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!

Parking Lot Pranayama

upanishads

I watched my video last night before posting it here, and some words stuck out to me: "We're all so stressed out these days." Now, I could come up with a number of reasons why that seems to be the case, but it occurred to me that "being stressed out" might just be a matter of choice. And then, wouldn'tcha know it, I was reading this morning in my new Essence of the Upanishads by Eknath Easwaren (one-word review: wow) about the origin and causes of stress. Briefly, it appears I am on to something, according to this timeless Indian spiritual classic.

Apparently, in addition to the untrained human mind's default setting of living in the past (anger, regret, resentment, etc.) or the future (anxiety, fear, anticipation, etc.), our minds tend to react to circumstances and events based on an extremely narrow set of requirements that make up our definition of what's "acceptable."

It's kind of like if your body needed the temperature to be always 72-75 degree outside for it to survive. Anything outside that tiny range would prompt extraordinary, life-or-death measures to neutralize the threat.

That's pretty much what our untrained minds are doing when we feel the emotional and physiological symptoms of stress: high blood pressure, pounding heart, anger, depression (anger turned inwards), headache, upset stomach, and eventually the whole range of illness that can come with chronic, unrelenting stress.

Our untrained minds are reacting to a perceived threat to our survival. Common examples today include losing a job, a house, or a spouse, and hostile encounters daily with other peoples' hair triggers.

Easwaren writes, "Stress is not caused so much by difficult conditions as by what we think of such conditions.... [T]he world does not impose stress upon us; we impose stress on ourselves.... [W]hat brings on stress is often no more or less than our strong, self-centered desires and self-will—the fierce need to have what we want when we want it, and in the way we want it, too. If you look at anyone who seems chronically under stress, you will often find that person subject to rigid likes and dislikes which he or she cannot stand to have thwarted."

Easwaren goes on to tell the story of a famous surgeon whose reputation as high strung and opinionated was legendary. He often used to complain, "My life is at the mercy of any rascal who chooses to annoy me." He died of a massive heart attack one day immediately after a colleague contradicted him.

Can you relate? I know I can. How many of my days have I allowed to be ruined by a harsh word, an unintended slight, or even (gasp!) constructive criticism delivered with love?

Here's what we can do: train the mind through meditation. According to the Katha Upanishad (in modern language courtesy of the brilliant Easwaren): "When your mind is calm, patient, and compassionate, you do not respond to life with anger.... All the vital functions of the body keep their appropriate pace [despite the circumstances you find yourself in]. This is the kind of control I am interested in, for it has a direct bearing on living in full health, free from rigidity and destructive ways of thinking."

Well, here's Cisco's and my (poorly lighted) video of the week, which sparked my little epiphany! We hope you like it and benefit from it. Please let us know your thoughts!

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.

Blown Away

The wind this week has been crazy where I live! The wind is an apt metaphor for how tons of people are feeling these days: blown around and buffeted like a leaf ahead of a thunderstorm, with no end to the chaos in sight.

So this week I felt inspired to offer several ways to reduce your stress levels—methods that I use personally throughout the day. Each of them resets chronic hyperventilation patterns (shallow chest breathing) to deep, natural belly breaths, eliminating or reducing the confused, anxious, irritable feeling that so many of us have come to accept, tragically, as our normal state.

Remember: you don't have to go to yoga class to experience the benefits of this ancient practice! While we'd all like an hour and a half to dive into a bamboo-floored, lotus-scented spa experience, if that's not an option for you right now, you can get virtually the same stress-relieving effect from incorporating these few techniques into your daily life for a minute or two. Real magic can happen when you make these and other fitness and stress-relief techniques part of your daily existence!

Share these with your kids, your parents, your love, and watch as your inner and outer worlds transform into oases of calm. Find the eye of the hurricane and enjoy a rest, even as the storm swirls around you!

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.

