Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Debbie Ford

Debbie Ford
Teacher, Dreamer and Friend

Several years ago I attended one of Debbie Ford's weekend workshops.  It wasn't my idea, it was Debbie's.  She and her sister, Arielle had been coming to my Pilates United studio for a while and we had developed a friendly relationship.  Debbie mentioned that she had a Shadow Process workshop coming up and that it would be a good idea that I attend.  I resisted.  See, up to that time I had read several self-help books, some good, some bad, some I never finished and had applied, to the best of my ability, what I thought was applicable - which wasn't much.  This isn't to say that I never did any self-examination.  I had been through the Twelve Steps and had been sober for over ten years which involves a lot more mental and emotional work than most people do in a lifetime.  I am also a black belt in Tang Soo Do, an ancient Korean martial art.  I had a pretty good handle on this life thing.  I explained all this to Debbie in order to let her know that I had done all the inside work I was going to do and wasn't really interested in upsetting the apple cart yet again.   

What I didn't tell her was that I thought her books and seminars were good for lame people.  Although I appreciated her business and friendship I assumed that her work and methods were new-age, pop-culture shtick.  She wouldn't take no for an answer.  She felt so strongly that I needed this workshop that she comped the whole thing so I had no choice but to go.  I finally agreed - it's very hard to say 'no' to Debbie.

She requested that I read her book "The Dark Side of The Light Chasers" before the workshop.  I did and I was pleasantly surprised.  What I found was excellent insight into the human spirit and I was beginning to think that maybe this workshop might have something for me after all. 

The first day of the workshop was only a half-day and it consisted of Debbie lecturing and walking us through some simple exercises designed to get us chip at the walls of our conscious minds and open up channels into our childhoods and who we are deep down inside.  At the end of the day we were instructed to spend the evening in silence, solitude and reflection.  The next morning she asked the assembly if we had any questions or comments about the previous day.  I raised my hand and expressed concern over the suspicion that this workshop might just be one of those blame everything on your parents sort of things and if it was... well, I had been through that before.  My parents were great and they did their best so if I'm supposed to badmouth them all weekend this probably wasn't for me. 

Debbie lovingly but firmly asked if I was open to being critical of them for just the next 24 hours and that I'd never have to again.  I agreed.  The next two days were a whirlwind of exercises, meditations, lectures and discussions.  I examined my childhood and teenage years in ways I never had before.  Long lost memories bubbled to the surface and I became more and more aware of how the different experiences of my youth shaped who I'd become, both good and bad.

Most importantly, I learned that regardless of how I saw things consciously, sub-consciouly I had been blaming my parents all along.  Whatever shortcomings I had as an adult I had secretly attributed to them.  Once I opened up to the the possibility that my parents may have short-changed me as a kid I was able to see MY part.  I was able to see that they had tried like hell to get me to live up to my potential, perform better in school, to put my heart into every thing I did.  I exhausted them.  I was the one who resisted change, I was the one that gave up too soon.  I was the one who was responsible for who and what I was today. 

By the end of the workshop I had gained a new and powerful perspective.  I wasn't the best person in the world nor the worst.  I had good and useful traits and some bad ones too - just like everyone else.  I can live my life any way I choose.  I am not a slave to the misunderstandings of childhood.  This might seem simple to others but it has meant the world to me. 

Since then I've read most of Debbie's work and have benefited from every page.  Thanks to Debbie Ford and those around her, I live my life with a great sense of freedom and enthusiasm.  Thank you Debbie, you'll be missed.

Well, that's my two cents and it's worth every penny.

Jake Holmes

Friday, February 15, 2013

Yogurt on My Face - The Fro-Yo Contraversy

Yogurt On My Face

mouse ii

Hot or Not?

Last week my Hollywood dirt informant told me that there was some bad-mouthing going on about frozen yogurt. Love it. See, I’ve long suspected that the world could be divided into two groups: the yogurt group (patchouli soaked hippies) and the ice cream group (right thinking, productive Americans). I would put myself in the latter. So naturally, if there’s some scientific flexin’ on yogurt, I’m happy to pile on.

