Simply Between Millions: Chapters 6 – 10

It’s November 1st and New Year’s Day is fast approaching. You may ask yourself, where did 2011 go? It’s interesting how time seems to pass more quickly as the years pile on. Just the other day I was this six year-old boy learning Sicilian cultures and meeting all sorts of storybook characters you’ll find in my colorful memoirs, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood. Like Goobata Sal and the myriad of essentials that “fell off his truck”. There’s also my love of learning and fitness with Baseball, Push-Ups & Math Games, and my understanding of the Sicilian concept and tradition of “Representing the Family”. In Chapter 9, I explain Acceptable Behaviors and why we make the choices we make, then recount some exciting times at the YMCA.

So take a moment to remember your childhood today, and don’t forget your daily workout. Because before you know it, you’ll be making that resolution to lose that 10 pounds you’ll gain in the next two months. And if you’re new to a daily fitness program, then start with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #85 – Chair Twists. Enjoy – R

Easy on the Splurge

Happy Labor Day everyone! Today my Cookies and Ice Cream friend and I can splurge. But I caution everyone like us who’s celebrating today to go easy on the splurge, because no sense in undoing all the good work you did over the past week or so. And don’t forget to get your workout in with today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #89 – Chair Legs -R

Time’s Up

OK, so I gave you an extra day on the 2% challenge. Did you lose 3 measly pounds or 2% of your body weight? I did, plus an extra one for good measure. Today I tipped the scale at exactly 149 (down from 153). And I saw my Cookies and Ice Cream gal in the gym this morning, and we’re both sticking to that challenge too. Albeit, that’s a tougher one. But no worries, Labor Day’s around the corner so we can splurge! Have a great weekend everybody, and don’t forget your to exercise – all three days. And enjoy today’s 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #90 – Shoulders & Arms. – R

Cookies and Ice Cream

This morning I made a deal with a 46 year-old gal friend from the gym. I know she’s exactly that age, because after demonstrating some cable ab crunches for her, we talked about our respective ages. Not only does she have the best body in the gym of all the ladies in the morning crowd, she doesn’t look a day over 30. And she was quite impressed with my 48 – as she said I looked 30. So we got talking about how difficult it was to keep your abdominals looking good, especially if you eat anything sugar-based, like cookies and ice cream. Well if you really know me, you know I’ve always loved cookies. That’s right, I admit, I eat cookies. Yes, and rather frequently, but when I do, it’s never too many. Just a few to fill that sweet tooth I’ve had since I was a little boy.

Now my friend on the other hand, well she said she likes ice cream. And since we’re both trying to get back our respective six-packs (which I’ve certainly lost over the past few years), we decided to make a deal. Starting today, no cookies or ice cream for either of us until Labor Day. Now that’s only 10 days of no cookies and ice cream. On the 11th, we can splurge! So what do you think? Wanna join us? We could use some reinforcements. You can do it, just like we can. And by the way, in case you were Challenging Yourself with losing 2% of your body weight or 3 measly pounds like me (see blog posted August 18th), well I hope you’re getting there because I already did. Today I weighted exactly 150.

But no worries if you’re not there yet, we have another week to go until the challenge is up on September 1st. So make that two challenges: lose 2% of your body weight and no cookies and ice cream until Labor Day. You can do it if you set your sights and try! And here’s a little help getting you focused and balanced today with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #91 – Standing Splits. Enjoy – R

Take off the Cruise Control

If you have a tendency to use the same exact equipment every time you workout, especially anything cardio, try mixing it up a bit. Because your body becomes accustomed to specific rhythmic exercises and activities, which can put you on cruise control. And if you’ve ever driven your car on cruise control, you know that sometimes you’re going too fast or too slow, depending on the traffic flow and road conditions.

So take your workouts off cruise control and try something different today. Yesterday I traded in my 2 mile run for 30 minutes on the StairMaster. And boy did I sweat! Something I usually don’t do when I’m running or practicing yoga. And since I’m trying to lose those 3 measly pounds – see my previous blog – mixing things up certainly gives my body a chance to work hard on something I’m not accustomed to, i.e., not the same level of tolerance. That’s why my Fat Burning Workouts are so good. Whether it be my 15 minute or 5 minute workouts, each one is completely different from the next. So take off the cruise control today with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #92 – Killer Thighs.

