Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grounding and Pounding Myself to Exhaustion

Sorry I haven't posted an update in four months. My recovery has been slow and full of ups and downs. The one thing about people who struggle with metabolic damage or chronic fatigue is that there are many days with peaks and valleys. When I hit a peak, I don't know how long it's going to last, so I try to do as much as I can. Unfortunately, for me, that's when I do the most damage. I push myself to the point of exhaustion, driving those stress hormones out of sync, and then I'm back to where I started: square one. 

Yesterday was a bad one, and I did it to myself. I lost my balance. In my posts on the Chronic Stress series, I mentioned the need to keep those stress hormones in check. Part of doing that requires me to temper my high intensity exercise with something less strenuous like swimming, yoga, Pilates, and strength training. I can no longer train continuously at a high level of intensity, every day, if I am ever going to reach a state of homeostasis with those hormones. I admit, however, that there are times when I get very impatient and I push myself beyond what I should be doing. 

Last week was a prime example of that. I had been exercising consistently in the last two weeks that I felt strong enough to work on some Krav Maga drills during a circuit work routine. One of those drills is what we call a 30 second, all out, Ground and Pound. The purpose of this drill is to help the practitioner stay in the fight should he/she get the upper-hand advantage of being on top of the opponent. It is non-stop, everything goes, with punches, elbows, and head slams. This helps to build the muscle memory to keep going during a struggle so you can disable him and go home safe. This drill is usually done after an intense workout when the exhaustion has set in and you are being forced to do more. 

Why not at the beginning of a workout? Because as with any situation, if attacked, it's not going to happen when you are feeling refreshed and ready to fight. It will come at the most unusual times, when you are exhausted or after a long day, or perhaps even during a jog at the park; so we are taught to train, as one of my favorite instructors put it, " to bleed in here so we don't bleed out there."

videoTo put a long story short, I was already beat and my wonderful husband and coach pushed me to do more-- THREE 30 second rounds, in fact, of grounding and pounding. Thirty seconds does not seem like much, but I've included video of the last two rounds to demonstrate how easily exhausting it can get, especially after an intense workout. On a side note, cause I know I'm going to hear it, if you are a practitioner, you will notice that I didn't have enough hip rotation to hit harder. The weight gain makes it more challenging to do that, but it is something I'm working towards. But I digress, as you will see, by the time I got to the last round, I fell right over the bag out of sheer exhaustion. Please note, that this is not the common practice. You want to be able to spring yourself away from your opponent once he's stopped fighting, usually when you've knocked the light out of him.
video
Surprisingly, it didn't take me as long to recover from this as it had before. My muscles were not as sore the next day, and foam rolling shoulders, legs and back after a workout really helps, along with lots of water. 
Then, I made the following mistakes two days later: 

#1: failed to get adequate, restful sleep (7 hrs. is the minimum)

#2: failed to eat right. I was on the run, hadn't eaten anything but yogurt with Chia seeds in the morning, and by two o'clock, I was famished. So, what did this typical mom-on-the-run do? I made pit stop for Sonic food while running errands. Yes, I know. I undid all the progress I was doing before. That was enough to put me in bed for 4 hours when I got home. It's amazing what bad food can do to a person when it's ingested. I KNOW better, but I'm not going to beat myself over it. It's definitely a lesson learned and I'm moving on. 

The struggle is definitely real. It's been a very slow process. I don't know if I will ever be able to continue moving on as an instructor, but knowing that I can at least enjoy being a student makes me happy. There was a time, two years ago, when I thought I had to put that passion to rest. Continuing on as an instructor seems like a very distant speck of light to reach right now. But I'm not going to worry about that anymore. 

All I can do is worry about what I have control over right now...at this moment...and that's my health, which is the most important thing, and the knowledge that I'm finally working towards recovery. If I don't have my health, I can't take care of my family, and that scares me more than anything in the world. Everything else, my writing, even Krav Maga, takes a secondary place in life. I'm finally at a point where I can take better care of them, and knowing that I can think well enough to finally get back on track with writing is just the icing on the cake.  I believe in a higher power, and just like he takes away, he also gives back in return. I'm thankful for the highs and lows. But I'm most especially thankful that I'm getting my health back, and I can enjoy every phase of my kid's life, cause I know those moments are not going to last forever. In the meantime: one step at a time... one goal at a time... is what I'm going to do. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Five Things We Should Carry in the Car

I love my husband. If I could go back in time and pick a moment in life to alter, I wouldn't change a thing. Whatever rocky path I walked, hills I climbed, or valleys I crawled out of, it led me to the pot at the end of the rainbow. That's right. It led me to him. He's my mystical unicorn, the kind I thought did not exist: selfless, kind, loving, and gentle, with me; but ruthless, strong and vicious if he knows his family is threatened. 

