Monday, March 26, 2012


"The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear."

We all know that we don't like fear, but often just go through life knowing that and doing little else. Fear is something that should be identified and confronted all the time. We use it as a gauge to see if our weaknesses are occupying too much of our brain. We often fail to overcome our fears because it's easier to just allow it to exist in our consciousness and not have to face them, but as time goes on these fears become stronger and more dominant. Consider fear a harmful bacteria for your spirit. If left unattended, it will multiply and spread, much like a cancer. To achieve our goals and live a life we deserve, we should regularly visit what scares us and try to overcome it or, at least, stop them from growing.

Don't Freeze
So we know that fear is unpleasant, but we don't always realize how damaging it can be in a crisis. We encourage people to confront their fears because in moments of crisis, the fear can take over and stop us from making intelligent decisions that could save our lives or the lives of loved ones. When fear takes over, you'll feel like someone with really cold hands has grabbed your heart and started squeezing. It becomes hard to think, breathe or even move when this happens. This is because our cognitive minds have been turned off and we're regressing into an animal state of flight or fight. Sadly, depending on the level of violence of the crisis, the "fight or flight" response is sometimes forced into a "fight or die" situation. We couldn't ever train to a point where we'd be totally comfortable with an uncontrolled violent scenario forced onto us, but if we are honest about our fears and train ourselves regularly, there are some ways of staying cognitive and, at least, improve our chances. Fighting a situation is hard enough, don't add to it by having to fight yourself also.

Problem Solving
Fear will tense our muscles, therefore causing them to respond slower to the demands of our brain. Fear will create a chaotic environment that could result in hundreds of different outcomes, changing every second, therefore giving the unfocused mind too much to calculate and cause that "mind spinning" feeling.  To make things worse, fear will cause shallow breathing, therefore not using approximately two-thirds of our lung capacity (hyperventilating), therefore not allowing enough oxygen travel to the brain or muscles. Your fear is a double agent, living in your body, but actually working for the enemy. You can't be prepared for every possible scenario, but there are things you can do to keep your brain on your team. Keep the cognitive mind engaged and you can avoid many of these effects of fear. The mind is goal-oriented, so keep thinking. A lack of goals will result in chaos, keep control by speaking and listening. My sensei also advises to start acting. This is a cognitive exercise that will keep your fore-brain engaged and prevent the animal mind from taking over. This of course doesn't guarantee anything, but will help you stay intelligent and increase your ability to solve the present problem. This situation was forced onto you, but you can't take any time to feel sorry for yourself. This is what's happening now and you owe it to yourself and everyone in your life to be smart about it.

SIDE NOTE: As of last year, it was estimated that someone's chances of getting attacked or robbed in North America were 1 in 250. These stats were based on reported crimes, so it might be a little skewed since many crimes go unreported. That being said it is still unlikely that you will be in a violent crisis, but also far from impossible.

It gets better/worse each decide
So whether we confront fear on our own terms or when it's forced on us will greatly determine who will win the war. If you wait for the chance to be victimized, you'll spend a portion of your life avoiding certain things and always a little worried that someone will come along and push fear on you. This will make your fear stronger with time and will start to dictate how you should live your life. I'm claustrophobic and spent about a year and a half avoiding elevators, which was surprisingly difficult. After climbing up 8 flights of stairs and being locked in a stairwell, I decided that it was time to do some research on how to overcome fear. By identifying something that is negatively influencing your life through fear, you can decide where and when you want to confront that. It won't happen over night, but at least you'll be stronger and more confident on a regular basis. Once you make progress against fear, it's hard to fall back. Move forward all the time.

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die

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Monday, March 19, 2012

6 Simple Weight Loss Habits

Having spent the last few years practicing and experimenting with different diets, I've managed to learn a lot about nutrition and how/what to eat to compliment your level of activity. The body is a complex machine, so an error in dieting can really have long-term effects so it's important to do your homework and consult a nutritionist. There are some simple habits that you can start right away to clean up your diet. These are some quick adjustments that have consistently shown me great results. I still encourage everyone to do a little research and take a deeper interest in your health, but feel free to implement these changes right away.

1. No White Carbs
Regardless of the technical terms, cutting out "white foods" will change what kind of carbs you're putting into your system. This is as simple as literally substituting white foods with their whole grain counter parts. Examples include white bread, white sugar and pasta. Those were my most common source of carbs and all have multi or whole grain alternatives. It takes about a week to adjust to the difference in taste.

2. Don't Drink Carbs
Don't drink your carbs, proteins or nutrients, whenever possible. Stick to water when drinking, even avoiding sports drinks. Despite their design to re-hydrate you, they contain sugars. Not a terrible amount, but for the sake of losing weight it's better to drink just water. Protein shakes are also very popular, but you won't extract as much of the protein as you suspect and they can be fatty. Again, for the purpose of losing weight it's best to avoid these. I now carry a water bottle at all times and no longer but milk, cream or sugar in my coffee or tea.

