It’s All In Where You Look…

It’s pretty easy to get jaded against life and stay in one’s lane. While doing so, we unfortunately have a propensity to ignore the world around us and this leads to missed opportunities; opportunities for ourselves and for others. Every once in a while, those opportunities can be important, especially if they provide aid to someone who may need it. And helping others is important, if not only because it’s the right thing to do but because we would want the same from others if we found ourselves in need of said help. I experienced just such an occasion while driving home from work yesterday.

My day at the office was much like any other. The day flew by and I accomplished a solid day’s work, satisfied with my efforts. I put in for some prescription refills before going home, which required me to travel to the east end of the city, since I’m pretty picky about what pharmacy I use. one of my many quirks, I guess. I picked up my prescriptions and made my way home, taking a circular bypass road we have in Regina called “Ring Road.” The weather yesterday was quite mild, with the early evening temperature sitting at 0 degrees. Although this may sound nice, the issue it causes is that the snow and ice around the city melts and creates a lot of water. this would prove to be an issue on Ring Road.

As I was driving westward towards home, there was heavy traffic on Ring Road, with many people banking hard towards their end-of-day destinations. All of a sudden, a small, red SUV started to skid and swerve, going into a fish-tail and ultimately clipping a guard rail at an overpass before being thrown into the median ditch. It all happened quite quickly, so most people in the immediate area could be forgiven for driving past. Stopping on a dime would be unreasonable. I turned on my hazard lights and pulled over to the shoulder. I noticed that no one else appeared to stop. I couldn’t see the driver and the passenger area of the vehicle appeared to be filled with smoke.

I grabbed my gloves, which were ironically a pair of police-issued slash gloves that I had left over from my policing days. I slipped my cell phone into my pocket and started trying to cross the highway. The only thing that pissed me off more than people’s lack of concern, is the fact they weren’t stopping for the only person who had any. While I was waiting, another concerned person stopped as well but by then, a young male driver had emerged from the vehicle and was talking on his cell phone. When I explained that I was a retired police officer and would be helping the young man, she thanked me and got back to her vehicle and departed promptly.

I managed to make my way across the highway and checked on the driver. He was speaking to his sister and trying to explain exactly where he was. Once I confirmed that he wasn’t injured, I offered to take him home. I helped him to gather his important items from the vehicle, secured it and brought him to my vehicle. he explained what I had already assumed; he lost control driving over an icy patch of highway. The problem is that as snow and ice melted and trickled down onto the highway surface from the overpass, an amount of water settled in the shade. Although only a few degrees colder, that water froze, causing an icy hazard. As everyone assumed the roads were bare and dry, the young driver couldn’t predict that he’d be facing this hazard.

He was miraculously lucky… Once he lost control, he somehow managed to avoid all the other traffic on the highway AND only clipped a guardrail as opposed to smashing into it, head-on. I suspected some mild shock on his part, as the depth and severity of his situation didn’t seem to hit him until I pulled up in front of his house. Although only acting in a civilian capacity, I still advised him to get his vehicle towed away from where it was before it caused another collision and to file a claim through his insurance provider. he was incredibly grateful and I ensured he had some family waiting to receive him before I pulled away.

As I was driving home, I couldn’t help but think that out of the several dozen, bordering on a hundred vehicles that whipped past the scene, only myself and one other person had the thought to stop and check on another human being who may have potentially been injured and needing help from someone. I couldn’t help but imagine that had that been me… Or worse yet, my wife, I would curse the world for failing to stop and lend a hand. Although I admit that my prior police training would have prompted me to stop, I can’t help but believe that the goodness in people should still be a presiding factor in our decisions.

