Why I Ousted A Creepy Army Recruit

After instructing regular and army reserve courses for decades you get a feel for recruits who are toxic. Not the socially awkward, over/underweight or seemingly crazy, but plain destructive. Maybe even a bit evil.

Two things I clued into when recruit “H” showed up. One, he was a know-it-all wise-guy and Two I recognised him from over 25 years ago. Right away, he started making lewd comments to the female recruits and was trying to be the hot-shot recruit. He even invited me to watch him compete in a karate tournament. I was not impressed (was I supposed to be in awe?) and read him the riot act on conduct and trying to be personal. Then, I told him that I knew who he was and his new name had no bearing. He was a sneaky little sexist creep who had not learned.

And guess what trade had ACCEPTED this creep. Yep. The military police.

I always took pride in my recruits and saw many go onto to good careers and lives. Not this one. I spent much of my free time researching his background. Call it fate, but one information source told me that H was a former sex-offender.

Game on, creep. I pulled every trick in the book, wrote volumes of reports and let the military police know of the trouble coming their way. (It helps to have friends every where.) Soon “H” was gone.

Maybe it seemed unfair. Maybe it was the wrong approach and he might have turned a new leaf. But, then again, maybe I saved someone’s life from being ruined.

Why I Left ACOA: And Healed On My Own

Escape

That night, it was time to leave.

The main speaker had just proposed something ridiculous.

As a result, I changed my mind about the meetings. It was too bad as I was looking for answers about my drinking habits and life patterns. It was what had brought me to the Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings in the first place.

I was not an alcoholic. Maybe I had shared some of the common alcoholic traits, sure. I drank. But, nothing like my aunt, uncle, former step-father and sister. Heck no. There had been similar habits. But not those of a fall-down, blacking out, alcoholic.

Sure, there were some patterns: like drinking, hanging out with drinkers and low self-esteem. My habits almost fit the bill. So, I wanted to make sure that I was not one of those boozers. This led me to reading books like Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woetitz’s and It Will Never Happen to Me! by Claudia Black. It sparked my interest and led me to the study of Adult Children Of Alcoholics.

So, I visited a few of the ACOA meetings. Here, we could talk about our experiences. And each week, learn a bit about the different characteristics of ACOAs, like fear of authority, people-pleasing and low self-esteem. There were also specific personalities like: the enabler, the hero, the rescuer, the scapegoat, the lost child and the mascot. (Man I hope that I was not the last two.) It became a game of what-kind-of ACOA-am-I and why-I-am-messed-up.

Maybe it explained why so many people like (approval-seeking) sales people and actors are so good at what they do? Maybe some of these imperfections are what made people ambitious?

At first, ACOA meetings felt great. Many of us felt accepted and could talk about our problems. Sort of like a bunch of old guys moaning and groaning about their aches and pains.

But, then the pivot point came for me. One of the group leaders, who always wore a camouflaged bandana, insisted that we have a picnic.

“And,” he had added. “We all come dressed as children so we can relive our childhoods.”

O.K. this was going strange really fast. Then and there, I realised, while the meetings never really explained how to get out of the rut! It became apparent that many of the members LIKED hanging around and talking about their problems. That was my cue to leave.

I left and learned to recover quicker on my own.

Firstly, I re-focused on my nutrition, fitness and meditations to strengthen my mind and body. I started taking college courses and met different people. Best of all, I filled my mind with better thoughts and material than the old childhood programs of not being good enough or “you’ll never do that.” I changed jobs and studied at journalism at college. To fill those empty moments, I kept up my running and martial arts training. Later, I met and I dated a nice gal.

Yes, the lure of the old drinking crowd was always there. But, I had dozens of other things to do that was more fulfilling and definitely cheaper in the long run. It just took effort and imagination.

If you are in this rut, start taking action to reduce your alcohol craving. First, feed yourself properly, exercise and keep your mind active. Follow a high protein, low grain, low sugar diet and take extra B vitamins. This will minimize the alcohol damage and allow you to think more clearly. That is what got me out of the drinking routine and gaining 40 pounds of muscle.

