Happy Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I’m a little late on the ball, but that often happens with me, so here we are! Father’s Day, like many holidays, was established in the United States during the first decade of the 20th Century by Sonora Smart Dodd as a way to celebrate and honour fathers.

Although it was celebrated in Arkansas for the first time in 1910, it wasn’t until the early 1970’s that it became considered a recognized nationwide holiday.

As some of you know, I have a 4-year old son named Nathan. He’s a handful, and like his father, can’t seem to sit still for very long. Nathan created a few crafts at pre-school for me in celebration of Father’s Day, which I will share with you now.

His first gift was a small five-ounce glass jar that contained ingredients to make two chocolate chip cookies. All that was needed was a tablespoon of butter and an egg, prior to popping it into the oven. It made two cookies, which Nathan and I were then able to share.

Baked goods don’t sit for very long around the men in my family, so we don’t have any photos of our cookies as Nathan and I wolfed them down as soon as they came out of the oven. I’m not certain if the ingredient amounts were incorrect or if I added too much butter, but the batter was a bit soupy. We ended up having one big, square cookie. We still ate it. It was still good.

The second gift my sone provided was a card containing questions his teacher asked him about me. I will share it here…

The first thing I’d like to point out is the fact that my son believes I am 5 years’ old. Children can have a wonderful perspective, and it’s often funny to see how their mind works.

The use of “big weights” doesn’t really surprise me as Nathan is often with me during workouts, as I’ve written about before. He apparently knows me well enough to recognize that my favourite meal is pizza and that if I had time I would “sit and relax” haha.

Despite the comedy involved in some of his answers, what melts my heart the most is his recognition of the love in our family, as he indicates that my parting words always include “I love you” and he indicates how much he loves me.

Life is short and is a very fleeting thing. Since we never know what life may bring, I’ve always tried to teach Nathan that telling a loved one that you love them before leaving is important. If this were to be the last words spoken to each other, we would know they meant something.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and all the other parents who may be performing the duties of a Father. You’re important and provide the shining example of what your child should endeavour to become. ☯

The Weight of the World…

How much can be asked of one person? At what point is enough truly enough? What is the instinct that drives a person to use another without remorse? Without considering the damage that person may cause?

For well over a year now, I have been dealing with something of a personal challenge in my life. And considering everything I’ve been through in my life, I shouldn’t be surprised by challenge. Challenge, I can deal with.

I’ve built my life around the concept of justice and doing what’s right; I was raised on the belief that helping others is not only important, but paramount. When I came of age, I began seeking out a career that would allow me to help others and protect those who can’t protect themselves. And now that way of life is threatened by someone who prefers to use others to their own end rather than put in the work.

A year ago, someone who failed to pursue the same career path as my own decided to encroach upon my good nature. I have always been the type to treat others as people and be as helpful as possible. I’ve routinely gone out of my way to try and help others achieve their goals. And now this person has taken advantage of this good nature to further their own goals. This has not only been frustrating, but incredibly damaging to my career and my way of life.

Taking advantage of a situation to get ahead is nothing new in our society. Majoritively, it is difficult to get ahead in modern society without there being SOME pursuance of that very thing. but at some point, we need to ask ourselves if our advancement is worth the suffering and damage to others.

I find myself becoming exhausted. I’ve worked very hard my entire life to get to where I am. It breaks my heart to realize that all that hard work may be undone because of one selfish person. I’ve always considered myself capable of fighting through anything. And I’ve always sworn to fight for my country, fight for my family and fight for what’s right. These things are important. I simply don’t know how much I have left within me to continue when I am now fighting against the very aspects I’ve sworn to fight for.

Luckily, my family has been an endless wellspring of support. They’ve offered the strength that I’ve been sometimes lacking in recent months. If not for this support, I may have given up already. But considering my way of life and my family’s livelihood is threatened, I will continue to fight until I’ve won the day. I owe them that much. And even luckier still is to be blessed with an extended family that includes a small but loyal circle of friends who understand and support as well. You know who you are…

Be thankful for those you have in your life. We don’t always realize what we have, when dealing with the daily routine of our lives. But if they are the support that holds the foundation of your castle, even when the bricks are falling, then we are truly blessed indeed. ☯

Mind & Body, You Need Them Both!

The human body is an amazing combination of biological function, mixed with intelligence and self-awareness. I’ve often written about the importance of proper diet and exercise. But it’s also very important to pay attention to the mind.

