Last week, I decided to touch on certain role models that I’ve had over the years. I showcased Michele “The Mouse” Krasnoo last week, as she has a been a source of inspiration and martial arts brilliance for me for as long a I can remember. But this week, I decided to touch on someone who may not be a martial artists, but has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a young child. Terry Fox.
Terry Fox (and I’m quoting directly from Wikipedia here, since I lack some of the specific details) was a Canadian who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 1977 and ultimately had his right leg amputated in 1977. Despite his amputation, Fox continued to run using a prosthetic leg and even played basketball and various other activities.
Terry Fox was a self-driven warrior. No act of God or man could keep him from his goals, and he hated losing so much that he continued to push until he succeeded, no matter what it involved.
“I Believe In Miracles. I Have To.”
– Terry Fox
Fox started on the Marathon of Hope in 1980, dipping his foot into the Atlantic ocean and carrying samples of ocean water with him with the intention of pouring it into the Pacific ocean once he completed his cross-country trek. He made it as far as Thunder Bay, Ontario before, despite his will and recuperative capacity, he had to stop after suffering coughing fits and chest pain. The cancer that had taken his leg had spread to his lungs and ultimately ended his journey.
On June 19, 1981 Terry Fox passed away after succumbing to complications from pneumonia. His death rocked the entire country, even going as far as having the country lower flags to half mast, which was a practice normally reserved for statesmen.
The Terry Fox Run and the Marathon of Hope continue to be inspirations for Canadians. Fox set out to raise awareness and funds for cancer research and damn if he didn’t make his mark on the world. We should all be so lucky. But the important lesson is that no matter what the debilitation, you can reach your goals and make an impression no matter what the condition you face. ☯
So, yesterday I wrote about a project I’m working on, where I will be trying to cycle longer and longer distances over the summer months. At the beginning of the warmer season, I started by hitting 10-kilometre and 20-kilometre milestones, and I’ve been increasing ever since. The details of how I intend to use this training are explained in yesterday’s post (I’ve Got A Plan…), so I won’t get into THAT again.
The truth is, that 40-kilometre trek was accomplished LAST Saturday, with the majority of my treks coming in at the 20 and 30-kilometre totals. The good news is that I’ve already broken a pretty decent milestone for this season, that which is to have cycled for over 500 kilometres!
I’m trying not to be TOO overexcited about this, since it really only takes a little over a dozen outings at 30k to reach this number, but I’ve never really tracked total mileage before and have certainly never pushed myself cardio-wise, as I’ve been doing lately.
But as fate would have it, life rarely cares about one’s plans. Last Tuesday, I left the house fully motivated and fully caffeinated, with the intentions of pushing to reach 50 kilometres. This only made sense as it would be the next milestone for me in my insane summer plans. I left the house early in the afternoon, and set out to get as lost as I could, considering I’m being tracked through GPS.
When I reached about 20 kilometres, I started feeling a consistent thumping, coming from the rear tire. I chanced running whatever may have been ahead of me long enough to watch the rear tire for a moment and noticed it was significantly below pressure. The thump I felt was the valve stem being pushed against the inner surface of the wheel due to low pressure.
I texted my wife to let her know what happened and walked the bicycle for about half a kilometre to local gas station in the hopes of re-inflating my tire. When I got there, I was dismayed to learn the the air compressor required money to activate. Did y’all know you had to pay for air? Because I sure as hell didn’t, and I had no cash on me.
I was lucky enough that one of the employees was kind enough to loan me a dollar so I wouldn’t be stranded. I re-inflated the rear tire and it seemed to be holding, so I continued on. I lost air pressure once again about two kilometres further from home. I had reached 22.24 kilometres. I threw in the towel and asked my wife to come pick me up, which required handling and loading two small children. My wife puts up with a lot of my shit…
I was pretty pissed off as this was the second time I had flattened a tire in recent months. But since it was the rear tire and has all the gears and parts included, I didn’t trust myself to remove it to replace the tube (especially since I royally f$&ked the brakes on my last bike doing it on the front tire). So it was decided that considering the various terrain I cycle on, I should go purchase a new mountain bike.
You wouldn’t think that buying a bike would be difficult, but finding one that wasn’t ridiculously high-priced and suited my size and needs proved to be more difficult than anticipated. I spent all day, last Wednesday, wandering among five different retail locations, with no luck. Yes, you read that right: FIVE! Some locations were out of stock, which it almost seems as though Regina is suddenly ga-ga for bikes, or some didn’t have a frame size to accommodate my height, or the cost was simply too high. A certain popular retail chain that uses a blue and yellow colour scheme only carried bikes that were $798, of all things! And their prices are usually better than most! Yes, I’m cheap!
