Let’s Take A Break… Fast!

People tend to have bad habits in their daily routine. And very few people are the exception. Hell, I have many bad habits that I often TRY to avoid but I would lying if I said that my efforts are often half-hearted. But a VERY bad habit that people have is skipping breakfast. Now, I’ve written posts about the importance of breakfast before and whether or not it genuinely is the “most important meal of the day.” On the home front, the jury is still out but there certainly are important benefits to ensuring that you consume that first meal of the day upon waking up.

The whole point behind the breakfast meal is to do just that: break your fast. And as most of you already know, a “fast” is a period of time where you don’t eat. When you hear of someone “fasting,” it’s usually associated with a LONG period of time often for medical or dietary reasons. But the reality is that we fast every night, from the moment we go to bed until we wake up in the morning. Unless you compulsively snack at night. Which is another bad habit. Which I also occasionally have. My point is that breakfast is intended to be the first meal of your day that breaks your overnight fast, hence the term “breakfast.”

You may be thinking, “Why is this cheeky mother-f%&ker giving us the definition of breakfast?” Well, simply to impress upon you the importance of starting your day with a proper meal. The take-home lesson is that you should have your breakfast within an hour or two of waking up as it will be the first batch of vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body receives after a period of fasting. You should also think of it as refilling the fuel tank for your engine after it’s emptied itself out.

According to a good article on WebMD, “Skipping the morning meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating. […] If your body doesn’t get that fuel from food, you may fell zapped of energy — and you’ll be more likely to overeat later in the day.” The article goes on to say that your breakfast doesn’t need to be huge, but should include a variety of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fibre.

However, an article posted by HealthLine.com seems to have an opposing view in that they claim that there is no evidence that breakfast eaters are healthier, that eating breakfast boosts your metabolism for the day and that in fact, skipping breakfast can have some benefits for folks who do intermittent fasting. It’s unusual for me to find a topic where those two sources oppose each other, but it’s kind of refreshing. The article caps off by explaining that breakfast is optional, won’t boost your metabolism and doesn’t automatically lead to weight gain and obesity. Basically, if you don’t find yourself hungry when you wake up in the morning, there’s no need to eat.

I’ll be the first one to agree that every person is different. Actually, I’ve written about that very thing on more occasions than I can recall. So although it may be true that skipping your first meal of the day is a matter of choice, it may not be the smart one for everyone. And this is where the Diabetic aspect of this post comes in. If you have Type-1 Diabetes, skipping a meal can be problematic. Especially if your insulin’s basal rates and your specific condition requires you to eat, first thing in the morning. You may wake up extremely high or low blood sugar.

Although I’m a big believer that a person with Diabetes can do anything that a non-Diabetic can, intermittent fasting is possible but problematic and skipping meals will skew your blood sugar control. And despite what any source material may say, I believe it’s critically important for all people to start their day with a good hit of nutritional fuel to start your day. It may not stroke your metabolism and may not affect your weight, but it helps to guarantee you won’t have that “early-morning slump” because of an empty stomach.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the jury is still out on whether or not breakfast is the MOST important meal of the day. But it’s safe to say that it is IMPORTANT. Most people unfortunately tend to skip breakfast because they’re rushing off to work or taking care of their children before taking care of themselves. Personally, I usually enjoy a toasted english muffin with a slice of cheese. Some carbs and protein, doesn’t fill me to bursting and gets me on my way. It can be just as simple as that. And speaking of which, look at that! It’s breakfast time… ☯

A Little Something To Inspire…

I usually write my posts ad nauseam, and often require a number of edits to eliminate them being twice as long as they are once they’re posted. Once in a while, I like to post something that simply to look at, without all the necessary background, citations and references. So, here’s what I found last week while randomly surfing the web…

I forget exactly where I found this little gem, but I’ve seen it floating around in a few places. What I love about this photo is the absolute look of intensity and determination on the kid’s face, despite the fact he’s tethered to what appears to be an oxygen tank. I’m ignoring the fact that he appears to be one belt shy of black, despite his young age. Let’s not go there.

But it goes a long way towards showing how much determination can pay off in the long run, and the fact that motivation has to come from within. This little guy reminds me of myself when I was younger. All guts and determined to live and grow stronger, despite the pitfalls and medical challenges that life threw at me. As long as you keep fighting, may lose some battles but eventually you’ll win the war. ☯

Musical Meditation

One of the beautiful things that I’ve discovered about meditation over the decades, is that there are so many ways to do it. In fact, I would challenge you to go Google “Types of meditation” and I can promise you, you’ll get some lists. Some of the best and more prominent examples I can think of include yoga, which is stretching movements that prepare the body for extended periods of sitting for meditation, and Tai Chi, which although a martial art, holds many aspects of moving meditation and almost puts you in a meditative state if you’re practiced enough to go through your movements on muscle memory alone.

