“Grab” On To Some Facts ðŸ¥‹

I know I tend to post a lot about medical issues, problems in society and how to improve your life. This is mostly because, well… That’s the blog! It’s often hard to cover off topics about Diabetes, medical and physical health and the suffering of humanity without touching on some negative aspects.

As such, I’ve decided to keep it short, sweet and light today. I found this photo on another blogging site and it made me smile. I figured any practitioners of the martial arts who are reading may get a kick out of it as well:

I think this is pretty funny, and quite accurate. But just to touch on the actual art of Jiu-Jitsu for a moment, here are five facts about the popular martial art that most people may not know or possibly get wrong:

  1. Jiu-Jitsu is not Brazilian. Despite its popularization through organizations like the UFC, Jiu-Jitsu (or Jujutsu) traces its roots back to Japan. When you hear the term “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”, this refers to an adaptation of an older form of Judo;
  2. Jiu-Jitsu is not only a grappling style. Most forms of the martial art also use weapons and strikes. The idea behind the style was to be able to engage an enemy who may be attacking with a short range weapon, such as a short sword or stick. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu incorporates a number of stand-up techniques and it isn’t all about rolling on the mats;
  3. The name “Jiu-Jitsu” is a romanization spelling of the correct spelling, which is “Jujutsu”. And this term didn’t come into being until the early 1800’s. The term was used to encompass a number of grappling styles, empty-handed or not. In fact, one of the systems it covered was “the way of softness”, or Judo. This was almost two hundred years before Judo’s creation by Kano Jigoro;
  4. Jiu-Jitsu is at least partly responsible for the creation and development of multiple other martial arts styles, such as Aikido, Judo and Sambo. During its early existence, Jiu-Jitsu is credited with the creation of more than 2000 offshoots of the art. Some of these retained connections with Jiu-Jitsu while others have modified their techniques and differed their styles enough to no longer considering themselves a style of Jiu-Jitsu;
  5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is descendant from Judo. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most popular forms of the art, given how much exposure it has received in mainstream media and the propagation of its teachings. Although an extremely effective art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed after Judo was introduced in 1914.

Sure, maybe points #1 and #5 sort of touch on the same thing, but whatevs… It’s all good information, right? I’ve been doing the martial arts for long enough to know that there’s always something new to learn, and roots always go back further than what we assume is the beginning. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and find yourself a little something to help make you smile today. ☯

Supplement Yo’self! 💊

Many people say that food isn’t quite what it use to be. Although I think this is true in some respects, as long as you eat a properly balanced diet on a daily basis, you should NORMALLY get everything your body requires. I’m going to point out that “NORMALLY” doesn’t always apply to most diets in today’s society.

As someone with Diabetes, one needs to be cognizant of the potential for a lack of certain nutrients, supplements and vitamins in one’s diet. In some circumstances, the only way to ensure you get everything you need can be through the form of supplementation. Obviously, I feel compelled to point out that no one should include supplements of any kind in one’s diet without first consulting a nutritionist, dietitian or medical practitioner.

There are a number of vitamins and minerals that are ideal for someone with Diabetes. I will endeavour to cover off some of the most important ones.

Chromium: This one is a staple of Diabetes health. I’ve often heard a lot about it, through my youth and it serves a number of purposes. Taken in the correct doses, it can help increase your tolerance to blood glucose, lower fasting blood glucose and help reduce insulin levels. Some studies have shown that intensive exercise helps to increase the concentration of tissue chromium.

Magnesium: This is one that’s been a problem for me, as levels tend to drop to a dangerously low level in people with Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition I’ve actually suffered from. Low Magnesium can lead to increased insulin-resistance, which is a prominent problem for someone with type 1 Diabetes and can often be a cause for Type 2.

Potassium: Believe it or not, this one can be an issue BECAUSE of Diabetes. Insulin treatment can often cause a deficiency in potassium. Potassium is important to counteract the effects of sodium and for the proper function of key areas in the body.

