Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Few Words About Nutrition (Hawaii)

The most significant book ever written on nutrition, is Roger J. Williams, Free and Unequal -- which describes the biological basis for human individuality. His work was not well-received by the stewards of political correctness -- who wished everyone to believe that everyone was identical and interchangeable -- because it suited their mass media/mass educational model of "one size fits all," rather than the more accurate observation, that people really are different -- fundamentally.

That is true down to the foods and environment one will find optimal -- as well as hostile. About 25 years ago, I recall reading a book that claimed to be the first written on the subject of "lactose intolerance," which most of the world's population suffers from -- rather than experiencing milk as the "perfect food," those advocates (industry) promote it to be. Others will promote an all-vegetarian diet for everyone -- as the optimal human diet, which your own experience tells you is not true for you.

That is reality, and not any amount of studies (usually underwritten by the self-promoting industry), that tells us this is true for most, if not everyone. Unfortunately, if you give people enough money, they will say anything you want them to -- especially in Hawaii (because the cost of living is so high that a person does what somebody will pay them to do -- or they'll find somebody else who will). But that is true elsewhere too -- to a lesser extent, because people are used to and aware of more options -- than the only choice they are given.

So each individual has to discover for themselves uniquely, what is the optimal diet for themselves -- rather than simply being told what to think, or the generalization of what is true for others, or even most, but not necessarily for oneself.

That is the importance of the longstanding advice and wisdom, of "Knowing oneself," in this very personal and individual way -- which is unlike and even antithetical, to the mass media/education way of the "experts" doing all the thinking for everybody else -- as if they had that perfect knowledge, which is usually only what somebody else told them to think and accept as the unquestionable truth.

When one embarks on that quest and journey, one discovers the world of actuality and reality -- and not just the world of illusion and confusion, in which nothing seems to work, despite all one's "knowledge." That is the beginning of the freedom to know what really is -- and as one discovers and gets to know that truth, things miraculously work as they should.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lose the Resistance

One of the unchallenged great beliefs of exercise (conditioning), is the notion that resistance is essential to improvement, and so instructors (and students) immediately set out to make theirs as hard as possible -- thinking that the more difficulty, pain and suffering they create for themselves, the better it must be. And so for those conditioned in this manner, which is most people, life becomes an endless struggle against everything and everybody -- for they're not sure what reason, but that's what they see everybody else doing, or think that is what it takes to achieve anything worthwhile -- without first trying, to see if the easiest, most effective way is possible -- even if one has to invent it themselves.

That, of course, is human ingenuity -- which is the motive force for everything we do in life, and gives greater meaning to life, and to "fitness," which is the survival of the fittest. The physical component is an undeniable and unmistakable component of this, but even more, is the total response of the individual to the challenge -- using not only the mastery of their own bodies, but their mastery of everything else that comprises that greater reality -- such as what the opponent (if any) might be doing, and if none, not creating one for themselves unnecessarily -- as those fond of saying they are competing only against themselves.

Why compete at all? -- or why create the resistance to any movement -- without first seeing and understanding the natural limits of that movement, and how extending the range of that movement (articulation), naturally has its limitations that can be overcome -- without first creating the arbitrary limitations. Thus instructors think themselves knowledgeable, to advise that one should add more weight (resistance) if one can do 10 repetitions -- without first inquiring, how many repetitions of a movement could one do without any resistance at all? That discovery would be quite a revelation to those who presume that if the resistance is zero, the repetitions would be infinite. The body doesn't work that way -- and neither does the world.

That's why such questions as how much one would consume if money (or any other real world consideration -- time, energy, etc) were no object, is meaningless, because it is. That may be the most critical consideration -- because the heart does not pump infinitely, nor the arm throw endlessly, the legs pound the ground with no wear and tear, or the head (psyche) recover from one trauma after another -- and get better because of it.

Yet that is the way many think to bring about improvement -- rather than the elimination of those stresses and distresses, as the true breakthrough of their efforts for betterment. Better, is different from simply more in that primitive way of understanding -- that it is only through the application of more brute force, that the world can be changed favorably -- when that of course, is the problem, and the root of most evil and destruction.