Well, once again, even the smallest bit of research can make me look like the bonehead I am. With a minimum of effort I found study after study indicating several healthful benefits of eating yogurt. Let’s list a few:

Lowers blood pressure.

Excellent source of protein and calcium.


Bioavailability. The lactic acid in yogurt actually helps you absorb more calcium and vitamin B, two nutrients that are essential to women’s health.

Might boost your immune system. Although there are still no conclusive studies yet, many studies suggest that yogurt could boost the effectiveness of disease-fighting white blood cells.

Some studies found that women who eat yogurt regularly had lower incidents of….. of….. wait for it…. Y---- infections! Pyucky.

A few studies have suggested that yogurt lowers your cholesterol.

My favorite: Improves sexual health and attractiveness.

Let’s explore the last one, shall we? In a recent study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology two groups of mice were fed two different diets. The first group ate junk food and the second group ate healthy mouse food. The objective of the study was to find out more about obesity, but what they discovered was much more interesting.

Half of each group was also fed yogurt with every meal. Regardless of which diet they ate, the junk or health food, all the mice who ate the yogurt became "sexier". (As a side note, I’m not sure what the aesthetic differences between sexy mice and non-sexy mice are, but I trust that the science nerds at MIT have strong and well founded opinions on the matter.) The yogurt munching rodents had silkier hair and lost weight. (Okay, I see it now.) The male mice also developed a "swaggar". You read that right… a swaggar. And who wouldn’t? Their testicles grew by 5%. And of course, they sired more females and larger litters. Minnie should also be credited with the larger litters, after all she does the majority of the heavy lifting. Also the females produced healthier, more nutrient rich milk.


Oh, frozen yogurt. I did find some information that slightly dis’ed frozen yogurt. It seems that some of the probiotics found in yogurt that are so healthy might not survive freezing temperatures. This does make sense as it occurs in many other foods, but it is not yet scientifically proven to be true for frozen yogurt. This happens to the educated guess of some nutrition babe who’s employed by a probiotic supplement company. That’s like asking a Dodge salesman whether or not you should buy a Beemer.

Wanting more information, I went to our resident brain-pan hottie, Nikki Turk. She confirmed that most bacteria typically cannot survive drastic temperature changes, but added that those little suckers mutate faster than a junkie on bath salts so it is quite possible that many of the strains of healthy bacteria have found a way to survive.

The other negative stuff I found on frozen yogurt was about the fat-free varieties. Like most fat-free foods, the manufacturers have to fill it with a ton of chemical witchcraft to compensate for taking out all the yummy fat. By the time it's dispensed into your styrophome bowl it has more in common with the floor tiles you're standing on than it does with any sort of dairy product. We're not big on fat-free anything anyway. By the way, the low-fat stuff seems okay.

Feel free to eat as much yogurt as you can get your hands on. I know I will. When you do, just make sure you’re not overloading with sugar and Greek yogurt has over twice the protein as non-Greek varieties. If you want to sweeten it up a bit add a little natural honey as honey holds some beneficial pre-biotic properties (not sure what that means, but I like honey). Oh, and that watery stuff on the top? That’s loaded with protein so don’t skim it off, rather mix it back in.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have an apology to make to a wheat-grass sweating, hipster in his girlfriend's pants and his nephue's shirt and driving a beat-up Saab, but he’s not getting his "Vegan" bumper sticker back.

That's my two cents... And it's worth every penny.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Your Personal Trainer Isn't Telling You

There's something you should know about your personal trainer....