Change one thing…like Sardines

Have you ever challenged yourself to change one thing? That is to say, to change one thing about yourself that you know would significantly benefit you in the long run. Something that you do – or don’t do – that when changed results in a positive outcome. For me it was Sardines. Yes, those small, saltwater, oily-rich, silvery soft-boned fish that feed exclusively on plankton, and therefore, do not concentrate mercury and contaminants as do other fish.

Named after Sardinia, the Italian island where large schools of these fish were once found, sardines are: 1) rich in Protein – which provides us with amino acids to create new proteins, 2) one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA – which have been found to lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels, 3) an excellent source of vitamin B-12 – which promotes cardiovascular well-being, 4) incredibly concentrated in vitamin D – which plays an essential role in bone health since it helps to increase the absorption of calcium, 5) a very good source of Phosphorus – a mineral that is important for strengthening bones, 6) a very good source of Selenium – a mineral with powerful antioxidant activity whose dietary intake has been associated with reduced risk of cancer, and 7) relatively inexpensive, low in calories and have a long storage life. Except for the fact that sardines contain naturally occurring substances called purines – which too much purines in the body can lead to an excess accumulation of uric acid, and thus, can lead to gout or kidney stones – they’re excellent for you!

So why is it that prior to this week I wouldn’t go near sardines? Because when I tried them as a youngster, I hated them. Or at least I hated them at that particular time in my life. So when my father told me he eats canned sardines regularly to help combat his cancer, I thought why not change one thing about myself and start eating sardines. No matter my pre-conceived notion that I hated them, I purchased a few cans and dove right in. Now sardines are a regular part of my diet. Quite frankly, I like them more than any other of my previously consumed canned aquatic vertebrates, like tuna and salmon.

Whether it be sardines or a daily fitness program, change one thing that will better your life today and in the long run. Just because you think you don’t like something, doesn’t mean you can’t change your way of thinking. Especially with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workouts. They’re so short, simple and easy to follow, that anyone with a computer or smart phone can do them in the same amount of time it takes to eat a can of sardines! Here’s a 5 minute workout from my 100 day web series: #94 – Leg Stretches. Enjoy – R

Get Comfortable with Feeling Uncomfortable

The other day I met a bodybuilder who said he tried yoga and hated it because it made him “feel uncomfortable”. I responded with just one word, “exactly”. Simple put, yoga demands you to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

If you ever tried yoga and immediately began to fidget and squirm your way out of your first downward facing dog, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Because the physical practice of yoga (the asanas), put your body into challenging positions that will QUIET your MIND and get rid of all that mind chatter. Of course we know what mind chatter is, right? It’s that inner conversation you’re having with yourself about anything and everything that’s going through your mind. Including the discomfort you’re experiencing in a particular pose – including the simplest of down dogs.

When the ancient yogi’s practiced 6,000+ years ago, yoga was embraced as a culture that included the art of positioning their bodies into asanas (poses) for long periods of time to cleanse themselves and to reach a higher enlightenment, aka, nirvana. Yoga was revered as a lifestyle seeking union with the Supreme. Yoga also enabled it’s male practitioners – since women weren’t allowed to practice – to quiet their bodies and their minds while focusing on one particular object for an extended period of time. No matter the feelings of discomfort. Today most people think yoga is either just stretching and meditation, or some kind of body-twisting exercise that’s really good for you but really hard to do. And the really hard to do part usually has something to do with not wanting to endure discomfort – for any period of time.

So if you’re anything like our bodybuilder friend and don’t like feeling uncomfortable, keep your yoga workouts short and sweet with just 5 minutes a day. Soon you’ll get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, and you’ll truly begin to experience the benefits of yoga. And always remember that pain is bad and discomfort is good. So enjoy some good discomfort with our upcoming FAT BURN AMERICA TOUR: 100 Cities in 100 Days, Hollywood Walk of Fame Preview! – R

Benefits of Yoga

The Boulevard Zen Foundation teaches the benefits of yoga to women and children living in domestic violence shelters. That’s why we’re going on the FAT BURN AMERICA TOUR: 100 CITIES in 100 DAYS, to inspire Everyone to workout with us Everyday for 100 straight days at historic sites in all 50 states! And to help The Boulevard Zen Foundation raise funds to teach women and children survivors of domestic violence, Everywhere.