Ever see drinkers on construction sites and offices? They often arrive late or barely on time, cigarette and coffee in hand. Breakfast is non-existent and lunch and dinner are usually fast food . Those habits have low blood sugar and malnutrition written all over it and make it harder to leave the drinking routine.

When you are well-nourished, your mind and body are more energized and able to resist alcohol cravings than if you are malnourished.

My book: Reduce Your Alcohol Craving can show you how to eat and get the right nutrients to protect yourself against the effects of alcohol and keep you energized throughout the day.

In Health.

Coach Doug

What Kind Of Alcoholic Bio-Chemistry Do You Have?

Why does alcohol makes some people sleepy, others tired, aggressive or silly? Why do some people drink with little reaction, while others get violently ill?

Part of the answer lies in our genes and biochemistry. For instance, many people of Asian background lack the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme and cannot process alcohol very quickly, if at all. Meanwhile, some people from Eastern and Northern Europe are born with a high level of the alcohol-processing enzyme. Some cultures, like most Europeans, have built up a tolerance to alcohol and drink high quality spirits with little effect.

If you can understand how alcohol effects you, you can learn how to minimize it’s effects and still occasionally enjoy it.

Watch the video to understand it more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c81AjNM9wMc

Also, read: Reduce Your Alcohol Craving.

Anxiety is an Illusion

Professor Detlef Beeker’s book: Anxiety is an Illusion. gives very simple methods for easing out of an anxious state.

He combines:

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping,

Breathing,

Cognitive; and, of course;

Lifestyle.

  I will share my take away with you.  

1. EFT.  When you have a problem (eg. headache, frustration with your job search, etc.), you can gently tap on the points: 

A. At your eyebrow, near your nose (you should find a slight dent there). 

B. On the outside edge of your eye. 

C. Directly under the eye. 

D. Under the nose. 

E. Under your lip (between the lip and chin). 

F.  On the collar bone. 

It is interesting that decades ago, a kung fu instructor demonstrated these exact same points to release toxins and energy blocks. He did not tap, but pressed heavy.  Which is probably why I avoided it.  

BREATHING. The deep controlled breathing (not the panicky hyper ventilation) is good for calming down or, at least keeping the situation from getting worse. I mentioned in some of my books that short, rapid breathing builds up carbon dioxide in the body and induces fatigue.  Slow, deep breathing releases the CO2 and brings in more oxygen to help clear the mind and body. 

COGNITIVE. Cognitive can be a type of self-talk where you ask yourself just what is the problem.  Often you find that you go deeper and deeper into the problem.  For instance, when I was job searching, part of the problem was the stigma of not working.  I hated telling people that I was looking for work (even though I was really hustling with job search and promoting my business at the same time). 

LIFESTYLE. Lifestyle is what I harp on all of the time.  Detlef insists that to minimize stress, we must avoid C.A.T.S: Caffeine, Alcohol, Tobacco and Sweeteners.  Basically, avoid stimulants if you are in a stressed position.  Always remember that people with NO problems are usually in the grave yard.  We cannot avoid problems, just handle them.  

In Health, 

Coach Doug 

Why Crunches Fail Overweight People

“What?” I asked.

My friend/client was doing an abdominal exercise sequence and trying to say something at the same time. (I joked with him that he was not that uncoordinated.) But, then it occurred to me that Stevo buddy could not breath while lying on his back.

Yeah, how about that? His beer gut was pressing down on his lungs. He laughed and referred to the “40 pound passenger” suffocating him. (Later, I tried the same exercise routine with a 20 pound (9 kg.) weight on my own stomach. Scientific conclusion: It sucks!)

So, I got Stevo to flip over on all fours and perform the cat stretch. Done right, this exercise strengthens the entire range of the erector spinae (six pack) muscles, while also stretching out the spine. It is brilliant when performed correctly.

While on all fours, take a deep breath and exhale, while hunching your back like a cat. Ideally, you should be able to tuck in your tailbone and, at the same time, drop your head downwards.