I had a few more locations that I was able to check last Thursday, and thank the Light I was able to find one at a SportChek location, here in Regina. It had everything I was looking for: mountain bike, proper frame and wheel size, mountings for a water bottle and tire pump and the price was reasonable. Done deal! The staff helped by performing a pre-purchase checklist to ensure the gears, brake and tire inflation were all up to standard before I left the store.
So, having picked up this bike last Thursday, I strapped on my water bottle holder and travel bags and took a spin. The north-bound wind was strong enough that I almost turned back after 3 kilometres, but I stuck it out. Plus, the staff may have SAID they properly inflated the tires but they were slightly under pressure, which caused some drag and made the trek difficult. I had to stop at 30k, but I at least I broke her in!
So there you have it: the new beast I’ll use to kill myself slowly through long-distance cycling! I’ll admit that all the cycling I’ve been doing has made my legs feel better (an important aspect when you have Diabetes), have improved my blood sugars and make me tired enough to actually get SOME sleep at night, despite my current work situation. I’m looking forward to tweeting my ride further, and increasing the distance I travel in the weeks to come. Hopefully with less strong winds pushing against me. ☯
So, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re aware that I enjoy cycling. For the most part I’ve been doing it as a means of throwing a little cardio into my week, or getting fresh air as opposed to working out in my basement as I usually do. But as the warmer season has hit Saskatchewan and the world has basically ground to a halt, I’ve started to use my bike more and more.
My season started off pretty simply; a quick 10k here, a smooth 20k there… But as I’ve been going on further outings and pushing myself harder and further, I’ve been increasing the mileage I accumulate with every trip. About a week ago, I racked up 31 kilometres. I felt a tad on the hurty side the following day, but I pushed through and recovered nicely. Last Saturday, I achieved 40 kilometres in just about 2 hours.
When I got home, I’ll admit I was pretty exhausted. My legs hurt, I was sweaty as shit and all I wanted was a nap. But I overall, I felt damn good. It got me to thinking… I can keep pushing myself and going further and further as I train. It’s what I’ve been doing for years. Cycling is simply the newest fitness niche I’ve fallen into. But I’ve started to wonder how I can use this to potentially help others.
Since I’ve already reached 40 kilometres, why not 50? 60? 80? At 80 kilometres, I can reach Moose Jaw from Regina. I can also reach Strasbourg, where a couple of friends reside so that I have a familiar location to make a stop before returning home. Yay me! So how can I use this to benefit others, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked that question…
Since we’re just past mid-May, I can easily contribute the next two months to interval training in order to increase the amount of distance I can reach with every outing. My intention is to cycle several hundred kilometres, let’s say 200, at end of summer. That would put me safely within reach of Saskatoon from Regina. I want to reach out to Diabetes Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Diabetes Association, and obtain some assistance in turning my trek into a fundraising initiative in favour of my cycling.
If necessary, I intend to increase the distance. Hell, why not Portage La Prairie, Manitoba or Winnipeg? Go for the big 500 kilometres? As long as I’m willing to take breaks when necessary and keep my meals carb-rich as I travel, I’m confident I can make any distance I set my mind to. So why not leave a mark to better the world while I still can? Makes sense, right? What the hell else have I got to do at the moment?
Let me know, in the comments, what your thoughts are or if you believe I’m totally off my rocker. Doesn’t mean I won’t do it, but I’d appreciate everyone’s input… ☯
Depending on what your motivation may be, working out by yourself can suck. Royally. On the other hand, certain activities that I train in, like meditation, learning a new karate form or burning off steam on a punching bag, can work quite well when I’m alone. But it stands to reason that having a partner when you break a sweat can have some measurable, noticeable and unexpected benefits.
When I first started the martial arts, I felt exposed. I’m sure some of you have been there; you walk into an environment where EVERYBODY knows more than you do. Potentially. So even though you happen to be standing at the back of the class, you feel like everyone’s eyes are on you, judging you, watching you excessively sweat and gasp for air as they go through the motions barely showing any effort… Nah? Just me? Whatever… let’s carry on…
According to an online article I found on NBC News of all places, working out in a group has the benefit of others’ healthy habits rubbing off on us. The article states that a 2016 study found that “overweight people tend to lose more weight if they spend time with their fit friends […]” Which can certainly make sense if all the time you spend with said “fit friends” happens to be at spin class, yoga, zumba, cycling and etc.
Certainly, there is a great deal to be said for the accountability factor, where it’s more difficult to skip the workout when it’s part of a pre-organized program with others. And you inevitably end up kicking your workouts into high gear in order to accommodate and keep up with others who are doing the same. The above-linked article touches on these aspects as well.
