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Holiday Shopping Self-Defense

Holiday shopping can frazzle the brain. Shoppers are trying to remember gift lists while simultaneously calculating whether it's better to use a coupon or sign up for an in-store credit card. Personal safety at the mall and in the parking lot is the last thing on most people's minds, but it should truly be top of mind.

Poorly lit parking garages, arms full of packages, keys buried in the bottom of overflowing purses, and other factors can make shoppers particularly easy targets for predators. To help you stay safe this holiday shopping season, consider the following list of personal safety tips.

1. Stay aware of your surroundings by scanning your environment.

No matter how busy you are, do not allow your mind to wander. It might seem important in the moment to be making a to-do list in your head, but if you're worrying about appetizers for tomorrow's holiday party, you might not notice someone following you to your vehicle.

2. Even if it means that you have to walk a bit farther, park in well-lit areas.

It is best to avoid shopping after sundown, but if you must do so, try to bring a friend or family member along with you. When you park, avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows. You want to keep your car as visible to as many people as possible. Also avoid parking next to tall shrubs or plants that could block views of your vehicle.

3. Don't wear your bag or purse so that the strap crosses your body.

Wearing a strap across your body makes you more connected to your bag. If someone tries to steal your purse, you will be pulled with the strap. You can become unbalanced and put into a vulnerable position, or you could end up in a physical altercation with the assailant. If your purse is draped on one shoulder, you can easily let go of it.

4. Dress casually and comfortably.

The mall during holiday shopping season is not the time to make a fashion statement. It is better to leave the high heels and flashy accessories at home. Jeans and sneakers will help you blend in, and if needed, enable you to make a quick getaway. Also avoid wearing large and expensive-looking jewelry that can draw additional attention to you.

5. Don't hesitate to ask a security guard to walk you to your car.

If you are shopping at night, and the crowds at the mall have thinned out for the day, taking an extra step to stay safe is always a good idea. Or, plan ahead and pay the few extra dollars to valet park your car so you do not have to walk alone with arms full of bags.


Greenway Student Highlight— Beren Carroll

What is your name and age?

My name is Beren Sebastian Carroll, and I was named after a character in Lord of the Rings. I can usually pass for about 25 years old. J 

When did you join Elite MMA?

I have been training under coaches Mitch Norton and Pepe Aguilar since December of 2014. 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

When I was 13 my dad encouraged me to train, and I enrolled in Tae Kwon Do for a number of years and eventually earned my black belt. As I finished college and started my career I stopped attending as much and eventually took a break. After working for a few years I realized that I was not fulfilled without passions and hobbies that extended beyond the work place. My exact decision to restart training came as I watched a fight between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes in Oct 2014. Imagine if Conor was on the scene in 2010 – I would have my brown belt by now!

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

As I was considering MMA gyms I was afraid that people would hurt me. I had a lot of misconceptions about the safety precautions that we have and the culture of taking care of your training partners.


Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

As mentioned, I have a Tae Kwon Do blackbelt. This is my first time with any of the grappling arts. I train cardio kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Jui Jitsu. Additionally, I take special Greenway location classes including Late Night Legs con Pepe, White Collar Brawler lunch classes, and Yoga for Jiu Jitsu. 

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

I figured it would either a big waste of money or an awesome transformative experience. It helped that Mitch could relate to my career in oil and gas. Back in my day you had to go to two separate rooms for Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing, so the instructors had to do a lot to sell the experience. During my trial free lesson I asked Mitch to put me in a triangle to see if I thought Jiu Jitsu was real. His thighs sold me. 

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

I believe my martial arts training has contributed to a much better overall lifestyle. Like many I have made gains in my fitness and fighting skills. However, I was surprised by the number of great friendships that I made and the reduced stress in my daily life. For me, these are bigger wins than getting to the next belt or the next level.

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

Sure! We have a few great traditions. Jose has several birthdays each year, the UFC events we do are really fun, and don’t roll with Misa “Pizzah” Nguyen unless you have a death wish!

No one ever made it to Valhalla by pulling guard!



Westheimer Instructor Highlight: Trevin Giles

Birth place: San Antonio Texas 

Profession: Student and instructor 

What classes do you teachKids BJJcardio kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA 

What martial art(s) have trained in: BJJ, Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling

Number of years of training martial arts:  Started training in December 2011

When did you start teaching at Elite MMA? Started teaching 03/25/15 

What is a memorable moment for you at Elite MMA? Winning my first amateur MMA fight. 

In your own words why do you enjoy Elite MMA? I enjoy Elite MMA because of all the positivity that comes with being a member.  I enjoy the fact that when I am here I know that everybody is here to help me through any problem that I am having. That kind of energy really makes Elite a comfortable learning environment.

