Caffeine, Not For Every Situation…

There’s no denying that caffeine plays an important role in the daily grind of many people. Most will start their day by reaching for a steaming cup of joe… and will usually follow up by consuming two or three more cups throughout their day. I, personally start my day with an energy drink. I enjoy the fact that energy drinks are cold and can be consumed easier than hot coffee, first thing in the morning. And the B Vitamins sure add some kick to my day.

But as with all things in life, there’s good and bad to every situation. And the consumption of caffeine is obviously included among that concept. Recently, I’ve noticed that getting through a cardio workout after consuming an energy drink or coffee is difficult. I’ll often feel sluggish, start sweating long before hitting my peak and will be exhausted, even when I’m only at my halfway point. Are they just bad days? Maybe if it was only one of these on very rare occasions, but I’ve come to notice that I’ll usually have an energy drink on the go prior to the sluggish workouts in question. Is there a correlation?

I decided to look into if it was possible that a beverage meant to stimulate me and make me feel more awake and alert could be causing me to feel sluggish and affect my workouts. I found a bunch of different information, although the bare bones information didn’t make for a definite answer. This is why I won’t be citing any sources, since I couldn’t find anything certain. But here are some things I know about caffeine that could have something to do with it.

  1. Caffeine Can Dehydrate You: It’s no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine will cause dehydration. If you experience even mild dehydration, it can cause bodily pain, headaches, sluggishness and profuse sweating. Imagine all that WHILE trying to run, cycle or perform some level of cardio?
  2. Caffeine Is A Diuretic: Your workout will be cut pretty short if you have to take a piss every five minutes. Increased levels of caffeine will cause you to urinate frequently. And if it isn’t bad enough that blood sugar fluctuations will cause that to begin with, downing coffee or an energy drink before your workout may have the same effect.
  3. Coffee And Caffeinated Beverages Can Cause A Wide Variety Of Symptoms: Stomach pains, headaches and upset stomachs are only some of the symptoms you might experience while working out, if you’ve consumed significant caffeine beforehand.
  4. It Can Have An Effect On Your Heart Rate: Some people will feel an effect on their heart rate when they consume caffeine. This is one of the reasons why you’ll be told not to consume caffeine before a stress test or a fitness test. Imagine, for a moment that your heart rate can be measured on a scale of one to ten, where one is at rest and ten is where you die because your heart give out. Let’s assume that an average run gets you to a seven or an eight, depending on your age and overall health. This would be normal, right? Your heart rate will increase the more your exert yourself. But if consuming an energy drink or caffeine already gets you to a seven or an eight, then you add cardio on top of an already elevated heart rate, I’m sure you can do the math and see where the problem comes in.

As with all things, caffeine is best enjoyed in moderation. The key point for me, will be trying to resist the urge to gulp some caffeine before a run because I’m already feeling like shit. The lesson here is that all you have to do is get yourself going. Once you’re in the groove, you may find you perform just as well as you would with caffeine on board. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my caffeine. I may simply have to re-examine its use during my fitness routine. now if you’ll excuse me, it’s early and I need a coffee… ☯️

Sex & Cardio…

I’m definitely not one to shy away from tackling something that’s mildly on the taboo side. I’m not the most “risqué” writer, but I do like to occasionally take on subjects that would potentially be avoided by others. And although not the most NSFW topic you could potentially be reading today, I thought I would discuss the correlation between cardiovascular health and sex. It’s no secret that good cardiovascular health will help to avoid a bunch of heart-related medical issues, but did you know that sex will also help with this? Let’s see if we can discuss this topic like mature adults without having me crack any sarcastic jokes. Because that TOTALLY sounds like me. Moving on…

This is the part of the post where I throw out my usual disclaimer, explaining that I’m not a doctor or medical practitioner, have no formal training and base my writing on personal experience mixed with information gathered from reputable, peer-reviewed sites. Despite anything I may say or write in this post, you should DEFINITELY consult your medical practitioner or doctor before engaging in any new activity that could put a strain on your heart. And yes, that includes sex. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get on with it!

First of all, let’s consider the fact that there are a number of similarities between sex and cardiovascular exercise, or “cardio.” Sex is fun. If you haven’t had it, I highly recommend it. It’s an amazing coming together (hopefully) of two people, releases an amazing number and amount of endorphins and leaves you feeling relaxed and sleep easier when you’re done. It can also cause you to break a mean sweat, works every part of your body (when you do it right) and burns a wicked number of calories. Sex aside, does any of that sound familiar?

