Exercise and Fitness

Go for the Endorphins

Endorphin Break
We all know how to function in a favorable environment, when everything is progressing the way we want it to. Yet, few of us know how to function in a hostile climate, when nothing seems to go the way we want it to.

Why do we find ourselves so often in the hostile climate, rather than in the favorable climate?

The Creator wants us to be our best. No one ever made character, physical or spiritual growth and gains by eating chocolate ice-cream. Coping with difficulties make us great. That's why we must learn how to function when things are not going our way. These are the stress situations in life, and we all have plenty of them. So what do we do?

Many people reach for pills, liquor, tobacco or any number of other substances as stress relievers. Others check out of the painful reality and turn to social media, a movie or a TV show. None of these help us cope.

I have a better suggestion: why not try a biochemical that the body produces? It's a feel-good hormone called endorphin and it won't cost you a cent. Endorphins have three great affects:

They reduce pain;

They decrease fatigue;

They give you a positive attitude.

The above three benefits enable our brains to function much more efficiently. Once the endorphins start to flow, the stress and anxiety of a few minutes ago no longer look like the end of the world. The brain kicks into positive mode.

The double-great news is that you don't need a prescription for endorphins and they won't cost you a thing. What could be better? The Creator implanted a built-in pharmacy in our endocrine system. Endorphins are also wonderful in that they don't cause addiction or dependence.

So how do you get a good dose of endorphins? A 30-minute workout will do the trick.

"I don't have 30 minutes!" you might be saying. OK, I'll give you a big discount. Try five minutes.

Do things at your own level. Start with simply high-stepping or jogging in place, stretching and loosening up your body. It's easy. Then try pushups; after, continue with planks. Add a few body squats and finish off with some more jogging in place and stretching. Make sure you've had 5 minutes of nonstop activity. This beats a coffee break any day of the week…

This will definitely work for you too - guaranteed. Blessings for your good health, LB


Lazer's 18 Favorite and Most-Effective Conditioning and Weight-Loss Tactics

18 Tactics 5.8
You got it! You'll never hear me speak about losing weight without getting into shape. They must be simultaneous in order to be healthy, for weight loss without conditioning is liable to be damaging, as we've written several times previously. I have found that the more my clients taste success, the more motivated they become; the more motivated they become, the more efficiently they improve their fitness, reach their weight goals and vastly improve the way they feel. Try these 18 tactics - all or a segment of them - and you'll succeed too.

  1. Eat veggies and protein for breakfast - to build muscle, you need adequate protein. Try an omelette, a chunk of baked salmon or sardines with a green salad that includes leafy veggies and celery. Whereas the cornflakes breakfast leaves you starving by 10 AM, the veggie and protein breakfast will have you satiated well past noon. What's more, good morning fuel boosts metabolism.
  2. Brush your teeth after every meal - it's great for your dental health and curbs appetite.
  3. Cut out both sugary drinks and fruit juices - they add loads of carbs and calories that are the #1 enemy to weight loss.
  4. In continuation of #3 (above), drink plenty of water; cold water especially causes your body to burn calories in order to maintain your 98.6F body temperature, so don't spare the ice.
  5. Lift heavy weights - incorporate resistance training into your workout routine; this can also be such bodyweight exercises as pushups and squats. The more you build muscle mass, the more you increase your metabolism.
  6. Move more - walk (30 min./day at least, 5 days a week) as much as you can; climb stairs rather than using the elevator (super cardio!), and carry packages home from the store. Be imaginative!
  7. Cut out all white sugar and use only natural sweeteners such as dates and unprocessed honey, sparingly as well.
  8. Substitute all white flour for whole grain flour and whole grain foods - spelt (the king!), whole wheat, oat, rye and barley.
  9. Don't purchase manufactured foods - they're full of substances that the body doesn't know how to process and digest; as a result, the inhibit weight loss.
  10. Cook and eat at home rather than eating at restaurants - you'll be improving your health and saving tons of money.
  11. Maker realistic goals that you can reach, then set the bar higher.
  12. Give yourself incentives - as you reach your interim goals, buy yourself new workout shoes, a new clothing article or a new piece of workout equipment.
  13. Get a fitness watch - such devices as the Fitbit Charge 3 (my favorite) or Inspire motivate you to walk, workout and log weight, giving you constant positive reinforcement.
  14. Track your activity - keep an exercise and weight log, and monitor your progress.
  15. Have a weekly cheat day - on Shabbat, eat what you like and enjoy, then go right back on regiment the next morning. But, don't go crazy and keep white sugar off the cheat list.
  16. Drink coffee - despite what people tell you, natural ground coffee (best to buy beans and grind your own) coffee has been shown recently to help you live longer, protect your liver, and even ward off diabetes. It also curbs appetite.
  17. Improve posture - by sitting up straight, walking and standing taller, you engage your core and burn more calories, so be conscious of your posture and don't slouch.
  18. Vary your workouts - do different types of exercise on different days, and keep yourself motivated and interested.

