Breaking The Wanted Cycle…

When you tell someone that you have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, they automatically assume that you’re a neat freak or have to organize everything you set your eyes on. However, what most people don’t realize is that there are many different types of OCD and how a person behaves faced with a specific type will differ from person to person. For example, you can have someone who is afraid of germs or being contaminated. This can also be considered as a germaphobe, of course. Then you have the person who always has to finish something they start or has to see something completed, the person who needs order and proper arrangement and the final one, which is a person who will often harbour aggressive and violent thoughts.

One of the important things to remember is that those aspects can often be attributed to other conditions, so if one is thinking that one may have OCD, it’s important to be assessed by. A medical professional. In my case, I have the pleasure of living with a form of OCD that not only sees me try and organize everything I see so that there’s some semblance of order, it also sees me wanting to continue something until I feel it’s finished or completed. Try living that way when you have a full household, including two small children, one of which thinks he’s putting out a house fire every fucking time he uses the bathroom. But I digress,,,

I had enough insight to have myself assessed and evaluated when I went to college and discovered that not only did I have OCD, I also had ADHD, which explained the majority of the attention and cognitive issues I had throughout my formative years. A combination of self-discipline, karate and trying to keep myself from dying due to Type-1 Diabetes complications allowed me to overcome the ADHD aspect. The OCD part of me is a bit more difficult to combat. Especially because I often find myself not wanting to. Although it’s mostly the OCD, I also enjoy organization and order. I prefer to have things neat, clean and see things to their completion. Like an addict who enjoys their fix and refuses to quit, stopping things can be difficult for me, once I’ve started.

In recent years, the appearance of PTSD symptoms have added an unwanted guest to my little acronym party. And since some of those symptoms can mimic or aggravate the OCD and ADHD symptoms, coping can be a significant challenge, especially since some of my earlier coping mechanisms are no longer available. One of the things I’ve been doing in recent years, is writing this blog. Believe it or not, once I started, I had difficulty stopping. And realistically, I don’t want to. It really only became a problem when I started building up a posting streak. It started with me posting for a hundred days in a row, then a couple of hundred. It became a fixed routine that I would write and post something at the absolute butt-crack of dawn so that my followers would have something of mine to read, first thing in the morning.

Before I knew it, I had decided on a goal of writing without missing a day for a full calendar year. At one point, I actually got a couple of weeks away from accomplishing that goal before I somehow missed a day and had to start from scratch. I got it on the second attempt and decided I should try for a cool 1,000 days in a row. I reached that goal just recently and found myself wondering what my next goal should be. I decided I should write as ideas came to me instead of trying to accomplish a fixed goal. However, Mr. OCD still wouldn’t let me skip a day and managed to see me post on a daily basis beyond my 1,000 posts. It took a major amount of effort to actually skip a day and even then, I racked my damaged brain all day, trying to figure out something quick I could post. But I did it.

Then, I managed to take another step in breaking a cycle; I haven’t posted in five days. The first couple of days felt wrong, but I have to admit that by day five, it was kind of nice knowing I didn’t have to sit in front of the keyboard before or after a long day’s work and come up with material to write. Change doesn’t come easy for me and I actually WANT to carry on with my blog, which makes it all the harder. But maybe this is a different type of challenge or goal for me to accomplish. I just commented to my wife that my blood pressure has been significantly lower in the past few days. Less things to complete in my daily routine can mean less stress, which would certainly help lower blood pressure.

This may also be why I’ve been sleeping better, recently. Lately, once I go to bed and fall asleep, I pass out like a rock and don’t wake up until my alarm goes off. Or my insulin pump wakes me. But still… Who would have thought that better blood pressure would make things better. Maybe I need to start listening to my doctors more… The point is, despite my OCD, I still have it within myself to change habits and improve things for myself. And that’s important. Betterment and improvement of self are important aspects of eliminating the suffering in one’s own life. ☯️

Beef Isn’t JUST What’s For Dinner…

It’s a pretty typical scene… The parents work towards preparing a family dinner and everyone sits at the table. One of the children takes one look at their plate and says, “That looks yucky, I don’t wanna eat it…” I’ll give you three guesses as to what he’s pointing at but you’ll only need one. That’s right, he was referring to his vegetables. It’s a pretty common story, one that often carries one into adulthood. I mean honestly, if you put meat, potatoes and veggies on my plate and told me I could only pick two, it’s a pretty clear bet about which of the three would get left behind.

