Health and Well-being

The Self-Healing Prayer

I was lecturing at an IAF base, and my host - the assistant base commander - showed me where the bathroom was. When I came out, I washed my hands three times consecutively with a cup and said slowly and with intent the Asher Yatzar blessing that one says after visiting the toilet. My host looked at me wide-eyed, as if I'd suddenly sprouted peacock feathers. "Rabbi," he gasped, "you guys even make a blessing after relieving yourselves?"

We sure do! It's the best and cheapest health insurance policy anywhere. Hear this:

Asher Yatzar

Blessed are You, HaShem, Our God, King of the universe, Who created the human with wisdom and created within him many openings and many cavities, exposed and known before Your Throne of Glory, that if one of them were to be ruptured or one one of them were to be blocked it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You for even one hour. Blessed are You, HaShem, The physician of all flesh who acts wondrously.

Baruch atah Adonoi, Elohainu, melech ha'olam, Asher yatzar et ha'adam b'chochmah, u'vara vo n'kavim n'kavim, chalulim chalulim, galui v'yadua lifnai chisei chvodecha, she'im yipatei'ach echad maihem o yisataim echad maihem, ee efshar l'hitkayeim v'la'amod l'fanecha afilu sha'ah achat. Baruch atah Adonoi, rofeh chol basar u'mafli la'asot.

The Practical Halachas of Visiting the Toilet

No, this is not a joke. Proper deportment in the bathroom is an integral part of holiness. Besides, Jewish Law covers every single aspect of daily life.

As a service to our readers, here are the laws concerning visiting the toilet in a nutshell, based on Chapter Four of The Abridged Code of Jewish Law (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch):

  1. One must relieve oneself as soon as one feels the need, without delay.
  2. One must be modest in the toilet, and not relieve oneself in front of other people unless there is a partition.
  3. One must be careful not to overly strain, for it could create problems in the colon.
  4. One must not think about Torah or Torah-related subjects in the toilet; instead, think about mundane matters such as business or commerce.
  5. One must cleanse oneself thoroughly after visiting the toilet, for it is forbidden to pray if one’s body isn’t completely clean of excrement traces.
  6. Every time after visiting the toilet, even after urinating one drop, one must wash one’s hands thoroughly and then say the “Asher Yatzar” blessing.

May Hashem grant you and yours wonderful health always, amen.


SCS: Spiritual Cataract Surgery

For everything in the physical word, there is an equivalent in the spiritual world. In fact, the spiritual equivalent is the source and spiritual root of that object in the physical world. For example, the same way that the light of the sun acts in photosynthesis to sustain a plant, Divine light acts upon a soul to sustain it in a strikingly similar manner. Just as we have cataract operations to correct cloudy vision in this world, there is SCS, "Spiritual Cataract Surgery" to better the soul's vision. If a person is unhappy in any way, he or she should strongly consider the option of SCS. Learn all about it in today's eye-opening and eye-healing podcast.

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.


Introducing the Massage Gun

During my recent trip to the USA, not only did I lecture and teach but I learned as well. One of the great things I was introduced to in the fitness arena was the massage gun. It's fantastic and it's a must for anyone who is serious about fitness, workout and recovery. Even if you don't exercise (we hope you'll start) and you spend your day behind a desk, the massage gun will literally save your back, neck and shoulders.

The particular model I'm using here is the "Sonic" by a company named Lifepro. You can obtain this product on Amazon or directly at the Lifepro website. If you do go to the Lifepro website, Healthy@120 is the name of their coupon worth $15.

Check this out, it's amazing:

Introducing the Massage Gun from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Five Vital Questions to Ask Your Physician

5 Questions Physician
One of my main tasks as a health coach is to refer people to the proper medical professional to attain more specialized care for their health issue, whether it's a cardiac problem, diabetes, or any other chronic ailment. As a health coach, my job is to keep healthy people healthy, or even healthier, and to help ailing people to find the best proper treatment.

It's not enough that you find the right physician. It's imperative to ask that physician the right questions. Here are the five most vital questions one needs to ask, not only in relieving the chronic condition, but in improving overall health:

  1. Should I lose weight, maintain my weight or gain weight?
  2. What are the foods I need to eat and what must I avoid?
  3. What is the best type of exercise for me, including recommended frequency and intensity?
  4. Should I limit alcohol, caffeine, or anything else from my diet?
  5. How does stress affect my particular situation and how can I avoid it?

Any treatment or medications that ignore the vitally-needed answers to the above questions will be only partial at best in its effectiveness. Yet, by rectifying diet, exercise, weight control and stress, one will not only improve his or her quality of life but in many cases, overcome the health challenge altogether.

What's more, don't ever forget Who the real Healer is. Prayer, charity and good deeds always help. G-d willing, we hope to do a separate post soon in the vital questions to ask your rabbi or spiritual guide in coping with any health ailment.

At any rate, when choosing the right physician, keep in mind that if he or she does not exercise or lives an unhealthy lifestyle, they in all likelihood won't be able to help you live a healthy lifestyle. Health professionals should be role models and should be living a healthy lifestyle. If they don't, proceed with caution.

One important note - before a fast day like Tisha B'Av or Yom Kippur, if you have a health issue, consult your physician - then your rabbi - before you fast. Meanwhile, have a wonderful Shabbat and a meaningful and easy Tisha B'Av fast. Every blessing, 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


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