Are You Healthy Enough To SURVIVE?

Recently I took a self-defense/handgun training Workshop from one of my favorite groups, APT.   

These guys spend a lot of time getting me up to speed and better at working guns, self defense and just all-around being better in scenarios. One of the things they press the most however is not the use of guns but rather knowing the situation and never needing to actually use your gun. To be aware and smart and make better decisions.

Leading up to this class I was listening to some of my favorite podcasts and they had a guest, similar in training and profession talking about his ideas. I was interested in hearing a different point of view.  

You’ve got to search out other angles in life to gain perspective so I do. I was quite happy that this expert expressed many of the same ideas I have gained from the guys I love but just expressed them differently.   

Even if you don’t make it through this article – get this one point and you’ll be better off in life.

The overlying principal from the best instructors is always this:

Do everything you can to never be in a fight in the first place.

By the time you’re exchanging punches or knife slashes or bullets, it’s already got to the extreme and you are in a world of hurt.

Not always, but often, there are a million things you can do to keep it from getting to the “fight for your life” stage. Despite making their money by teaching fighting skills, here’s how you come out alive – the main point expressed is you prep yourself to not let it get to that point.

Many of these experts (or the good ones at least) will tell you the best things that you can do to avoid an emergency or survive in situations actually have to do with things well outside of a typical survival scenario.    

For instance:  Are you in shape enough to run away? Are you healthy enough to not die from a heart attack when your adrenaline spikes? Can you lift something, drag something or get somebody else to safety if you need to? Can you look up from your phone for a minute when you are walking out a back alley at 2 am after 5 drinks?

This was a topic of conversation with my doctors and staff in my clinic this morning because I found it quite interesting and very much along the lines of what I try to push on SportsDocDC as well as BeAwesome365.

So with no further ado -today’s column will be called Are You Healthy Enough to Survive?

This is serious business and should be ingrained as scary and intense, but that’s not really the style of this website so plan on some over-the-top scenarios, where things like public active shooting and carjacking will be substituted for Space Aliens and Volcanoes. I still try to keep it humorous and light as that’s just my style but these are real issues that measure a baseline of health and should be eye-opening.

You need to put yourself into real situations from time to time, as your brain sees this as role-playing and practice.  Even if it’s imaginary, You never want a scenario to be “the first time” -even if the other times were visualization and mental practice. Prep your body, prep your brain to minimize “the freeze!” when the real deal deep stuff goes down.

Now look, I’m all for learning how to survive and run guns and tactical training. It’s fun, it’s intense and its something new – I find it exhilarating, engaging and I seriously enjoy it – it makes me manly  – but any instructor worth their salt stresses the MO (main objective) of any mission (my life) is to make it home to my wife and kids. To survive and live. – so listen up –

You are a million times more likely to die from a heart attack than from a terrorist attack!

In fact, there are more Bicycling deaths and significantly more auto accident deaths than mass shootings.

As in…You are going to be in crazy traffic way more often than in cross hairs!

If you die from a heart condition and leave the kids and spouse at home – you failed the mission buddy.  Run the odds – play the odds. This isn’t Vegas and you can win.

Prepping for the least likely scenario is smart.

Failing to prep for the more likely scenarios is careless.

The guys I go to to learn to fight continue to always stress the importance of “the most likely.” The biggest impact on your survival.

1) be in shape  (this will kill you first – more people die of heart attacks than bullets)

2) learn how to drive a car better. Practice real-world defensive driving and anticipating issues as far more people die of auto accidents than knife wounds.

3) avoid crappy situations and pay attention  Awareness saves more lives than hospitals. More people get mugged because they have their hands full of groceries with have a PTA meeting in 10 minutes, have 3 kids at home that need to do homework, need to get dinner on the table and are walking out to a dark parking lot where a white van has pulled up along their car and they are staring into their iPhone and not seeing any of this. Look around and see the situation.

4) 5) 6) 7)  I can go on and on. Finally around number…

17) fight back! God forbid you ever have to, but it just got real and your switch needs to be able to go at “g…” A mindset you have to be ready for and practice.

This article covers #1 only. Being healthy enough to get away and LIVE!

To Survive and Live another day you should be able to:

  1. Run around the block. A city block. As in X marks the spot.  Get off the damn X! You need to be able to get yourself away from danger. Any active shooter scenario shows this over and over again. This is real-life survival here and the hard truth is that many out there in the “survival game” just don’t have it.  They can run their $3000 guns like John Wick on acid but couldn’t run away from the neighbor’s shitzu if attacked when taking out the garbage.

I think being able to run is overestimated for a lot of people as we all have a mental image of ourselves in “close to our peak shape .” If you want a true test of overestimation, my favorite self-test is to run 1 lap at the track. 1 lap! Time yourself. And guys, that’s only a ¼ mile, probably not even far enough to avoid bombing planes or tanks rolling in.    I’m in pretty good shape, and I’m slower on the ¼ mile than I was in high school. Significantly slower. Running fast is just not something we practice much as we get older. We need it though. Or…

plan on being captured and traded as slaves to the intergalactic warlords or shipped off to Siberian mining camps.

2. Lift ½ your body weight

This should really be able to lift all of your own body weight, actual poundage or kilos.  In several emergencies, you may have to move something out of the way, move cover and concealment over you or have a need to hide or throw a desk over. There is any number of reasons you should be strong enough. Just 3 seconds ago I had a patient say to me, “As long as I don’t lift my own suitcases on this vacation, I’ll be fine.” hmm. I don’t think you really will.