With that said, I miss him. I miss him because he also has another love, a love for people and the need to protect and serve his community from those who wish to do them harm. He lives by a code of honor that calls him for duty every day no matter how sick or tired he may be. You see, my husband is a law enforcement officer. I don't know what wives go through who live under this type of circumstance, but I do know that this profession can wear on the family structure if you let it. I also know that in order for a family in this situation to thrive and succeed she must carry herself with a certain amount of independence, along with a list of well wishes or prayers to ensure that her man returns home safe at the end of his shift. I'm sure, though, that I'm not the only who feels this way when I see him leave.

You see, despite the fact that my husband knows I have a certain skill set that helps increase my chances of surviving dangerous situations, I know he worries about my welfare every day, both physical and emotional. He thinks I don't notice, but I see it in his eyes when he says goodbye with that solemn look of doubt that leaves me sensing that sometimes he wonders whether he's doing the right thing or chose the right profession every time he walks out the door. So I've learned to let him care for me the way he feels will help him be at ease if he can find some semblance of assurance from knowing that I will be okay. I don't know if most husbands go through something similar when they're away from home, but it seems to me that a husband in law enforcement has this "hyper aware" sense of DANGER, because they deal with the darker side of life on a close and personal level, so he feels an obligatory sense of duty to ensure that everyone else in the family inherits the same gene. 

I try to refrain from the classic eye rolls and exasperating breaths every time he feels the need to remind me that I need to maintain a sense of situational awareness when I'm out and about-- of which I'm aware... duh... as it's one of Krav Maga's core teachings, but I refrain from voicing that. He tosses constant reminders about where to keep my gun, how to use and clean it, his consistent hen-pecking about ensuring that I have a bug out bag at my disposal in case I need to split town at a moment's notice, and his incessant need to stick flares in my car, along with a heavy duty flashlight that will burn right through your hand, by the way, if left at a high setting.
my purse...shh! but aka satchel
Not to mention the extra new pair of batteries he'll toss in my purse, just in case the flashlight drains. 
Ooo, sorry, I meant to say, SATCHEL. The purse....ahem... a.k.a. satchel... is one I inherited from him, and I've been thoroughly informed that it- is- NOT- a PURSE! Although that's what I use it for, but anyway all of that is just enough to drive a cop's wife a little BATTY, sometimes, if you know what I mean. Regardless, he thinks I'm not listening, but I do. 

This weekend I was involved in a three-car collision pile up. Exiting a highway, the person in front of me came to a sudden stop due to backed up traffic. I managed to stop in time, and the person behind me stopped in time, but the third one rammed into her. This caused the second vehicle to whip forward and hit us from behind. My kid was in the front seat, and she bit her lip with the impact. Both of us were a little sore from our neck and back, but we walked out of it unscathed and so did my vehicle. Let me tell you guys, the next time you scoff at the thought of buying a minivan, think again. Mine survived with a tiny dent left on its rear bumper. Mmm-hmm... can I get an Amen...and thank YOU Toyota??? Snap! Snap!

The second vehicle wasn't so lucky, though. She had a baby in the back seat and his car seat jammed when they were crushed from behind. Thankfully, he was not harmed but the mother sliced her finger trying to get him out. The third car was completely totaled, as more vehicles zoomed by at ridiculous speeds. 

I told my kid to pull out the first aid kit, and I remembered I had five flares in my car... yes... alright, I'll admit it, the very flares my man insisted I must carry inside my vehicle's emergency bag. So I yanked out three. 

We were fortunate enough to have good citizens come out of nowhere and offer to help-- faith in humanity restored, by the way. One of them set the flares up for me, and traffic exiting the highway slowed down to a cautious pace as they were able to see the flares on the road. The woman in the second vehicle had a cell phone but the battery was drained and borrowed mine to make a call. 

It wasn't a devastating experience...well... for my kid it was, and now I have to figure out how to get mine to sit on the front seat again, but I know it could've been much worse, so it did shake me somewhat. This whole incident got me thinking about how easy it is to become complacent and take life completely for granted. "What if I didn't have these things in my vehicle?" I thought. I remembered an instructor who love to drill this saying into his students in Krav Maga, "Being PREPARED for a dangerous situation is not PARANOID! You must always be PREPARED!" he would bark in that scruffy drill sergeant voice that makes every one take notice.

