Miss Independent

Miss Independent

Girl standing alone

Everything in life has an opposite: light and dark, good and evil, yin and yang. For many of these pairs of opposites, one cannot exist without the other. We could never understand light without knowing what it’s like to have darkness. We could never understand joy without having experienced sadness. However, many pairs of opposites exist, not in opposition with each other, but rather they exist in harmony, attempting to balance each other out. One of these such pairs is dependence and independence. 

We live in a culture that glorifies independence. And in many ways that’s a really good thing. But if we only strive for independence, we can end up making life a lot more difficult for ourselves and the people we love. In contrast, being too dependent on others can lead to us holding ourselves back and hurting people around us as well. There are a lot of ways in which we have a good understanding of when to be independent. But many people have a tendency to try and be independent when they should rely on others, and vice versa. Many people look to others for things they should handle themselves. 

When it comes to the daily functions of life, independence is a must. We have to be able to take care of things like personal hygiene, daily chores, and work tasks on our own. It’s particularly in the day-to-day tasks that independence truly shines. However, when external change is involved, many people have a tendency to fall back on others to make changes happen. This is never more true than when it comes to political change. Often times, when people want to see a policy change, they push for it on a national level, where they tend to have the least control. People look to federal representatives to make changes happen without even attempting to make the change on a local level. They become dependent on their representatives to make the changes for them. 

If we want to see change happen in our lives, we can’t wait around and hope that someone will make the changes we want to see. We can’t have the mentality that someone else will make it happen. At the same time, we need to get rid of the mindset that change has to occur on a larger scale. Even small changes make an impact. So whether it’s in your family, at work, or in your local community, if there is a change you want to take place, we must be independent and stand for ourselves. That’s the only way change will ever take place. 

Although independence is a must for external change, too often people attempt to create internal change by the same means, and it doesn’t quite work the same way. Our culture has a really toxic mentality about dependence. From a young age, kids are taught that they have to be able to handle the world on their own. If not, they’re told they have no chance at being successful. In many ways, this is true. We can’t wait around for handouts or for someone to carry us to a happy life. But this lesson is often taken too far. It results in a lot of people trying to deal with internal issues on their own. And with small things that’s okay, but when it comes to things like major life challenges and mental health issues, the worst thing we can do for ourselves is to try and manage it all alone. 

If we want to create internal change in our lives, we need to rely both on God and on the people closest to us. Our friends and family want to be there for us when we are struggling. And I promise you that whether you want them to or not, they know when we’re not okay. By trying to deal with internal issues independently, we often shut those people out, which only makes things more difficult for us and more painful for them. Our friends and family want to help, and can often lighten that load for us. A good friend of mine once said that “More often than not, other people’s burdens are lighter than our own.” This isn’t to say that our problems are bigger than everyone else’s, but rather that it’s easier to help carry someone else’s cross than to try and carry our own by ourselves. So if we have the chance, let someone else help lighten your load, so that you can find a way to deal with it together. 

More important than relying on our friends, however, is the need to lean on God. Matthew 11:29-30 says “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Lately I’ve been trying to develop the habit of surrendering my struggles to God. It’s been incredible how much of a difference it makes. There are so many things that I’ve been praying for for years, and I’ve honestly felt like nothing had changed. But then I realized I had been asking for things the worst way possible.

I’d spent years asking God to tell me how to fix everything, and suddenly I realized how prideful that really was. I wasn’t actually giving my problems to God and trusting Him to fix them. Instead I was asking Him to tell me how to do it all myself. I wasn’t really leaning on Him. I started changing the way I asked for His help. Instead, I began surrendering my problems completely to Him, telling God to do with them what He wanted because I certainly can’t fix them myself. The changes started flooding in and I was able to grow a lot more at a much quicker pace. I’d like to encourage you to ask yourself if you’re truly surrendering your problems to God, or if you’re still trying to fix them yourself. If we are going to ask God to help us grow and change, we need to make sure we get out of the way so He can actually work in us.

While being independent is certainly important, we need to keep it in balance with depending on God and the people around us. And most importantly, we need to know which trait to use and when. If we strive to be too dependent, we block people out who love us and just want to help. But if we let others do everything for us, we can never see changes take place in our communities, or achieve any kind of real success. Both need to be applied throughout our lives. And when we learn how to keep them in balance, our loads become easier and our world becomes a better place. 

