Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kick Junkfood to the Curb

Over the past 5 years, I've taught over 7,000 hours of personal training, buddy and class sessions. In all this time, I've tried to convince my clients of the superiority of real food over "food-like" substances.

By real food, I mean vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, organic sprouted whole grains and for some people select dairy options such as raw cheese and plain yogurt.

By "food-like substances" I mean anything and everything that is processed, refined and contains additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers, sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners and colors and a list of polysyllabic ingredients.

Recently I witnessed something that dramatically reinforced the importance of eating real food even more than any of the books or articles I've read or seminars I've attended.

I have a client, a young man who wants to lose some weight. Actually he wants to lose body fat and add lean muscle. He's like many of you who are within 10 pounds of your ideal weight but want that fat around the middle to disappear to create a more trim athletic look. In his quest for quick results, "Billy" (a pseudonym to protect his identity) ate sparingly and at odd times and became increasingly frustrated with the abundance of junk food that was constantly around him being consumed by friends and family.

When I came to work him out, he was still asleep late in the day. He started the session listless, fussy, irritable, vacillating from depression to frustration and essentially running on fumes both physically and mentally. "Billy" began to rant and rave in existential angst:

"What's the point?!"
"I can't go on like this!"
"Why can't I eat like everybody else?!"
"I can't work out every day!"
"I just want to look good, I don't want to do anything any more!"

After the emotional wave passed, we then sat down and made up a shopping list of live organic real foods to be purchased at my favorite health food store, "Erewhon" on Beverly Blvd. in West Hollywood.

The next day "Billy" was transformed. He was ready to work out the moment I arrived. He was so full of energy he added extra sets, reps, and elements to our enlightened bootcamp. At the end of our session he took off for a few sprints up and down the street.

He was so excited and hyped and pumped that the food he had purchased tasted so good. He suddenly realized that when his body gets the nutrients it needs, he becomes energized and a positive force capable of doing extraordinary things. He had a glow, a bounce and a vibrancy that was remarkable. And that was after only two meals of real healthy food: dinner the previous night and breakfast before we worked out.

Poor "Billy" had been starving his body and brain. And now he saw not only could he eat healthy real food to lean out, but that he would have more energy to exercise and fulfill whatever his schedule demanded.

It was pretty amazing. It was like seeing the lights being turned on inside him.

You may be taking much better care of yourself than "Billy" had. Or maybe you're starving your body and brain as well. I urge you to go to and click on Free FAT BURNING eBook and download your simple blueprint to turn the lights on in your body.

And please, feel free to email me with any questions.

To your health and happiness!


Monday, September 1, 2008

The Thrill & Agony of the Olympics

As the Olympics shines the light on victory and defeat we bask in the glow and feel our hearts sink in empathy. The difference between athletic immortality and heartbreak is often measured in millimeters and milliseconds. So what did we learn in the Beijing Olympics of 8-8-08?

Essentially, every snapshot Olympic moment is the culmination of a story.

A funny-looking boy with big ears and ADD has to grow up without a father and find some way to channel his frenetic energy as his body continues to grow longer and in strange proportions.

A young girl of African-American, Native American, Norwegian and French descent, attended eight different schools in eight years and had to move in with foster families to complete her high school education while fulfilling the gift of speed she with which she had been blessed.

Michael Phelps achieved the unreachable: 8 Gold Medals in swimming.

Lolo Jones "felt the gold medal around her neck" in the 100 meter hurdles as she led the field only to nick the second to last hurdle and miss her Olympic dream for the second time.

We cheer and throw our arms skyward in celebration of Michael Phelps.

We swallow an empathetic lump of despair in commiseration with Lolo Jones.

As Rudyard Kipling says in his famous poem "If"
"If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same"

Michael Phelps was always Michael Phelps even before eclipsing Mark Spitz' record.

Lolo Jones was always Lolo Jones even before she felt the dream slip away.

What will truly inform their characters, the essence of who they are, is how they now react to Triumph and Disaster.

