supplies prescriptions and ensured I would have enough to make it beyond everyone’s amended schedules. Now, I’m not much of a holiday guy and since I’ve spent the majority of my adult life working through most holidays including Christmas, I’m usually miffed at my routine being messed up because certain locations are closed on Christmas. That’s my “bah, humbug” attitude coming out. But I digress…

As I called into my pharmacy with my refill request, they pointed out that I wasn’t due to renew my Guardian sensors (CGM) for at least another week. Now, being the responsible T1D that I am, I explained that I had one sensor installed on my arm and only one extra in the box. Should I suffer a failure, I’d run out pretty damn quickly with no recourse during the holidays. The pharmacy employee on the phone was quick to point out that in the event of an emergency, I could always go to the hospital. Right. Because I want to sit in a waiting room over the holidays for six hours to get one sensor, which the hospital likely doesn’t carry in stock and I’d need a pharmacy, regardless.

The big problem is that everything is on computer, nowadays. Wow, I just made myself sound SUPER old, but it’s true. So the technician I was speaking to was basically telling me she couldn’t renew my sensors because I was calling a week early. Everything else was fine, but it was too early for the sensors. But this system is meant to be used as a guideline to when prescriptions were filled, not as a limiting tool against patients. And since sensors are not a drug or narcotic, there really shouldn’t be a problem. But I picked my battles and calculated that since I was on Day 1 of my current sensor and had one more in the box, I technically had two weeks’ worth of sensor and told the technician I would simply call back in after the Christmas holiday.

Because life rarely cares about one’s plans and because it’s me, this is what ended up happening after Christmas. I reached the end of the first sensor’s lifespan and installed the second one. Within 24 hours, the second sensor (last one of the box) failed and my pump instructed me to replace it. Once that happens, there’s no getting the freshly installed sensor to work. You basically have no choice but to waste it and move on to the next one. It was late evening, too late to make it to the pharmacy. I would have to wait until the next morning.

In the meantime, I installed a spare Freestyle Libre sensor that I still had. But it wasn’t quite the same. The CGM sensor interacts with my pump and makes minor basal corrections throughout the night. This means that if my blood sugars begin to rise, so will my insulin levels and vice versa. It keeps a reasonably tight control, and I’d be lying if I said that I’ve woken up with bad readings on any given morning in quite a long time. The Freestyle Libre however, allows me to continuously test my blood sugar through my phone but does NOT interact with my pump and makes no adjustment to blood sugar.

The result is that I awoke with blood sugar levels in the high teens, which hasn’t happened in quite a long time. I’m not afraid to admit that I felt like shit. I had to skip breakfast because I didn’t want to introduce more carbohydrates into my system before I brought my levels down a bit. So I spent the morning without food, but made my way to the pharmacy to get my sensors. I had a bit of a discussion with the actual pharmacist about the issue, to which he invited me to speak with him directly the next time I was in a similar situation.

It got me to thinking… I’m addicted to my Diabetic equipment. I lived for decades with CGM and an insulin pump but now, one day without a sensor and my house of cards comes crashing down. It’s surprising how spoiled we become when faced with the use of technology. Compared to the imminent death that Diabetics faced prior to the 1920’s, “spoiled” is a pretty appropriate term, all things considered. It’s made me realize that there’s no turning back for me. I’ve settled into a certain standard of care with the technology I use for my Diabetes treatment, and I don’t think I’d ever be able to return to pen injections and testing my blood only once a day. Here’s to hoping I’ll never have to… ☯

Let’s Chew The Fat, Shall We?

Let’s be honest with each other: it’s the New Year and people are looking at resolutions. Statistically speaking, the largest resolution is usually losing weight. I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t LOVE to shed a bit of thickness from my abdomen, although fat loss doesn’t usually work this way. True weight loss will eliminate fat from all areas of the body. Despite what you may have read at your supermarket’s checkout stand, there’s no way to focus JUST on the tummy. Sorry, folks.

I’ve long said that in order to actually lose weight, you can’t depend on gimmick diets or fad workouts. The only true way to burn fat and lose weight to experience a calorie deficit. For those who have no idea what this means, a calorie deficit is when you provide your body with fewer calories than it needs in order to support your daily calorie needs. In that situation, your body starts to burn away fat stores as energy to replace the calories it is no longer receiving.

Conversely, if you consume more calories than what you need for your daily needs, the body will store the excess. Sometimes it gets stored as glycogen, but it usually gets stored as fat. This is where we gain weight. Despite the fact that I’ve been stating this for longer than I’ve been blogging, I finally decided to look into it a bit and found a reasonable article on HealthLine.com. It explains exactly what a calorie deficit is, and how to achieve it.