That's my "Chai" (18) for good health. Give it a go and let us know your progress. Feel free to send us your success stories. My blessings for your great health and warmest regards, LB


The Truth about Burning Fat

Fat Burning 29.7

Nowadays, more and more workouts claim to be effective at burning fat. It sounds dynamite superficially, but don't forget that the main goal of exercise is improving your overall health and helping you to feel your best. Don't be fooled, though; just because something is labeled as being a “fat burner” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to melt your schmaltz away. By the way, who says that burning fat should be your goal at all?

Let's understand what it means to the body to burn fat.  Sure, low intensity workouts - those done at below 70% of your HRMax (heart-rate maximum), burn fat rather than carbohydrates. That's why they're labelled as fat-burners. But, that's only part of the truth; yes, qualitatively, they do burn fat, but quantitatively, not that much.

Losing fat while working at low intensity levels sounds too good to be true; it is! A down home Texas wrestling coach once told me that sweat is merely fat that's crying. So, my brother and sister, if you ain't sweating', your fat ain't cryin'; in other words, it's not getting burned. Why? Higher intensity activities produce a much greater post-exercise oxygen consumption (PEOC), what trainers call an "afterburn", which can help you burn a lot of fat for a whole 48 hours after you work out. That's why I usually do either wind-sprints and/or Tabata HIIT (high intensity interval training) on Friday afternoon, so that I'll benefit from the afterburn during Shabbat when I'm consuming much more food that I do during the week (you couldn't resist Rebbetzen Yehudit Brody's cholent either).

What's this all mean? Sure, if you ride a bike or walk at normal pace for four hours, you'll burn a lot of fat. But who has that amount of time to invest in exercise, realistically? Not you and not me. That's why I recommend getting the maximum clout from your workout - more intensity in less time.

Try Tabata training - this classic interval workout has you go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest. Then, repeat eight times, so the entire series takes about four minutes. Do this with three different moves—like kettlebell swings, kettlebell squats and mountain climbers; with a minutes's rest between each 8-cycle Tabata, the 3-Tabata workout will take a total of 15 minutes. And, you'll earn an awesome afterburn that will continue burning fat for another 24-48 hours.

My alternatives to the Tabata routines are wind sprints and running up sand dunes. Either way, you'll sweat, especially during the summer, and your fat will melt away. Don't forget to eat responsibly (no sugar of junk food) to complement your exercise routine.

G-d willing, you'll look great this summer. Turn off the TV and get some fresh air - exercise and enjoy your summer! Every blessing, LB


5 Responsible Ways to Lose Body Fat

Body Fat 22.7
Mark went on a diet to be slimmer for the beach season. He dropped 30 pounds, from 190 to 160, in a relatively short time. But, he didn't look any better. What's more, at 190, he could do 50 pushups but now at 160 he can barely do 32. What did he do wrong? Fad diet? "Guaranteed quick weight loss"? Both, and more. Mark lost weight irresponsibly...

Don't make the same mistake. Read this, because we want for you what you want for yourself - to look better and to feel better.