I’m glad I was able to help this young man. I wished him the best and hoped everything worked out for him when I drove away. Before he stepped out of my vehicle, he made a point of how lucky he felt that I was there to help him out. He attributed the miracle of his survival and the fact I showed up to the “Big Guy.” I made a poijnt of explaining to him that no thanks were necessary and that there were still good people in the world who simply want to help. It’s all in where you look… ☯️

To Fit, Or Not To Fit…

Recently, I wrote a post about a new garment I purchased, which is designed to look like a karate Gi. It’s called the “Hood-Gi,” and in case you missed the post, you can shop for one by visiting the Budo Brother’s website here. An no, before anyone gets high and mighty, I’m not being paid endorsement for referring their website to you, this is not an advertisement post and I’m not recommending this product over another. My post was literally just a person, excited at getting a piece of clothing that suits him and seems practical for its intended purpose.

Although I will confess that I draw some level of morbid fascination about receiving such comments, especially in a world where everyone and their dog post daily “fit checks,”showing their outfit for the day, it does raise an important question; one I wrote about in a post a couple of years ago but I’ve written so many posts now that I can basically start recycling from scratch… how much is too much and what kind of swag should one wear?

We all know the scenario. A new students joins the gym or the dojo, they’re excited about being part of something new, something they enjoy, so they start buying swag. All of sudden, the new students is wearing a karate shirt, karate jacket, karate pants and karate g-string… okay, maybe not that last one and I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that would be to train in, but you get my point. A student that joins something new will be motivated to show their pride and represent their club, which is not nothing to be ashamed of. But as the old saying goes, if you paint a target on your back, you should complain about the arrow in your shoulder.

Ironically, a solid example of this is from one of my favourite martial arts show, Cobra Kai. Anyone who’s watched it can instantly tell who’s with the dojo or not. How? By all the fuckin’ Cobra Kai clothing almost EVERYONE seems to be wearing. And one can easily see the issue this causes, considering multiple members of that dojo are easily identified and attacked as a result. Granted, I’ll admit that in the real world, Senseis usually aren’t rich and buying clothes for the entire student roster but the premise is sound.

one would honestly be better suited, emulating the Miyagi-Do students. I totally get that they’re supposed to be the protagonists anyway, but they don’t even train IN their dojo in swag. And this is likely the better approach. I’ve seen the same phenomenon with recently-graduated police officers, who go around flashing their agency’s hoodies or wearing police apparel off duty. no need for me to explain why THAT could be a potential problem! Although on a somewhat lower level, the same could be said of karate swag…

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this myself. When I was in my formative years of karate training, I had t-shirts, track suits, gym bags and all sorts of other shit that let the world know that I was a practitioner of Uechi-Ryu karate. Hell, I have a tattoo on my left pec of our school’s name. It was rare for me to leave the house without at least one item of clothing that reflected our school crest. But as the years have passed and wisdom has slowly set in, I’ve come to realize that subtlety is the better option and although I do still have some “swag,” discretion is the better option and I try and keep myself from becoming a martial arts billboard.

One might ask, what’s the problem with wearing apparel or advertising one’s school? That’s a valid question and some may feel that I’m being paranoid in taking this position. The reality is that we live in a world where violence is often inflicted on others for no good reason other than for the sake of it. And in some cases, broadcasting that you practice a fighting art can make you a potential target to those who wish to impart said violence. Picturing walking into a bar or club with your friends, wearing karate apparel. Imagine a group of drunken idiots who are actually hungry for a fight… Seeing your “ABC Karate Club” t-shirt might just be what they need to say, “Hey, let’s fight THAT guy…”

Admittedly, that’s an extreme example but a valid one. That’s why for the most part, I keep my karate swag and apparel on the down-low. My recently-purchased Hood-Gi basically looks like a canvass hoodie and is pretty difficult to identify as a karate garment. That said, I’ve yet to wear it out in public. At the end of the day, it isn’t about hiding your style or not being proud of your skills. It’s about being humble enough to realize that you don’t have to. And it’s about your safety. Wanna wear your karate t-shirt under your hoodie or jacket? Have at it; you obviously paid for it. Simply consider that it may be in your better interest not to broadcast that you’re a karateka to the world. Food for thought… ☯️

Not All That Is Cracked Is Broken…

You know, we’re at an interesting point in human existence right now… We boats being more enlightened, more tolerant and more understanding of others; all while both verbally and physically attacking those who are different or don’t share our views, opinions and/or belief systems. Although not the only one, it remains as one of the biggest societal contradictions that I see and recognize on a daily basis.

