When You Feel Like A Yo-Yo…

One of the biggest issues I face with Diabetes is the occasions where I become exhausted from going above and beyond what’s required for a normal day. For example, when the average person wakes up, they go to the washroom, wash their face and get breakfast going. Likely, they’re including coffee in that mix. Although if they aren’t, the light help them. But for me, my morning start with the consumption of three different medications, testing my blood sugar and depending on the day I may need to change up my insulin pump’s infusion set. THEN I get to use the washroom and potentially consume breakfast. But caffeine is a must. Obviously. Moving on…

Once in a while, I’ll succumb to this exhaustion in the sense that I’ll skip steps in the process that I likely shouldn’t. this was demonstrated last Tuesday night when my CGM sensor decided to expire at about ten o’clock at night. Now if you know anything about the process for getting one’s CGM going after a replacement, it’s a lengthy one. I’ve written about this before and in fact, I’m pretty certain I’ve thrown up a video of the CGM installation as well, but the bottom line is that it takes anywhere between 4 to 6 hours for a new sensor to be up and running.

This is because once you’ve injected the sensor and installed the transmitter, there’s a 2-hour warm-up period required. then, the pump prompts you for a blood glucose test to calibrate the sensor, followed by another one sometime in the following few hours. Starting this process at 10 o’clock at night when my head should be hitting the pillow doesn’t sound appealing. So, I did the only thing a reasonable and exhausted person in my position would do; I shut off SmartGuard, plugged the transmitter in to charge for the night and went to sleep without it.

That night wasn’t such a huge problem, although I did have a waking blood glucose reading of about 10.4 mmol/L, which is a tad higher than I’m used to. But I could live with that. Since I primarily place my CGM on my triceps, I usually recruit my wife to help install the sensor and transmitter since I can’t see the back of my arm, especially if I’m pre-coffee. Insert whatever nurse-fantasy jokes you’d like, here. But given that she was quite exhausted from dealing with my hyperactive loinfruit the day before and she was still asleep, I figured what the hell…. I’ll go a day without and install it tonight. No biggie, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my insulin pump. Honestly, I can’t understand how I survived as a Diabetic for as long as I have without it. It has the potential to make life SOOOO much easier…. Please note that I used the word “potential” in that sentence. I didn’t think I would ever have to admit that I could become addicted to an electronic device, but apparently I have become incapable of managing my blood sugars properly with the use of a CGM. By the time I got home from work, I had fluctuated from high to low at least three times and I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep.

Let me break down why this scenario is a problem…. When you DON’T use CGM, your pump delivers a pre-programmed base rate of insulin, referred to as a “basal rate.” But as your blood sugars fluctuate, the pump doesn’t take that into account until you test your blood sugar to discover that you’re either high and need more insulin or low and need to eat something. Meanwhile on CGM, SmartGuard will begin to trickle in an extra bit of insulin on top of your basal rate in order to stem higher blood sugars and will set off an alarm if you start going low. The result is better time in range, better overall control and less feeling like you just want to voluntarily curl up into a coffin and stay there. Still with me? Good.

Once I had the CGM installed, my evening started to go a little bit better but my blood sugars somehow managed to creep up a bit. So I corrected. This started a yo-yo effect that lasted through the night. My correction caused a low. In my sleep-induced haze, I ate a few too many jellybeans. Fell back asleep. My many jellybeans caused a high and I was woken by an alarm. I treated. Then I woke with my alarm in the early hours of the morning with a low. Bloody lovely.

Despite the fact that some of that can be attributed to human error (too many jellybeans, etc), it stands to reason that this can happen frequently depending on a number fo different factors. I’ve written about this type of this before but once in a while, it’s good to remind people that it ain’t all joy and jellybeans, even with the advantages of an insulin pump. And that complacency can start to have an effect if you get to used to the technology you’ve been given. ☯️

Be Who You Are, You Aren’t Designed To Be Anyone Else…

Here’s the thing, and you may as well buckle up because this one will be a bit of a rant. I am who I am. I spent a good portion of my youth being someone I wasn’t meant to be. And that’s a horrible way to live, even as a child. As we grow into adulthood, there’s always this great expectation that we’ll conform to certain societal norms and kowtow to the masses. But realistically, we don’t live in that kind of world anymore. And with the advent of social media and the internet, it doesn’t take long for anyone who tries to suppress any individual’s thoughts, beliefs or lifestyle to be swiftly and sometimes radically, put in their place.

I take stock of who I was in my youth (my youth includes both childhood and my teens) and I recognize that I had a lot of work to do. Sure, I studied the martial arts and I worked on my health. But there were a lot of hiccups along the way. I was quiet and withdrawn. I didn’t associate with the world very much, which I’ve come to feel has damaged opportunities and taken away certain options I COULD have had in life. I made myself content with staying in my small corner of the world and ignoring the rest of it, all while doing karate and enjoying my few, small pleasures.

