This week's lesson in our "Garden of Wisdom" series shows how seriously a person can foul up if he or she makes decisions on their own without consulting Hashem...
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 gained weight! How can that be? Simple - muscles take up less space in your body, so body weight may stay the same or even go up as you add compact, tight muscle mass. In density, muscle is 22% more dense than fat. In other words, if you've been doing strength /resistance training, your waist is thinner, your skirt or trousers fit great, you look and feel great, but you weigh more! Maybe at 145 lbs, you could only do 20 pushups, but now at 155, you can do 50! Yes, you weigh more but you're much more healthy. Keep on liftin', bro and sis, and put the bathroom scale in the closet!
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, Racheli and I hope to post more body-health and fitness pointers in the near future. Meanwhile, stay healthy!
Stay tuned to the Beams for some future exciting posts on fitness, coming soon, G-d willing
Join us today for our weekly shiur and broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled "The Secret of Longevity," an empowering shiur that you won't want to miss. It will take place, G-d willing, in the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7PM Israel time (12 noon EST); the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time. If you are not able to view today's broadcast live, then G-d willing, you'll be able to see the video tape of it later this coming week on Lazer Beams.
Something's not right here.
As I was cleaning up after the kids, I sat on the carpet and - OMG that Airwick automatic spray thingy just scared the daylights out of me, but wow, does it smell good! - just enjoyed sitting for a few minutes. That's when I noticed that there were an awful lot of Playmobile guys with missing limbs. I'm totally baffled as to how this happened, but I have some theories:
1) They were guests of Procrustes.
2) They all got in a gang fight.
3) One (or more) of my kids was really hungry and I wasn't able to prepare his food in time.
4) They were in a war.
5) They're actually a warrior tribe that cuts off limbs and uses them in their bloody sacrificial rituals.
6) They didn't read my diabetes post and continued on with their unhealthy lifestyle until they were forced to amputate a limb or two.
Did you see the guy with half his body missing? What's up with that?
So these poor little guys got me thinking: they can never regain their limbs. But we, on the other hand, can regain our health. Our bodies are not just incredibly miraculous creations that work in extremely complex ways. They are also capable of reversing years of damage and restoring themselves to perfect health!
This week I want to talk about heart disease. The sad reality is, that as much as we're terrified of cancer, heart disease kills more people each year than cancer. Every year, about 610,000 people in the U.S. alone die from heart disease. That's 1 out of every 4 deaths! It's also the leading cause of death in both men and women. Most of you probably know at least one person with some type of heart issue, and you also probably know one or two that have died from a heart attack.
Now as much as modern medicine has created all types of very sophisticated treatments in the management of heart disease, they have done nothing to help cure it. Now I firmly believe that knowledge is power; so Rav Brody and I are going to do our best to provide you with the knowledge you need to regain your power over your health and your life.
Let's start with the nature of heart disease. Folks, heart attacks don't occur suddenly. Just because we don't see the symptoms until it's too late, it doesn't mean that this silent killer hasn't been progressing for many years. In fact, Dr. Colin Campbell writes that it's a disease that takes a lifetime to create.
What does this mean? Well, to answer that, let's first understand what plaque is. Plaque is the waxy coating that lines the arteries. It's made from fats including cholesterol, proteins, immune system cells, and other things that I have no idea about. Over time, the plaque builds up and creates an increasingly narrow passageway for the blood to pass through the arteries. If the blockage is large enough, a heart attack will occur.
Now I want everyone to put on their common sense hats and think for a moment. If heart disease takes a lifetime to build up, and it's a result of increased cholesterol and proteins in the arteries, and it is such a prevalent killer, then why are we eating such unhealthy diets? Even mainstream medicine acknowledges that diet is a key in preventing heart disease, even though they won't give you proper guidelines.
But we at the Beams will.
If you eat a diet that's mostly animal fat and protein, where do you think all of that animal fat and protein goes? Does it magically bypass your circulatory system? Nope. Does it magically bypass your fat cells? I wish. So where does it end up? That's right! In your arteries and your internal organs.
Just like the engine of a sports car, if you fill it with low octane fuel, it's not going to run well. But if you fill it with higher quality, high-octane fuel, it will run as it's supposed to. So why do we think our bodies are any less sophisticated than a car engine?
If you fill your body with fat, empty carbs, sugar, and processed junk, then your body will not perform as it was meant to. And, it'll break down much faster than if you were to feed it properly.
So let's talk about animal protein, which I know is a very controversial topic among our readers. As I have said before, I have no problem with keto/paleo/LCHF diets. HOWEVER. IF you are getting most of your calories and fat from animal fat, I believe that this is extremely unhealthy in the long run. Like I said before, all that fat's gotta go somewhere.
I feel that it is just too easy to go from adding globs of coconut oil to your eggs to stuffing your face with a Porterhouse steak twice a week. Although the keto diet is not Atkins, many of us just don't do the whole moderation thing very well, and we can easily tend to go to extremes. Therefore, if you do want to attempt such a diet for weight loss, please be aware of how much animal protein you're eating.
