Terry Fox

Last week, I decided to touch on certain role models that I’ve had over the years. I showcased Michele “The Mouse” Krasnoo last week, as she has a been a source of inspiration and martial arts brilliance for me for as long a I can remember. But this week, I decided to touch on someone who may not be a martial artists, but has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a young child. Terry Fox.

Terry Fox (and I’m quoting directly from Wikipedia here, since I lack some of the specific details) was a Canadian who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 1977 and ultimately had his right leg amputated in 1977. Despite his amputation, Fox continued to run using a prosthetic leg and even played basketball and various other activities.

Terry Fox was a self-driven warrior. No act of God or man could keep him from his goals, and he hated losing so much that he continued to push until he succeeded, no matter what it involved.

“I Believe In Miracles. I Have To.”

– Terry Fox

Fox started on the Marathon of Hope in 1980, dipping his foot into the Atlantic ocean and carrying samples of ocean water with him with the intention of pouring it into the Pacific ocean once he completed his cross-country trek. He made it as far as Thunder Bay, Ontario before, despite his will and recuperative capacity, he had to stop after suffering coughing fits and chest pain. The cancer that had taken his leg had spread to his lungs and ultimately ended his journey.

On June 19, 1981 Terry Fox passed away after succumbing to complications from pneumonia. His death rocked the entire country, even going as far as having the country lower flags to half mast, which was a practice normally reserved for statesmen.

The Terry Fox Run and the Marathon of Hope continue to be inspirations for Canadians. Fox set out to raise awareness and funds for cancer research and damn if he didn’t make his mark on the world. We should all be so lucky. But the important lesson is that no matter what the debilitation, you can reach your goals and make an impression no matter what the condition you face. ☯

Bolt Out Of The Blue ⚡️

So, yesterday I wrote about a project I’m working on, where I will be trying to cycle longer and longer distances over the summer months. At the beginning of the warmer season, I started by hitting 10-kilometre and 20-kilometre milestones, and I’ve been increasing ever since. The details of how I intend to use this training are explained in yesterday’s post (I’ve Got A Plan…), so I won’t get into THAT again.

The truth is, that 40-kilometre trek was accomplished LAST Saturday, with the majority of my treks coming in at the 20 and 30-kilometre totals. The good news is that I’ve already broken a pretty decent milestone for this season, that which is to have cycled for over 500 kilometres!

I’m trying not to be TOO overexcited about this, since it really only takes a little over a dozen outings at 30k to reach this number, but I’ve never really tracked total mileage before and have certainly never pushed myself cardio-wise, as I’ve been doing lately.

But as fate would have it, life rarely cares about one’s plans. Last Tuesday, I left the house fully motivated and fully caffeinated, with the intentions of pushing to reach 50 kilometres. This only made sense as it would be the next milestone for me in my insane summer plans. I left the house early in the afternoon, and set out to get as lost as I could, considering I’m being tracked through GPS.

When I reached about 20 kilometres, I started feeling a consistent thumping, coming from the rear tire. I chanced running whatever may have been ahead of me long enough to watch the rear tire for a moment and noticed it was significantly below pressure. The thump I felt was the valve stem being pushed against the inner surface of the wheel due to low pressure.

I texted my wife to let her know what happened and walked the bicycle for about half a kilometre to local gas station in the hopes of re-inflating my tire. When I got there, I was dismayed to learn the the air compressor required money to activate. Did y’all know you had to pay for air? Because I sure as hell didn’t, and I had no cash on me.

I was lucky enough that one of the employees was kind enough to loan me a dollar so I wouldn’t be stranded. I re-inflated the rear tire and it seemed to be holding, so I continued on. I lost air pressure once again about two kilometres further from home. I had reached 22.24 kilometres. I threw in the towel and asked my wife to come pick me up, which required handling and loading two small children. My wife puts up with a lot of my shit…

I was pretty pissed off as this was the second time I had flattened a tire in recent months. But since it was the rear tire and has all the gears and parts included, I didn’t trust myself to remove it to replace the tube (especially since I royally f$&ked the brakes on my last bike doing it on the front tire). So it was decided that considering the various terrain I cycle on, I should go purchase a new mountain bike.