It wasn’t until I reached adulthood and took ownership of certain personal choices that I finally began to open up. Most people who know me now would likely be taken aback by the quiet, pliable and compliant individual I was throughout my youth. Considering how loud and larger than life I tend to be now, all thanks to my specific heritage, no doubt, I think it would come as a shock to most people who knew me “back then.”

What got me here? Honestly, I’ve screwed up during my life. A lot. I’ve made mistakes and errors in judgement that I’ll never be able to take back and that have had real and measurable consequences on the way my life has turned out. I’ve made poor and even bad choices. and have lost friends and loved ones due to my inability to say or do the right thing at the right time. Although some of them are dearly missed, their chosen absence tells me that they weren’t meant to be a part of my overall journey.

I’ve done a lot of good in my life. I’ve done charity, made donations and given away possessions and time. I’ve solved crimes and saved lives and tried to make the world a better place in whatever way I could. I have also done some bad in my life. I’ve failed to be there for people who needed me. I’ve ignored the needs of others and have ended friendships because walking away was often easier than fighting it out. Sometimes in the pursuit of eliminating suffering; sometimes not.

Among all of my direct and indirect actions, my words and choices comes one ultimate result: I am me. For better or for worse, here I am. Some people like me. Some people don’t. Hell, some people hate me. And I KNOW that some people love me. And therein lies the secret to life: it doesn’t care about your plan. And by that very fact, it’s important to recognize that one should never live with regret. Regret is insidious and can only lead to suffering. And it gets you absolutely nothing.

Learn to live with the life you have and you’ll never be without happiness. This isn’t to mean that you won’t ever feel sadness. Or loss. It simply means that your life as a whole will be far happier. Once you let go of hate (and the haters), eliminate the suffering in your own life and do what makes you happy, especially with THOSE who make you happy, you’ll always be on the straight and narrow path to a happier, more enlightened life.

I am me. I am who I am. I may be weird, although I prefer to think unique. I’ll always say exactly what I think and what you see will always be what you get. I find myself incapable of ever being otherwise. Those who know me, know this for a fact. I don’t make friends easily and keep them even less easily, especially once folks get to know the real me. But if you happen to be one of the select few in my life who stick around through the good AND the bad, my love and loyalty will be yours. Without question.

The only down side to being open and always saying what I think, is that it works both ways. If I don’t like you or you bring harm to me or my lobbed ones, you’ll discover that little fact quickly. I make no apologies for turning the page on the story that is my life. As the line from hamlet says, “To thine own self be true.” Life will throw you a lot of curve balls. Some good and some bad will always be inevitable. Such is the balance of life. But so long as you remain true to yourself in all aspects of life, you’ll navigate the good and bad without issue. Food for thought…. ☯️

How Buddha Got His Groove Back…

It’s been a difficult couple of years for the entire world and very few people have gotten away unscathed. The pandemic caused a lot of upset and difficulty for most people, causing the closure of businesses, loss of jobs and the loss of key life experiences that one will never get back, like high school graduation. As society begins to lick its wounds and the world re-opens (for now), I take stock and reflect on the fact that one of the biggest things that has affected me, besides Nathan being kept home from school, is the closure of my karate dojo.

For almost fifteen years, my policing career has dragged me all over Saskatchewan, to an extent where the thought of joining a karate class was a moot point. After all, what’s the point of joining a martial arts school just to have them lose me after the 3 to 5 that the Mounties usually required at any given one spot? So, it was an important step in the right direction for me when I transferred to Regina and found the current dojo that i train in. Imagine the irony, when I was forced to step away when the dojo closed due to the pandemic.

Oh, we tried the old Zoom training thing, as I posted about here. It was alright, per se… But karate isn’t a knitting circle. Eventually, you need some physical contact with an actual partner in order to train and practice certain techniques. We closed up shop for the summer, as we usually do. As Labour Day came and went, i got a little concerned when I didn’t get the customary “back to the dojo” email that I’ve gotten every year for the past five years. Five years… I’ve been training with the Regina Institute of Kempo Karate for five years, Still feels like yesterday…

Anyway, I got the email on Monday for class on Tuesday evening. I walked into the dojo and time melted away. it was two years ago, before the pandemic and lockdown. The same faces and the same class. the same energy and the same mojo. We were back. I was back. It was glorious. We were all a little excited to be chatting and catching up, so we started a little late. AND we took things a little easy to start off the season (I may or may not have pulled a bicep during a ridge punch) but it was a fantastic class. Next one is tomorrow night and I just can’t wait to get back.

