Inner Space: The Final Frontier (CalPoly051315)

Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of articles documenting the extraordinary evolution of my now two-year-old, weekly Human Being Training program at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. I'm deeply grateful for the 35+ humans who participate in these yoga-based, music-driven adventures, since although I'm the titular instructor, the synergy we create together is what makes possible some truly jaw-dropping alchemy.


The energy of the community this week was crackling, edgy. It reminded me of the feeling I had recently during an autocross race when the back end of my car broke loose on a diabolically uneven, extra-long sweeping turn. The 360 that followed was epic, but disorienting. I was borrowing a magnificent, AWD turbo and forgot that the one thing to do with an all-wheel-drive car when its back end slips is to Floor It. And so we did in class what I failed to do on the race course. It was a sweaty, glorious mess.

Not my EVO, but you get the idea.

Not my EVO, but you get the idea.

I often have a theme of the week for Human Being Training (although I let the details fill themselves in as the class unfolds) and give a short talk on it before we get moving. This week, fueled by this life-altering Eckart Tolle video I've been studying, we explored the metaphorical concept of Inner Space: The Final Frontier. (I'm a total Star Trek dork, so this is how the Info presented itself to me.)

As always (OK, as often as I remember), I was practicing relaxing, setting down my ego, and letting the Information come through me as accurately as possible.

I try to listen to what my mouth says during Human Being Training, because when I let the Energy speak through me, it's generally pretty useful in the sense of providing instruction on how to become a Real Human Being. (This is how I think of folks like Jesus, Buddha, The Dalai Lama, Allah, Krishna, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Yoda, Your Favorite Avatar Here, etc.) And above all else, I'm passionately keyed in to removing as many layers of my Not-Self as I can in this particular lifetime. (Side note: I just saw the new Mad Max: Fury Road movie today--they call Real Human Beings "shiny" or "chrome." Cool.)

The excellent thing is that each of us is already Shiny. And most of us forget this surprising fact as we tool around in our little daily worlds, lost in a wilderness of jibber-jabbering, meaningless, constricting thoughts fueled by our raging egos and untrained but powerful five senses.

Most of us have forgotten that the Brain Mind is the servant of the Heart Mind and the Gut Mind, not the fucking boss of us. (Guess where your terrified, tyrannical, torturing ego lives? Mmm-hmm.) And most of us have also forgotten that each of our senses is a big red button in our spacesuit bodies, which are tools for exploring Time/Space. When you use them correctly, you can play the Game. When you don't know how your spacesuit works, you don't know there is a Game, and how much crazy-ass fun it is.

So here's the crux of what we learned this week: To create some space inside you, some deep peace and relief from the incessant, maddening barrage of the Monkey Mind (have you noticed all that internal noise?), to train your Brain Mind to do the will of the more intelligent Heart and Gut, you only need to watch your body breathe. Or feel the inside of your left foot or hand. In other words, feel the Life that you are. Observe that you are not the nerve impulses that create thoughts. You are what watches the thoughts arise.

Until next week, Human Beings, have fun and for God's sake don't take my word for any of this! I'm continually flabbergasted by the amount of stuff I don't know. Maybe, if you want, try some of these ideas for yourself and see what happens.

All my heart,

Amanda


Things to Practice with Your Spacesuit This Week

1. V-e-r-y....s-l-o-w yoga pushups, with elbows in and a good plank going on (aka chaturanga). 10 seconds down, 10 seconds up. I can do 2 so far. Remember, slowness is a path to mastery and tremendous strength.

2. The hip mobility work we did. I found the exercises here. Love these guys.

3. As many frog leaps as you can do in 30 seconds. Do them like this!

4. Party trick o' the week: sit-throughs.

PLAYLIST

The Great Cartwheel Conspiracy of 2013

Note: All entries earlier than this one refer to Human Being Training's predecessor, Flash of White. I still like the articles, though, so I'm leaving them up. - AL

From the "news" (hope you're not still watching that!) to public schools to conventional medicine to government to corporate consumerism to law enforcement, there are many factors working to suppress the tidal wave of awakening humanity and make us feel very....frickin'....serious. Very threatened, small, and powerless.

And that's OK: it's all part of the cycle. According to Alan Watts, a hero of mine, we're exactly on track.

