8 lessons I learned in self-defense class

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Friday night is usually kick-back-at-Nanny’s night. I get home from work, change into comfy clothes and relax for a while before Bruce and I head to my mom’s for a couple of hours of TV.

After a long week at the office, I’m ready to be brainless and lounge on Mom’s sofa while we watch cop shows. (I talk about that in Family, faith & Friday nights.)

But on a recent Friday night, I had to skip the vegging time in favor of a women’s self-defense class, organized by the women’s ministry leaders at my church. (Thanks, Maggie and Jody.)

By the time Friday evening rolled around, I was looking for an excuse to blow it off, not because I didn’t think it was important, but because I was so. stinking. tired. But I couldn’t shake the thought that someday, God forbid, I might have to employ the skills taught in the class. So … my pragmatic side won out, and I showed up.

What I didn’t expect – at all – was how much fun I would have! Who knew those punching bags could handle all my pent-up aggressions? Who knew those church ladies could put a choke-hold on our instructors in the blink of an eye?

It’s great when you can have fun while getting life-saving instruction from a knowledgeable teacher. The two-hour class was over before we knew it.

I couldn’t take notes (too busy kicking butt), but I remember a few key pieces of advice from our teacher, Matt, plus some things that weren’t in the curriculum but came to mind as I walked away from class.

Of course, I make everything I learn into a “life lesson” that bleeds into other areas. These tips will keep you safe from an attacker and help you navigate relationships, business and much of life.

8 self-defense tips for staying safe and strong

  1. Be confident. In my opinion, this is the No. 1 thing you can do. (Notice I didn’t say cockiness; that backfires. CONFIDENCE.) When coming face to face with people – alone on the street, in a crowd, during a business meeting, whatever – look them in the eye. If you don’t feel particularly confident, project it anyway. Eventually you’ll get there. People respect that, and an attacker will think twice about approaching you.
  2. Expect the unexpected. Sure, in class we knew (most times) that Matt was going to “attack” us from behind. Even when he had us close our eyes, we still felt safe, mostly. But in a real-life scenario, you never know what someone is going to do. You have to keep your wits about you, stay calm, remember your training. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. 🙂 (Yoga is good for learning the habit of mindfulness and staying calm. Click here to read the lessons I learned from yoga.)
  3. Learn how to adapt. In the class, we asked Matt a lot of “what-if” questions. What if the attacker is a lot taller/shorter, has a knife/a gun, tries this/that? What if X, Y or Z maneuver doesn’t work? Bottom line: When you’re in real-life danger, there are no rules. Use whatever tactic will get you out of the dangerous situation (including running away). In the rest of life, there are times to stand up for your rights (fight), and other times you should recognize a no-win situation (flight). Know the difference.
  4. Practice. Just as practicing the moves taught in class builds muscle memory and mental agility, practicing these principles in other areas of life helps prepare us to handle whatever punches life throws at us.
  5. Stay healthy. This includes your body and your mind. A healthy mind means you’re alert to danger, including approaching bad guys, your own ego, and that plate of glazed doughnuts your office-mate plops down in front of you. A healthy body means you’re strong and capable of taking on life’s challenges – even big-fat-hairy-scary ones.
  6. Embrace community. There’s safety in numbers. A would-be attacker is less likely to approach a group. Don’t live life as a lone wolf; it’s safer and a lot more fun with others. It’s also a great place to learn all sorts of life skills.
  7. Don’t worry so much about being nice. A few of the ladies in class were hesitant to put the instructor in a choke-hold for fear of hurting him – or making him pass out! I admit, I was afraid of that, too, at first. But Matt has taught self-defense for a long time, and he knows his limits, so I believed him when he said he would tap me on the leg when it was time to let up. Thing is, you can’t learn it unless you practice it. In other areas of life, we (especially women) worry about what others think of us. My dad taught me not to worry about that. There will always be people who misunderstand and judge (“haters gonna hate”). As long as you know you’re doing what’s right, let go of others’ opinions of you. (I’m still practicing that one.)
  8. Trust your teachers. This starts with knowing which teachers you can trust, of course. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s time to learn from their wisdom. Just as we had to believe Matt when he showed us how to do the choke-hold – because he has years of experience – we have to trust others’ wisdom when we seek advice. If you’re looking to quality teachers, trust their advice.

I learned more from self-defense class, but I’m saving some of the tips for later. (Stay tuned.)