But if you look into it, even on its surface, you’ve got moving meditation, sitting meditation, mindfulness meditation, focused meditation… It can become a bit convoluted, especially if you’re a beginner and are looking to TRY meditation and aren’t certain which type would be right for you. In Zen Buddhism, we practice a form of meditation referred to as “Zazen,” which is loosely translated as “seated meditation. Since some different branches of Buddhism describe and define Zazen differently, I won’t muddy the waters by going into deep detail. But there are some really great pages that provide insight on the specifics.

As for myself, meditation can be difficult even if I’ve been doing it for decades, thanks to a lovely batch of medically-defined acronyms that make the inside of my mind feel like it’s hurtling through space on hyperdrive on a constant basis. This is why, through the practice of meditation, I usually try to empty my mind and think of nothing. Depending on your philosophical background, thinking of nothing is still thinking of something so it opens up a whole can of worms. But the practice of “no mindness” is described by the term mushin.

Mushin is translated simply as “no mind” and since thinking about not thinking or “nonthinking” is a part of Zazen, they go very well, hand-in-hand. Confused yet? Got a headache? Need to go do a quick shot of whiskey to get through all my confusing etymology? Go ahead. I’ll wait… Mushin is a term used a lot in karate as well, as the development and practice of our forms, or kata, require us to know them well enough to allow the body to do them on instinct while thinking of nothing. So I’ve been familiar with the term for some time.

But when your mind is as busy as mine, you sometimes need an extra bit of something to help you focus. And this is where music comes in. Although traditional dojos won’t usually play music during training, I’ve found that music can be an excellent addition to your training regiment and adds a certain little something. IN fact, you can read my thoughts on that very topic here. I’m surprised I found that old post, since I wrote it in February of LAST year and after almost 800 posts in just over two years, I’m starting to forget what I’ve written about and what I haven’t. But I digress…

My point is, a little touch of music can go a long way towards making your meditation efforts easier and more effective. For myself, I enjoy having some classical music playing in the background. The complexity of sound and varying tones and volumes occupy my conscious mind, making it possible for my subconscious to stretch its legs and feel around a bit, unhindered. By focusing on one singular aspect of external stimuli, it allows thoughts and ideas to float on by without my getting involved with them, which is a big part of Zazen.

I also have several hundred “spa” type instrumental songs or “meditative music” on my devices, and those are extremely helpful as well. If you meditate frequently but have never tried music, I highly recommend it. Listening to music on its own has been proven to reduce stress, depression and elevate your mood. There are even studies that have shown it helps with heart-health as it improves blood flow. I have no source on that last one, but it’s pretty cool if it’s true. So add music to meditation, and I’d say that’s a pretty calming combination.

Meditation is one of those things I could write about or talk about at length. But in the interest of keeping my posts readable without having y’all fall asleep at the keyboard or on your devices, I’ll call it quits here. But should any of you have questions or curiosities about meditation, I’m always up for a good discussion. Feel free to reach out. Otherwise, settle into a nice seiza, put on some soft music and let your mind think of not thinking… ☯

Sleep Is For Wimps Anyway, Right?

I harsh on the complications associated with Diabetes a LOT, and usually with good reason. There’s a whole bunch of shit that usually happens when a person has Type-1 Diabetes, especially if it’s uncontrolled. Even when it IS controlled, there can be a number of obstacles that keep you from having a smooth day, night, sleep or whatever. I’m ridiculously grateful for the miracle that is insulin pump therapy, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t have days where I’d like to throw the damn thing across the room. A week ago was one of those nights…

My pump has a number of nifty alarm functions built in, designed to alert me in the event of an extreme high or low blood sugar level and asking for calibrations every twelve hours. For the most part, I can control these alarms through proper blood sugar control and by making sure I perform my calibration tests at proper twelve hour intervals that don’t include the 8-hour period that I try to sleep. But there are certain conditions where the pump will pester me, even when it shouldn’t.

If my blood sugars are level for too long, an alarm will go off because the pump is wondering why there’s no variation. BG is required. If the pump hasn’t had to provide micro-bolusing for four hours or more, an alarm will go off. BG is required. If my blood happens to be running a touch on the higher side and the pump has had to micro-bolus for too long, an alarm will sound. BG is required. If I roll over in my sleep and happen to put pressure on the CGM sensor, it’ll interfere with the signal and BG is required. Are you shitting me, pump? Really?