One of the most powerful things we can do to expedite the process of our evolution—of becoming Real Human Beings—should we care to, is to have some eff'n fun. Many, many people are beginning to figure this out and have started spontaneously dancing in public, offering free hugs on the sidewalk, developing alternative economies and ways of living together, and generally having a great time.

They're looking where they want to go, not where they don't. Cisco's dad taught me that key concept years ago while we were mountain biking on single-track, right after I climbed back up a steep, thistle-grown hill.

And in that spirit, conspire with me—literally, "breathe with me"—to have fun now. If it's not a cartwheel, make it a somersault, or a frog leap, or a hug, or a heart-felt compliment.

Dare to come alive! Do the unexpected. Be your weird, wild, wonderful self. Do what you want! And in doing so, inspire and alight those around you with the warrior courage it takes to walk the Earth as a Real Human Being.

Let us know how it goes! And PS: By not watching the news, we're not burying our heads in the sand. Nope. Know what's happening (without the corporate spin), and then look where you do want to go! Choose where to send your energy, is all. :)

Watch our video here!

The Plank of Doom

I guess my definition of "fun" is a little unusual.

My students have learned that when I say, "OK, so let's try something fun!" some serious shit is about to come down on them. There are usually moans and groans, and sometimes there are flops onto the floor as dread overwhelms.

Most of them, though, surprise themselves by rising to the occasion and finding that a good old-fashioned challenge is, yeah....fun. I love seeing the furrowed brows transform into smiles of discovery as they take on the challenge and win.

In this coddled, automated society, we've forgotten how glorious and gratifying it is to test ourselves, mentally and physically, against an opposing force—even if it's "just" our own bodyweight. And then how fabulous is it to watch ourselves quickly adapt, get stronger, and want to have even more fun?

So, here's Cisco's and my latest quick-workout video for you, which I call the Plank of Doom. Make sure not to commit the rookie errors of sticking your butt up or letting the hips sag. If that happens and you can't help it, just try to hold a good plank for 30-60 seconds until you get stronger.

You're awesome. Mwa!

When sheer panic is a good thing.

When was the last time you literally fought for your life? I mean, literally. Like if you didn't do something intelligent with your body—immediately—it would die or take major damage? I'm not talking about the pervasive, toxic adrenaline dumps that many of us endure multiple times on a daily basis. The wife yells, the boss is suddenly distant, the past-due bills pile up, the idiot in the beige Taurus crosses into your lane while texting, the kid breaks curfew. Again.

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

All of these unpleasantries provoke the much-maligned (but truly wondrous) flight-or-flight response, a torrent of chemical and hormonal reactions designed to move our bodies into a place of safety. The thing is, unless there's a lion a claw's-length away or you're running as fast as you can to catch something for dinner, your incredible body dumps its magical survival brew into the bloodstream and it stews there—all that power and potential swirling around with nowhere to go. This is bad.

Our amazing bodies live in a time way back when we still had to smash invading hordes over the head and somehow procure a bit of animal protein to survive. Sometimes simultaneously. The problem is, with rare exceptions, our bodies can't tell the difference between an angry husband and an apocalypse-level event. So it helpfully downloads, almost instantaneously, everything you need to blast through the Level-Red Crisis....and then you go sprawl on the couch to watch American Idol. And stew not only in all those powerful chemicals, but in the emotions that triggered them.

I've got an idea for you. I've got a better way.

Watch this video and change your life. Teach it to others and become the change you wish to see. Your time is now.

How to Do Yoga Sun Salutes for Health, Happiness, and Stress Relief

Ever despair that because of time and money concerns you'll never manage to work yoga into your life, despite knowing how good it is for your mind, body, and spirit? Well, despair no more!

In this video, I show you how to do Sun Salutations, one of the most effective strengthening, stretching, and stress-relieving yoga sequences, in the privacy of your home (or at the park or in your garage, etc.). It's wonderful and very helpful to go to a lovely yoga studio (like mBody, my home studio in San Luis Obispo, CA), but when you only have a few minutes or are short on dough, don't let that stop you from getting healthy and happy on your own!

