Category Archives: Fitness

What Your Body Has in Common with Fort Knox

Parsha Nugget Shoftim – Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

In our society, our bodies belong to ourselves.  Indeed many people believe they may do anything to themselves they want as long as it doesn't hurt other people.  It sounds logical.  After all, my body and me are one and the same.  Yet if you examine G-d’s perspective on this issue, in Parshas Shoftim, you'll reach a different conclusion:

“By the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses will he be put to death; he will not be put to death by the mouth of one witness” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 17:6)

What Your Body Has in Common with Fort Knox

Image from iStockPhoto.com

This week’s parsha reviews the commandment to establish courts and how to handle certain crucial types of cases. Next, it covers how to appoint a King, the gifts for the Priests, and how to tell if someone is really a prophet.  Then it explains how to set up cities of refuge, how the Israelites will conduct war, and what to do about an unsolved murder.

The Torah has many teachings about how to use your body.  For example, you should be careful about the food you eat.  Though they seem incomprehensible at times, the dietary laws, such as not eating blood or milk and meat together, take care of your body and soul.  Dressing modestly and not behaving promiscuously also protect your body and soul.  You may not brand, tattoo, or disfigure your body.  These show G-d cares about how you use your body.

But what gives Him the right? After all, it's your body!

Well, G-d created the world and everything in it.  So He gets to make the rules about how people use His creation.  Not satisfied?  Fair enough.  Let's delve more deeply.

G-d put His creation in human hands to manage as pretty much as we please.  For example, the money you earn for honest work is yours.  You must give tithes and devote a meaningful portion of it to making nice Sabbath and holiday celebrations for our families.  But, you decide what to do with the majority of your money.  Such is the case with all of your material possessions.

Well, if your material possessions belong to you, all the more so your body, right?  Wrong.

Your Body, the Vessel of Your Spiritual Essence, is Divine Property. Forever.

G-d lends your body to you to use during your lifetime.  Upon death you must return it to the Creator, reasonable wear and tear excepted.  The Torah is your owner’s manual, giving you detailed maintenance instructions and defining what constitutes reasonable wear and tear.

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How do we know G-d distinguishes between our material possessions and our bodies?  In the above verse we see that two or three witnesses are required for someone to receive the death penalty.   Maimonides says that this prevents a person from testifying against himself, especially since this may be a cunning way of committing suicide.  A person who claims to have murdered someone, against whom there are no witnesses, cannot be convicted of murder.

By contrast, a confession to a monetary transgression is considered the most certain proof possible in a dealing with such a case.  The Talmud states that such an “admission by a litigant is like the testimony of a hundred witnesses.”

These two standards demonstrate that G-d values the human body most highly of all of His creations.  That He will not permit its destruction by self-testimony verifies that you do not own your body.  It remains G-d’s property.  It may be destroyed only by a special legal process, one very rarely applied.  This explains why so many of the Torah’s teachings focus on how you may use your body.

As diligently as the guards at Fort Knox, you are entrusted with protecting your body’s sanctity as a fitting receptacle for the spark of the Divine within you.

How do you maintain your body as a vessel of holiness?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

What I Learned from a Bugler

Countless people castigate me for my taste in music. Yet until I finish mining the enjoyment and meaning from Nostalgia Music (a term the folks at Kings Radio in the California Central Valley minted for popular music from the 1930s to the 1950s) I feel no compulsion to listen to anything else. Case in point:

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B

So what can a bugler teach? Virtually every line of this song has a lesson for life and business:

  • Start the day off with a blast, like a bugle call.
  • “He was the top man at his craft, but his number came up and he was called to the draft.” – No matter what your place in life, the unexpected will happen. Always bring in the best to your life and business.
  • “They made him blow a bugle for his Uncle Sam. It really brought him down because he could not jam” - Even when life or your business isn't working out the way you want it to, be upbeat.
  • “The captain seemed to understand, ‘cause the next day the cap went out and drafted a band” - Great entrepreneurs, leaders, and parents look for opportunities to support their customers, people, and children by supplying what they need to be successful.
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  • “He can’t blow a note unless a bass and guitar is playing with him” – Life and business are team sports.
  • “He makes the company jump when he plays reveille” - WQe all need to inspire others.
  • “And when he played boogie woogie bugle he was busy as a bzzz bee” – Occupy yourself pursuing your passion.
  • “He puts the boys to sleep with boogie every night and wakes them up the same way in the early bright” – The way you go to sleep determines the way you'll wake up the next morning.