You wouldn’t think that buying a bike would be difficult, but finding one that wasn’t ridiculously high-priced and suited my size and needs proved to be more difficult than anticipated. I spent all day, last Wednesday, wandering among five different retail locations, with no luck. Yes, you read that right: FIVE! Some locations were out of stock, which it almost seems as though Regina is suddenly ga-ga for bikes, or some didn’t have a frame size to accommodate my height, or the cost was simply too high. A certain popular retail chain that uses a blue and yellow colour scheme only carried bikes that were $798, of all things! And their prices are usually better than most! Yes, I’m cheap!

I had a few more locations that I was able to check last Thursday, and thank the Light I was able to find one at a SportChek location, here in Regina. It had everything I was looking for: mountain bike, proper frame and wheel size, mountings for a water bottle and tire pump and the price was reasonable. Done deal! The staff helped by performing a pre-purchase checklist to ensure the gears, brake and tire inflation were all up to standard before I left the store.

The new ride, still naked without all the accessories.

So, having picked up this bike last Thursday, I strapped on my water bottle holder and travel bags and took a spin. The north-bound wind was strong enough that I almost turned back after 3 kilometres, but I stuck it out. Plus, the staff may have SAID they properly inflated the tires but they were slightly under pressure, which caused some drag and made the trek difficult. I had to stop at 30k, but I at least I broke her in!

So there you have it: the new beast I’ll use to kill myself slowly through long-distance cycling! I’ll admit that all the cycling I’ve been doing has made my legs feel better (an important aspect when you have Diabetes), have improved my blood sugars and make me tired enough to actually get SOME sleep at night, despite my current work situation. I’m looking forward to tweeting my ride further, and increasing the distance I travel in the weeks to come. Hopefully with less strong winds pushing against me. ☯

I’ve Got A Plan…🚲

So, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re aware that I enjoy cycling. For the most part I’ve been doing it as a means of throwing a little cardio into my week, or getting fresh air as opposed to working out in my basement as I usually do. But as the warmer season has hit Saskatchewan and the world has basically ground to a halt, I’ve started to use my bike more and more.

My season started off pretty simply; a quick 10k here, a smooth 20k there… But as I’ve been going on further outings and pushing myself harder and further, I’ve been increasing the mileage I accumulate with every trip. About a week ago, I racked up 31 kilometres. I felt a tad on the hurty side the following day, but I pushed through and recovered nicely. Last Saturday, I achieved 40 kilometres in just about 2 hours.

And yes, that’s Van Halen I’m listening to!

When I got home, I’ll admit I was pretty exhausted. My legs hurt, I was sweaty as shit and all I wanted was a nap. But I overall, I felt damn good. It got me to thinking… I can keep pushing myself and going further and further as I train. It’s what I’ve been doing for years. Cycling is simply the newest fitness niche I’ve fallen into. But I’ve started to wonder how I can use this to potentially help others.

Since I’ve already reached 40 kilometres, why not 50? 60? 80? At 80 kilometres, I can reach Moose Jaw from Regina. I can also reach Strasbourg, where a couple of friends reside so that I have a familiar location to make a stop before returning home. Yay me! So how can I use this to benefit others, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked that question…

Since we’re just past mid-May, I can easily contribute the next two months to interval training in order to increase the amount of distance I can reach with every outing. My intention is to cycle several hundred kilometres, let’s say 200, at end of summer. That would put me safely within reach of Saskatoon from Regina. I want to reach out to Diabetes Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Diabetes Association, and obtain some assistance in turning my trek into a fundraising initiative in favour of my cycling.

If necessary, I intend to increase the distance. Hell, why not Portage La Prairie, Manitoba or Winnipeg? Go for the big 500 kilometres? As long as I’m willing to take breaks when necessary and keep my meals carb-rich as I travel, I’m confident I can make any distance I set my mind to. So why not leave a mark to better the world while I still can? Makes sense, right? What the hell else have I got to do at the moment?

