Let’s Boost That System, Shall We?

This is a re-posting of an entry I posted way back at the beginning of June, 2019. Considering the winter weather and how everyone is catching every little bug that comes about, I thought it would be a good idea to remind people of the importance of vitamins and minerals in the everyday diet. if you remember this post and read it already, my apologies. I promise to have some fresh content tomorrow.

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. For more information and possible food sources for these vitamins and minerals, I’ve found the following two online articles that provide a lot of good information:

https://www.comvita.com/blog-article/10-essential-vitamins-your-body-needs/4100544

https://www.goodnet.org/articles/11-essential-vitamins-minerals-your-body-needs

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. A big shout out to my wife, Laura, who provided me with this blog post idea by asking about B12 yesterday. ☯

Quit Bitching About It If You Won’t Fix It!

There is an undeniable truth in modern society that it’s far easier to whine and complain about things than it is to put in a genuine effort to try and fix whatever may be bothering you. This is not a generality, you understand. But for most people, it is much, much easier to complain about not getting that raise you wanted, or were overlooked for a promotion, than it is to constructively sit down with your boss and say, “I recognize that I wasn’t chosen for the promotional opportunity. Can we discuss what I can do to make myself a competitive candidate for the next one?”

This concept applies to most areas of life. Part of the reason is because it is, for the most part, much easier to complain than it is to do something about it. Diabetes and general health is no exception. I’ve had a lot of friends through the years with Type-1 who have often complained about their blood sugar levels, A1C levels and their weight or condition of their body. To these people, I’ve always asked the same question: What are you doing about it?

“Gardens Are Not Made By Singing ‘Oh, How Beautiful’, And Sitting In The Shade.”

– Rudyard Kipling

There needs to be a recognized acknowledgement that if you’re overweight and are not comfortable, healthy or happy with your body, then you need to do something about it. Start working out. Work on your health. Work on your diet. Consult a professional and get some help. There’s no shame in that. Some people feel they’ve become so far gone that they no longer believe it’s worth the effort. What are you doing about it?

If your blood sugars are running rampant and you’re suffering all sorts of complications with your eyes, kidneys and nervous system, then you need to start taking better control of your Diabetes management. If you only test your blood sugar once a month and indulge in every baked good that passes by, you’ve chosen an extremely slow and torturous form of suicide! There are nutritionists, dietitians, Endocrinologists and family physicians that can help bring you up to a healthier standard and get you to where you need to be. What are you doing about it?

If your fitness has gone to shit and you get winded walking from your couch to your kitchen, there’s a distinct problem. Humanity may have become sedentary, but staying in good physical condition is still an important aspect of a healthy life, whether you have Diabetes or not. Go for a walk, ride a bike, join a fitness club or go for a run. And if you’re uncertain how to go about any of it, there are plenty of resources both online and off that can help get you started and help you along. What are you doing about it?

“The Only Mistake You Can Make Is Not Asking For Help.”

– Sandeep Jauhar

There are obvious exceptions to every rule. It can be hard to get yourself going and there are people who have genuine conditions that make weight-loss difficult. Medical conditions can make it hard to achieve certain goals. For example, if you’ve gone blind, one would not expect that you’ll take up competitive archery! But the lesson here, is that if you find yourself capable of making a start but refuse to do so then you shouldn’t (as my title so eloquently put it) be bitching about it if you won’t fix it.

I think it was Confucius who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step.” So take that step! Get off the couch and move a little. Test your blood sugar a few times a day instead of once a week. Opt for something healthier for your next meal instead of grabbing take-out or popping in a frozen tv dinner. Make a start. Improve yourself. Improve your life. And throughout all the progress, when faced with obstacles or adversity, keep asking yourself: What are you doing about it?

Rainbows Are Prettier 🌈

There’s a strange phenomenon that tends to happen when people train in the martial arts. Everyone becomes obsessed with black belts. I mean, I get it… Most people, especially when they start training in martial arts, consider obtaining a black belt to be “the” goal. This is a true falsehood, considering that obtaining a black belt is really only the beginning.

Last week during a karate class I attended, something was said that struck a chord… It’s been said a great deal in the past three years that I’ve been training there, but I really only noticed a problem last Thursday. While practicing some specific techniques, we were paired up with the following words:

“Grab a partner. Make sure that they’re as close to your belt and height level as possible…”

Hmm… Does anyone else see what the problem with this statement might be? I totally understand what the thought may be, behind this thought. By training with someone of your same basic height and build, it guarantees a consistency. By raining with someone close to your own belt rank, it guarantees that speed and skill will be a closer match. Wow, THAT sounds like it’s conducive to learning and improving…

One needs to ask a basic question: What are the odds that someone you may face in a confrontation will be the same height? Same weight and build? Same level of fighting skill? I can almost guarantee that there’s no chance of all those aspect lining up in your favour. That’s why it becomes important to acknowledge that training with a diverse number of different people is of the utmost importance.