Taurine: Well, this one is good news for me. People with Type 1 Diabetes often suffer form low Taurine levels, which can cause certain heart problems and affect the thickness of your blood. The good news is that Taurine can be found in protein-rich foods. Or in my case, they supplement most energy drinks with Taurine.

Vitamins: Diabetics can, in most cases, have decreased levels in key vitamins including but not limited to B vitamins, Vitamin C, D, E and Zinc. I’ve covered off the use of most of these vitamins in an earlier post (What Did You Think You Were Eating For?), but you can get most of these in their proper amounts by taking a simple daily multi-vitamin.

There are a number of other vitamins and supplements as well, but these are the primary ones that I’ve found in my travels. Obviously, you want to talk to your doctor before starting any of these, with the exception of a generic multi-vitamin.

It IS possible to over-supplement, so it’s important to get the right information before starting to take them. It’s also possible to become paranoid and to start taking supplements simply to ensure you’re getting enough, even though in most cases you don’t need them.

Although some supplements offer the promise of lowered insulin levels and better blood glucose control, most of them need to be tailored and dosed in accordance with each person, specifically. So eat a healthy, balanced diet, test your blood sugars often and keep in touch with your medical practitioner. Those practices on their own, will help to curb some of the issues described above. ☯

Raise A Glass… To Your Vices.

Look, I enjoy my occasional cold beer on a hot summer day like anyone else does. I would be lying if I said I Didn’t occasionally enjoy a nice black spiced rum when I write. But how do we know if our enjoyment stems from craving or addiction?

I have written previous posts on the effects of alcohol on the Diabetic system, so I won’t go into great detail about it again. I’ll simply point out that alcohol can have some negative effects, such as lowering or increasing blood sugar.

Alcohol is processed by the liver, the organ generally responsibly for the release of glucose when signalled by the body. But if the liver is busy processing all the alcohol from the keg you just tapped, it may not be able to respond accordingly and your blood sugar could drop.

The flip side is that depending on the type of alcohol you consume, there can be an increased amount of carbohydrate. For example, the average can of beer contains between 12 to 15 grams of beer, depending on the brand and type. So if you consume 3 or 4 cans, you’re taking in 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates and it becomes important to take insulin accordingly. Certain “pure” alcohols however, contain no carbohydrates until you mix them with something. These include spirits such as whiskey and rum. Most of them lose their carbohydrate content during the distilling process.

Now that I’ve covered off the Diabetic aspect of it all, let’s discuss booze in general. I know a lot of people who consume alcohol recreationally. In fact, humanity has been consuming alcohol as early as 5000 years ago, with the introduction of drinks like Sura and Mead. Some studies have revealed we may have started even earlier than that, but as usual, I digress…

My goal today is to share the story of my first drink. I was 23 years old and in Okinawa. No, that’s not a typo. I genuinely never had alcohol until almost my mid-twenties. I often tell folks I was 21, but since I was born in 1978 and went to Japan in 2001, well… you do the math!

Given that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 4, I imposed quite a number of restrictions on myself from a young age. Alcohol was one of them. Even throughout my teen years, I never really partook. Part of the reason was because I was generally a designated driver for friends. Another reason is because I had the opportunity to see the foolishness that ensued from said friends after drinking. I figured I wanted no part of that.

By the time that 2001 had crept around the corner, I had still never experienced the hooch. And in all honesty, I never felt I had missed out on much. But in October of that year, my karate instructor and myself along with a couple of other students travelled to Japan and onward to Okinawa.

The trip was long and complicated. We switched flights a number of times through Canada and the United States before finally crossing over the Pacific. After making a number of smaller bunny hop flights, we started the final flight that would take us from New York to Narita, Japan. It was a long, overnight flight that lasted the better part of 14 hours.

During this leg of the trip, Sensei came over and sat next to me to discuss some of the finer points of custom and tradition that I would be dealing with. Part of these customs included the fact that toasting and consuming alcohol, such as Sake and beer, would need to be observed.