First and foremost, I think it’s important to recognize the difference between the brain and the mind. The brain is the organ primarily responsible for the intellectual and nervous activity of the body. It controls the body’s systems in tandem with other, semi-independent systems within the body.

However, the mind is something slightly less tangible. The mind is defined as “the elements of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.”

Who you are is more than just the 3-pound chunk of tissue inside your skull!

Who you are despite the state of your body is what is contained within the mind. I’ve had a saying I coined from my youth: “When you aren’t exercising the body, you must exercise the mind.” This is important because most people assume that as long as they exercise consistently, they’ve done what needs doing. I believe this to be false.

There are a number of things a person can do to help exercise the mind. Meditation is a great first step. Not only does it help lower blood pressure and help with overall cardiac and bodily health, but it can go a long way towards helping your mind as well. It can aid in maintain a good mental health and strengthen one’s focus and concentration.

Get more sleep, and be certain it’s GOOD sleep. Your brain works hard during the night while you sleep. In fact, some studies have shown that dreams are part of a thought consolidation that is necessary for proper mental health. This is where the belief that some folks have that you can “sleep on it” when dealing with life’s problems. If you don’t get a solid seven to nine hours of quality sleep at night, you may lose some of the benefits it can provide for your mind and mental health.

There are certain aspects of diet that can help as well, but I won’t get into those too deeply. That errs a bit deeper on the side of the physical brain health as opposed to the mind.

Stay healthy and happy. I don’t think I need to explain that thinking positive can go a long way towards strengthening who you are as a person. This isn’t always an easy task. Life is designed to challenge us (and it’s damn good at it).

Exercise your mind. There a lot of simple ways to do this. Read a book. Do a puzzle. Crosswords, sudoku, the choices are almost endless! It’s been proven that the more conversations you have with your child and the more books you read to them, the more intelligent they’ll grow to be. This concept applies to adults as well, despite having grown beyond childhood.

Continue learning. Most people let go of this as they reach adulthood, but a person’s IQ and intelligence never stops growing. Read the book you’ve been putting off, learn another language. All of these things can help improve your mind. Many people think that it becomes much more difficult to learn a second language once we reach adulthood, but there are actually no studies to prove this. One simply needs to put in the time.

Your mind is not only an important part of who you are, it IS who you are. So it makes sense to train and develop it the same way as you would train and develop your body. Mind & body must work together. ☯

You Put Your Left Foot In, You Put Your Left Foot Out… 🎵

People with Diabetes genuinely have a rough go at life. If it seems as though there aren’t any systems in the body unaffected by Diabetes, it’s because there really aren’t!

One of the more problematic areas where Diabetics have issues is with their feet. Because Diabetes has this nasty tendency of damaging nerve endings and restricting blood flow to extremities, folks with T1D are less likely to feel it when they injure their feet. This is what is referred to as Diabetic Neuropathy.

Because your feet are rather important for things like, you know, walking, running, standing and kicking (if you’re into the martial arts) there are many things you can do to promote proper foot health. Most of these apply to non-Diabetics as well.

Almost forty years of T1D and my feet and extremities are still in great health!

The reality is that Diabetes, regardless of the type, is the leading cause of neuropathic damage in the feet and accounts for almost 80% of all foot amputations that were not the result of a traumatic injury.

According to WebMD (obviously one of my favourite websites), your feet should be inspected daily. You want to check for scrapes, cuts, swelling and unexplained sores or ulcers.

Like everything else, keeping your blood glucose levels under control will go a long way to preventing the nerve damage that can lead to these issues. Exercise is also an important factor. Remaining sedentary for too long will increase your risk.

As much as it breaks my heart to say it, going barefoot is also a no-no. As much as I enjoy being barefooted, your feet need to be protected from debris and sharp objects, as injuries to the feet will take much longer for Diabetics, which can lead to infection and other complications. You should always wear some footwear while exercising to protect the feet and one should avoid wearing high heels or pointed toes (I guess I’ll throw mine out 😆).

Despite the light callouses due to karate, my feet are injury-free, warm to the touch and properly cared for (let’s pretend we don’t see the cuts on my shins!)

When you check your feet, they should be a normal flesh colour (comparable to the rest of your legs and body), only slightly pink and warm to the touch. You should keep your toe nails trimmed and clean and if you use lotion to help with dry skin, be certain not to apply between the toes.