The classic weight-loss mantra says, "Burn more calories than you take in, and fat comes off." That's not so simple. If the calorie deficit comes from merely eating less calories than you burn, without incorporating exercise into the equation, then the body will relinquish muscle mass much quicker than it will burn fat. What's more, muscle weighs much more than fat! So, don't let the scale fool you. With that in mind, let me give you several key signs that you're losing muscle mass rather than fat:

  1. You feel sluggish and your every-day functioning is impaired;
  2. You've lost a lot of weight in a short time;
  3. Your body has shrinking circumferences, but your pinch-fat is the same. Since you've lost muscle mass, your body-fat percentage is even higher than it was when you weighed more and you've actually lost strength (#1, above). What's more, when merely losing weight (muscle mass) rather than fat, your body won't be more attractive; quite the opposite...

To avoid the above three signs, our goal should be losing fat, not losing weight. The tightness of your skirt or trousers is a much better indication of fat loss than the bathroom scale is. Stay away from crash diets that offer quick results of weight loss. So, instead of losing weight, let's talk about losing body fat, and doing so responsibly. Here are five ways to do just that:

  1. Lift weights: lifting weights builds muscle and muscle is catabolic, meaning that it fuels metabolism even when it's not toiling. I prefer body-weight and free-weight exercises to weight machines. You don't even need weights - carry home the grocery bags from the supermarket. 
  2. Get daily cardio: walking or riding a bike for 30 minutes daily is great, but the more cardio is versified, the faster the fat will fall away. I try to do wind-sprints or running up sand dunes at least once a week. Incorporate plyometric exercises like burpees and HIIT at least once a week and you'll further fuel your metabolic fat-burning capability.
  3. Split your meals: rather than eating humongous meals, take the Rambam's advice and eat well below your stomach's capacity. The four or five smaller meals are preferable to the two or three tremendous ones, for the body will burn the smaller meals' calories much more efficiently.
  4. Drink cold water, and lots of it: water has no calories! If it's cold, your body will have to burn calories to maintain its 36.8C (98.6F) body temperature. What's more, water is essential for your brain and heart's proper function, your energy level and for keeping your body waste-free.
  5. Consume healthy snacks: prefer fruits and veggies over carbs. Celery sticks, with their high fiber content, will make the body work hard and burn calories.

Wait and see how quickly and favorably your body reacts to the above five points. The results will be encouraging, but be patient and don't give up! There's no reason in the world that you shouldn't look and feel great, especially now in the summer. Blessings for your success, and let us know how you progress! Yours always, LB


Togetherness and Good Health

Healthy Together 16.7
Does this sound familiar?

Your spouse or the someone you care about is overweight and sorely out of shape. Whenever he/she gets pressured by anything, they console themselves with chocolate croissants or donuts. You've tried everything to get them to diet and/or exercise, but even if they loses two pounds in one week, they'll gain back four the next. What do you do? You're trying your very best not to look at attractive members of the opposite sex, but with your partner more and more turning you off, it's getting to be increasingly challenging...

The above scenario is a compendium of real ones that I deal with in personal, health and fitness coaching. The more I've been hearing such stories, the more I felt the need to lay out a few guidelines that will likely help you and your spouse to improve your quality of life, physical and emotional health and relationship as well. Try implementing the following suggestions:

  1. Your prayers for your spouse are formidable, much more powerful than you can ever imagine. Invest a few minutes of prayer for them in your own words. Ask the Almighty to uplift their self-esteem and to help you give them the love and attention that they need so that they won't have to find solace in sweets, which are poison for the body.
  2. Buy your spouse a gift of a new pair of walking shoes and take walks together; start with a few minutes and work it up to an hour, at least three times a week. If you have small children, it's worth it to pay a babysitter during this hour. You can't imagine what it will do for your health and relationship.
  3. Diet never helps. You must influence your spouse to change their thinking and lifestyle, but this should be done as a couple, for they'll be much more willing if it's done together. Cakes, cookies, ice-cream and other sweets as well as soft-drinks and other sugary manufactured foods should be considered taboo, for these substances destroy health. Together, go on an eating regiment (lifestyle, not diet!) that is based on foodstuffs that are unadulterated by manufacturers. Get all white sugar, corn syrup solids and modified starches out of your life - that includes cereals, cakes, cookies and most manufactured foods. Compensate with the best fruits, veggies, fish, meat and poultry, and cheeses. Once you lower carbs, you can enjoy nuts and seeds without worrying about gaining weight.
  4. Like all of us, your spouse thrives on love. Make the first move and give him/her that love, and I promise that they'll bend over backwards to please you. Meanwhile, offer your spouse the incentive of a nice chuck of money to buy new clothes every time they drops a size or two. The new clothes will cost only be a fraction of doctors and meds required for treating the ailments that result from neglecting diet and health.