One of my main reasons for getting up every day is because I LOVE empowering people (including myself) to do things that they believe they can't do. Now, in your case, that belief may be:

a) "I can't do yoga because I'm too old, stiff, klutzy, injured, overweight," etc.

b) "I can't do yoga because I have to spend many hours and dollars every week to learn how. And I ain't got either of those things."

c) All of the above.

Sometimes, all that's required to break down that "I can't" barrier is for someone to tell you, "Yes, you can," and then show you how. Others really like to argue for their limitations. If you're the first kind of person, I can help you. If you're the second kind, I wish you peace and release you!

So, Type Ones, here's what you do. Shift your focus from A and/or B above to this new belief: "I have 5-10 minutes to practice Sun Salutes on most days because I want to be strong, flexible, and relaxed. I'll enjoy a full-length yoga class with an experienced teacher when I can, and in the meantime, I practice on my own or with friends/family at home.

See? Easy breezy. Next, watch Cisco's and my video this week and give it a try! I'll show you two versions of the Sun Salute: one for regular folks and one for people with twingy backs or who are working on building strength. Have fun and send any questions that come up. Namaste!

Arms of Steel and an Open Heart

golden_sphere

This exercise grew out of a form I learned in Qi Gong with Master Zhou in Ojai last year. Somehow I started thinking of it as a process of creating a golden sphere of protective light around me, and so I call it "the Golden Sphere." I imagine drawing loving energy from the world as I inhale and sending loving energy back to the world as I exhale, forming a beautiful ball of light that enfolds me in that love. (Hey, I'm a yoga teacher too, so forgive my brief woo-woo.)

Somewhere along the way, though, I started really focusing on the delicious feeling of what I call "lighting up" my arms. I began extending strong energy out through my fingertips on each rotation, feeling each muscle, tendon, and ligament filling with blood and light. I noticed it was very challenging to activate every big and little muscle in my arms with each extension and on each return.

Within a few weeks I started to get comments that my arms looked really sculpted and defined. I'm very much into functional fitness, which precludes the time-heavy, gym-dependent development of bulky, movement-restricting muscles. So I was pleased with this. I'm all about creating (reclaiming!) bodies that move with grace, power, and fluidity in daily life--not doing 2 reps of a ridiculous weight and going home to watch the Lakers with a bag 'o chips.

Having discovered this nifty exercise that also powerfully tones the core muscles of low back and abdomen, along with major work in the postural muscles of the upper back (rhomboids and trapezius), I thought I'd share it with you!

Guys, before you turn up your nose at this, I've taught Golden Sphere to a number of men now. Generally I hear something like this after a few reps: "Damn, that's harder than it looks!"

Also, for those of you who found last week's exercise (alternating arms and legs from plank) to be a little too challenging, this is a great place for you to start—same muscles engaging, just in a more gentle way. Alternatively, if you loved last week's schtick and want to add in this super-quick little twisting, strengthening, and energy-enhancing exercise, you'll definitely build a longer, leaner, more sculpted physique in 4-8 weeks.

Here's the vid! Make sure you read my few quick tips below the video so you get this all dialed in. Thanks for watching!

help_button

Remember 1. Keep your hip bones strictly facing forward through the entire movement! That's the key to the core and upper back strengthening here.

2. Turn as far as you can on each side, but don't force it. Patience, young padawan, your range of movement will increase.

3. Ground your feet about hip-width apart, slightly bend your knees, and tuck the tailbone a little to engage the core.

4. Try for 10 reps on each side, for 20 total. Make each one count, so you should have a strong "activated" or working sensation in the arms, core, and back muscles throughout the movement. If you feel nothing, you need to move more energy out through your fingertips and feet.

Let me know what you think! And above all, do something. Lots of love.

PS: No, I don't lift weights. Everything I do is body-weight based.

Sit-ups don't work. Here's what does!

Seriously, quit it.

Seriously, quit it.

If you're still a devotee of sit-ups and crunches, I have some bad news and some good news.

1. Bad news first: They don't work. You can't "spot reduce" that area to magically reveal a nice, tight six-pack. Also, they put tons of strain on your delicate neck and upper-back vertebrae. Are your neck and legs often more tired than your abs after a killer crunch session? Your body's super smart--it's recruiting those muscles in an effort to help you slog through your session. Its job is to make everything you do as efficient and easy as possible. So we have to shake things up! Also, by working those muscles in isolation, you exacerbate the imbalance between a tight front (abs, hip flexors) and a weak back that most Westerners suffer from, which generates chronic low-back pain.