Cardio and exercise can also be fun. Some motivational tunes blaring in your ears, working up a great sweat and reaching a greater distance and/or speed than your previous workout will also leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed, tired but in a good way. Albeit without the “happy ending.” But I digress… The point is, there are similarities between what the body goes through during sex and what it goes through during cardio. Some might argue that in their younger years, one could easily cause the other and vice versa. Good for them.

Strictly from a personal standpoint as a Type-1 Diabetic male in his 40’s, there are a lot of issues behind the prospect of sex. Testosterone levels and blood circulation begin to decrease with age and Diabetes complications will aggravate both of those factors. This can make it difficult to keep everything up and coming *wink, wink*. But this is where the importance of good exercise comes in, whether you have Diabetes or not. And the importance of good, consistent sexual activity as well.

An article posted by John Hopkins says that, “Studies suggest that men who have sex at least twice a week and women who report having satisfying sex lives are less likely to have a heart attack.” The article goes on to say that, “Sex is a form of exercise and helps strengthen your heart, lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress and improve sleep.” That all sounds pretty f#$kin’ good to me… Almost just as important is the fact that consistent cardio will reproduce many if not all of these benefits, as well. Once again, without the happy ending. I just can’t let that go, can I?

So it stands to reason that sex can provide a plethora of health benefits, as also outlined by this list on WebMD. But when it comes to having Type-1 Diabetes and sex, sometimes a guy’s get-up-and-go has gotten-up-and-gone. It can be frustrating and potentially lead to complications in a relationship. This is where we reach a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario. And no, I’m not making a “who came first” joke… Jeeze, grow up guys! But good, consistent exercise will lower blood pressure, help control blood sugar levels, control cholesterol and increase your ability to reach and sustain a solid increase in heart rate safely, so that you can reach and sustain “other” things…

Ironically, if you already have heart issues, your libido may be taking a hit. Some doctors assess one’s cardiovascular health by asking some questions about their sexual libido, activities frequency. For people with Diabetics, arousal can be an issue due to poor circulation, which can be a problem for both men and women. Once again speaking for the male side of the equation, a noticeable lack in libido or sexual interest could point to a testosterone deficiency or something else that may be missing from the overall required recipe of one’s physiology.

The bottom line is that a strong sex life is healthy and will help sustain one’s health in much the same way as consistent cardiovascular exercise would. On the flip side, consistent and frequent cardio exercise may make it more likely that you’ll have the heart health and good blood circulation to park your Ferrari in it’s assigned stall… Ahem, cough, cough… I only have a few of those left in me, and the post is coming to an end, anyway. I apologize for my inability to grow up, but offer no apologies for my enjoying it. Once again, moving on…

For my Diabetic brothers and sisters, some advice I can offer through my many years of learning the hard way (there we go again, I didn’t even TRY that time and the pun came on its own. OMG, I just made a pun inside my pun…), is that communication is key. Even though a prospective partner may already know you have Diabetes, it doesn’t mean that he or she may necessarily understand what they’re in for and what COULD happen, if T1D decides to be a cock-block. Or a… What is the feminine version of “cock-block?” My point is, communication is important so that your prospective partner understands that it isn’t them, should your little soldier fail to “rise” to the occasion…

Further, like any exercise you may plan on doing, you should be prepared by ensuring you check your blood glucose and having some fast-acting carbohydrates and fluids available; a good idea during sex even if you AREN’T Diabetic. Exercise and staying hydrated will all be a help as well. So, what are you waiting for? Haven’t you been paying attention? Get out there and run a few miles so that you can have sex, damn it! I mean, work on your fitness for the sake of your heart health, of course. ☯️

Dojos Shouldn’t Be Built In Glass Houses…

Those who know me well are aware that in some ways, a lot of ways, I’m a bit of an old dog. And we all know what they say about the aching us new tricks. I’ve been studying Okinawan karate for over 30 years and as such, I’m a bit set in my ways as it relates to adaptability. This sucks, because variety is the spice of life and one should never be bogged down or restricted by only one style.

