Facebook Live!

Hey folks, I’ve been blogging for a few years now and it dawns on me that I don’t often get many questions or comments on my writing (unless it’s something negative that usually isn’t commented visibly). Anyway, with my recent purchase of some new media equipment, I thought I would take this show live and actually do a Facebook Live event where I could answer questions as they come in. Topics of discussion would include health & fitness, Diabetes, martial arts and thoughts on general matters. I’d love to give this a go and see if it’s potentially something I could start doing regularly.

I’ve already posted about this on my facebook page (yes, for those who didn’t know I have a Facebook page AND a YouTube page! Y’all should go follow those right meow!) and this post will appear there as well. My plan is if I get a significant number of likes on this post, signifying people’s interest in participating, I would schedule the live for this coming weekend and post the schedule on my Facebook page. I could do one in the morning and one in the evening to accommodate folks who may not be available. I’ll leave it to all of you to determine whether this happens or not. ☯️

In Order To Make It Easier…

People say that you need to be motivated in order to accomplish one’s goals. I respectfully decline. I think you need to simply take a first step. The success of that first step will provide the motivation later and said motivation will help fuel one’s drive, which will in turn ultimately push you towards push you towards your goals.

Many people will fizzle out early in their goals and believe it or not, that makes a lot of sense. This happens for a variety of reasons and that’s why I wanted to use today’s post to offer up a short list of things that can potentially make reaching one’s goals difficult. Here we go…

1. Set realistic goals: This one should be simple… Actually, it dawns on me that I say that a lot but it should. A goal should be something simple and realistic. For example, if my goal were to become an astronaut, someone would need to splash me with a cold dose of reality. After all, I’m in my 40’s and nowhere near the shape I need. Not to mention that I have this little thing called Diabetes. For these reasons and many others, I would never be able to become an astronaut, making it an unrealistic goal. Diabetics may go into space at some point in the future but it likely won’t be in my lifetime.
2. Even if you set deadlines, take your time: Whatever you set goals about, it’s important to remember that you’re a human being with basic needs and requirements and you deserve to do things properly. Deadlines can be great, especially if there’s a reason for them. Someone wanting to lose a particular amount of weight so that they’ll fit into wedding attire is a good example. It’s better to do something slowly and properly then rushing it and potentially risk your health AND your results.
3. For the love of light, take breaks: Being on a deadline or having specific goals can actually be pretty stressful, even if you’re motivated. Don’t forget to allow yourself some breaks form your endeavour somewhere in that mix. If you’re on some specific weight-loss diet, allow yourself that small cheat meal. If you’re on some fitness journey, take break days. In fact, it’s been proven that people who allow themselves an indulgence here and there during diets will have better success and breaks days are a must in order to allow muscle recovery and better fitness results.
4. Don’t be discouraged, especially by others: This is a big one and a personal pet peeve of mine. Making it worse than the usual pet peeve is that I’m guilty of it, myself. If you’re eating a particular diet or trying a particular fitness routine, it can be hard to stay motivated if someone is telling you it’s dumb or it doesn’t work. My offence is that I’m a firm disbeliever in fad diets. The only genuine way to cut through fat is to burn more calories than you take in. And certain dietary choices piss me off, which is why I unfortunately belittle them when someone else mentions them. This is a horrible practice and one that I need to stop (and I’m working on it).

Whether your goal is to improve your overall health, undertake a new sport or workout routine or just to get healthier, goals will help get you there. Being smart about it and recognizing how your progress can be helped will go a long way towards helping to ensure that you cross that finish line. Having a partner in certain goals can be helpful, as well. After all, we tend to push harder when we have a workout partner, Either way, taking steps to ensure the success of your goals will lead to better health, better well-being and better Diabetes management. Food for thought… ☯️

A Block Is A Block…

In karate and in most styles of martial arts, we perform drills and techniques over and over with the expectation that it will instil muscle memory. That way, in a real scenario where one I attacked by someone else, the block and/or counter-technique will come naturally and without hesitation. If you have to take the time to think about how you’ll block and how you’ll defend yourself, it’s already too late. Although television and movies tend to romanticize long, fancy fights where both participants exchange blows back and forth, a real fight never happens this way.