2. Good news: You hate sit-ups, don't you? So cut that out. Let me show you something way more effective. By recruiting both your entire abdominal sheath of muscles AND the rest of your whole darn body, you'll burn off the fat that's covering your glorious six-pack (we all have them, but if you have some "padding," they won't show) and transform yourself into a sleek, powerful, graceful god/goddess.

Jogging, treadmilling, Stairmastering, ellipsing, and all those other tedious hamster-wheel exercises cause fat retention, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and extreme boredom. That's because human bodies aren't designed to work that way! We're meant to run from threats and chase prey. Because our genes still haven't caught up with the Information Age, if we want to stay fit and lean our whole lives, we need to simulate our hunter-gatherer ancestors and incorporate short bursts of intense activity into our daily lives.

Doing conventional crunches is also ineffective and a complete waste of your precious workout time. So let me show you what to do instead that's fun, fast, and—above all—effective! Here's Cisco's and my video of the week. There are a few additional instructions below the vid, so don't miss those for enhanced wonderfulness with this exercise.

A few extra tips for refinement:

1. In my martial art, we use the term taijutsu, meaning "body mechanics." Good taijutsu is very simple, but essential to make this effective for you. "Tuck your tailbone down" means, in other words, to stretch the base of your spine back toward your heels. I had a yoga student once whose back kept looking very swayed in plank pose. Turns out she was very carefully (and literally) pressing her tailbone toward the floor, causing her back to bend. Don't do that. As you press your tailbone back toward your feet, also draw your bellybutton toward your spine. This has the effect of firming and stabilizing the entire core area. Still don't get it? Picture a spiral of energy drawing the front of your body toward your face and the back of your body toward your feet.

2. If you're new to fitness and have been relatively inactive for years, PLEASE (yes, I'm yelling) start with the "easiest" version of this exercise, i.e., on your hands and knees. Neither of us will be happy if you hurt yourself and have to stop before you even get started. I'll come find you and box your ears!

3. Remember, you now have no excuses not to exercise! You can do my workouts anytime, anywhere. Depending on your level of ballsiness concerning working out in public spaces, the world is now your gym. Last week I did a quick workout on a pier over the ocean before a meeting. If people stare, invite them over to join you! You'll get laughs and smiles, and they probably won't, but I bet you'll inspire folks to get off their butts! This is revolutionary work, I tell you. :)

Next week: An amazing, spirit-boosting exercise that also sculpts your arms into beautiful, high-tensile steel (men and women both). No weights or pushups required!

It's Remember Who You Are Day!

Whenever I'm like, "D'oh! I totally can't work out today because my gerbil just threw up/the plant leaves are dusty / last week was the solar eclipse / my period's due in 20 days," etc., I reach for one of my favorite tools in my "Get-Your-Ass-Up-NOW" toolbox.

And that is the magnificently simple and amazingly effective Hindu Squat. Why is it Hindu? I don't know, look it up. Something about wrestlers way back when in India. All I know is, this exercise beats the freakin' pants off pretty much anything I can throw at my body without a massive investment in equipment, gym memberships (you already know what I think about those), or personal training. Or even stuff I can do around the house, for that matter. I'm telling you, people with a 5,000-year-old culture tend to know a thing or two we American babies have no idea about.

The Hindu squat is one of them. (And also a little thing called yoga, which I teach, doncha know).

Anyway, I thought this handy-dandy ass-kicker of a do-anywhere/anytime exercise would be just the thing for my Remember Who You Are Day gift to you.

One thing I forgot to mention in the vid: try to tighten your abs every time you return to the start of the exercise. That gets more challenging as you go, what with gasping for breath and all, but try at least to do it in the beginning.

K, here ya go. Let me know how it goes!

"Thanks for borning me, Mom!"

I loveloveLOVE this expression, coined on Mother's Day by my then 5-year-old boy, the Amazing Cisco.

You moms out there know what it's like to "born" a baby. But do you know how to "born" (or even "re-born") your powerful, authentic warrior self? Warriors of all kinds (and make no mistake--every mom is a warrior!*) need strong, supple bodies. Workouts like these, particularly in combination with yoga, will get you there fast.