Start with the above four steps and keep me posted. I'd love to reprint your success stories. Remember, togetherness is the beginning of good health and real happiness. You'll be amazed to see how soon, you'll look like a magazine cover couple. My prayers for your success and good health. Blessings always, LB


Creative Exercise: Breaking the Gym Phobia

Creative Exercise
Why do people shy away from exercise? Maybe they have PTSD from having been forced to do all kinds of strenuous and unpleasant things in PhysEd class in junior high school, like running until their lungs were on fire or showing up all sweaty afterwards to Trigonometry class because there was no hot water in the gym showers. Or maybe they hated the forced marches and the constant "drop down, get ten" from military basic training. Or, like so many others of the  cyber generation, they feel much happier gripping a game-boy joystick than gripping a lacrosse stick or baseball bat. What's more, regularly-scheduled exercise requires self-regiment (ugh - get outa here!).  Or, maybe they did try exercise and they hurt themselves, or they went to the gym and felt self-conscious.

People have more excuses to avoid exercise than Bayer has little aspirin tablets...

That's a shame, because nothing makes you feel so vibrant as the post-exercise feeling of accomplishment and the exhilaration of endorphin, the feel-good hormone triggered by exercise, which is the world's best natural anti-depressant.

Here's how I crack my clients' gym phobia - I teach them how to exercise creatively. The principle of creative exercise is simply to create an activity that you love, where you can move your body in the process. Here are a few examples:

  1. Walking along the beach, in sand, or up the sand dunes: this is a cardiovascular exercise that equals or even surpasses wind sprints because of the effort your lungs and legs have to exert to move forward in the sand, especially where there's incline. The waves and the sea air are so invigorating that one totally forgets the he or she is exercising.
  2. Walk in the park, along the riverbank, out in the pasture, in the woods or in your favorite environment. Relish G-d's gifts in nature while you're doing it; enjoy the trees, the plants, the birds, the flowers and the animals. Listen to the melody of a babbling brook - you'le love it.
  3. While you're alone with nature, commune with your Creator. This adds pleasure to soul as well as to body.
  4. Mark your periodic time slot of creative exercise in your calendar, just as you would an important meeting.
  5. Treat yourself to good exercise gear - comfortable shoes and garb that you wear especially for your creative exercise session.
  6. Try to do an minimum of 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
  7. If you love company, exercise with you spouse or a best buddy.

You get the idea - now use your imagination. Maybe you'll get your bike or your roller skates out from under the pile of junk in the garage. The key is to do something enjoyable; don't let it become a dread or routine.

Once you get used to exercising, and you begin to feel great and look your best, you won't know how you ever lived without exercising. Go for it! Start slow, and enjoy it, just like you enjoy a favorite meal. The difference between the exercise and the meal is that the former burns calories and doesn't cost you a cent. There is a life of fitness outside the gyms. G-d bless for good health, LB


Tips for Senior Fitness - Who Says that 70 is Old?

Are you what folks call a senior citizen? If so, Bro and Sis, you're like fine wine that gets better with age...

Some people are old, round-shouldered, overweight, lazy and sluggish at 23. Others have ramrod posture, stability, agility and flexibility at 83. Your life is doing the very best with the raw material that the Almighty gives you.

I don't care how old you are, but if you want to say goodbye to a load of aches and pains, candidacy for diabetes, cardiac issues and a long list of other ailments, then start eating right and exercising every day. Here are a few tips for seniors (or juniors) just getting started on a personal fitness improvement campaign:

  1. Exercise every day, just like you eat and drink daily.
  2. Take it slow it first; like Rome, you don't build your body in a day, but each day of good nutrition and exercise adds up.
  3. Active walking is the sport of choice. Start with 10 minutes a day and then add an additional 5 minutes every week until you work up to at least 30 minutes a day.
  4. Choose walking over riding in cars; take the stairs instead of the elevator if your heart, lungs and knees are in decent shape.
  5. Once you're capable of walking 30 minutes a day, you can add Pilates and resistance training. I recommend starting out with bodyweight exercises rather than reaching for the iron. 
  6. Do a good warmup before any exercise; the flexibility you get from your warmup prepares muscles for further injury-free activity.
  7. Chart your progress by keeping an exercise log.