I’ve been so focused on cycling and training by myself, I had almost forgotten the importance and value behind training with others. Who knows what the months to come may bring? With all the variants floating around and the way the world is treating the pandemic, things may lock down again shortly. And if they do, so be it. But when opportunities present themselves, it’s important to jump on them while we can. After all, you never know what you got ’til it’s gone. ☯️

Six Of One, Half Dozen Of The Other…

That time came once again to visit my endocrinologist. If you read the previous post, my last appointment was last May, when I received news of the lowest A1C reading I’ve had in almost two decades: 6.9. Why is this reading important? For you non-Diabetics, the A1C results basically calculate a Diabetic’s average blood sugars over a period of three months. Although still an important reading, one’s A1C can be manipulated through extreme highs and lows, making it a less efficient means of proper blood sugar control than one’s percentage of “time in range.” Time in range can’t be manipulated; either your blood sugars are good or they aren’t.

I made my way downtown quite early this morning; well before most businesses were open. The air was crisp and the morning had the feeling of autumn. I was only semi-caffeinated but the walk did its job and woke me up properly before I reached the doctor’s office. I was almost half an hour early, which wouldn’t have been an issue, pre-COVID. Now, most clinics and doctors’ offices frown on arriving early, since they try to keep patients from interacting as much as possible. But my laptop was outdated and couldn’t update to support the Medtronic CareLink Uploader, meaning I needed the office staff to do it for me. This did not please them.

Once my pump was uploaded, I saw my endocrinologist and discovered that my A1C had increased to 7.4, which was disappointing but I had expected a rise of some sort. I expected it because I’ve had a significant amount on my plate since the last appointment. Between starting a new job and a new routine in April, we’ve got major renovations happening in the house as well as my son Nathan, deciding to use his bedroom as a public washroom and basically hosing down every corner. This resulted in the removal of the carpet and discovery of asbestos tile, which obviously needed to be replaced. Then, we repainted, put in new flooring and new baseboards and basically dropped some serious G’s into renovating his bedroom far ahead of plan. And budget. FML.

Long story short, added stress and life issues caused some variations in blood sugars that I’m not proud of. What can I say? I’m human and far from perfect. As I said, I expected it. What I didn’t expect, was the increase in cholesterol and blood pressure. To the point that my doctor has increased some of the “preventative” pills that I take. My Endo considered me a bit of a medical oddity, since despite the increase in cholesterol, I somehow managed to lose about ten pounds. Ain’t medicine wonderful? He also added a new pill that would work in tandem with my other medications to help bring my cholesterol and blood pressure in check.

Despite the medicine aspect, we discussed some things that I could do to improve things on my own. The reduction (but not elimination) of sodium in my diet, increased water intake and reduce my alcohol intake (I don’t drink constantly, but everyone could stand to drink less) and ensure I cut back on foods that may be fried or processed. He also suggested trying to eliminate some of the stress in my life. This aspect can be a bit tougher, since some stress is inherent in the course of normal life and can’t necessarily be eliminated.

I left the doctor’s office feeling a little down. It was a strange combination of victory and defeat, considering one of my main goals has been to breach the 200-pound weight level. It was nice to have the doctor acknowledge my hard work in losing ten pounds, even though I haven’t crossed that 200 mark, yet. But the raise in cholesterol is concerning. Certain lifestyle changes will need to take place. I think that first and foremost, and if this wasn’t written here, many who know me wouldn’t believe it, that I need to cut back on the caffeine I consume in a day. I should refocus my efforts towards some herbal teas and water. I can easily recognize that the multiple caffeinated beverages I consume throughout the day easily contributes to my increased blood pressure.

My wife and I have been on a decent salad kick, recently. We fell away from that, somewhat. So tonight’s supper involved some chicken with a very lovely salad. The best part is that there was enough salad left over for me to bring to work tomorrow. The day wasn’t all bad. I got notice today that karate classes will resume tomorrow evening. That’s been a long time coming. I haven’t trained with others since March of 2020, so it’ll be good to get back at it. And last but not least, I’m currently typing this post on my newly purchased MacBook Pro. Since my old laptop could no longer support any updates or sync my phone, I decided it was time. In today’s world of technology, I think that six years is a pretty good lifespan for a computer. ☯️

Carbs vs. Calories, The Battle Continues…

This is going to be one of those posts where I make a point of saying that I’m not a doctor or health professional, nor am I a nutritionist or dietitian. If you want the real Slim Shady on any of the facts I’m describing in this post, you should consult one of the professionals mentioned above. But I certainly have information I can contribute for the sake of conversation, so take what I write with grain of salt. But not literally, since you shouldn’t be salting your food. But I digress…

I’ve often written that the most important and consistent factor behind proper fitness and weight loss is being able to burn more calories in a day than you consume. I’ve also mentioned on many occasions, the importance of reducing one’s overall carbohydrate intake in order to promote better blood sugar control and to help with weight loss as well. So, which one is the important one? What should you be focusing on for your weight loss efforts? Well, the easy answer is… both.