Let me know, in the comments, what your thoughts are or if you believe I’m totally off my rocker. Doesn’t mean I won’t do it, but I’d appreciate everyone’s input… ☯

It Takes Two, Baby…🎶

Depending on what your motivation may be, working out by yourself can suck. Royally. On the other hand, certain activities that I train in, like meditation, learning a new karate form or burning off steam on a punching bag, can work quite well when I’m alone. But it stands to reason that having a partner when you break a sweat can have some measurable, noticeable and unexpected benefits.

When I first started the martial arts, I felt exposed. I’m sure some of you have been there; you walk into an environment where EVERYBODY knows more than you do. Potentially. So even though you happen to be standing at the back of the class, you feel like everyone’s eyes are on you, judging you, watching you excessively sweat and gasp for air as they go through the motions barely showing any effort… Nah? Just me? Whatever… let’s carry on…

According to an online article I found on NBC News of all places, working out in a group has the benefit of others’ healthy habits rubbing off on us. The article states that a 2016 study found that “overweight people tend to lose more weight if they spend time with their fit friends […]” Which can certainly make sense if all the time you spend with said “fit friends” happens to be at spin class, yoga, zumba, cycling and etc.

Certainly, there is a great deal to be said for the accountability factor, where it’s more difficult to skip the workout when it’s part of a pre-organized program with others. And you inevitably end up kicking your workouts into high gear in order to accommodate and keep up with others who are doing the same. The above-linked article touches on these aspects as well.

All of this can certainly be true of karate. After those first few classes, I found myself pushing hard to keep up with the other students. Karate is one of those “keep up or be left in the dust” environments where you’re totally free to move at your own pace, but eventually it just won’t be enough. But the camaraderie that develops once you start holding your own is particular. It’s one of the aspects I most enjoy within the dojo.

Ultimately, working out with a friend or loved one doesn’t just keep you accountable through fewer skipped workouts. It can also encourage you to try out new exercises or activities you may not have thought of and may encourage you to push harder in order to keep going. Surprisingly, you may even catch yourself working out for longer periods as you’ll discover something other than fitness. You’ll discover that working out with a partner is fun.

My wife and I occasionally enjoy some fitness circuits together. She’s a champ and is always a good sport, no matter what I throw at her. I enjoy it a great deal, because it not only helps her to stay fit and get the blood pumping, it also allows me to include her in an important aspect of my life. So working out with your spouse is very important. It doesn’t have to be an all-out sweat storm that flattens you for the next couple of days; I rather save those for my friends whose suffering I enjoy (looking at you, Jayden!).

In closing, working out with a partner can also ensure your safety. If you happen to be doing something like lifting heavy weights or hiking in a remote area, having someone with you can ensure that you’ll have immediate help should something go wrong, which can be an important aspect if you happen to have Diabetes and suffer a low at an inopportune time. Not to mention that a little healthy competition amongst friends or loved ones is never a bad thing. So get out there and challenge yourselves. The only limits are the ones we set ourselves. ☯

To Hit The Ground Running Means Nothing If You Land On Your Face

Nobody “enjoys” waking up… Perhaps some enjoy getting out of bed and facing the day depending on what the day may hold, which for many, isn’t a whole lot given the current state of the world. But waking up refreshed and happy to be doing so is a fleeting thing, and can be pretty difficult to achieve, especially with Diabetes.

During my younger years, I remember distinct mornings when I would wake by slowly opening my eyes, taking stock of the fact the sun was up, have a good stretch and slowly ease myself out of bed. I would smile, crack various joints and start moving towards whatever the day would carry. I would usually feel rested, and I would basically wake when my body told me, “You’ve had enough sleep. You can get up, now.” Yeah… THOSE days are f#$kin’ gone…

These days, I RARELY get a full night’s sleep. Stress over work issues, illness and blood sugar fluctuations usually see to that. I set an alarm, but I very rarely get to actually wake with it. On top of those factors, and infant who seems to have found his voice and choose to hoop and wail consistently every five minutes, coupled with a 5-year old who feels it’s important to remind me that it’s morning, tend to get me out of bed sooner than I would choose.

You know those jokes you read about on the internet, about how you used to stay up all night then go into work to complete an 8-hour shift? And now you have to call in sick if you’ve slept wrong? That’s a bit of what I’m looking at here. And it sucks, because I’m a firm believer that how you start your day will have a direct impact on how your day as a whole plays out.