When I was growing up, I was shunned, bullied and picked on for being different and not sharing the same interests or abilities as my peers. This concept carried on into my adult life and brought me to a time and place where self-image and my acceptance of it, became an important tool to repair the cracks in who I felt I was as opposed to how the rest of the world kept telling me I should be.

This reminds me a bit of kintsugi. Some of you might know what this is or may have heard of it. Kintsugi is a Japanese practice of repairing brown pottery using gold to fill the cracks. The idea is that just because something is broken, it’s no longer useless and can be mended in such a way to make it even more valuable and endearing than it previously was. The idea behind this philosophy is to learn to embrace imperfection and recognize the value in something, even when it’s flawed.

Although potentially beautiful and pleasing on the eyes (you can Google “kintsugi” for examples of what I’m talking about here), there is a significant flaw in this philosophy; one that comes back to a much different viewpoint as it relates to the breaking of ceramic or pottery. I once read a story online where a philosophy professor asked a student to smash a plate on the floor, and the student did so. The professor then asked the student to say “sorry” to the plate and the student did. The professor then asked if the plate had been repaired and when the student said that it hadn’t, pointed out that words can have the same effect.

Although the concept of kintsugi can make a piece beautiful and interesting, there’s no denying that not causing the damage in the first place is equally, if not more so, important. Also, the vanity of believing one can repair something they believe is flawed flies in the face of accepting that not all people share same views, same thoughts, same beliefs… It’s accepting those differing aspects that make us a rational, civilized society. Unfortunately, based on what I’ve seen, we aren’t there yet. ☯️

Taking Care Of Oneself…

Self-care is undoubtedly the most important step one can take for self-health and a better life. Unfortunately, the shoemaker’s kids often go barefoot, which is a fancy way of saying that the average person will always focus on others’ wants, needs and expectations before dealing with their own. The result of this can include things like chronic exhaustion, burnout and depression, which can ultimately lead to nasty things like alcoholism, drug use and a score of other mental issues to numerous to list.

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of neglecting myself and am likely the worst one, when it comes to helping others and doing more than I should. By the time I finally decide to throw in the proverbial towel and take a break, I’ve usually crashed and need almost more time to recover than what I used to take care of others. This is why it’s so important to take care of one’s own mental health before anything else. I recently found a poster at my work that was provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational health and Safety. They listed 10 healthy habits for mental fitness and I found the list interesting, so I thought I would share. here we go…

1. Schedule some “me time,” daily…
I’m a big fane of this, and make a point of trying to do so. Whether it’s ten minutes to myself when I get home to decompress or an evening workout, it’s important to have time for oneself. This isn’t selfish and in fact, will put you in a better state of mind to help care for others.

2. Reward yourself…
Stuffed-crust pizza, anyone? In all seriousness, whether you’re trying to save money or simply don’t abide having too many belongings, rewarding yourself for your accomplishments is important as it keeps you motivated and hungry to accomplish more.

3. play to your strengths…
This is a tough one, especially if you’re like me and believe you can do anything you set your mind to. But let’s be realistic for a moment… I’ll never be a theoretical physicist. I love and excelled in maths and physics, but I didn’t have the time, money or resources to study to the degree that was required (pun fully intended) to achieve that particular dream. I’ll never be an Olympic swimmer because my body encompasses at least two swimmer’s bodies and I have the centre of gravity of a rock. I am, however, quite adept at the martial arts and I’ve played to that particular strength in a number of ways. So while one shouldn’t be discouraged from trying something, it’s important to recognize one’s strengths.

