Go to Navigation Go to Content


Kingwood Student Highlight— David Burkley

What is your name and age?

David C. Burkley, 34 years old

When did you join Elite MMA?

I joined Elite MMA in November of 2016

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I started taking martial arts as means of incorporating exercise and physical activity into my life. I’ve probably had a membership at every traditional gym/health club in Houston and I could never find a program engaging enough to hold my attention. I loathe walking on a treadmill or doing the same repetitive exercise for hours. I enjoy Elite MMA because each class offers an interactive experience that’s both challenging and empowering.

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

Growing up my only experience with martial arts was through 1980’s action movies. I had friends who took karate and other things, but those types of extracurricular activities simply weren’t in the family budget. I was also overweight as a child, so martial arts seemed more like a thing of fantasy than reality.

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

When I started at Elite MMA I was only participating in the Cardio Kickboxing class twice a week and making it through the entire 45 minutes was quite the task. After a month or so I increased to three Kickboxing classes a week. After about 90 days at Elite I was participating in both the Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu classes three times a week consistently.

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

My only concern with joining Elite MMA centered around the fear of not being able to physical keep up with the pace of the classes. The unknowns of starting any new journey can be intimidating for even the most confident of us and I just wasn’t sure if I had what it would take be a part of something like a mixed martial arts program. But even from the first day I walked into the Kingwood location Coach Jordan and Coach Tyler were adamant about encouraging me to do things at my own pace and letting my journey be my own. I’m certain without their sincere commitment to students’ success and constant motivation I would not have survived the first 90 days.

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

Since joining Elite in November 2016, my entire life has changed. I’ve lost about 65 pounds and I’m literally the healthiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. This life change has been the catalyst for so many great things: I got married in April 2017 and we’re expecting a baby girl in February of 2018. She’s definitely getting a Jiu-Jitsu Gi for her 5th birthday! I received a promotion at work into a National Leadership role and completed two belt tests! While I’m still very much a white belt, any level of promotion at something I didn’t think I could do is a big deal to me.

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

If someone is looking for an avenue to change their life, there isn’t one more effective, inspiring, and uplifting than learning martials arts at a school like Elite MMA Kingwood. My best advice would be to just get started. No matter your physical ability or past experiences if you commit to yourself, Coach Jordan and Coach Tyler will commit to you. Just keep showing up, give yourself your best, and let your journey be your journey.


Baytown Instructor Highlight: Julian Vega

Birth place: Houston, Texas

Profession: Martial arts instructor

What classes do you teach: Kids Brazilian Jiu-JitsuTeens Brazilian Jiu-JitsuAdult Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

What martial art(s) have trained in: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu : 2008-Present

Number of years of training martial arts: I started training MMA/BJJ at Elite MMA Baytown in April of 2008.

When did you start teaching at Elite MMA?

I started teaching about 6 months after i joined. One of the instructors couldn’t make it to the class and i was asked to help. After that i just started assisting in every kids class.

What is a memorable moment for you at Elite MMA?

I was helping teach kids Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class and one of the kids was having a little trouble in class. So after class i took time and showed him a move he could use. The next day he comes in and uses the move that I showed him on every single student. So after class the kid and the mother came, and the kid thanked me for showing him the move and I could see how happy he was about using what I showed him. The mother was so thankful that I took time just to help her son. And all I did was just show him a simple technique that works for me and to me it wasn’t something special it was me helping a student, and I felt very appreciated for sharing that knowledge with him.

In your own words why do you enjoy Elite MMA?

I love Elite MMA, it’s such a great school, it’s a very friendly environment, everyone is there to help each other, we have amazing instructors, and amazing students. Elite MMA is my home away from home, even when I visit Westheimer I am welcomed with open arms. I love that feeling.

Do you have any martial arts accomplishments that you are proud of and why?

I have won several tournaments in my BJJ career. I like to go compete and put it all out there for Elite, my coaches, my students, but mainly for myself. I was very proud when I received my blue belt and proud when I received my purple belt in BJJ. It shows the progress in my life and all the hard work that I have put into something I love.

Are there any professional accomplishments that you are proud of and why?

Just being a instructor and sharing every little bit of knowledge with all the students

What hobbies do you enjoy and why?

I love to watch movies, it’s my get away from everything. And I love music I'm amused by the lyrics that people create there’s never two songs that are the same. I enjoy video games and playing the guitar, just seems like there is not enough time for it all.