Despite consistent training and muscle memory, a real confrontation leaves you with so little time to react and protect oneself that technique and smoothness go right out the fuckin’ window. Trust me, I’ve been there. When an opponent’s fist is coming at your face and you only have a microsecond to react. When you block, IF you block and I hope you do, it won’t be perfect. You won’t have the bone alignment or the proper arm position. But whatever you throw out there will be anything more than just taking the strike. And that’s the important thing to remember; it’s not about looking like Bruce Lee in his prime. It’s about blocking the attack in order to protect yourself.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train consistently. It’s like stretching and warming up. Let’s agree that in a real fight, you won’t have time to stop and stretching out your limbs before getting into it. But if you stretch and train properly, your muscles will be prepared for the explosive movements that may come with a sudden need to defend oneself. The same can be said of one’s blocks. If someone takes a swing at you, as long as you can throw out something that will intercept that swing and keep you from being hurt, that’s all that matters. The muscle memory will still serve you but you need to keep it consistent. ☯️

Polishing Your Horns Won’t Make You A Star

They say a little competition is a good thing. I believe the expression is “healthy competition.” Although this can be fine as long as that competition is for the purposes of fun and is only a game. The problem begins when one’s need for competition extends beyond fun and games and drips into everyday life. If you compete against others in life, you’ll find yourself walking a very lonely path; even if you’re not alone.

The goal of life should be to eliminate suffering; suffering in one’s own life and suffering in other peoples’ lives. If you compete against others for the purposes of personal advancement, comparing yourself to others or for gain, such as money, popularity or status, the only outcome will be suffering. Status in life means nothing. And let’s not mistake status for success; those are two very different things and success can be measured by the efforts and goals you set for oneself. Status is how outside people see you in relation to personal gain. Not so great.

Back in the 1990’s (yes, I’m old) I had my wisdom teeth removed. While I was laid up for a day or two on Tylenol 3’s, I rented a handful of movies to watch. Yes, this was back during a time when you had to actually walk into a retail location, provide your personal information and borrow a playable tape (not DVD) in order to watch it at home. Anyway, I decided to binge on a particular series and rented every Rocky movie I could find. I was a pretty big Sylvester Stallone fan, so it was a no-brainer. There were four movies out, at the time.

When I got to Rocky IV, one of the things I was most amazed with was the soundtrack. One would think that I would have been inspired by the lesson behind the movie, but you can only watch Stallone lose, train and make a comeback then finally defeat one’s enemy before the movies kind of all blend together. Anyway, there’s a song by Survivor called “Burning Heart.” The song was released in 1985, the same year as Rocky IV came out. The movie has some undertones that’s suggestive that the message relates to the Cold War and if I had to guess, I’d say that the song was written specifically for the soundtrack.

Anyway, there’s a particular line in the song that speaks to me and has done so ever since. It goes, “In the warrior’s code, there’s no surrender. Though his body says stop, his spirit cries NEVER! Deep in our soul a quiet ember knows it’s you against you; it’s the paradox that drives us on.” And that’s the message: the true competition is against yourself. Work to be a bit better than you were the day before. Set goals and fight to complete them. As long as you have moved one step closer today than you were yesterday, you’re competing the RIGHT way. But as soon as you compete while comparing yourself to anyone else, the only possible result will be suffering. And that doesn’t work for anybody. Food for thought… ☯️

Tighten That Belt…

I was busy re-arranging my home office last weekend and happened to clear everything from on top of my barrack boxes. For those who may not know, barrack boxes are large, foot-locker style boxes used to store clothing and personal effects while going through basic training. In this context, I had the boxes issues to me while I was a cadet for six months at the RCMP Academy. I kept the boxes and they’ve served me well over the past decade and a half for storing certain belongings that either I don’t want damaged or can’t have out in the open.