With that in mind, I started training with a local karate dojo located in Regina, back in 2016. Although it’s a different style with significantly different techniques and ways of doing things than I’m used to, the camaraderie and ambiance have been just what the doctor ordered to keep me motivated and practicing. What’s nice is that there’s been some exchange of knowledge between our respective styles, so everyone learns.

However, as with most things nowadays, COVID-19 stuck a needle in my eye by closing down the dojo. We were having virtual classes for a while and then even those stopped. When conditions lifted in Saskatchewan last September, everyone was overjoyed to return to the dojo in person and get some training in. Then conditions and health regulations changed once again at the end of September, leading the dojo to close its doors again. this was mostly due to the requirements imposed by the martial arts association it’s a part of. but I digress…

With nowhere to train and my martial arts muscles twitching, I sought out different schools in order to find someplace new to get my kicks (pun fully intended). Last Monday, I visited a local school, here in Regina. Since perspective is extremely important in the martial arts and all of this is strictly my opinion, I won’t name the school or even the style. Suffice it to say it would have been something completely new for me.

Considering how long I’ve been doing this, i have a particular set of expectations when it comes to dojos and martial arts schools. Not everyone agrees with them and it often restricts me in the sense that I’m viewing this place with that narrow lens instead of considering what I could learn. This is the issue I faced last Monday evening when I attended this new school.

Class was scheduled for 7:00 pm and was only for an hour. This is my first red flag. Class minimum was always two hours when I trained back home and even then, we had difficulties walking out without showering Sensei with questions and asking about techniques for at least twenty minutes afterwards. It’s pretty hard to truly get into in-depth training with only an hour to work with. But in the interest of having an open mind, I reserved my opinion in favour of seeing what they’d offer in only sixty minutes.

I walked in at 6:45 and was greeted at the entrance by a few students who were standing there waiting. This took me aback a bit, as it’s important to stretch and warm up before training. Everyone was very friendly, introduced themselves and asked me what I knew about their style. I was told that the lead instructor was providing a private session and that class would start promptly at 7. Prior to class start, the students as well as the instructor tried their best to have me join in as opposed to watching. I politely declined, stating I wanted to observe a class first.

I couldn’t help but notice that the lead instructor was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap. I thought maybe this was just for the private session and he’d change into something appropriate before class started, but that didn’t happen. He was also wearing rings and a metal bracelet, which is frowned upon in most martial arts schools as you can injure yourself or others while training.

The class started and one of the students led the class in about 20 to 30 minutes worth of stretches and warm-up, which should have been done independently by the students prior to start of class. But again, this is simply an opinion. At the halfway point, everyone paired off and started practicing techniques. It should be noted that the instructor has done nothing at this point, other than walking around the group. Techniques were practiced in a cursory manner, with no precision or correction and EVERYONE was chatting while they trained. Not about the material, moons you. They were chatting about personal matters.

At the end of the hour, everyone bowed out and immediately started exiting. No follow up, no questions and most importantly, no one had broken a sweat and the instructor had not participated. He was extremely polite and invited me back to start taking lessons. I thanked him for his time and said some goodbyes to the students I had met and made my way home. I haven’t returned.

This is where my opening comment about being an old dog comes in. Where I was trained, the student was responsible for arriving a minimum of 15 minutes before start of class and stretching appropriately so that everyone was ready to jump into it once class started. There’s also an expectation that everyone works hard and everyone sweats. The expression is “blood, sweat and tears,” not “tea time and socializing.” There’s a time and place for students to come together and chat, but during class time is not it.

Another issue is the instructor’s lack of involvement. This is a red flag, as the instructor SHOULD be involved in training, as much if not more than the students. I’ve heard of some styles that believe that “black belts don’t sweat,” but that’s utter bullshit. A true martial artist’s training never ends, so there needs to be an active involvement.

I left the school that night a little sad and disappointed. As I said earlier, I haven’t returned. But on the other hand, the school may have great value to its students for what THEY need. The takeaway is that it simply wasn’t for me. And this is an important lesson. Martial arts is very subjective thing and the style and habits of the school are integral to ensuring the student and/or practitioners are getting what they seek from their training.