I paired myself up with a white belt who has only been coming to class for about a month. Halfway through the drill, he apologized to me and shared his thought that I would be better off with one of the other black belts so I could practice harder and faster. I explained him that he was providing all the opposition I needed and that I could learn as much from him as I could coach.

And that’s the important lesson, here. A variety of different belt levels, skill sets and body types are what will help you to develop your skills and techniques properly. If you only ever train with people of the same skill level, there’s no opportunity for either one to progress. Make sense? So mix those belt colours up! Don’t be afraid to train with someone of a higher rank; they should be able to coach and teach you. Don’t be afraid to train to train with someone of lower rank; not only do we learn by teaching, but they have plenty to teach you as well. ☯

Warming Up Isn’t Just For The Cold

When people hear the term “warm up”, they usually associate it with stretching and getting the muscles warm. But there’s a whole bunch of other stuff that you should be paying attention to, especially if you want to prevent injury while doing your preferred activity. Warming up becomes all the more important when your fitness is taking place in a colder climate or during the winter season.

Muscle tissue is elastic. The whole point to stretching is to provide a bit of “give” to that elastic tissue, allowing for a greater range of motion with less chance of injury. take note that I say “less” chance as opposed to “no” chance… Stretching doesn’t guarantee you won’t pull o tear a muscle and in fact, muscle damage is actually how you get an increase in muscle mass. But I don’t want to get too technical on that aspect.

Most people seem to forget (or they simply don’t know) that it’s important to focus on your joints, cartilage and the fluid between your joints as well. This fluid is known as Synovial Fluid, and it’s responsible for reducing the friction in your joints as you move around. I’ll just let y’all Google that term, but these things need to be warmed up prior to a heavy workout as well, and are often neglected by most people. This is often because they aren’t even aware that these parts of the body require any warming up. But they do.

When stretching and warming, it’s important to chose a wide range of full-motion exercises that will include the joints by rolling them and getting a full articulation of movement. This ensures that you warm up that fluid and “activate it”, ensuring that your joints are as ready to go as your muscles.

The human body is an amazing machine. Despite the aches and pains we feel on a daily basis, the average human body thinks of almost everything. But you still need to nudge it along and give it the help it needs to work as efficiently as possible. Make sure that when you get ready for any strenuous, physical activity, you prepare muscles and joints for the hell you’re about to put them through. this will help to prevent injuries and potentially, long-lasting pain. ☯

Protocol And Ceremony ≠ Discipline And Effort

One of the biggest issues facing any martial arts club is when the club as a whole focus more on the bowing and ceremony and less on putting in the honest effort to break a sweat. Unfortunately, this is a trend I’ve seen all too often in some karate clubs, and although it provides the illusion of a nice, fancy martial arts studio, it actually provides nothing beneficial to the students. Or the instructors.

Picture this: The entire class is standing at the back of the dojo. the head instructor provides instructions on a specific set of techniques that he wants the students to practice while moving up the length of the dojo. The head instructor bows to everyone, and everyone bows back. The students perform their respective versions of the demonstrated technique and make their way to the very front of the dojo where they end their techniques and bow to the front. Then they run to the back, bowing to senior belts as they pass them. Some of them no doubt develop hip dysplasia from all the bowing they do. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t doing the technique properly; the importance is placed on ceremony and protocol of the class.

Now, I’m going to be very clear about one thing right now: proper respect and dojo etiquette are VERY important to me. There’s nothing worse than someone who can’t maintain discipline within a karate dojo and shows no respect to those who have been where they are. But you HAVE to be able to work on the learning at the same time! While it may look nice to have a clean, pressed karate gi, and bow at every opportunity, you’re essentially wasting your time and the time of your instructors if you don’t commit to what you’re trying to learn and break a damn sweat!

Some martial arts clubs focus on the “club” and neglect the “martial arts”. That’s all well and good if all you happen to be looking for is a place to congregate and socialize with like-minded people. But while you’re busy exchanging Instagram user names, don’t forget that you’re actually there to learn a skill set that’s centuries and even thousands (depending on your style) of years old. Show it the respect it deserves or go join a knitting circle. ☯

Runnin’ With The Devil…

I come up with these ideas, sometimes. They always have the POTENTIAL to be good, but getting through them can be something of a laborious endeavour. A few days ago when I started getting over the illness I’ve been dealing with, I had this bright idea about going for an early-morning jog. Under regular circumstances, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But one of the ideas behind this decision is that I haven’t really focused on cardio in quite a while and some of my job requirements involve something more than a mastery of the martial arts.