Because I’m wordy and I like to write, let’s start by pointing out that “fad diets” are bullshit. I’m sorry, but they are. At their core, most fad diets (which I won’t name here because I don’t like the potential for getting sued) target a certain core demographic based on a gimmick, or a trend. The whole concept of “don’t eat this” or “only eat that” will always work for JUST enough people that the masses will quickly jump on the bandwagon to try and slim down using these methods, fully unaware that like everything else in life, it’s subjective to the person and that maybe eating like humans did in paleolithic times isn’t ideal, because our bodies have evolved past those methods and that method may have worked for your neighbour who now looks great in their yoga pants, but it won’t necessarily work for you.

Even if you partake of one of these trends or fad diets, it won’t change three very important realities. That being that no matter what the diet, 1) you need to include regular exercise, 2) you need to burn more calories than you burn, and 3) you need to make good lifestyle choices. It’s a holy trifecta of fitness that simply can’t be ignored. If you start dieting consistently, you may shed some pounds, but your efforts will plateau pretty damn quickly. You have to include some exercise in there to help with muscle tone, blood circulation and calorie burn. This is especially important for us Diabetics.

The lifestyle choices can apply to a significant number to things. For example, you may have gotten a solid workout in and ate a green salad for lunch. But those efforts are wasted if you cap off the evening by sitting back with a six pack of beer and nachos. Mmm,…nachos…. Umm, moving on! The point is, there has to be a balance. So, while I’m not saying that you shouldn’t occasionally treat yourself, since life is meant to be lived and it’s been proven by multiple sources that depriving yourself will make your efforts all that much harder, you still need to be smart about it. Still with me? Good. Let’s examine the difference between calories and carbohydrates.

Good old calories…. If you want to get all scientific about it, a calorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a quantity of water by one degree. For the purposes of food consumption, calories are the measurement of energy contained within the food. When a person consumes more calories than they burn, the body tends to store the excess as body fat, which results in weight gain. On the flip side, consuming too few calories can lead to some dangerous deficiencies in the body, as one may not be getting all the vitamins and nutrients required throughout the day. Depending on the source you draw on and your age, metabolism, level of fitness and even gender, the average person needs to consume anywhere between 1200 to 2000 calories a day.

You may be asking, what’s the point of consuming them if you’re only going to burn them to lose weight? Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply keep reducing one’s overall calories? The answer to that is no. Look at that previous paragraph, again/. While burning the calories is important in order to maintain good weight loss potential, you still need the vitamins and nutrients you draw from food. Eating at a calorie-deficit will prevent you from getting everything you need to keep your body running smoothly. Make sense? Good. NEXT!

Carbohydrates are a naturally occurring compound, found in most foods but not all of them. Carbs are a source of fuel for the body and since they are a key nutrient, are a requirement, as much as I’d like to eliminate them altogether. Mainly comprised of sugars and starches, they get broken down into energy for the body. There’s that word again: energy. And in case no one was paying attention, you need energy to well,… live. Because of the nature and composition of carbohydrates, they’re usually the nemesis of someone with Diabetes, since we need to take insulin in response to the amount of carbs we consume.

So, what’s the difference? One is the measure of energy, the other is fuel that gets burned as energy. Am I the only one who feels that they both kind of sound like energy? I found a good article posted by The Cleveland Clinic, and I apologize because I didn’t seem to be able to copy the post. But it discusses the fact that “a gram of fat has about 9 calories, while a gram of carbohydrate or protein has about 4 calories. In other words, you could eat twice as much carbohydrates or proteins as fat for the same amount of calories.” That sounds like a lot of math to me, but you can go to my.clevelandclinic.org and check out the article entitled “Fat and Calories: The Difference & Recommended intake.”

For me, the difference still ins’t clear. But for weight loss, you need to burn more calories than you consume. We’ve already covered that. For carbs, you need to count the number of net carbs you consume, which involves subtracting fibre from the total carb count on your nutritional label. That is to say, if what you’re eating even has a nutritional label AND if they’’re count is accurate. That’s why portion control is important. Whether you count calories or carbs, portion control is important. I would say the latter is more important for Diabetics, since it involves insulin consumption.

No matter which you choose to reduce or limit in order to help with your weight loss journey, bear in mind that reducing either by too much will leave you feeling weak and may not actually help in weight loss. Instead, consume healthier foods that are lower in calories or carbs but still contain a lot of the nutrients your body needs in order to function properly. Vegetables, lean proteins and limited starches made of whole grains are ideal. And don’t forget to consult a health practitioner before starting any radical change in food regimen. ☯️

When You Just Can’t…

I recently had a reader comment on one of my posts, where it was mentioned that one of the issues faced with traditional forms of meditation is that staying in a relaxed position with one’s eyes closed will usually result in the body slipping into something akin to a dream/sleep state. At least for one of the posts, I was discussing the use of meditation as a means of refreshing oneself from fatigue, so this wouldn’t be an unexpected result. But the reader made a good point about the importance of experiencing one’s day with open eyes, to live in the moment to experience all the beauty that life can potentially offer.