All of this can certainly be true of karate. After those first few classes, I found myself pushing hard to keep up with the other students. Karate is one of those “keep up or be left in the dust” environments where you’re totally free to move at your own pace, but eventually it just won’t be enough. But the camaraderie that develops once you start holding your own is particular. It’s one of the aspects I most enjoy within the dojo.
Ultimately, working out with a friend or loved one doesn’t just keep you accountable through fewer skipped workouts. It can also encourage you to try out new exercises or activities you may not have thought of and may encourage you to push harder in order to keep going. Surprisingly, you may even catch yourself working out for longer periods as you’ll discover something other than fitness. You’ll discover that working out with a partner is fun.
My wife and I occasionally enjoy some fitness circuits together. She’s a champ and is always a good sport, no matter what I throw at her. I enjoy it a great deal, because it not only helps her to stay fit and get the blood pumping, it also allows me to include her in an important aspect of my life. So working out with your spouse is very important. It doesn’t have to be an all-out sweat storm that flattens you for the next couple of days; I rather save those for my friends whose suffering I enjoy (looking at you, Jayden!).
In closing, working out with a partner can also ensure your safety. If you happen to be doing something like lifting heavy weights or hiking in a remote area, having someone with you can ensure that you’ll have immediate help should something go wrong, which can be an important aspect if you happen to have Diabetes and suffer a low at an inopportune time. Not to mention that a little healthy competition amongst friends or loved ones is never a bad thing. So get out there and challenge yourselves. The only limits are the ones we set ourselves. ☯
I don’t deny that one could say I became a Buddhist almost by accident. I hadn’t even HEARD of Buddhism when I started martial arts in the late 80’s, yet here I am. Decades later, constant study and trying to follow the right path. A good portion of my story is a prime example of cause and effect. As I progressed in the martial arts, I was introduced to concepts such as Budo, Bushido’s code and my first introductions to Buddhism.
Despite the accidental introductions (or not so accidental, if one believes that all things happen for a reason) there have been a number of measurable benefits to my years of Buddhist study and martial arts. I originally got into martial arts for the purposes of improving my health, and it has turned out to provide more benefit than that scrawny kid ever could have imagined when he set out on the journey…
There’s no denying that the martial arts has provided me with a number of significant advantages. The physical requirements and exercise has helped to improve my insulin sensitivity and fight off insulin resistance. The intense training has provided me with better blood circulation, which as most of you likely know, is VERY important to someone with Diabetes. Measurable improvements in body mass and appetite followed, allowing me to survive well past the window of expectation that most of my doctors had for me in the late 80’s, early 90’s.
When I started studying Buddhism, some of the most important aspects that I began to work on were mindfulness, meditation and control of my inner thoughts and emotions. This is not to say that I don’t display emotions (my wife can attest to that), but my practice has allowed me to control how I externalize my reactions and emotions. Over the years, this has allowed me to deal with problems and face issues in my personal and professional life in an almost detached manner that allows for logic to step in and for the emotion to come out at a later time.
Something I need to point out is that most people automatically associate Buddhism with meditation, but the truth is that you can reap the benefits of meditation on its own. Not only from a Diabetes standpoint but for people in general, meditation can do a world of good. This is becoming a well-known fact, and plenty of people are getting on board. Meditation is offered/taught in some places of work, schools and a variety of classes where different varieties of meditation are taught.
And yes, there are different types of meditation. Some of the most popular ones are transcendental meditation, focused meditation, mantra meditation and relaxation meditation are but a few, and it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with the meditation that you do. Just like there are a variety of types of yoga and types of martial arts.
But some of the benefits of meditation can include lowering one’s blood pressure, controlling pain within the body, improving one’s sleep, helps one to focus and increase self-awareness and helps with stress and anxiety. All of these things can be helpful with the control of blood sugars and overall Diabetic health. You can find introductory classes on guided meditation in most major cities, and there are plenty of books on the subject as well. Be sure to keep an open mind, and if it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t be afraid to seek out different classes as every instructor or teacher may have a different method of imparting the knowledge.
I may have fallen into some of what I do by accident or coincidence, but I’ll never look back. One of the beautiful aspects of meditation is that you can basically do it anywhere. All you need is a comfortable place to sit/lie down, whatever your preference may be. ☯
You know, one of the hardest aspects of trying to get/stay in shape, is judgement from others. Let’s be honest… We can say we don’t give a shit what others think until the cows come home. But the reality is that having someone else, even a total stranger, tell us that we’re out of shape or don’t look “ideal” is always a bit of a downer. Which is why I don’t understand why people do it.
