No Matter How Much You Love Your Donut, It’ll Never Love You Back…

It almost seems as though they come out with some new fad diet every year. And with every new fad, people are subjected to different angles to trying to lose weight. Some involve cutting out carbohydrates (which is a really dumb idea since it’s our source of fuel), some involve trying to eat like our paleolithic ancestors (which is also another ridiculous concept, since our digestive systems have evolved WAY beyond what our ancestors had) and some involve eating nothing but vegetation (probably my biggest pet peeve, since the human digestive tract is designed to be omnivorous).

The bottom line is that it’s more the fact of what you eat than how much you eat. And also HOW you eat. After all, every person is different and the amount of food you require depends on age, fitness levels, overall health and a score of other factors.

For example, a man of my age, fitness level and size require almost 3,000 calories a day. My wife requires about 1,800 calories and my son would only need somewhere in the range of 1,000 to 1,400 calories (although I swear to the light that his energy level dictates he consumes SOOOO much more!).

Fad diets won’t help you lose weight. I mean, they might… But it severely depends on how you manage your lifestyle in tandem with the diet. Make sure that you consult your health practitioner prior to starting any diet regiment that seriously alters your eating habits from what you’re used to. Combine it with a healthy exercise schedule and watch for any change in your body’s behaviour that may be an issue (chest pains, random sweating, light headedness, etc…)

Last but not least, listen to your body. Dieting shouldn’t leave your stomach grumbling several times a day. If you’re constantly hungry, it’s a sure sign that your body is telling you that you need to eat more.

My Tea Is Green With Envy…

First and foremost, let me clarify that I drink about 3 to 4 litres of water a day. Between my fitness regiment and the facts I have Diabetes, water plays an integral role in my daily routine. But I do have an affinity for tea, and green tea is especially high on the list (with orange blossom and cinnamon being my top choice).

There’s a lot of attention being given to tea. Specifically, green tea. Studies have shown that green tea has a surprising amount of positive effects on the body. Most recently, I read about how drinking at least 5 cups of green tea a day can help in losing weight, most of it in the belly. Since Type 1 Diabetics have difficulty losing weight in the gut due to insulin use, this would be fantastic. True, there are no hard and fast beverages that melt off the fat for you. And it becomes most important to pair your tea consumption with other healthy habits, such as limiting your alcohol intake, eating well and exercising regularly.

Some of the health benefits include, but are not limited to improving blood flow and lowering cholesterol, aiding with blood sugar control and contains a number of antioxidants. These are just to name a few, and the studies are still happening as we speak.

One important benefit is the relaxing routine that comes with consuming tea. In fact, most Buddhist monasteries include the consumption of tea as part of the morning routine, as we believe that it helps with the cultivation of body and mind. It isn’t always necessarily green tea, but it usually involves a similar blend. Green tea has also been used in traditional and holistic medicine for next to forever.

I’ll be trying the whole “5 cups a day” thing for the next little while. In addition to how I’ve been killing myself on a bicycle lately, we’ll see if it does help to trim the gut a touch. I’ll also be watching my blood sugar levels to see what effect it may have. I’ll be providing updates as I go along.

My “short” little bike ride tonight…

So grab yourself a cup of green… When preparing your tea, it is recommended not to use boiling water as it can be damaging to some of the good stuff in the tea. Hot but not boiling water is best, and remove the tea bag once it has achieved the desired strength.

Some good articles that cover the material I’ve written on and more include WebMD (in case y’all haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of this page) and MedicalNewsToday.com. These articles can be read at https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-green-tea#2 and https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269538.php respectively.

Enjoy!

Gotta Get Me Some Of That Fresh Air Everyone Talks About…

I know a lot of people who spend the majority of their lives indoors. It happens naturally, right? Most jobs happen indoors and then when we get home we make meals and rest at home. But there are a lot of benefits to spending some time outside.

The first and most obvious benefit is sunlight. Although it has been proven that tanning and being in the summer sun unprotected isn’t all that great, getting “some” sun will help trigger the body’s production of Vitamin D and has also been shown to help prevent myopia in younger children.

Being outside will help with mental health and has been shown to reduce stress levels. Once outside, people will also tend to be more physical and exercise more. It also allows children o be more physically active, as they have access to space and play structures not available within the house. (For us parents, it also helps to maintain our sanity)

The majority of these benefits apply to adults, as well. I know a lot of fitness buffs who exercise, work out and stay in good shape but practically never go outdoors. I’m a firm believer that exercise is exercise; the benefits will happen regardless. That being said, adding the outdoors aspect will add to those benefits. Today, my family and I cycled to the nearest park, then my son played on the structures for almost an hour before we cycled back home.