People will often go for the food choices that appeal to their taste and preference, which, on the one hand, makes quite a bit of sense. As an adult, most assume they’ve “done their time” with being told what to eat during their childhood and so, they’ll eat as they see fit during adulthood. Although that concept makes sense in theory, it only carries you as far as what tastes good on your tongue and doesn’t say much for the fact that proper nutrition requires some of the tasteless green stuff that most of us prefer not to have.

in fact, good healthy and proper nutrition requires everything that people who claim to be tying to get healthier avoid. One big one is carbohydrates. On the one side, I try and keep my carbs as low as possible since the more carbs I eat, the more insulin I have to take. Increased carbohydrates can also lead to weight gain, which is a significant pain in the ass to a Type-1 Diabetic in his 40’s who may be trying to slim down the inflated dad-bod. But I the sad reality is that carbs represent a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario, where you need carbs for energy to work out but only the calorie deficit that cutting carbs can bring will lead to weight loss.

For the most part, if I’m eating something and I anticipate working out, I’ll reduce or omit vegetables and carbohydrates since they also act as fillers. Nothing worse than trying to work out and put your all into something when your gut is full and you’re struggling to breathe for two reasons. Although most fitness gurus will agree that the only way to lose weight properly is to burn more calories than you take in, there has to be a balance. You need energy to exercise but you need to reduce the amount of food that gives you said energy in order for that exercise to slim you down.

So, what if you just fight through it? What if you decide you’re an absolute champ and can reduce your carb and calorie intake and just hammer through the effort? There are a number of symptoms and effects that you’ll likely feel as a result, and none of them are pleasant. I found a lovely little article posted by HealthLine.com that covers some of the worst ones quite nicely…

The top one is that you’ll be low on energy. If your take in less than the minimum calories you need in a day, your resting metabolic rate will lower and you’ll constantly feel tired because your body can’t support everything. This can sap your motivation and lead to skipping exercise because you just don’t have the energy? Sound familiar? I may or may not have written a post recently about that very thing. Self-recognizing certain health issues can go a long, long way. But I digress…

Being constantly hungry is another issue. And it plays into the old scenario where you go on a diet and try to lose weight, only to crash and binge-eat on a cheat day because your body is craving the calories you’re missing. It’ll also affect the quality of your sleep. So even if you sleep for eight hours because you’re exhausted from the low energy, that sleep won’t rejuvenate you and will likely be poor, especially if you feel hungry while trying to fall asleep.

There’s a host of other potential symptoms, including irritability, anxiety and constipation. You can click on the HealthLine link above to read further details on all of the symptoms they’ve listed. The reality is that while trying to decide how best to reduce your waistline, you need to be cautious and not reduce your calorie intake so far as to affect the very results you’re trying to achieve. I prefer to keep my meals low-carb, if not only because of the insulin requirement but for the weight loss effort. However, some of the symptoms I’ve described above have been what I’ve been feeling over recent months, which makes me raise an eyebrow. ☯️

A Little Light Before The Dawn…

I’ve always found that old expression, “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” to be wildly inaccurate. I know it’s meant to be metaphorical, but from a literal standpoint, it’s completely wrong. but before I go off on a tangent, today’s post is about more than inaccurate sayings. The winter months bring about a score of issues that the everyday person needs to deal with. Considering the snow, cold, needing to shovel, road and weather hazards and the fact that almost everyone else seems to turn into the world’s worst drivers on account of road conditions (I’m a little bit biased), it kind of seems as though the winter months make it safer and more worthwhile to just stay home and hidden under some warm blankies…