We'll be posting specific advice in reference to the above points in the near future, G-d willing. Meanwhile, here at Brody Health and Fitness, if you talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk. Enjoy the following clip and stay healthy! Every blessing, LB

Who Says that 70 is Old? from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Keep on Walkin'

Walking 13.5
My favorite sport happens to be the worlds #1 fitness exercise, which does just as much for soul as it does for body. This is the only fitness activity that the whole family can participate in together, from 2-year-old toddler Mikey to 102-year-old great grandfather Morris. This is an activity that's joint-and-muscle friendly as well as fantastic for your heart and lungs. It's walking. If we add the technique of brisker strides and more vigorous hand and arm motion, we move up to the power walking category and burn all the more calories, just like we do in any other cardio exercise.

If you want to maximize the benefits of walking and prevent injuries, then your form and posture must be proper. Like in any other exercise, the better the form, the more beneficial the exercise. Use this form & posture checklist to evaluate yourself:

Proper Walking Form

1. Keep your head upright and eyes forward. Texting or looking at your smartphone destroys this important element of good walking form.

2. Engage your core by pulling your navel in as if you're trying to make it touch your spine.

3. Imagine that a string from heaven is linked to the crown of your skull pulling your head up and extending your neck. This method is a strong remedy to the kyphosis that people develop from sitting at a desk all day long.

4. Drop your shoulders and enable the back of your neck to touch the collar of your shirt. Your neck muscles should be relaxed.

5. Don't slump forward; if you feel like you are slumping, readjust your body position so that you conform to the above four points.

6. Swing your arms gently; the more you add arm motion, the faster you'll walk and the more calories you'll burn in a particular time period. Don't go crazy though - your hands shouldn't rise higher than your collarbone.

7. Walk with feet aligned in a straight manner rather than waddling from side to side. To do this, make sure your hips are moving forward rather than side to side.

8. Don't tiptoe; with every step, land on your heel and roll your foot forward. Comfortable shoes are a must!

Benefits of Walking

1. Great for burning belly fat.

2. Anyone can do it!

3. Lowers risk of hip fracture, especially with women.

4. Great for heart and lung health.

5. Wonderful for those who cannot or may not engage in more strenuous activities.

6. Fantastic for mental functioning, especially concentration, decision-making, self-composure and memory.

7. Wards off anxiety and depression while improving self-esteem.

8. Retards aging and increases longevity.

If we add personal prayer to our walking routine, and speak to the Almighty while sharing everything that's on our heart with Him, we have the greatest body-mind-soul health enhancer on earth. Try it; although we recommend 60-minutes a day, there are huge benefits for 30 minutes daily on up. KEEP ON WALKING - you'll love it. Every blessing, LB


The Flashy Body or Functional Fitness

Functional Fitness
If you're carrying a full-load backpack on an uphill trail without huffing and puffing, you're functionally fit. The same goes for carrying two six-packs of 1.5 liter bottles of mineral water home from the grocery store...

Did you ever ask yourself, "Why did the Creator give me a body?" Surprisingly, most people don't know the answer.

* Craig has humongous biceps from the hundreds of heavyweight dumbbell curls he does every day. Yet, when his wife asked him to take down a can of tuna from the top shelf in her kitchen pantry, he couldn't do it because his shoulders were too tight. He simply couldn't raise his arms that high, despite his 6'1" frame. Frustrated, his 5'3" wife stood on a kitchen chair and took the can of tuna down herself.

* In her own words, Marianne "feels dead" if she misses a day of spin class. She spins for an hour a day, proud of her figure. She eats whatever she wants because she burns about 700 calories in one humongous, imho exaggerated session that's going to bring her to burnout, sooner or later. But, she's so into her peddling as the techno-background music pumps her up, that she slouches over the handlebars, which she grips tightly. Her figure isn't too slightly because she can't stand up straight. What's more, she can only carry her attaché case to work (weighs about 5 pounds, including laptop) in her right hand because she's developed lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) in her left arm. So now, in addition to her slouching, she walks with one shoulder higher than the other because she only lifts things with one hand.