The pageantry and publicity have faded and they both will rest, regroup and then get back to work. For Michael Phelps, you can't top perfection. So he will dive back into the process and re-connect with the passion of the journey. For Lolo Jones, it's the realization that years of focus led to a moment of distraction. In her fated race, she kept her mind connected to her body until that millisecond where instead of thinking of each technical moment, she felt the gold around her neck and then her foot against that hurdle. She too will dive back into the process and find the true value of the journey, wherever it takes her.

We honor Michael Phelps and Lolo Jones. They are both champions. For they were the ones fighting the great fight, while we all watched.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Overcoming Inertia and Finding the Flow

Sometimes you feel like Sisyphus, straining and struggling to get that rock up to the top of the mountain, only to find it roll right back down.

And sometimes you find yourself so involved in what you are doing, that time itself ceases to exist, until you stop and realize, "Ohhhh yeah, I was in the flow."

Why is most everything such a struggle?
And why is it so bloody difficult to find the flow?

In order to offer an answer to these two questions, I'd like to connect the concepts of overcoming inertia and finding the flow to an epiphany I had in High School.

On the way to the baseball field for tryouts, I walked through the gym and saw the Hamilton High School gymnastics team going through their paces.  I recognized one kid; to avoid slander, I'll just call him Frizzy-haired Nerdy Guy, who was doing an elementary "muscle up" on the rings.   Frizzy-haired Nerdy Guy taunted me, saying I couldn't do the trick he had just done.  Now mind you, I was pretty strong.  In fact, I had set the record in Junior High for pull-ups, so I jumped up and grabbed the rings with bravado and proceeded to struggle and strain and kick my legs around helplessly as I fought with every ounce of strength to pull my body up and I was going nowhere.

With the laughter of the Frizzy-haired Nerdy Guy ringing in my ears, I found myself on the baseball field, waiting to bat, then waiting in the field for someone to hit me the ball.  Just waiting, becoming the very principle of inertia, unchanged, in an existing state of rest until that state is changed by an additional force.  What was the force?  Frizzy-haired Nerdy Guy's laughter?  My ego?  My desire?  My curiosity?  My boredom?  My life passing me by while I'm wasting my time waiting when I could in that gym DOING SOMETHING COOL!

So I took off from the baseball field, ran in my cleats back to the gym and signed up for the gymnastics team.  I strained, I struggled, I ripped up my hands, I woke up each morning in excrutiating soreness, I embarrassed myself constantly, and over time, I got better and better and as I mastered each trick, I found the glorious flow.  The magical moment when all that hard work and struggle and complex thought leads to a magnificent ease and BAM, there I am upside down in perfect balance with people applauding. Countless moments of pain and frustration for a second of glory.  And oh, how it was worth it.

In Taoism, the phrase "wu wei" means effortless flow.  By going with the flow of nature, instead of fighting the laws of the universe we allow them to aid us in our action.  "Wu Wei" makes the difficult look easy.  It's the moment where "Think.  Think.  Don't Think!"  takes you to another level. Picture in your mind any high-level athlete or performer you admire and they seem to defy the laws of physics; but in reality they have learned how to efficiently use them.

Both of my kids played Division 1 soccer in college.  And they both know how in a 90-minute match, they may touch the ball a total of less than a minute, and as grueling as defeat can be, there is that magical moment when time doesn't exist and they make that one play that makes it all worthwhile.  I've seen it in their faces on a game-winning goal and the heavens open. 

So whether it's gymnastics or soccer, or a yoga class or dancing or a project or activity that challenges you to overcome your inertia, you may struggle and strain, but when you find that flow, even if you just touch it for a millisecond, it's glorious, it's magical, and for a fleeting moment that you can recall whenever you need it, you are lifted by the wave, the wind is at your back, and the world is spinning at your speed in your chosen direction.  You aren't just a part of something greater, you are something greater.

So to really beat the sports metaphor up, you have two choices.  Be the spectator and give in to inertia.  Or get on the field of play and find the flow, whether it's commiting to a new exercise plan or a new eating plan or taking the necessary supplements to protect, cleanse and up-regulate your body, or reading that important book or starting that new program.  The additional force to overcome inertia and find the flow is not only within you.  It is you.  