Walk into almost any gym, healthclub or fitness studio and you'll be greeted by someone who looks amazing.  Tight buns, tanned skin and legs to die for and the female trainers look even better.  They're happy to tell you all about their place and how they can help you achieve your fitness goals in record time.  But why should you believe them?  Well, they look great, they obviously must know what they're talking about.  So you start busting it out a couple times per week and you drop 6 pounds pretty quick and you're stoked.  Three months later you've put 8 pounds back on - you're heading the wrong direction.  It's frustrating.  It's easy to get down on yourself, why can't you look like your trainer?  You follow their advice, you try to eat what they tell you to, you're doing hours of cardio but still can't seem to get to reach the same level.  Most of you figure you just need to do more cardio, work harder and eat cleaner. 

Well, what your trainer isn't telling you is that we started out looking like this.  Okay, maybe we've put some work into our bodies but the vast majority of us are naturally lean, naturally strong and when it comes to exercise, a little bit goes a long way, at least for us.  When I look at pictures of when I was a little kid I had great muscle structure.  I had pecs in kindergarten.  Growing up, things like running, cycling, swimming, push-ups, sit-ups; these things were always easy for me and I loved doing them.  I took to sports naturally, I never had to work very hard in order to make the team.  Naturally, I gravitated to this profession.  For me, and so many other trainers we have a natural instinct for exercise and the drive to do it. 

Going with your instincts is natural.  You have stuff that you're naturally good at too.  Maybe you've always been great with numbers so you pursued a career in engineering or accounting.  It could be that you were that kid who kept their room clean and were always asking your parents if you could paint your room funky colors and you're now an interior designer.  Very few people will be successful in any profession if the work doesn't come naturally. 

So, why do I point this out?  I point this out because too many people set unrealistic weight and fitness goals for themselves.  Women, especially, compare themselves to their spin trainer or bootcamp leader and can't understand why they don't look the same.  Sadly, too many trainers support this fantasy through ego (they were born on third base and they think they hit a triple), ignorance (they have no idea how large a part genetics play) or because they're afraid that they will lose you as a client if they don't blow smoke up your sweaty ass. 

I'm not telling you to fire your trainer and spend your days eating Bon Bons on the sofa.  My hope is that you feel a little better about yourself, fitness-wise.  Feel great about the progress you've made knowing that you have a have a BEST YOU and you're working toward it.  My other hope is that you stop struggling through workouts that seem right for others but aren't getting you anywhere.  Find a workout or two that works for your body and sensibilities, and stick with it.  Maybe your thing is yoga or spinning or Pilates, who knows?  The only way to find out is to try them.  The different trainers out there should encourage you to try their thing, but let your body tell you if you whether it's right for you. 

Well, that's my two cents and it's worth every penny.

Jake Holmes

Butt Lifting Theory

Butt Lifting Theory

How often do you stand in the mirror backwards pinching, grabbing and pulling your butt trying like hell to figure out how on earth are you supposed to eliminate that crease and return your rump to its' former glory?  A saggy butt is no laughing matter.  If you're a woman over the age of 25 you know the deliterious effects of gravity on your buns. 

Sadly, most women, with or without the guidance of a trainer waste days, weeks months and years trying to firm up the lower part of thier butts.  They diet, lunge, diet, squat, starve, run, starve some more and spin, but no matter what they do they're stuck with a droopy butt.  Why? 

The reason they are unsuccessful is that they are working against nature, gravity, biology and mechanics.  The saggy lower portion of your butt (pictured above) is not muscle.  It's skin and fat and you can't exercise skin and fat.  Sure, you can diet all you like, cleanse until the cows come home, scrub, slap and wrap but unless you're 20 years old or you get down to about 11% body fat (super-unlikely) you'll only make modest improvements. 

The only way to eliminate that crease is to add volume to the top of your butt.  I know this seems counter to our objectives, however it's pretty much the only thing that works.  Now, I'm not talking about loading up on french fries and adding to your backside that way, I'm talking about adding muscle to the top half which will tighten up the skin below.

Next time you're in the gym ask one of the more experienced trainers what exercises you can do to build the top portion of your butt (gluteus medius).  Stick with it for a few weeks and see if you don't start to lift that thang.