Think about it: If you wake up well-rested and enjoy a morning coffee and head off to work in a controlled manner, you’ll likely be in a better mood throughout the day and better equipped to deal with whatever issues arise. But if you wake up feeling like a bag of smashed ass and have spent half the night up adjusting your blood sugars, you’ll likely spend your day in a grumpy funk.

Speaking solely for myself, I often and usually spend a significant amount of time during the dead of night, trying to lower or raise my blood sugars, depending on what my body has decided to bless me with on a particular night. Although my endocrinologist and have examined my overnight basal levels and yes, I do test at night, factors outside my control such as sleep quality, nightmares, stress and kids can still wreak havoc.

Today’s post doesn’t contain a complicated lesson, and maybe I’m just complaining about getting a bad night’s sleep. But the take-home here is that how you start your day will influence the entire thing. So if your feet hit the ground and you already feel a dark cloud over your head, be sure to do something about it. Take a walk. Have a workout. Do something that you enjoy or brings you happiness. All of these will often help to lift the funk. ☯

I Wash My Hands Of It…

Proper hygiene is significantly important, and has always been so even before the advent of everyone finally realizing to WASH THEIR HANDS!!!! Seriously though, good hygiene and cleaning habits are an important part to staying healthy, and can have a significant impact on your overall health and every day life.

For example, did you know that depending on they type and thickness of your toilet paper, it can take up to ten layers to stop fecal bacteria from passing through? Kind of makes you think twice about walking out before scrubbing the ‘ol paws, right? Don’t stress too hard over it; there’s already bacteria on the toilet paper BEFORE you use it anyway. Oh, wait… That’s all the more reason to WASH YOUR HANDS!!!

Good hand washing practices have been pushed for decades, and has in fact been explained as one of the top ways people can easily prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and disease. It’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic for people to lose their proverbial shit and start washing their hands more often, hoarding and slathering layers of sanitizer to boot. If you want my thoughts on hand sanitizer, you can read one my previous posts here: Cleaning? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That…

Bearing in mind that you should be washing your hands properly and often, whether they’re dirty or not, what is the “proper” method? Well, according to the Centre For Disease Control, one should wash one’s hands for at least 20 seconds or more, using soap and fresh, running water. Close attention should be paid to ensure your scrub all areas of your hands, including between the fingers, back of the palms and under the nails.

The length of time depends on how dirty your hands may be, or what kind of filth they may have been exposed to. But once you’re done scrubbing, they need to be properly rinsed under fresh, running water. This is because soap will help to lift and remove filth, bacteria and germs from your hands, but then need to be rinsed off. Then, be sure to dry your hands properly as germs can be transferred easier on wet hands.

The article provides for both air drying or towel drying, and the jury is out on which one is optimal. Personally, I despise hand dryers in public restrooms as I’m not a fan of whatever bacteria ay be floating the washrooms being heated and blown across my flesh. But the jury is out on which method is optimal. The jury is still out on whether hot or cold water makes any measurable difference, but the reality is that hot water will at least help lift some of the germ-ridden oils from your hands that will remain if you use cold water. Additionally, some of the dirt-lifting properties of soap are deactivate by cold water.

Last but not least, remove rings and jewellery when washing. I once saw a television report where they coated the hands in a UV-sensitive chemical that would light up under a black light. They then had the person wash their hands and expose them to a black light. The hands were mostly clean, except for some spots he forgot to scrub. But when he removed his wedding band, a bright blue band of chemical was still present. The same applies to germs and bacteria.