When Sensei saw the look on my face, he explained that he understood that I had never drank before and that if all I did was have a sip during toasts and such, that would be adequate. He did go on to explain that custom dictated that refusing an offered drink would be construed as an insult to the host’s hospitality and that at my age, there should be no issue with accepting.

And no, before any of my readers start reading into this as a form of peer pressure, it was far from anything close to that. Had there been a genuine medical or religious reason behind my aversion to alcohol, he would have totally respected that. But I figured it would be fine.

During our initial few days in Tokyo, we visited a Japanese dignitary that Sensei was acquainted with. True to Sensei’s word, the man’s wife served us all beer. Oddly enough, it came in a plastic bottle. I had never seen that before It was Asahi or Orion beer. I can’t recall which one, as I had enjoyed them both while overseas.

Anyway, I don’t have any illusions of being a genius. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I feel I’m intelligent and level-headed enough to approach most situations rationally and with a touch of common sense. Once the bottle was placed in front of me, I held it up under my nose and took and experimental sniff. I glanced at Sensei, who glared at me and shifted his eyes to the bottle as if to say, “Quit f%&kin’ around and take a sip…”

So I did. Hey! It wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it had a touch of carbonation similar to soda. What was the big deal? So I started to drink it. I drank it as though it were soda. That’s where I went wrong. So very, very wrong…

I had that beer finished within fifteen minutes. Bearing in mind that this was the first beer I EVER drank, this wasn’t so smart. Remember that common sense I mentioned earlier? Gone.

In an effort to be a dutiful wife to the host, as soon as I had taken my last sip and the bottle touched the table, it was taken away and a fresh one was placed in front of me. I glanced at Sensei once again, who gave me a look akin to a disgruntled father. I took this to mean that refusing the second would be as insulting as refusing the first. And even though that assumption was correct, there was a catch. But I’ll get to that.

So, I kept drinking. The process repeated itself a few times until I had consumed 4 bottles of beer in roughly a 1 hour period. Uh oh… Houston, we have a problem! I started to feel a touch of disorientation and almost felt as though I was moving even if I wasn’t. My “no big deal” attitude was quickly replaced by an “oh, shit” attitude when I came to the realization that I was drunk. For the first time. In Japan. In a dignitary’s house, no less.

All of a sudden Sensei slaps his thighs and gets up, announcing that it was time to go. I sat there, flexing the muscles of my legs experimentally. One of the other students sitting next to me happened to be a guy I graduated with from high school. He had a drunken look on his face but was likely accustomed to the effect and was dealing with it, no problem.

He glanced at me and asked what was wrong. i told him I thought I was drunk. Bear in mind that I wasn’t demonstrating any signs of being drunk. My speech wasn’t slurred, I wasn’t swaying in my seat… Everything was based on the feelings and sensation happening inside.

He said, “You don’t look drunk.” I replied that I knew that. He also said, “You don’t sound drunk, either.” I took a deep breath and responded, “I’m aware of all that, but I’m quite sure that if I try to stand right now my legs may not support me.” He was good enough to help me to my feet and guide me out the door.

The dignitary, his wife and sons were lined up at the door to see us of. We made quite the pair, each with an arm around the other, stumbling out the door. Way to make a first impression in Japan…

I felt reasonably like crap for the next few hours, and Sensei got a great laugh out of it. When he came over to talk to me about it and ask how I felt, he also asked me why I decided to drink quite so much. I explained that I felt I couldn’t refuse any of the drinks. He agreed that this would have been an insult. The detail he failed to mention BEFORE the outing is that I could have nursed that one beer for the entire hour that we were there and it would have been fine. In fact, having a bit of beer left in the bottle would have been better, as it tells your host that you’ve had enough and they’ve satisfied their guest. this would have been a great detail to know prior to going out.

Looking back on it 18 years later, it’s great for a laugh. And I’ve often used it as a good story for people in relation to drinking and its effects. But at the time, I remember having a bit of a feeling of invincibility since I never really experienced a hangover. That’s when I reached the point back in Canada, where i overdid it. I no longer have that benefit.