Cisco and I made a special video today for you moms (or anyone) who want to tone up those typical problem areas of the triceps (back of upper arm), tummy, and rear end. Like all of our workouts, this one is simple, fast, and fun!

In my yoga and fitness classes, you'll hear me harp on the importance of having a strong "General." In Chinese medicine, that refers to the midsection of the body, i.e., abdomen and low back. When you have a strong General, the troops (arms, legs, etc.) follow orders and life is good! A weak General leads to back problems, slouching, and often a defeated, victim-mindset attitude inside and out.

So Cisco and I hope you like this video (below) and that by Mother's Day next year you feel and look stronger, healthier, and more like the warrior goddess you truly are!

*To clarify for anyone who gets a Thor-like image in their mind when I use the term "warrior," here's my favored definition of the word from Freedictionary.com: "Warrior: One who is engaged energetically in an activity or cause." Sounds like a mom to me.

Drilling down

These days, I'm really into simple. Simple makes me happy. Life seems to be getting faster and more complicated, and sometimes I feel like the greens I pack into my trusty blender after I hit "puree." My solution to handling these stressful times? Simplify. Drill down to what really matters.

When it comes to my workout plan, which matters a helluva lot to me because it's the cornerstone of my stress relief program, lately I've simplified even more. I've compressed my workouts into short, intense bursts that leave me relaxed yet invigorated.

The Tabata Drill fits perfectly into the space occupied by the kids' bath, or the husband's Nascar special, or anywhere you have 10-15 minutes. I've done these drills at gas stations during road trips, while cooking chicken for dinner, in parking lots waiting for a friend, at an airport, in a field at sunset (see below, in fact).

Am I super disciplined? Mmm, I guess. But what makes me that way is knowing how I'll feel after I work out, versus the way I feel right now. That's what keeps me going.

Two things about this kind of approach to fitness. OK, three:

1. Be forewarned: You might stop caring what others think. (In fact, you may be surprised how you inspire someone by stepping outside the workout box). Ever drive past a big gym at night and see all the little hamsters on their treadmills? Quit it. Don't be a lemming.

2. You no longer have any excuses not to exercise. Anyone can do this, anywhere, anytime. Period. If you don't do it, it's because you plain ol' don't want to. Your decision.

3. Not so much with the grains and sugars. But one step at a time.

OK, so here's how you do a Tabata Drill (also see below for a few pointers):

To recap: 20 seconds of squat leaps, 10 seconds off, 20 seconds of pushups, 10 seconds off. Do that 6 more times, for a total of 8 sets. You can do whatever two exercises you want, or just do one! Last night I just did 8 sets of Burpees.

He's picked YOU out for dinner, lucky duck! What're you gonna do about it?

Some key points to remember:

1. Warm up for 5 mins. and cool down for 5 mins! This is critical. Focus on active warm up work (push-ups, squats, side bends, lunges, neck rolls, etc.), not static stretches. Save the traditional stretches for after.

2. Only go as fast as you can while maintaining good form! Speed is important for the effectiveness of the workout, but form must always come first. Build speed as you get stronger. Modify the movements as necessary. If you can't yet do a full squat leap or pushup, do a half or a quarter. Your body will get stronger FAST!

3. Act like a tiger's chasing you or you're chasing your own dinner. That's how your body is meant to work. Miraculous things will happen.

4. Don't do this more than 2-4x week. Not only not productive, but counterproductive.

5. Have fun! We're all too frickin' serious around here.

PS/Disclaimer: This can be an intense workout. If you're new to exercise or have pre-existing health problems, go easy and extend the rest period as long as you need, but not to the point of completely regaining your comfort level, or you're losing the benefits of this workout! Check with your doctor, blahblah, etc. Just use your head and stay at about a 5-6 on an effort scale of 1-10, with 1 being sitting on your ass and 10 being puking. On the other hand, if you're already fit and want to get fitter, go for it! :) Aim for 8-10 by the end of the set.

Bust Out of the Workout Box, Beautiful!