Just to be clear, you’ll never eliminate 100% of bacteria. Nor should you want to. Your body needs some of that shit (pun fully intended). The biggest challenge I’m facing at the moment is trying to teach my 5-year old son the importance of hand washing. He’s of the opinion that if he doesn’t “touch himself” while using the washroom, he doesn’t need to wash his hands. He’s also terrible at understanding to scrub up when he comes inside from playing. Kids…

As usual, all of this can be easily applied to Diabetics, especially since we tend to be prone to infection and should try to keep clean as much as possible. This is especially important if you still use a traditional blood glucose monitor and prick your fingertips repeatedly throughout the day. You should wash your hands in hot, soapy water before and after testing. No matter the state of the world, everyone should be washing their hands often and properly. Not only for good hygiene and to protect yourself but because it also helps to protect others. ☯

Zen In The Apocalypse

It’s been a long couple of months, with the majority of the world doing their very best at staying isolated and social-distancing, and the small percentage of mouth-breathing idiots who are still letting their children play on public play structures and throwing parties and gatherings (I’m looking at you, Karen!). For the most part, the world has been doing what they have to.

Here in Canada, penalties and fines have been issued against quarantine violators in some of the more serious circumstances, and Provincial borders remain closed at most locations. Slowly but surely, governments are beginning to reopen certain semi-essential services, such as dentists, eye doctors and such, mostly on a Provincial basis. Back in New Brunswick, my family reports restaurants reopening with limited seating and families being permitted to travel to each other’s homes. No such leniency has taken place here in Saskatchewan.

But despite the progress that’s been made, it may still be a while before we can all romp in the outdoors and mingle with members of public like we used to. In fact, many believe that this may be the beginning of a new phase of society that could become permanent, with video meetings and working from home becoming the norm.

Despite the closing of businesses, suspension of many jobs and the financial strain that many are feeling as a result of the current pandemic, the aspect that people seem to be having the greatest difficulty adapting to, is self-isolation. Today’s society in general doesn’t do well with being told they HAVE to do something (a fact I’ve learned all too well over the past ten years), which is why we continue to have people who smoke in public places, litter and use their cell phones while driving. But I digress…

The point is, faced with the difficulty of being cooped up inside their homes on a near-constant basis with spouses and children has begun to take a toll on many, with things like cabin fever and quarantine fatigue becoming very real concerns. Emotions and frustrations are rising and the especially important detail of trying to keep children occupied and entertained when they don’t have school and can’t go play at the park can be a real challenge. And trying to stay Zen throughout it all can feel like scaling a mountain with a shard of glass in your boot…

First of all, people need to understand the difference between “quarantine” and “isolation.” I’ve been hearing folks use them interchangeably, but they both have distinctively different meanings. A “quarantine” is defined as a strict isolation imposed t prevent the spread of a disease. This usually involves isolating people who are known, believed or suspected to have, carry or could spread the disease, whether symptomatic or not.

“Isolation”, whether self-imposed or not, is a bit simpler in terms that it’s the separation of a person from others. That’s it. You don’t have the disease (that you know of) but you’re keeping yourself indoors to prevent its spread. Which is great, but it doesn’t mean you can’t step outdoors and it can have detrimental effects on your health if you don’t take steps for your own mental well-being.

The internet has done what it usually does, when something serious of this nature arises and expressed its displeasure with the propagation of memes, jokes and overall lack of seriousness for the whole thing. But the reality is that some families are ACTUALLY having difficulties being isolated together for long periods of time when the norm has been to have their own separate periods away form one another.

But what’s important to remember is that despite terms such as “quarantine” being thrown around, if you are simply self-isolating and aren’t asymptomatic or trying to recover from a serious illness, there’s plenty you can do to help stem the tide of building pressure within your household. Go take a walk. Many people take this possibility for granted, but there’s nothing stopping you from heading out and taking a nice long walk. Fresh air, alone with your thoughts and some mild exercise, it can go a long way towards saving your sanity.

Even just spending time outside, even if you aren’t doing anything, will be very helpful. Fresh air can be an incredible asset. Meditation and Zen can be difficult in a contained environment, especially with small children involved since they don’t understand when mommy or daddy need some “quiet time.” This is one of the reasons I enjoy cycling. Besides the challenge of racking up as many kilometres in as short a time as possible, the fresh air and the time to be alone with my thoughts allows me to engage in a sort of moving meditation.

So be sure to get out there and find yourself something that works for you. Even if you don’t practice Zen, everyone inevitably NEEDS Zen. Finding some balance and peace during uncertain times is important to everybody, and remember that no matter what responsibilities your shoulders may bear, everybody needs/deserves some time to themselves. Even during a pandemic. ☯