Don Raye and Hughie Prince wprobably just wanted to write an upbeat, popular ditty to lift America’s spirits after the imposition of the draft during the lead up to World War II. But whether I'm running, cooking, or just listening. When Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B plays on my iPod or KCEA my life immediately perks up!

What song describes life as you think it should be lived?

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How to Achieve Better Health and Financial Well-Being

“When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.” Augusten Burroughs

When you decide to live an intentional life, like most big changes typically the difficult part can be getting started. As I mentioned in my previous post, How to Get Your Life Moving in All Areas, I recommend you begin with fitness in the physical pillar. Progress toward goals in this area can be made quickly. Moreover, it is difficult to focus on mental and spiritual fitness when you are concerned about your health or financial matters.

How to Achieve Better Health and Financial Well-Being

The physical pillar of fitness comprises three realms:

  1. Health – Sleep | Diet | Exercise
  2. Finances – Cash Flow | Debt | Investments
  3. Play – Recreation | Hobbies | Entertainment

First, you need to assess where you currently are with respect to each realm. Some questions are:

  1. How much sleep do you get?
  2. What is the quality of your rest?
  3. How is your health?
  4. When was the last time you had a complete physical?
  5. What is your exercise program?
  6. What do you eat on a regular basis?
  7. How much income do you receive from salary, interest and investments, pensions, etc?
  8. What are your expenses?
  9. What preparations have you made for the future: emergencies, buying a house or car, retirement, etc?
  10. What activities do you engage in to relax?

These questions are designed to get you started. As you delve into this pillar you will think of others. You may need to consult with professionals, such as your doctor or financial planner. Chronic or debilitating conditions will complicate your plan to live intentionally, but need not derail it. Next gather sufficient information from reliable sources on such issues as sleep, diet, exercise, personal finances, and hobbies, so that you are comfortable making decisions about your life direction in each realm. Some of the resources I use are:

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Now, start setting goals. Three to five is generally the most you can work on at one time.  For example, you may be trying to get by on four hours of sleep a night but numerous studies show that seven is the minimum amount most adults require. If you want to lose weight, have more energy during the day, be able to work with greater focus, and have more patience with your spouse and children, being properly rested is crucial. So an excellent goal is to get seven hours of sleep a night.

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The essential tool for achieving goals in the physical pillar is self-discipline. Sleep disorders aside, getting the rest you need is a matter of being disciplined about the environment in which you sleep, the preparations you make before bedtime, the time you go to bed, and the time you wake up. It takes 21 days to ingrain a new habit but you should notice a change after as little as a week, perhaps less.

The state of your health, physical condition, finances, and play is essentially a factual matter, The path to improvement is well defined. Because you can control what you say and do it is within your power to improve your physical fitness. You are on the way to building your first solid pillar.

Start right now: Set your first goal toward better fitness in the physical pillar. If you have questions leave them below or email me and we will work together.

Question – How do you build self-discipline?

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How to Get Your Life Moving in All Areas

Living intentionally requires continual development of fitness in the physical, mental, and spiritual realms. While they overlap, each has it importance in living a balanced, resilient life. How can you tell if you are there?