So my point is, how many of those alarms do you think take place while I’m sleeping? It’s a genuine issue. Sleep escapes me at the best of times… One of the disadvantages of having ADHD, OCD, PTSD and a host of acronyms too annoying to get into. But the Diabetic equation just makes it all that much worse. On the night in question, I had a request fro calibration in the middle of the night. This usually doesn’t happen, if I’m organized enough. But since I had installed a new sensor, the 12-hour cycle started at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. So… 3 o’clock in the morning came a’calling!

Calibration is worse than “BG required,” because you can just enter the sensor glucose for “BG required.” But a calibration request actually gets you out of bed to test with an actual glucometer, which really sucks in the middle of the night. I did the calibration and went back to bed. All’s good, right? Two hours later, “minimum insulin provided for 2.5 hours. BG require to continue on Auto Mode.” Fuck you, insulin pump. Just keep doing your thing.

At 5 o’clock, the damn thing tells me that “BG is required.” No reason. No explanation. What the hell!? I ignored it until it became an audible alarm and entered the sensor glucose. At 6 o’clock, the same damn thing happened. Entered the sensor glucose again. Damned brutal. My alarm (actual alarm) went off at 6:30. So I got about four hours’ sleep before my pump started going all “Russian Sleep Experiment” on me.

My point to all of this, and maybe it’s just my day to be bitchy about life, is that despite the beauties of technology there are always some downfalls. This is DESPITE the benefits I’ve seen in the last year in relation to insulin pump therapy. But technology is only as good as the user who controls it. There are still some ups and downs that I have to deal with, but I’ve come a long way from the brick-shaped glucometer I had in 1982, or the one-a-day BG test and multiple comas. All things are relative. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get some sleep… ☯

The Comforts Of Home

Working from home may seem like a dream come true, but it can carry it’s own set of problems and difficulties that our animal brains simply don’t recognize when faced with the prospect of staying in our jammies while working. More and more as time progresses, the possibility of working from home is becoming more of a reality, as most companies and corporations work towards trying to maintain social distancing among their employees and to prevent unnecessary in-person contact.

Until recent years, working from home was a possibility reserved for private business owners, multi-level marketing or “direct” marketing salespeople or for people under special circumstances, such as a physical handicap or a family situation that didn’t allow for work outside the house. But since it’s 2021, and almost every conceivable administrative job hinders mostly on the digital frontier, more people have been staying at home to work since employers have not only been allowing it, it’s been encouraged.

Despite this reality and like everything else in life, working from home includes some good, some bad and some ugly. I’ve read a number of different articles, most of whom have provided the same basic recommendations for working from home. And since I’m too lazy to link almost a dozen different articles into this one post, let’s just go ahead and call the following list “my opinion,” shall we? But based on this reading and some of my own experience, here is my top ten things to remember when working from home:

