Cardio for the Soul

Cardio4Soul
Thank G-d, we're home from two very successful trips to the UK and the USA

Our forefather Isaac was righteous and holy, connected to the Almighty with all his might. What's more, he maintained fantastic physical shape. Not only did he perform heavy labor like digging ditches, but he made sure to get his cardio in daily, walking in the field while communing with Hashem. The Torah in this week's portion says so:

"And Isaac went out to converse in the field..." (Genesis 24:63).

Every single movement of our holy forefathers, including their labor and their fitness routine, was motivated by the purest intent to serve Hashem. With this in mind, why did Isaac make a special effort to go out to the field in order to commune with Hashem?

If I'm not mistaken, the notion of "field" is an allusion to the service of Hashem. The Gemara cites a case about a field that has strong undertones alluding to one's obligation to refine his or her character. The Gemara states[1]: "One who rents a field from his neighbor and refuses to weed the field, saying, "What do you care as long as I'm paying the rent" – one need not listen to him, for the owner of the field can say, "tomorrow you leave the field and it yields for me weeds."

The simple interpretation of the above passage is that a person has rented a field for whatever reason but he's too lazy to weed the field and properly maintain it. The owner of the field therefore has a bitter grievance. The renter asks the owner, "Why are you so upset? I'm paying the rent, so I can do whatever I want with the field."

The owner replies, "Oh, no you can't! You must pay me damages. The field was capable of yielding thick, luscious stalks of wheat. But now that it's full of weeds, it will only yield scrawny thin stalks. The potential yield will be much less."

The renter answers, "No problem! I'll by you the best grade of wheat on the market and reimburse you for your field's loss of potential."

Disagreeing, the owner says, "I don't want the wheat from the market; I want the wheat from my own field!

The renter then says, "OK, I'll cultivate and weed a portion of the field to repay you the damages. The owner doesn't agree to that either, for he claims that the renter has given a bad reputation to his field.

What's the bad reputation that the owner is speaking about? Rashi explains[2] that the neighbors, who know that the owner of the field is diligent and undoubtedly weeds and cultivates the field, will see that the field nevertheless is full of weeds. The field will therefore receive a bad reputation that will sorely decrease it's value if the owner ever desires to rent it again or to sell it.

The renter thinks that he's fulfilling his obligation by merely paying the rent. He doesn't take into account the long-term damage that his negligence causes. The un-weeded weeds will grow to maturity, then cast their seeds all over the field. After every rain, new weeds will spring up, harming and reducing the yield of the desired crop in addition to weakening the field. Therefore, "one need not listen to him" as the Gemara says. Religious law states emphatically[3] that the renter is not allowed to neglect proper maintenance of the field because of the long-term damage that the negligence will cause.

If I'm not mistaken, the above sugiya[4] alludes to a person who fails to fulfill his obligation to refine and rectify his character. The owner if the field is symbolic of the Almighty. The field symbolizes the soul, which is given temporarily to the renter, which symbolizes the body. The weeds in the field allude to bad character traits. By "proper cultivation", Torah and Jewish ethics learning, one 'weeds the field" and refines character. The lazy "renter", especially a person with a religious appearance who fails to learn Torah and emuna while doing his best to internalize and live by them, ends up giving a bad name not only to "Hashem's field", but his uncultivated character and bad traits will give a bad name to the entire community, Heaven forbid. As such, we all must get to work for there's no room for laziness in Judaism.

Blessings for a magnificent Shabbat, LB

[1]        Bava Metzia 105b

[2]        ibid, Rashi's commentary

[3]        Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 328:1

[4]        Case of discussion 


5 Simple Steps for Staying Calm Under Extreme Pressure

Gaza Mortars
Many offer flowery advice for staying calm under pressure, but unfortunately, much doesn't hold up under combat conditions, as they say in the military.

In the last 16 hours, over 200 rockets have fallen in the south of Israel. Families are back and forth between the bomb shelters and living quarters, having to cope with overflows of adrenaline every time the Red Alert siren wails and the rockets or rocket interceptors explode. It's not pleasant, to say the least.

Over the years, I've put together a few simple guidelines to coping and staying calm in the scenarios of rocket attacks, which have proved effective. If these ploys work under rocket attacks, they certainly won't let you down in coping with day-to-day stress.