3. Weight Training
Weight training, no matter how light or intense, will cause your metabolism to go into overdrive. Even light weight training on a regular basis will keep your heart rate slightly elevated and will actually make you lose weight in between sessions. Your body fat percentage will actually be improving when you're not even working out! Train regularly and you'll be burning calories in your sleep.

4. Cardio
Make sure to frequently exercise your cardio. Whether it's a run, elliptical, bike ride or even a long walk, do this on a regular basis and you'll see very fast results. Ideally, aim for 30 minutes of uninterrupted movement. Set a pace you can maintain and around the 30 minute mark you'll be burning your highest amount of fat cells. The longer you go after the half hour mark, the more you burn. As your muscles tire and your heart-rate continues to rise, your calorie-burning ratio will rise exponentially. To start, shoot for 30 minutes and you're all set.

5. Eat Big to Small
Although this is pretty much the opposite of popular habits, start your day with a large breakfast and make each meal after that smaller and smaller. This will kick-start your metabolism and you'll be burning calories all day! Your largest meal has all day to digest and burn up and each meal will be easier for your body to absorb. The tricky part is dinner time. By this procedure, supper should be your smallest meal. The closer you are to your bed time, the less calories you should intake.

6. Cheat Day
Hardly the most important tip, but definitely my favorite is having a cheat day. This is designed to be your guilt-free day of eating everything you miss. I'm sure dietitians and nutritionists would tell you to keep it to one meal or something, but I like to take a full day of indulging. Since starting this, I've seen instant results. For one thing, you won't be craving anything as badly during the rest of your week, knowing that you can indulge later. Aside from the psychological comfort, this also causes a spike in your metabolism. Your body can eventually adapt to any diet and that's when you stop seeing progress or plateau. By having a day of random eating in the midst of your structured diet, your body gets confused and goes into overdrive. So when you start your diet again the following day, you'll actually be burning a little more than usual to compensate. Avoid letting your cheat day spill out into another day. This is why many professionals but limits on this concept, because people can take it as a free pass to making exceptions. You work hard at being healthy, so keep it to one day.

So these are the most successful habits I've picked up over the years. Although, there's more to dieting and eating healthy than this, these are the no-excuse quick habits you can start right away. If you have a genuine interest in your health, dive right in! Remember, eating well and losing weight are two different things. For example, anything you consume after a workout of at least 30 minutes won't have any effects on you as far as gaining weight, but also won't help you lose any either. Pay attention to these "golden rules" of dieting and make sure they fit your needs. Good luck and please send me pics and info on what you've got lined up for cheat day!

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die


Monday, March 12, 2012

Stress of Success

Someone once told me that success can't be easy, otherwise everyone would do it. In fighting terms, not everyone can be the champ at once. Someone has to beat out the rest and rise to the top. This is true everywhere in life. When you're doing well, you can work hard to share that success with others and inspire someone to rise to the occasion and do the same. Obviously there are a lot of obstacles along the way and that's what makes the journey special. However, the path is hard enough, there's no need to make it even worse. Often, our own fear of success can get in the way. Other times, people around you will be reminded that they're not as focused or making as much progress and might resent your efforts. These are obstacles that we should consider not worth our time. That might sound harsh, but there's enough challenges ahead that the ones that can go away by just acknowledging them should be the first to go. The journey to your goals isn't a nice walk in the park, think of yourself charging forward, making your own path, swatting distractions to the side and crashing through the many obstacles ahead.

Outside Pressure
As many studies have confirmed, social support is very important in a person's life and in the case of some athletes can actually affect their performance. Goal setting also becomes more successful when a sense of accountability is achieved by involving a friend or co-worker on their progress. So, in most cases, involving other people in your efforts usually yield good results, but there are exceptions. Usually not malicious, some people in your life might feel a subconscious resentment toward your success. This isn't personal. Your achievements might remind someone of their failures or lack of focus towards their own goals, whether they realize it or not. This makes you exposed to a constant subconscious negative presence that will, with enough time, hinder your future progress. This kind of negative stress from outside influences has been proven to affect an athlete's performance or recovery by up to 20% in the wrong direction! In combat, where often a half a second is the difference between victory and defeat, that has huge implications on just how much our environment can change our results. Identify and eliminate.

Self-Imposed Pressure
People around you aren't the only ones that can add unnecessary stress to your work, you can to. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. This is something all too familiar to me. Be careful when setting unrealistic goals for yourself and establishing a standard that you can't possibly keep up with. I'm all for aiming high, but if you set yourself up for failure all the time you're programming your brain to expect failure. All your goals should be broken down into smaller, more achievable goals. This way, your programming success with every step on the way. The further you go, the more you've experienced success. Imagine if you were running toward a goal and found a way to gain speed with every step along the way. Tell a friend or colleague about your goals and how you plan on achieving them. This will hold you to a sense of accountability, but also keep you grounded. Hopefully, your friend will tell you if you're setting impossible standards for yourself.

