Monday, June 29, 2009

How To Avoid Getting Old

by Tom Furman

"Be like water."-Bruce Lee
"Be like a child." - Tom Furman

Years ago, someone said something that was funny, but true. " When you stop doing something, you will soon not be able to do it." There is much truth in this. The amount of time that you let pass between the practice of skills erodes pathways that connect from the mind to the muscles. Think of it as walking through a field of weeds. The more you walk through the field, the less the weeds grow and you begin to get a path that is easy to follow and provides little resistance. If you frequently "cut through other fields of weeds", you have little fear that the initial resistance will be permanent and you will have many paths to follow. It takes only infrequent trips to keep the path clear and movement effortless. This is similar to basic movement skills like running, jumping, squatting, lifting, climbing, pushing, crawling, balancing, swimming and so one. If you simply practice these movements with some frequency, duration, intensity, and progression, you will put off the aging process.

The first step is returning to the actions of childhood. When we were children we were told to sit on the floor to allow the adults to have chairs. We even preferred the floor. Most babies struggle from their parents arms to get on the floor and crawl on all fours, roll, push, pull, and balance on two legs. It's totally natural and lost in most adults. The starting point is more time on the floor and less on the chair. Watch TV on the floor, read a book on the floor, or just feel free to move around down there. This requires no money, little time, and no equipment. There can be no excuses about anti aging being expensive or gym memberships being inconvenient. Start with some simple sitting, and use back support like the couch to start. Try straight legged, bent legged, cross legged, etc. Spend time on your stomach, your back, your side, and all fours. Move from your back to your side to your stomach with some grace and support yourself without letting your torso sag. This will only take minutes a day and the results will be outstanding.

The second step is to try squatting. This is a lost art with most adults. Squatting is totally natural and contrary to the Urban Myth, very good for the lower body and knees. You should hold onto support at first. Heels should stay flat. This will take some time. Move slowly and if it takes several weeks or several months, that's fine. Focus on a chest up posture with your knees tracking your toes which should be pointed slightly outward. It's a good idea to push out with the thighs as if you were prying your legs apart. This will activate your buttocks and make squatting more efficient. The pressure should be felt in your hips and butt and not on the knees. The action becomes more balanced when you gradually gain movement and flexibility and your heels settle on the ground for a true squat that is practiced around the world as a resting position. An intermediate position is a half squat or lunge position. One knee up, one knee down. You can pad the lower leg or do this on a soft surface. Come in and out of the position with thigh strength alone. You should not need support. Practicing this movement will help your balance as well.

The third step is pulling. This requires you to get proficient at lifting your body off the ground by hanging on an overhead support. It's more commonly called a pull up. There are two reasons you can't do pull ups. You are either too fat or too weak. If your pulling muscles get stronger and you get leaner, pulling yourself will get easier. In the meantime, grab the edges of the doorway, lean back and do a pulling motion to upright yourself. There are many variations you can think of. The best place to practice this exercise is a ParCourse at a park. They are free, common, and provide great training equipment. They have plenty of stations to practice pulling at. Once you feel confident with "doorway" pulls, you can practice "cheating" pulls by jumping or stepping to the top of a pullup motion and holding yourself up there for a longer and longer count. Eventually you will gain the strength to pull yourself up with NO help. Then it's a numbers game. The more you pull, the better you get.

The fourth step is pushing. The greatest bang for the buck exercise is push ups. They require body alignment, abdominal strength, chest strength, shoulder strength, and tricep strength. If you can't do just one, start by stepping away from the wall and using that as a base for "push aways". Gradually work down to the floor for pushups from your knees. Keep the body in a straight line, with abdominals braced, and elbows close to your sides. When these become effortless, move on to the real thing. Both men and women are capable of these and should practice them BEFORE ever thinking of lifting weights.