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Never-ending Quest For Beauty & Truth

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Who said this?  
    Madonna, during her English accent phase?
    Ross Perot, explaining why people didn't vote for him for president?
    John Keats in "Ode to a Grecian Urn?"

Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Yes, Keats fans, you are correct.
Two of my favorite words in the English language:
Beauty launched a thousand ships to start the Trojan War.
Truth, as we all know, is the first casualty of war.
What is beauty and what is truth?
Throughout history the answer to both is subjective.
And yet somehow Keats finds them interchangeable.

At first I thought this was quite a stretch, until I looked at it 
from a metaphysical point of view.  Years ago, I was incredibly
fortunate to study under the Breslover Hasidic Rabbi, 
Reb Dovid Din.  It was during the mid-70's and Reb Dovid had
decided it was time to teach Kabbalah to men and women, 
Jews and non-Jews, anyone who was truly interested and 
open-minded.  This was not your celebrity-dabbling cult-like stuff
that has become "in vogue" today.  To quote Larry David, "Not
that there's anything wrong with that."

Reb Dovid would give a teaching that would start off with an
everyday point of view, then he would spin off on an intellectual 
thread, then a spiritual thread, then a biblical thread, then a
psychological thread, then an emotional thread, and then somehow
he would weave these diverse threads together into a brilliant 
conceptual tapestry of beauty and truth.

I learned from Reb Dovid, that we have energy centers in different
parts of the body that have different colors, vibrations and attributes.
In a later post I will go into more detail about the 10 Spheres of the
Tree of Life, but for our purposes, we will focus on the energy
center in the center of the chest that some of you may already know
as the "heart chakra."

In Kabbalah, this center is called by the Hebrew word, "Tiferet," which
means "Beauty."  It's attributes are Love, Balance, Harmony, 
Connection.  This is where your essence of self resides, your  
authenticity of self.  Your own personal truth.  Think for a minute about 
what you physically do when someone asks you how you TRULY feel.  
We all instinctively pat our chest area, our heart center, our Tiferet, our 
BEAUTY sphere.

This energy portal where Beauty and Truth flow in and flow out is the
connecting point between Spirit and Matter, Heaven and Earth, The 
Highest Form of Consciousness and the Most Common Everyday Reality.

It is also the midpoint between the spheres of Compassion and 
Judgement.   When you have an equal amount of compassion and 
judgement you will find  Beauty and Truth.  Loving Compassion for 
others and yourself.  Fair Judgement concerning others and yourself.  
In balance.  Shining your beauty.  Your truth.

This is a physical, spiritual and intellectual reality.  We don't need 
liposuction.  We don't need drastic diets.  We don't need to look or 
feel like some plasticized cynical ideal cobbled together by a twisted 
corporatocracy dedicated to the proposition of convincing you that 
you aren't good enough unless you purchase things that you 
instinctively know are not good for you.   We don't need to search 
for greatness or that "Higher Power" out there!  
     It's inside you.  In your heart center.  In your Tiferet.  
Your Beauty.  Your Truth.  

Thursday, July 3, 2008

'Cuz There Is A Cure For The Summertime Blues’

2009 Volkswagen
Jetta TDi
Clean Diesel’s 50 MPG

Usually, I love the summer. Even though many moons have passed since I’ve experienced the mad dash out of school and into the carefree contemplation of sunshine and freedom, summer has always been tinged with the aura of “play-time.”

Not this summer. Without naming names to protect the innocent, this has started out as one of the weirdest summers I’ve ever experienced. Death, injury, the cost of gas, the breathlessness of fear, the cost of gas, unforeseen developments, the cost of gas, and before I forget, the cost of gas.

I will try to discipline myself and not get too political. Two people can love each other and then want to kill each other over political disparities. I want to draw people in, not push them away with ‘surface’ wedge differences. So when I find myself obsessing about the cost of gas, rather than point and howl, I’ve decided to go clean diesel.