Seventy-Seven Times

Forgiveness

I think one of the hardest things as a Christians is forgiveness. There’s a difference between telling someone that you forgive them, and actually letting it go in your heart. And it’s easy for something little, like maybe someone dropped a high school insult against you behind your back out of frustration, or maybe they forgot to do something they were supposed to do. But when it’s something bigger, where someone really hurt you, forgiveness takes a lot more effort. However, very rarely do we find it harder to forgive then when it was us who made the mistake. 

In Matthew 18: 21-22, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus responds with, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!” Jesus isn’t telling us that we only have to forgive someone literally seventy-seven times here. In the Bible, seven is the number that symbolizes fullness, completion or perfection. So when Jesus tells Peter that we need to forgive not just seven times but seventy-seven times, He tells Peter to forgive others so completely that there is nothing left to forgive. And that’s hard enough to imitate concerning the offenses others have against us. But this teaching on forgiveness doesn’t just apply to forgiving others. 

When Christ died for us on the cross, it only took one drop of His most precious blood to save all sinners throughout all of time. But He didn’t stop there. He shed every last drop for all of us, and for only us. Christ would go through all the torment and suffering that He endured all over again just to save YOUR soul, for no other reason than He loves you despite knowing everything you have done, and everything you are going to do. And when we refuse to forgive, we waste His precious blood. And this applies to forgiving ourselves too. 

When we make a mistake and hold it against ourselves, we make the choice to let our sins be bigger than His mercy. And while it might not seem like that’s pride talking, pride is exactly where it comes from. We set standards for ourselves, and when we fail to meet them, pride tells us that one mistake is so big and damaging that there is nothing God can do to override it. Pride tells us we don’t deserve forgiveness, or even worse that we aren’t worth God’s love. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

In order to grow, we need to let go of our past mistakes and forgive ourselves. And I know exactly how hard that can be. When you have moments in your past that you let define who you are, a bully, a cheater, a liar, a coward… whatever name you have given yourself because of something you have done. Let. It. Go. You are not your sins. You are not your mistakes. You are a child of God. And He has already forgiven you. All that’s left to do is to accept the mercy He’s been trying to give you all along. You are human, and therefore you are fallen. It’s only through His mercy that you can be healed. But refusing to forgive yourself blocks that mercy out. So, do not let your sins be greater than God’s mercy, and let your sins go.

It’s so easy to get caught up in believing that we’ll never be better than the person who made that mistake, who didn’t do that one thing right. But I can tell you from experience that once you let that mindset go, change is possible. Growth will happen. We just need to get out of God’s way and let him do the work. Remember that we are called to forgive everyone to absolute completion, and that includes ourselves. So in the next few weeks, I challenge you to try to forgive yourself for one thing. Just one. Tell yourself every day that you are not defined by that mistake. Tell yourself that you deserve to be loved by God and you can love yourself despite your mistakes. Tell yourself that you are not the same person who made those choices. Pretty soon, you’ll start to find yourself believing it bit by bit. And after a while, you’ll find that you can forgive yourself for those things and move forward.

Letting the Smoke Go

letting the smoke go
By Baylie Redman

​Many of us have heard the saying about grasping at smoke. While it looks solid and sustainable, you could spend your whole life trying to grasp it, to keep it, without any success. The smoke metaphor is often used to teach us that we can’t always have control. No matter how badly we want things to go our way, regardless of the effort we put in to make things work out, we don’t always get the final say. There is nothing this metaphor speaks more accurately to than control itself. In the moments that we see control in our midst, we want to grab at it and keep it going, but in our attempts to do so, we only cause the smoke to disappear. 

In the book of Ecclesiastes, life itself is often referred to as “hevel,” which is the Hebrew word for vapor. This line is repeated over 30 times in the biblical text, and as upsetting as it may sound to be told thirty times that life is nothing but vapor, there is actually a really valuable lesson we can learn from this. Particularly in times of fear, or stress, or chaos, we are significantly more tempted to find things we can control. And if we can’t find these things, we begin to try and make them happen. But the more we try to control the world, the more out of control we start to feel. This is why we need to work on our locus of control.

