The Year I Walked from LA to Venezuela

by Rich Tola, July 21, 2021

If anyone told you they walked 4,000 miles in the past 12 months you’d probably think they were crazy right? Because walking 4,000 miles is the equivalent to walking from the hot and sunny confines of The Valley of Los Angeles, California, to the balmy and tropical valley of Caracas, Venezuela. And yes, it’s totally possible as you can walk across the Panama Canal by way of a pedestrian walkway across the entrance of the locks of Gatun, so no worries if you want to follow my footsteps to get there. Figuratively speaking, that is.

Let me explain.

I didn’t actually pull a Forrest Gump and wake up one day and start walking south through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Columbia before arriving in the capital of Venezuela one year later. No, but wouldn’t that be cool. I actually walked the entire 4,000 miles throughout the streets of LA, from my home in Chinatown going back and forth to a plethora of neighborhoods including DTLA, South Park, the Arts District, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo, Echo Park and yes, Dodger Stadium. 

Walking the empty streets of LA during COVID (4,000 miles)

From June 1, 2020 until June 1, 2021, I walked between 10-12 miles every single day as part of my personal COVID relief. Or shall I say, personal COVID insanity prevention. Because when the lockdowns in LA were imposed back in March 2020 and all the gyms and yoga studios were closed, my daily walking meditations became my only savior. The longer the better, and mostly in perfect quietude with no human interaction whatsoever. Except for the occasional homeless person, who seemed even more surprised to see an even less occasional pedestrian. LA was like a veritable ghost town where I can honestly say I felt like the legendary actor Will Smith, aka US Army virologist Robert Neville, cruising the empty streets of Manhattan in the 2007 post-apocalyptic thriller, I Am Legend

For anyone who knows me, you know that I can’t go a single freaking day without exercising in some form or another, e.g., weightlifting, Tola Yoga, stretching/abs. Good news is for as long as I can remember I was taught that your physical body, aka your temple, is the most important asset you’re ever going to possess in this world. And to respect your temple with a daily fitness program that keeps it vibrant and strong and injury-free, is paramount to maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as turning back the hands of time. 

Something I’ve also been doing for the past 58 years. Drinking from the Fountain of Youth, that is, and yes, something that’s rather challenging to achieve – especially as you get older – but something anyone can do with the help of my 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth. Including Step 20 – Walk to Win, arguably the most important step of all because walking is a perfect source of aerobic exercise not to mention it does wonders for your brain.

That’s right, walking is great for your brain. Just this week the New York Times reported that “Exercise can freshen and renovate the white matter in our brains, potentially improving our ability to think and remember as we age, according to a new study of walking, dancing and brain matter. It shows that white matter, which connects and supports the cells in our brains, remodels itself when people become more physically active. In those who remain sedentary, on the other hand, white matter tends to fray and shrink.”

Fray and shrink just like everything else in our bodies with the help of good ole’ Father Time. Forgettaboutit! Don’t let the world’s most non-beloved Father get the best of you…get with the program now. Translation: start walking today. Or else stay seated and wait for your brain matter to wither away, and hopefully not before your temple does. And if you don’t care so much about improving or at least maintaining your ability to think and remember things as you age, then do it for your family. That’s right, start walking today and bring a loved one along so they can reap the amazing benefits of walking. You can even bring your dog Spot or cat Fluffy if none of your human friends desire to capitalize on such a great opportunity. I’m sure your pets won’t complain, and if they do, then pick them up and carry them for an even better workout. 

Just remember to bring water. And if walking to improve your white brain matter doesn’t really matter to you, then maybe these “12 Benefits of Walking” as described by the Arthritis Foundation will motivate you (see arthritis.org):

  1. Improve circulation
  2. Shore up your bones
  3. Enjoy a longer life
  4. Lighten your mood
  5. Lose weight
  6. Strengthen muscles
  7. Improve sleep
  8. Support your joints
  9. Improve your breath
  10. Slow mental decline
  11. Lower Alzheimer’s risk
  12. Do more for longer

So there you have it, 12 more reasons to walk every single day of your life (or at least 3 times a week for 40 minutes). If you’re capable that is, because not everyone is fortunate enough to walk. But if you can, don’t deny your body, mind and spirit these amazing benefits by choosing a sedentary lifestyle that’s only going to shorten your stay on Planet Earth.

And by the way, in case you were wondering what it’s like to walk 4,000 miles in a 12 month period, let’s just say it may do wonders for your brain but it sure takes a toll on the physical body, especially the low back, hips and knees. But what’s interesting about the routine of walking nearly 100 miles a week is that once your body gets used to it, it’s not only easy to maintain but it almost becomes a daily obsession that you can’t do without. Even with all the aches and pains that come along with it, during and after.