Once I had cleared off the stuff I had sitting on top of the boxes. I decided to explore them and take a little walk down memory lane. I found photographs, weapons of varying sizes and types and most of all… I found my karate belts. All of them! Nathan walked over while I had them spread out and I could see he was confused by the display before. “Dad, why do you have so many karate belts?” Why indeed, son… Why indeed…?

All the belts to have adorned my waist since 1989

I could get into the whole history of belt ranks and how they came to be, but I want this to be a light-hearted, nostalgic post. I’ll keep it simple by saying that the coloured belt system was introduced in Japan by Master Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo. He noted that some systems used ranking systems and adopted the belt ranking system as his own, which has become the standard in Japanese martial arts and all over the world.

If we look at the photo above, it’s a bit deceiving in that I did not wear all of these belts consistently through the years. In fact, the third belt from the left is my original white belt (if you couldn’t guess from the yellowing). The very first white belt is one I got with a replacement gi. The second one is a belt I borrowed from Sensei when I was at the rank it shows and had forgotten my belt at home. He didn’t want it back so I held onto it.

Unlike other systems with multiple belt colours, you may notice that there are only four belt colours present. The average student begins with a white belt, of course. Over the first couple of years, they acquire a green stripe for reaching certain milestones. When they’ve reached a key point and are ready to test for green belt, they get a solid green bar as seen on the third belt. once they graduate to the rank of green belt, they‘ll train at this level for a couple of years, depending on the student. When they reach a certain skill level and are ready to test for brown belt, they get a solid brown bar as seen on the green belt above.

From there, a number of years will elapse with the students training consistently. Black stripes will be awarded based on skill, much as it was during the white belt rankings. After the third black stripe, the student will express their desire to test for black belt; there is no black bar. And of course, once the student passes black belt, rankings are no longer shown (depending on the style, some will show gold bars for individual dan rankings).

I get a kick out of how my brown belt has soaked up so much blood, sweat and tears that it’s faded to a colour almost matching the green belt. That’s both entertaining and gross. But there’s Uechi’s belt system in a nutshell. I’ve kept all of my belts because they show me the journey I’ve been on and where my martial arts road is leading. And they make neat souvenirs and conversation started with my son. ☯️

Strike Your Own Fuse…

Motivation is a funny thing and I often categorize some of my posts (this one included) as a “motivation” post, but that’s usually because I hope that it’ll motivate you. But the thing is, motivation means different things to different people, depending on their perspective, how they train and what values they attach to such things as motivation.

Some people believe that you need to be motivated to start doing something good for yourself. Okay, let’s examine that concept… Normally, motivation is defined as a general desire or willingness to do something. But how can you desire doing something if you’ve never experienced it before? In order to take that first step towards better health, better fitness and overall goals, I would argue that you need WILL. So long as you have the will to take those first steps and push yourself towards a goal, progress and success will motivate you to continue on.

That feeling of motivation comes almost as a reward for pushing through the difficult, initial steps of any goal you set for yourself. Some may argue that you need to be motivated to start. I respectfully decline. You need to have the WILL to start. Motivation comes later. And once that motivation comes, it’s important to recognize that it should be geared towards a positive outcome. If your motivations are for the defeat of others, you’ll never succeed. If your motivations are geared towards status, image or ego, you’ve failed before you started.

Have the strength of will to make a start. It may suck, it’ll likely hurt and may be difficult to accomplish. But if you can rise up and push yourself enough to take those first steps, progress will motivate you and push you further. Chicken or the egg; you can’t have one without the other. Food for thought… ☯️

Supplementation, Part Trois…

This is my third time posting this material and no, I’m not being lazy. I consider the consumption of vitamins and minerals to be an important part of maintaining one’s health. It’s no surprise that modern nutrition is sorely lacking in most people and with every reposting of this material, I’m reminded of the importance of taking a steady multivitamin on a daily basis; a fact my doctors keep reminding me of, as well. So, bearing in mind that I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, here’s what I posted all the way back in June of 2019. Enjoy!

One of the key reasons behind the consumption of food is to obtain carbohydrates for energy. The human body requires energy to carry on normal functions and, well… stay alive! But what else do we get from the food we eat? A proper diet will also include a number of vitamins and minerals that we require to maintain proper health, growth and energy levels within the body. We’ve all heard about getting enough vitamins from a young age. I remember getting my Flintstones vitamin everyday as a kid.