There are many, many, steps beyond this but this will get you started. When you take natural movement and practice this to the highest level, you begin to look like the Brazilian based fitness called Ginastica Natural. Here's a clip and and idea of what "keep the pathways open" looks like.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Harold is 73 and unbelievable!

by Robin White

When I first met Dr. Harold Koning about 7 months ago at the age of 73, he was teaching a 2-hour class on the Martial Arts known as Silat. From the way Harold moves, going from a standing position to a deep squat position in a matter of milliseconds in order to out manuever his opponents, followed by a quick sweep under their feet to knock them down, I was literally bowled over by how fast he moves!

From what I understand, Harold practices Qi Gong and martial arts regularly and eats quite sensibly, but he does not run marathons or follow the kind of rigorous training that many believe is the holy grail of longevity. He keeps his body moving and he believes in the wisdom of his body to heal itself and be well.

More and more, I have come to the realization that a great many of us have been brainwashed by the massive pharmaceutical advertisements on TV. We now think that something is bound to go wrong. We believe ourselves to be some sitting duck, and that eventually because we are getting older, we will someday fall prey to one or all of these diseases.

Harold and many others do not have this belief. I never did. The body is the faithful servant of the mind, and will do whatever the mind tells it. The mind is more powerful than anything we can imagine. I am not saying that this is a simple thing. It's pretty complex. But over time, your belief system exacts a toll on everything around you. Change your thoughts and you will change your world. Totally put trust that your body is there for you. Trust that it will be well. But also treat it with respect. Our body is also our faithful servant in this life, so care for it well and it will be there for you.

I hope you will be inspired by Dr. Harold Koning just as I was. Dr. Koning has taught and practiced Qi Gong for 25 years, is an instructor of Indonesian Martial Arts and a Master Drummer in the Afro-Caribbean tradition. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Dutch, French and Surinamese Creole.

He also holds a Ph.D., MSW, M.Ed., C.Ht., and is the founder of Dynamic Wellness Strategies. He is a Life, Wellness & Career Coach. His training includes a Doctorate in Social Psychology, a Master of Social Work, Master of Educational Technology, Master of Clinical Rational Hypnotherapy and Certification in Medical Hypnosis. Dr. Koning completed his postgraduate training at the prestigious Harvard Medical School Mind/Body Institute. Dr. Koning developed “Potential Based Coaching Systems” a Mind/Body healing approach.

Read more about this incredible man at

Monday, June 22, 2009

Silent Inflammation & Fish Oil by Barry Sears

Barry Sears talks about Silent Inflammation, Chronic illness and Fish Oil Supplementation

by Robin White

To see Dr. Sears' short video about Fish Oil, go to

Dr. Barry Sears, founder of the Zone Diet, has been a foremost researcher on the phenomenon of Fish oils and Omega 3 fatty acids in the diet for the past 25 years.

In this you tube short video, Dr. Sears talks about the benefits of Fish oil supplements. Personally, it has helped me tremendously. I have noticed a big difference in my joints, skin, hair, and moods. Recently, I had what I thought was a broken toe, which was swollen and hurting like crazy. I stepped up my fish oil to (9) 1200 mg caps per day and within one week, the swelling was almost completely gone, as was the pain.

I wish I had known about fish oils when my grandmother was suffering so badly with arthritis. People who suffer from arthritis should definitely try this supplementation, as it is quite amazing, in my opinion. Dr. Barry Sears, creator of the famous Zone Diet, advocates taking large doses and wrote several books on the subject as well. You will know when you are taking too much, as your bowels will become loose and you can just cut back a bit until it resolves. Everyone's system is a little bit different, obviously.

For me, I find if I can take 2-3 1200 mg. capsule after every meal, I stay pretty well balanced, unless I am sick or hurting, and then I will step it up.

Tom's friend Lyle McDonald, is a famous nutritionist, speed skater and strength coach and he has a great web site called I am including here an excerpt of his opinion about fish oil supplementation:

A fairly standard dose of fish oil in the studies is the equivalent of (6) 1 gram capsules. The average capsule has 180 mg epa and 120 DHA, so 6 capsules will provide 1,020 mg epa and 720mg DHA for a total of 1.8 grams of total fish oil. I would consider this basically the minimum daily amount that would be beneficial on any level.