Now, here is the clincher. Exhale fully to get the most results. Hold that position for at least two seconds. Then inhale and, as your lungs refill, let your spine return to its natural shape (with a slight curve in your lower back).

This exercise not only strengthens your abdominals and stretches your spine, but also improves your digestion. It can be done almost anywhere (like while watching television) and has long-lasting benefits.

Remember to exhale all of your air out and squeeze your abdominal muscles while hunching. Then, let your spine go back to normal in the inhalation.

Repeat four to ten times a day, until you are comfortable with it.

To learn more, click on Flat Gut After 50

Why the Rats Drank on Weekends Only. Night, Light and Boozing Rats.

No kidding. After the scientists went home on a Friday, some lab rats decided to get down and do some partying. Who knows? After a full 40 hour work week of being tested, poked, examined and observed the rats might have felt that they deserved a break whoop it up on the weekend from those humans during the work week. So, did they actually have a Happy Hour instinct or some kind of internal seven day calendar?

Some researchers stumbled across this boozing instinct while studying the effects of stress and drinking habits of rats. Scientists from the Department of Experimental Pharmacology at the Southwest Foundation for Research and Education found that:

“The rats clearly preferred plain water except on weekends when they went on real alcoholic binges. This was perplexing at first but it was noted that the automatic time switch on the lights was out of order and the rats were being left in continuous darkness over weekends.

Another second study kept a group of laboratory rats in total darkness without subjecting them to any anxiety stressTheir preference switched to alcohol and water instead of plain water[i]

Hence, rats, like humans, who hang out in dark areas, like bars, tend to naturally drink more alcohol. This is nothing new. Many people drink more during the dark winter months. It is not just the boredom of those lonely days without sunlight. The lack of light, period, that makes a rat or human want to drink alcohol.

Dr. Irving Geller, Chairman of the Department, referred to this as ‘darkness-induced drinking phenomenon.’ He based his studies on the 1963 by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Julius Axelrod. Axelrod who found that the rat pineal gland produced more melatonin during the dark nighttime period than when it was light.

Dr. Geller then gave injections of pineal melatonin to rats kept on a regular light-dark cycle and not subjected to any anxiety. The injections alone turned these rats into alcoholics.

So people packing this extra melatonin charge might be more prone to drinking than the average person or someone in a sunnier environment.

This writer knows from living in the frozen prairies that the winter months can get depressing when one is stuck indoors most of the time and do not see much of the light of day. I found that regular outdoor activity and some time in a sun tanning booth helped energize me. This also worked when I was working during graveyard shifts. I was able to stay off of the booze.

So, instead of being down on yourself for “winter blues” boozing, see if you feel better using full spectrum light at work and home, sun tanning sessions or better yet, a vacation to a sunnier climate. You should feel healthier for it in the long run.

Learn more: Simple Secrets to Handle Your Alcohol Better: Student’s Edition

[i] McGrath Re, Yahia, M, “Preliminary Data on Seasonally Related Alcohol Dependence,” Department of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, N.J. 07666. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1993 Jul, 54:7, 260–2. Study done with Ken Blum, PhD.

Is It Ever Ok to Shoot a Kid?

I had to shoot this kid.

Because a Sergeant protects his section — end of story. Especially when stuck in a six-month stint in a part of the war-torn, former Yugoslavia known as Croatia. Though no one has heard of it. The media is too busy reporting on Bosnia-Herzegovina. We were supposed to act like castrated, politically-correct errand boys at the same time keep the battle-experienced Croatians and Serbians from killing each other.

Not just killing. Torturing, raping and a host of other nasty things that we Canadian soldiers had to hear about. Then stand by and do nothing.

The Rules of Engagement (ROEs) were very clear that we could only shout warnings, cock our rifles, shoot in the air, shoot in the ground and only shoot at someone if we were in danger.

But, there was not even fine print about what to do when riding along a dusty desert road, in an armoured vehicle and a boy runs at you with a Russian-made, M81 rocket-launcher that was a danger to me. Not to mention the M113 Armour Personnel Carrier and my section riding in it. Here was five or six of us or maybe eight and I don’t know to this day why I was the only one seeing a boy running towards us with a light-weight, disposable rocket launcher.

