Thursday, September 10, 2015

Feet Don't Fail Me Now

I don't know if it's the training in self defense or having become a mother, but every time I'm out and about with my favorite little person, I feel like I'm in this heightened state of awareness, and every situation has the potential to turn into a worst case scenario. 

Strangely enough, I think I am more relaxed when I'm by myself or if I'm with my husband. Perhaps it may be due to the fact that I'm not as accountable to someone who is completely defenseless during those moments. 

After I fell ill, having had so many issues with my adrenals and low cortisol levels, which is the hormone most people depend on to help combat stress, I tried to avoid doing jogs with my kid. I did them often when she was only five, and it's something I really missed doing. I still remember adorning my little one with a helmet, knees and elbow pads, tying a rope around the front handle bars of her bike and pulling it up hill as she cheered me on to keep pushing and keeping going. Don't laugh, but I kind of felt like Rocky in training, and I could even hear its theme song blasting away inside my head. 

I stopped doing that two years ago, because I had this fear that if I was placed in a situation when I would have to defend my little one's life, I didn't know if I would have the adrenaline or stamina to be able to do so. I've been healing and getting better each day, but I still had that question eating away at me every time I thought of doing a partner run. 

I hate it when fear binds me, so I took a chance and decided that it was time to start that tradition, once again. After all, I had been running on the treadmill for the last month or so, and I thought I was ready. Well...I got off to a slow start. Pounding on that pavement with all that weight, really placed a huge amount of pressure on that bad knee. Every step I took felt like an ice pick chipping away at my cartilage, and I began to doubt whether this had been a good idea or not.

Little one was simply happy to be riding a skateboard with handlebars she could maneuver in different directions. Several times I reminded her to stay within a few feet next to me, and several times, this little person failed to listen to those rules. I probably shouldn't have done this, but I eventually gave in and allowed her to explore a little further out as long as I could keep an eye on her. 

Coming back home we were on a down hill, and she sped down that hill oblivious to the speed she was going. Call it woman's intuition, but I knew instinctively something was about to go down. Sure enough, she tripped over something and careened into the asphalt. She was about 50 feet away. I noticed her reaction when she fell: nonchalant, as she sat up and dusted the gravel off her hands. That was...until... she took a look at her knee. And then... that SCREAM! I had never heard a more blood curdling, frightening wail than the one that came out of that child's mouth. Oh my God! There's a bone sticking out of her body, was my immediate reaction. What- was- I- THINKING letting her go off ahead of me?!! I'M THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD! 

Suddenly, I burst into a full sprint. I felt no inflammation. No pain. No fatigue. In fact, I ran faster than I had run in a very long time. My peripheral vision blurred as I zoomed down that hill, feet on fire that transported me back to my high school years, doing the 100 meter dash. I had one goal and one goal only: Get to that wailing kid who looked like she was about lose unconsciousness, as I was sure she was suffering from massive blood loss by now seeping out in buckets. 

Within seconds I caught up to see how bad the injury was. I had two feelings: Relief and disbelief. I was relieved it was merely a superficial wound, and incredulous to the fact that this kid had quite the flair for the dramatics and the lungs to back it up on top of it. But this was her first official skate board injury, and seeing all that blood oozing through her scraped up skin really scared her. But, I was proud. No, I wasn't proud that her super sonic shriek nearly gave me a coronary, nor that she fell and hurt herself. I was proud of the fact that when the time called my body for a fight or flight response, my body agreed.  It didn't shut down or give up. That's progress. 

I hear women question themselves all the time whether they would really have it in them to use the tools they learned in self defense should the time call for it? I know, because I do it myself too. More so now that I am out of shape, once again, and I have so far to go to get better. Why do we do we punish ourselves this way with those thoughts? What I learned from this experience was that despite the insecurity, despite the doubts, my body is instinctively wired to do what women were born to do best-- protect their loved ones. 

Having been in Krav Maga for about five or six years now, what I really appreciate most of all about this Israeli self defense, is the mindset that it's given me. It taught me that despite the odds, you don't give in, and you don't give up. I can't get too cocky and say that this is 100% fool proof at surviving an attack, especially when there are so many extraneous variables. In fact, I pray that I never find myself in that situation. But what I do know now is that at least my body will respond to doing what it's been trained to do all along, despite the consequences... Fight! 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Three Simple Rules to Beat Trump at the Polls

Dear Future- Next- President to Be,

Want to beat Trump at the polls? Here's the magic formula:

1. You Need a Plan!

Whether you think it's a good plan or a bad plan, it doesn't matter, just come up with something...ANYTHING that resembles a CONCRETE plan as to how you're going to run this country. The people are tired of the same old, obscure political talking points, elaborated by generalities. For example: If they ask you about immigration, don't just feed us the same, old B.S. that we need a comprehensive plan that will work for everyone. People want to know what your REAL stance is on immigration and what you want to do about it.

2. Be Yourself!

Whether it upsets people or not, don't worry about who you are going to offend. Speak your mind and let people know who you are and what you stand for, because love him or hate him, we know what to expect of Trump. People want to know the real you, not someone whose handler has coached you to make sure you do plenty of hand-shaking and baby holding.

and finally...

3. Make it Easier on the Working class!

Any plan that promises to simplify the tax code and help the middle class will have a resounding and positive effect on tax payers and families, ALWAYS! Let's face it, people are tired of the IRS and their complicated rules. Politicians have been promising this for years, with no actual plan as to how this is going to be done. Hard-working families have enough on their plates already than stress over how to decipher the tax code, and nothing attracts more voters than knowing that their lives are going to be made a little bit easier by not having to feel like they have to take a course on tax law.

That's it! Three. Simple. Rules.

Trump is leading in the polls, not because he's a like-able guy. Many find him to be arrogant and rude. He's still an enigma to me, and unless he plans to clarify as to how he's going to deport masses of people without violating the constitution, that approach brinks on dangerous grounds. But guess what? I know where he stands. 

The people want a person who is going to look them in the eye and say, "This is me. Love me or hate me. This is who I am. I'm not a carbon copy, cookie cutter molded, politician who is here to appease lobbyists, special interest groups, or other countries. I'm here to put America first, just like other countries put themselves and their interests first.  My priority is to help the American people get back on their feet and give them a sense of pride for the hard work they've done to feed their families, all in a good day's work."

And that's why he is resonating with the American public. So my advice to you, dear candidate, is simply yourself and think outside the box!

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 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, because 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 lights out of him.
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 a 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. Now, continuing on as an instructor seems like a very distant speck of light to reach. But I'm not going to worry about that anymore. 

All I can do is worry about what I have control over right 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 do that for 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 the lows. But I'm most especially thankful that I'm getting my health back on track, 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.