The winter months can be harsh on a person. Since it stays dark for so much longer during the day, it can feel as though one lives in perpetual darkness, especially if your work keeps you indoors all day. Most days, I wake up and it’s still dark outside. I make my way to work in the dark and by the time I typically leave the office for home, it’s either getting dark or full-on dark. This can play havoc on a person’s energy levels and motivation. Contrary to what many of my colleagues would say, a person needs a certain level of daylight in their lives. Not only is this important in order to balance out one’s circadian rhythm but for vitamin D and shit.

The lack of motivation that the winter months bring can affect one’s motivation to do some of the little things through the course of your day, such as working out, spending time with family and ensuring proper nutrition. In fact, most days during the winter, all I want to do is flop down on the couch and binge-watch television for an hour or two before crashing for 12 hours or more. As nice as that sounds, I usually leave the house and get to work around 7 o’clock in the morning and leave work at 4:30 to 5 o’clock, making for a 10-hour day. If I followed that up with 12 hours of sleep, that would only leave about 2 hours of free time per day, which kind of sucks.

It can be pretty easy to allow the rigours of the day and darker, greyer winter weather get you down and keep you from doing what needs to be done to ensure proper nutrition and health. It takes a bit of a push in order to ensure you don’t get kicked in the balls by the winter blahs. And they can sneak up on you without notice. Eat well, exercise regularly and check your blood sugars often. Eventually, the snow will melt, the weather will warm up and weekend coffees on the back deck can become the norm again. ☯️

Whoopsie…

Well, there you have it folks… After 1,036 straight days of posting, I neglected to submit a post to go live, yesterday. I guess it was bound to happen eventually. After I hit my 1,000-post goal, I was left wondering what my next goal would be with this blog. Theoretically, with the height of the pandemic come and gone and the fact I’m back to work full time, there would be few practical reasons for me to keep hammering to write something EVERY day. In fact, achieving my 1,000 was reasonably anti-climatic, with only one or two acquaintances acknowledging the milestone, even through my blog. But I digress.

I’d like to say that this oversight (if it can be called that) was the result of something external that simply prevented me from writing, but such is not the case. In fact, I had ample opportunity to sit at the keyboard and get something on paper (or rather, on screen), I simply chose not to. Oddly enough, when Thursday evening hit, I felt a strange wave of something come over me. It wasn’t quite nausea, not quite dizziness, tinged with an unfortunate feeling of sleepiness. Not tired or fatigued, like after a long day’s work but actually sleepy.

Given that this can easily happen and having a night where one is sleepy isn’t unheard of, I made certain my blood sugars were level and crashed with no second thought given to how I was feeling. It wasn’t until I noticed the following day that this strange feeling had not only remained but appeared to be worsening. I told my wife about it and we discussed some potential reasons behind the feeling. Given that I recently discovered blood pressure issues, I checked that often but it was normal.

Friday nights are usually my night with Nathan, where we watch videos, play games and eat junk food in the basement. Although we still did this, I wound up crashing at about 10:30 pm, unable to stay awake any longer. I slept solidly and had no issues during the night but imagine my surprise when I woke up and checked the time to see it was past noon! I haven’t slept in that late since I was in my early 30’s. I struggled to get out of bed and quickly realized that my bed was in a fog and I could have easily slipped back insert he covers and fallen back asleep. I started to get concerned…

I made my way upstairs and spoke to my wife about it. I still went about my Saturday and ran errands, went out, even purchased a new television for the living room. All the while, I still felt foggy and couldn’t quite put a finger on what was causing the issue. Saturday night was almost as bad as Friday, with my wife unceremoniously putting me to bed when our toddler went down. I woke up around 10:00 am on Sunday morning and we did some running around as a family, followed by a much-needed 2-hour nap in the afternoon.