Our locus of control is just another way of referring to who we believe has control over the events and circumstances in our lives. Often when we hear about this concept, we are presented with a dichotic choice, an “either-or” decision. Either our locus is focused on ourselves, where everything is a consequence of our own choices and beliefs, or our locus can be focused outwardly, where life’s circumstances are brought about by the actions and choices of others, and therefore beyond our control. In reality, life happens as a result of both our own choices, as well as the choices of others, but the only thing we can actually control is ourselves. 

Ultimately, we have to let go of trying to control the things that happen to us in life. It’s no less fruitful than grasping at smoke. This doesn’t mean to just surrender to what happens in the world. And it doesn’t mean that we should just stop trying to cause change. But it does mean that while we should always strive to make changes in the world, whether they actually pan out or not is beyond our control. We learn this from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. The sower scatters the seeds in a variety of places. Some seed falls on the path, and others amongst the weeds, but some manage to land in good soil. Just like the sower, we should always try to plant the seeds, but we don’t control whether it lands on good soil, and we don’t get to make it grow. Our job is to plant wherever we can, and let God make those seeds grow. 

If we ever want to find peace and comfort in difficult times, we have to let God do the work.  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11). We have to surrender our lives, and more importantly we have to surrender control, to God. We need to stop grasping at smoke and decide to let that control go.

Choosing our own legacy

choosing our own legacy

 By Baylie Redman and Kaeden Forleo 

I want to talk a little bit about legacy. Specifically, who are the legacies we are trying to create intended to serve? There are so many people throughout history who have left noteworthy legacies, but as Christians, I think it’s important to look particularly closely at figures from the Bible to learn more about this matter. There are so many prophets and spiritual figures throughout the Bible that we can learn from, but for right now I want to look at two in particular.

In first Samuel, we learn about King Saul, who was at this point preparing for a large battle against the Philistines. Before the battle was to begin, he was supposed to wait for the prophet Samuel, who would burn an offering for Saul and go with him to battle. But when Samuel didn’t show up on time, Saul burnt the offering himself and went into battle without God’s prophet. In other words, Saul chose to fight the battle without God. When Samuel showed up, he made it very clear that Saul’s legacy was forever changed because he chose to fight for himself and not for God. There are many theologians who believe that had it not been for this decision, Jesus would have come through Saul’s lineage, and not David’s. Samuel chastises Saul for his decision by saying to him, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).

We all know that God does not make a habit of condemning people for making mistakes. There are numerous examples in the Bible of Him not letting our mistakes define us, and giving us the chance to repent and seek His forgiveness. One example of this is Saul’s successor, King David. Despite more than a few really poor life decisions during his reign, the Apostle Luke still called David “A man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The difference between the two kings was how these men handled the consequences of their actions. Saul was vengeful, unrepentant and prideful in his sin. He sought to make his legacy about his own glory and greatness. David, on the other hand, repented and came back to God. He decided to glorify God above all else, even during the lowest points of his life. 

It’s David’s legacy that we should strive to imitate. In Psalm 91, God tells us “Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him.” When we choose to make our legacy about our work, accomplishments, or even about our own character, we choose to live for our own sake rather than for the glory of God. In doing so, we forfeit everything that God has promised to us. But when we choose to “set Him on high” (Psalm 91:14), His promises and His favor can become visible, as we reflect His light in our life. 

Finally, we must remember that we will answer for every action, every reaction, every motivation, and every decision when we stand before His throne. Matthew 12:36 tells us “But I tell you that everyone will have to give an account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken.” So, ultimately, we need to ask ourselves: what kind of legacy are we building? Are we willing to answer for it?

Effective self-defense?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say what needs to be said…most martial arts, including mixed martial arts (MMA), UFC type cage fighting, etc. is not effective for self-defense.

There, I said it.

I say this as a 30+ year martial artist with not just black belts, but master level ranks (4th degree black belt and higher) in 4 different martial arts. Please understand, I am not putting down martial arts. I LOVE the martial arts and all the benefits that they can give. They are amazing for helping a person (young or old) learn discipline, focus, respect, patience, self-control, and a long list of other life skills. They can excel at providing a positive outlet for physical fitness and stress relief. But for street effective self-defense, most of what is taught in typical martial arts classes in this country is ineffectual and unworkable without years of training under the proper conditions.