Guilt of Success
For some, success comes with guilt. This guilt can come from outside factors and/or from somewhere inside yourself. When we start to see progress in worker toward a better life for ourselves, we sometimes wonder if we're being selfish and why others around us might not be as happy. Being focused on what makes us happy isn't selfish, it only becomes selfish when we are happy at the expense of others. When there are people around us working for the same, keep charging forward to help clear the path for them, as others might have done for you. Don't feel guilty that others aren't where you are on the journey, it's not a race. Be available to those who ask for your help and guidance. Some will be inspired, others will be offended. That's normal. Be careful of those who resent you, as mentioned earlier, they will find a way to slow you down. Above, we mentioned how they can add stress, but they can also add guilt. Keep your mind open to catch backhanded compliments and other subtle attempts to make you feel like you're doing something wrong by being happier. It's a fight, both inside and out, with yourself and others.

Stress and fear are killers of the body, mind and spirit. If your soul could get cancer, it would be from too much exposure to fear and stress. Think of all your proudest moments and chances are fear and stress came along at some point to try and ruin it for you. We've been engaged in this battle since we were infants, but we've accumulated all the tools we need to win this war as we grew up. Through years of training, I've managed to convince myself that as soon as I feel fear or stress, chances are I'm about to do something I'm going to be proud of. Make whatever association you need to notice fear and stress and charge right into it and meet it head on. As you continue to move forward and break through walls, don't feel bad. You owe it to everyone who could potentially be inspired to better themselves to keep going forward. No one's getting left behind, we're just not all at the same place. The first rule of First Aid training applies everywhere: you can't save anyone if you can't save yourself. Acknowledge and eliminate. Be confident in yourself, aware of others slowing you down and make no apologies for improving your life. For all we know, this might be your only one. Make it count.

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die

Monday, March 5, 2012

NYE Resolutions: Only 64% Still Going Strong by Now

So, by now about half of the people who have made new year's resolutions have either failed or gave up already. Technically, both of those outcomes are the same, since you have to decide to stop trying if your first attempt didn't work. One of my resolutions this year was to talk less; more specifically to say what I want with fewer words. I can honestly say that I'm failing miserably. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I'm more long-winded than ever. I haven't given up on that, though, and have made a list of things I can do to practice using less words to express myself (discussed below). It's a work in progress. Another resolution of mine (I wrote a list this year) was to make my monday to friday training schedule non-negotiable. So far so good. A few exceptions included teaching classes and minor injuries, but overall my momentum is going strong and training couldn't be better.
 An interesting side note: although not formally a resolution, I read about a psychological experiment about people giving up their right to complain for a set period of time. I'm about two weeks into a forty day attempt at this and although it can be challenging I'm getting great results. I highly recommend that you all try this, even if it's only for a week!

According to the University of Scranton's Journal of Clinical Psychology, we're not alone. In fact, of all the people you know that made resolutions, it's only expected that 8% of them will achieve their goal how they said they would! I plan on being in that group and then we can make it bigger each year. It's easy to feel strong right after you make your resolution, 75% of us can breeze through the first two weeks, but only 64% will make it through the first month and that drops down to a sad 46% after six months. By have way through the year, have of us have already given up! Most of this can be fixed with some clear and organized goal setting and an action plan. Step by step we can get there, we have all year!

Accountability and Action Plan
Since the last time I've written about being accountable to your goals and making an action plan, even more studies have been done (or at least discovered by me) to support these claims. Achievements need to be planned and defined. So make sure you keep your resolutions specific and if they're vague, create smaller goals to organize exactly what it is you want and how to get there. Also you should own your goals. Claim your resolutions by telling someone about them and keep them informed on your progress, the good and the bad. This has been studied and proven to increase your chances of success by over 20% (I'm currently researching and compiling studies in this field for an upcoming book. Keep checking for updates on this.). <-------------Me holding myself accountable for the completion of this project.
For my resolution of using fewer words, I've created an action plan. I realized that I wasn't succeeding at this because it was too vague. It wasn't a resolution in that state it was more of a wish. So, I've started using all forms of written social interactions (Facebook, Twitter, Social E-Mails, Text Messages) like they have a character limit. Twitter is a social media site that enforces a 140 character limit on every update, keeping interaction short and sweet. I've recently started doing this everywhere I could think of and I'm starting to get the hang of it. It's still a bit of a challenge, but soon it will become the norm and, hopefully, become a habit even when speaking. I will, of course, continue to ramble and rant here on the blog though.

Hopefully you haven't given up yet. If you've already achieved your goal for the year, feel free to make a new one. Don't brag and don't get lazy, I'm in the business of punching people. If you've failed or are losing momentum remember that the solution might be as simple as just telling someone or writing down some steps to getting started. Make them as immediate at possible. Nothing you can't start doing within the week; the next three days are even better. Whatever your resolution was, it's clearly something that was important to you at some point so keep going for it! I sincerely hope this helps. I'll be bringing this up again in a few months and hopefully you won't be one of the 22% of people who will give up between now and then! In the meantime, train safe and train hard.

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die