As it stands, the search for a place to train continues. And that’s fine. Considering how much I train on my own and the fact there are over three dozen schools in Regina alone, I’m sure I’ll find something. Persistence is key. But for all of you trying to find a place to train, make sure you know what you want to get out of your training. Be honest with yourself and with the instructor about what you want and what you expect. This will save significant amount of unwanted difficulty later on. ☯️

My Gym Space

About a week ago, I wrote a post about how one does not need large amounts of equipment or machines in order to get a complete workout. The post was entitled “How Much Do You Need,” and you can read it here. I thought as a follow-up, I’d stick my face on front of a camera and show everyone where I spend my fitness time. A little over a year ago, I used to enjoy a large, open space downstairs that I used as a makeshift karate dojo. I lost that space as we are currently renovating our basement. When I moved out to the garage, I also lost that space as we had to store our basement stuff somewhere.

I still have my punching bag in the garage with a small space to actually use it but I have no weights or access to cardio as it’s getting too cold for cycling. As a result, I’ve taken to working out in the gym space located in my office tower. As you’ll see in the video, there are limited weight machines, some cardio machines and a full spread of free weights. ☯

Take A Break And Relax With This Post

Given the hectic demands of modern family life, it can be pretty easy to forget that it’s important to take time for yourself. In most cases, we get so tangled up in the requirements of our daily grind that we tend to overlook our own self-care and care of our home. I can relate to how easy that can be. For example, one of the few “benefits,” if they can really be called that, of the pandemic quarantine when everyone was pretty much sequestered to their home, is that I had far more time to do some reading, writing, playing the daily challenges on some games and playing with my kids. With some aspects of society slowly returning to normal, that extra time has disappeared and my ability to self-care seems to have disappeared with it.

Taking breaks and finding the time to relax is important. Because as they say, you can’t help or take care of others until you’ve taken care of yourself. Don’t ask me who “they” are, I have no clue. But this is a very true fact and it applies to work, leisure and family life. If one doesn’t take the time to let one’s head cool, it gets difficult if not altogether impossible to properly manage one’s daily grind and responsibilities.

Work is a great example. Any productive job will be a roller coaster of busy-ness. one week may be pretty tame and you have plenty of time to catch up on things and the next week will feel like the job is literally trying to drive you to drink from all the added pressure. And that’s why, even when it’s busy, you can and SHOULD take time for coffee breaks and step away from the computer. Whether you actually get coffee or not is irrelevant. The act of walking away from your computer or work for even fifteen minutes gives you the opportunity to recharge, get some fresh air and will actually increase one’s productivity.

Some there are and those are they, who are often inclined to believe that taking a break when they’re busy will cause the work to grind to a halt or make things worse. But let’s be realistic, here…. The work will still be there whether you take the break or not. Fifteen minutes won’t make a measurable amount of difference in the workload BUT it may make a measurable difference in your productivity. And that’s where the important difference lies.

The same applies to your home life. Maybe you have work to do at home. Maybe you have a spouse who needs your attention. Maybe you’re a parent and have to help your kids with homework and play with them. It can seem pretty daunting, especially if you work long hours, do shift work or usually end up needing to bring some work home with you. By the time the family meal is done and everything is cleaned up and you’ve squared away the kids, you’re likely too tired to commit yourself to work.

It can be all the more difficult if your life includes anything extra. Let’s use an example like, oh, I don’t know…karate! Although an experienced practitioner can train at home, it stands to reason that most students need to attend class. Finding time to do so with everything I’ve described can be a bit difficult, especially if you know that stuff is piling up and waiting for you. Not to mention that despite the fact that those activities are important to you, your family may not understand and often resent your absence.

That’s why communication is important and integral, in both personal and work circumstances. Most of the time, unless you’re being radically unreasonable, communicating and explaining your needs will go a long way towards helping others understand what you need to take better care of yourself. Once that communication has been achieved, you can work on some self-care, which in turn will help you to better help others.

Although I totally understand that it’s often easier said than done, take your breaks. Indulge in some self care. No matter the time constraints, the workload or the home responsibilities, you owe it not only to yourself but to everyone in your entourage to ensure that you’re refreshed, relaxed and can give them your best you. Working or stressing yourself into an early grave is pointless. After all, you only live once. That we know of…😉 Food for thought…☯️

Jus’ Sayin’…

I found this little gem some time ago while wandering the World Wide Web. As it pertains to martial arts training, it suggests a pretty important lesson. That being that the more you push yourself and sweat in training, you’re less likely to get the shit beat out of you in an actual fight. How nice of me to make the lesson so much less elegant, eh?