Some work has identified that the body will hit a limit (in terms of plasma saturation) on DHA at 1.2 grams per day which is the equivalent of 10 1 gram fish oil capsules. That would also provide 1.8 grams EPA for a total of 3 grams per day of fish oil. Under most conditions, I think this is more than enough.

A friend who uses fish oiils to control her arthritis will often go as high as (15) 1 gram capsules although I haven’t seen that supported in the literature. I’d note that higher doses are not better here (although some are currently recommending absurd amounts). Excessive fish oil can impair the body’s ability to mount a proper immune response, as well as impairing insulin release.

Carlson’s fish oil contains roughly the equivalent of (4) 1 gram fish oil capsules per tsp., I don’t know the values on cod liver oil offhand.

My current generic recommendation is the middle level, (10) 1 gram capsules per day for 3 grams total fish oil. This should provide maximal benefits (in terms of partitioning and health) with minimum negatives. Individuals trying to control a specific excessive inflammatory condition may wish to experiment with higher doses (15 1 gram capsules or 3-4 tsp Carlson’s fish oil per day).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yetta is 82 and Absolutely Amazing!

by Robin White

This lovely, absolutely adorable lady lives in my neighborhood and I had the good fortune of seeing her today in the pool. I met her about a year ago in the same pool and she had a broken arm. She was in the pool doing some of her daily exercises and I was amazed by her then and talked to her for a long time. She is just a charming person, bright and spunky with a great sense of humor with the greatest attitude and zest for life. She just radiates energy. She is lean and gorgeous. She gets in the pool every day with her bright pink noodle and moves around like someone 50 years her junior. She plays bridge and does Jazzercize 4 times per week! She says the secret to staying young and beautiful is to "keep moving". Yetta is the picture of health at 82 and I am following her advice folks! She is definitely my hero.

When anyone tells me they can't exercise or they are too old to do this or that or my personal favorite: "Wait till you get to my age, you'll see", I will just refer them to Yetta for an earful. She complains a little about her same-age friends who won't accompany her to exercise class. They think she is crazy for doing all that moving around, but Yetta doesn't listen, and why should she? In the famous words of Billy Crystal, Yetta...joo look mahvelous!

Lose Your Bellyfat

10 Steps To Tighter Abs

by Tom Furman

Having a lean, tight, abdominal, region, seems to be one of the primary fitness goals in America. Thousands of dollars are spent on fashion to either display or hide this showcase of human physiology. Even more money is spent on diet books, surgery, exercise devices and instruction to make one’s waistline lean and mean. The problem is confusion. Years ago there was little research and not a lot of resources. Today, the problem is too much. Too many methods, too many masters. The general public is conflicted with slickly worded ads, and colorfully filmed infomercials. The bookshelves are filled with attractive authors offering waist trimming methodology, dietary science, and physical voodoo. What is the easiest path to traffic stopping abdominals? There is none. I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear, but there ARE effective, clear cut methods. They DO require work. But you'll need some solid knowledge first. Let’s break it down into ten steps:

Understanding the different types of fat in the human body is important to understand.

• Visceral fat–This is the dangerous fat inside your abdominal cavity, in and around your organs. This is the fat that some men have in their midsections, it is well hidden, but it causes them to look big and when you touch it, they are quite hard or solid and they will usually tell you "I am not fat, I am solid, feel this!" This is because the fat is so deep, you cannot feel it.
• Deep abdominal fat–The deepest subcutaneous layer of fat around your middle. This is the fat responsible for "love handles". It is more visible than visceral fat.
• Upper superficial abdominal fat–subcutaneous fat (under the skin) in the upper sector of your waist.
• Lower superficial abdominal fat–Subcutaneous fat in the lower sector of your waist
• Hip and thigh fat, also called “stubborn fat”. Almost exclusively in women.

This list runs from easiest to lose, to hardest to lose. These types of fats react differently because of blood flow, hormones, and MANY other complex factors. The best part is understanding that FAT is stored energy. Despite what you hear, it’s about physics. If you burn more energy, and consume less energy, your body will lose fat. It’s frustrating, however, that the last place to go is the lower stomach and thighs. These are particularly troublesome areas for many people.