In "The China Study," Dr. Campbell has shown an incredibly strong correlation between the amount of animal protein eaten and the rates of heart disease. He also cites many other studies done in countries across the world that show similar results. As Dr. Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and Dr. Dean Ornish (who are well-known and respected experts in the field of cardiac health) say, the key to reversing and curing heart disease is with a proper diet!
Your doctor may be able to prescribe you pills to artificially lower your cholesterol, but he can do very little to treat the cause of your heart disease. There are those who are very high risk that must use cholesterol lower medications, beta-blockers, etc., in order to keep their symptoms from spiraling into a heart attack. However, along with those medications, they need to change their lifestyle!
So here's what to do:
1) Get educated! Read "The China Study." Check out the two amazing doctors that I have given you the links for above.
2) Exercise at least 3 times a week! I know you think it's impossible because you just don't have time. But I promise, if you want to do it, you'll make the time, just like I do every day!
3) Drink plenty of water! Water helps to keep the blood from becoming too sticky and sludgy. Very important!
4) Cut out the junk! Do I really need to elaborate?
5) Eat mostly unprocessed, whole fruits and vegetables, and eat whole grains to get your carb fix. As Hippocrates wrote, "Let thy medicine be thy food and thy food be thy medicine."
Hashem gave our bodies the ability to rejuvenate and heal. He also gave us the tools to aid them in maintaining a healthy state of being - fruits and vegetables. Let's stop trying to be uber-sophisticated and get back to basics. If you want to be healthy, you've got to eat healthy. There's just no two ways about it.
We'd love to hear your feedback, and wish you a rejuvenating, happy, and healthy day!
OMG, for the fifth year in a row, I did it again. I've forgotten somebody's birthday in the family. This year I forgot that today, January 16, is my oldest son's 12th birthday. I already forgot my third son's birthday last month, and I remember forgetting my own birthday at least three times. What is happening to me? I don't even know the calendar date most of the time! Is it the whole aging thing? If so, I'm really not digging it.
So I actually had to go online and look at a calendar to see what date it is, and I found out that today, Monday (it's Monday, right?) is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Phew! So glad I caught that one in time. Actually, yesterday was his birthday. Now those of us that didn't skip half of high school might recall that Dr. King was a famous civil rights activist and made it his life's mission to end racial segregation and make racial equality a reality. His "I Have a Dream" speech is what most of us remember about the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, but here are a few quotes that prove that Martin Luther King was also a secret Breslever:
-Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
-The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
-Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
And here's the kicker: Dr. King earned his Ph.D. in theology, in which he compared two religious philosophers' views on God to his own idea of a "knowable and personal God." Hidden Breslever all the way, baby!
In honor of Dr. King's birthday, I'd like to share with you my dream. You see, I have a dream, too. In my dream, I will wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, just like in the Folger's commercials. I will slip my feet into my faux-fur-lined slippers and walk into my hers-only bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub and my very own toilet that no one else is allowed to use. I have a dream that the kids will get out of bed without me having to scream at them, and get dressed and ready all by themselves. I have a dream! That my husband will make me breakfast one morning and do the dishes. Yes! I have a dream! That the laundry will fold itself and my husband will know where the kids' clothes are. I HAVE A DREAM! That I will have... a WALK-IN CLOSET!
Rav Shalom Arush has a dream, too! In his dream, people are serious about working on their personal holiness. You see, he explains that it's not enough to just read about emuna and guarding your eyes, and then expect yourselves to just change in an instant. That's called a pipe dream; i.e., a fantasy. People, do you also have a dream that one day you'll reach those spiritual goals that you set for yourself? Then take advantage of The Power of Shovevim to make your dream a reality!
While we're on the subject of influential leaders in the U.S., Rav Lazer Brody talks about Donald Trump's upcoming Presidential inauguration. With an emuna perspective that you just don't see anywhere else, Rav Brody shows us, through Trump's less-than-unexpected win, that Hashem is totally running the show. Don't miss The Delivery Man!
You know what? I'd like to add something to my dream speech. I have a dream that all men will finally understand what it means to be a good husband. Men, are you giving your wives the Three A's? Uh, oh. You're asking what The Three A's are? You mean you don't know? Well, then you'd better read The Princess and the Caveman, PRONTO!
Oh, boy. After complaining that I don't have enough space to put all of my stuff, Dr. Zev Ballen comes along and writes that we all just have too much stuff. There goes my walk-in-closet fantasy. But, really, Dr. Ballen asks if we are any happier with all of our extra stuff than those people who lived a few generations ago. So what are his suggestions for Living the Simple Life? Great questions! Read the article!
Okay, so here's another great question: what do Beards and Babies have in common? Eww, I can't stop imagining a baby with a beard! So freaky! Thank G-d, Eliezer Guterman isn't submitting any baby pictures to the Guinness Book, but he is sharing an unbelievable story about his twins' miracle birth(s?)!