Meanwhile, I want to thank our instructor, Matt Sellers, and Joe Valadez, the workout guy he pulled in to act as another “attacker” so that we could learn to defend ourselves. Thanks for letting us punch on you, kick you and choke you!

And a shout-out to Without Limits MMA, where our class was held. Matt and his wife, Lisa, are the owners, and they offer a variety of classes. Your first week is free, and I took advantage of the offer and spent this past week in a ladies kickboxing class, which was – oh, my goodness – AWESOME! For more info, visit the Facebook page or call Matt at (870) 307-4515.

If you’re local to my area (Batesville, Ark.), stay tuned for updates; our church ladies plan to do this again in a few months. You’ll definitely want to sign up. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

Have you ever taken a self-defense class? If so, what’s the No. 1 thing you learned? If not, what’s holding you back from signing up?

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Enter to win: Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is

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The week after Christmas is typically a time when our thoughts turn from holiday excess (including all the food we indulged in for several weeks) to preparing for a new year and all the hope for change that it can bring.

(We won’t talk about the indulgences that may be to come on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about parties and food on this occasion, as my head drops to the pillow long before the ball drops on Times Square.)

I, for one, am looking for a fresh start in some of the areas I struggle with, including letting stress trigger bad habits with food. Sometimes I let that derail my goals.

I’ll be spending this weekend formalizing and putting to paper some of the goals that have been swimming around in my head for the past few weeks. (Remember the “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” goal-setting course that I told you about in early December? Well, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road!)

So … what about you?

If getting a handle on your weight issues is one of your goals for 2017, I have an offer for you.

Nettye Johnson, a wonderful woman I’ve been following for a year or two, has written a book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is.

Here’s a description:

In Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, author Nettye Johnson shares spiritual truths and scientific principles to help you:

  • Put God first and grow closer to Him in the pursuit of health and wellness.
  • Right skewed relationships with food.
  • Embrace moderation and eliminate food guilt.
  • Create a personalized, effective, and livable food philosophy for healthy weight loss and maintenance.
  • Change your view of healthy disciplines from a challenge, battle, or struggle to a privilege, joy, a part of who you are, and a way to honor God.

As are many books about weight control and healthful living, this one is written by a person who’s been there.

Nettye knows.

And because Nettye has been victorious in this battle, she wants to help others achieve the peace that comes from eliminating guilt and remorse and get on with the business of health and honoring God in the process. A few weeks ago, she offered a buy-one-get-one-free opportunity.

So … thinking of you … I bought a copy of the book and got an extra.

And I’ve been waiting to read it.

I’ve been waiting for you, my friend. The next step is yours.

I’m giving away a FREE copy of Nettye’s book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, to one reader. Here’s how you can win:

  1. Commit to reading the book with me and discussing it a chapter at a time (12 chapters, 12 weeks).
  2. Fill out the short form below telling me why you’re making this commitment (and why I should give you a free book!).

That’s it.

It’s simple: Make a commitment, then tell me why.

You have until noon Central time Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. I’ll announce the winner that evening. And if you don’t win the free copy, you’re welcome to purchase one and let me know if you’re interested in starting a group discussion. (By the way, I am not an affiliate and get no compensation for promoting this book; I just think Nettye’s awesome and has really valuable things to tell us.)

Feel free to share this post with your friends, and ask them to enter to win the free copy of Nettye’s book. (Also, subscribing to To Well With You – separate from the giveaway – will ensure that they receive my updates by email.)

The winner and I will figure out the best way to go about discussing the chapters. If you’re local, we might meet each Saturday morning over coffee or tea. If you’re my long-distance friend, we can email or connect online. (We’ll figure it out.) And if we have enough interest for a group discussion, I might create a private Facebook group to do that.

TO ENTER, fill out the form below (you’ll have to scroll to see all the content). And thanks!

Create your own user feedback survey

I can’t wait to see what you have to say!

#FaithWhereForkIs

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The Well Well Well Project – what’s for lunch?

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PrettySaladJust thought I’d check in with you this evening before heading off to bed.

I’m gearing up for an awesome week, and I want the same for you.

I have a few items on my to-do list for Monday (I’m sure I won’t get them all done, but I’ll get more done than if I hadn’t made a list).

ToDoList07112016On the elimination diet I mentioned the other day, I have attempted to set myself up for a successful week. I started the Whole 30 on July 1 (a Friday), and I’ve been on vacation since that evening. I start back to work on Monday, after a successful 10 days on the plan.