Any memorable family moments that you would like to share?

July 5th my parents had their 25th year anniversary and its so wonderful to see two people together for so long and still in love. And on October 11th 2009 I became a proud uncle. My brother had a daughter and it’s such a great feeling to have a new family member.

If you could walk us through a day or week in your life what would it consist of?

I wake up every day wondering what’s going to be going on with the gym. I arrive at the gym and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Amazing instructors to answer every question I have, and amazing training partners who push me to my limit. When I’m training I get away from everything and just get to live life through martial arts. After training I’m working the front desk assisting anyone who has any questions about the gym and sharing with them the wonders of Elite MMA and what it has brought to me. In the afternoon I train more... it’s my passion I enjoy every single second of my life when I’m at elite. Then I go home, shower, and can’t wait till the next day to do it all over again!!

How to Stop Overeating Once and For All

You had one too many drinks last Saturday evening because it’s the weekend anyway! At dinner last night, your dessert craving for chocolate cake turned out to be a binge - one tempting slice after another.

And today,  you stuffed yourself with five buttery rolls at the office potluck. You originally intended to have only two of the delish rolls, but they were just too yummy to ignore.

We’ve all been there, and we all know how those post-binge episodes go — from guilt to frustration to promising yourself that it’s going to be the last! (Not to mention the dreaded food coma...)

You thought you’ve overcome overeating for good, yet it turns out that you’re back to square one when it comes to getting your cravings under control.

Why is it so hard to break out of this cycle?

Is there a way to kick this ceaseless habit for good?

Does it have to do with self control and having an endless supply of willpower?

Or is there some otherworldly, mystical force that you need to tap on in order to break free from binge-eating episodes?

To help us figure out if it’s sorcery or science, this article is divided into two parts.

First, you’ll learn about the possible reasons why it’s so tempting to finish a large box of pizza all by yourself. Second, you’ll discover how to put an end to overeating and finally take your body composition goals seriously.

With obesity affecting more than one-third of the U.S. adult population, getting out of the binge-diet cycle remains a puzzle to many.

To have a greater understanding as to how overeating happens, it makes sense to initially get a grasp of how our appetite, or the desire to eat, works.

Understanding Overeating


It’s worth noting that appetite is a tad different from hunger. Think of hunger as a need to eat breakfast while appetite is more like a desire to eat that sliver of cake after lunch.

At a fundamental level, hunger and appetite are influenced by a network of pathways involving the neuroendocrine system. Appetite regulation, satiety, and energy balance involves the following:

  • your gut (it’s the largest endocrine organ in the body!)
  • a cocktail of hormones
  • your brain

The smart folks over at ASAPscience simplified the science of hunger and appetite in a two-minute video below. It talks about the body’s hunger-regulation system and why we’re tempted to go for second helpings.

In essence, energy-dense foods rich in fat and sugar were extremely desirable to our hunter-gatherer ancestors for survival because they were scarce. However, this instinct for fatty and sugary meals remains even though these types of food are now available 24/7.

Eventually, the continual intake of fat and sugar overrides the human body’s natural hunger regulation system, leading to habitual overeating.

In a nutshell, the more you gorge on food laced with too much fat and sugar, the more likely that you’re going to get addicted to it.


Another way of understanding appetite is to look at it from the perspective of eating for two main reasons— as a response to hunger (homeostatic) and for pleasure (hedonic).

In a review of studies differentiating the two, the researchers described that homeostatic hunger is the result of the prolonged absence of energy intake or food itself, while hedonic hunger is strongly influenced by the availability and palatability of food in your environment. Furthermore, a 2016 study found out that intense feelings of pleasure derived from palatable foods (hedonic hunger) predicts the likelihood of losing control when eating among female college freshmen.


At first thought, it seems like putting an end to overeating is simply a matter of telling your brain to stop consuming food. Yet we all know that it’s not that easy, right?

Your brain may be the main driving force behind your appetite, but it’s not acting alone.

The frequency and the amount of food you eat is also influenced by a complex interaction of the following factors:

1. Genetic Influences

Your gut, hormones, and brain may be working together to control appetite, but your genetic makeup also has a sayas if you’re the type to overindulge.  For instance, a London study on children revealed that genetic influences on weight and abdominal fat accumulation are high in children who are born since the onset of the childhood obesity epidemic. Furthermore, there is evidence indicating that specific genes can possibly impact your likelihood of frequent LOC (loss of control) eating episodes.