As people deteriorate, the problem is seldom that they cannot achieve a personal best, as it is that they cannot move at all -- and so anything that makes it even harder, would be obviously counterproductive and discouraging, requiring coaches, personal trainers and support staff to convince them otherwise, and prod them further against that resistance. They will learn the discipline of working against themselves -- as the highest virtue and attainment, which if they are successful and indoctrinated, becomes the source of their own hardship, particularly as they age, and things naturally seem to (be)come harder -- unless they compensate in always making things easier for themselves.

Most people don't think this way -- but why shouldn't they? So these people become trapped in the thinking that every effort must come against increasingly greater resistance -- until finally, they are just too exhausted, to try anymore. That is really the inevitable result of that kind of conventional/traditional/primitive conditioning.

But is that the only way it can be? When we recruit the total intelligence to solve any problem, the solution is easy and inevitable -- but if we limit ourselves to the thinking that it must always be as hard and difficult as possible, than everything we do will become a hardship, and an endless struggle, until we can rest in peace -- free from these self-imposed torments.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Power to Change

What is the mechanism (process) by which humans can bring about change? Understanding this, is vital to being able to make a difference -- as what every healthy human being wants to do -- if only they could, or knew how.

Unfortunately, that is still not what is taught as the basic lessons most humans have to learn -- but instead, start off by doing what they are told to do, and never first, why they should be doing so. That is simply what everybody else is doing -- which is enough to make it right -- or the "correct" thing to do. That is socialization -- which is not wrong in itself, but doesn't necessarily make anything right in itself -- either. And so throughout history, something that is right in one time, may easily be recognized as the wrong thing in another time, simply because those understandings have changed too.

Thousands of years ago, in the development of yoga and tai-chi (chi-gong), it was widely understood that the major function of muscles was to relax, and thus unblock the tensions (contractions) that were recognized to impede the flow of healthy life impulses -- which predates science in their intuition.

In the 20th century, it is realized and systematized, that muscle contractions are the distinguishing characteristic of what makes muscles proliferate, culminating in the brief popularity of "isometric" exercises, or muscle contractions in the 1960s -- which was the sustained muscular contraction (state), for as long as possible, as the key to muscular and strength gains. The problem with that, was those who could sustain those efforts overly long, eventually blacked out for lack of flow throughout the body -- particularly to the brain, as the most sensitive organ to the deprivation of the flow (circulation). Predictably, such programs were fairly quickly abandoned as soon as they reached those logical extremes.

But on the way to those obviously hazardous extremes, many others practiced the common strategy of producing a more limited and isolated constriction of the flow to a localized area, with what is familiar as anaerobic exercise, because the flow back to the heart is constricted to produce the pumping up of muscles to the point that they finally fail. That is the common practice of bodybuilders, to actually impede the flow back to the other organs so that most of it stays in the muscles -- until that muscle failure is reached and nothing more is possible, and the greater survival instincts and mechanisms of the body, force a relaxation to restore a healthy flow once again.

That is thought to be the process by which one can build the muscles up rapidly -- which undoubtedly is an unhealthy practice prolonged for too extremes. Thus the advocacy of aerobic exercises not like that, were thought to be the safe threshold that everyone could participate -- because it avoided entirely, producing those undue stresses on the human body, no matter what condition they were in -- which is particularly important for the beginner, and more importantly, for those who always wish to remain so.

So there is nothing magical and mystical about "aerobic exercise," except that they are movements that can be sustained and prolonged for an extensive enough period of time to produce any benefits. Obviously, any single maximum attempt, is not an aerobic exercise -- albeit, a highly stressful one. The same can be said of sets of 10 repetitions or fewer. But when one can perform 20-25, that would usually only be possible "with breathing," and with 50 repetitions, that would certainly require one to develop a strategy for sustained performance in itself indicative of an aerobic activity.

And so what makes a movement or activity "aerobic," is not the kind of activity, but its sustained duration for a prolonged (indefinite) period -- rather than producing what is often called "muscular failure," but is more truly, brain failure -- because it is the lack of flow (circulation) to the brain, that will stop all other extraneous activities and efforts by any other part of the body that produces and exacerbates such a condition. The brain is the unfailing determiner of that. It will shut down all the other systems, if survival comes down to that.