In addition to the article, most sources I’ve researched indicate that eliminating as little as 500 calories a day is effective in helping to lose weight. In addition to a healthy fitness regimen, it can go a long way towards helping you to burn away at those fat stores that seem to piss you off, every time you slip on a dri-fit shirt. 500 calories is actually much easier than it sounds. Taking small steps, including eliminating processed foods, plan your meals and have them be homemade and exercising three to five times a week will do it.

Another important aspect, especially for Diabetics, is to focus on the reduction of carbohydrates as opposed to fats. Although I’m not a fan of such fad diets, the Paleo Diet is a perfect example of this. Such a diet consists of lean meats, fish, nuts as well as healthy oils and fats. They avoid and/or eliminate processed foods, sugars and grains, which eliminates the majority of carbs. The only problem is the Paleo Diet can cause a dangerous levels of fat and protein, resulting in heart and kidney issues. What else would you expect from a diet based on then human diet from 10,000 years ago?

Cut your carbs and overall calories by about 500 calories a day, exercise regularly and consume plenty of water and fiber to help things along, and you should see some of those love handles start to melt away. Like all good things in life, it will take some time so don’t get discouraged if it takes weeks and even months before results start to show. After all, every person is different. It may only take a week for some, or months for others. The trick is to be patient. This is also helpful for Type-1 Diabetes since increased fat can lead to complications and weight loss will help with blood sugar control.

My wife and I have decided that this year’s resolution will be on the improvement of ourselves. No checklists like I had last year, no fancy declarations of quitting this or quitting that. We’re going to exercise regularly, reduce our caloric intake and as much as it kills me to admit it, my wine intake will be GREATLY reduced as alcoholic beverages can have a negative impact on one’s calorie intake. By the end of it all, I hope to be able to squeeze back into those favoured outfits I have stuffed at the back of my drawers… But time will tell. ☯

Life Isn’t All Black And White, There Are Shades Of Grey…

One of the benefits of this soul-crushing pandemic is that people have been taking advantage to make changes within their household and in some cases, within themselves. Home improvements, distance education and fitness regiments that were previously untapped have become the norm. In fact, my neighbour has spent the past month bracing his basement, drywalling, replacing the electrical systems in his home and making upgrades. It’s been impressive to watch.

Some people have gained weight and damaged their health through the increased consumption of alcohol and junk food as well as a “nesting” instinct that includes lounging and working from home; all of which can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health. In my case, I’ve taken advantage of the current pandemic to do something that’s completely out of the ordinary, for me. It’ll likely sound silly and frivolous and I’ve done this twice. But to me, it’s something of significance. I’ve grown out my hair.

My first attempt at hair growth, February 2020

As you can see from the photo above, I have a significant growth of hair on my head. Considering the fact that this was a bit over a month’s growth and I’m usually bald and clean-shaven as a newborn, this is a fair bit of hair. You can almost see a light tinge of grey in the facial whiskers, a result of stress and troubles that plague my life in recent years. Considering I’m only in my early 40’s and my mother reached her 70’s before a touch of grey started to appear (notice I say a “touch” of grey), it’s a testament to the hardships I’ve had to deal with in recent years.

For those who may not be in the know (or who simply haven’t reached that stage in life), grey hair is caused when the pigment cells in your hair follicles that make melanin start to die. For the most part, this occurs later in life as advanced age begins to set in. Without these pigment cells, a person’s hair begins to lose it’s original colour and begins to appear grey and/or white. I started out my life with red hair, not unlike my infant son Alexandre’s hair. By the time I had reached the age of about six or seven years old, my hair darkened to it’s current dark brown, which is a combination of the red hair of my father and the black hair of my mother.

Although my first attempt at letting my inner hippy out to play only lasted a couple of weeks (I would shave EVERYTHING days after the photo was taken), my second attempt has gone on for almost two months. The difference this time, is that I trimmed my scalp while my facial hair continued to grow. The result is that even though more time has elapsed than the growth in February, my head doesn’t have as much hair but my beard is much fuller.

Current beard growth, with a LOT of grey (let’s ignore how tired I look)

You may be asking, “Why are you writing a blog post about your hair turning grey? What does this have to do with Diabetes, Fitness or Buddhism?” Well, first of all, stop being sarcastic with me… My grey hair entitles me to respect! No, but seriously, I’m using this post as a visible indication of how much of a physical effect that stress can have on a person’s body. Some of us like to think that we’re invincible and can handle anything. But even the strongest stone will eventually succumb to the trickle of water.