I just launched a new series of classes for 2012 based on the nutty workouts I've been doing on my own for the last two years.  Well, people say they're nutty and that I'm nutty for doing them. But then they do them with me and (when they can put a sentence together again) go, "Oh, man, that's GOOD!" It's like your body finally gets the thing it's been craving for so long.

Watch video demonstrating moves and modifications.

 

 

Bonzai the Border Collie & Why You Remind Me of Her
Our bodies (and our minds, too) are like my border collie, Bobo, may she rest in peace. Those of you who know working dogs know that they go crazy when they don't have a job to do or a challenge to surmount. They get all weird and start pushing furniture around with their faces and barking at the corner and stuff.

These astronaut suits we call our bodies are meant to WORK, not sit for eight hours a day and then go home and sit for another 2.5 hours in front of the TV. (That's the average amount of time Americans spend in front of the television in 2012, by the way. The average. And how much do we complain that we don't have any free time to—ahem—exercise or practice yoga or meditate? Just saying.)

But Wait, There's More! So in my fearless search for the best way to get fit and stay fit without a gym membership, a huge contraption that will end up with clothes on it in the corner, or a closet full of Home Shopping Network Ab-zer-cizers or whatever they are, I've discovered that the cutting edge of exercise science points to short-burst, high-intensity, body weight workouts. Please benefit from my many hours of research and experimentation on my own personal self.

And Now, My Point Below is the handout that handed out to my new workout buddies at our first class this week.

Give it a try and see if it doesn't light you up! There's a short FAQ section after, too, in case you have questions. I think it's pretty entertaining as well, if I do say so. (For those of you who don't know the moves listed below, Jim and I are making a video this week to show you! Hopefully, he won't have to go to the bathroom in the middle of it like my last cameraman. UPDATE 1/14/12: My spectacular kid Cisco did do the video this week, and added his own special flair! Thanks, Cis!)

Rocket Fuel Renegade Fitness Burst (Week of January 2-8, 2012)

5-min. active warm-up: squats, side lunges, pushups, side bends, ankle/neck rolls

Main workout (each for 30 seconds); 1.5-min. break after each set, i.e., all 4 exercises in a row, for two minutes total; try for 3-8 sets

- Burpees

- Plank (hold with good form or add toe lifts)

- Lunge steps forward and then backward; add front kick if you want or weights

- Mountain climbers (bottom down, core stable, knees come way in toward nose)

5-min. cool-down: walk, half squats, stretches

Watch video demonstrating moves and modifications.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND DURING YOUR RFR WORKOUT:

  1. By the second set, you should reach a Level 8 on a scale of 1-10 effort, with 1 being a slow stroll and 10 being throwing up. HINT: Conversation is not possible at Level 8. Throughout the workout, you should never be comfortable. You should be working hard at all times, even during the rest interval (i.e., breathing hard).
  2. Go as quickly as you can with good form. Don’t let your back sag in plank/pushup or get sloppy with your mountain climbers.
  3. NEVER skip the warm up or cool down. Trust me.
  4. Maintain awareness of the core (abdomen and low back) at ALL TIMES. You’ll never see me do a sit up. The RFR makes them completely redundant. Besides, they’re a waste of time and not very good for your back and neck. Also, six-packs come from removing the layer of fat over your upper abdomen. Everyone already has a six-pack—that's how the muscles are shaped.

FAQs

Why is RFR a really good idea? Short-duration, high-intensity workouts are what your body is designed to do. It’s how it’s supposed to work. We evolved to run away from a lion or run after a deer for dinner, and then move slowly and steadily for the rest of the day. How do we know that? Because of how powerfully and quickly our bodies respond  to the demands this workout places on them! You'll notice  rapid release of fat stores (particularly the dangerous deep kind that surrounds your organs), quick muscle building and definition, an increase in human growth hormone (HGH: our biochemical fountain of youth), heightened feelings of well-being, and reduced stress hormones. (Did you know that the stress hormone cortisol actually signals your body to store belly fat? Talk about stressful...)

How often should I do these crazy workouts? Please note that too much of this workout will largely reverse the benefits (see my note above about cortisol)! Do not do the RFR workout more than 2-3 times per week, especially if you're a beginner. This is why I don't endorse those intense, 6x-week workouts that are so popular right now. Too much of a good thing. Rest is equally important to work, and critical if you want results! Also, once you get to a relatively high base level of fitness, you'll feel like the border collie above when it's time to work out—just TRY and stop ya! That's a good barometer. You should always feel better after your RFR workout, not worse. If you feel worse, take a day or two off, go for some nice walks, and start slower until you get that border collie feeling again.

