Exercise and Fitness

3 Simple Steps to Success

For many of us, our goals seem like dreams that are impossible to reach. We want them to materialize, but we think they never will. If you think you can't, today you'll learn 3 time-tested tips of how you can and will succeed in whatever you want to accomplish - spiritual, material or both. Listen to this:

Click here for your free mp3 download of this podcast; you are entitled to listen to it on your own device and to pass it on to others as well, courtesy of "Emuna Beams."


A Healthy Self-Image

When you feel good about yourself, other people will feel good about you. There are three ways to pursue happiness and to build a healthy self-image: strengthening the body, strengthening the soul, or to understand that body and soul are inseparable and to strengthen both simultaneously. Today's Emuna Beam teaches us how to do that. Enjoy today's six-minute chizuk and have a lovely Shabbat!

Click here for your free mp4 download of this podcast; you are entitled to listen to it on your own device and to pass it on to others as well, courtesy of "Emuna Beams."


Physical Activity, Exercise and Technology - Is Fitness Moving Forward or Regressing?

Dandan
This is a guest post from Daniel Lahav (photo, above), RPT (registered physiotherapist in Ontario), B. Ed phys ed (Wingate Institute,Israel), B.Sc physiotherapy (Hogeschool Van Amsterdam), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by NSCA, 6th degree black belt in AIKI Krav Maga.

The dictionary defines exercise as, "An activity requiring a physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness". For me, the key words here are 'physical effort'. Is walking from your bedroom to the washroom a physical effort? Is walking your dog or cycling to work a physical effort? The answer is different for different people, so the definition of physical effort is very subjective. The answer lies in the most important principal in fitness, the overload principal which states that in order to improve your fitness, the activity you choose to partake in has to be more intense than a daily activity, and if done overtime, gradually increasing intensities lead to adaptation (progressive overloading). In other words 'physical effort' means doing something in a higher intensity than the effort required for your daily activities. And please don't get me wrong, being active physically is far healthier than not moving at all, but physical activity isn't the same as exercising.

As a health and fitness professional for more than 20 years, I have noticed a phenomenon in which more people are gradually beginning to think of their daily activities as exercise. To my mind, this is a response to living in a society, which as a whole, is progressively moving less (physically) even though the science is showing us conclusively that movement is critical for general health (way beyond just orthopedic health). I believe that most people know this innately (regardless of the scientific proof) and equate physical activity with exercise as a way to rationalize to themselves that they are being proactive in taking care of their own health.

The other growing phenomena In the past decade is the introduction of gadgets that claim to be able to measure functions in which energy expenditure, steps walked per day, quality and quantity of sleep are the most common metrics featured on these devices. These devices are aggressively marketed to us and at first glimpse seem like they could provide useful information that would help translate to better health and wellness outcomes, and for some, they probably do. However, risks need to be evaluated as well. The first question though, is whether they do a good job measuring what they claim they do. Meta analysis (research analyzing all the trials done trying to answer the question of whether these devices measure accurately what they claim to measure) have concluded that these devices aren't as accurate as they claim to be. Now we can ask, even if the technology improves and becomes more accurate, are there risks to using these technologies?

Personally, I see two main issues with this technology. First, I predict that people using these technologies will be exercising less than their peers without the technology (reminds me of the social media websites and apps story, initially these websites brought the promise of connecting people and communities together but in practice ended up helping create more feeling of loneliness and isolation in individuals and societies). Second, I think there is a problem when turning to technology with questions we should know the answer to by paying attention to our body's own feedback loops. Therefore, the biggest disadvantage here is losing the ability to connect with our body and listen to what is going on in our bodies and minds, or in other words, less awareness to what is happening inside us, like the feeling of being full after a meal, the feeling of being exerted after activity, the feeling of being rested after a nights sleep.

In my opinion, the fact that we move less, combined with a plethora of unreliable gadgets telling us how much physical activity we did in a day, what was our energy expenditure, how much we slept and the quality of our sleep, might become a dangerous phenomena. Do we really want technology to tell us how we feel? Do I feel full after a meal? At what point do I stop eating? Do I feel rested when I wake up? Am I dragging myself all day? Did I move or have been physically active enough during the day? We forget or don't try to pay attention to what we feel and the signals and alarms coming from our bodies.

I would hypothesize that as a mindset, thinking of a daily physical activity as exercise is causing people to do less exercise ("I don't need to go to the gym since I walked my dog today") and therefore harming themselves as individuals and as a society in the long run. We are already paying a huge monetary, social, physical and emotional price for the lack of movement and exercise in our society, and I predict that this trend will continue to get worse if these two phenomena continue getting more traction in our culture. I would strongly recommend stopping to think of your daily activities as exercise, this will force you to face the reality that we don't move enough, and have a better chance of changing our behavior than the self deluding alternative.

Note: We contracted out building our homes, then contracted our growing our food, then contracted out making our clothing, in the western world contracted out cooking and food perpetration, now a days we are contracting out feedback loops from our body to technology, and soon we will be contracting out decision making (algorithms predicting behavior are already here and exponentially getting more sophisticated). Raises the question, as a species whom are looking to evolve, for the individual does this look like progression or regression?

Peace and Love, Daniel

You can contact Daniel at its4dan@yahoo.com


7-Minute Exercise Routine for Total Beginners

7-Minute Exercise Routine for Beginners from lazerbrody on Vimeo.

Today is your last day for excuses that you can't exercise, or you're too out of shape, or two old, or whatever. This is the routine that I give to my beginning diet and conditioning clients, which anyone can do on their own level. In seven short minutes, you'll fuel your metabolism to the point that your body will burn more calories long after you complete this exercise. What's more, the "endorphins" - the "feel-good hormones" that result from exercise, begin to flow after 7 minutes of exercise. Here's the routine:

Minute #1 - Warmup - 30 seconds of neck circles (15 seconds in each direction) followed by 30 seconds of arm circles (15 seconds in each direction)

Minute #2 - Warmup - 30 seconds of seal claps followed by 30 seconds of hula hoops (15 seconds in each direction)

Minute #3 - Cardio - 60 seconds of marching, stepping as high as is comfortable for you

Minute #4 - Strength - 60 seconds of curl & press, with dumbbells or any other weighted objects you have at home, like bottles of water

Minute #5 - Flexibility - 60 seconds of side lunges

Minute #6 - Combining cardio with strength and flexibility - 60 seconds of squats

Minute #7 - Cooldown, hug yourself while bending down, followed by a big upward stretch and thanks to the Almighty!

Do this every day, and wait and see how good you feel! G-d bless for great health, LB


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