  1. Have A Morning Routine: This is a big one, and the most consistent one I’ve found in all my reading. Make a pot of coffee and much down a bagel while checking Facebook? Sure. Have a hot shower and make the bed? Absolutely. Just make sure that you have a dedicated routine that starts your day. Doing this programs your brain to understand that the day is starting and will help to shake of the vestiges of at-home fatigue;
  2. Maintain A Fixed Schedule: This is another big one, as many people feel that working from home without supervision makes it easier to spend the morning binge-watching a show and getting to work in the afternoon instead. But doing this will not only affect your productivity and make it harder for you to have any “get up and go” once you DO start work, eventually your boss will likely notice the lack in productivity and you may suddenly find yourself being “that employee” who isn’t keeping up;
  3. Have A Dedicated Workspace: Yeah, okay… I’ll stop saying it because they’ll ALL be big ones. This is SUPER important because the area you decide to work will be the area you associate with work. My wife was working from home at our kitchen table for the longest time while our infant son grew through his first year and she needed to be on hand as he was nursing. But it was chaotic because the table was always loaded with work materials during meal times. Plus, with two destructive children in the house, there’s always the possibility she’d have some of those materials damaged. Both of us now have a corner of the house that’s dedicated to our respective work. And for the most part, our kids stay clear of it;
  4. Schedule Breaks And Observe Them: This seems like a redundant point to make. Most people would be inclined to think, “I take breaks during my day…” Maybe, but the question comes in the form of how MANY breaks you take and when. Treat your day as you would if you were at the office. Take a lunch hour (or 30 to 45 minutes, depending on what your company’s policies permit) and take the number of breaks appropriate to maintaining proper health. People tend to forget that remaining in a seated position for hours on end does a whole bunch of bad stuff to the human body. This can include bad posture, spine and back damage, development of chronic pain, not to mention it will affect your metabolism and likely make you go out of your mind from staring at a screen too much, which bring me to my next point;
  5. Move Your Eyes Away From Your Screen: Since you need to get up from your desk every once and a while anyway, you should be having your eyes focus on something natural that isn’t a screen. Stay off your phone, stay off your tablet and keep your eyes away from any surface in the home that “projects” light. Take a few minutes to look outside and let your eyes adjust and focus on something else. If you feel the need to check emails during your break, then it isn’t a break. Sources vary on how often you should be standing up. One source says ten minutes of standing for every half hour. Another source says fifteen minutes for every hour. That’s the one I usually opt for;
  6. Continue To Develop Yourself: Sitting at home to work may give you the feeling or impression that “this is it,” as in you won’t be doing anything different than what you currently are for the duration of your remote work. You couldn’t be more wrong. Be sure to get on your supervisor and make your career goals and intentions clear, voice your training wants/needs/expectations. Once that’s on the table and your boss is made aware of what you want, start looking into it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been online to look up courses, seminars and training. This shows that you have some initiative and if added to a reasonable learning plan that outlines how it would benefit the company, you may even have some of it paid for. And considering the amount of institutions that provide online learning, just about anything is possible, nowadays;
  7. Be Professional: This likely won’t be a popular opinion with most of my readers and it can be SO easy to attend that scheduled Zoom meeting with no pants on. But you can never be prepared for what MAY happen, so you want to maintain an air of professionalism while you work. Imagine you’re asked about something you need to to go get, so you have to crab-walk your way off the screen in order to avoid your boss and co-workers seeing your polka-dotted Hanes? Getting dressed for work is a definite start. Despite any video meetings you have on the go. This is a bit the same as having a morning routine. Getting yourself dressed and ready for work programs your brain to associate it with working. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like associating my pyjamas to work;
  8. Be Mindful OF Your Health: This is a pretty straightforward one, but even if you’re sitting at home to do your work, you want to ensure to take proper care of yourself as it relates to a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and paying attention if your physical and/or mental health start to feel like they need a refresher. This brings me to my next two points…;
  9. Maintain Contact With Your Boss and Coworkers: It can be pretty easy to feel like an army of one on a secluded island when you’re doing all your work from your home office as opposed to an office setting where you can chat, socialize and take breaks WITH coworkers. There’s a lot to be said for that social aspect, as it helps to bind people together towards common goals. So whether it’s Zoom meetings or stepping into the actual workplace on occasion, be sure to keep open lines of communication. It’s definitely not a Nerf gun battle, but it’s better than nothing; and
  10. Go Outside: One of the things I’ve always had difficulties with is being cooped up in an office environment for 8 straight hours. I’m the type of person who needs to be moving so stepping outside the house a few times a day, whether on breaks or during lunch, will help get you through the slump by getting some fresh air, sunshine and gets you out of the house. If you wake up at home, work all day at home and then go to bed at home, it can start to get a bit overwhelming to be inside the same four walls, 24/7.

There you have it, folks. Hopefully these can help or give advice to anyone who may be working from home for the first time. Some of these are a bit on the subjective side, which is why I’m considering this an opinion piece as opposed to citing a bunch of sources, but a simple Google search will also provide all sorts of tips, suggestions and recommendations for keeping proper care of yourself while staying at home. Further that, it’s important to remember that if you have Diabetes, all of those health factors become aggravated as just about EVERYTHING affects Diabetes and blood sugar levels. So you need to be certain to take proper care of yourself.

Last but not least, working from home doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help and resources when you need them. Even if you happen to be working from the comfort of home, you have every right to be provided what’s needed to do your job properly. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for something if you need it. ☯

Fat Rolls Down Hill…

Before everyone jumps at me and decides to lynch me in a city square, let me start this post by premising the fact that I’ve never been the type to call a person fat… I totally agree that this is a derogatory term; one that’s been an issue since society’s perception of a pleasing form has been slim and muscular. It hasn’t always been so, but this seems to be the preference for now and considering the depth of society’s sensitivity towards being labeled or name-called, I want to be sure that everyone understands that when I refer to “fat,” I’m talking about the actual substance that causes weight gain and obesity. I’m not here to body shame or name call!

Now that I’ve clarified that I’m not some judgmental jerk and that I’m simply trying to help, let’s discuss what fat really is. Contrary to popular opinion, body fat isn’t limited to one’s gut or hanging off the arms. There are two types of body fat. The first is subcutaneous fat. This is the stuff that sits just underneath the surface of your skin and makes your gut look distended. It’s what’s getting poked on the Pillsbury Doughboy. But I digress… The other type is visceral fat. This is the nasty stuff that gathers around your heart, arteries and other organs. All caught up? Good. Now, let’s talk about this fat…

There are a lot of reasons behind WHY a person will accumulate an increase in gut size, including poor dietary choices, lack of physical fitness, alcohol consumption and in some cases, medical or genetic predisposition. I know that even I’m guilty of having gained what I like to refer to as the “COVID-19 pounder,” which refers to the nearly twenty pounds I’ve gained since the world turned into a lockdown nightmare. Diabetics will generally have difficulties with weight since insulin is a hormone and blood sugar management can make slimming down a bit difficult.