Everything in moderation, folks. Although some people view alcohol as a poison on the body (and by some definitions, it is), there’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink with friends. It becomes a problem if you start needing that drink to help you go to sleep, combat certain pain or anxiety or if you’re drinking at radically inappropriate times (at work, first thing in the morning, meeting your future in-laws, etc…)

Be sure to reach out to the appropriate resources, should you feel that you fall under that category. Sometimes life slips away on us, and we don’t necessarily realize we have a problem until it’s pointed out to us. There are tons of easily accessible resources online that be searched within seconds and your medical practitioner would also be able to help. ☯

When Your Dogs Are Barking…

One of the important things that is often discussed in terms of Diabetes complications are the feet. Because Type 1 Diabetics tend to have poor circulation in the extremities, we often tend to have issues with our feet. It wouldn’t be a Diabetes post unless I listed a complication, right?

But seriously, we tend to have some seriously poor circulation and carry a lot of issues in our eyes and our feet. But why is that? As a general rule, Type 1 Diabetes tends to cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, fungal infections, ingrown toenails and dry skin. Not least of these is the fact that we tend to take WAY longer to heal any cuts or wounds in our feet as compared to a non-Diabetic person.

Most importantly, Diabetes tends to cause specific nerve damage and circulatory issues that can lead to severe foot issues. This is one of the reasons I recently posted about why Diabetics shouldn’t run around bare-footed.

According to WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/foot-problems#1), one of the serious problems you could face is sensory Diabetic neuropathy. This is when you have nerve damage in your feet as a result of poor blood circulation. The resulting lack of feeling not only causes wounds to heal slower, but also makes it so that you don’t feel heat or pain in your extremities. This causes a score of other issues in your feet as well.

The second issue is poor blood flow, or peripheral vascular disease. This is specifically what causes the poor circulation within your feet and all the problems attached. This can eventually lead to gangrene or other conditions that will lead to eventual amputation of the foot if you don’t take proper care of it.

Obviously, all of the issues I listed in the second paragraph are worth noting, as well. But here are a few things you can do to prevent these issues.

Dry your feet. As much as that sounds like a basic step, first and foremost, you can ensure the prevention of some foot problems by properly drying between each of your toes after each shower.

Exercise regularly. You’re probably sick to death of hearing me say that, but exercising seriously deals with a whole whack of issues and is ultimately good for you, overall.

Don’t ignore foot injuries. It’s easy to overlook small cuts and scrapes, and it may be okay to do so. But paying closer attention to them to prevent infection and other issues can be just as easy and prevent long-term issues.

Your feet are kind of important. I don’t now about you, but I need them for a whole bunch of things like walking, running, kicking, etc… But maintaining good blood sugar levels, exercising regularly and checking your feet can all be easy ways to prevent deeper and more severe issues down the road.

Take a step towards preventing issues with your feet (see what i did there?) ☯

Growth Is Painful

I often write about how life is tough. Of course it is, right? Where would the challenge of life be, without the constant obstacles that consume our daily lives. If everything was handed to us on a silver platter, we’d get slow and lazy and never reach for the stars. With that thought in mind, it becomes paramount that we meet those challenges head on. There really is no other solution.

Mandy Hale once said, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” Powerful words. Like with most quotes, the meaning behind the words are certainly up for interpretation, but the obvious meaning here is that life in general and all its challenges WILL hurt; but not quite as much as staying rooted in that pain without trying to move forward.

The only thing worse than working hard your entire life and not having it pan out is having it pan out and then it all gets torn out from under you. But those challenges aren’t meant to break you; they are meant to help you grow stronger. Sometimes we are living a situation that’s toxic to us, even when we don’t realize it. Some people I know personally, are even in a life that makes them unhappy, yet they persevere in that life.

And why do we do this? Usually it’s because we’ve become so accustomed to the lifestyle we’ve become entrenched into that we’re almost frightened to move on to something that could potentially be better for us.