Do you have any martial arts accomplishments that you are proud of and why? An accomplishment that I am proud of is stepping into the cage to fight because it is something that not many people are willing to do and it was a fear of mine that I conquered with the help of everyone at Elite. 

Are there any professional accomplishments that you are proud of and why? I am proud of being one of the few people in my family to go to college and stick through it as long as I have and I am proud knowing that soon I will be the first in my family to graduate. 

What hobbies do you enjoy and why? I enjoy all sports from MMA to basketball. I am an athletic person so I pretty much enjoy any sport I get the chance to play.

Any memorable family moments that you would like to share? A memorable family moment that I have is when my first niece was born.  It felt great to have her as a new addition to the family and it felt great to be an uncle.

Academic accomplishments: An academic accomplishment that I have is graduating high school and currently finishing up my undergraduate degree.

If you could walk us through a day or week in your life what would it consist of? A week in my life would consist of going to school in the morning, doing homework when I get home, going to work or training after I’m done studying or sometimes before, and going home to prepare for the next day.

Nutrition For Our Children

Nowhere are the adverse effects of the Standard American Diet (SAD) more visible than in the current nutritional status of American children. Poor nutritional intake beginning in the womb, followed by a diet of highly processed, refined, high fat, high sugar, low fiber “foods” has led to a generation of children who are often nutritionally deficient in essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. As parents, we need to remember that children are not just little adults. They are developing human beings. And as developing human beings, we know that nutritional deficiencies occurring in the early stages of that development will create long-term health issues later in life.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant essential fatty acid in the brain, and is essential for normal, healthy brain structure and function. Studies in babies and children demonstrate that higher DHA levels help to support learning and cognitive function. Similar results are seen in adolescents, where DHA also supports higher learning skills. Given the poor, high-fat diet which most children consume, DHA supplementation in the range of 400-600 mg per day should be recommended for most children. Omega-3 Liquid is a pleasant tasting, concentrated source of DHA, providing 500 mg of DHA per teaspoonful.

This same Standard American Diet often leads to poor gastrointestinal (GI) and poor immune health. When this situation is accompanied by the usage of antibiotics, a common practice in children, it can result in a compromised situation for the essential healthy bacteria normally found in the gut. The healthy bacteria in the gut are essential for suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria, helping to support the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients, and helping to support healthy immune function. The bacterial strains found in Children’s Acidophilus can help provide support for immune health.

Children’s Chewable Vitamin with Acidophilus is a solid recommendation for daily nutritional support. It is a pleasant tasting, chewable multiple vitamin/mineral formulation of nutrients shown to be essential for the healthy development of children. Lactobacillus acidophilus is also included in the product to help support GI and immune health. Vitamin C supports numerous biological functions in the body, not the least of which is immune function. Vitamin C 500 mg Orange Chewable helps to support immune function in children and protect them during times of stress or exposure to colds and flu.

A sound, protein-based start for the day has been shown to enhance learning and alertness of children in school.  A breakfast “smoothie” consisting of Perfect Protein Powder along with whole foods, such as berries and greens, and added supplements such as Omega-3 Liquid, is a much healthier beginning for the day than our typical carbohydrate-laden breakfasts. These smoothies are an excellent means to provide proper nutrition so that children can do their best.


Ashley Nguyen, PharmD  

Zoetic Compounding Pharmacy


Ashley has been a student at Elite MMA since 2005.  She is currently a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  She founded Girls in Gi’s in 2009, which was a project she took on to empower and enroll women mentally and physically and by using BJJ as the platform for that. She is also a wife, mother, and a pharmacist that loves helping people to feel better, perform better, or just feel as normal as possible. 



Baytown Student Highlight— Ryan Wartenbach

What is your name and age?

Ryan Wartenbach, 9 years old

When did you join Elite MMA?

July 2014 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I began training in Judo at age 5 because it looked fun and I loved it more finding Jujitsu when I turned 7 years old.  Love learning new moves, escapes, sweeps and chokes.  Also love teaching others and showing them technique so they can love the sport as much as I do.   

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?


Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

No, I’ve taken Judo in past from age 5-7 and ranked up to Judo brown belt currently in Jujitsu as yellow/white belt 


If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

Getting over nervousness of being a leader and competitions.  My instructors and my training have been my motivation for becoming a leader for my class they encourage me and push me to better every time I train and I want to be a coach like them when I grow up. 

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

Since joining Elite MMA I have advanced to yellow-white belt and feel I am gaining confidence and skill with every roll.  I’ve competed in several competitions such as Grappling Games, Naga, Fight to Win and in-house tournaments and have seen nervousness and 3rd place metals turn to confidence and double gold!!   

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

Never doubt your size or strength you can do whatever you set your mind to and whatever you do “DO IT 100%!!”



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