I basically spent the majority of my weekend sleeping, which really irks me as I usually have workouts and family plans and things I want to get done. Now, as I try and get at my Monday with the workweek starting anew, I still feel the thin veil of this sleepiness but it appears to be passing. Although paying close attention to all things required (blood sugars, blood pressure, hydration, etc) I still have no idea what may have had me so tired and in a funk. Maybe it’s just mood-based. Light knows I’m a moody bastard! Getting medical attention is no longer a promising prospect, given the state of most hospital emergency rooms, so keeping myself healthy has never been more important. ☯️

Unexpected Bumps In The Road…

I’m certainly no stranger to the complications and difficulties that accompany living with type-1 Diabetes. I was diagnosed at the age of four, meaning that I’ve had to live with this condition for over four decades at this point. I’ve learned a lot in those years, going from an ignorant kid who simply thought all he had to do was “not eat sugar” and take a daily shot and I was golden. Multiple complications and coma episodes later, my knowledge and understanding has expanded a bit, to say the least.

These days, I have the benefit of a broader knowledge base, including but not limited to carb-counting, proper bolusing, ratios and exercise. Weight management and frequent blood sugar monitoring are also key, and I have the benefit of significant technology that wasn’t readily available to me in 1982 when I was diagnosed. All of this has made my life significantly easier than what it could be, if these aspects didn’t exist.

As a result, I’ve managed to avoid some of the nastier side effects of Diabetes, such as blindness, amputation and/or major organ failure. This is something that I work hard at avoiding, with only mild issues with my eyes requiring the lovely injections I receive every eight weeks. So for the most part, I’m GENERALLY used to things going my way, with some exceptions that often can’t be avoided but are usually explainable. Except when they’re not.

I’m sure every T1D has been there; your work day is winding to a close, you plan on hitting a solid workout right when you get home and are even listening to some high-octane, motivational music on your way home to get your in the right frame of mind for fitness. You make a brief stop on the way home to grab a couple of things and suddenly, BAM! Your pump vibrates… This happened to me on Wednesday when I was headed home. From there, my evening would certainly NOT go according to plan…

I was walking down the aisle at a local pharmacy, grabbing lip balm for my son, when my pump vibrate that I had dropped below normal blood sugar levels. Although this was a bit of a concern, I figured it would correct itself once I got home and grabbed a bit of fast-acting carbohydrates. I got home and did so, still intent on working out once I had brought my levels up a bit. Unfortunately, life rarely cares about one’s plan and although what I consumed usually kicks in within ten to fifteen minutes, I continued to drop.

At its lowest, my blood sugar levels reached about 2.4 mmol/L. Anyone who recognizes and is aware of blood sugar levels know that I was riding a dangerous line towards slipping into medical distress. In a bit of a panic, I started consuming everything I could get my hands on; jellybeans, gummies and half a full sleeve of candy cane Oreos that my wife had purchased. I hammered hard at the food and ate like a man possessed. Usually I’m all for eating a bit and letting things catch up, but given how low I was dropping, I was concerned the drop would overrun my ability to treat for it.

After about twenty minutes, I checked my blood sugars and saw a 4.1 mmol/L reading, so I was confident my levels were finally coming up. I went to the bedroom to lie down while things levelled out, which I’m grateful for my wife, who understood what was happening and didn’t question why I was heading to bed at 5 o’clock in the evening. Shortly thereafter, I fell asleep and actually napped until about 6:30 p.m. where I woke up groggy and feeling as though I had been hit by a bus. My blood sugars had levelled off at about 11.0 mmol/L.

Probably one of the biggest issues that folks living without Diabetes don’t understand, is how realistically hard on the body it is to have blood sugars go from one extreme to the other like that. The effect includes extreme exhaustion, hence the nap. But finding the get-up-and-go after an episode like that is nearly impossible. And the worst part is that there was absolutely no rhyme or reason behind why it happened.