I remember in my pre-teens when I started toying with the concept of meditation and more often than not, trying to meditate for more than ten minutes would typically result in my falling asleep. At that age, it was entirely a bad thing. But during adulthood, we scarcely have the free time to meditate in any form, much less being available to fall asleep randomly. Imagine taking your lunch hour to meditate at the office and falling asleep? Only to have your boss give your shoulder a shake and ask you what the hell is going on?

I’m not saying this has happened to me, and the fact that some employers not only encourage but provide the resources for lunch-hour naps notwithstanding, that’s a topic for another post. The question is, can one meditate with eyes open? Are there any benefits to such a practice and how does one do it? The answer isn’t as simple or easy as a yes or no. And there are a LOT of conflicting sources. Depending on what definition you read, meditation is simply defined as working towards an enlightened state of focus, concentration and awareness. It’s thought to be a technique capable of changing one’s consciousness, allowing for a number of physical and mental benefits. If you’re a reader of some old classics, you may remember that Marcus Aurelius wrote a book simply called “Meditations.” In this context, meditation is considered someone’s written discourse on a particular subject, weighing heavily on their opinion. The focus of today’s post is obviously the definition as I’ve provided it, above.

Nathan, taking his first crack at meditation

Meditating with your eyes open, or “wakeful meditation,” as I’ve heard it referred to, is a practice where one can go about one’s day and perform daily activities all while maintaining some basic level of awareness towards meditation. In some respects, this can be a handy tool for allowing yourself to be freed from distractions in one’s environment, to increase one’s focus and even in some circumstances, to block out certain forms of pain.

This is not without challenge, and I’d be lying if I said it was something that could be sustained indefinitely. But it’s certainly possible and definitely recommended. The thing about meditation that most people seem to forget, is that you don’t need to be dressed in robes, sitting in the lotus position with your eyes closed in order to achieve it. I had a math teacher when I was in high school, who would take the fifteen-minute recess to close his classroom door, sit at his desk and simply close his eyes and perform a simple, deep-breathing meditation. Fifteen minutes. That’s it. And it would leave him refreshed and ready to continue on with his day.

I found an analogy online that would seem to be fitting. The word “meditation” is a bit like the word “sports.” If you tell someone you play sports, they’d likely ask you what sport you play, since there would be hundreds upon hundreds of possibilities. Meditation is very much the dame thing. There are many ways of meditating, different methods, techniques and postures, all with the goal of helping one increase their overall awareness and consciousness. The key thing is to find a method that works for you and suits your purposes. Otherwise, it’s like picking out a car to buy. If you don’t get the model you want with the options you were looking for, it’ll get you from point “A” to point “B,” but there’ll always feel like there’s something missing. Meditation falls very much under the same comparison. A huge shout out to the reader who provided comments that elicited this post. If you’re reading this, inspiration is always appreciated. ☯️

The Importance Of Small Steps

I found the above photo online and just couldn’t help but share it. It illustrates how trying to climb in grand leaps through life will put things out of your reach. More importantly, it should also be a clear message that should you need to take big steps in life, it shouldn’t be done alone and it’s okay to ask for help. If the subject on the right had a partner, they could help each other scale the ladder. Food for though… ☯️

Where Should You Be Sick?

Getting sick sucks, and I should know. I’ve spent most of my life, especially during my youth, being sick in one form or another. When Type-1 Diabetes is involved, illness proves to be something of a “chicken or the egg” scenario, where it can be difficult to tell if a particular illness has caused the chaos with your Diabetes or if your Diabetes caused you to become ill. In my youth, Diabetes was referred to as one’s pancreas not working, which we now know if not ENTIRELY accurate. But before I get completely off topic, the subject of today’s post is getting sick, not necessarily Diabetes.

I can’t tell you how many times I dealt with the important aspects of my life while sick. Whether it was school, work or karate, the prevailing attitude back then was “suck it up” and you were expected to carry on, unless you were in such a condition that you were hospitalized (which was often the case for me). These days and especially in the past two years, the concept of pushing through while sick is not only less encouraged, it’s frowned upon. Employers are pushing staff to stay home when they’re sick in an effort to prevent spreading illnesses.

Since I’ve had everything from severe dehydration, polyps, influenza, bronchitis and this little thing called Diabetes, I’ve had the opportunity to o deal with some pretty bad scenarios as it relates to all of these environments and I have stories relating to all of them. Of COURSE I have stories…. This is me. Here’s the top ones:

Being Sick During Karate
To say that I was mildly obsessed with my karate training in my youth would be an understatement. For the most part, I not only participated in all three weekly classes, I would also spend the remainder of the week cycling and practicing on my own time. This meant that whenever I wasn’t eating, sleeping or at school, I would be doing karate (and since I would often dream about karate, I’m not sure the sleep aspect can be included in that statement.