  1. Remember Hashem! Say over and over, ein od milvado - "There is no one but Him," and remind yourself that a hair cannot fall from your head against his will. Remind your family that Hashem is right here with you.
  2. Thank Hashem for whatever blessings you can immediately think of, such as, "Thank You, Hashem, for this bomb shelter" or "Thank You, Hashem, for the IDF and the missile interception systems." Ask your children to say what they're grateful for and to thank Hashem too.
  3. Sing or hum a melody of faith, encouragement and inspiration - I love this one or this one, for example. If you're with your family, get everyone to sing along. There will be no more fear.
  4. Say, "Hashem loves me," over and over.
  5. Be optimistic - positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes.

By now, the coast is probably clear. Every time you implement the above steps, in part or in whole, under fire, you develop more inner strength. They won't let you down.


Effects of Anxiety on the Body: an Overview

LBFlute
A substantial chunk of the health problems that folks suffer from stem from anxiety and worry. Here's a brief overview:

  1. Heart-related ailments: your cardiovascular system is not designed to be anxiety-and-worry proof. Anxiety and worry are frequently the culprits responsible for rapid heart rate, palpitations, high blood pressure and heart disease.
  2. Digestive system: also with a low anxiety/worry resistance rating. Loss of appetite, stomach aches, nausea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are common hitchhikers on anxiety-ridden lives. Also, IBS people are super susceptible to vomiting, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
  3. Immune system: with the body in the constant fight-or-flight stage because of the anxiety, the huge amounts of adrenaline and cortisol released to the body deplete the immune system's energy and open the body wide open to infection and sicknesses of all types.
  4. Appearance and fitness: anxiety and worry expedite the aging process, make a person look older than his or her years and interfere with weight loss and physical fitness. Also, the headaches, insomnia and muscle tension associated with anxiety rob a person of his/her ability to exercise and to stay in shape.
  5. Respiratory system: anxiety causes shortness of breath and triggers asthma.
  6. Central Nervous system: Look out! Anxiety sets off panic attacks, spontaneous feelings of extreme negativity, terror, and/or impending doom, Heaven forbid. Anxiety also raises the risk of a stroke.

Is anxiety worth it? Heck no! That's all well and good, but what can you do about it?

First of all, come hear my lecture in Manchester, UK on Nov. 9, 2019 (see poster below) or in Brooklyn on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. After I get hope, G-d willing, I'll post a synopsis of the lecture. Meanwhile, listen to calming music, play your guitar or flute, enjoy a cup of herb tea or dry red wine (preferably from Israel) and talk to the Almighty.

Manchester


"Fit After Fifty": A Super Seminar for Men, 50 and Above

The "Better Health Studios" of Brooklyn, one of the world's foremost "kosher" fitness studios for men, owned and operated by Certified Personal Trainer Joel ("Yoeli") Gottehrer, joins forces with "Brody Health and Wellness", owned and operated Rabbi Lazer Brody of Ashdod, Israel, one of the world's only rabbis who is a Certified Health Coach and Fitness Trainer with a truly holistic approach to health and wellness that addresses both body and soul.

In their mutual effort to heighten the awareness of exercise, proper diet and health maintenance – all in accordance with Halacha and with the hascamos of leading rabbonim, Yoeli and Rav Lazer are pleased to announce the "Fit After Fifty" one-day chance-of-a-lifetime seminar, which will take place, G-d willing, on Sunday, November 17, 2019 (19 Cheshvan, 5780), at the Better Heath Studios in Boro Park, between 12-3 PM. The program will include:

  • The Obligation of Maintaining Fitness According to Torah
  • The Principles of Proper Diet and Nutrition, including safe and healthy weight loss
  • An overview of the different types of exercise
  • Exercise and fitness for those with health limitations
  • Functional Fitness
  • Self Defense – a topic of growing importance in light of current events
  • Exercise lab and a chance to work out on your own level under the guidance of a personal fitness trainer
  • Questions and answers with Yoeli, the Better Health training staff and Rabbi Lazer
  • Refreshments and Mincha at the conclusion of the seminar

Do not miss this unique opportunity, for participation is limited to 39 participants only on a first-come, first-serve basis. For registration and more information, call 718-5766060