4. Ask for and offer help…
This one isn’t just important for good mental health but for life in general. It would be ignorant to believe that one would never need the assistance of another person in life. It would also be wrong NOT to provide help when someone else asks it of you. Not to be confused with being UNABLE to help, of course. But we’re all trying to muddle through life as best we can; helping each other should be something that comes naturally.

5. De-stress your diet…
Honestly, I don’t know what the fuck this is supposed to mean… maybe it just means don’t eat buffalo chicken bites an hour before bed because you’ll spend all night roiling and in pain. Maybe it simply means making sure you eat healthy and from the proper food groups and try not to eat like a seagull…

6. Press pause once in a while – downtime is good…
frankly, I love this list but I can’t help but feel this is a repetition of #1. I mean, maybe not; downtime and time to oneself could be interpreted as two separate things I guess. Whatever. Go re-read #1.

7. Get regular physical activity…
That’s the gospel, right there! And likely the solution to a vast majority of mental and physical health problems that people face. And I don’t need to remind all of you how often I’ve written about exercising regularly. yet another aspect I could stand to improve on.

8. Set goals and stay on target with a journal…
Meinh… journals can be a good thing for some people. I believe quite deeply in setting goals and working towards them. If using a journal or some form of documentation to track your progress, it can’t be anything but good, right? But setting those goals and keeping your eyes on the prize is extremely important.

9. Practice relaxation techniques and get enough sleep…
I consider myself well versed on the former but I could certainly use some work on the latter. Meditation or even just deep breathing will help will lowering blood pressure and calming you. getting a proper night’s sleep is valuable for a variety of reasons that I’ve written about often.

10. Choose a positive attitude…
This is probably the most difficult one, if I’m being honest. having a positive attitude or outlook on life can be difficult, especially if you;’re constantly dealing with the negative aspects of life. it’s absolutely possible but as humans, we tend to bitch, whine and complain about things watt faster than choosing to be positive.

So there you have it. I thought this list was pretty decent and offers up some good suggestions on how to better maintain one’s mental health and increase one’s overall happiness. ☯️

Slide Into This Feel-good Post…

Last Saturday, Nathan finally asked me to make our way to the sliding hill on the east side of our neighbourhood. I say finally because he’s usually spent the last few winters asking to go sledding as soon as there was snow on the ground. This year, he didn’t seem to be so into it, preferring to stay inside and melt his brain with his Netflix kids and Nintendo Switch. I’ve managed to get him outside to play in our yard, which is easy for him to come back inside and resume his hermit behaviour. So it was quite a surprise when he decided he wanted to go sledding.

The weather was quite mild at only -4 degrees and it was a perfect day to go hit the slope for an hour and get some fresh air. We slipped on our winter gear and made our way outside. Nathan had received a snow scooter for Christmas, which is basically a razor scooter with skis instead of wheels. I was anxious to see him use it but he refused, claiming he felt he would wipe out too easily. I brought it along anyway, in the event he changed his mind (and because I wanted to try it myself). We had the hill to ourselves as no one else was there. Not surprising as it was the weekend and it was before the noon hour.

Despite the mild weather, it was quite chilly once we got to the top of the hill and lost the protection of the houses and trees at ground level. Nathan had a blast, whipping down the hill and alternating his runs with his plastic toboggan and crazy carpet. I took a couple of short sprints down on the snow scooter and let me just say that I’m glad no one else was on the hill to see my sorry attempts. besides the fact that the handlebar was too low for me, the foot board was too small and I couldn’t keep both feet on it. This made it extremely hard to keep my balance.

At one point, we had a race with Nathan on his crazy carpet and me, using the plastic toboggan. My heavy weight, whipping down the hill, allowed my gratuitous posterior to feel every bump, groove and edge that was present on the slope. The result was every joint in my body objecting and asking what the fuck I thought I was doing… It was enough to get Nathan laughing at all the moans, groans and the sound of a hundred mousetraps closing as I tried to get up. Where has the time gone?