I remember this one time when I was doing bunkai with another student. For you non-practitioners, a bunkai is a pre-arranged, practical application of kata techniques. Moving on. It was one of those nights where we dissected and practiced every technique until it was burned into our brains. As such, I had been with the student I was partnered with for almost an hour. During that time, i noticed his voice had a nasal twinge and he kept sniffling, as though he couldn’t keep his snot in. Since this is karate class and one doesn’t carry a purse with them, at one point, he drags the sleeve of his uniform across his nose and face in an effort to dry up the flow of nasal discharge.

I was mildly disgusted, but who am I to judge? If my nose wouldn’t stop leaking, I likely would have done the same. During a particular exchange, I learned the hard way that some of his snot had gotten on his hand, which conveniently made it’s way across my forearm and hand as we executed a couple of techniques. Given the discipline requirements of the class, I continued on but my focus was mainly on the fact I had the contents of a Petri dish on my forearm. once the exercises were over, I bowed out and ran to the washroom where I thoroughly washed my arms and hands with soap and water as hot as I could stand.

Apparently the damage was done, because two days later, I got sick as a dying dog. Runny nose, head felt like it was stuffed with cotton. If I could prove beyond a doubt that he was the cause, I’d have cursed his name (or at least had at him in the sparring ring). But i guess it’s nowhere near as bad as having the runs during karate class. I’d say to say I’m assuming, but that’s happened on occasion, as well.

Being Sick At School
Classrooms are almost a perfect description of a Petri dish, with almost three dozen people crammed into a fitted space where everyone shares the same space, air and germs. Wow, I sound like such a germaphobe. But seriously, how often have you heard parents say that as soon as their children start school, they get sick? And that’s for good reason. Because it’s almost a statistical guarantee that if only one person in a classroom is sick, all of them will be, depending on what they have.

I had one of my many instances in high school where I was dehydrated. I hate to admit it, but this usually happened to me every few months, to the extent I had to spend a night in the hospital on an IV drip to properly rehydrate. Unlike most of my teenage counterparts, I didn’t rebel by drinking on weekends or being brought home by the cops. I displayed my stubbornness by neglecting to drink enough water. Such a rebel, eh? In an y event, this was one of those occasions where my insides were drying up.

By this point in my life, I had gotten used to the feelings and sensations associated with dehydration, so I kind of knew that this was what was happening. I was in biology class the one morning, after waking up feeling like absolute crap. I went to school anyway as most parents can agree, it tends to fuck the entire day when an unexpected illness keeps a kid at home. But once I was in class, my condition started to get the better of me. The teacher was in the middle of an impassioned lecture about one damn thing or another, and she was the type of teacher who not only despised being interrupted for any reason, she made that displeasure obvious by ruling her class with an iron fist.

I tried to relax my abdomen and keep myself calm for as long as I could, but I could feel the bile rising in my throat and I knew that if I continued to ignore the feeling I had, I would end up emptying what little contents I had in my stomach, all over my desk. As such, I started by taking the polite route and raised my hand to ask to be excused. I was answered by a firm, “Hold all your questions until the end, please!” The student seated next to me even asked if I was okay, as I could feel the clammy sweat on my face and could only imagine how pale I must have looked. This pre-dated my use of an insulin pump or even carrying a glucometre with me, so I had no idea if my blood sugars were wreaking havoc, as well.

I decided to take my life into my own hands by simply cutting in and asking to be excused. The teacher rolled her eyes and began giving me a lecture on the intricacies of paying attention and showing respect. My body chose that moment to cross the point of no return. I felt the heated sensation at the back of my throat that signalled the coming of the apocalypse. I rose from my seat and began staggering to the door. I hate to take pride in what happened next, but the teacher grabbed my arm in an effort to stop me from stepping out of her class, which resulted in my stomach emptying its contents right there on the classroom floor. Right next to her desk.

My retching couldn’t of lasted more than about ten to twenty seconds, but it felt like ten to twenty minutes of my body seizing every muscle it could while a sound much like humpback whales and alligators mating with each other came out of my throat, all while a hot, yellowish fluid splashed all over the classroom floor. Did I make that descriptive enough? There was a brief moment of complete silence and a look of utter shock and aww on the teacher’s face. then everyone in the classroom started screaming “Eeww…” like some sort of morbid choir and everyone started trying to vacate the classroom to escape the smell.

I felt briefly better upon emptying the contents of my stomach, so I managed to stand up straight and started walking out of the class with the intention of making my way to the classroom. The teacher once again tried to stop me, this time to order me to get something to clean up the mess I had made. Since I was a cheeky, sarcastic teenager at the time, my response included a verbal plethora of inappropriate language, somewhat suggesting to the teacher what she could do to herself and where, all while questioning her parents’ use of heavy narcotics while conceiving her. I don’t know what had pissed me off more; the fact she was ignoring a sick student who was trying to alert her to a problem or the fact that she was trying to get the same student to clean up a mess that was a result of her ignorance. I walked out and went home.