Lori Steiner writes A Parent's Letter to Hashem on behalf of all parents who can't stop using autospell on their smartphones. This beautiful letter is a moving, powerful, and grammatically correct must-read!
I'm starting to wonder if our lovely Emuna Therapist Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen's life could get any more dramatic. You'll never believe what crazy situation she writes about this week In Plane Sight.
David Perlow shows us through his own life example how thanking Hashem for everything really brings about incredible salvations. His Miracle in the Forest is so cool that I'm tempted to think he made it up. Maybe I shouldn't have written that. Just kidding, David!
Wishing all of our awesome readers a wonderful week!
p.s.- Can one of you out there please put my birthday, June 23 in the English/ 18 Sivan in your google calendar, so you can send me a reminder? And a gift?
A tremendous spiritual awakening is going on now. On the other hand, a world of darkness and negative influences are pulling young people off the path of observant Judaism. What do we do, especially as parents? Today's emuna lesson will illuminate our path. Enjoy it and have a lovely new week!
Welcome to the special issue of Beams Weekend Magazine, a new idea that we'd like to do more of in the future. This week, we have three departments: news and outlook, entertainment and Torah. We hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your feedback.
News and Outlook: Throw the Terrorists in the Trash
According to the "Chafetz Chaim" - the laws governing the wholesomeness of the spoken and the written word, any person who spreads hate and hearsay, purveying gossip and social venom in the world, has no place in the world to come. Therefore, be extra careful about what you say, read and write. Stay away from the gossips, for spiritually, they're like terrorists.
The holy Tanna Rebbe Shimon ben Shatach was the Av Beit Din, the Chief Justice of all of Israel. He saw a person with a drawn sword chasing another person. He ran after the two until he reached an alley-way. The victim was already on the ground, fluttering and about to die. Blood dripped from the assailant's sword. Rebbe Shimon told the assailant, "You evil person, who killed this man, you or me? What can I do, for I cannot bring you to trial, for the Torah demands two witnesses" (Talmud, Sanhedrin 37b). Rebbe Shimon ben Shatach could not try the murderer, but that doesn't mean he went free. When a court down here can't try a person, the Heavenly Court tries the person and justice is much more severe. It wasn't long before the killer suffered an excruciating death after being bitten by a poisonous snake.
If Rebbe Shimon ben Shatach couldn't convict a person despite the overwhelming evidence, then why do we allow ourselves to repeat hearsay, gossip and things that haven't been proven in a court of law or a Bet Din? That's dangerous.
Virtually nothing in the newspapers today has been proven in a halachically-legitimate court of law with two halachically- acceptable witnesses. There's no way that the Chafetz Chaim would allow reading any of today's newspapers, whether printed or electronic.
Newspapers and journalists judge people and print hearsay all the time. They too are required to observe the Chafetz Chaim. Any person who spreads hate and hearsay, purveying gossip and social venom in the world, has no place in the world to come. Therefore, be extra careful about what you say and write. Stay away from the gossips, for spiritually, they're like terrorists. It's easy to dispose of the printed-paper terrorists - just throw them in the trashcan where they belong. Better yet, don't read them in the first place. Why?
Don't you cherish your time? Why squander it on lies and half-truths? What's more, with the politicians' manipulation of the media, every rag has its agenda and you can't believe a thing.
This weekend, why not try reading something meaningful. Talk about the lessons of this week's Torah portion rather than what Bibi and Noni (why don't they refer to themselves as Benjamin and Arnon?) are saying about each other or what the CNN (Certified Nonsense News) is writing.
Like other terrorists, newspapers are dangerous to your body too! Unpleasant stories trigger cascades of a steroid hormone by the name of cortisol, aka the "stress hormone". This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High cortisol levels impair digestion as well as cell, hair and bone health. They also cause nervousness, susceptibility to infections and render weight-loss virtually impossible!
Only the evil inclination would tell you to indulge in something so harmful to both body and soul. Don't listen to it; dispose of it in the nearest waste bin together with the newspapers.
Entertainment: Dudi Knopfler Sings "The Priestly Blessing"
Our very dear friend Dudi Knopfler, one of the rising stars of Jewish music today, has come out with a lovely rendition of the Birkat Cohanim, the Priestly Blessing, which is customarily said to greet the bride and groom as they arrive under the chuppa in Sephardic weddings. We're delighted to feature it, and may these beautiful words and exquisite melody invoke Divine blessings on you and yours.
Torah: The Left-handed Blessing
Have you ever heard of a "left-handed" compliment? There's a left-handed blessing, too. In this week's Torah portion, Vayichi, our forefather Jacob teaches us exactly what it is, how to use it and the extent of its power. Enjoy, and have a lovely Shabbat!
Don't feel sorry for yourself if you come from a poor or disadvantaged background. People from such backgrounds often rise to greatness, as we learn in Chapter 2 of the Garden of Wisdom…