The biggest reason I believe this is that the martial arts, from which self-defense has been historically based, use principally what is called “symmetrical” training. Symmetrical training means that safeguards exist to equalize the training experience. This happens, for example, when students are paired up with partners of similar size and skill level, or when there are rules or other constraints to make things more “fair.” Sparring is symmetrical competition designed to replicate fighting. But it falls quite short in preparing for real life applications because of its rules. Even the UFC is symmetrical fighting. Although no doubt quite adrenalizing, it is still an agreed upon event with rules, referees and limits. Most importantly, both combatants are physically, emotionally and psychologically prepared to do battle. This is not how most real altercations occur.

Police and FBI statistics show very clearly that most assaults are typically asymmetrical events where the attacker has the psychological advantage of surprise and often of physical strength or some other element that would give them the advantage (i.e., weapons, multiple attackers). In fact, it is the very nature of a predator to use stealth, ambush and deception when it hunts. There would be few predators left on earth if they fought fairly. Human predators use these same asymmetric tactics and mind-set when selecting their prey.

After just a cursory search for some video footage – there is plenty out there on YouTube – of real life attacks, here are just a few for you to see for yourself:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQWDUgixf6U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HRASm_BQQ8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OYaTzNCSVw

MMA and traditional martial arts do not use asymmetric tactics or train in asymmetrical ways. There is a famous quote that many Sensei use, which is that “Karate is NEVER for attack.” Let me tell you something – if I knew that someone was about to do bad things to my wife or children, or to me and I couldn’t get away, I would, without reservation, use karate for attack. It would be foolish to wait until the bad guy makes the first move. You know why? Because ACTION IS FASTER THAN REACTION!

It is both naïve and foolish to think that anyone can train for an asymmetrical event in a symmetrical way. The bottom line is that you will do as you train. If you train symmetrically, you will be at an extreme disadvantage in a real-life self-defense situation. Don’t be fooled by MMA fighters touting their skills in the ring as some sort of proof that they know or can teach effective self-defense. I have never seen an MMA fighter ambushed in the ring by a second attacker or hidden knife, and I have never seen an attack that looks anything remotely like the over-exaggerated telegraphed strike or swing you’d see in a typical martial arts demonstration.

Please understand that this is not a criticism of those who train in MMA or martial arts. I admire the athleticism and strategy necessary to compete in these matches. I enjoy watching these sporting events just as much as the next guy, and I enjoy training in them. But I recognize them for what they are – sports – games and activities for amusement, entertainment and demonstration of individual skill. These are just a very different animal from self-defense.

I am not saying that a person can’t get any self-defense benefits from MMA or martial arts. There is plenty there that can be helpful – footwork, timing, understanding angles, body mechanics, the feeling of being hit, etc. But one of the most important pieces to learning effective self-defense is the instruction; the scenarios and methods used to learn, acquire and practice these skills. If the instruction is regularly set up in a symmetrical way, the training will likely prove to be ineffectual in self-defense.

That is exactly why we added training in FAST Defense to what we do at my martial arts school. As a long-time martial artist, I realized the limitations of traditional training and went looking for something that would provide a link between martial arts done in the studio environment, and self-defense done on the street. FAST Defense provided just that – the missing link – with a solid foundation of asymmetric scenario-based adrenal stress training.

FAST Defense takes the experience of training in the martial arts and adds a layer of realism to it. By realism, I don’t mean that we’ll be using real, sharp knives, guns, chains, etc. But the way we get the body and brain to feel will be real. One of the interesting things about the human brain is that it is very difficult for it to distinguish fantasy from reality. So, when you immerse yourself in an asymmetric scenario, it feels real. And to your brain, if it feels real, it is real. The chemical, hormonal and physiological reactions are the same. Fear is fear and the body’s response to fear is the same whether that fear comes from a real street situation or has been intentionally elicited or manufactured by a trained instructor.

When safeguards exist to equalize the training experience, you remove the realism. You end up with a bunch of nice people (not psychopaths) training nicely (using courtesy) and intentionally trying to not hurt their partner (control). No one wants to get hurt in a class, but there’s an old adage – you will play like you practice. If you don’t practice actually hitting a live body with intent to destroy it, you WON’T do it when it counts. There is no magic switch to turn on. You’ve either experienced it and it will come out of you, or you haven’t, and you’ll freeze. This is why I have seen black belts in martial arts get their butts handed to them in a real fight, not because they lack skill, but they lack real experience.