YOGA
– Builds physical strength & flexibility
– Builds mental strength & focus
– Builds self-esteem & self-respect
– Builds energy & stamina
– Builds courage & self-love
– Reinforces proper breathing & posture
– Improves internal health & circulation
– Improves self-confidence & creative thinking
– Increases concentration & self-discipline
– Promotes relationship building & trust

And you don’t have to take a yoga class to get these benefits. Keep it simple and practice a little each day. And here’s me teaching the women and children living at the domestic violence shelter in San Diego. Enjoy and don’t forget to get your workout in! – Rich

GQ – Letter to the Editor

If you’re a GQ reader like me, you probably read the August issue with Mila Kunis on the cover. On page 32, there’s a brief article by Mark Byrne called “Rewriting the Book on Yoga”, with a 15 minute yoga workout as prescribed by a studio owner in NYC. Unfortunately, I cringed when I reviewed the workout that includes three twisting and forward bending poses, the last of which is an advanced pose.

But before I add my two cents, let me state my fitness and yoga qualifications: I’m 48 years old, 5’7″ and weigh 150 pounds. My body fat is less than 9% and most people think I’m 33. I’ve worked out in fitness centers every day for the past 32 years totaling more than 12,000 hours. I’ve practiced yoga every day for the past six years totaling more than 2,000 hours. An accomplished student/athlete through college, I’m also a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Cycling Instructor, and 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I’ve taught more than 15,000 yoga students of all levels in the past five years, from the ages 3 to 93. I’ve created more than 15 hours of instructional yoga videos in the past two years, including a Yoga Survival Guide detailing more than 100 poses.

I currently teach yoga to women and children living in domestic violence shelters, who had zero experience with fitness and yoga before I got there. I have neck, low back, shoulder and wrist issues, and have been injured three times since I started practicing yoga – all from bad teachers. Thus, my very precise teaching style is designed to minimize injury to any body part, especially the neck and low back. Finally, I’ve practiced yoga mostly in New York City and Los Angeles, the yoga meccas of the United States, and have taken classes with the “so-called” best teachers in the world. 90% of which are women.

That said, here’s why I disagree with the Byrne’s claim that GQ “found the best back-saving, workout-improving moves…” When it comes to anything twisting and forward bending while standing, you better move slowly and be super careful. Your stance is critical, which the caption doesn’t clearly emphasize. The caption also says “twist your head to look up”, which you should NEVER attempt without properly warming up the spine and preparing your body for such deep twists. Revolved triangle is a perfect example of this. A good teacher wouldn’t sequence this pose until at least halfway through the yoga class, because coming into this pose is AS IMPORTANT as the pose itself. So is coming back up to stand once you’ve been in the pose for any length of time. Here’s why: once your torso weight and your 10 pound head is down and over your forward leg, you’re balancing this weight over a tight triangular stance, making it quite difficult to manage. And since most men carry their weight in their torso and have tight hamstrings, coming into – or out of – this pose without bending your legs (like the picture shows), and without moving ridiculously slow, could lead to serious injury.

Thus, it’s not back-saving at all. It’s actually quite strenuous on your neck, low back and hamstrings. And requires ample core strength to control your torso as you’re folding forward at a 90 degree angle (if you keep your back straight like the picture – which is also very difficult). And although the directions state “you won’t be able to touch the floor right away – settle for your ankle”, very few men can even get to their ankle. Frankly, this is a very challenging pose for an advanced yogi, let alone anyone who’s never done it before. So take note and be VERY CAREFUL, especially when twisting and forward bending at the same time. And if you really want to experiment with this pose on your own, warm up and strengthen your core and abs first with my 5 Minute Fat Burning Workout #82 – Easy Abs. Enjoy & hope to see you on the FAT BURN TOUR! – Rich Tola