Fit After 50


7 Steps to Preventing a Panic Attack

Preventing Panic 29.10
To prevent a panic attack, it's important to remember how and why it's happening. King David, the greatest psychotherapist who ever lived, understood the human soul better than anyone else. He said, "Happy is the person whose strength is in You" (Psalm 84:6). In other words, the moment a person realizes that he or she cannot handle a situation on their own, and they turn to the Almighty for strength, then they immediately neutralize panic and negativity. Understand that panic comes from the evil inclination, to disarm and disable a person so that he or she cannot serve Hashem. Our sages in the Gemara teach that no one has the power to overcome the evil inclination on their own. We all in varying degrees are susceptible to panic, but we overcome it as soon as we throw all our problems into Hashem's lap. In the same vein, Rabbi Chaim of Volozyn osb"m said that the spiritual ploy of overcoming any fear or anxiety is simple to remember and repeat ein od milvado,  "There is nothing or no one but You, Hashem!"

Therefore:

Step One of preventing a panic attack is to remember Hashem,

Step Two is to repeat "ein od milvado,  There is nothing or no one but You, Hashem," seven times.

Step Three is to ask the Almighty for help - call his Name out load, be vocal, even yell or scream if that helps you.

Step Four is to get the endorphins (feel-good hormones) flowing. How? Try one of these options: 

    a. Do as many pushups as you can;

    b. Run around the block or jog in place for two minutes;

    c. Do ten burpees.

Step Five is to take ten deep breaths, inhaling as deep as you can and exhaling as slow as you can.

Step Six is to sniff the aroma of lavender oil, which is known for being soothing and stress-relieving. It can help your body relax.

Step Seven is to call a time out, sit or walk in a quiet place, and speak to Hashem and once again, ask for His help and guidance; He'll be glad to give it to you.

Panic and the above 7 steps are mutually exclusive. But, as preparing for war, we must practice maneuvers. Don't wait for a panic attack to implement the above steps - you can do them anytime and they'll make you feel better. Yet, once we never forget Hashem and we always remember "ein od milvado,  There is nothing or no one but You, Hashem," we safeguard ourselves against any and all sorts of panic, fear and anxiety. Try it - it works and has been tested under the most extreme of challenges. Every blessing, LB


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


Powerlifting for the Mind

KB Gemara
Power-lifting? That's lifting heavy weights, what trainers call "resistance training". What could possibly be power-lifting for the mind?

Pick up a Gemara. Nothing in the world will build your brain muscle like a Gemara. And it's the toughest form of resistance training too - wait till you see the resistance that you get from the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) the minute you decide to pick up a Gemara.

I invite you to visit an old age home in the ultra-Orthodox areas of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Don't be alarmed when you walk into the Bet Midrash (study hall, which every Charedi old age home has), and you'll find two spry nonagenarians animatedly waving their hands in the air, banging on the table and yelling at each other while arguing a point in Talmudic logic and debate. There's no one here with Alzheimer's - these old gents have been doing resistance training for their brains all their lives. Maybe many of their body functions are limited, but they suffer no atrophy of the mind. Their brains work hard.

The Koreans have always been pioneers in fitness. It's no surprise that the Talmud (Mishna and Gemara) has become a smash bestseller in Korea. The Koreans too want to strengthen their brains... 

How is it that Alzheimer's is so rare in the Torah world? While 11% of the general population in the USA over age 65, and 32% of the population over the age of 85 suffers from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, the estimated numbers are less than a tenth of that among Torah scholars. Take for example the great spiritual leaders of recent years, such as Rav Shach, Rav Leib Steinman shlit'a, Ravi Vosner and Rav Elyashiv, all of sacred and blessed memories, who lived past 100 years old and had crystal-clear razor-sharp minds until their final days on earth.

What is it about the Gemara that strengthens the mind so much? First of all, it's Divine nutrition for the brain as opposed to the passive junk-food that most people feed their brains today. Second, understanding the Gemara requires conscious, sustained mental effort - it does for the brain what an HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout does for the body. Even when a person gets up from his Gemara session, his mind is still contemplating what he learned, just like the after-burn effect of a good workout. Third, learning with a chavruta (learning partner) forces the Gemara learner to be alert, attentive and mentally sharp. There's no boredom here. In fact, chavruta-style learning is fantastic for those who are kinesthetic or audial learners, because of the back-and-forth give-and-take style of learning where it's OK to fly out of your chair, learn standing up or any way else you like.