OrangeSlicesI didn’t realize it when I scheduled my vacation, but that was the perfect set-up. After surviving Day 1, a workday (I came home for lunch and fixed myself Whole 30-compliant snacky foods), I’ve been home for meals and couldn’t be more happy with the results. (I’ll tell you a couple of the things that are improving – besides weight loss – at the end of the week.)

For now, I’m sharing with you some inspiration, in the form of my lunch for the next couple of days (when I make a salad, I throw in whatever veggies and fruits I have on hand, and a lot of it comes from the farmers market); a snack (I’ll have half a boiled egg and some raw almonds with half of the orange pictured at right); and a wish:

May your week be filled with healthful, delicious food, positive thoughts and the knowledge that God loves you beyond your ability to comprehend.

Tell me in the comments: What is your game plan for this week? If you don’t have one, pause for 5-10 minutes to think about one way you could make a positive change in your life. (Baby steps.)

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The ‘Well Well Well’ Project – life declutter

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This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!
This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!

It’s time to take my “decluttering” mission seriously.

In that vein, I’m going to be painfully, brutally, embarrassingly honest.

(I can’t seem to do life any other way.)

I’m going to show you pictures. (Embarrassing pictures.)

This is such a big deal to me (and to you, I hope) that I’m giving this sucker a name: The Well Well Well Project.

I’m doing this for two people-groups:

1) Me.

2) You.

Why did I list myself first, when my purpose for this blog is to help others live their best lives?

Well, you know how the flight attendant always instructs you to don your own oxygen mask first, before you help your child or other helpless loved one do the same?

Same principle applies here: I have to help myself so that I can help you (does that make you my helpless loved one?). I can’t guide you on how to declutter your life without doing it myself first. With pictures. (Ugh.)

That’s my oxygen mask: starting the ball rolling on my own mess. It’s also how I’ll be able to tell what works and what doesn’t, what I can recommend and what you can skip, plus other helpful information. (With humiliating pictures.)

My desire is to dispense with everything that’s cluttering my life so that I can live it without regret, confusion, delay, displaced priorities or any other kind of stress. And I want that for you, too.

WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN

Here’s what I want to declutter:

  • My home (household items, personal files, finances, car and property).
  • My body (with exercise, healthful eating and weight loss).
  • My mind (family calendar, freelance scheduling, email inbox and other things that tend to stress me out on the regular). This one is the real challenge.

Most of the process involves purging the unnecessary and organizing the necessary (after deciding which is which). I have many sources to draw from (I’ve been reading declutter/organize books and articles for years), and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

This will require a lifelong maintenance plan, but let’s get the clutter out of the way first. We can learn about maintenance along the way.

I’ve already started this process in a few areas:

This chick has a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see her husband’s collection!)
That’s a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see my husband’s collection!)

1) Home: A year ago, I reorganized my bedroom closet (just mine; I didn’t touch Bruce’s). I wrote a bit about it on my other blog, including a “before” photo (above), but I never finished the whole-house project. I’ve been taking baby steps along the way (started working on a kitchen purge last month), but this time it’s going to happen – by Dec. 31. Period.

(What’s gonna be different this time? My expectations about how much I can get done at one time and how much time I have to write and post pictures about it. Also, setting a deadline makes a project much more likely to be completed – so the experts say.)

2) Body: I’m on Day 7 of a 30-day elimination diet (one that excludes potential “trigger foods” in an effort to find out what might be causing certain physiological problems). I’ll tell you more about that in a future post, but I can say that it is a CHALLENGE and I’m glad I’m on vacation this week. Being home makes it sooo much easier.

3) Mind: The best nonfiction book I read last year was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I wish I could say I had published a review of it, but that was one of my “good intentions” that I didn’t follow through on.

One of my failures to follow through involves my blogs (I’m probably cray-cray for having two, right?). For instance, I finish a great book and intend to review it, then I don’t. Or I start a great book and decide to write a multipart series on the book’s sections, then I write one post and don’t write the others (or finish reading the book). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, anyone?

Sometimes I think I have attention-deficit disorder (maybe I do), but a lot of it has to do with blogging and freelancing on top of my full-time day job. My schedule is overloaded, and my mind can’t keep up with the clutter.