There was never any information about kids and rocket launchers. Land mines, yes. Home made bombs, yes. Croatian and Serbian soldiers and civilians with pistols and AK47 rifles, yes. Big sniper rifles with silencers on them, yes. Oh yeah. It was all part of the briefing and training before we stepped on that plane to take us to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Croatia.

I was a Sergeant in charge of a section of eight soldiers. We were a mix of regular army from the 2nd Battalion of the PPCLI out of Winnipeg and army reservists from PEI, Newfoundland, Alberta and B.C. I was in charge of leading, administration, logistics and discipline.

Except now it was time to kill this kid. Shoot the stupid kid as he runs towards us with a rocket launcher that is well-known to go right this APC we are riding in and probably cook to death the soldiers inside. I have to shoot him or he will kill all of us. If I do survive, I would tell mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends and children that their sons, husbands, boyfriends and dads are dead because I could not pull a trigger and protect them. Otherwise, my proud act is shooting this stupid kid, who is really kicking up dust, running hard with this tank-killing tube. I must shoot him.

I did not always think like this. Once upon a time, I was a curious kid, a teen who had lost his job as a dishwasher because the schedule conflicted with karate lessons. My mother suggested that I join the army reserves. She had served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, as did my Father — so I was told. My three uncles served in the navy and army, though I had only met one of them.

So, I joined the army reserves and later the regular army and became a paratrooper. Then back to army reserves and the boring civilian world. So, when a chance to help keep the peace overseas came up, I jumped right in. 

Did the army training cost me? Yeah, in poor grades, broken relationships, back aches and sore lungs from breathing in CS gas, smoke bombs and the probable bauxite dust from that red clay and sand that we were filling those 40 pound French sandbags in Croatia with. Croatia, where I lost a few ammo packs of innocence. Where I found myself snatching my cocking handle of my C7 rifle and bringing up my rifle to stop that M81 or M79 or whatever Russian, commie-made launcher designed to go right through the M113 that I was riding in. Was I the only one that saw that kid bearing down on us, swinging that Kremlin bazooka around?

I might have been smarter with my career path and used it to get me through university or college and nailed down a high-paying career, while vigorously dating. Student loans be damned. Better to enjoy myself and pay off a debt later than burn out.

Then there was that kid. The one with the rocket launcher, planning to take all of that away from me with a squeeze of a trigger. I hook the two fingers of my right hand over my rifle’s cocking handle and swing my barrel in the boy’s direction. So young. So damn young.

I had to thank the army though. It has shown me the best and worst in people and has given me solid friends for life. I have lost friends to illness, accidents and suicide. I have also seen my recruits and friends go on to great careers and get married. The army has trained me to accept hardships (God bless the Airborne) and keep going when things seem hopeless. One of my fondest memories was being on my Infantry Section Commander’s Course (ISCC). We were wet and cold, missing food and sleep for 24 hours and sitting in the back of a large truck. One of the guys, reached through a small opened window to the driver and threatened to beat up the driver if the driver did not give up his food and drink. So, 11 of us all shared one apple and one beer. That apple was sweeter than any pastry and that sip of beer was better than single malt scotch. The aroma of apple and beer hung in the air until the truck started moving and the saga continued.

Then there was that kid with the rocket launcher, about to take all of that away from me in a single squeeze of his trigger. Yet, a quick, well-trained squeeze of my own trigger would curse my soul for life.

But he is quicker and the rocket launcher swings towards me first so I, personally, am looking right down the tube. Right through the gawd-forsaken tube. Through the EMPTY tube.

The little moron had run at me with an empty rocket launcher.

My heart is going like a jack-hammer on a hot summer road while my two fingers are hooked over my cocking handle. I notice a couple of Serbian guys, sitting on some stairs, laughing at the spectacle. Those stupid bastards had no idea how close that young boy came to being killed or shot at. Laugh away you bunch of brain-fried cave men.