2. Environmental Influences

Environmental factors also contribute to the rise of appetite. These factors include the atmosphere of the room and the presence/absence of distractions during meals. This also applies to social and cultural cues. Remember a time when you overindulged because everyone seems to be in the mood for feasting?

Finally, child feeding practices by parents during the first years of childhood tend to impact one’s eating behavior later in life. A review of studies on the parental influence on eating behavior revealed the following interesting findings:

  • Restrictive feeding practices by caregivers is associated with overeating and poorer self-regulation of food intake among preschool-age children.
  • Restricting access to palatable foods like cookies in children may be counterproductive because it will eventually promote their intake. 
  • Higher levels of parental control and pressure to eat were associated with lower fruit and vegetable intakes and higher intake of dietary fat among young girls.

3. Psychological Influences

Did you know that not sleeping enough or getting stressed over finals week could lead to you reaching out for the cookie jar 5x a day when we’re not actually hungry?

It turns out that your appetite and hunger regulation is also influenced by these behavioral factors.

In fact, evidence from longitudinal studies suggests that chronic life stress may be linked to weight gain, with a greater effect seen in men.  Furthermore, your work schedule can also impact how much you eat. A study revealed that shift workers may be particularly vulnerable to the tendency to eat the largest meals in the evening as they remain awake longer during the times of highest appetite, particularly for sweet, salty, and starchy foods.

Your Action Plan to Curb Overeating (Without Depriving Yourself)

Whether it’s stress or social pressure that’s driving you to overeat, we all know how frustrating it is to realize that you gave in to your cravings (again!). The good news is you can do something the next time you’re about to open your third bag of chips.

For a start, consider the following easy yet sustainable solutions to put an end to overeating, minus the horrible feeling of self-deprivation.

1. Learn to recognize the difference between homeostatic and hedonistic hunger.

As mentioned earlier, you can eat because you’re hungry but you can also eat for pleasure. 
It can be a struggle to figure out the difference between the two because it requires you to be more mindful of your body. As a result, misinterpreting hunger and satiety signals can lead to overeating.

It can be challenging to recognize the true signs of hunger and satiety. While these cues will differ from one person to another (as well as depend on the time of day), you can learn to recognize your motivation for eating and adjust your eating habits by asking the following question:

Am I eating as a response to a physical cue (e.g. growling stomach, headache) or am I eating because I am feeling stressed, anxious, or overjoyed?

Whether you’re stressed about deadlines or bummed about your annual employee performance review, talking to a friend or journaling may be more helpful than eating your emotions away.

2. Be mindful of your “food environment”. 
Your “food environment” may be divided into two parts:

  • Your social interaction and the overall atmosphere of your environment
  • How your food is served
  • To help promote a positive food environment, consider the following best practices:

Keep an eye on your portions.

Before eating two bagels in one sitting, savor one piece instead. Furthermore, you might also want to use smaller plates and bowls to avoid taking in too much when you’re in a buffet. Research reveals that larger plates can make a serving of food appear smaller, and smaller plates can lead people to misjudge the same serving size of food as being significantly larger. 

Press pause (whether on your TV or phone) until you’re done with lunch or dinner. 

When you’re distracted, you tend to eat mindlessly. As a result, you’ll be less sensitive to satiety cues because your brain is paying more attention to other things. 

Eat like the Okinawans in Japan. 

How? Eat until you’re 80 percent full.

Known for having one of the longest life expectancies in the world,  Okinawans call this practice as “Hara Hachi Bu”,  and this can be a useful guideline to help stop overeating.

Eat slowly.

A Greek study found that eating at a slower pace tended to increased fullness and reduce hunger ratings in overweight and obese participants.

Surround yourself with people who are taking steps to eat more mindfully. 

Whether it’s your co-worker who’s into calorie counting or your brother who’s a geek when it comes to meal planning,being around others who eat mindfully will help reinforce your own good habits and perhaps teach you some new tips and tricks as well. 

3. Make tiny adjustments to your daily habits that may impact your eating behaviour.

Curbing overeating is not about making massive changes in your life but rather making tiny adjustments to your daily habits.

Going on a detox diet or juice cleanse right after binging may help you lose (mostly water) weight temporarily, but it’s not sustainable in the long run. Instead, you’ll likely end up going through the same cycle of overeating, feeling guilty, restricting yourself, and giving in again to cravings. That’s why making smaller, lasting changes is more effective for changing your lifestyle permanently.