But I think this could definitely apply to just about any situation in one’s life. Work, personal relationships, exercise… everything! The point being, that if you put in your best effort in the here and now, you’ll likely save yourself some negatives results and/or outcomes further down the road. A quick and easy lesson for today. Food for thought…☯️

I Think I Need More Coffee To Write This Post…

Ah, coffee…. I try to imagine how different my life would be without caffeine. I don’t think I like it. But in all seriousness, caffeine plays an important role in many people’s daily routine. I remember consuming coffee for the first time when I went to college. To be honest, I remember thinking that it didn’t seem to be doing much to lift the tired fog from my mind. But then again, I also had blood sugars to contend with AND the college’s cafeteria coffee was mostly brown and water. So, there’s that…

More than half a decade would pass and energy drinks had become a new trend, although I had never tried them. Then one day, a Red Bull representative came knocking (not literally) while I was managing a big box pharmacy. The company had agreed to provide some shelf facings for the product to be displayed and the rep wanted to offer me a sample so that I would be able to speak to the product’s quality, flavour and effectiveness. When I mentioned I had Type-1 Diabetes, he surprised me by offering me a can of sugar-free Red Bull. It was all down hill from there…

Over the years, caffeine has played an integral role in my effectiveness in karate, work and even my personal life. I’ll admit there are a few times I may not have made it home if I hadn’t downed a cup of coffee before getting behind the wheel. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve had a roller coaster relationship with caffeine, often trying to quit at the most inopportune times (like taking a course or travelling for long distances). So, what is the good, the bad and the ugly of coffee?

According to an article by Healthline.com, caffeine actually works due to its effect on the brain. It “functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.” Well… f$%k me…. Here, I thought it just jacked up one’s heart rate, causing increased blood flow, which makes you more alert. See, even an old dog like me can learn new tricks. Moving on…

Caffeine can kick in quickly with the average cup of coffee often taking only about 20 minutes to kick in. Another article by Healthline.com lists a number of benefits related to caffeine consumption, including but not limited to improved energy and reaction times, weight loss, improved physical performance, protections from certain health conditions (including Type-2 Diabetes) and coffee just happens to be very high in antioxidants, making it the ideal beverage to consume on a daily basis.

You’re probably thinking, “Alright, Shawn…. What’s the other side of the coin? You never list all the benefits of something without listing what’s bad…”. Well first of all, thank you for paying attention. I love that shit. Secondly, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks.” Bear in mind that exact amounts vary from drink to drink and the key words are “most” and “healthy.” But we’ll get to that…

Drinking more than what’s basically indicated in the article can lead to side effects including but not limited to:

– Headaches;
– Insomnia;
– Nervousness;
– Irritability;
– Frequent urination;
– Fast heartbeat; and
– Muscle tremors.

I don’t know about you, but none of those sound like a spa treatment. Not least of which is the fact that caffeine can be addicting. You start by consuming a cup in the morning before work and months later, you’re downing a full POT while getting ready for work, then grab an extra large through the drive-thru on your way to work, followed by more coffee during coffee break. And that’s all before 10 am…. I may or may not be speaking from experience.

For the most part, energy drinks have become my go-to caffeinated drink and have been for the past few years. This is for a number of reasons, including the fact that it’s cold and I can get it down my gullet way faster than a hot coffee. there’s also a slightly higher caffeine content than your average cup of coffee, which can help when you’ve spent had the night up due to your insulin pump or fluctuating blood sugars keeping you up. There’s also the fact that energy drinks usually carry a whole bunch of extra stuff on board, like increased B vitamins and minerals.

The down side is that depending on the energy drink, you can find yourself consuming ingredients that could affect blood sugar levels. Further, besides making your urine a weird fluorescent colour, you start getting addicted and needing the additional stuff you get out of energy drinks. So, it’s important to mindful. Why is this important? Well, I usually only allow myself the luxury of energy drinks because I get them on special at my local corner store for cheaper than a cup of coffee. Otherwise, cheap, stubborn Shawn won’t buy them. Last Thursday, I went into the store and noticed they weren’t on special so I didn’t buy any. It’s been a few days. I fear for society’s well-being…

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with caffeine consumption, provided you don’t take in more than what’s recommended and safe for you and that the side effects don’t outweigh the benefits. If you find yourself experiencing some of the side effects listed above, it may be a sign that you need to cut back. We’ll see how long I hold out without my daily energy drink. Just one more vice to work on…☯️

How Much Do You Need?