I could understand if I had missed a meal or had already worked out, that I could expect a low. But this came completely out of left field. And such is the way of it, sometimes. Diabetes is a difficult condition to navigate. All the more reason, as my lovely wife has reminded me, to keep snacks and fast-acting carbs in the family vehicle for just such occasions. ☯️

Unfamiliar Sweat…

As part of my recent decision to try and better myself all around, fitness plays an integral role in maintaining a healthy body and regulating blood sugars. For most people, this can mean joining a local gym or fitness group or working out from home. For me, the latter is preferable because I can do what I want when I want and I don’t have to follow others or wait on people using machines that I might want. Not everybody feels this way though and it would be inaccurate to say that there aren’t some benefits to using an outside gym. yesterday, when i got to my hotel in Saskatoon, I had a bit of free time as the roads were better than I anticipated and I had two choices; kick back and relax before heading to the hospital or hit the hotel’s gym… Guess which one I chose?

Normally, I arrive in Saskatoon, check into my room, unpack my necessities so that I’m not groping around for them when I get back and have lost most of my vision and then make my way to the hospital for what is almost always a delayed process where they’re running late. On this visit, I actually had a couple of hours to spare before my scheduled appointment. I changed into gym wear and made my way down to the hotel’s gym. A reasonable space, I could see it becoming somewhat cramped if there were more than one or two people in it. But, the space had everything one needs for exercise, including free weights, a couple of cable machines and at least one of every type of cardio machine (elliptical, treadmill and stationary bike).

I put in a solid thirty minutes of resistance training followed by about fifteen minutes of fast-paced elliptical to cap off my workout. It was good times, despite the fact that I forgot my Bluetooth headphones or earbuds at home and had no way of listening to music while I worked out. Talk about first-world problems, right? But I got a solid workout in and worked up a wicked sweat, which was nice. It felt good knowing that I had done the workout and wouldn’t squander the extra time. Typically, I don’t get much done prior to my appointment and once I get the eye injections, I sleep it off for a couple of hours followed by some time in the pub, having dinner and a couple of pints to fight off the pain. This was a nice change.

Reasonably, one can hammer out a workout just about anywhere. With only a six-by-six foot floor space, I have a wicked marine workout that uses body weight only and will absolutely kick your ass. By that logic, it could be easily done in the hotel room. But sometimes it can be fun and keeps things fresh, using machines and resources you don’t typically have access to. Every little workout counts and helps contribute to better health, better weight management and better overall blood sugar control. It can be SO easy, finding an excuse not to work out. And the body usually prefers being at rest because it’s designed to reserve energy. But if you can find it within yourself to push a little and hammer through, not only do you get to tell your body I told you so, but it’ll thank you in the long run. Food for thought. ☯️

Getting A Chilly Response…

No, this isn’t a post about someone giving me the cold shoulder, although my shoulders certainly were a bit on the chilly side for a while. The unfortunate things happen when the thermometer drops… After all, your car never fails to start during the warm, summer months. It’s always right in the middle of January, when you’ve got -50 degrees with the wind chill, that several cranks of the key will yield no response. And such is life, right? Last night, we had that same situation happen but with something that is ironically nestled snuggly within the arm confines of our home… Our furnace.

Furnaces are wonderful. They keep you warm during the winter and maintain the overall ambient temperature of one’s household. During the autumn of 2021, we had a brand new furnace and air conditioner installed as part of the overall renovation of our basement. It made sense at the time, since walls would be going up that would likely be damaged if we replaced it later on. Long story short, our furnace is less than a couple of years’ old, meaning that the expectation is that it’ll continue to chug along and function properly. What is it that I always say at moments like these? Something about life not caring about one’s plans, right?

