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Why I Stretch

Remember, remember, the fifth of November. Not because I hold a political grudge, but I remember it was around four in the afternoon when the chief asked me to write this blog post, with total creative freedom mind you.

She asked a straightforward question; she wanted an answer to why people stretch. I like to write, but my mind blanked out. You see, I’m not really an active person. My wife says that my spirit animal is the sloth. You might think that offends me, but it doesn’t. The sloth is natures marvel of efficiency.

The boss was a collegiate gymnast, she knows stretching. I know cupcakes, burgers, pizza.

I sit for most of the day, I’m not an active person. My health has deteriorated due to my inactivity and terrible diet. Over the last six years I’ve developed type two diabetes. When the doctor initially told me in 2013, he didn’t pull any punches.

“You can take the last twenty years off your life if you don’t start to handle this now”, he said.

In my mind I thought that his warning would be the catalyst for action on my part. I was genuinely concerned. Twenty years is a lot to look forward to. My determination to look after my health came and went like the seasons. I stuck with a diet and workout plan for a few months but would relapse into the bad habits that put me into the state I found myself. Life went on like that for the next three years.

It was a cold day in January 2016 when my son John was born. My life had been mine up until then, and I felt that things had to change. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you hold a little life in your arms for the first time. I became serious about addressing my health concerns. I worked towards managing my diabetes, to try and slow the reckoning that would approach in later life.

The doctors put me on insulin. Insulin is great if you’re a type one diabetic, but detrimental to type two's, insulin makes you gain weight. Over the course of a year and half my weight shot up thirty pounds. I didn’t feel healthier at all, by all metrics I was doing worse. So I decided to just move more.

It’s a tricky thing doing exercise when you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle. A sloth can’t run a marathon. I joined the local men’s soccer league to start my exercise regimen. It worked as planned, blood sugars dropped. But I ended up getting injured. I wasn’t stretching properly and had strained my quads, quad injuries take weeks to heal and I missed lots of games. I took it easy for a few weeks, and started regularly stretching daily to loosen up my muscles before getting back into the league. The stretches helped immensely.

For me, exercise has taken a pivotal role in managing my diabetes. I have to be careful and make sure I stretch properly beforehand, otherwise exercise becomes detrimental due to injury. I stretch, so I can exercise. I exercise so I can better manage my diabetes, and I manage my diabetes to give those twenty years to my son. Movember is mens health month, and as such, I can say that I do mine to live longer.