As with all things in life, despite the fun we were having, some negative aspects reared their ugly faces. The cold temperature and the exertion of climbing the snow hill over and over caused my blood sugar to drop below 4.0 mmol/L, which was a problem since we had only planned on being gone for an hour and I hadn’t brought anything with me. The cold also drained the battery on my pump, which is a bit more of a problem since having the battery go dead for more than a few minutes wipes out all my settings. I really should write that shit down somewhere. But it was fun and we got to spend some time outside, getting fresh air and exercise. ☯️

Are You just Listening Or Also Hearing…?

Relationships involve a lot of work. I’m sure that isn’t news to any of your reading this post, but people often forget that the Beetles were wrong… You most certainly and absolutely do need more than love. I remember a few months before one of my close friends got married. We sat in my garage and had a few cold ones and smoked a couple of choice cigars and talked about his upcoming nuptials. One of the things I explained is that’s although it’s extremely important to love the person you’re with, there are other important components that are required.

Arguably, compromise, understanding and the ability to communicate honestly and openly with the person in question are just as important as loving them and in some cases, more so. And this applies to any relationship in one’s life, friendship, marital or otherwise. Having the ability to be honest and communicate are integral to maintaining the relationship AND maintaining good mental health through it all. Often, relationship failures can be traced to a failure in one or more of these other components and not so much the fact the pair didn’t love each other. But I digress…

The important lesson in today;s post is that as one makes their way through the challenges of life, one needs to do more than just sit and listen. It’s important to actually hear what the other person is saying, as important as it is for them to actually hear you. Often, one person will be trying to start a conversation or impart a message that the recipient simply isn’t getting and this can often be attributed to a lack of hearing, or stubbornness. this can lead to misinterpreted messaging, hurt feelings and a general sense of misunderstanding that will often lead to a breakdown in effective communication. Certainly not conducive to any sort of relationship.

each person is a free-thinking individual with their own thoughts, opinions and positions on whatever matters of the day may be facing them. But the only way to approach such things is with an open mind and an ability to hear what the other person is actually trying o communicate and asking for clarification if you don’t understand. only then can you begin to truly communicate effectively and find the means to compromise and understand the other person’s perspective, which is important to maintaining good relationships. Food for thought… ☯️

One In The Hand Is Worth What?

Listen, life is hard! And rightfully so… Can you picture how badly humanity would falter if everything was simple and easy??? Hell, take an objective look at the world’s rich and elite. All the people who are livin’ large are almost ALWAYS found to be the subject of controversy, crime, affairs and/or drug and alcohol abuse. And there’s a good reason behind that. As human beings, there needs to be challenges and goals to life in order to help us grow and develop. A lack thereof will result in a sort of boredom that can lead to trouble.

This is why it is so important to appreciate the now. Appreciate what you have and where you’re at. Too often, people will always crave and want what they don’t have, instead of appreciating what they already do. Got a three-bedroom house? Boy, I’d sure love to have a five-bedroom house with two bathrooms. Got a four-cylinder car? Boy, I’d sure love to have a high-end SUV. I don’t wanna work… I don’t wanna pay bills… Things are hard and I just want them to be easy…

People always want what they don’t have, and that’s a terrible way to live. I used to live this phenomenon when I was still with the Force. Since they have a propensity to transfer their officers every few years, it was common to move and assume that the next place would be better than the one I currently occupied. Although in many cases, I found myself burned out at my current location, there was no debuting that I had no idea what the next location would bring. This made it extremely important to appreciate living in the now and enjoying whatever positives I had in the current state as they could potentially not be available at the next posting. The same can be said of life in general.