What should I eat/drink to maximize my benefits? To get the most out of your RFR workouts, try to do them on an empty stomach (i.e., don’t eat for two hours beforehand). After the workout, whatever you do, do not eat anything containing fructose (like fruit, or especially sports drinks or anything with high-fructose corn syrup)! This will immediately shut down the release of HGH, which is the main benefit of the workout. Drink water. In general, avoid all grains, sugar (including agave, which through great marketing got the rep for being OK—it’s worse for you than HFCS), soy, and processed foods. This will greatly enhance the health benefits of your workout. Also, remember that fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat is your massive weight-loss friend. It’s the KIND of fat that matters. Avoid all vegetable oils like canola, soy, etc. Eat lots of organic coconut oil (only cook with this, too!), some raw nuts and nut butters, organic eggs, and raw dairy if you’re not allergic. Organic, grass-fed, free-range meats cooked gently are also huge sources of CLA, a special fatty acid that’s like a miracle for weight loss. (High heats damage almost all fats and make them unhealthy.)

Why should I give up my hour-long treadmill workouts or long-distance running/walking that the doc said I need to do for my heart/cholesterol/weight loss/etc? Docs know a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, they’re not trained in (or, in many cases open to) the latest science on nutrition and exercise. Too bad. The hour-long treadmill/long-distance paradigm is very old science and it’s wasted many hours of our precious lifetimes. We used to think it burned fat, and while any exercise is better than no exercise, it turns out that our amazing bodies are so adaptable that they quickly get used to these long, low-intensity workouts and get even BETTER at storing fat!

Your body will help you facilitate whatever it thinks you want to do, so if it sees you wanting to run 80 miles a week or spend an hour a day on an elliptical trainer, by God, it’s going to make sure to store up some fat so you can keep doing that! (Your joints will also probably start to hurt a lot, because they’re not meant to take that kind of punishment.) On the other hand, if you keep your body guessing and constantly change the demand you place on it (which it’s longing for you to do, by the way, like a border collie waiting for an assignment), it will burn off your stored fat and build muscle so you can be the lean, mean, fighting machine you’re asking it to be! It says, “Oh, Amanda needs me to be fast, strong, and light! OK, here we go!”

What are the psychological and emotional benefits of RFR? When you see how quickly your body gets strong, fast, and beautiful, there’s a tremendous sense of empowerment. You feel like you can take on the world. Your self-confidence grows exponentially. Sleep improves, mental acuity rises, stress lowers, posture aligns, sex improves, depression and anxiety recede, your mind opens, happiness grows, energy skyrockets, and life just gets way better.

But what if I get all big and bulky? If you’re a woman and you’re taking steroids, that could be a problem. If you’re a woman and you’re NOT taking steroids, it’s not going to happen. You’ll get lean, defined, and eye-catching. Linebacker necks and tree trunk arms only happen to men because they have a buttload more testosterone circulating in their blood. And those guys usually spend too much time in the gym. Men, the RFR will sculpt you into sleek Greek gods. Our bodies are designed to move gracefully and fluidly. Not like bulldogs or oil tankers.

How come I can't just find my own workouts and do them at home by myself? You can, and I hope you do! There are tons of great bodyweight workouts to try out online. However, in my own experience, I've found that I push myself WAY harder and have WAY more fun when I'm working out with others. I have a little competitive streak that adores pitting myself against others in the room. (Note: You won't see this side of me in yoga class!) I notice, too, when I'm working out in the living room, there are a million distractions: the plant leaves suddenly need to be relieved of dust, my cat is SO cute, those crumbs on the floor again.... You know what I mean. So come out and play with us, take some time for yourself, and really blast off into a new you this year! I'd love to help it happen.

What can I do to complement my new RFR speed and strength with flexibility and poise? Funny you should ask! YOGA is a great complement to RFR. Come try my new Thursday night Supersonic Yoga class at Bloom, my Monday 12:15-12:45 RFR class at Bloom, or any of the other wonderful local classes.