When I got back to headquarters, the patrol report took longer than usual. At least after my hands stopped shaking. After that incident, it was a day-by-day, hour-by-hour count to leave that place. 

When I returned to Canada, I worked harder than ever to make something more of myself. I bought, managed and lost properties, got through university, ran three more marathons, fell in love, got depressed, taught fitness, was a guest on national CBC radio, won a kick-boxing championship (age 40) got married, climbed Mt. Rainier, had a daughter, got divorced, wrote books. 

Still going at age 61. Will never forget that new lease on life from the kid with the empty rocket launcher. Maybe I will find him one day…

And shake his hand.

What a Stomach Flattening Class Did To Me (Oh, the drama)

Supporting a 220 lb. paratrooper on my stomach

It was the last thing I ever wanted to instruct.

I made a proposal to the St. James continuing education department to instruct night classes. With my military and fitness background, I was all pumped to instruct classes in kick-boxing, outdoor survival, winter survival, martial arts, self-defence, navigating and running. On a whim, I added “Stomach Flattening.” I mean, what the heck, every fitness course in town had some kind of stomach exercise routine, machine or gimmick. What’s one more?

Besides as a wiry-thin athletic type, I only had a short stint of sporting a bit of a paunch. So, except for kick-boxing and military training, it was not a huge concern. 

Well, the school board liked the Stomach Flattening idea and I was soon scrambling to figure out how to fill a whole hour on abdominal exercises without putting the class in the hospital. 

So, I reviewed everything that I had learned over the years and sought out books and people who knew more about the subject than me. It turned out that there was more to a flat stomach than mere cosmetics. One book, Bloody Iron by Michael H. Brown and Harold Jenks, describes how strong abdominal muscles helped if one was in a knife fight. The logic was that the strong abdominal wall would keep the internal organs inside of the rib cage, where the ribs would provide more protection than than belly flab. 

The course was a success and I taught it for over seven years. As I did this, I was constantly researching and getting feed back from trainees. Some movements were too hard, some too easy and few people liked hearing that four-lettered word: diet. I drew on martial arts and yoga training and later became a qualified Pilates instructor. The results that people were achieving were not just cosmetic. They were reporting more energy, less lower back and joint pain and more attention from their spouses. Some of the trainees started to take some of my other courses and even become fitness instructors themselves. It was cool seeing people improve their confidence. 

The success of the Stomach Flattening course Its success gained me credibility to instruct other courses like women’s kick-boxing and self-defence. Many aspects, like making exercise enjoyable and the importance of posture and form, crossed over to other courses and my instructing in general. Then there were different metabolic types, ages, social aspects and people with different motivations. 

What might have conformed into just another aerobics dance class, evolved into a fairly complex system of postures, breathing, sequences and martial arts movements. Of course, the cardio crowd complained as did the non-exercising crowd and the over-weight people who accused me of not knowing what it is really like (to be over-weight) or have a kinesiology or medical degree, so how could I speak with any authority, etc. etc. How dare I!

Yet, it is so cool that something as simple as “Stomach Flattening,” could develop into a complex system that went beyond the usual “Calories in, Calories out,” mentality. 

This stomach flattening project, It reminds me of a friend who quit a secure job as an officer in the military to become a carpenter. He is constantly improving his skills and projects, that he puts his heart and soul into.

I feel the same way about this stomach flattening course. It has now led me to writing the book, Flat Gut After 50, which has led me into the world of publishing and promotion. 

It all starts with something seemingly simple. When you run with it and ignore the naysayers, you can find a whole new confidence in yourself. 

I Was So Damn Scared (of How a Pivot Point Changed My Life): And What To Do About It.

So damn scared in high school in Surrey, B.C. ? Heck, it had always been a tough time for an underweight teen, especially from grades nine to twelve. Age 15 to 18. 1973 to 1976. Despite practising karate (special thanks to Trevor Walden) and lifting weights, I was still a target for the growth-spurting jocks or their superior numbers. This meant a getting slammed into lockers, books being knocked out of my hands, punched, taunts and getting choked to the point of nearly blacking out. (Who ever heard of getting that kind of treatment in the workplace?)