So, get outside! The weather is getting nicer and summer is fast approaching. Whether you start with a simple walk or go for a jog or hop on the bike… You can’t go wrong.

The Weight of The World…

Stress. It has become a defining factor of modern day society. Unfortunately, you would be extremely hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t experience some level of stress in today’s world. In fact, even the wealthy and philanthropic have their own stresses, albeit stresses we likely don’t understand.

Some of my more religious associates would say that “God never throws more at you than you can handle…” If this is true, then I must have shoulders of fortified steel.

If stress simply involved worrying about something, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. The major issue with stress is the physiological and psychological effects it can carry with it. Sometimes, even the more trivial symptoms can be overlooked, such as a headache or back ache. But these physical symptoms can often be associated to the stresses on your life. Some of them can be more severe. Depression, change of mood or appetite and constant fatigue despite being unable to sleep can all be caused by stress.

So, what can one do to alleviate this? Well, the most obvious thing would be to eliminate the source of the stress. If possible, that would be the most effective way to reduce and eliminate your symptoms. However, when the stress in your life is caused by something you can’t eliminate, like perhaps your career that you’ve worked your whole life for, eliminating the cause becomes a little more difficult.

There are some traditional ways to manage stress. My obvious go-to and favourite one would include getting regular physical activity. Exercising releases certain hormones and helps to relax you. It also keeps your metabolism up and will help you sleep better. These are all things that will alleviate stress. I can certainly attest to the measurable benefits of working out on a punching bag.

Obviously, I’m a big fan of relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga. But it sometimes becomes hard to focus and concentrate on these things, depending on what’s bothering you.

As appealing as it may seem, you want to try and stay away from hobbies that will leave you sitting idle. Binge watching television or surfing the Internet may seem like a distraction, but in the long term it leaves you in a position where you can dwell on the things that are causing the issue.

Last but not least, prolonged bouts of stress can cause some serious, life-threatening physiological changes. If you notice that you have taken steps to control your stress but it lingers on, it might be time to chat with your doctor. If you start experiencing chest pains, random sweats and dizziness, it could be a sign of a heart attack. Be sure to take good care of yourselves.

Aches and Pains, They Don’t just Happen To Old Guys Like Me!

People who practice a sport or martial art for any length of time will likely suffer from some level of sports injury at some point. Although I’m not a doctor, I’ve suffered my fair share and they tend to keep on coming as I accumulate a larger number to my age (insert “old dog” jokes here).

I think it’s important to understand the difference between an ache, which one might feel after a particularly intense workout, and pain, which can be the result of an injury. If you’re uncertain as to which you’re feeling, you just might have an injury.

Today’s modern lifestyle helps to encourage unfortunate injuries. Most people work a sedentary or desk position from Monday to Friday, then try to become weekend warriors by sliding into home base on the company softball team or laser tag! When we sit idle for long periods of time, our muscles tend to atrophy and tighten up, making it easier to get hurt once you DO engage in physical activity.

The most common injuries are sprains, which is the pulling of the elastic tendons connecting the joints and bones. But there are some common injuries that occur, such as ACL tears or strains, groin pulls, concussions, shin splints and Tennis Elbow. Those all sound pleasant, right? I’ve experienced all of those, on one level or another, EXCEPT an ACL tear.

If you wake up the following morning and your body and muscles in general just kinda seem to hurt, you’ve probably just gotten the ache of a deep workout. However, if you notice swelling, discolouration or excessive pain that feels as though lightning is shooting through the affected area, it signifies an actual injury.

According to an article on WebMD written by Matthew Hoffman, MD, mild injuries can be treated at home by following the PRICE method:

P – Protect From Further Injury: For more severe injuries, protect the injured area with splints or bandages. Obviously this would involve an open wound. Torn muscles or dislocations may simply require splinting or elastic bandaging until you can get to a doctor;

R – Restrict Activity: Stop doing what you’re doing! Continuing to work out when you have an injury will worsen or aggravate it. It’s one thing to “work through the pain”, but continuing to push yourself when you’re genuinely hurt can lead to permanent injury;

I – Apply Ice: Apply ice to the injury immediately. This will help reduce the swelling, which is common with sports injuries. Ice is considered a natural anti-inflammatory without any side effects. Health professionals recommend icing for 20 minutes every 2 hours for the first two days. Contrary to some opinion, professionals don’t recommend heat as it can encourage further swelling;

C – Apply Compression: applying an elastic bandage will help to reduce swelling;

E – Elevate the Injured Area: Raising the injured appendage above the heart will also help to reduce swelling.