There’s a prevalent belief that one’s workout area needs to be elaborate, containing a vast array of different equipment and machines. One needs to have access to a bit of everything in order to ensure the best variety of exercises and the best for one’s health & fitness. People will pay through the nose for expensive gym memberships and access to equipment they would either not afford or refuse to pay for, within their home and some of the extra services like saunas or steam rooms and towel service. But that’s all a load of bullshit… And here’s why…

It may be great to have access to a wide variety of equipment. After all, I won’t be a hypocrite and try to convince any of you that i don’t occasionally take advantage of the gym at my office, since it does have the elliptical machine I enjoy using and a variety of free weights I don’t have the space to keep at home. Wake up late and need to get yourself up and going? No time for a visit to the gym? All you need is a small space, even if it’s only about 8 foot by 8 foot. In that space, you can do push-ups, squats, lunges, crunches and a wide variety of dumbbell exercises. All without the availability of gym machines and complicated and expensive equipment.

If you practice martial arts, you should be able to perform all the exercises mentioned in the previous paragraph as well as practice all of your punches, kicks and blocks from a stationary post. Doing one’s forms shouldn’t require any more space than a small, open area and doing them with a bit of oomph will have you sheathed in sweat before you know it. All of this can be done without big, expensive gym memberships or vast arrays of equipment.

Let’s not forget some of the old faithfuls, like going for a run or cycling. Even going out for a brisk walk can be a good alternative, especially if you’re on a break day or trying to nurse an injured limb back to health. Anything will always be something more than nothing, right? So, the answer to the title’s question should be that you need very little in order to focus on your fitness and make a change. There’s should be no excuse behind why you don’t exercise regularly.

So don’t wait! Whether you want to lose weight, get fit, build muscle, improve blood circulation… whatever! If you have a friend who knows martial arts, train with them! If you have a bicycle, get out and peddle! If you have a small area of open space, do some exercises at home! Jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, burpees… You can’t go wrong. If you wait until you have the money for a gym membership, your chance at good fitness may be passing you by. Food for thought…☯️

Conquering The Challenges

Sometime at the beginning of the summer, I wrote about trying an app called “The Conqueror Challenges.” The premise behind the use of this app is pretty simple. Once you have it installed and create an account, you can sign up for virtual marathons. These marathons (at least, that I’ve seen) have been as short as 26 kilometres all the way up to several thousand kilometres. You pay a nominal fee and you are able to choose a time limit (weekly amounts) to complete your challenge.

It’s a fun and interesting way to contribute to one’s overall fitness. The organization that runs the app plants a tree for every 20% of the challenge you complete. You get post cards and updates as you progress. For example, I completed the Mt. Everest virtual marathon, which involved travelling 64.2 kilometres. I gave myself a 3-week timeframe, but I was done within the first week. 64.2 kilometres racks up pretty fast on a bicycle.

At the end of your challenge, they ship you an actual medal depicting the challenge you were on. They’re pretty sweet, made of metal and usually have some special aspect to it specific to the challenge. For example, my “Marathon to Athens” medal has a slot with a Greek coin inside it. A reproduction, of course. But neat, nonetheless.

My swag, so far. #5 is in the mail and I’ve almost completed #6

The app syncs automatically with my Runkeeper app and will include any distance-related workout, such as running, walking or cycling. The St. Francis Way medal you see in the photo above was 502.8 kilometres. One of the best ways that this app keeps you motivated is that you pay money but lose the medal if you don’t complete the challenge in time. Nothing lights a fire under your ass like knowing you’ll actually lose money you’ve paid, if you get lazy and skip a few days of working out. Plus, you get to learn a great deal about all the different countries that are featured in these challenges.

I’m having a blast with these and they’re definitely conversation starters for those who see them. If you’re looking for a way to keep yourself on track, I highly recommend this. As long as you keep your goals realistic. I gave myself an 8-week timeframe for the 502.8-kilometre challenge. It would have been ridiculous to try and have it done in 2! But as long as you keep it realistic and consistent, you’re good to go.