I roll my eyes when people say that high school was their “best years.”

In 1976, I left high school at age 18, weighing in at 120 pounds (54 kg.) vowing never to be a target again. Over the next four years I packed on 35 pounds (15 kg.)of muscle, ran a full marathon and served with the Canadian Airborne Regiment. In 1980, at age 22, I was on the receiving end of a beating in a drunken brawl. This was my “branching” event, which I vowed never to repeat.

For eight months, I trained hard at kick-boxing. I even hired a hypnotherapist to help me overcome “punch shyness.” My health, relationships and school marks from the BCIT vocational school (electronics) all suffered. But, I did not care.

In June of 1981, at age 24, I got my break. As a last-minute replacement, I went to a match at the PNE gardens in front of over 600 people. Even my coach was shaking with anxiety, while he was taping my hands. Scared.

By the time that I climbed into the kick-boxing ring I was nervous enough as it was. Scared was an understatement. When, out of nowhere, I hear the shout of one the high school bullies (Ron Henneberry, you low-life creep). He screams, “Kill the skinny wimp. Kill the skinny wimp!”

It was not good enough to degrade me during my high school years. The bastard had to, no, needed to keep me down even now.

But, it is show time. The bell rings. Me and the other guy in the ring kind of shuffle forward to meet each other in the center. He nails me with a spinning back fist, which I do not register right away as he is left handed. Then, the game is on and he is on me, pummelling away and forcing me into the ropes.

The crowd is just screaming. Screaming for the excitement of a quick kill or maybe a couple of voices out there rooting for me. I don’t know. I roll with a lopping hook that slides off of my forehead and slam a right gloved fist into his ribs and catch him with a left hook to his head.

He steps back and there we are staring at each other again, panting like steam engines. Because he is standing right side towards me, his left side was wide open. Without a second thought, I unload a right roundhouse kick, that he must have seen coming a mile away. It was dumb move. I never, ever lead with that right roundhouse kick. But, it was all I had at the time.

And he is in too close for my padded foot to make contact with his stomach.Instead, my bony shin chops his ribs. And down he goes. Face forward into the canvas, like he is hugging the floor for safety.

I am so stunned at what just happened, that the referee has to guide me to one of the “neutral corners,” of the ring. As I stand there listening to the screams (and protests?) of the crowd, I am really hoping that he stays down and we can be done with this whole thing.

Nope. He stands up before the “eight count” is complete and I gestured back into the center of the ring.

When the bell rings, I go off, adrenaline fuelled and unload another roundhouse kick with everything behind it. No time to think about tactics or anything else. I cannot let him recover. I am scared that he will come back at me stronger and angrier.

But, like a replay, he folds over again. Kind of like lying on the mat is a safe place to be.

It seems like slow motion as he folds over and his knees start to bend, when swing my leg around and kick him again. This time to his head, which, even with the headgear, sends him spinning to the ground. This time, he stays down for the full 10 seconds.

I think it is a no-brainer for the judges as the referee raises my arm as the winner and the roar goes up from the crowd and for a few seconds, I literally feel d-r-u-n-k with the praise, victory, approval, extra adrenaline, I still don’t know. I just know that after that, it felt good to be a winner.

Over the next few years, I compete in kick-boxing around the country and Hong Kong and, being a young man in my twenties, I did occasionally deal with some unruly people. It was not about the trophies, reputation or what other people thought. But, internally, there was less the fear of getting hurt, or much worse, public embarrassment. That was the big scare: public put downs. This realisation served me well, when I had to make presentations, face down some very angry people (like Serbian villagers packing AK47 automatic rifles) and even asking for a date (which is scarier than looking down the wrong end of an automatic rifle) . The fear never leaves. But, I recognise and handle it best I can.

All due to that beating and a vow. It was that point where I made the commitment to do the work to win. Without that commitment, I might still wallow in scared self-doubt.

So, reader, what does it take to make your own commitment? At what point do you have to take a beating to face your own fear?

Regards,

Coach Doug, author of Flat Gut After 50