45 posts categorized "Health and Fitness"

Daily Centering

Time for Yourself
Here's something I picked up from a health-and-fitness coach's manual (the bold-letter emphases are mine):

"The very first way to combat stress is to have your clients begin the exercise of taking 10 minutes each day - to simply sit and center themselves with their thoughts. They can find a quiet room somewhere and as they do, they should simply clear their mind or let their thoughts take place and then release them. This is a form of meditation and it can do wonders for helping to restore central nervous system balance, reducing ongoing stress and helping them feel that much better on a day to day basis. If they can’t do this for 10 minutes – 5 minutes will suffice. Any amount of time done daily or as close to daily a possible will have a very positive influence on their stress levels."

I don't know how many other health-and-fitness coaches follow the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, but the author of the above manual is right on the money. If 10 minutes daily ("5 minutes will suffice") does so much good for a person's nervous system, stress levels and overall good feeling, then imagine what 60 minutes a day of secluded personal prayer accomplishes! This is quality time, alone with Hashem, where you collect your thoughts, clarify issues and simply recharge body and soul. I like to do my daily sessions while walking, especially somewhere secluded and beautiful where heart and soul open wide up. It's the key to self-composure, happiness and sanity. Try it - you'll love it.


Body Politic

Diet Victim
Modern fad diets resemble Israel's leftists - they both lead to surrendering strategic and vital areas.

A lot of the fad diets have penetrated the Observant Jewish world, which is infamous for unhealthy eating especially on Shabbat - after services Kiddush of liquor and pastry, followed by a meal of white Challa, potato and noodle kugels and cholent, with a desert of more cakes, roasted nuts and parve ice cream.

Sure, many "victims" of the fad diets have lost tons of weight. But they don't exercise. Their bodies therefore look like big empty burlap sacks draped on bone. At least when they were fat, their muscles had to work to carry the extra weight. But now, nothing. No muscle tone, just empty flab.

Modern society has become so focused on weight loss, that any weight loss seems to be good. It certainly is not. You look better and feel better when you increase your muscle-to-fat ratio. In other words, by exercising and increasing caloric intake - especially with quality protein and good HDL-producing fats - you gain weight big time without adding a millimeter to your waist or hips. In fact, your trousers or skirt fits better than ever.

The impressive initial weight loss of the "effortless" fad diets comes from losing the strategic and vital area of your body - your muscle mass. Therefore, the goal of dieting should be to improve body composition, the percentage or ratio of muscle to body fat, like we said. You do that by losing fat without losing muscle tissue. Maintaining and even increasing muscle mass is critical to weight control, because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. What's more, as you exercise and add resistance/strength training to your routine, you can actually look thinner and have a smaller waistline, but the scale shows that you didn't lose weight! How can that be? Simple - muscles take up less space in your body, so body weight may go up as you add compact, tight muscle mass.

That's what I call "Body Politic". So, forget about your weight and just be strong and healthy. When you eat right - as natural as possible - and exercise, you'll burn fat and build muscle anyway. G-d willing, I hope to post more body-health and fitness pointers in the near future. Meanwhile, stay healthy!

Quick and Easy Weight Loss

  Emuna Fitness

In the winter with the cold weather, people have bigger appetites. That's all well and good if they're burning the calories by exercising and not overheating their homes. Yet, most people tend to put on an extra winter layer on their midsection. Tell yourself the truth - you'd love to get rid of it...

If you take the following advice, you’ll drop excess pounds really fast. Let’s preface with Rebbe Nachman’s classic teaching (see Likutei Moharan I:47), namely, that overeating invokes severe judgments and other spiritual ills. The Zohar says that when one eats for bodily pleasure or gluttony rather than for health or for a mitzvah, the eating strengthens the dark-side, Heaven forbid. The opposite is also true: when a person eats in moderation and for the purpose of a healthy body to serve Hashem, he can perform miracles!