​So how does one get this most valuable experience, safely and quickly? Through the asymmetric scenario-based training of our FAST Defense classes and being able to strike full force on the trainer in the Predator Armor. When you fully engage in the scenarios and fights in a FAST class, you are training the correct part of your brain to harness the fear and adrenaline and use it for fuel to power you to success. Also, being able to hit a live person (who is safe in the Armor) gives a tremendous sense of confidence because you will see the result of your strike or kick in real time and you don’t have to worry about pulling your strike to not hurt your training partner.

To take an upcoming FAST Defense class, go to:
www.fastmontana.com and sign up.

Facing your “Demon”

The first mile of any hike is always the easiest. You start out full of energy and excitement to reach your destination, and the path ahead seems pretty straight forward. “In order to get where I want to go,” you think to yourself, “all I have to do is stay on the path.” But as most of us know, that’s a lot easier said than done. After the first mile, we start running into huge rocks, steep inclines, and endless switchbacks that make us wonder if we’ve even made a dent in the journey ahead. And after several miles of these difficult obstacles, we might start to question if the destination is worth the journey. For the rest of the hike, you will have to choose moment after moment whether to turn back, or to keep pushing forward with the hopes of a gorgeous view being closer than you think. If you want to push through the pain and keep going, mental toughness will be essential to your success.

Over the last few months, a few of our students have taken to helping each other build that skill. In a weekly workout, not so affectionately known as “Demon,” a small group of our students spend 30 minutes pumping out as many burpees as they can. In those 30 minutes, each one of them have to face their demons head on. They face the voice inside their heads telling them they’ve already done enough, or they’re going to be sick or get hurt. In that moment, they have to choose for themselves whether to give up or push through, whether to maintain their previous record or to beat their personal best. 

It’s not an easy decision. The natural inclination is to keep yourself safe and drop out. It’s easier, safer, and you can escape the pain and exhaustion of the workout. But giving up means you didn’t give it your all, and it leaves you with a sense of guilt and regret. But in making the decision to push through, you walk away with an incredible sense of pride in yourself, and the knowledge that you were capable of more than you thought you were. By repeating this process every week, they begin to push themselves harder and harder, building mental toughness in the process. 

Without that level of discipline and determination, trying to accomplish a goal or some kind of challenge becomes sufficiently more challenging than it already is. But just like our students, we can build the right skill set by making regular, in the moment difficult choices. By pushing ourselves a little bit harder every time, we slowly condition ourselves to make the right choices and keep pushing ourselves. And it doesn’t take long before you realize that making those decisions is a little bit easier than it used to be. After all, the only way to reach the top of that mountain is one step at a time.

Top Tips for Improving Wellness and a Better Life

Top Tips for Improving Wellness and a Better Life
By ​Jennifer McGregor
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Are you tired out, stressed out and maxed out?  Would you rather get more wellness and positivity out of your days?  With some thoughtful strategies, you can enjoy a happier, healthier lifestyle. 
 
First, you need to take a hard look at the pattern of your daily life.  Many of us are on the run, and along with that, we often make unhealthy lifestyle choices.  If you’re throwing on makeup during your morning commute, hitting the drive-through for most of your meals, and your version of unwinding is a few minutes of road rage to release some negativity, chances are that you’ll feel better with some adjustments in your routine.  Here are some simple steps to help you develop a sustainable wellness program and live a more positive life.
 
Clear the clutter.  Spending lengthy periods of time in a disorganized environment can leave you feeling stressed.  When you take the time to declutter your home, you’re setting yourself up for better sleep, improved focus and enhanced mood.  Start by tackling a small area like the kitchen counter, and don’t do it all at once to avoid feeling overwhelmed.  Make sure you give your home a deep clean afterward to effectively remove airborne toxins and allergens.  If you need help with this, hire a cleaning service, which costs between $114 and $200 in Billings.
 
Choose good foods.  Eating healthy foods is a key to improving your wellness.  Family Doctor recommends ensuring your diet is high in fruits and vegetables, your meats are lean, and your carbohydrates are whole grain.  Drink plenty of water, and when you must eat out, be alert to portion sizes and hidden sugars.  When you need some healthy, on-the-go snacks, opt for foods high in protein such as cheese sticks, peanut butter packs or almonds.  You’ll find that protein-rich choices satisfy your hunger without raising blood sugar levels, which helps keep the cycle of cravings at bay. 
 