BOTTOM-LINE IT FOR ME, SISTER

Here’s how I envision this project:

  • I tackle a particular area, take pictures (if appropriate – I will NOT be posting pictures of me in my underwear for the weight-loss portion), post here and on social media (this is going to get interesting) and basically humiliate myself – all for you (and, yes, for me).
  • You decide to join the fun by tackling a challenge in your own life. (Don’t worry; we won’t expect you to post pictures of you in your underwear, either.) Your challenge can be about ANYTHING you want it to be. Maybe you need to get into the habit of flossing your teeth every night (I finally started doing that this year, and I’ll tell you later about the two things that helped). Or maybe you want to start eating better. Maybe you need to start going to bed an hour earlier each night. Or cut out the late-night Oreos (not that I would know anything about that). You just pick a thing and tell us about it.
  • Or you wait awhile. Maybe you know you need to change some things but you’re not ready yet. I hear you, my friend. Change is hard (I believe I said that once before), and no one can make you ready before you’re ready. I’m here to hold your hand, though.
  • Expect at least one post a week. I’m not going to promise more than that (see? I’m learning), but I might write more if my schedule permits.
  • Let’s figure out together whether this needs to be a bigger thing: Do we need our own Facebook page, Instagram challenge, Pinterest board? Crisis hotline? Pint of Ben & Jerry’s? (Oops – nevermind that last one!)

Tell me what you want and need. Better yet, tell me what you’re going to commit to. Then you can tell me what you need.

Life is hard enough on your own; let’s do this together.

SOME RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED

Here are a few books I’ve read, apps I’ve used and websites I’ve visited over the years that have helped me along the journey to sanity. In fact, I plan to read a few of the books again. Take a look at some of them if you need help deciding what to tackle.

IT’S YOUR TURN

Ready? Your first assignment, once you’ve decided what you’re ready to tackle (something small, like flossing, or something big, like eliminating processed sugar from your diet): Tell me about it in the comment section.

Let’s do this!

(On social media – Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, wherever – use the hashtag #WellWellWellProject.)

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3 tips for sticking with exercise when you want to quit

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Bonus tip: Exercise is usually more fun with a buddy, even when it’s your much-faster husband! (Photo courtesy of Hatch and Maas)

This morning I ran before church. I used to run early every Sunday morning, but it’s been a while, and today I had to do some convincing. It was 37 degrees, and I was cold!

I’ve been running (consistently, more or less) for about 5 1/2 years, and I’ve come up with plenty of excuses not to lace up and JUST DO IT.

Here are three tips that will help you get your franny out the door and not stop until the job’s done, even when you really don’t want to. (I use running as an example, but you can substitute your chosen activity – and I’m not talking beer-drinking marathons or Oreo-eating contests.)

  1. Don’t accept excuses from yourself. Running is 10 percent effort and 90 percent self-talk. (OK, I made that up – running is hard, and probably more than 10 percent of the equation – but you know what I mean.) I am the queen of excuses. Today I didn’t let my excuses win. (Note to self: Don’t be five minutes late to church next time you’re slaying the excuses.)
  2. Find a mantra. I have all sorts of little phrases I use when I need to keep up the effort. Nowadays they call them hashtags 🙂 but the concept has been around for ages. Some of mine, when I need convincing:
  • #IAmTough and #MindOverMatter (these two truly help me keep going).
  • #RememberYourWhy.
  • #BestYearEver.
  • #HeartToRun (since my heart surgery).
  • #WRA2016 (Bruce and I help coach the annual Women Run Arkansas clinic).
  • #ThxCoachBruce (he’s helping me get faster for a goal race in June).
  1. Believe in yourself. This may be the most important of all. Each year, when we recruit participants for the 10-week WRA run/walk clinic, the leaders meet ladies who need convincing that they are worth the effort – that taking care of themselves by getting fit is just as important as taking care of their families. If we are out of shape, unhealthy and/or self-loathing, how can we take the best care of someone else? Believe me when I say: YOU ARE WORTH IT.

I’m in danger of getting on a soapbox here, so I’ll leave you with this extra tip, which I plan to write about in greater depth toward the end of clinic, when it will be easier to quit:

REMEMBER YOUR WHY.

Remembering your “why” makes all things easier. (And if you don’t know your why, it’s time to get busy figuring it out.)

What is your “why”? Leave a comment to share it with the rest of us.

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Get yourself – or a loved one – a Road ID

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You can put whatever info you need to on the band – up to 7 lines. I have my name, year of birth (so EMTs will know my approximate age), phone numbers of hubby, mom and brother, “No Known Allergies” at the bottom of one and “Mitral Valve Prolapse” on the older bands (before my surgery). Bruce has “Run for Fun” on the last line of his, and on my mom’s I put “Diabetic.”