But for people in general, it can be a simple matter of just getting up off the couch and doing something. ANYTHING! Even if it simply means going for a walk. Work and lifestyle can often make it difficult as well. I know that when I was doing shift work, it played absolute hell on my fitness routines. Working overnight meant that I was usually blasted during the day and didn’t want to work out. Lack or poor sleep will also throw a wrench into your gut-slimming efforts. That’s why one needs to INCLUDE all the aforementioned aspects, fitness, diet, proper rest and good lifestyle choices, into one’s daily life.

In some cases, and the reason I’m actually writing this post, one faces a “chicken and the egg” scenario… What I mean by this is that a person will gain a bit of weight and will want to burn it off. But some excess of weight may make that person lethargic, tired and lacking in motivation to actually exercise. The result is lack of exercise and poor dietary habits will cause more weight gain. Wash rinse and repeat. I have a friend who is actually facing this scenario. He’s gained a significant amount of weight over the past few years and finds himself unhappy with the state of his body.

I’ve been trying to have him come work out with me, but he’s convinced he wants to start to his own because he wants to slim down first, despite my stating there’s no judgement. The problem is, he isn’t starting. This means the weight goes nowhere, he lacks exercise and fitness, and his shift work is dragging him further down the flubber rabbit-hole. He continues to be unhappy, which leads to further lack of motivation to do something about. Chicken and the egg. Brutal.

Just to be clear, fat is something the body needs. If you were to have absolutely NO body fat, you’d have organs malfunctioning, electrolyte imbalances and all kinds of nutritional deficiencies. A person needs at least a few percent of body fat. But trimming body fat is easier than it sounds and can involve nothing more complicated than eating more vegetables and lean proteins, cutting down on carbohydrates and overall calories (notice I said cut down, not eliminate) and exercising regularly.

Don’t let the current state of the world and lifestyle get in the way of your overall health. Even if you have a family who absorbs most of your free time, it’s very hard to take care of them if you don’t take care of yourself first. So don’t let yourself slip into an endless bad cycle. get up off the couch and start moving. As I often say, anything is something more than nothing. Just do something. ANYTHING! ☯

Dancing in The Streets

A little known fact about me that I don’t believe even most of my family members are aware of, is that I LOVE to dance. There’s something about the liberating feeling of allowing your body to move and sway in one’s particular way to a great song. And the beauty of it, is that everyone’s way of doing it can be different. Much like martial arts. And that’s the focus of today’s post: the connection of martial arts and dance.

It’s no secret that I’ve been studying karate for over three decades, but I never really “discovered” dance until 2007. At the time, I was living in the Ottawa area and working as a manager for a local pharmacy. I had the opportunity to get my hands on a couple of tickets for a show at the National Ballet of Canada. I went in with mixed feelings since, well… Most guys usually try to be macho and pretend they don’t like dancing, ballet and things of that sort. And I’ll admit that I may or may not have been on that bandwagon.

Look at this ripped bastard! I mean, c’mon…

But what I saw that night changed my perspective on dance, ballet and all the associated effort and fitness that is involved in the process. I can’t remember what specific production was being performed, but I felt a certain level of awe (and jealousy) at how fast, flexible and nimble the guys on stage were. Sheathed in sweat but moving about effortlessly, I watched as they moved, leapt and even balanced themselves on the single point of a wooden staff, seemingly defying gravity.

And their abs and muscles pissed me off, haha. I have to admit that I was impressed at the athleticism involved in what I was seeing and I couldn’t help but feel that some of the movements and efforts reminded me of doing forms, or kata. I decided that I needed to look into this whole “dance thing” in a bit more detail. A girl I dated in high school had a sister who owned her own dance studio, so I reached out and asked her what my best first step would be. She said I should find a dance school that would allow me to try out for free and give it a go before committing to anything. Now it REALLY sounded like karate.

My journey started in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, where a latin dance club had a “dance lesson” night where they provided free latin dancing lessons before opening up for the evening. It was pretty interesting and challenging, from a structured and instructional standpoint. But with over 50 people and only one instructor, I wasn’t really able to get the kind of one-on-one instruction I needed in order to actually LEARN the type of dance. It became clear that this was a gimmick more for fun than actual instruction. At the risk of getting discouraged, I gave up and left.

That’s where fate decided to intervene. A few weeks later, I received a coupon for a free introductory dance lesson at a small, privately owned dance studio that had just opened. I would love to remember the name of the place and truthfully, I tried to look it up. But with a dozen or more dance schools in the Ottawa area, it’s a bit difficult to jog the old memory. All I can tell you is that it was a privately owned studio located on a little side street and was on the upstairs floor of another business.