Spend time with Fido.  If you don’t already have a dog in your life, consider adding a furry friend.  Dogs benefit health in many ways by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression and lowering blood pressure.  Spending time with your dog releases feel-good chemicals in your body and reduces stress hormones.  Dogs also tend to keep you more active, getting you out for walks and trips to parks more often.  Your pooch also provides structure to your days, and because he relies on you for food, walks and love, you feel needed and important.
 
Get some rest.  According to Rush University Medical Center, most of us aren’t getting enough sleep, and it’s hurting our health.  Getting too little sleep can leave you at an increased risk for a stroke or heart attack, regardless of your age, weight, fitness and other lifestyle choices.  If you aren’t getting a full seven hours or more of sleep each night, it may be time to rethink your late-night television programs or web surfing. 
 
Care for your body.  Are you slumping at your computer screen?  When you rise after a half hour of sitting, do you feel stiff all over?  Do some stretches, get some regular exercise, and embrace good posture.  You’ll find you feel much better, and your body will age better. Our martial arts and self defense classes are a great option for that (the cost of a membership can save you on doctor bills). If you’re tight on time, take a walk on your lunch break a few days every week.  Get out with your pup and explore the neighborhood.  Some experts suggest making oral hygiene a priority as well.  Brushing and flossing a couple times per day can actually impact your overall health. 
 
Spend time in nature.  Enjoying nature is a boon, whether you’re sitting on a park bench or gardening.  Some researchers found that spending time in nature improves wellness, reducing your risk for stroke, heart disease, obesity, depression and stress.  You even do a better job of coping when troubles come your way.  Even a view of a natural setting can be a benefit to your well-being, so make it a point to incorporate nature into your daily life.
 
Simple strategies.  Improving your wellness doesn’t need to be difficult, and you can reap big benefits.  Look carefully at your daily choices and take steps to improve your lifestyle.  You’ll find that with some simple wellness strategies, you’ll be on the road to health and happiness!

SUMMERTIME PARENTING TIPS

By now summer is in full swing and we hope that everyone is taking advantage of our summer classes here at Shepherd-Warrior Martial Arts! If you are looking for something fun to keep your child occupied this summer feel free to find us at the front desk or give us a call and ask about all the cool things going on this summer!

Today I wanted to offer a few tips on how to keep boredom at bay this summer! These are simple tips that you can implement NOW, and will help set your child up for success.

Communicate the plan
Every evening, take a few spare minutes and review the “plan” for the next day. A little bit of structure will go a long way and will also help everything go smoothly. If possible, try to include 45 minutes to 1 hour of physical activity doing things such as swimming, biking or practicing their martial arts!

Work together to develop effective summertime habits
Many parents will set boundaries and limitations for their kids which is great, but if you include your kids in the process they will better understand the “how” and “why”. This will help them better understand why certain things are limited and also help them find ways to keep themselves entertained. Talk with your child and determine how much electronics time per day & week are appropriate. Then work together to come up with a list of activities they enjoy!

Be a good role model
Get outdoors and show them how much fun it is to be active! Children will often make better choices when their role models are doing the same – do so and they will be more willing to give it a try! This can be as easy as having them teach you how to play a game! You can even take it to the next level and have them teach you how to do a few kicks or a form!

We hope that this has given you a few ideas to use when tackling summer boredom! If you are out and about or on vacation don’t forget we would love to stay in contact by posting a picture or video on our FB page. We hope you are enjoying your summer and can’t wait to see everyone back on the mat!

Sincerely,

Master Forleo & the Staff

Head-to-Toe Health: Lifestyle Changes to Boost Your Mind and Body

Photo via Pixabay

Article written by Jennifer McGregor – PublicHealthLibrary.org

Healthy lifestyle changes may seem overwhelming at first; many people want to eat better, get more exercise, and reduce stress, but those things aren’t always so easy to take on. Busy schedules, work, family issues, and responsibilities can frequently get in the way of even the best-laid plans, leaving you feeling guilty for being unable to stay motivated. It’s important to keep in mind that your physical health isn’t the only thing that will benefit from some changes; your mental health will also get a boost, which can help elevate your self-esteem and mood and reduce anxiety and the symptoms of depression.
 