How to Get Your Life Moving in All Areas

Benchmarks for Living Intentionally

Some indicators that your plan to live intentionally is working are:

  1. You sleep well
  2. Overall you feel good
  3. You have a positive outlook
  4. What people say and do does not bother you
  5. While you continue to strive you are content with life and the progress you are making

Like most worthwhile goals in life, pursuing an intentional, balanced life can be frustrating since the realms interact and overlap. You need to be like a symphony conductor working to harmonize not only the various sections of your orchestra, but the soloists too. At times, the percussion section will need all your attention and to a great extent the woodwinds and strings will have to play on their own. If you get sick and lose your job or your business declines, rebuilding your health and finances may have to take precedence over advancing your mental and spiritual fitness.

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Or, you may choose to focus intensely on strengthening your marriage. At such a time all other aspects of improving your spiritual fitness, as well as your physical and mental fitness, will be secondary. But eventually you will have to turn your attention back to them lest your orchestra starts playing out of sync or worse some of your musicians, your children or friends, abandon you.

Begin Where You Can See Your Life Moving Soonest

Where do you start? I recommend you begin with the physical realm. It is the easiest one in which to make an impact. Also, without health, financial well-being, and some leisure pursuits, it is difficult to focus on mental and spiritual growth.

Once you have developed the tools for moving your physical fitness in a positive direction, you can begin work on the additional tools you will need to improve your mental fitness. Likewise moving from the mental to the spiritual realm.

With all three realms you will need information so that you can determine what fitness is. You should write an integrated personal mission statement from which the rationale for each of your goals is drawn. The process is similar to writing a business mission statement. Finally, you will need to develop goals to pursue in each of the realms.

It is crucial that initially you do not inscribe your mission and goals in stone. As you begin to work on them you will find conflicts. As well, when you start moving in the direction your mission statement leads, you may find it is not exactly what you had in mind. Periodic, intentional reviews and revisions after an adequate testing period are crucial to successfully creating a holistic plan for living intentionally.

Over the next two weeks I will be writing about the most crucial tools you will need for achieving fitness in each of the three realms: physical | mental | spiritual. I think you will quickly see that there is a back and forth process in which you will have to engage as you move closer to your ideal self.

Here is the key: slow and steady progress. Begin with the physical realm, then proceed through the mental and spiritual realms until you are advancing on all three pillars. Now you are living intentionally.

Question – What aspect of personal development do you think is crucial to living intentionally?

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Secret to Lifelong Fitness – For Men and Women

Imagine a group of sailors standing on one foot who reached over and gave the person next to them a nudge. Trust me it was funny since most of them fell down. Exercise number 2: the same group of sailors standing on their two feet and they gave the person next to them a push on the back. Not as many fell but they laughed. Last one: they got in a three-point stance. Despite some good shoves, nobody fell down.

Why the workout? To demonstrate that only a three-legged structure is inherently stable. Consider a four-legged chair. No matter how carefully the legs are measured they will not be the same length so it will rest on three and rock on the fourth. The same is true for five or more. This is the model for your fitness. There are three aspects: physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual.

Aside from physical steadiness, our mental conception of the world is three-based:

  • In geometry, we learn that two lines cannot define a space. It takes a minimum of three.
  • We live in a three-dimensional world of length, breadth, and height thus a cube is a manifestation of three.
  • Time has three aspects: Past, present, and future.
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In the spiritual realm three has profound significance:

  • The blessing of the Jewish Temple priests has three parts: May G-d bless you and safeguard you, may G-d illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you, may G-d turn His countenance to you and establish peace for you. The societal bedrock of marriage is the joining of a man, a woman, and G-d
  • Buddhism’s foundational elements are known as the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Darma (teachings), and the Sangha (community). One “takes refuge in the triple gem” when committing to the Buddhist path.
  • Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, also described as Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara, are the three gods of the Hindu Triad, personifying the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction.
  • Christianity affirms the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • There are three levels of faith in Islam: Islam, Iman, and I'hsan.

Thus the power of three is manifest in our world. Living intentionally by working within the triadic concept of the Three Pillars of Fitness aligns you with this potent force.

Question: Where else do you see three at work in physical, mental, and spiritual matters?

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