If you have aches and mildly pulled muscles, analgesic creams and warming blankets can help alleviate the pain. Over the counter pain killers such as Ibuprofen can also be useful in small doses, and only in the short term. Anything that persists for more than a few days should be examined by a health practitioner.

One of the best preventative measures is, of course to work out regularly. By maintaining a regular exercise regiment, you’re less likely to injure yourself. When you do work out, ensure to perform a light warm-up before starting. Once your muscles and joints are warm, they can be worked and developed with less risk of you hurting yourself.

I Promise It Isn’t A “Man Flu”…

So I took a nap, yesterday afternoon when I started to feel a bit sluggish. My blood sugars were fine and I was waiting for a buyer to come pick up some furniture I’m trying to sell. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was warming the living room and my couch was doing that strange whispering thing: “Go to sleep… Go to sleep…” No? Maybe that’s just me. So, anyway I fall asleep for a short nap. When I awoke a little while later, my head felt as though someone has tightened a vice on it and my throat felt as though it had been refinished with a belt sander. I had apparently caught a cold…

I know, I know… There’s a standing joke that when a guy catches a cold, he makes it seem like it’s the end of the world. Although I know a few guys who fall under this category, I assure you this isn’t the case.

One of the big problems with being a Type 1 Diabetic (Like there aren’t plenty!) is that it compromises one’s immune system and causes one to catch every little bug that comes along.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat. It’s generally harmless, although symptoms often don’t make it feel that way. The average person recovers from the common cold within 5 to 10 days, unless it’s accompanied with a fever or other aggravating factors, and the symptoms usually show up days after you’ve actually caught the cold. The Mayo Clinic website explains this in further detail and can be read here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/symptoms-causes/syc-20351605

For someone with Diabetes, some symptoms become aggravated and blood sugar levels are often affected. This is because the body will release particulars hormones to help combat the viral infection. That added release of hormones makes it difficult for your insulin to be effectively used and can cause a raise in blood sugar levels.

Not that this doesn’t apply to non-Diabetics, but it becomes extremely important to consume fluids regularly to help prevent further issues. This will also help to better control your blood sugar while trying to combat the illness. unlike most people, we don’t have the benefit of a loss of appetite. Although you may not be hungry, a Diabetic needs to try and eat at least small amounts every hour or so.

Over the counter medications are doable, but one has to be sure to read the information label to ensure that they don’t contain sugar. This is especially the case with cough syrups and cough drops.

Test your blood sugar frequently and do your best to try and maintain your levels. The only thing worse than cold symptoms would be slipping into ketoacidosis, which would be side effect of dehydration during illness.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to curl into a ball on the couch with my blankie…

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand…

Abraham Lincoln made the above noted comment as the opening line to his acceptance address for the Illinois Republican Party in 1858. Although I’m not referring to anything political today, I want to discuss foundations.

A good foundation is the basis for any house. And no matter how big and luxurious the house, it will eventually falter if the foundation is weak.

When getting into any kind of sport or martial art, it’s important to bear in mind that you need to learn the basics before you learn what most people consider the “fun stuff”. In my experience, I’ve found that people will often walk into a karate dojo hoping to do flying spin kicks and back flips within their first month. (For the record, in thirty years of karate I have never done either of those as they are all but useless in an actual fight)

One good example is the originator of my karate style, Kanbun Uechi (1877-1948), once explained that when he went to Fujien Province and learned Kung Fu, he spent three years training and practicing Sanchin kata before the monks would teach him anything else. Can you imagine? Doing the same structured form, over and over again, for three straight years before learning something else? Today’s modern student wouldn’t stand for it. But the monks at the monastery swore that Sanchin was the foundation for everything that followed and needed to be mastered first and foremost. Master Uechi went on to share this belief when he propagated the style in Okinawa.

When studying any martial art or sport, it is of the utmost importance that students learn and master the basics before moving on to something else. One would think this is common sense, but I’ve seen far too many students walk away once they realized that repetition was a constant within the dojo. Repetition is key in mastering any movement.

So, make sure you lay your foundation before building your house, and make it a strong one. This will guarantee that no matter how big your house gets, you can count on it being held up by the foundation you’ve taken the time to master.