I quietly sitting on my rocker in the basement while Nathan looked up his umpteenth video on YouTube on how to build some particular thing in Minecraft. Since I’ll be leaving town for the evening this morning for my eye injections, I was busy doing laundry, cleaning out the basement and ensuring everyone got their Sunday showers before heading back to school. That’s when my wife came downstairs and explained that she had the thermostat set at 72 degrees but that the house temperature was currently sitting at 66 degrees. 66 isn’t the be all, end all of cold temperature but for a household used to hovering at about 70 during the winter months, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

We did all the usual “due diligence” steps before considering calling someone; we checked the furnace breaker, took off the furnace panels and made sure nothing appeared broken or disconnected, checked the filter… Nothing. So, despite it being quite late into the evening and would costs significantly more, we contacted a local furnace company to come see what the problem was. To do otherwise would have meant that the house would have become dangerously cold for the family overnight so I would have had to put us up in a hotel or something, the cost of which I could simply contribute to having the furnace looked at and everyone stays home. I know, I know… first-world problems…

Anyway, this very skilled and capable gentleman comes in and discovers that we’re missing a particular drain on the furnace, which is causing humidity to come in from the outdoors. Although it had been reasonably humid lately, he felt it was strange that after almost two years’ of use, we had never encountered this issue before. He went outside and discovered small footprints around the vent pipes, suggesting that Nathan may have been walking around there. Considering we had basically forced Nathan out to play yesterday, we began contemplating that the little fucker may have stuffed a bunch of snow down the vent pipe, which the engineer made very clear could have caused all the water backup into the furnace.

Nathan was already in bed and asleep but the engineer got the furnace working and true to his word, it kept working all night. In fact, I hear it belching out warm air now. The engineer is slated to return today to install a replacement part for what was damaged due to the water and now I get the fun parenting task of trying to determine if my son is actually responsible and explaining why it was a bad thing. Getting the truth out of a child when they assume they may be in trouble is always a bit problematic. But there’s no denying that by the time today’s repair is completed, we’ll likely be looking at a cool grand in costs. Fun, right?

Life doesn’t care about one’s plans. It’s almost a guarantee that the furnace wouldn’t have given out during the summer months because we don’t use it (besides the fan for air circulation). But when the x-factor to all the damage is your own child, it adds a bit of vinegar into the paper cut. Que sera… We’re still very fortunate to live in a comfortable home with very few issues with food on our table and clothes on our back. Not everyone is so fortunate. Stay warm, everyone! ☯️

The Matrix Has You…

There’s no denying that modern life has led to the here and now; a world where everyone (or almost everyone) is plugged in. Computers, laptops, cell phone and tablets are seen and used everywhere with a very small demographic remaining who have either never laid hands on one of those or never will. Our children are no different, with modern life making it almost impossible for someone to raise a child without the use of electronic devices. One good example I can provide is when my son start second grade and his school demanded that we provide him with a device to do his homework on. This blew my mind and I immediately opposed it, as it’s one thing to pay for supplies that are needed but entirely another when you’re expected to buy them an expensive electronic device just to do homework.

My opposition was not well-received, as I was told that any device could be used, including my own cell phone. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not a fan of providing my personal cell to anyone. Beyond the fact that I use it myself as my personal phone line, there’s also my email access, games, alarm, scheduler and social media. My phone is my phone, purchased with my own money for my own purposes. The presumption of being told I can simply hand it off to anyone else is ludicrous to me. But here we are. I ended up giving my son one of the older version cell phones I had, since I never turn them in. He now uses this not only for his school apps but for a few simple games and some streaming services as well. This is combination with the Nintendo Switch we bought him last summer to keep him occupied on our trip out East.

The issue is that my children are fast-becoming people who can’t live without these devices. As a result, my 8-year old, who should be outside, running, playing, climbing and riding a bike, spends his down time on his back or lying on his stomach, watching Netflix Kids and Disney+, playing Minecraft and unfortunately binge-watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. The unfortunate byproduct of this standard is that Nathan is becoming a bit of a lazy shit. Gets home from school, drops his shit and grabs his devices. Wakes up in the morning, walks himself out of the bedroom and grabs his devices. All weekend, stays on his devices. Drives me absolutely batty!