So let that strength grow. If you’re willing to step up and fight, you’d be surprised how far you can reach. It won’t always be easy, but who ever said life was meant to be easy, right?

In reading some things I previously wrote, I was reminded of this tonight. Sometimes the effort required to fight through all these challenges seems overwhelming. I hate to be THAT guy and quote Bruce Lee, but he once said something that significantly applies to this. He once said, “Do not pray for an easy life.pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

Remembering What’s Important

I remember attending a local college, back in New Brunswick in 1996. I was young, naive and foolishly thought that I should take a year off from studying before going off to college. My thinking was to work and accumulate some money before diving headlong into more schooling. My family disagreed.

Being as that I was so young and naive at the time, I went along with it, but I wouldn’t discover until years later that I could have, and should have followed my instinct and taken a break. I was studying computer programming and burned out in my second year.

Doesn’t sound much like me. Even now, as I write it out it doesn’t seem like something I would allow to happen. But it happens to the best of us, sometimes.

I was reminded of this today because I was cleaning out some old stuff in my home office and came across something I had printed out during my first year of college. Once I read it, I couldn’t believe that I had managed to keep it for 23 years. But I thought I would share it here, as it allows for an important message about life.

Some of you may have heard this story before, but here it is:

A professor stood in front of his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar slightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous YES.

The professor then produced two bottles of beer from under the table and poured their entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things such as family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions. And if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you were to put the sand into the jar first, there would be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

It’s important to pay attention to the things in your life that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your spouse and children. Visit with your parents. Take time for your health. Treat yourself to dinner. Play another 18 holes.

Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the professor’s students raiser her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked that. The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beer with friends or family.” ☯

Less Is More…

We live in a world obsessed with physical possession. Most households pride themselves on the acquisition of personal belongings and the accumulation of wealth. I’m not sure what that says about modern society as a whole, but it’s certainly a misguided way to live.

Buddhism does speak about the possession of material goods, to an extent. The Four Noble Truths go into some detail about how humanity’s suffering is often rooted in our cravings and desires. People often tend to try and fill the emptiness in their own lives through material possessions. This is often a temporary fix, which continues to snowball as we keep trying to fill the void in one’s life. Almost like an addiction that can never be fully satisfied.

So what can be done to counteract these issues? There is a lifestyle known as minimalism. This style of life describes living with less, and ridding oneself with excess belongings. On the whole, minimalist living involves a bit more than just getting rid of stuff, but it can lend a number of positive benefits to your life.

According to an article published by Money Under 30, they describe getting rid of possessions using the “90/90” rule. The article states: “Look at a possession. Pick something. Anything. Have you used that item in the last 90 days? If you haven’t, will you use it in the next 90? If not, then it’s okay to let go.” Here’s the article, if you want to give it a look (https://www.moneyunder30.com/minimalist-living). It contains a lot of the benefits behind living with less.

Consider the following; if you’ve eliminated a quantity of your possessions that you no longer use, you also won’t need a residence quite as large or expensive. The financial gains can be many. And budgeting the overall income of your household will become easier as well.

There are some areas where you can’t necessarily live with less. For example, buying food in bulk can often reduce the overall cost of groceries and can help save on fuel and resources for repeated outings.

True minimalism usually requires a level of discipline that most people can’t adhere to. For example, true minimalists don’t own television sets or vehicles. This isn’t always a practical reality for most people. But if you’re able to dig through your stuff and find things that you completely forgot you had, maybe it’s time to let it go.

Technology becomes a catch-22 for such a lifestyle. Less social media becomes an important factor in reducing the stress in your life. But having books and movies digitized, such as e-books, can be extremely helpful in reducing the clutter within your household.

At the end of the day, minimalism isn’t for everyone. But the thought came to me today as I sold a large piece of furniture that was cluttering my home. Living with less can definitely make you happier. As Marie Kondo would say, “The best way to find out what we truly need is to get rid of what we don’t.” ☯