I read something recently that said that the famous quote, “When one door closes, another one opens,” is attributed to Alexander Graham Bell. I’ve spent my life hearing that quote and the first surprise was who penned it, but apparently the quote goes on to say, “but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Of course, a more recent quote I read says, “When one door closes, open that bitch back up. That’s how doors work!” Either way, the lesson is to focus on the positive, appreciate what you have and don’t ignore the entire parade of life so that you won’t miss the caboose. ☯️

Feelin’ The Burn…

It’s not secret that I enjoy trying out new workouts. More than anything else, I fell it’s an important step in keeping things fresh, which in turn will help to keep things interesting when trying to stick to a fitness regime. But different workouts will work different muscle groups and provide different short and long term results, so it’s always good to mix it up and try something different. A couple of years ago, I found a simple body weight workout used by submarine occupants. The idea is that they needed something that could be done on a confined space, without the use of much equipment.

I bring it up because I did the workout the day before last and I’m only today feeling the deep, muscular pain associated with it. But it is a genuinely fantastic workout that works all the large muscle groups and helps to increase strength and stamina. It only takes twenty to thirty minutes to perform and I often use it as an alternative if I’m staying in a hotel or need something quick and easy because I don’t have time for anything else. Admittedly, the portion I use is only part 1 of 2 but believe me when I say it’s enough to get a solid sweat and have your limbs praying for mercy. Here we go…

The circuit is pretty basic. You start with 15 normal squats (pictured above, go all the way down and don’t be lazy) followed by 10 diamond push-ups (push-ups where your hands are touching in front of you, below your chest), 10 regular lunges and 15 regular push-ups. Once you’ve completed that circuit, you start again but this you’ll be doing 14-9-9-14. Keep repeating the circuit and dropping everything by one rep for every circuit. Make sense?

As you work through it, the entire workout should look like this:

Squats/Diamond P-Ups/Lunges/P-Ups
Fall to the floor and pass out… Kidding!

I normally take about 30 to 45 seconds to rest and sip water between each circuit. That being said, once the first and last exercises reach 5 and I’m no longer doing diamond push-ups or lunges, I try to hammer through the last five circuits without resting. It tends to provide that added little bit of burn at the end when one typically wants to throw in the towel. Your lunges can be done with some light dumbbells, if you have them.

For myself, I’ve started doing the entire workout with a 20-pound weighted vest, which has certainly made it more challenging and has given me a better appreciation for folks who live their everyday with 20 pounds more weight than I carry. It’s amazing how such a low addition of weight to one’s overall body makes a significant and noticeable difference. Despite how taxing the workout is, it’s low impact and simple, making it extremely flexible in terms of adding in extras or modifying the exercises.

So there you have it! If you’re looking for something that’s quick, simple and provides an insane burn to your muscles, look no further. I’ve also noticed that this workout doesn’t seem to drop my blood sugars in any significant way. If anything, it sometimes rises by a half point. Remember to stay well hydrated as this circuit will have you sweating out every drop of bodily fluid you may have. And as usual, if you feel unexpected sharp pains, shortness of breath or dizziness, you should stop immediately. Even if the circuit takes a little less than 30 minutes, there’s no reason not to take more time to complete it during the first few times you use it. Stay healthy! ☯️

Trying To Shut ‘er Down…

We’ve all been there… It’s several hours into the night, you should be asleep but you’re tossing and turning before finally staring absently at the ceiling, unable to slip into the sandman’s warm embrace. Although I’ll be the first to admit that there can be medical reasons for this phenomenon, often and for the most part, it’s caused because most people lack the ability to shut down one’s brain. And one would think that we would be in control of our own brain but it just never seems to happen that way…

I talk a big game but I’m notorious for allowing the events of the day and the plan for the upcoming day to dwell in my head, rent-free. This often occurs when I should be slipping into slumber, unless it’s Friday night and I’m enjoying a few libations but that just causes a different kind of poor sleep. But i can certainly attest that whether it’s running through things I’ll say on my way to work, rethinking choices and tasks performed at work on my way home or simply laying in bed worrying about it all, I need to do a bit more practicing what I preach. And now, we’ll get on to the preaching part…

As human beings, we have a tendency to dwell on the past and worry about the future. We think back to things we’ve said and done and tasks we’ve accomplished and we wonder if we could have done them better or differently. We worry about the future as it relates to life and one’s finances. Will I have enough money to cover the rent this month? Can I afford to put gas in the car or do I need to keep taking my bike? Do I have job security? Can I retire in twenty years without working? There’s absolutely no limit to the things that roll around in one’s head at any given time.