The most popular example of this, would be a particularly heavy-set individual going to a public gym in the hopes of losing some weight and improving themselves. Then having one and/or many assholes, in their ignorance, point and laugh, thereby discouraging the person from going to the gym again. It’s a nasty cycle of behaviour against one’s fellow human, and you’d think we’d have surpassed it. Especially in a modern society where everyone is so damned sensitive about the least of things. But I digress…
Last Saturday (May 2nd) I took to the streets for a quick run on my bike. I like biking. Those of you following this blog have likely come to be VERY aware of this. And today was not an exception to that rule, as I decided to go rack up some mileage. As I have been trying to maintain a minimum of three fitness session of any kind every week for my year-long resolution, I had little choice but to do something as I only had two workouts on the books. I know, I know… Bad me!
I was about 10 kilometres in when I decided to do a lap of Mount Pleasant. Now, Mount Pleasant is a rounded hill of grassed landscape that is surrounded by soccer, baseball and football fields. It’s one of the nicer parks of its kind in Regina. It also has a reasonable elevation for someone cycling around its trail. Usually, I cut straight to Mount Pleasant from my home and do a circuit, sometimes two, immediately at the beginning of my journey. On this occasion, I chose to wait until halfway through my intended distance in order to be closer to exhaustion when I climbed the hill. This allowed for a deeper burn and when I cycled down and around the trail back towards the streets, I was bushed. And breathing hard.
As I come around a corner, I spot to young girls sitting on a park bench on the edge of the trail. As luck would have it, the song I was listening to ended just as I passed them and I heard one of them say, “Wow, listen to him gasping for air! He must really be out of shape…” I rode on without commenting, but something deep inside me resented being told I was out of shape, especially since these two little brats had no idea how far I had travelled at that point.
I know I’m not. I’m no 80’s Schwartzenegger, but considering I do multiple bouts of martial arts, cycling and circuit workouts every week (not to mention keeping up with a hyperactive 5-year old), I would hardly fit the standard definition of being out of shape. So why do we care? Why would anyone care what someone else thinks about their physical shape? It all comes down to aspects of social acceptance, being included and feeling valued by the people around us. It stems from an evolutionary need to be included in the pack, or face dying alone.
But the reality is that it doesn’t matter. Breathe hard if you need to. because I’ll tell you something: If you’re not breathing hard, if you’re not sweating buckets and if you’re not struggling to finish that workout… Then, my friend, you aren’t working out hard enough. Even if you are working harder than two little snowflake brats with their yoga apparel that’s likely never seen a drop of sweat and their off-the-cuff opinions of others… But once again, I digress… ☯
We had a warm, balmy afternoon of 20 degrees Celsius on Monday afternoon. This was a perfect time for me to take advantage and hit the road on the bike. I sold my black mountain bike a few days ago, as it no longer suited my needs and wasn’t allowing me to reap the full benefits due to improper sizing and tire issues. I have been using my wife’s bicycle for the past month, which is described as a “comfort” bike. This basically means that it’s mostly meant for riding on hard surfaces, such as pavement, and isn’t meant for gain on gravel and difficult surfaces.
We drove an hour up the highway to meet with my mother-in-law for a “social distancing” appropriate meeting, where we all stayed in our respective vehicles and chatted from several feet away. Once we travelled back home, I loaded up the bike and took off on a southern route to reach Wascana Lake, which is a man-made lake sitting near the Parliament building in Regina.
I pedalled down Broad Street and was remarkably surprised at people’s ignorance to a cyclist in clear view. I was almost struck repeatedly by passing vehicles, not least of which was a city bus that seemed to think it was a god idea to cut across my front to make a right-hand turn, despite my clear intention to go straight. Despite the many moving obstacles (or maybe I was the obstacle to them, depending on one’s perspective) I made it from my home to the lake in just under 20 minutes.
Once I reached the lake, I noticed that the City of Regina had altered the travel path that circumvents the lake to be in one direction only. So everyone who was walking, jogging or cycling was doing so in a clockwise direction. I usually love driving around the lake, as the view and the wildlife is usually plentiful. Getting around the lake proved much more difficult on a bike, since nobody on the trail seemed particularly interested in making way for a passing bike.
But the lake was a sight, the weather was beautiful and I was getting my workout in, so it more than made up for all the little inconveniences. Between the people and vehicles in the way and the stop-and-go nature of the traffic lights on Broad Street, it took me just short over an hour to go down to the lake, make one full circuit and make my way home. Not my best time, but it was still a good sweat.
During these restricted times, it’s important to take advantage of some fresh air and get a workout outside. Whether it’s a jog, a walk or a bike ride… Even a back yard kicking a ball around with your children will do. Staying active and getting some fresh air will go a long way towards helping you get through quarantine/self-isolation. ☯