But if you’re like most people, you’re likely wondering what these vitamins are for and what they do. My goal is to cover off the main ones here:

Vitamin A: This is an all-around vitamin that provides a number of functions including but not limited to the proper health of various bodily functions, tissues and helps to fight chronic disease and is known to be good for the eyes.

Vitamin B: This one is a bit complicated, as there is a large grouping of enzymes, vitamins and minerals that fall under the “B” category. In general, B-vitamins are used for energy production, immune function and absorbing iron. Some them include B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folate) and B12. There are a few more that I can’t recall, but B12 is considered amongst one of the most important of vitamins overall because it helps you turn food into energy.

Vitamin C: At some points, this one has been referred to as the sunshine vitamin. I’m thinking that’s mostly because people’s main source of Vitamin C is from citrus fruits. But this vitamin also helps with iron absorption, immune function and is a natural antioxidant that helps with the elimination of free radicals. Eating citrus fruits are also what sailors used to eat on long voyages to prevent scurvy.

Vitamin D: This vitamin helps with the strengthening of bones and teeth. Our bodies are designed to self-generate this vitamin naturally through exposure to sunlight, but obviously that needs to be done in small doses. Modern life has created an environment where more people spend their time indoors, away from the sun. So supplementation becomes important.

Vitamin E: A pretty straight forward vitamin, this one helps with proper blood circulation and clear skin.

Vitamin K: This vitamin is essential for blood-clotting. In order words, if you’re deficient in this vitamin, small cuts or injuries can cause excessive bleeding that can become dangerous.

Folic Acid: We hear people speak about this one as being necessary during pregnancy. And they would be correct! Folic Acid helps to prevent certain complications during childbirth but is important to everyone for proper cell renewal. This one is also known as Folate, or Vitamin B9 (as listed above).

Calcium: Most people should be familiar with this one. Teeth and bones, people! Teeth and bones! Good calcium levels are required to keep those body parts healthy.

Iron: This helps to build muscle tissue naturally and helps with proper health of the blood. As an interesting sidebar, it’s also what makes your blood red through the reflection of light!

Zinc: Immunity and Fertility. I’m a little unfamiliar with this one and haven’t had the opportunity to research it a great deal.

Chromium: This one is near and dear to my heart. Because it helps to control blood sugar levels. Chromium is what helps all the systems of your body to get the energy they need when they need it. Some traditional medicine practitioners will suggest Chromium supplements for Type 1 Diabetics who may have difficulty in maintaining proper levels.

Magnesium: This one helps your body to absorb all the other vitamins and minerals. It also acts as something of a relaxant to muscle tissue and play a role in proper muscle contraction.

Potassium: This mineral helps with the proper hydration of your body and helps to control blood pressure.

There are many others of course, but I’ve tried to cover off the main vitamins and minerals required for a proper diet. We get most of what we need by eating regularly and including a variety of healthy foods. A lot of people take a daily multi-vitamin, which is fine. But unless you are experiencing symptoms or unexplained illnesses, there shouldn’t be a need to actively try and take added amounts of anything. Your medical practitioner should be able to advise you if further supplementation is required. For example, patients who are recommended to take Folic Acid and Iron during pregnancy.

Obviously, all of this is extremely important; not only for proper health and fitness, which is important to me, but to help with Type 1 Diabetes as well. Taking a daily multivitamin can help to ensure that your body gets everything it needs, in combination with carbohydrates, lean proteins and fibre. My wife Laura originally gave me the idea for the post I wrote in 2019 when she asked about B-vitamins. Every time I re-post this material, I think of her. The credit for this post is all her! ☯️

Sweatin’ To The Facts…

Most people don’t like to sweat. And that makes sense, right? It’s uncomfortable from a dampness standpoint. Humans have an instinct to try and stay warm and dry, and being all wet from sweat tends to contravene that. And it’s considered somewhat taboo from a societal standpoint as well. It’s seen as gross, especially if you it’s seen on someone in a work or social setting. And last but not least, depending on one’s body chemistry and what cocktail of bacterial cultures may be living on you (depending on one’s personal hygiene), it can lend for some rather pungent odours.