So the important lesson here, is that rather than teaching and favoring the muscles to do all relaxation, or all contraction, it is the change, from one to the other, that is the distinguishing characteristic of the healthy human body and being -- and not just being one way, which results in death, and before that, all degrees of dysfunctions and decline before then. That is the basic lesson that needs to be understood before embarking on any program for change and improvement -- the very basic process of change itself, and how it is effected -- either as a muscle in relaxation, or moving to its fullest contraction, which is its articulation and expression -- of all it can be. That achievement (peak contraction), is its highest intensity, which should be achieved momentarily, alternated with much greater periods of relaxation and rest -- in order for such movements to be able to be sustained indefinitely -- and performed with that proper understanding, is the power and ability to change (anything).

But one should not just caught up in the words and incantations as though they have magical and mystical powers in themselves -- as though that was enough to make any difference in anything.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Easier and More Effective

In order to get the right answer, one has to ask the right questions, because even the right answer to the wrong questions, will not make the difference one desires.

In the field of health and fitness, the wrong question is obviously how to make exercise harder, more difficult, and less effective -- so that one has to exercise harder, etc. The question is how to make exercise easier, and because it is easier, more effective, and more accessible -- any time, any place, any condition one needs it. Of course, that will be especially true, when one needs to strengthen and increase one's capabilities -- under the worst conditions, even bringing oneself back to life, from lifelessness.

Thus, one doesn't need to be in condition, to get into condition, but rather, needs to have the ability to change themselves instantaneously and momentarily, from suboptimal, to optimal. One asks logically, how would one do that? Would that be sending all the blood supply to the glutes, abs, biceps as one's first priority? Or would there be some more critical path that determines the effectiveness of all the rest, and thus, is the limiting factor that first must be enhanced?

Coaches call that "getting one's head into the game," because it doesn't matter how formidable and well-conditioned an athlete is -- if his head is not in the game, which for the non-professional athletes, is how they live (play) their daily lives. Then, performance is not so widely observed and measured, but everything one does, affects the outcome -- which is the health and well-being we achieve. That is the objective of all our striving and efforts -- to improve our lives, as much as we can -- and from that, everything else flows.

We hear too often, that people can't do this or that, because their health limitations prevent them from even considering doing anything, and there it ends, as they drift hopelessly into greater helplessness -- which they have determined, is the normal course of every life -- and don't want to even hear that there could be another. They don't even have the energy to consider another way of doing things -- except the one provided conveniently for them -- by the schools, the media, the institutions, the powers that be -- who always wish to remain in charge.

The great power of life -- is always having a choice, a real choice, and not just "yes" or "no," about the one choice -- like in many dictatorships in which the leaders receive 95% of the vote, and the rest are persecuted, tortured, imprisoned or killed. But even in so-called "free societies," many are convinced they have no choice but the one offered to them, from one source, who demands that one should offhand, vilify the other so that one never ever listens to what the other has to say.

That is familiarly, the political indoctrination often seen in the mass media -- promoted and perpetuated by the most suppressive. They demand that their one way, be the only way -- and that one way, is what they are the toll collectors for -- whether education, hazing, trade association or union -- to enforce and coerce the one way -- as the only way, it has been, will be, and should be -- and nothing else is possible, and can even be considered.

That is the failing of formerly free societies -- when all the decisions and choices are made for them -- by the experts, who think they should always do the thinking for everybody else. That is a great temptation to resist -- the power to exercise over others. But the even great power, is the power to control one's own life, thoughts, movements -- as the exercise of one's freedom to do so, if they are so empowered to do so.

And so the ultimate conditioning program, must begin with empowering one's brain, which is not unlike exercising any other faculty of the body -- by directing the flow of energy expressly to it. One is not just talking about directing thoughts that way, by the actual flow of circulation (nutrients), in knowing how the muscles effect that greater flow, by acting as the heart does with its characteristic contraction and relaxation, or pumping effect. This understanding and control, is more important than throwing a ball, doing many pushups, and running exhaustively.