* Abe, in his quest for six-pack abs, does over a thousand crunches a day. Sure, his stomach muscles are like iron but his hip flexors and lumbar spine are so tight that he can't touch his toes without deeply bending his knees. Abe looks good on the beach but he sorely lacks inner core strength and like Marianne, his posture is terrible.

* Naomi is the women's weightlifting champion of her gym. She can military press and bench press more than women twice her size. Yet, the other day, she bent over to pick up her baby and she pulled her back out.

What's wrong with Craig, Marianne, Abe and Naomi? They are into what you might call "cosmetic fitness", working out for the flashy body, the bulging biceps, the six-pack abs, the "Hey, look at me!" legs and the general Miss or Mister America body. Yet, they lack functional fitness. They can't perform basic functions in life. Their workouts are wrong and they oftentimes are detrimental to overall health rather than conducive to it. How?

The muscle/bikini beach crowd focus on isolated muscle groups rather than on multiple muscle groups working together in harmony. In the words of Greg Roskopf, MS, a biomechanics consultant with a company called Muscle Activation Techniques who has worked with athletes from the Denver Broncos, the Denver Nuggets, and the Utah Jazz, "Conventional weight training isolates muscle groups, but it doesn't teach the muscle groups you're isolating to work with others".

When we're functionally fit, we're quicker and more agile in our daily functions. Functional fitness exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries or playing a game of hide-and-seek with your children.

You don't have to spend hours in a gym. Fifteen minutes a day of functional fitness exercises are sufficient to keep you feeling great. Although I love such total body kettlebell exercises as deadlifts, goblet squats and kettlebell swings because of all the muscles they involve, you don't need any apparatus. Such bodyweight exercises as pushups, front and side lunges, squats and planks will keep you fit from head-to-toe. Shlepping groceries up three flights of stairs works wonders too...

Never forget also that good dietary habits are twice as important as exercise. Sabbath and holidays are for delight, but not for eating into oblivion, especially grossly unhealthy things. All good diets tolerate, even encourage, one cheat-day a week but that doesn't mean alcohol-and-pastry suicide. Like our working out, our eating and drinking should be for the sake of maintaining a fit body, whose purpose is to capably house a serene soul that's connected to its Creator for 120 happy and healthy years, amen!


Take that First Step

First step

A group of friends once made a trip together. On the way to their destination, they saw someone standing with a backpack on a desert crossroads. Seven days later, on their way home, they encountered the same person with the backpack standing on the same desert crossroads in the hot sun. The group of friends asked the backpacker, "Why are you standing here?"

"I want to go to Jerusalem," responded the backpacker. "I'm waiting for a ride."

"How long have you been waiting?" they asked.

"More than a week," he answered.

They laughed. "Jerusalem's only a two-day walk from here. If you'd have started walking, you could have been there and back four times already!"

Many of us want to change, yet we expect it to happen automatically, with no effort on our part. Life doesn't work that way. An old Hebrew expression says, "Even a journey of a thousand kilometers begins with a first step."

For years, you've been dreaming of getting in shape, losing weight, ridding yourself of an annoying habit, feeling better about yourself or "all of the above". Take the first step! Walk for a few minutes or begin using the stairs instead of the elevator. Have a glass of water instead of the cola or an apple instead of the piece of cake. You'll feel so much better. Set goals that are reachable, and gradually raise the bar. Before you know it, you'll be well on the way to accomplishing things that you never thought you could. "Strength and Serenity", our blog here at brodyhealth.com, is here to help you do just that. Stick with us and feel free to sign up for our free newsletter, which you can do on the toolbar at the right side of this site.

Don't be afraid - go ahead and take that first step up your personal mountain. Step by step, you'll get to the top.

Stick with us; things here are brand new and we're just warming up. G-d willing, we plan to post 2-3 times per week with "money-in-the-bank" practical advice for your health of body, mind and soul in a way that you'll thoroughly enjoy.