From a fitness and physiological standpoint, sweating is not only important but also beneficial to the human body. there are a number benefits to heavy sweating, including the release of toxins, alcohol and other waste byproducts of the body, which helps with detoxifying the body. It also helps with the overall beneficial increase in blood circulation, which has a whole score of other benefits outside of the sweating aspect. But besides being gross and making people think something’s wrong with you, what are some other benefits of sweating?

According to an article posted by HealthLine.com, heavy sweating during exercise can help to potentially reduce the amounts of heavy metals in the body. This is important for the detoxifying process. This is also true for the elimination of certain chemicals that can be harmful on the body in the long term. The sweating process is said to be an excellent elimination route for these chemicals. Sweating also helps with the elimination and removal of certain bacteria from the body, which can be beneficial.

People usually view sweat as a nasty thing but it’s actually a natural and necessary function of the body. Sweating is the body’s primary way to cool down, which is why we tend to do it when we exercise. It also happens when we’re sick as a result of having a fever. When that fever breaks, sweat will appear. The idea is that when the warm sweat evaporates on your skin, it cools your body temperature. All the other potential benefits mentioned above are just icing on the cake. Although sweat contains traces of ammonia, urea and salt, it doesn’t smell bad, in and of itself. The odour typically comes from whatever your sweat mixes with.

As with all things in life, sweating requires a balance. If you sweat too much, it can be a sign of low blood sugars or certain nervous system and thyroid disorders. If you sweat too little, you can potentially face dangerous and life-threatening overheating of the body. This can also be a result of dehydration. If you don’t sweat normally and consistently when exercising, it should be addressed in order to prevent further issues.

If you see someone at the gym who’s completely drenched while working out, don’t judge and keep your comments to yourself. Either they’re pushing as hard as they SHOULD, since a workout isn’t a workout if you don’t sweat through it, or they have a condition that makes them sweat excessively, such as hyperhidrosis. If you find yourself sweating in awkward and inappropriate times, like in the office with huge pit stains on your dress shirt, there are several treatments and prevention methods you can talk to your doctor about, in order to stem the problem. The important thing to remember is not to sweat it (see what I did, there?). ☯️

Under The Veil of Night…

Weekends have become a special time for me. When I was in law enforcement, weekends essentially meant nothing, since shift work meant that I would have my days off at any given point during the calendar week. this meant that days off were valued, but having them on the Saturday and Sunday meant very little. It also didn’t matter as much before I had children. Now that one of my boys has been in school for a few years, Saturdays and Sundays have become a coveted time when we get to do family activities. That’s why Friday and Saturdays nights are important and represent my time to relax and unwind after whatever the week has brought me. I’m grateful for them and I look forward to them.

All of that was brought to a grinding halt on Friday night. After a cigar and a few drinks, I was spending some time with both boys in my basement. We were watching some carton and enjoying some garlic fingers, which Costco has been good enough to stock. They’re from a pizza chain called Pizza Delight, popular in the Maritimes and all but unheard of in the Prairies. It seemed as though the evening was shaping up to be fun and light. Until my phone rang… I looked down and saw my next door neighbour’s name light up my phone screen. Although we often text each other if we need to advise each other of something happening, he’s never called me before.

I picked up and my blood turned cold as he told me that his downstairs tenants could see someone in my backyard, dressed all in black and standing near my fence line. I told him I’d check it out and hung up. Filled with a sudden instinct I thought I had left behind, I grabbed a weapon and my bright, tactical flashlight and bounced into the backyard intent on intercepting whomever would be back there. To clarify, my home is laid out in such a way that it’s impossible to accidentally end up in my back yard unless you intentionally walk all the way up thirty feet of driveway. And one certainly wouldn’t stay back there once one realizes there’s no way out.

