How Not To Get Your A$$ Kicked…

I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve been doing martial arts for more years than I haven’t. In those decades, I’ve seen some pretty incredible things and have used martial arts to help deal with a number of situations. And most of those situations weren’t fighting.

Most people consider the martial arts to be a fighting art. Although this may true on some respects, this isn’t the reason why they were originally created.

Depending on who you speak to, and what their sources are, the martial arts are believed to be several thousands of years old. Their origins are believed to be rooted in China or India, although there is some debate on which of these two cultures developed it first.

Ultimately, the Shaolin monks in China originally created what is known as their version of the martial arts as a means of staying fit and in shape. It was also considered a means of defending the monasteries if it became necessary. My style of karate is a descendent of this Chinese style.

These days, thanks to mainstream cinema and other forms of media, the martial arts is often viewed strictly as a fighting art. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the concept of the Mixed Martial Arts has unfortunately deepened this view.

“Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm” – Joe Clark

But it is true that traditional martial arts has a deeper purpose than simply being able to clear a room of enemies in epic empty-hand battles. The martial arts has shown to improve circulation, maintain proper health and body weight and increase confidence and personal discipline.

Certainly, over the past thirty years I’ve enjoyed the increased benefits of karate in regards to my health and Diabetes. Training hard and consistently has allowed me to be the exception to the Diabetic rule. Unlike most people afflicted with Type 1 for as long as I have, I still have a clean nervous system, clean cardiovascular and renal function. My circulatory system is also clean and clear and I don’t usually have the foot and extremity problems that most type 1 Diabetics have.

Karate has certainly been good to me over the past thirty years and has provided a wide variety of benefits, health-wise and even professionally. And if I were to recount the instances where I used it for actual fighting, I can probably count the number of physical fights on one hand. I’ve come to find that once you’ve trained long enough, the need to fight actually becomes less and less.

No matter what your reasons are for being in the martial arts, make sure that those reasons are for you and and for the betterment of yourself and those around you. If one’s only desire is to fight, there are sports in which one can indulge those desires. Martial arts is not the place for it. ☯

We Often Find Our Destiny On The Road We Least Thought To Travel

You know something? I heard this saying for the first time from someone who is no longer in my life. In fact, she provided it for some very different reasons than what I ended up using it for…

That being said, it became one of the guiding expressions I’ve used throughout my journey in this life. And I still do.

One of the things I enjoy the most is looking back at my journey through life thus far and recognizing how things have played out contrary to how I thought they might.

Ten years ago, I embarked on a journey that changed my life. Although I should have remained friends and stayed in contact with almost three dozen people, time and distance put a rather quick stop to all of that. I never forgot any of them or the journey we shared together, but it nevertheless didn’t prevent that separation.

We don’t always understand the reason behind why some things happen. It would be fantastic if we had those answers as it might make it easier to get through some of the more difficult aspects of life, but it simply doesn’t happen that way.

It’s only now, at the intersection of that ten year journey, that I get a chance to reflect and take notice of the new friendships I never would have started if my path hadn’t taken me to the here and now. I’ve always been the kind of person who doesn’t believe in regrets.

Sometimes, it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the ride. It allows for the possibilities that one may not have considered. Strangers becomes confidants, false acquaintances fall away like sand in the wind and teachers become friends. It doesn’t always make sense, but it all balances out. ☯

Yes, You’re Entitled To It…

I once read somewhere that opinions are like bad flatulence; everybody has it and it’s impossible to hold it in forever. But once you let it slip, everyone will notice it and most people will likely want to leave the room. A little touch of comedy to start off this post, but most will agree with the thought behind it.

All jokes aside, opinions are everywhere. In today’s society of online debates and instant information, everyone offers and provides their opinions, even when it is unsolicited.

Webster’s Dictionary defines Opinion as “a view, judgement, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.” The important aspect to remember about one’s opinion is that it is not always based on fact or knowledge.

In fact, more often than not, opinion is based on one’s own perspective and little else. A good example includes comments I received on this very blog from someone regarding a post I wrote regarding the consumption of meat versus vegetarianism. When this commenter’s opinion began to ignore actual scientific evidence and information, her comments turned towards personally attacking and insulting me as the writer as opposed to dealing with the facts.