However, having this happen when you’re supposed to be getting sleep is not only wrong but potentially harmful. As I’ve written about in previous posts, lack of proper sleep can lead to a plethora of physical and mental issues, not limited to poor cognitive function, increased blood pressure and anxiety. I don’t know about you, but none of that sounds like a fuckin’ spa treatment. This is why it’s so important to ensure you get a proper night’s sleep. And there are a few ways to help that process along.

First and foremost, one needs to learn to shut their mind off. For me, I make a point of blasting some awesome music in the car on my way home and sing along with no apologies (well, the music is awesome to ME, anyways). This helps to reset my mind from the work environment to the home environment. This is a fantastic first step to decompressing and allowing oneself to switch gears. The idea and the whole point is that work should be kept at work. Although some jobs and positions may require some after-honours attention, once your day is done and you go home, work is the last thing you should be dwelling on.

Once you’re home, get on some things that you can do at home. This is more important than we realize because most people have the reflex of getting home and wanting to flop down on the couch and veg out. As appealing as this sounds, sitting idle is one of the worst things you can do, as sitting still gives you too much time to dwell on things. Get up, help make dinner, do the dishes, help your kids with homework and if all else fails and none of that applies to you, hammer out a solid workout, followed by a hot shower and some meditation. Not only will this get you through your evening in a productive manner but it’ll also prepare your body for sleep, which is kind of the whole point.

All the usual things that we all tend to hear about apply as well. Don’t eat to close to bedtime, cut caffeine about mid-afternoon and avoid backlit screens about an hour before bed. All of these things will contribute to helping you nod off faster. Once you’re in bed, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing is an excellent exercise to help you fall asleep. Focusing on your breathing takes your thoughts away from whatever you may dwell on, otherwise. Long, steady breaths are definitely better than short ones. White noise machines are a light-send, as well. You should try to avoid being like me and using your cell phone to stream Netflix to go to sleep.

All in all, it’s pretty easy to say “shut your mind off and go to sleep.” Accomplishing that isn’t quite so easy. Life brings its own unique sets of challenges, stressors and aspects that cause anxiety so it’s no big surprise that some or most of that will keep a person up at night. But the important aspect to remember is that unless you plan on getting out of bed and going straight in to work when your mind dwells on it, there’s nothing you can do about it in the moment and you should let it go and focus on the task at hand, which is sleep. Food for thought… ☯️

Frosted Fun In Milder Weather…

One of the big things that makes winter drag on for me, is the inability to use my bicycle or my punching bag. Oh, sure… I could be like of those sorry idiots you see riding the city streets on a bike in the snow. But I value my life a little too much for that. And the issue with the punching is imply managing to stay outside in the cold for that long. Even if I only use the bag for a half hour, the extremes colds we get in Saskatchewan are often enough to make it unwise, if not outright dangerous.

That’s why let weekend was a welcome gift, with temperatures actually rising above 0 degrees. Recently, my wife and I have started sending our oldest outside to play on the weekends. That likely makes it sound like we didn’t before and I should probably clarify… Because he now has a Nintendo Switch as well as a disabled iPhone on which to do homework and stream Netflix Kids, he very rarely wants to do anything else. Getting him to play in the great outdoors has become something of a challenge, despite the vast plethora of toys and gadgets he has in his play shed that he can use to entertain himself. but I digress…

On Saturday, I noticed it was only -1 degrees outside. As usual, I shut down all of his devices and coaxed him outside to play. He put in his hour and came back in, citing fatigue. Once he was curled back up in a corner and playing his games, it dawned on me that I should have joined him. The milder weather would have been an excellent opportunity to hit the bag. Instead, I ended up doing a workout inside, as I usually do. Recently, I’ve been trying to push myself to workout on a daily basis so that I can hopefully start to shed some of the winter blubber from my mid-section.