Obviously, I got into “some” trouble over this. I went to school back in those days where the students COULD still get in trouble as opposed to parents giving the teachers all the crap. They have an unbelievably difficult job, and I wasn’t an easy student. But even I have my limits, and that limit usually involves my health. Moving on…

Being Sick At Work
I’m not certain how many stories I have about this specific aspect, but there are a lot. The unfortunate phenomenon that seems to take place, especially in non-unionized environments, is that management will frequently expect you to work despite being under the weather. When I started to claw my way up into management, I started being made to administer those same expectations. Imagine this scenario, if you will. You’re working a job for minimum wage. You wake up feeling like absolute shit and you already know that any efforts to go to work will leave you feeling worse. Maybe it’s simply a cold. But either way, you make the conscious decision to phone in to your boss and tell them you won’t be in due to illness.

You’re already dealing with the fact that you’re likely losing a day’s wages, unless you’re lucky enough to have paid sick days. But then they hit you with the bombshell. They tell you that if you’re calling in sick, they’ll require a doctor’s note. You calmly try to explain to them that you’re not going to the hospital, you’re simply feeling under the weather and need some rest. they tell you that if you aren’t sick enough to see a doctor, you aren’t sick enough to miss work and they expect to see you on shift. You begrudgingly get dressed and go to work, sick.

I’d like to say I just made that scenario up. But I’ve actually had that exact conversation at a previous job. I think we can agree that most employees would just suck it up and go in, not wanting to risk the trouble they may get into with their respective bosses. The result is a lot of people going into work sick, which can be disastrous for all parties involved, regardless of what industry you work in. I had just such a disastrous situation that happened some years ago, while running someone else’s business…

I had been having pretty bad stomach pains for a couple of weeks. It was one of those things where the pain was bad, but it wasn’t so severe as to be debilitating, so I kept going in to work. During a particularly busy peak hour of work, I started to get dizzy and swayed on my feet a bit. I leaned on the table that was in front of me, but I suddenly fell sideways sand crashed to the floor. Next thing I know, I wake up in a hospital bed with an IV coming out of my arm. After some tests and description of what I had been feeling, that’s how I discovered I had polyps. Wonderful, eh?

The point behind these stories, besides being insanely entertaining to write (the classroom one is a favourite), is the fact that self-care is not only important; it starts with you. Is training hard in karate important? Absolutely. Is it worth it to try and make it through a class when you’re sick? Definitely not. Is education important? That’s a big 10-4! But how much actual knowledge are you absorbing when you’re sick? Likely not much. And even though money is needed for the basic necessities of life, money will never be worth your overall health.

The important thing to note here, as well, is that is only takes one person whose sick to pass it on to everyone in their environment, whether it’s at home, work or during leisure activities. This is especially important in today’s context, as it relates to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. Tried coughing in public, recently? It’s highly not recommended. But no matter what environment one is referring to, take care of your health. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health. ☯️

Put Some Effort Into Reading This Post…

Nature has this tendency, one shared by the majority of humans, which is to always take the path of least resistance. Take a look at water; it will usually always flow to the lowest point until stopped by a barrier, since gravity does all the work FOR the water. In this respect, one could easily say that water will always follow the path of least resistance. Humans are typically hard-wired to make their way through the day in very much the same way and it can often be difficult to circumvent that path.

Picture this scenario: you have the day off. The sun is shining, you have no errands to run and no work that requires you or attention. What do you feel would be the easiest alternative for you? Sitting on the couch with your favourite snack and binge-watch a favourite show? Or jump on the bicycle and see how much mileage you can rack up in two hours? I can tell you what the smart answer would be, depending on where you’re at and what you’re trying to accomplish. But I think we all know what would be easier and feel better.

Obviously, it would be easier to enjoy the day by flopping down on the couch and doing nothing. THAT’s the path of least resistance. And honestly, there may be days when that’s actually the better option for you. Especially if you had a brutal week and need a chance to recharge and replenish your mental batteries. That being said, there’s an insidious effect that takes place if you always follow the path of least resistance…

It’s true what they say that nothing in life is free. There’s a cost to everything, even when we don’t recognize what that cost might be. For someone with Type-1 Diabetes, fitness and self-care are critically important. I’ve spent most of my life committing myself to fitness, martial arts and bettering myself. It’s never an easy battle and there are always obstacles in the way. But I recognize that life doesn’t care about my plan, and won’t do anything to help me on my journey.

The insidious effect I refer to, in regards to taking the path of least resistance, is that when you start “taking it easy” or skipping a workout, you begin setting yourself up for that trend. Again, I’m not referring to the times when you just flat out need a break. I’m referring to the trend where maybe you meant o take a break and then all of a sudden it’s been awhile couple of weeks without exercise and you’ve gotten all lazy and lethargic and maybe gained five pounds from all the salt ‘n pepper wings you’ve been eating…. I swear, I’m not speaking from experience. Moving on…

The point is, and what sets humans apart from most aspects of nature is that we have the awareness to recognize when we’re slipping or letting go. Making a difference in your own life takes effort. But that effort will never happen on its own. I find myself at an age where getting out of bed in the morning is an effort. Remember how I’ve written about the way you start your day sets you up for the remainder? If not, go back and read my posts, damn it! But seriously, most mornings my body is fighting hard to convince my mind that it wold be much easier and simpler to just lay my head back on the pillow and forget about getting up. It would be easier. That doesn’t make it better.