Bottom line - for a strong mind, nothing beats a Gemara. Blessings always, LB


Mom's Menu and Baby's Stomach Pains

Baby  23.10
Dear Coach Lazer,

My first baby is only three months old, and he's been suffering all through Succoth from stomach pains that keep him yelling and screaming much of the time. Yesterday, I went to the pediatrician, and he gave me a prescription and told me not to breastfeed any more. I read so much about the importance of nursing, and I hate to give it up. My next-door neighbor is a fan of yours, and suggested that I ask you before putting my baby on the bottle. Is there some urgent advice you can give me? I'm eagerly awaiting your answer. Thanks very much, Keren from Ramat Beit Shemesh

Dear Keren,

You're correct about the importance of breastfeeding. The value it has on your baby's healthy emotional development is inestimable. My estimation is that your holiday menu was not to your baby's liking, for whatever you ate ended up as a component in the milk he nursed. Here are a list of things - well known to our sages all the way back to Moses - that cause a baby to have gas and sharp stomach pains from mothers milk (see which of these were part of your holiday menu): Squash, garlic, onions, liver, and hearts (animal or poultry), hot peppers, highly-spiced foods, and fried foods. All these are notorious in raising the acidic content of mother's milk, and wreaking havoc on the baby's digestive system. Avoid these foods and the stomach pains should vanish, G-d willing. Hold off on the bottle and the doctor's prescription for 72 hours; as soon as you correct your diet, the baby's stomach pains will most likely disappear in a day.

If you've been eating liver for iron, then start eating beets instead. For your mother's milk to be plentiful, sweet, and digestible, eat lots of almonds, whole-grained rice, and melted cheese (natural, not processed).

One additional important point: Substances - especially tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, and narcotics destroy the quality of mother's milk and have a sorely detrimental effect on the child.

May you have all the joy in the world from your baby, and may he grow to strength of body and strength of spirit. Blessings for a healthy winter, LB


Pilates: Central Role in Cardiac Rehabilitation

Pilates and heart
The distinguishing characteristic of the Pilates system of exercise is its requirement of steady and controlled breathing. This is an integral part of the Joseph Pilates concept of "contrology" - the science and art of coordinated body-mind-spirit development through natural movements. Inasmuch, Pilates moderates the strain, jerkiness an anaerobic extremes that are frequently associated with such western forms of strength-oriented exercise as sprinting, weightlifting and plyometrics while incorporating the calm, control and concentration that characterize the eastern approach to exercise, as seen in such forms as Yoga and Tai Chi. The result is the best of both worlds:  Strength development and coordination enhanced with power and grace.

The benefits of Pilates are enormous in recovering from atrial fibrillation. Experimenting on myself with careful monitoring, I compared the result of an intensive 30-minute Pilates routine that included 26 exercises to a resistance routine that included 4 circuits of deadlifts, goblet squats, renegade pushups and weighted lunges whereas each exercise was performed at weights that enabled me to do ten reps in order to avoid straining my heart and pushing myself into anaerobic mode. In addition to the superior overall post-workout feeling of the Pilates routine, the results – which repeated themselves several times, were dramatic as we see in the following table:

Parameter

Pilates

Resistance Routine

Total Time[1]

30 minutes

30 minutes

Kcal burned

158

256

HR (heart-rate) Average

98 (65% of Max)

123 (82% of Max)

HR (heart-rate) Max

134 (90% of Max)

162 (108% of Max)

In/Out zone[2] (minutes)

28 / 2

5 / 25

The above table clearly shows how the Pilates routine was so much gentler to my body, yet without sacrificing training effectiveness. After the Pilates routine, my core felt stronger and my posture dramatically improved. In addition, I felt more invigorated than after the resistance routine. With Pilates, there's virtually no chance of over-training, which is my dangerous athletic evil inclination and that of many peak-performance-seeking athletes. Consequently, as I have proven to myself, I would surely incorporate Pilates as the prime and preferred form of exercise in any cardiac rehabilitation program.

Even if your heart is 100% healthy, do yourself a favor and enroll in a Pilates course. It will do wonders for your posture and your core strength, and it's gentle on the body. You won't burn as many calories as you do in high-intensity training, but your injury level will drop to zilch. My blessings for your good health and a continued wonderful Succoth!

Footnotes:

[1] Includes warmup and cooldown for resistance routine; warmup and cooldown were an intrinsic part of Pilates routine

[2] The InZone = my target zone of 55-80% HR Max, OutZone = >80% HR Max (HR Max = 220-Age, in my case=150 bpm)