Of course, that is never what is taught -- but simply, arbitrarily, to do as one says -- as though it had great importance and significance, and repeating it long enough, would be the answer in itself. By then, one will have long forgotten how to ask any question -- or even if it is possible.

So the question one should ask, "Is there an easier and more effective way?" -- or only endlessly harder, more difficult, less effective, until I give up for good?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Not A Problem (Limitation)


"I've been trying to do the exercises as you demonstrated & explained - flexing & holding the arms & wrists, flexing the legs & pointing the toe while rotating the foot, etc., while doing the gentle "twisting" motion turning my head to look back over my shoulder, etc. But I've run into a couple problems. I had back surgery 3 years ago & have fused vertebra in both my neck and lower back & titanium rods in my lower back. I've been having noticeably increased pain in both my neck & lower back even though I started out doing minimal stretching & built up, and it's causing some dizziness. As I said to you when we met - I've been an athlete all my life and I know about starting out slowly, listening to one's body, and building up gradually. I've also had carpal tunnel surgery in both wrists & started having some wrist problems after starting the flexing up & down.

I've concluded that I will do as much as I can for whatever benefit I can receive, but I'm 69 yrs. old - even though I don't look it - and my chances of "reversing" much at this stage of health I think is minimal. So I guess I don't fit into the picture of who you need to demonstrate your methods."


Under most normal conditions, one would initiate the integrated muscular contraction at the furthest insertion of the body -- which is typically at the neck, wrists and ankles -- but if that is the problem and source of immobilization and pain, then one has to move the focus of movement even further out to the fingers, toes, and facial muscles. That will be the focus (axis) of your movement -- while the rest of the joints need not move at all and play a supportive and stabilizing role -- or to the extent that there is no pain.

But a key concept is that the body is strengthened to the furthest point at which one mobilizes (activates) that responsiveness -- which for you, is to avoid such movements beyond the shoulders and neck -- which naturally causes the atrophying of all those areas beyond it -- because there is no neuromusccular impulses, and cardiovascular maintenance as well.

If the neck cannot be moved, the brows can be lifted, as well as the cheek muscles producing a smile or dimple. Both would require maintaining (increasing) the body's responsiveness beyond the usual limitations you have.

Like I've said, I've worked with some of the most challenging cases, and had to determine where they could move -- and had feeling and control, despite their usual limitations. If your neck is fused, can you lift your eyebrows with your muscles: can you effect a smile; can you bend at the furthest joint of your fingers? -- then you are not paralyzed, and have no hope of recovery. With the hands, can you move your fingers, or can you move your toes -- because if you can, you can effect a contraction of all the muscles back to the origin of the entire muscular system at the heart -- without having to move the neck, wrists, ankles, knees, hips, shoulder, elbow, etc. That is what you have to work with -- and not arbitrarily conform to the exercises, no matter what your limitations.

if nothing else, you develop the most powerful smile, expression of delight, and tremendous dexterity -- because that is what you become good at. That is your
mantra, or practice. That's how the guy with no arms becomes a pianist (or painter) -- playing with his toes. But he wouldn't be able to do it if he just limited himself to the "normal" use of his legs -- he's extended that control all the way out to his toes, by expressly moving in that way.

Likewise with people who have very expressive faces -- and range of expressions. That is what they become the masters of -- and not the conventional, and even the preposterous notion that it is beating their heart. The body has to do that regardless, or one is no longer living. But all those expressions and ranges of movement are possible -- to the furthest extent one does have control and the possibility of movement -- and actually expresses (articulates) it..

That is what you need to recondition yourself to.

That is the essential insight: that an integrated muscular contraction begins at the furthest extremity (joint) that you actually move -- and increase THAT range of motion. You learn to move better in the ways you can move, and not just in the original ways -- thinking you can ignore or deny your present realities. That is not helpful.

You have to learn how to move your body in the ways you can -- and actualize their fullest possibilities, and not just limit yourself further and further.

I hope I've been helpful. Good luck.