I grew up on the Northern shores of New Brunswick, where I spent my down time in the forests, swimming in brooks and playing outside. I put so many kilometres on my bike that I usually ended up needing a new one every couple of years. Maybe that had something to do with my growth, though. My point is, we’ve been trying to get Nathan more physically involved with the everyday life outside the house. Considering we have some pretty nice weather on occasion, our new standard has been that if he wants his device, he needs to spend an hour outdoors, first. Not if there’s a snow storm or bad weather, obviously. But in general and overall.

Our idea has also been poorly received. Considering that yesterday morning, I was able to sleep in quite late (pretty bad that between 9 and 10 am is now considered late) before my toddler woke me by scaring the living shit out of me, I didn’t start out my Saturday on the best note. But I made it clear to Nathan that he was getting no screens until he spent an hour outdoors. In true, teenage form, he decided it was a better and easier option to curl up in a blanket and sulk than just go outside. It was -3 degrees. That’s almost cut-off jean shorts weather. Never mind the fact that the time he used to sulk about not getting his screens, he could have easily burned through an hour outside.

Look, I get it… It’s 2023 and everyone and everything is tethered to the electronic frontier. There’s no living completely device-free because no matter how you live, you’ll eventually need technology in some given way, shape or form. I just don’t want technology being the only way my children experience life. Ultimately, he conceded and went outside. Although I don’t like that it turned into a negotiation, at least I got him outside. I think it’s one of those scenarios where the parent gets to say, “Someday you’ll thank me…” ☯️

Sometimes, It’s Worth A Listen…

It’s been a little over 20 years since I tasted my first energy drink. I was the manager of the retail side of a local pharmacy back home and Red Bull had just started to hit serious popularity in Canada. This was before Monster, Rockstar and 5-hour energy started seriously hitting the market, although they wouldn’t be far behind. On its face, there isn’t much inherently wrong with consuming an energy drink. The average 473 mL can usually contains about 100 to 140 milligrams of caffeine, realistically making it no worse than two medium cups of coffee from your favourite coffee chain. And I know people who consume far more than that.

The idea behind something like energy drinks is moderation. The average, healthy adult can safely consume about 400 milligrams of caffeine in a day, meaning between four to five average cups of coffee. Like anything else in life, the words “average” and “safely” get thrown around because it depends on the specific person, their physiology, age, weight, pre-existing health conditions and so on. It’s a little like alcohol; I know people who will start to feel tipsy after one drink. Others may not feel anything after several drinks on an empty stomach.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, ever since that first pull of sugar-free Red Bull, I’ve been in favour of energy drinks on a daily basis. I don’t go overboard and suck back several cans a day but I have made a point that my day starts with one. I usually prefer the flavour and the fact it’s cold over the taste of coffee and waiting for coffee to cool down. It’s allowed me to start getting caffeine into my system right away and without burning my tongue. plus, I’ve usually managed to rationalize that buying a full flat of drinks from my local bulk store comes out cheaper than buying a medium coffee at a drive thru on my way to work, so it’s more financially economical, as well.

But recently I start taking some health supplements that I’ve been hoping would help with fitness, weight loss and make me feel a bit more energized overall. The big problem with caffeine is that it actually tricks your brain into thinking you’re less tired; it doesn’t actually help with the fatigue itself. So, these energy drinks often contain massive amounts of B-vitamins and minerals that, while useful to the body, can often constitute five times the daily recommended amount. Not something I want to necessarily keep mixing with an untried fitness supplement, as they can often include some of these things. So reluctantly, I stopped having energy drinks almost two weeks ago. And here is the story of the carnage that ensued…

In all seriousness, I feel like shit. The sudden loss of all those B-vitamins and all the other “energy-providing” additives have had me floating through my day like a well-dressed zombie. I’ve experienced headaches and body aches, irritability and difficulty in keeping my eyes clear. A wise man probably would have tapered off over time rather than quit cold turkey but I’ve never been one for trying anything only half way. With that logic in mind, I consumed the last can I had in the house and then stopped. Many of the symptoms I’m describing here have now started to pass and are no longer a constant, although most mornings I wake up jonesing for a can instead of the cup of black steam that everyone else seems to partake of.