Practical Advice for Quick and Easy Weight Loss and Good Health

  1. Substitute all beverages and soft drinks for good-quality water or sparkling water.
  2. Replace coffee and tea with herbal tea and green tea; learn to drink without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  3. Replace all snack foods, cookies and cakes with fresh fruit, dried fruit, non-toasted nuts and seeds. Carrot, celery and cucumber sticks are super weight-loss snacks.
  4. Use the stairs instead of escalators and elevators whenever you can. Walk rather than drive at every opportunity.
  5. Ask Hashem to help you eat properly. If you devote 30 of your 60 daily minutes of personal prayer to seeking Hashem’s assistance in losing weight and overcoming the urge to eat, you’ll see major miracles and significant weight loss.
  6. Eat at home and save money on restaurants. Regard junk food as tantamount to unkosher.
  7. Try and replace white sugar and flour with whole-grain flour and natural sugar. Rule of thumb – the less the sugar, the better.
  8. Take advantage of time and couple an hour a day of personal prayer with an hour a day of walking.
  9. Do stretches as soon as you wake up and exercise for 30-60 minutes at least every other day.
  10. Rule of thumb: the more natural you eat, the healthier; the more processed you eat, the more your health is at risk.

This above is a mere nutshell, but it’ll get you on the road to looking and feeling so much better. Blessings for

Beating the Flu Without Vaccines

Goodbye, flu
Does swine flu come from swine?

Swine Flu is clearly mentioned in the Gemara, tractate Taanit 21a: Rav Yehuda was told about a plague among swine. He decreed a fast, something that is done in times of danger, even though the Jews didn't seem affected, certainly not by financial loss and not by a threat to their health. The Gemara asks if Rav Yehuda's rationale is that a plague on one type of livestock can spread to other types of livestock. The Gemara concludes that Rav Yehuda's fear was that the digestive tract of a pig resembles the digestive tract of a human, indicating that a health threat to the former is a health threat to the latter. The Tosefot explain that Rav Yehuda was worried that the plague would spread from the swine to non-Jews, and then from the non-Jews to the Jew...

Many people are catching the flu these days. Health departments and doctors want people to run and take flu shots, but don't listen to them: famed immunologist Dr. Hugh Fudenberg said the mercury and aluminum buildup in a person's body from flu shots increase the danger of eventually suffering from Alzheimer's Disease by tenfold! Besides, flu shots are not always effective. On the other hand, my remedy almost always is effective. Try this and with Hashem's help, you'll be pleasantly surprised:

Rabbi Lazer's Flu Remedy

  1. The juice of six lemons (about 180 ml) 
  2. 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  3. 10 cloves of garlic
  4. 1 Whole chili pepper (preferable) or 1/2 teaspoon of ground chili pepper
  5. 2 Tablespoons of dried goji berries (a great additive but don't worry if you can't attain them)
  6. 2 Tablespoons of natural (non-pasteurized) honey
  7. 3 Cups of apple juice (about 720 ml)

Mix all the above ingredients in a blender. It will yield approximately one liter of liquid. Those with the flu should drink a cupful four times a day. Those who are healthy should drink a cupful a day to strengthen the immunity system. Before you drink, say, "Hashem, may this potion be Your agent to make (keep) me healthy." We pray for your good health and if need be, your speedy recovery!

Medicine or Economics?

Many of us have nagging questions about the direction contemporary psychiatry has taken:

  1. What is a disease, or a psychiatric disease in particular?
  2. Has anyone ever proven clinically or analytically the so-called "chemical imbalance" in the brain?
  3. Is today's psychiatry medicine and science or economics and politics?