The following day held weather just as nice, so I decided to join Nathan outside and do a 30-minute punching bag circuit that I have on my phone. It involves striking the bag for a full minute, then taking a 30-second break. Wash, rinse and repeat for a half hour. It’s pretty good at working up a sweat and as long as you put in the effort, it’s a pretty good way to burn calories and tone the arms, as well. I got through the circuit and made my way back inside the house, tired and sweaty but satisfied. I noted some pros and cons to working out on the bag in colder weather. And I’m gonna share ‘em with you now…

On the positive side, it was remarkably easier to breathe. Since I usually spend time on the bag in the summer, the heavy humidity and high heat not only make it difficult to breathe but it also brings me closer to dehydration with every punch. I didn’t have that issue. I also didn’t need to stop for water as often or sweat as profusely into my eyes. That being said, now is a good time to remind everyone that just because you’re not sweating, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work to stay hydrated. That can be a bit of a slippery slope, kind of like neglecting to use sunblock in the winter.

Another good thing is that I had to keep moving in order to stay warm. Granted, it was only about -4 degrees but wearing a long-sleeved dry-fit shirt under a sleeveless hoodie didn’t do much to keep the chill at bay. This resulted in a need to keep moving constantly in order to maintain my body’s warmth. The result is less stopping and less breaks throughout the workout, resulting in a better burn. I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to lag and slow down once I reach the halfway mark of my bag workouts. This was an easy way to ensure that didn’t happen. Keep moving or get cold.

Of course, as with all things in life, there is a con to every pro and this workout was no exception. Although it was great to get out on the bag and blow off some steam, there were some negative aspects to this workout. The first is that my Bluetooth speaker died. Kaput. Done. Useless. Despite having nearly a full charge when I went outside, the cold weather drained the battery and the music died. Don McLean would have a conniption. Worst part is, it died in the last ten minutes or so of the workout, which is when I’m at my most fatigued and need that slight boost that good music gives you, in order to push through.

This same effect happened to my phone, having gone outside with a battery nearing 100%, only to step back inside at less than 25%. Although neither of those things may seem like a big deal, and I’ll admit that they’re not, they still affect the overall workout. But neither of those were as important as the fact that the battery to my insulin pump also drained. Not completely, thankfully, but it still drained. The user’s guide for the pump also clarifies that it should not be kept in constant heat or cold, and this would be one of the reasons why. A more ideal solution would have been to disconnect the pump for the 30 minutes I was outside and preserve the battery. Hindsight, am I right?

Lastly, were my blood sugars. Working out in colder weather has a harsher effect on the body. Not only are you working out but your body is actively trying to warm you up/keep you warm. As a result, my blood sugars dropped quite drastically over the 30 minutes that I slammed the bag. No big deal for someone constantly prepared for blood sugar issues, but less than ideal. And that’s something to bear in mind, should one decide on a workout that takes them away from the house, like jogging or skiing. Close monitoring of one’s blood sugars and good preparation can mean the difference between being in danger or enjoying the milder but still cold, weather.

All in all, it was good to get out of the house and get back to the bag. It certainly renewed my appetite for the striking aspect of my training. Although forms and shadow boxing are great, sometimes you just need to actually strike something in order to properly develop your techniques. I would say that being outside was a positive influence on Nathan but the little lazy ass came and sat in the garage for the entire time I was outside. Despite being supposed to play and get some exercise, he opted instead to just sit there. Bloody kid! My attempts to get him to use the punch pad didn’t fly, either. Oh, well. Here’s hoping next weekend is just as nice and I can put my lessons learned into practice. ☯️