But, since I believe in balance, I need to point out the positive aspects, as well. I had a colleague who often used to tell me that I always seemed different, mood-wise, when I drank energy drinks. The big issue with this is that one usually won’t recognize their own change in mood. So I can’t say that I ever genuinely noticed. But one thing I have noticed is that I get to sleep easier and my rest appears to be deeper than it usually is. Maybe that’s just a coincidence since I never made a habit of consuming energy drinks beyond mid-afternoon anyway, but it’s definitely been noticeable. Prior to this, I’d usually be up three to four times a night at minimum and that wouldn’t include blood sugar issues or simple need of a bathroom. So it’s been kind of nice getting full nights sleep.

So maybe all of this is simply coincidence. Or maybe this is just something that my new health supplement is helping with, overall. Either way, once I got through the initial issues with cutting out energy drinks, and I’ve been avoiding using the word “withdrawal” but it is what it is, there have been some noticeable changes. And maybe for the better. Perhaps it would have been worth the listen, when my colleague told me I was better off without energy drinks. And maybe I am. Does it mean I’ll never have another can again? Probably not. But it makes for some interesting conversations. ☯️

Croaking In A Winter Wonderland…

Wow, I can’t remember the last time I posted something this late in the day. Probably not since my first year of blogging. Sometimes, it gets a little difficult to figure out topics to write about and as my wife occasionally reminds me, I don’t HAVE to post something every day. Most bloggers don’t, in fact. But for me, it’s kind of a “me against me” kind of thing, you know? Anyway, some of my posts have been pretty self-pitying lately so I thought I’d switch gears and move on to something that’s actually productive. And since it’s cold as all fucking hell in Saskatchewan right now, I can’t think of any better subject than, well… the cold!

The cold weather of winter can have some pretty negative effects on the human body. At its least, the body will fight harder to keep your core temperature warm when exposed to cold temperatures. This will cause to body to burn through its energy reserves, leading to the body getting colder, which can lead to difficulty focusing and thinking clearly in extreme weather. Eventual issues can include the aggravation of existing pulmonary issues, such as asthma. The human body is a wonderful machine that works hard to try and keep you warm in colder weather but there’s no denying that the modern homo sapien isn’t biologically designed for extreme colds, which makes me wonder why we live in Saskatchewan. But I digress…

Despite any other health conditions or the risk of hypothermia and frostbite, dealing with Type-1 Diabetes in cold weather can be a challenge, as well. Considering extreme cold aggravates most pre-existing conditions, Diabetes is no exception. Although every person is different, being out in the cold weather usually tends to cause my blood sugars to drop. This is likely a result of my body working so hard to maintain its temperature. In fact, half an hour of being outside in the Prairie winter clearing a bit of snow from the walkway will usually cause a bigger drop in blood sugars than a full hour of weightlifting or cardio.

This is why it’s so important to keep a solid eye on one’s blood sugars when venturing out in the arctic wonderland. Being on a continuous glucose monitor helps, since it allows me to venture out and have a continuous view of how my blood sugars are reacting. It’s not so bad when I’m at home, since I have immediate access to snacks and fast-acting carbohydrates in the event I drop. Things get a bit tougher if I happen to venture out to go sledding or running. Although I have to confess that running in the snowy weather is not my cup of tea. Another important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. People forget that dehydration can happen almost as easily in the cold as it does in the heat.

Last point I’ll bring up is to be mindful when shovelling snow. I’ve attended a lot of incidents during my policing career of people who suffered cardiac arrest while shovelling. The forcing of the muscles and pressure it places on the chest, mixed with the effects of the cold can make shovelling extremely dangerous under the right circumstances. Take frequent breaks, lift with the legs not your back and if you feel faint or dizzy, be sure to stop and take breaks. The snow ain’t goin’ anywhere. Unfortunately… ☯️