According to an article posted by HealthLine.com, increased stress can lead to an increase in the stress hormone “cortisol,” which can lead to a bunch of negative and nasty side-effects over the long term. This can affect the nervous system and, big surprise! Your hair follicles are connected to your nervous system! This can cause those pigment cells to die off prematurely, turning your hair to a more, shall we say “distinguished” colour, way earlier than expected…

A slight close-up, so y’all know it’s grey and not a trick of the light

So there you have it! Increased stress can certainly cause one’s hair to turn grey, prematurely. And I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been suffering from an increased level of stress over the past two and half years. I think we all have, for different reasons. But this is a visible reminder of why it’s all the more important to take steps to try and keep your life as stress-reduced as possible. You’ll notice that I say “reduced” and not “free,” because there really is no such thing as a stress-free life. Bruce Lee said so. ☯

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Add A Little Sunshine To Your Body…

The past couple of months have had most of us seeing two issues that have a direct impact on what I’ll be discussing today: the colder weather and quarantine regulations. The reality is that when winter hits, we all tend to stay indoors a lot more than we do during the spring and summer months. This makes sense, since most people don’t enjoy being out in the cold unless it’s to ski or something. But given that everyone has to socially distance and/or self-isolate, this winter has seen this effect worsened.

Because of all this, there are certain things that some people are starting to lack, such as fresh air and Vitamin D. There are others, but these are the ones that come to mind. I wrote a pretty lengthy post, all the way back in June of 2019 in what I can only describe as my infancy in blogging. The post was called What Did Think You Were Eating For? and it explains the purpose and benefits of the most common vitamins and minerals that the human body requires on a daily basis. Check out the old post, it’ll save you the pain of having me write this post until the New Year, describing them all.

There are some who would argue that a person gets everything they need from diet, so long as it’s balanced and adhered to. Although this CAN be true, there’s no denying that most people will lack in one area or another, whether because their specific diet lacks a little something or they live as hermits in their mom’s basement. Just about every doctor I’ve had since childhood has recommended the use of a daily multivitamin in order to supplement whatever you may be lacking.

Vitamins and minerals are important because they perform all kinds of roles within the body, including healing wounds, strengthening tissues and boosting your immune system. Vitamins are also integral to converting your food into energy stores. I could go on and on about the benefits of proper vitamin and mineral balance, but we’d be here all day. So suffice it to say, you need that shit in order to have a healthy life.

In case you feel intimidated by the vitamin aisle at your local retailer, you’re not alone. Although similar, not all multivitamins are created equal and you should talk to your doctor or health practitioner before you start taking any of them. Some multivitamins “feature” an added touch of something, such as iron or magnesium, and you could actually be getting more of something than you should while trying to prevent the opposite.

I’ve read in a few places that some vitamins and minerals will also affect blood sugar, so there’s THAT. Like Diabetes doesn’t cause enough problems… But I can’t find a source for that to save my life, so take it for grain of salt. One last point I’ll touch on is that in order for a daily vitamin to be effective, you have to be consistent and disciplined in its use, meaning you have to take it for the long-term in order for it to become effective. But before running out to spend a fortune on capsules, be sure to read the label so you know what you’re consuming and consult your doctor. In case saying it twice wasn’t enough, CONSULT. YOUR. DOCTOR.

I mentioned fresh air in the opening paragraphs because fresh air can help to clear the mind, properly oxygenate the blood and gets you away from your television, devices and smart phones for a short period of time. You also need to be outside for the production of Vitamin D. Contrary to what’s often believed, sunlight doesn’t PRODUCE Vitamin D, but it’s necessary in order for it’s production. The body produces Vitamin D when exposed to the sun’s rays.

Of course, nothing quite compares to getting outside and breathing in the fresh air and enjoying a bit of sunlight. But it’s nice to know that when the -50 degree Saskatchewan winters and quarantine requirements see you bundled up on your couch with your favourite blankie, there are alternatives. One simply needs to be well-educated in what’s being introduced into the body. ☯

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Help Me To Keep This Permanent!

My content may be free and I absolutely love providing it, but my time is not! I’m trying to make a go of it as a full time writer but obviously, everyone needs to get paid for the time they put in. Your donation to this blog can mean the difference between seeing daily content or wondering “whatever happened to The Blogging Buddhist.” Help me keep this permanent. Any small donation helps and will not go unappreciated.

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