Thats my two cents and it's worth every penny.


50 Shades of Green

fruit icecream

Last weekend Bernadine and I went to the Macy’s Home Store in Mission Valley to re-arrange their furniture, not to buy furniture, but to simply re-arrange some. I’m aware that to some of you this may strike you as odd, however, to those of you who know us this behavior is not surprising in the least. We’ve become infatuated with a leather sectional that’s too big for our house and we live in the delusion that if we arranged the furniture in a different way we just might make it all fit, like straighten up the cupboard to accommodate an extra can of tomato paste. Well, sectionals don’t come in cans.

Demoralized, we headed back to the car by way of the kitchen electronics department and that’s when we saw them, the juicers. All lined up like little shiny soldiers, new and ready to fight the battle of the bulge. We took each one apart and put it back together. We read the boxes evaluating the features and benefits of each machine. We must have spent an hour going back and forth between this one and that one and what about the one we first looked at? Finally Bernadine put her smart phone to the task and we were able to come to a decision based on reviews from other consumers. We settled on The Dash, a mid-priced unit that had all the features we wanted and was pleasing to the eye to boot.


We laid down the cash and made a bee-line for Sprouts. I manned the cart while B looked up some juice recipes and barked out the list. We went home with enough vegetables and fruits to feed the student body of UC Santa Cruz. We crammed our beautiful little friend with carrots, celery, spinach and apple. This thing worked like a charm. The generous 3” opening attacked each piece of produce like a starving honey badger on a king cobra. The juice poured from the spout into the pitcher like a rainbow of skinny health.

The juice, like the whole experience, was delicious. We chugged it down, silently imagining ourselves rollerblading half naked through Pacific Beach with bodies lean and trim and glowing like the sun. We were snapped back into reality with the prospect of having to clean this little gem. The task was tedious for sure, but it only took about eight minutes and 400 gallons of water.

The next day we had juice for breakfast and both reported (to each other and the dogs) feeling lean and healthy. That afternoon we ran off to the grocery store to find some stuff for dinner. We chose a couple of thick New York steaks and picked up some mushrooms that I would sauté in butter and wine. Looking at the vegetables, we both agreed that we had already had enough vegetables in the morning so we wouldn’t need them for dinner. Oh, I forgot, we did get a couple of ears of corn (which we would dress with butter and salt). As if possessed we found ourselves in the snack isle considering the features and benefits of Lorna Doone's and it hit me; I was unconsciously justifying skipping vegies and eat sugary crap all because I had already had one glass of vegetable juice for breakfast.

I was both horrified and grateful to realize this nasty little truth about myself and being a regular guy (more regular now after the juicer) I figure I’m not alone. I think this sort of thing is super common. We add something good like drinking vegetable juice and consciously or sub-consciously reward our good behavior with a package of Oreo cookies. We don’t just do this with food either; how many times have you had one extra workout or extended your run by a mile and found yourself tossing back an extra glass of wine three nights in a row? If we’re not careful we could end up putting on ten pounds by adding something healthy.

This tit-for-tat justification is not restricted to nutrition and exercise, if we're honest with ourselves we can see this in every area of our lives; work, relationships, etc. How many times have you busted your butt at the office for a week or so and then found yourself taking extra half hours for lunch cutting out early for the next month? Or threw a big birthday thing for your spouse or lover and secretly expected them to kiss your thoughtful ass till next Christmas? Maybe it was a birthday card sent to a niece and you skipped the next two phone calls? It’s everywhere!

I’m not saying that we should stop improving our diets or doing nice things for people or trying super hard at work. I’m saying that when we do put forth special effort or add something good to our lifestyle we should stay extra-super-vigilant to make sure we don’t slack or backslide. It reminds me of an old saying, “If you’re resting on your laurels you’re wearing them on the wrong end.”

That's my two cents... And it's worth every penny.