As you move through life, many if not most things will get in your way. Health, work, familial obligations, social obligations and one’s own excuses will often slow or hinder progress, as it relates to one’s commitment to fitness and health. If I look nasty myself as an example, I’ve had ample excuses to stop training. When the pandemic hit, my karate dojo closed. Okay, I no longer have a practical place to train. I set myself up with a training space in my basement. Then my basement flooded and I had to have the basement demolished.

I moved my training space to the garage. It was actually a pretty sweet set-up, too. But i had to move everything that was located in the basement to the garage, so I lost that space as well. I promised myself the purchase of some free weights and light equipment, but opted to wait until the basement was fully renovated. And on, and on, and on…. There will never be a lack of excuses available, if one chooses to find them.

I find that as life moves forward, the excuses become more prominent and convincing and it becomes harder to commit oneself to a consistency. But as age begins to climb, it becomes all the more important to not only continues, but to push harder in order to help maintain that fitness and physical health (and mental health) into the years to come. After all, Diabetes won’t take a break. Why should I? And that’s what’s important to remember. Stop for too long and the opportunity to o better yourself may pass you by.

The human body is like a dynamo. It’s always getting it going that’s the hardest part. But once you get your momentum, continuing is much easier than stopping and starting up again. So give yourself the effort. You need it. You deserve it. You’re worth it. Good health & fitness is a never ending battle. Just be sure that as you work through it, you guarantee that you’ll come out the clear winner. ☯️

Hungry For Some Information?

I think that one of the worst “non-injury” related feelings in the world, next to being sleepy, is hunger. Unless it’s the evening and you’re binging a show and decide you’re hungry and need a snack, feelings of hunger can be uncomfortable, distracting and have an actual and measurable impact on your health, blood sugars and even you’re overall fitness.

So, what is hunger? At the most basic level, hunger is felt when your stomach is empty of content and your body releases certain hormones into the body that gives you that “hunger feeling.” Please don’t quote me, I’m not a doctor. But this is what was explained to me BY a doctor. So, there. But hunger is usually triggered when the stuff you need to properly keep your body up and running is running low. So it isn’t just that your stomach is empty, it also has a lot to do with your glucose and nutrients being low in your blood stream.

Now that I’m done telling you all that I’m not a doctor WHILE continuing to talk like one, let’s discuss what hunger does to you. When your body starts to run low on its necessities, it can start a number of processes. If you’re Diabetic, some of those processes won’t work well and if they do, will affect your overall blood sugars (like just about EVERYTHING does). If you’re performing exercise, the type of exercise you’re doing can have some detrimental effects, if you’re hungry.

I recently wrote about how working out on an empty stomach can actually CAUSE muscle loss, since the body will usually start by breaking down muscle tissue to compensate for the lack of energy needed for exercise. This doesn’t apply to ALL fitness situations. After all, working through a karate class on a full stomach can have some pretty detrimental effects, as well. On you AND the others in the dojo. But consistent and sustained cardio can often be better done on an empty stomach.

According to an article posted by WebMD, “the real trick to managing weight is to eat less, but not to feel hungry or deprived.” This is key, because it’s often been proven throughout the years that depriving yourself can lead to binging later, which is a definite slide backwards in your weight loss or fitness efforts. Kind of like me, when I hit a really bad low and I nearly empty out the fridge. But I digress…

The article goes on to suggest that if you’ve eaten less than 2 to 3 hours prior, your hunger likely isn’t genuine and suggests drinking a glass of water or eating a small, high-fibre snack in an effort to stave off real hunger until your next meal. I often try this tactic on my 6-year old, as he’ll claim hunger within an hour after eating until he’s full. Mild dehydration will cause similar symptoms to hunger, so sipping water is usually a big one for me.

The article caps off by providing a short list of tips, such as exercising portion control, eat high-fibre foods or foods bulky with water and air to feel more full, include lean proteins and avoid buffets as having more options will often lead to eating more than you need to. Portion control is important as people always tend to dish up more than they need. And taking the time to appreciate your meal is important, as well. If you watch television or read while you eat, you may want to consider putting a stop to that.

I’m really bad for doing the second one. In the past year, I always seem to spend my mealtime at home with a book in front of my face. Habits can be hard to break. The takeaway here is that your body is a machine and like all machines, requires fuelling, maintenance and care. Hunger can impact ALL of those aspects and as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, can be distracting when it’s important not to be, as well as reduce performance in key areas, such as fitness. Food for thought… (pun intended). ☯️