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What a Karate Weapon Taught Me About Achieving Big Goals

What a Karate Weapon Taught Me About Achieving Big Goals
    Photo credit: T4LLBERG (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    When I used to watch martial artists with various weaponry, I was always amazed with their skills. The way they spun and manipulated their weapons was nothing short of magical to my eyes. It wasn’t long before I started training with martial arts weaponry myself.

    One of these weapons was the bo staff, which is like a long stick. Although perhaps one of the more basic weapons (since it really is only a stick), the bo staff can be manipulated in all sorts of impressive ways. But when I first started to use a bo staff, it was absolutely brutal.

    I was so clumsy with it; I often ended up hitting myself on the head, my elbows, knees and shins. And since the bo staff is a long weapon, I needed to have ample room to train with it. Initially when I tried to use it indoors, I ended up poking holes in the ceiling and walls. And this is when the lessons began.

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    Lesson 1: Big Goals, Too Distant

    Because of the lack of room indoors, I had to take my bo staff training outdoors. I was still at my clumsy stage as mastery of this karate weapon seemed like something that was too far off in the distance.

    Sometimes my neighbors would be watching me as I tried to work on various techniques outside with my bo staff. I could just imagine them shaking their heads as they wondered why I was going through such torture beating myself up with this long stick. But despite my difficulties, I didn’t give up.

    Indeed, many of our big goals in life are like this. They seem to be so distant that we wonder if achieving them would ever become possible at all. But we don’t give up with the hopes that we can reach them.

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    Lesson 2: Expand Comfort Zones Little By Little

    I started out with some of the more easy and basic moves. Then as I got better, I added more technical and difficult moves with my bo staff. I was expanding my own comfort zone little by little with each training day. I slowly worked on the techniques I was not very comfortable with. Over time, something magical happened.

    In essence, the bo staff, my body, mind and spirit all started to merge together into one unit, much like the martial artists I had admired for their weaponry skills. I started to get good enough with the bo staff that I was able to perform a routine (or martial arts weapons form) that started to win in competitions.

    Since I was originally not skilled with the bo staff, my comfort zone with it was pretty well just standing there holding it without doing anything too fancy. I was only able to learn how to use it with more complex maneuvers when I slowly expanded my comfort zone each day with it.

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    Lesson 3: Big Goals, Same Approach

    What this karate weapon taught me was that this same approach could be used for all big goals in life.  They could be goals related to business, career, school, health or even martial arts weaponry (like in my case). It didn’t matter how remote it seemed, but by slowly expanding your comfort zone in the process, big goals can be achieved.

    All big goals require the mastery of different skills, which are outside of your comfort zone at first. By slowly expanding your comfort zone a bit each day to work on these skills, you will eventually accomplish what you had hoped for.

    Conclusion

    The bo staff has since become part of my motivation and diversity keynote presentations as it sets me apart from other professional speakers. So even though I’m retired from martial arts competition, the bo staff is still very much a part of my life. It helps me demonstrate the important principle of expanding comfort zones for any big goals that people may have.

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    It is truly a great weapon to have in my arsenal.

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    Last Updated on July 28, 2020

    14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

    14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

    Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

    What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

    The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

    Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

    It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

    Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

    In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

    Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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    Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

    1. Quinoa

    GI: 53

    Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

    2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

    GI: 50

    Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

    3. Corn on the Cob

    GI: 48

    Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

    4. Bananas

    GI: 47

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    Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

    They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

    5. Bran Cereal

    GI: 43

    Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

    6. Natural Muesli

    GI: 40

    Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

    7. Apples

    GI: 40

    Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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    8. Apricots

    GI: 30

    Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

    Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

    9. Kidney Beans

    GI: 29

    Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

    10. Barley

    GI: 22

    Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

    Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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    11. Raw Nuts

    GI: 20

    Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

    12. Carrots

    GI: 16

    Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

    13. Greek Yogurt

    GI: 12

    Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

    14. Hummus

    GI: 6

    When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

    Bottom Line

    If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

    More Tips on Eating Healthy

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

    Reference

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