I was excited because the coupon boasted a free lesson in salsa, tango and cha-cha, to name a few. I can writhe and wiggle my body to music with the best of them, but this would be the first time I received formal instruction. It was one of the best 90 minutes of my life! I took to dance like a swan to a lake (see what I did, there?) and was able to memorize a lot of steps and do them properly on the first try. It seemed as though studying katas had an unexpected benefit in the sense that I could learn and recall dance moves without issue.

The instructor was pleased and impressed with me and asked if I had ever done dance before or even martial arts. I replied that I did karate and she explained that this was why I had good balance, centering and was able to learn dance the way I was. There were only five couples in total but I was partnered with almost every woman in the room that night, much to the chagrin of my ex-wife who apparently was born with two left feet. Dance, like everything else in life, is not for everyone and she didn’t take to it. Despite how much fun I was having, she was not a happy camper at seeing me dance with other women. Whatever. It was a LESSON for light’s sake… There’s a reason she’s an “ex”… Moving on!

At the instructor’s request, I joined a few more introductory classes and learned the rudimentary basics of dance. I absolutely loved it, and it provided some valuable tools that translated easily into karate. But once the whole “introductory” phase was past, the reality is that I simply couldn’t afford to pay for the lessons. Such is life. I also didn’t enjoy the constant fights I had with my ex-wife every time I attended a lesson. Apparently, she preferred having another woman punch me in the face instead of dancing with me.

The bottom line is that dance and martial arts share a lot of the same valuable benefits including but not limited to flexibility, balance, knowing where to step, increased circulation, a strengthened core and increased control over one’s own body. All of those are fantastic and shared aspects. That’s why, if you’ve ever thought about it or considered it, I would highly recommend dance as a a supplemental means of fitness. Or a primary one, if you aren’t in the martial arts. Ever try Zumba? Combination of cardio and dancing? That shit’ll kick your ass, believe me!

My sons are already obsessed with dancing. Of course, Nathan is all about the twerking… I guess I should just be grateful that he never learned flossing or one of those weird gimmick dances. I also think that precision and accuracy are important, shared aspects of martial arts and dance. And there’s no denying that professional dancers are superb athletes that work extremely hard. Hence, the jealousy at the ripped abs and being able to wear a unitard without looking like a sausage about to burst out of its casing. Not that I want to wear a unitard, of course. Jus’ saying’… Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna dance my way out of that last comment! ☯

Why So Negative?

There is suffering in the world. You may have heard me say this a time or two, and it’s one of the basics behind the study of Buddhism and trying to find inner peace. In my experience, a good amount of that suffering stems from people’s negativity and complaining. I’m certainly not innocent of this, as I occasionally do my fair share of complaining about stuff, but long-term negativity can lead to a host of problematic issues within one’s own life (which I wrote about here).

A few months ago, after some soul-searching and because of certain professional needs, I decided to reconnect with the social media world. I had closed down all of my social media accounts back in late-2018 and with the exception of this blog and email, I had no contact with the online world. I got my news and current events from the radio like I did when I was a kid, and from word-of-mouth. The latter is nice, especially due to the current state of the world as it allows me to connect with people in a direct way as opposed to through a computer screen.

Although it’s been wonderful to reconnect with some old friends that I would otherwise be unable to communicate with, I’ve also been bombarded with a social feed FILLED with negativity. The worst part, and what’s caught me by surprise, is that most of it always seems to come from the same handful of people. Although one can easily believe that we all have some of “those days” when we need to vent and complain, there’s something inherently wrong if every day, every post and every comment includes negative content or “speaking out” against someone or something.

I’m actually a big fan of the “scroll on by” concept, wherein one can simply ignore and move on when they see something they don’t agree with online. But despite that concept, there’s a definite effect that involves negativity encouraging negativity. It’s kind of the same effect that leads to riots and mass disturbances; being exposed to it in the immediate moment or the long term will eventually cause you to join in. After all, human beings are inherently pack animals.

If you haven’t read the previous post that I linked in the opening paragraph, take a quick look to see what actual physiological effects that constant negativity will have on your body. People don’t realize that when they’re in a constant state of complaining and negativity that they’re not just working towards pissing off the people in their immediate environment, they also cause damage to themselves. Take a look at someone who has an ulcer as a result of years of stress, fear and/or trauma. Negativity can easily takes its toll…

Folks, it’s easy for me to sit behind my keyboard and try to tell everyone to stop being so fuckin’ negative… I would love it if society understood that the problems of the world should be dealt with rather than posted about. I often think about my chosen career as a prime example. There are a lot of people who like to complain about my industry. But those people are always more than welcome to train for it and see if they can do better. But at the end of the day, we should all be working a little bit harder to try and keep things positive.