The good news is that there are many simple changes you can make to your lifestyle that won’t take a lot of time or money but will make a big difference in the way you feel. The key is to think outside the box a little, and remember that your health doesn’t just depend on a few main factors; lots of things can affect your well-being, from the way you sleep to the air quality in your home. When you take a look at the details, it’s much easier to make small but significant changes.
 
Read on for some great tips on how to make easy changes to feel better.
 
Keep Your Dental Health in Check
 
Many people don’t realize just how closely linked their mental and physical well-being are, but when it comes to anxiety and depression, the symptoms can be very hard on the body. Oral health is one of the biggest concerns for many people since depression can take a toll on oral hygiene. Gum disease can lead to issues with the heart, so it’s extremely important to make sure your dental health is on point. By eating right, brushing and flossing each day, and attending regular checkups at the dentist, you can keep your mouth in great shape.
 
Get to Know Your Insurance Policy
 
Your insurance policy can help you stay on top of your wellness, so make sure you’re familiar with the plan you have and how to get the most from it. Seniors, in particular, can benefit from understanding their policy, especially when it comes to Medicare. Advantage plans from insurers like Humana can help you cover the costs associated with dental work, eye exams, and prescription medication, which original Medicare doesn’t cover.
 
Keep Your Gut Healthy
 
Your gut health can have a big impact on other parts of your body and even affect your mental health, so take time to get to know your microbiome — the area of your gut that is home to good bacteria which are necessary for your digestion and immune system. Learning about this area of your body — and how to keep it in good shape with the right foods, exercise, and environment — can help you ensure that your digestive tract is healthy and running smoothly.
 
Take a Break
 
Stress and anxiety can affect us all differently, but for most people, those negative feelings often lead to depression, physical decline, or issues at work or home. Knowing when to take a break and give your mind and body a much-needed rest is crucial to your overall well-being, even when you have a busy schedule. You don’t have to go on vacation; instead, simply taking a timeout for 15 minutes when stress is at its highest will do.
 
Head-to-toe lifestyle changes can be a little much if you try to take on too many at once, so narrow down the options and choose the best ones for your current needs. Focus on eating healthy or getting more exercise, or make time in your routine to take better care of your oral health. Once you feel comfortable with one, you can move on to the next until your mental and physical health are where you want them to be.

Top 5 Reasons Kids Should Practice Martial Arts

This article was sent to us in an email. I (Master Forleo) am not the author of it but I am putting it here on our blog for your benefit.

1. It helps them make new friends.

The bond between martial artists is stronger than most other sports. Martial arts are physical, and they require physical confrontation. When confronted with someone of similar size, strength, and skill, students develop a sense of respect for one another. They realize they are capable, and so are others. Out of healthy respect for themselves and others, long-lasting and rewarding relationships develop.

2. They will learn better human relation skills.

During martial arts training, students need to learn the concept of physical space, how physical contact is both an invasion and invasive. The sport literally and figuratively breaks down barriers. Students will confront people of all types and abilities during martial arts training. This kind of exposure helps to prepare them for a dynamic and diverse social environment.

3. They learn new coping skills.

Your kids deal with a world unlike anything we’ve seen before. The pressures of a social network, expectations, and a world full of need and change are overwhelming for children with no experience to handle it.

Martial arts are an outlet. Their physicality trains physical fitness, which balances the body physiologically and emotionally. But it also emboldens kids with a warrior’s mentality of gratitude, humility, respect, and self-confidence.

The world is full of confrontation. We’ll teach your kids how to thrive with it. 

4. They develop better focus and concentration.

Practicing martial arts requires patience and persistence. Not everyone is at the same level of skill, but kids need to know that they can change and grow. A body is the one thing that everyone has that they can always improve. When you show kids that they can get better when they focus on improving their strengths and weaknesses, you provide them with hope that their dreams are possible.

The rewards carry over into every aspect of their lives, like better studying and better behavior at school.

5. They develop better respect for authorities.

In martial arts, as in life, there is always a teacher and a student, and nothing can replace the value of mentorship. Martial arts, more so than other activities, emphasize discipline and respect for authority.

Kids need to learn that they’ll go far on their own, but they’ll go the furthest with the help of others. A teacher’s wisdom is the most valuable kind of guidance. A martial arts teacher sets a standard that helps kids relate better to other figures of authority in their lives, like teachers and parents.