Let's get some straight answers from Dr. Thomas Szasz, who until he died in 2012 was Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY:

Ten Tips for an Easy Yom Kippur Fast

Easy Fast YK
Fasting doesn’t necessarily mean suffering. There’s quite a bit we can do to alleviate the bodily and mental stress that normally accompanies a fast. Today, the day before the fast, follow the following guidelines:
1. Cut down your caffeine intake to minimize headaches. That means stop drinking coffee, tea, and cola at least eight hours before the fast, and preferably twenty-four hours before the fast.
2. Avoid salty, spicey, and fried foods on the day before the fast.
3. Avoid white sugar, white flour, and white rice. Eat whole-grained foods such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread or challa.
4. Drink a lot of water all day long.
5. Eat a good breakfast that includes fruits, veggies, eggs or sardines, and whole grains.
6. The pre-Yom Kippur meal (se'uda mafseket) should include baked or broiled fish, a veggy salad, consomme, a small portion of chicken or turkey, and a side dish of complex carbohydrates. Substitute sweet deserts with watermelon or other water-retaining fresh fruit, and a cup of herb tea with a whole-grain cookie.
On Yom Kippur:
7. The more you immerse yourself in prayer, the less you'll think about food.
8. Rest between prayers. Don’t run around outside, especially in the hot sun. Save your voice for prayers. Idle talking will make you thirstier, and will detract from the holiness of the day.
After the fast:
9. Drink two glasses of water, and then eat solids gradually, so as not to shock the digestive system. Begin with fruit, like plums or grapes. The worst thing people do is to consume pastries and soft drinks, or “lekach un bronfan” (cake and liquor) right after the fast (these are unhealthy anytime, all the more so right after the fast when they give your body a shock of glucose).
10. Forty-five minutes to an hour afterwards, one can eat a balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables. After eating, relax for an hour with your favorite book (preferably Gemara of the laws of Succoth from Shulchan Oruch) and your favorite beverage, then begin constructing your Succa.
Attention diabetics, heart patients, folks with high blood pressure, and people whose health depends on regular medication - you must be especially careful to ask your doctor if you are capable of fasting, and then consult with your local rabbi, giving him the doctor's exact opinion. For many such people, it is a mitzva not to fast on Yom Kippur.
The Israel Cancer Association recommends that cancer patients not fast without approval from their physicians. Fasting could cause considerable discomfort in cancer patients, who need a lot of liquids to alleviate side effects of chemotherapy. Again, first consult the doctor and then the rabbi. Give the rabbi all the details that you received from the doctor.
This past Tisha B'Av, I policed my synagogue looking for sick people who were fasting without authorization. It's no mitzva to get yourself rushed in an ambulance to the emergency ward because you were fasting without authorization.
Don't let children (boys under the age of 12 or girls under the age of 11) be overzealous. Make sure they eat on time.
With G-d's blessing and the above guidelines, you'll have an easy fast. May all of us be signed and sealed in the Book of Long and Happy Lives for the best year ever, amen!

Couch Potatoes, Don't Get Fried!

Couch potato
We've all heard of athletes having a heart seizure in the middle of a heated game, but couch potatoes? Our dear friend Paramedic Eitan Ashman from Ephrat told me the following story (he'll soon be able to put a a hair-raising book from his experiences, especially in the aftermath of terrorist attacks):

"We got a call of a unconscious 38 year old male. When we got to the apartment we found a man on the floor unconscious not breathing and without a pulse. We immediately began basic and then advanced CPR for over 1 and a half hours but unfortunately were not successful. What is so unique about this case and what tied in amazingly with what the Rav Lazer often talks about (passivity and lack of exercise) was typified here on the scene. When we walked in the man's huge apartment, his tremendous LD-screen TV was turned on to a soccer game. The table was set with the finest game time snacks (mostly beer and sunflower seeds) and there was a room full of people. What most people would refer to as the perfect way to relax after a long day at work; friends, food and a good soccer game. While trying to gain a medical history, I asked for the events that led up to the person collapsing and I was told that right after opposing team scored a tie-breaking goal against his favorite team, he was so worked into a frenzy that he grabbed his chest and collapsed. I was in shock, is this what it means to be into sports? Is this any way to relax? Is this what people want for downtime? What a waste..."

Eitan, you're certainly right. If people would walk for an hour rather than sitting glued to the TV, they'd be happier and healthier, and their brain would function so much better. Be careful, for Eitan's patient had a massive heart attack. It's never too late to declare a new beginning, so get out of the chair and start tying your walking shoes. Wait and see how happy you'll be.