More than anything else, this is what the world needs, right now. Not complaining about the state of affairs, how matters in the public are dealt with or constantly bashing one’s own industries. And not everyone needs to hear you complain about why you think something is wrong, especially when law and perspective may prove otherwise. Negativity is insidious, and you’ll be surprise to look up eventually and realize that if all you do is complain and be negative, that’ll be the environment you exist in. And there’s no easier way to guarantee unhappiness than to be negative all the time. I’m sure y’all know some people like this. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got some folks to unfollow and scroll on past… ☯

WD-40 And Duct Tape Aren’t Always Enough…

I was having an interesting conversation with my Endocrinologist, two weeks ago while we were busy high-fiving and patting each other on the back for an excellent A1C result (which you can see my excitement in the video I posted here). The conversation involved telling me that I was a very “boring” patient, because I took care of myself made an effort to maintain and control my Diabetes as opposed to allowing it to control me.

He explained that he occasionally spoke of me to some of his other patients (without using my name or personal information, of course) in relation to things they should be doing and he wanted my opinion as to what I felt the success of my treatment was attributed to. I gave him my usual spiel about exercising, trying to eat well and testing my blood sugars often, but the biggest factor I provided was the WILL to do those things.

It’s no secret that uncontrolled blood sugars and in fact, Diabetes in general can cause a person to be without energy, drive and ambition. Most importantly, a person who has suffered through Diabetes for any number of years will often just throw up their hands or hang their heads low and say, “Fuck it…” before indulging in an easier lifestyle and all the vices and poor health choices that it includes. And that’s where I differ from the norm…

The body is a complex machine; one that requires constant attention and maintainance. And that’s not just an expression. Although biological in nature, your body IS a machine, with a shit ton of complex and delicate moving parts, functions and movements. You need to fuel this machine in the form of food consumption for energy, patch up and repair when there’s damage and provide supplementation and medications, as well. And all of that is controlled by a meaty computer processor that’s protectively encased in an armoured helmet. Not least of which is that we have a tail pipe that vents gas and expels waste like a vehicle.

Even the most high-end and sophisticated engines will eventually seize if hey aren’t maintained, lubricated and fed the appropriate types of fuel. And the superb machine that is your body is no different. I’ve had this discussion with a number of Diabetic associates that I’ve had over the years (most of which are unfortunately already deceased). Although it can be easy to just eat whatever’s laying around and whatever’s easiest, one needs to put in the effort to eat fresh foods, lean proteins and portions that won’t cause you to balloon up like a morbid, meat-based beach ball. I’m partial to salmon and tuna steaks, and enjoy a carb-free meal of fish and brussel sprouts at least twice a week.

Exercise is already an integral part to keeping oneself healthy and it’s no surprise that it would be all the more important for someone with Diabetes. I’ve struggled for years against weight gain, blood sugar levels and better body chemistry, all of which can be manipulated and improved through exercise. And to be honest, unless you’re part of a club or formal fitness club that you’re paying for, it doesn’t have to take huge lengths of time. At home, I keep my workouts limited to thirty or forty minutes. This allows for a good sweat, an increased heart rate AND it allows me to opportunity to get the workout done before my children make me wish they were old enough to wear sparring gear! The point is that you can hammer out any variety of workouts in the short time that it takes you to watch one episode of whatever you’re binge-watching at the moment.

Between food and exercise, you need to pay close attention to your insulin levels and blood sugars. Maintaining those two aspects of your Diabetes in conjunction with food and exercise will guarantee an increased longevity and less chance of serious Diabetes complications. Most Diabetes complications are permanent. Although you can get SOME organs replaced, there’s never any guarantee. You can remedy an amputation by getting a prosthetic, but this ain’t a sci-fi movie. You won’t be hustling around with a cybernetic limb. At least not yet.

So knowing that it could help you live longer, be healthier and feel better, one would be inclined to think that this would be the only motivation you need. But unfortunately, this is rarely the case. You need to WANT those things. You also need to recognize that stepping up and putting the effort is the ONLY way you’ll get them. An important part of it is to ask yourself what you have to fight for.

Personally, I’d like to live long enough to see the potential birth of my grandchildren and grow old with my wife. I can’t do that if I have a heart attack in my forties because I ate like shit and sat on the couch day in and day out… So folks, work hard at keeping your engine running. It’s the only one you’ll get. And once you’re dead, there are no backsies! So work hard, eat well and make the effort to make all your medical appointments. Your engine will run smoother, longer and you’ll get to reap the benefits that come with a longer, happier life. ☯

Well Then, Maybe YOU Want To Be The Doctor…

Being diagnosed as Type-1 Diabetic at the tender age of 4, I’ve had the benefit and burden of surviving my childhood with a plethora of different doctors, specialists and all-around know-it-alls who love the sound of their own voices and providing unsolicited opinions. But i would be lying if I said that I didn’t owe my survival through said childhood as a result of those medical professionals. During my childhood, my parents lacked the education, resources and information to provide the level of care that was required to help a small child survive Type-1 Diabetes. I mean, they did the best they could with what they had. But there’s no doubt I’d be dead by now if not for the care and advice from the many doctors I’ve had over the years.