We live in an age where technology is at the forefront of our daily lives. Although I no longer participate in social media, we often see, hear and experience “armchair warriors” who are so quick to offer up an opinion about something without having any knowledge or basis for it.

Here’s a challenge for all of you: go on whatever social media platform you are currently using and write out a status or message on your home page. All you need to write is “I believe in [insert ANYTHING here]” I can almost guarantee that you’ll get a response contrary to what you’ve written. More often than not, especially these days, some of those responses will be extremely aggressive and negative.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Although throughout history this hasn’t always been true, freedom of speech is an existential reality these days in the Western world. Modern Western society has combined such a vast cornucopia of religious and belief backgrounds that they often conflict and use strife when strangers intersect, especially on the Internet.

Be mindful of this when lending your opinion. Although well intentioned, your opinion may not always be well-received. Trust me, I’ve dealt with that aspect myself. People don’t always understand, even if you’ve “been there, done that.”

Be receptive when receiving an opinion. As I said, everybody has one. Some good, some bad… All information is good information, right? Opinions are just that: opinions! You can’t be faulted for hearing an opinion then walking away from it.

Whether you’re providing or receiving an opinion, always remember this: it’s all just thoughts and words. It may not always give you what you need or want, but it may often give you something you didn’t expect. The important detail is to be respectful, no matter which end of the opinion you’re on. ☯

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Aristotle is believed to have coined this saying, although many dispute that it belongs to him. It describes the synergy that can occur between two or more parts that can lead to a greater whole.

Collaboration within a society is a good example of this. Although one person may be good at gathering and building shelter, a group of people will certainly provide more resources, skills and protection than the one would get alone.

So what does this mean in modern society? Certainly, this can apply to the family dynamic. But this has unfortunately shifted drastically with the advent of Millennials and Generation Z. More and more, some believe that a life on their own is more promising and alluring than building a family.

What are your thoughts on this? Although most of the statistics I’ve been able to find are based out of the United States, it appears that there has been a measurable decline in the purchase of homes and having children. There are a number of reasons behind this, from rising housing costs and increasing student loan debts. Psychology Today has a great article that goes into some of the details (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/singletons/201804/should-we-worry-about-millennials-not-having-babies)

I’m sure many of you have heard about “power in numbers”. I know that I would personally be at a loss without the support of my family and friends. It would certainly be impossible to face and deal with the issues of life without my wife at my side. Even my son adds a certain je ne sais quoi… despite how destructive he tends to get. Four-year olds, am I right?

Although the nature of the world may be changing, the benefits and advantages of having people in your life has not. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be with people. You may come to find that the end result will certainly be greater than the sum of your parts. ☯

It’s Okay For Stars To Be Dark

Setting consistent and realistic goals is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. Life doesn’t happen on its own, and sitting idle is generally not an option in this world.

But how grandiose do those goals have to be? I’ve previously written about HOW you should set your goals (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). But these goals should be something you set for yourself and not the world around you.

Sometimes, we work tirelessly to achieve grand things in our lives. We work hard to grow and rise within our employment, obtain and develop a home that accommodates our needs and fill it with possessions.

For example, even though you work for a specific company you may not expect to eventually become CEO. Maybe that’s a goal you’ve set, but it may not be what will eventually happen.

So what about a simpler life? A simpler goal? I had the benefit of having a supportive family who didn’t care what I did so long as I gave it my best. My mother always used to say, “I don’t care if you’re rich or if you mop floors. But if you mop floors, they’d better be the cleanest floors in the world…”

The lesson here is quite simple. It’s not what you do so much as how you do it. Are you an employee? Best the best employee you can possibly be and work as hard as you can. Are you an employer? Then run your company with veracity and morals and treat your staff as though they are your partners. Setting personal goals related to your health and fitness? Meet those goals head on and act as though your life depends on it. Because at the very least, your WAY of life will…

It’s okay to try and be a rock star, but remember that some stars shine darker than others. This doesn’t mean they don’t have their place in the sky. ☯

Well, Isn’t That Sweet…?

Blood sugar testing is one of the most rudimentary steps towards preventing complications when dealing with Type 1 Diabetes. Unless you’re on some sort of continuous glucose monitoring, most health practitioners would recommend testing at least five to ten times a day to ensure that you stay as consistent as possible.