Would I recommend walking that many miles in any given year? No. But I do recommend walking 1-2 miles a day for the rest of their life, no matter who you are. And if you need some help try this: walk out your front door and keep walking for exactly 15 minutes, at a brisk pace with good posture, then stop, turn around, and come back. Voila! 2 miles in about 30 minutes. You can do it, especially if you live in LA or Venezuela or anywhere with a beautiful climate. Or just brave the rain and snow like I did in Chicago and Seattle. But then again you might say it’s summertime in the northern hemisphere and just like DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince rapped back in Philly circa 1991, “Summer, summer, summertime, Time to sit back and unwind.”

No doubt unwinding can be a good thing, especially to decompress from our busy lives. But when it comes to your health, walking is something anyone can incorporate into their current lifestyle. And should incorporate, based upon all the goodness it brings. Especially in today’s new normal world of working from home, there should be ample opportunity in your day to lace’em up Rocky style and kick the bricks, as I like to say. I hope you do, your temple will love you for it. 

Have an awesome summer everyone, and get your walking in! Peace – R

Fountain of Youth Wins The Firebird Book Award

EIGHTY FOUR AUTHORS AWARDED THE FIREBIRD BOOK AWARD

April 2021 – Speak Up Talk Radio announced the winners of 2021’s first quarter FIREBIRD BOOK AWARDS contest. Eighty four winners were announced in 98 categories.

One of the winning entries was from California author Rich Tola whose book titled How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, won in the Aging and Mind/Body/Spirit categories.

Authors and publishers from around the world submitted their work to the Firebird Book Awards. A panel of 12 judges within the writing and publishing space then read every book and independently scored each entry according to a set of standardized criteria that evaluates the quality of the writing as well as production aspects. Only entries with the highest of scores are awarded the coveted Firebird.

Patricia J. Rullo, founder of the Firebird Book Awards, says, “This quarter’s entries were a joy to read and speak to the talent out there. At Speak Up Talk Radio, our mission is to offer radio interviews and podcasting services to help authors expand their reach. In addition to additional prizes, our winners have the opportunity to be interviewed and aired on iHeart Radio, Pandora, as well as 50 additional online venues, giving them new ways to speak up and share their work.”

Pat adds, “We’ve included a charitable component to our awards by making all entry fees tax-deductible to the author. In return, we personally make and send handmade fun and whimsical pillowcases to women and children in homeless shelters via Enchanted Makeovers, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. All entry fees fund this project. In this way, authors can get notoriety for their work while doing good for others. It’s been such a rewarding venture for everyone.”

The Firebird Book Awards run quarterly contests so authors can receive recognition on a timely basis. Authors from all genres, mainstream, independent, and self-published are welcome. Additional winning authors and titles as well as entry information is available at https://www.speakuptalkradio.com

How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth is available in paperback and eBook (English & Chinese) plus the Audiobook narrated by Rich. For information visit www.richtola.com

Chinese eBook in Stores Now!

Excited to announce the Chinese edition of my new motivational book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, is now available in eBook format at these fine stores: Barnes & Noble, Ratuken kobo and Odilo. Coming soon to many more, plus the Chinese paperback will be available later this month.

Have an awesome day everyone…and get your workout in! Peace – R

How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth

Fountain of Youth comes to Audiobook

LOS ANGELES, March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The newly released How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, is now available in audiobook alongside the paperback and ebook editions on Amazon. Narrated by the author/ filmmaker and modern-day yoga master – who really believes he got stuck at age 30 – Rich Tola’s family-friendly audiobook is 3:24 hours long and marks his second narration since his memoir.

The book is ideal for anyone looking to lose weight, feel more energized, be more confident, define their personal goals and aspirations, plus grow mentally as well as improve their entire outlook on life. It’s also for aspiring Millennials still searching for their calling, and for Baby Boomers who finally have the money but not the motivation to pursue their passion.

Tola’s audiobook is fun, fast-paced and colloquial, plus it’s laced with pop culture references and insightful anecdotes garnered over a half-century of experiences. With 30 motivational steps including Be Vain, Love the Scale, Embrace Failure and Self-Correct, Tola is quite the sage who infinitely respects the powers of karma and its effect upon one’s aura, “Looking, feeling and being 20 years younger than your actual age is all about empowering and replenishing your aura on a daily basis, keeping it strong and vibrant for the long haul.” Which is 108, if you ask the former Wall Street trader who also claims he was reborn with the help of yoga.