3. Quickly get in the backseat and out the other side.    

Move dammit! Real-life emergency situations don’t happen in spaces the size of airport terminal hallways like the movies show.  Chucky, the 80’s horror movie doll is coming at you with a knife and you need to escape, NOW! Get your body moving in new positions.

4. Sprint 60 feet

60 feet is pathetic, I don’t think it will save you but it’s a bare-bones minimum because that’s the distance across the street in a typical downtown. It doesn’t even come close to you avoiding a falling jet but the amount of danger you can avoid by simply crossing the street is amazing and if you can do it super fast you are probably 95% safer.   The street thug isn’t wasting his effort cutting across traffic to follow you, he’s looking for easy, soft targets.

5. Crawl

That’s right, it’s down there next to the ground. Your kids love it down there, there’s lots of interesting stuff.  You should join them…often.

How on earth you just woke up in the middle of the newest Star Wars movie is unknown to me. But buddy, there are blue and red laser beams flying everywhere at chest level and the smoke from the fire of the crashed spaceships is starting to fill the hallways.  Get low and get moving!

6. Jump a 4 to 6 foot fence

Every fence is 6 feet minimum, but I’ll give you 4 for starters only because my staff thought that was unfair.   Every movie that takes place in a Big City has a scene where a guy is trapped in an alley with a fence while being chased by dogs, thugs, ghosts…whatever. Getting your butt over a fence is real life, age-extending emergency necessity. You have got to have this in your arsenal.

7. Pickup hoops/soccer 20 min.

I’ve got back into this after a long time off.  The rapid change of direction was something I just haven’t practiced and in any scenario, I can dream up, this ability would most likely help save your life.  I preach sports science to my athletes often, “a tenth of a second equals 2 feet on a court or field.” 2 feet!

If it takes you ½ a second to turn around and change the direction that’s 10 feet!    It makes an incredible impact in sports and a life-saving impact in an emergency. If you can’t “act” during an emergency, you most likely are going to end up “reacting.” Let’s at least hope your reaction is decent. It could cost you dearly.

8. Get away – walk or jog one mile/2 kilometers.  

Hopefully, you realize that this is prep, not the actual emergency. If 2K just left you exhausted, you’re in trouble. The Zombie Horde never tires and they are on your trail. The first mile just gave you breathing room and time to think. Honestly, with survival end of the world type scenarios, you should be able to pack 10-20 miles a day if necessary.  

In one of my classes, an instructor told us a story about a partner of his caught up during an earthquake in Haiti. It was total chaos and looked like hell on earth. It took him nearly 7 hours to get back to the hotel that was just 1 mile away!  He had no water and was wearing office shoes. He had no choice though. What if you just physically couldn’t do it? There is no ambulance, Nat’l Guard, or police coming to help you! It’s an emergency! You’re on your own!

9. Do A Pull up 

Again, 1 is pretty low. It’s not even standard physical fitness. There are only a million scenarios I can think of where you would have to pull your own body weight up. Getting back into a raft after falling out is just an easy first. I’ve been in that raft and seen an adrenaline racked, scared out of her wits, mom of kids, just physically not able to pull herself into the safety of a raft.  It’s scary! What happens when you have to scale the outside of a Vegas Hotel?

10. Swim across the pool

Swimming is a HUGE equalizer for even some of the fittest. Did Anybody else tune into the CrossFit championships a few years ago when the 50 most jacked, most fit people on planet earth got thrown into a swim?  Two of them quit on the spot from sheer panic. And these are the fittest. Believe it or not, your caveman and native ancestors didn’t have bridges. They got across the damn river or became a Sabre Tooth Tiger’s snack box. You can do this.

11. Skip 2 meals

Or 2 days’ worth of meals. You’re not going to die. Heck, if you read some of my other articles you’ll see that depending on how you eat daily, you may not even be hungry.   You may have to hide out in a barn or in a cave somewhere for a day or more someday. You’ll be OK.

12. Be, NOT the slowest of all your friends and those around you.

You know what they say about being chased by a hungry bear in Alaska right?  You don’t have to be the fastest, just make damn sure you’re not the slowest.

A quick tip from one of my special forces buddies. “IF you find that you are actually in a run for your life AND your life actually does depend on speed  AND you are indeed the slowest – kick your buddy in the kneecap and keep running.

OK, here we go. 12 objectives that I feel are pretty much a bare-bones minimum to being healthy enough to survive. It was probably my favorite article to write and discuss and heck, maybe I’ll pursue a book about this – it’s fun to think about but more importantly it should be eye-opening and real. It’s important by God! It’s important for you and your family and should be both a goal and a severe wake-up call for some.

Oh, I forgot to tell you, we’re keeping score, this is your life we’re talking about.

Tier it out:

“I can do 1-3.”

Just lay down and give up. You’re no help.

“I can do 4-6.”

You are probably in the way and are making it harder for the pros to do their job.

“I can do 7-10”

If you are absolutely diligent about spacial awareness, always on alert for danger, can anticipate and react to changing scenarios, act on your gut instinct/spidey sense – if all that works out just perfectly AND you kind of get to direct your own script here… well then I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance you survive.  But…the idea was to avoid a fight. You are going to have to fight. I hope you’ve trained. If you haven’t, send me an email, and I’ll get you in touch with some of the best!

“I can do 11-12.”

You nailed it!

Great! That’s a minimum. Keep living buddy! I’ll see you in TEOTWASKI aftermath!

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