I was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1982 (I know, I know… no need to point out how I’m aging myself…) and at that time, the belief was simply “don’t eat sugar.” Although that’s pretty accurate in some respects, there is far more to controlling Diabetes than JUST sugar.

As a child, I did everything I could to avoid sugary foods (with my parents’ support, of course). Staying away from desserts, juices and sugared products was all I assumed was needed. My parents knew no better either. If I were hungry, bread, crackers, milk… These were acceptable foods that weren’t “sugary” and were therefore safe for me to eat.

From the age 4 until about the age of 10, I suffered through a number of Diabetic comas resulting from extreme blood sugar levels. The worst of these comas lasted for a number of days. I can’t begin to explain how disorienting it is to go to sleep on one day, only to wake up several days later in a hospital bed. I often thank my lucky stars for having shared a bedroom with my older brother, as he was the one who ran to get my parents when he’d wake to find me frothing at the mouth. Without his intervention, I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be here today…

My point is, my family and I didn’t really have a firm understanding many of my Diabetic symptoms throughout my childhood. And the terminology of the time, “avoid sugar”, didn’t help. It wouldn’t be until twenty five years later that I would learn about carbohydrates and how they relate to Diabetes.

An example of a typical Nutrition Label found on most commercially sold food items.

Carb counting is not an OLD concept, per se… But it’s one I didn’t learn about until I started on my insulin pump in 2015. When I started consulting with my pump educators and dieticians, they began asking me about how I was carb counting. I was at a loss. I had become one of those people who focused so much on avoiding sugar and exercising, that I had never really bothered to learn anything new. That meant I had no idea what they were talking about.

Blood glucose levels are affected based on the consumption of carbohydrates. This includes sugar of course, but encompasses so much more. If you look at the nutritional label I included above, you’ll notice the portion I’ve encircled.

The Total Carbohydrate line includes all carbs, sugars and fibers included in the food. That being said, dietary fiber does not affect blood sugar. So if we look at the numbers on this label, you would need to subtract 4 grams of fiber from 37 grams of total carbs. This means you would need to take an insulin dose for 33 grams of carbs, not 37.

A 4 gram difference isn’t extreme, the difference over time can result in serious blood sugar fluctuations and all the symptoms and side effects that follow.

Although the medical definition of Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t change, treatment and proper care is a constantly evolving creature. It becomes important to continue learning and studying, and don’t be afraid to do some research of your own.

I know that doctors absolutely hate knowing we check Google and WebMD, but no information is bad information. Don’t be afraid to do whatever is necessary to ensure your proper health. And keep checking those blood sugar levels… ☯

Peace And Quiet Often Becomes Peace OR Quiet…

Years ago, I had an image in my mind of the ideal scenery. A string of rocky mountains, surrounded by greenery and a crystal clear lake sitting at its base. A crisp, spring morning where there is still dew on the grass and some wildlife running to and fro.

I would emerge from a small wood cabin onto a plain deck, coffee in hand and the vapour of my breath misting away in the morning air. Perhaps a small wood fire crackling in a small fire pit just off the deck, no other sound can be heard except the occasional hawk swooping down to catch a fish from the lake.

No noise, no interruptions and simply the silence of nature… Sounds nice, right? Considering the landscape and setting, the odds are good that there would be no internet and maybe even no electricity. Nothing but the peace of nature and the quiet of solitude.

This is often the image I’ve used while meditating. I find the image and the thought of this description has lent a certain level of focus. Some folks are fortunate enough to visit this image as a reality. Certainly, one can go camping or rent a cabin and this would allow you to experience the peace I’m describing.

This is one of the factors often missing from modern life. You don’t need to become a monk and live in a monastery to get this level of peace and quiet. But if you stop to think about it, even when things are “quiet”, there’s still a great deal of noise happening around you. The sound of your home (furnace, A/C, electronics or machinery), children, vehicles travelling in the distance, the sound of airplanes… Most of these are common background noise, especially if you live in a city.

Take some time to find your quiet place. If you aren’t in a position to go somewhere that allows it to happen naturally, train and develop yourself accordingly so that your mind and meditation allows you some sanctuary from the daily grind of constant white noise. A little peace and quiet goes a long way towards improving one’s health. ☯