2. Exercise.
There are many arguments over which methodology is more important for a tight, flat, tummy, aerobics or strength work. The answer is both. The leanest of athletes (not necessarily a good example) burn lots of calories, do ample aerobic work and also do resistance training. The key is not to make things overly complex. Any person who participated in the Military will tell you how good their fitness level was. The Military trains the worlds most effective fighting forces with body weight calisthenics and running. The combination of using large muscle groups doing large movements like pulling, pushing, squatting, and lifting, combined with quick runs or sprints seems to be the best combination. In other words, if you are sitting in an exercise machine, get off of it, and go to the park for some FREE training on the par-course or jungle gym. You will get leaner faster, not to mention, cheaper.

3. Diet.
How people should eat currently occupies a large portion of Barnes and Noble’s Bookstores. Here is a general rule, eat less. That’s it. Eat less, burn more, and magic things will happen. Because of modern manufacturing, the abundance of deep-fried carbohydrates is at an all time high. We are totally out of whack with what we stuff into our pie holes. The priorities should go like this. First, adequate, lean protein. Second, enough essential and good fat. Third carbohydrates from greens and fruits. Last, plenty of liquids that contain NO calories.

4. Age and Sex.

As we age things change. (There’s an understatement). We become less active and more focused on food. That 50 extra calories eaten add a pound of fat over 70 days. That’s five pounds a year, and by your 10-Year High School Reunion, you are fifty pounds overweight! Amazing how AGE gets blamed for getting fat and free will is not. The truth is, as adults age, their hormones change a bit. Men become more like women and women become more like men. Men gain more weight in their “female” areas like breasts. Women gain more in the “male” areas like the belly. The rules still apply. Get lean, stay lean, and stay fit. Adherence to tighter meals and less carbohydrates can help. These “fatty” areas are particularly susceptible to insulin producing carbohydrates as we age. Being stringent and sticking to veggies and fruits instead of bagels and pasta may be all the magic you need to beat nature.

5. Cold Water Drinking.
Ample cold water is a gimmick used by many diet gurus. The research is still unclear. The theory is that drinking huge amounts of cool water forces the body to dissipate heat and there is some caloric expenditure from the body dealing with cold water. There is no reason to over drink water. We are a very hydrated nation. However, drinking water in place of caloric enhanced beverages is a good substitution. Sitting in traffic holding your urine may give you a bladder infection which is not good for health and fitness.

6. Abdominal Exercise.
There is plenty of mythology surrounding training the abdominals. The current BUZZ word is “core” training. It is based in the athletic science of training the postural muscles to create stability. Many sophisticated methods of movement are suggested to achieve this. Let me tell you the truth. Put 300 lbs. overhead in any fashion you wish and you find out all you need to know about core stability. Heavy lifting, or rather lifting heavy relative to your own levels, has benefits that are far reaching. Training the muscles of the waistline to look good, however, can be broken down like this:

• Folding. Bringing ribs to pelvis or pelvis to ribs
• Twisting. This would include side bending, chopping wood, etc.
• Bracing. Simply hardening the abdominals and holding them against gravity. It’s important to vary the stress, duration, and intensity of abdominal training. They are postural muscles and recover quickly. Feel free to try different methods but adhere to the outline presented.

7. Posture and Bodywork.
Constantly driving and working on computers has distorted modern day posture. Have someone take a photo of you from the side and go from there. Picture someone grasping your hair and pulling upwards. Shoulders should be down and back. Ears, hips, and ankles should be aligned. “Forward Head” posture may need more than just a change in habits. Deep tissue bodywork can relieve tension, and manage correct posture. In fact, all the sitting and hunching can shorten the distance between the ribs and hips making your waistline look thicker. A few sessions with deep tissue bodywork, like Rolfing, can eliminate the tension and “create space” therefore reducing waistline thickness.