If you do discover sores or ulcers on your feet, don’t try to pop them. Cover them with a bandage and wear comfortable shoes, allowing them to heal on their own. If ANY injury does not heal within a couple of days, consult your doctor or medical practitioner. There are a number of conditions or injuries on the feet that won’t go away on their own and one needs to recognize when it’s time to seek out medical help.

As usual, I like providing some of the sources where I get my information. In that respect, WebMD’s article can be read here: https://www.webmd/diabetes/caring-feet#1

As usual, even though it’s not a cure, exercise, diet and proper blood glucose levels will go a long way to prevent complications related to proper foot health. ☯

We Didn’t Start The Fire… But We’ll Sure Stoke The Flames!

I tend to be a strange creature in terms of the circles in which I travel. I tend to deal with a number of fitness and martial arts circles, all the while dealing with the Diabetic community. Sometimes the two conflict with each other. After all, there some aspects that are observed in the fitness world that Diabetics would have difficulties with.

One of those aspects involves the metabolism. To touch briefly on this, the metabolism is the chemical and biological process through which the body burns fat and processes its calories. This process is necessary for a person to stay alive, and it can be “somewhat” manipulated to help with weight loss and working out.

First of all, one common misconception is that if you want to lose weight, you should eat less. Your body needs to be fed. That HAS to happen, no matter what your goal. in order to lose weight, you need to consistently feed your body.

Don’t skip breakfast! I’m the worst for this. I usually wake up in the morning and reach for caffeine, typically on auto-pilot. But if you fuel your body right from the get-go, you’re setting the bar for how you’ll eat and metabolize throughout your day.

I’ve often heard it said that eating often throughout the day helps to keeps your metabolism fired up and will help to burn more calories. Although this CAN be true, there are some exceptions.

According to Dr. Edward Bitok with the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics at LLU School of Allied Health Professions, the preferred wait time between meal is between 3 to 5 hours. This is the amount of time required for the stomach’s contents got be emptied out into the small intestine.

It’s a bit of a balancing act, since waiting too long can cause issues such as low blood glucose, genuine hunger and other issues. But if you eat too soon, such as folks who eat every two hours, you may be eating more out of habit and cause weight gain through excess calories and such. Here’s the article if you wanna check it out: https://www.insider.com/how-often-should-i-be-eating-during-the-day-2018-5

The ideal proportion that should be on your plate. I’ll admit that I usually don’t have THAT many vegetables on my plate.

Many fitness and nutrition gurus will agrees that eating smaller, more frequent meals will help with weight loss and overall health. Waiting too long between meals will cause your body to go into a panicked “calorie storing” overdrive, since it doesn’t know when its next meal will come. Hence, one of the main reason for more frequent meals.

Here’s the fun fact: if you carb-count properly and check your blood sugars often, your choice of meal plan shouldn’t affect your Diabetes. I eat often throughout the day, although my main meals tend to revolve around lunch and/or dinner. Doing shift work can be problematic as well, since you don’t always get to decide when to eat.

Personally, I make it a point to listen to my body and eat when I’m hungry. What a concept, eh? But eating every few hours will help to ensure to stave off hunger, help to keep your metabolism fired up throughout the day and help to keep you energized for workouts and fitness routines.

Like everything else, what you do will be specific to you. What diet and meal planning one person uses may not be right for you. And if you are a Type 1 Diabetic, straying form the meal plan your nutritionist and/or dietician has set out for you may not be ideal. It may take a bit of experimenting in order to find your niche. ☯

A Mixed Bag Is Difficult To Keep Tidy…

A karate master my Sensei used to train with had a saying: “One Love, One Religion and Only one Style…” The first two are pretty self-explanatory but the third one refers to a martial arts style.

Training in more than one style of martial arts is difficult. Even if you happen to find a school that has similar styles and techniques, there will always be some inherent differences, however minor they may seem.

I’ve been doing it for about three years, at this point. As some of you may remember, I’ve been studying Okinawan Karate for over thirty years. Given that length of time, it’s safe to say that I’ve become entrenched in my techniques and how I execute them. The current school of karate I train with has some differences in their techniques as well as some stances that often seem strange and feel alien to me. But to them, it’s what they know and how it SHOULD be done.