Doing things in a virtual environment is the way of the new world. Why should marathons be any different. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to increase my fitness and new ways to exercise. This one has been loads of fun and it doesn’t hurt that I get a bit of bling to brag about, after the fact. ☯️

I Want To Live…

I want to live. Makes sense, right? Most people do. Most people have the opportunity. Not many people fight for that privilege. And I know what you’re thinking…. Why should someone have to fight for the privilege of living? Well, I don’t mean fighting for the privilege of staying alive because of oppression, war or famine. I mean fighting for the privilege to live against something that came to be, completely out of one’s control. If none of you have guessed that I’m talking about Diabetes at this point, let me clarify: I’m talking about Diabetes.

One of the best things about living in modern times, is that Diabetes is no longer an automatic death sentence. If you were diagnosed with Diabetes prior to the creation and distribution of insulin, that was pretty much it. I’ve written posts about how long a Type-1 can survive without insulin, even if they completely eliminate carbohydrates and continue to exercise. So I won’t get into that part, since that’s not what this post is about. Needless to say, insulin isn’t JUST about lowering blood sugar levels.

People have often asked me why I push so hard when I exercise, or why I do so much. I’ve had folks commenting on the fact that by the time I’ve completed a workout, I look like a wet cat who got stuck in the rain. Sometimes, it’s can be belittling or condescending; as though they’re suggesting that I shouldn’t be a sweaty mess in a public place where other folks can see. It’s almost akin to those who make fun of an overweight person in the gym for trying to get in shape. Granted, not EXACTLY the same, but the concept is the similar.

I learned from a very young age that Diabetes would show me no quarter. If I let up my guard, even for a day or two, it would find a way to swoop in and make my life difficult. Maybe this difficulty would come in the form of high or low blood sugars, which typically fuck with my entire day. Or maybe it would simply make me more susceptible to illness and make my day-to-day interactions all the more dangerous. Or perhaps it’ll take something simple like stubbing one’s toe and turn it into an automatic, infected toenail. Just because it can. Diabetes shows no mercy because it has no emotion.

Fitness is an important part of ANYONE’s lifestyle. It’s no secret that someone who doesn’t exercise regularly will face a host of health problems too numerous to list here. But staying fit and active is an important part of life and all the more so for someone with Diabetes. Again, from a young age I recognized this, especially in light of my doctors telling me I’d die due to Diabetes complications before I reached my teens (I’m now well into my forties, in case you were wondering).

I guess where I’m going with this is that there are a number of different reasons to work out and go to the gym. Some people want to get fit, some want to get muscular and some want to lose weight. hell, some people go to the gym simply to be social and see certain key people they may associate with. And that’s fine. At the end of the day, whatever your reasons for training consistently will never be bad. Anything will always be something more than nothing. My point is you’ll be able to easily discern who’s training to get fit and who’s training to save their lives.

That’s what I do. I train in order to save my life. I train because if I don’t, Diabetes complications will reach me all the sooner and take away something that I need in order to live. That’s why I’ll spend an entire hour on a cardio machine at a high level and end up soaked and breathing hard. That’s why I rarely take break days or rest days. Diabetes never takes a rest, so why should I? I push myself because I’m trying to stay ahead of a condition that will ultimately end my life, despite all the therapies, despite all the available resources and despite all my efforts.

And that’s the ultimate punchline of my existence. This is a race against time and a race against a condition that I will inevitably succumb to, despite my best efforts. But like trying to outrun an oncoming tornado, I have to try. I need to give it my all because I refuse to let it take me down. I have too much to live for. I owe it to myself and to those who matter in my life. I’m fighting against complications. I’m fighting against organ failure. I’m fighting against death. Besides, I’m well aware that there are those who push and train harder than me, anyway. But my efforts are mine and mine alone.

So, the next time you see me breathing hard at the gym, it doesn’t mean I’m “out of shape” or new to working out. When you see me walking away from a machine looking drenched like an alley cat left out in the rain, it isn’t because I couldn’t handle the exercise I was doing or I was doing too much. It’s because I’m fighting for my life. And if you don’t come out of that fight bloody and covered in sweat, you’re not really fighting. And you will lose. Ask yourself why YOU do it. No matter what your reason, you should never judge someone’s efforts or appearance when trying to better themselves. Whether it’s someone trying to get slimmer or fitter or someone who is simply trying to prolong his life long enough to see his children into adulthood. Food for thought… ☯️