I believe, that in addition to having a self-defense skill set, there are some things that mothers, daughters, all of us as a matter-of-fact, should always carry in our vehicles should we find ourselves in an emergency situation and in need of assistance. Now, keep in mind that region may vary, and I'm sure that there are other things you might need if you live in the snow-filled mountains of Montana, for example, but I found these items extremely useful for my neck of the woods. Aside from the standard equipment of battery jumper cables, and a tire changing kit, these five things could prove to be life-saving:

1. Water- In Texas, with mother nature's testy hormonal changes of freezing cold to tongue parched heat in one day, I always carry a bottle or two with me everywhere I go, but I don't leave it in my car if I intend to drink it. It can be used as a rinsing agent or simply for hydration. We stood outside that accident for close to two hours in the hot sun. My kid was flushed red from the heat. That water definitely helped.

2. First Aid kit- I like to get the ones equipped with everything but the kitchen sink, but if you're on a budget, make sure it at least has band-aids, antiseptic, scissors, gauze and those crystal ice bags that you squeeze and they get ice cold. It is especially useful if there's swelling involved from an impact.

3. Flares- You can buy those at any Academy and they come in handy should you find yourself in a high traffic area at the scene of an accident to serve as a warning for other vehicles. And although I don't like to travel long distances at night, if you are left stranded on an isolated road, those flares are extremely useful to signal for help. Unless of course, you end up with the hatchet serial killer who likes to comb for individuals on the side of the road, then I would have to say you're toast. Sorry, didn't mean to pull out the dramatics, but I just had to add my two cents about how much I dislike traveling long distances at night. Night travel seems to invite a higher element of risk, but if you find you MUST do so, those flares are important.

4. Cell phone- make sure it is fully charged, always, but I'm going to pull out my motherly warning hat and advise that you PLEASE not text and drive, or take SELFIES in the middle of the road for that matter. Yes, someone actually did that when I was driving with my family last week, and it's rare that I want to say that I want to physically hurt someone, but I really did want to stop and give her some assistance by offering to rearrange her face for that next selfie she took. Let's see if she'll want to put another family at risk to take a picture of herself, again. Like...seriously?!! Okay, off my podium, next...

5. Flashlight- A heavy duty flashlight with fresh batteries is crucial should you get stranded in the dark. Don't leave home without it!

I will confess that the whole ordeal made me realize just how delicate life really is. A single moment, from a single decision made, in a single day can take a sudden turn for the worst. We can be living our days working towards goals and building a life, but we never stop to think just how fast all that can slip right through our fingers. I know that a higher power must have been looking out for us, but I'm also grateful that I have my very own superhero here on earth, who loves us enough to ensure that we are safe and secure at all times, even when he can't be. For that I'd like to say, "Don't worry, honey...we're okay...I'm so proud of what you do. I'll hold the fort. You go fight crime. And there will always be a light on, right here, waiting safe and sound for you!"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Intruder in the Shower- True Story and I Lived to Write About It

Every parent yearns for that quiet, solitary moment in the bathroom. This morning, bursting into my home with the urgency of a short distance runner making a mad dash toward the finish line, I thought I had finally earned mine. Gone was the kid with the built-in alarm system whose sensor is somehow triggered like a trip wire the moment those cheeks hit the toilet. If you’re a parent, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. I sat there in peace, soaking in my moment. Amazing what grape fruit can do for mothers who suffer from constipation.

Suddenly, the shower curtain moved.

I tensed.

Something shuffled in the tub.

Frantic eyes scanned for the nearest, sharpest object: a roll of toilet paper, a tube of toothpaste, and a toilet brush. Great, now I could roll my attacker in toilet paper and brush his teeth with the over-sized brush. Where was Bessie, my 9 mm, when I needed her?

Screw it. The sharp end of the handle would have to do. Although I failed the first part of the test: always be prepared! It was time to put into practice what I trained for in the last five years.

Eyes dilated… heart pounded…my vice grip hand grasped the handle.

Without a moment’s notice green eyes peered out of the curtain, followed by a long body…a gray coat… and four legs.

My cat, Felix, with a built-in alarm system of his own, that is triggered the moment my man gets out of the shower, so he can lap the water accumulated around the rim of the drain, gave me a curious meow and what seemed like a mild heart-attack.

Note to self, and to anyone who cares to heed these words… two actually:

  1. Forget the grapefruit, a good scare will cure all types of constipation.

And…


  1. Your home protects you from the elements, but not from predators or intruders. Come up with a plan to help you prepare for both.
MEOW!