I had no idea what I would do if I found someone back there. I wasn’t interested in harming anyone and the thought of someone infringing on my property and violating the safety and security of my family was bringing out something in me that I didn’t like. But in my experience, shining a bright, halogen light into someone’s eyes while shouting to freeze tends to have the desired effect. That being said, the backyard was empty. The downstairs tenant came out to join me and we searched behind my out buildings, inside the sheds and even checked the neighbour’s back yard. Nothing to be found.

My neighbour was watching through his camera system in the event someone slipped past me. But I found nothing. The tenant’s girlfriend came out and claimed that she looked out the door and saw someone dressed all in black, standing in my backyard and couldn’t be mistaken for anything BUT a person. I honestly don’t know my neighbour’s tenants but I had no reason to disbelieve them. I posted notices on the neighbourhood Facebook page, warning everyone about what happened.

The whole experience put a damper on the evening and had me going outside compulsively, a few times over the next few hours. Luckily, the whole family seemed to sleep in until about 10 am, which was nice. Just an important reminder to everyone that although one’s home is one’s castle, it’s important to remember the state of the world we live in. Have precautions in place to protect your family, including bright lights in your yard, partnerships with your neighbours and local law enforcement on speed dial. Food for thought. ☯️

Bringin’ On The Pain…

Over the regular course of the year, Tuesdays hold a particular place in my schedule, for a variety of reasons. It’s the only weeknight that I don’t have karate classes, with Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays being the norm. Fridays are a weekend night and usually reserved to hang out with my son Nathan and then the actual weekend hits. Because of this, Tuesdays offer a unique piece of time in my week that I can’t find elsewhere. I often use this time to do some reading, writing or take care of chores like laundry.

Since I don’t have karate classes on Tuesdays (at least for now), I try to do something outside the martial arts realm. It’s always a good idea to keep the body moving and I enjoy changing things up. Doing so can help with weight loss and keep one engaged in their personal fitness journey. Keeping yourself engaged and interested in your fitness can mean the difference between hammering forward in your fitness goals or getting lazy and taking too many breaks, which inevitably lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of going long periods without exercise.

A short start back to the cardio world.

As any of you would have read in light-knows how many posts last summer, I’m a big fan of cycling. I can comfortably manage about 20 kilometres or so in about a hour, which is a decent outing. But considering that I’m gone most evenings due to karate, I try to do things a bit different on Tuesdays. When the stars align and I actually remember to bring fitness apparel, I work through my lunch hour on Tuesday. I know, I know… bad habit! But I do eat, I just keep working through that hour. Moving on!

I work through my lunch hour and exit the office an hour earlier than scheduled and make my way down to the office tower’s gym. There, I’m able to take advantage of various cardio machines including elliptical, treadmills and a weird stepping machine that I haven’t figured out how to use yet. there’s also stationary bikes, but I peddle enough on the weekends, so I steer clear of those. I usually opt for the elliptical, since decades of martial arts have rendered the cartilage in my knees nonexistent.

If I look like death, it’s because I feel like it!

Last Tuesday was my first time making it back to the office gym in quite a while. It was a rough session and I only ran for 45 minutes as opposed to an hour but it felt good to break that intense sweat and burn those calories. I slept solidly that night, no question. As the summer progresses, especially with less karate classes for the next month, it should be easier for me to pull off these Tuesday workouts more often.

As most of your likely know, maintaining one’s proper health and fitness involves a variety of different exercises. Focusing solely on cardio or strength training will provide benefits but perhaps not the totality of what you’re looking for. That’s why it’s important to sprinkle in a bit of everything. Most martial artists avoid bulking up too significantly as large muscle mass will restrict one’s fluidity of movement. Doing only cardio can be significantly helpful with cardiac health and weight loss but muscle build will be minimal and won’t be focused on strength.

That’s why it’s important to incorporate all types of exercise and workouts. Don’t be afraid to get out there and try something. Hell, I once bought a Zumba game for my xBox 360 and the first time my wife and I tried to keep up with the game, it kicked my ass! One can find the most interesting workouts in the least likely of places. Ultimately, as long as you keep moving, you’ll be headed in the right direction. Stay sweaty, my friends! ☯️