8. Sleep.
No one currently gets enough sleep. Maybe your dog or cat. Recovery via restful sleep is paramount in the whole fat loss, muscle building formula. Seven hours is good, eight is better, and if you are really training heavily, a nap may be needed.

9. Create an Illusion.

If you are already lean and fit, but not as tall and lean as you would like, you need to create an illusion. This means working hard on your shoulders, neck, upper back, gluteal region and lower body. When those areas are fit and developed, the waist looks tinier.

10. Surgery.
Last, but not least is Cosmetic Surgery. No amount of diet or sit ups will remove loose skin. No amount of weight training will alter muscles torn from child birth or surgery. If a trainer tells you otherwise they are sucking money out of your wallet and not fat out of your waist. Specifically targeted liposuction removes fat depots that are resistant to even the most stringent of diet and exercise regimens. It is not a method to lose body fat or to make a fat person have less rolls. It should only be considered only after you are fit, lean and strong. Not everyone is a candidate for surgery, so you will also need to be cleared by your doctor for this.

So, there you have it. Ten steps to inform, motivate, and entertain you. What is missing is the motivation to start. I have to remember what my friend, Celebrity Trainer Mike Mahler said. “If being 300 pounds is not motivation enough to lose weight...don’t call me!” The responsibility to ACT is up to you.

Tom Furman has been involved in martial arts and conditioning since the early seventies. Tom’s training methods are derived from his decades long passion of martial arts and his study of exercise science. He is currently a devotee of Indonesian Pentjak Silat. Tom runs, where he trains professional athletes and others in strength, conditioning and movement skills. He is the creator of the popular “Concrete Conflict and Conditioning” and “Activate Your Dynamic Range of Motion” DVDs, which integrate strength, movement, and physical combat.

Sources: from Lyle McDonald.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rolfing helps with Alignment, Pain & Old Scar tissue

By Robin White

"Rolfing", also known as Structural Integration was first taught in this country by Ida Rolf. It's the highly refined art of soft tissue manipulation. The soft tissue I am referring to is the muscle fascia. Regular massage deals with the muscle itself, but Rolfing deals with the lining of the muscle, which is not as pliable as the muscle. It does not give up it's hardened position as fast as a muscle will. The fascia is the "sock" that holds the muscle. Therefore, it requires a lot of pressure. Once released though, it is the best feeling. Your body can go back to it's normal position.

Yesterday we had Rolfing done by an excellent certified practioner, Patrick Sassoon from Denver, Colorado. He happened to be here in Ft. Lauderdale and we scheduled an appointment with him. Both Tom and myself had a lot of issues we needed work on. Tom had a really tight hip flexor on his right side which prevented him from doing deep squats and also to a slight degree, he was favoring his right side and in so doing, he was compensating. When we compensate, that's when other symptoms start to appear. He has been dealing with this for over a year, and just wasn't able to do it himself. After his session, he was able to do a deep squat more normally. It was great. Continually stretching that area will be the key to keeping it open.

My issues stem from too much computer work: Tight neck, shoulders at different heights, hips at different heights and arms that rotate inward. Patrick worked on my forearms for about 15 minutes on each side and when I stood up, it was amazing, my thumbs faced forward for the first time in years. He worked on my inwardly rotated shoulders also and then on my pectorals and shoulders to loosen that whole area. Now if I can only get into a new line of work! The key here is to get up and stretch more often.

Aging involves living, and living involves a lot of repetitive movement. When we work or do sports, the movement we sometimes use is extremely repetitive. Unless we "undo" the tightness of that repetitive movement, we are bound to be "bound" by it. After some years, we look in the mirror and realize our whole posture has changed. Our necks jut forward, our backs may be hunched, our shoulders may be rotated forward (like mine) and many other things that keep us from moving properly, then other problems start occurring as a result of that initial misalignment. Training on top of a misalignment only serves to reinforce it, so getting Rolfed is an excellent thing to do an regular basis to identify and correct specific weak areas. Patrick was very targeted and I thought, excellent. I highly recommend him. He can be reached at (720) 212-1222 or at