Since I already broke my “no working out” seal on Saturday with a pool party I attended with my son, I thought yesterday morning would be an ideal time to just give it a try. When I was training for my job, I was able to run 3 kilometres in about 21 minutes (see my post about it here: https://thebloggingbuddhist.com/2020/02/08/it-isnt-about-what-youve-done-but-what-youll-move-on-to/)

Since my cardio has been pretty limited to the warm-ups we do at karate, I thought it might be a good idea to do something to increase my cardio and attempt the 3-kilometre run I used to do. I tried to get permission to use the gym facilities through my work, but they stopped me cold. So, I figured I may as well try an early-morning run in from home. Especially since I’m not much of a fan of treadmills.

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. yesterday morning and I rolled over and groaned as my body made a sound similar to a bowling ball rolling over a grocery bag full of corn flakes. Once all of my joints acknowledged the sudden movement I was forcing them into, I walked out to the living room to wake my wife, who had been up a few hours previous to deal with our infant. I didn’t have much time, since it was a school day for Nathan and I would have to get HIM out of bed in an hour.

I dressed up in thermals and slipped on my ear buds and stepped out into the morning chill. The streets were quiet and although I’m certain i wasn’t the only one who was awake at this hour, the streets hadn’t quite come to life yet and everything was quiet. I started my fitness app, which tracks my distance, elevation and plays my workout music.

Monday morning’s stats on my run

The temperature was only -8 degrees Celsius, but that was apparently cold enough to cause my lungs to seize within the first half-kilometre. Running was fairly difficult, despite the quiet streets. But as you can see from the image above, I managed 3.18 kilometres in just under 29 minutes. Not too shabby, considering how long it’s been since I ran like that.

If I were to have planned it out better, I would have done a few things differently:

  1. I would have laced my boots tighter. It stands to reason that I couldn’t run during the winter months with my sneakers, so I had to wear a pair of my tactical boots. I’m reasonably used to running in those on the job, so I figured it would be the best bet. But those boots have a zipper down the side of each boot for easy removal, so I rarely have to tie them. This resulted in them being a bit loose yesterday while I ran. not only is this bad for your feet, it can cause blisters;
  2. I would have mapped out my route a bit better. My goal was to run a definite 3 miles. I used Google maps to track 1.5 kilometres with the intention of simply performing a round trip. The round trip should have totalled 3 kilometres, but either Google maps was a touch off, my RunKeeper app was a touch off or I don’t know how to trace a map properly. Luckily, the app calculates the average speed for me, so it took some of the math out of the equation; and
  3. I would have chosen my layers a bit better. I wore thermal pants and a long-sleeved thermal shirt, with nylon splash pants and a cotton t-shirt over that, followed by a winter jacket, balaclava and leather gloves. The balaclava was a good choice, as minutes into the run, I needed to cover my cheeks and it worked well for this purpose. However, my layering caused excess sweating (right, it was the layering!) and the cold was causing discomfort.

All in all, it was an alright run and it woke me up better than my usual first hit of caffeine. By the time I got back home, I was tired and sweaty but I felt good. This is encouraging for future runs. Not only will I be doing it again, but the goal now is to work on lowering that total time for a 3-kilometre run. The best part is that my blood sugar levels stayed consistent throughout the entire run. The worst part is that I have to go to karate tonight, and my legs are still screaming at me. this should be interesting! ☯

It Isn’t About What You’ve Done, But What You’ll Move On To…

Recent events and seeing old friends has had me feeling nostalgic lately. Despite my best efforts to try and keep myself going, the reality is that time affects us all. And what one is capable of at one point in life may not be what we’re capable of in the years to follow.

I’m reminded of a point in my martial arts training from almost fifteen years ago. I had reached brown belt and somehow I had hit a slump. My techniques weren’t quite as crisp, my kicks felt laborious and my energy just wasn’t there as it used to be. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I was only in my mid-20’s and had been training more than consistently.

It reached a point where it was starting to affect my mood and my perspective of karate. This is not a good thing when you’ve made karate a permanent part of your life. I started dragging ass and getting down about the whole thing, until Sensei sat me down and snapped me out of it. He explained that everyone has low points and everyone hits a slump time and again. The important part is to keep pushing and working through it. Otherwise, that slump will take you over if you lie down and let it happen.

When you’re on top, it feels as though you’re floating on air!

Eventually, I pushed through whatever was holding me back and went on to black belt. And it’s a good thing I did. If I hadn’t pushed and continued on, I might have missed out on a lot of the great things that followed. And that’s the important lesson: no matter what difficulties you may be facing in the here and now, your perseverance will help you to get through it and be receptive to the positive things to come.

Float on air all you want… 3 miles in 21 minutes is exhausting shit!

I’ve spent my entire life pushing hard to achieve my goals. Even in the face of life-altering difficulties, no self-respecting person can/should do otherwise. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and never stop fighting. If you give your best effort, once the smoke clears, there can only be warm sunrises and better things on the horizon. Stay strong! ☯