But one thing that’s grated on my nerves in recent decades, is the use and aversion to Dr. Google. Y’all know Dr. Google, right? It’s a pretty common practice that people have where they look up their symptoms online and make clinical decisions for their health based on what they’ve found. I don’t need to tell you that this can be an extremely dangerous practice and I certainly don’t recommend it. That being said, there’s a growing number of reputable, peer-reviewed sites that can lend some invaluable information when the situation doesn’t allow for an 8-hour hospital visit or a doctor’s office visit that would likely only be scheduled months down the road.

Such sites can include some of my favourites like WebMD, Healthline.com and the Mayo Clinic’s website. One good example of this is when my wife successfully identified our son’s tendency to soil himself as Encopresis, a condition in children where bowel movements are painful so they hold it in to avoid said pain, resulting in clogged fecal matter that needs to be softened and passed through increased fiber and water intake. (Notice that I used the Mayo Clinic’s page to define Encopresis)

We didn’t just blindly accept the condition as what was happening but the information we gained gave us the ability to ask Nathan the right questions and, as a result, lead to an at-home treatment the ultimately cured the condition. Otherwise, we might have been looking at doctors’ appointments, tests, invasive probes and attempted prescriptions over days and perhaps weeks, for a simple condition my wife was able to identify in one afternoon of reasonable and proper research.

But most doctors despise this practice and not only frown on it but will directly berate patients when they hear that they’ve “checked online” in relation to something medical. One good example comes to mind from the early 2000’s when I was totally and completely exhausted, regardless of sleep. I was always dizzy, had bad headaches and my body and joints ached constantly. Although the internet wasn’t quite what it is now, I was able to research some information and found a condition referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Based on my symptoms and the possible causes of this condition, it was recommended I see a doctor. Which I did. Then I explained. And spent the next twenty minutes being lectured on the fact that HE was the doctor and HE’d decide what my diagnosis is.

In a way, I get it. Doctors and medical professionals spend years, huge amounts of money as well as personal commitment and sacrifice to become the professionals that they are. I can understand that it would come as a slap in the face to have Joe Everyday walk into your office and tell YOU what the diagnosis is, before you’ve even had a chance to examine them. It would be like a white belt starting at my dojo and trying to tell ME how to punch or kick because they saw Van Damme do it differently.

The problem is that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome usually passes within a few months and can occur without warning or reason. There are risk factors and possible reasons, but nothing proven. I was basically ignored and sent home with the recommendation to “get some sleep,” despite my explanation that sleep wasn’t rejuvenating me. And there lies the issue: hospital and clinic wait times have just as much effect on the medical staff as they do on the patients. Doctors often double book and have to hustle patients through as quickly as they can, without having proper time to evaluate and diagnose what may be wrong.

On the flip side of things, we have those peer-reviewed sites I mentioned. You know, the ones written by doctors then reviewed and confirmed by other doctors? It’s not a good thing when a patient assumes to KNOW what’s wrong based on a few web searches. But by the same token, it’s also wrong for a doctor to dismiss a patients questions and concerns BECAUSE their information originated from the internet. After all, it’s fuckin’ 2021, people! I’ve heard multiple responses from doctors including, but not limited to:

  • “Would you like to be the doctor or would you like to let me do my job…?”
  • “Oh, you checked online?! I guess you have all the answers, then…”
  • “People need to stop risking their health by depending on the internet!”
  • “I’ll decide on that, thank you very much!” (usually before they’ve even heard my concerns)

There are many more, but online everything is the way of the world. Although skilled and likely cranky due to debt, doctors need to understand that provided information mixed with the patients genuine concerns shouldn’t be dismissed or taken lightly. After all, if you could diagnose and heal a patient in days using shared information rather than weeks, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Work smarter not harder, right?

I’ve been pretty lucky that such encounters have usually been the result of clinic or on-call doctors and not my usual family practitioners or specialists. But if you choose to use the world’s information to help in your medical care, be prepared to stand your ground and deal with some of the more judgmental and touchy doctors that are out there. This shouldn’t discourage you from doing research and looking at what may be causing a particular ailment, so long as you use common sense and call 911 if you’re bleeding or are suffering an immediate emergency. The internet can only do so much… ☯