In the years since I started wearing a Road ID, I’ve become somewhat of an evangelist for the ID bands.

When I received my first band, I wore it only when I ran outdoors – especially if I was running alone. I got Bruce one, too.

Then I got us each a second band. Gotta have a backup for when the original one is sweaty and in need of a wash, right? By then I was wearing a Road ID whenever I ran – and whenever we traveled – and I urged Bruce to do the same.

Then, in 2013, I had heart surgery. Took my Road ID with me to the hospital, and I kept it on at all times. (You never know when they might wheel the wrong unconscious patient down that long hallway to the OR – I didn’t want them to remove a kidney when they were supposed to be fixing my leaky valve.)

By that point, Road ID was a no-brainer. I now wear my bracelet any time I leave the house. Period.

A couple of years ago, when I was buying a dress for my cousin’s wedding, I decided it was time to order a “dressy Road ID” (something besides a fabric and Velcro version that I could wipe clean easily and wear to church and nicer events and not feel so … sporty). I ordered myself a white one and Bruce a black one – both silicone bands.

So, a few days ago, when I discovered that Road ID has an affiliate program (I’ll explain that in a minute), I leaped for joy!

I believe in Road ID.

I nag people to order their own Road IDs.

I bought my mom a Road ID. She’s diabetic, and I make her wear it during travel and hospital stays.

ROAD ID COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

I’m not going to nag you, but I want you to understand the importance of having identification and emergency contact info easily accessible in the event of an accident that incapacitates you. I’ll let the testimonials on the website speak for themselves.

So now I’m an “affiliate” of Road ID. This means that if you click the Road ID ad on my page (at this writing, I have it as a banner on top of the page, but I might move it to the right sidebar in the future), or this link, and you make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission.

I would never endorse – or become an affiliate for – any company or product that I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly.

Ask my friends how long I’ve been singing the praises of Road ID, and nagging them to get one (or two, or three – they’re not pricey).

A long time. And I only got approved as an affiliate yesterday.

So … click the link, pick out a custom band for yourself or a loved one, or buy a gift certificate and explain to the recipient the importance of this gift … and gain a little piece of mind.

You can buy a band for your wrist, your ankle, your shoe … there are lots of options, my friend. Lots of colors and designs, in case plain black or white bores you. There’s even an interactive version, in case you want to sign up for an annual membership and be able to update your info electronically any time it changes.

Ordering a Road ID is worth the small investment of your time and a few dollars, especially when you consider the pricelessness of a human life.

Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

NUTRITION

I’ve followed Dietitian Cassie for about 18 months, and I really like her approach. I struggled with which post to start you out with, because she has so much good advice. She’s an advocate of PFC (protein, fat and carbs) at every meal, and she’s not afraid to eat butter!

Cassie bucks the conventional wisdom of the U.S. medical community, but she does it in a respectful way. She wrote a post a few months ago about being open-minded to new things (such as newer research saying that we need fat in our diets!). I’ll share that post with you another time. Today I’m sharing one of her Start Here posts.

Check it out: Simple Starting Steps


FITNESS/EXERCISE

The secret to being a real runner is easy. There is only one thing you have to do. You just have to run.”

.

Last year Erin Henderson, mom of 12 (soon to be 13), was the guest speaker at our Women Run Arkansas 5K pasta party. Erin is a runner who lost about 80 pounds and credits running with a lot of her success.

Erin and her husband have adopted most of their children, and some of them have disabilities. No. 13, whom they’re hoping to bring home from China in December, has a severe physical disability and, although they thought they were finished with 12, they both “knew” she was theirs when they saw her. I love that!

Even though I didn’t get to hear Erin speak last year, I’ve followed her blog since before she visited Arkansas and she inspires me every time.

I hope this post will encourage you if you’ve thought about running or are just beginning, and those who’ve been running for years can take something away from it, too.

Check it out: How to Be a Real Runner


HUMOR

I believe Reader’s Digest’s had it right: “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”

You may think a humor piece doesn’t fit into a wellness-tips category, but laughter is healing and this 2-minute YouTube video made me laugh. Besides, don’t we need a good laugh to pick us up on a Monday morning? (We can’t let coffee do all the work!) I hope it gives you a chuckle or two.

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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