These are three examples of tiny adjustments you can make to your daily habits.

Stop skimping on sleep, pronto. 

As mentioned earlier, lack of sleep can lead to eating more. Are you struggling to get a good night’s sleep? Establishing a consistent bedtime routine may be a good start. An irregular bedtime schedule is linked to poor sleep quality.

Eat breakfast when you can. 

There may be some exceptions (like when you’re doing intermittent fasting), but skipping your morning meal usually leads to overeating because you end up feeling famished throughout the day. On the other hand, protein-rich breakfasts are associated with increased satiety and reduced hunger cues.

Do whole food swaps instead of cutting out certain foods entirely.

Remember how food that’s laden with salt and sugar tends to encourage overeating? By opting for whole food alternatives, you will eventually reduce your cravings for unhealthy sweets and salty treats.

You don’t have to toss all the junk food residing in your fridge right away. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 80 percent of your daily meals from whole food sources and devote the rest to the not-so-healthy food items. By doing so, you won’t feel deprived, which in turn can lead to another binging episode. 

Special Note on Food Addiction 

A lot of people can relate to overeating (because it happens to the best of us too!) but food addiction is a different story. If you feel that your binging episodes has turned into more than just a bad habit that you can change, seek professional help.

The Takeaway: Mindful Eating Can Go a Long Way for Your Body Composition

If you’ve noticed, the majority of the points discussed in the action plan has something to do with mindfulness.

Recognizing if you’re truly hungry or simply eating as a response to stress or other environmental factors requires constant practice and a heightened sense of self-awareness.

The idea of mindfulness may sound like a meditation fad or just another self-help woo woo. However, mindfulness-based interventions in addressing overeating and other obesity-related eating behaviors has gained popularity recently. In fact, a systematic review of related studies on the topic supports its efficacy.

Overall, beating overeating and taking your body composition seriously begins with this single step—uncover the reason behind your binging habit. Keep in mind that you need to know the “why” first before diving into the “how” of putting an end to your tendency to overeat.

***Kyjean Tomboc is a nurse turned freelance healthcare copywriter and UX researcher.  After experimenting with going paleo and vegetarian, she realized that it all boils down to eating real food.


Greenway Student Highlight—Ron and Jon McCowan

What is your name and age?

Ron McCowan, age 40

Son: Jon, age 4

When did you join Elite MMA?

August 2016

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I hurt every time I played with my high energy son. I used to wrestle in HS (over 20 years ago), so how hard could it be, right????

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

I wrestled and played football in HS, so I knew it all and didn’t need a funny looking karate kid uniform to get any tougher or be in better shape… How little did I know. I was really missing out, and everyone around me who doesn’t train is dumbfounded by how much enthusiasm I have for BJJ.

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

Yes. I primarily focus on BJJ, and I have started incorporating some Kickboxing since the start of 2017. I mostly train at the Jose, but I’ve had the pleasure of being educated by most of the Westheimer coaches when I’m able to make a class Friday – Sunday. Y’all are all great, and I really appreciate the dedication to helping me learn.

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

I knew I needed to get back in shape, and I had become bored with jogging and weightlifting. Receiving regular text messages from my coaches asking which classes I would be attending provided the accountability I needed. My own desire to learn, the encouragement and assistance from all of the existing members, and the family environment created by my coaches all confirmed that this was exactly what I needed.

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

My first month or so, I was aching so bad after each class I could barely make 2 classes a week. I have been able to attend class as many as 5 days a week putting in about 8 hours some weeks. I’ve earned 3 stripes on my white belt, which required me to learn how to survive and how to relax on the bottom (a position no wrestler is trained to be comfortable with). Most importantly, I am able to play with my soon to be 5-year-old son on his level without getting exhausted or hurting afterward. Whether out in the Houston heat for hours at the playground or bouncing indoors at random trampoline parks, I am finally able to make him say, “Daddy I’m tired”. I also bring my son in for private lessons with Coach Jose. My son can legitimately armbar and x-choke me into submission when focused.

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

Whatever your life circumstances, the learning, fun, focus, and friendships here will allow you to improve your overall quality of life by improving your health and energy level. Personally, my coaches and classmates have supported me through divorce, depression, and death of my only sibling. Thank you to my Elite Brothers and Sisters!


Not Sure Which Class To Try?
click here to reach out to an instructor!