I experimented last year by renting a 100% Bio-diesel filled VW to see if the dang thing would run on veggie-squeeze. It performed beautifully and I was bound and determined to tell the Oil Companies to stick it, until I found out that if you lease a car, the warranty won’t be honored if you run it on 100% Bio-diesel.

So I waited. I know what you’re thinking. “Dude, just get a Prius!” Hey, I tried, my friendly neighborhood Toyota dealer insisted on tacking on a hefty fee for “Lo-Jack & Undercoating.” I responded by saying, “I’ve seen ‘Fargo’ and I’m not putting that fee in your pocket.”

So I waited. My friendly neighborhood VW dealer had been bragging for months about the new “Clean Diesel Jetta TDI.” It was rumored to get up to 50 mpg and with exceptionally low emissions. The concept car model finally came in. I test drove it and I ordered one with dreams of getting 600-700 miles on a single tank of gas dancing in my febrile brain like the agile Hippopotamus in “Fantasia.”

So I continue to wait… for my order to come through. And when my lean “green” mean piece of machinery arrives, I will update you all.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Welcome to the Yodomaster's Blog

This is the place where we will share
semi-deep thoughts

out of the box opinions

ever-changing info on
fitness & wellness

all things connected within

the body-mind spirit paradigm

Just as the YODO® system continues to evolve so too will this blog.

So here we go:

Serenity - Courage - Wisdom

I am a triple A control freak. It can be exhausting. It's taken me many years to understand and accept the fact that, indeed, there are some things I cannot control. Believe me, this "acceptance" hasn't come easily.

For example. Other people. Why can't they act exactly as I want--no--be honest--as I DEMAND! My wife of 28 years who is no academician, but has a Phd in "lifesmarts" would always say in her lyrical English accent, "Darling, you can't change other people, you can only change how you react to them."

At first this seemed like irritating psychobabble, but then the control-freak in me said, "Wait a minute, clearly I can't control them, but I've got a good shot at controlling me. By Jove, I'll give it a go."

And sometimes it helped. And sometimes it didn't. I had established more control, but not enough acceptance. And then the writer in me said, "When someone else does something that makes you want to pull out your eyebrows, ask yourself this: 'Is this other person acting in character.'"

The answer 100% of the time is YES. Everybody acts in character. And this realization helps me to "let go." Let go of expectations. Let go of disappointment. Let go of hurt and frustration. OK, not completely, but enough to feel like I'm back in control. At least of myself.

Here's the point. Acceptance is difficult to come by. According to the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross 5 stage grief cycle we go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

I can't tell you how many times I jumped on the express train from anger to acceptance just by assuring myself that the difficult relative or officious bureacrat, or flaky friend was 'acting in character.'

And then, feeling calmer and in control, I could "change my response" to them accordingly.

These are powerful words, "change" "accept"

Right out of "The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, which beyond it's original religious underpinnings has come to be used in 12 Step programs as non-denominational spiritual guidance. Using the word, "God" is loaded since so many people interpret divinity differently, but for our purposes, "God" in the following prayer is the higher power, or heightened awareness that isn't "out there" but "deep within you."

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change / the courage to change the things I can / and the wisdom to know the difference."

This prayer, this inspirational quote, is a control freak's dream. That which we can't change, we accept; that which we can change, go for it, and get your head on right so you can tell which is which.

And to be fair, it's really out of order. Serenity doesn't come flying out the shoot. In fact, between Serenity, Courage and Wisdom, we're probably going to jump to courage first. Having the courage to overcome inertia and make the necessary changes in our lives. In the process of doing what we can, we quickly find what we cannot.

In terms of fitness and wellness, yes, we can exercise and eat better. Will we look like the cover model of "Eat Your Heart Out" monthly? Probably not. So we let go of that and go for the cover model of "I Look & Feel Incredible For My Age & Body Type" weekly. A little courage, a little wisdom. And eventually, when we have done the work to transform our bodies while engaging our minds, we ultimately boost our spirits and find the kind of self-acceptance that gives us a little Serenity.

Ahhhh....serenity. Until the next challenge!!!