How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth provides step by step instructions on living better and stronger, and for being your best and healthiest self. The audiobook is a great way to listen to the secrets of Tola’s youthful success at home or on-the-go, while the paperback also doubles as a handy note-taking journal for memorializing your dreams, actions and small victories in life. And if you follow Tola’s 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, “you’ll never be out-of- shape and overweight. I guarantee it.” Strong words to stand by, but Tola certainly does.

Just like he stands by his belief that anyone can drink from the fountain of youth, regardless of your predilection toward exercise or anything else that’s really good for you or otherwise fat burning. As the author states on the back of his book, “Youthfulness is not contingent upon your physical body or how old your face looks, but rather the force you emanate into the Universe.”

Rich Tola is also known for his heartfelt and witty memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood, and films such as Boulevard Zen and Skateboard Bandits.

China Foresees the Fountain of Youth

Hey everyone, I want to give a huge thank you shout-out and kudos to Miranda and Dali, my amazing team from China who did a wonderful translation of my new book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth (available in English on Amazon). Here’s yesterday’s press release:

China Foresees the Fountain of Youth
Author and yoga guru shares his 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth (in Chinese)

LOS ANGELES, CA, December 08, 2020

The new motivational book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, has been translated in Chinese (simplified) and will soon be formally made public. Just four months after the English version was released on Amazon, author/filmmaker and modern-day yoga master, Rich Tola, will soon be revealing the secrets of his youthful success to more than 800 million daily readers throughout the People’s Republic of China. This family-friendly and easy-to-read “how-to manifesto”, as the author calls it, promises to encourage anyone on the planet looking to achieve their best possible self.

In today’s pandemic times when being fit and staying healthy can mean the difference between life and death, the 57-year old author – who thinks he stopped getting older at age 30 – believes that anyone can turn back the hands of Father Time. If you follow his “practical and wise” advice, as one reader describes it. The book delivers an inspiring message of hope and self-respect and that anything is possible if you set your sights and try. How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth provides step-by-step instructions on living better and stronger, and for being your best and healthiest self. The book is ideal for anyone looking to lose weight, feel more energized, be more confident, define their personal goals and aspirations, plus grow mentally as well as improve their entire outlook on life. It’s also for aspiring Millennials still searching for their calling, and for baby boomers who finally have the money but not the motivation to pursue their passion.

Tola’s book also doubles as a handy note-taking journal with a 50-word glossary to improve your vocabulary. Plus, his writing style is just like his Tola Yoga, fast-paced and colloquial, not to mention laced with insightful anecdotes garnered from a half-

century of experiences. With Steps like Be Vain, Love the Scale, Embrace Failure and Self-Correct, the author’s quite the sage who respects the powers of karma. Because, as Tola believes, “Everything in life is circular, so our choices, both good and bad, definitely come back to us in the future.”

Why China and why now? “Because I wanted my universal message of hope, self- respect, and self-discipline to permeate the globe in a big way. And what better society of strong, focused people is there than China, where they’ve been embracing my tough love values since the Xia Dynasty,” says Tola.

Rich Tola is also known for his heartfelt and witty memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood, and films such as Boulevard Zen and Skateboard Bandits.

For more information visit RichTola.com

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Tola Yoga on Zoom – Saturdays in 2020

We had such a great time on Halloween that I decided to teach a weekly Tola Yoga class on Zoom every Saturday from 9-10a (LA time), through Christmas 2020.

No doubt if you take the class – and read my book – you’ll be that much closer to Drinking from the Fountain of Youth. Go to Zoom.us and “join a meeting”

Meeting ID:  917 1004 1603 Passcode: tolayoga

Have an awesome week and I’ll see you on the mat! Peace – R

Tola Yoga on Zoom – Halloween from 9-10a

Hey everyone, hope you’re rockin’ your workouts, but if not you’re in luck.

As promised – and since most of us have adapted to fitness at home – thought I’d contribute to our collective wellness with complimentary Tola Yoga classes. Join me for a great workout, or simply watch and learn.

Go to Zoom.us then click ‘join a meeting’ (upper right). 

Meeting ID:  917 1004 1603
Passcode:  214971

Class is from 9-10a (PDT) on Halloween, this Saturday 10/31. We’re also limited to 100 participants so please come early.   

Have an awesome day…and I’ll see you on the mat! Peace – R

Change is Good…New Studio & Zoom classes!

Just like it’s best to always think positive and never give up when it comes to How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth, the same goes for change: best to embrace change as “a good thing” when it comes to, well, just about anything.

So get ready for some exciting changes with a new podcast studio for Tola Talks 2.0 and some free Tola Yoga classes on Zoom…coming soon!

Get your workout in everyone, and I’ll see you on the mat. Peace – R