Consolidating the two styles has been a challenge. Especially if I ever have any hope of continuing my martial arts education and obtaining my next Dan (next degree of black belt), I need to keep my techniques and forms from my home style crisp and proper. To stray from that risks making my techniques ineffective and cost me some progress.

So, which one is better? I hear a lot of head-butting comments within the martial arts community about how “my way is better” and “my technique is the proper way”… Even within my job, I’ve had a lot of debates with some people relating to what combat style and what techniques are more effective.

I think people should remember that there is not one style that is better than another. Every style of traditional martial arts has its own unique combination of factors that make it effective. And martial arts in general is very subjective to the student.

For example, Tae Kwon Do is a very effective form of Korean martial arts. But for the life of me, I would never be comfortable executing all those high-flying kicks and maneuvers. I’m simply not built for it. But the next person may take to it like a fish to water. For me, Okinawan Karate is ideal because it focuses on the use of hand strikes and grappling, allowing me to use my specific skill set in conjunction with karate techniques. But the Tae Kwon Do student may find my fighting method to be too restrictive. In a battle between the two, so long as the Tae Kwon Do student keeps me at a distance, he or she can deliver some devastating blows. But sure as the Sun rises every morning, if I get within grabbing distance, the advantage quickly becomes mine!

The point is that every style has its own benefits and disadvantages. It falls to the student to examine and try different styles until they find one that fits. That’s why there’s really no such thing as “mixed martial arts”. this is why I referred to “traditional” martial arts, earlier.

Be certain to find the style that is right for you. Then train hard within it until you achieve proficiency. Trying and/or training in a second style shouldn’t be attempted by anyone who hasn’t already reached a significant level or grade within their primary style. To do so will only serve to muddy the waters. ☯

Free Will May Be Free, But It Costs A Lot!

Free will is a hell of a thing. It allows us as human beings to make choices and decisions based on OUR choices. It’s an advantage we have over the majority of the animal kingdom, as most animals tend to act on instinct.

But how is your free will used? Is it for the better of yourself? The betterment of humanity? Or is it more often used in an improper manner?

I recently posted about the three underlying factors behind problems we face in life. Without repeating the entire blog post, the list is that there are always three factors that contribute to every problem we face as humans.

The first factor is someone else. Others tend to contribute greatly to the problems we have. Think about it: when was the last time you faced a problem that didn’t involve at least one other person?

The second factor are elements out of our control. Think along the lines of getting to work almost ten minutes late because of construction. If you didn’t know that a certain road was blocked off and a delay would happen, you could have taken all the precautions possible by leaving on time and taking your usual route but you STILL would have shown up late.

This has a lot to do with causality, or the relationship between cause and effect. Granted, if you were aware of the construction or were given notice of its forthcoming, then that’s all on you.

The third factor is, in fact, yourself. No matter the problem we face, there will always be a certain amount that you contribute to your problem. Most people have a deep difficulty accepting that premise and will often think “this is not my fault!” Well maybe not, but there should still be an acknowledgement that actions or words on your part likely contributed to the tribulation you’re facing!

Accepting responsibility is difficult because we are hard-wired to survive, and defending oneself is an important aspect of survival. If one were capable of accepting responsibility for the part they played in any given situation, problems could be solved so much easier.

I’ve been guilty of this myself. Even recently. I look at particular problems and issues I’ve been facing within my life in the past couple of years and I recognize that I’ve had more than a small role to play in the creation of those problems. I’m hoping this clarity will help to bring said problems to an agreeable conclusion, but who knows?

I’ve often said that all things happen for a reason. Based on that belief, how effective does free will become? If it all happens for a reason, does my free will matter? Life has provided you with the right to choose during the story of your life. We all know how our story began. And we all know how our story will ultimately end. What fills the chapters in between is where our free will and right to choose come in.

So be certain to choose carefully, and accept responsibility for the part you play in life. You’ll be the better for it. It reminds me of a meme I saw about The Matrix. I don’t want to assume everyone has seen this movie, so I’ll explain.

During the beginning of the movie, one of the protagonists offers the main character a red pill or a blue pill. Each of the pills will provide an outcome, but the lead character must choose. The meme reads “Red pill or Blue pill…Nobody ever told you that you didn’t have to take a pill…”

An important lesson. The right to choose is important. Free will is important. But if the situation dictates it, don’t be afraid to refuse both options and walk away. ☯