Leading-Edge Life: Ditch Your Medical Insurance

Yes, you heard me. Let it go. Dropping your medical insurance is one of the most potent things you can do to protest how the system is set up. It's also a powerful step toward taking full responsibility for yourself as a human being, starting with your physical health.

Here's the Sitch This may be news to you: the conventional "treatments" your insurance covers generally only make you sicker—sometimes in the short run, but almost always over the long haul.

Mammograms, which irradiate sensitive breast tissue, are strongly linked to cancer. (Quick aside: Why is there no such thing as a "manogram"? How come men aren't forced, to maintain their insurance, to have their testicles squished between glass plates and irradiated? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?)

Vaccines have NEVER been proven to work, and there is major evidence (heavily suppressed) that they are causing a massive autism epidemic. Many use mercury as a preservative, which means you're being injected with a potent neurotoxin so you can (supposedly) avoid the flu, which you wouldn't get anyway if your immune system were functioning properly. (Here's how to get that going.)

Uh, Alice? I'm not going to go too far down the rabbit hole with you here, but suffice it to say that there are billions of dollars at stake in keeping you sick, fat, broke, and ignorant. Our entire medical industry is set up to accomplish that deadly triple purpose brilliantly. If you doubt me, just follow the money.

Here's an example. Which would you tend to believe?

1. That fluoride is A-OK for you and your children because the American Dental Association, which receives funding from businesses like the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), says it is? (By the way, aluminum manufacturers produce thousands of pounds of fluoride dust every year—it's an annoying little hazardous waste by-product of the industry that kills or disables everything that breathes it. But we should drink it, because dentists say so! Right?)

OR

2. That fluoride is a dangerous toxin that does not belong in our bodies except in the extremely minute amounts available to us through natural mineral-rich foods and water? This is the viewpoint of the broke, passionate, grassroots nonprofit Fluoride Action Network.

If you're still undecided, I'll just ask you this: who has more to lose if you decide fluoride has no place in our water supply? The ADA and ALCOA? Or the Fluoride Action Network and its thousands of moms, dads, and conscious public servant members?

 

"Let Food Be Thy Medicine"--Hippocrates Now, what if you took the money you spent on "health" insurance and used it instead to buy locally grown, free-range, organic produce and meat, along with a few key supplements? In 2009, the average American family spent around $13,000 a year to ensure it could have access to radiation, antibiotics, chemo, vaccines, painkillers, surgery, drugs, and other treatments of questionable benefit. That's about $1,083 a month. Think you could afford some good food with that?

OK, so say you're really going to consider this idea. You're really tempted to give up your monthly fee for treatments that you don't even believe in and may not use. You're ready to make the leap.

Health Begets More Health And then you think, "Wait, what if I fall off a cliff on that trip to Tanzania in the spring?"

I asked myself that question, too. How do accidents fit into the grand scheme of independent health? Here's what I think: When you're healthy and vibrant and fit and functioning like a well-oiled machine, you're so much less likely to have an accident! And if you do, you should know, like our recent ancestors did, how to set a bone, how to suture, how to tie a tourniquet, how to use medicinal plants to heal yourself and your family, etc. The information's all over the place. No reason you can't learn how. I'm working on it myself!

Here's another objection to my argument, on the more esoteric side, as addressed by Abraham, one of my favorite inspiration sources. A guy asked Abraham in a sort of belligerent way (which you often see in people arguing heroically for their perceived limitations), "Well, how come we can't grow a new arm, then?" There was a pause, and then Abraham replied simply, "Because you believe you can't."

And now, for something completely different. So am I counting on thought power to knit that mangled arm of yours in Tanzania? Not exactly. I don't think we're quite there. But I do think that's the direction we're headed in as a species! In fact, I believe we used to heal ourselves with our minds, but that we've been systematically robbed of that ability by people who want to control us and make us slaves. (There I go down the rabbit hole again. Sorry.)

In the interest of full disclosure: the antibiotic azithromycin saved my life from pneumonia in 2004 after my honeymoon in Costa Rica. So how do I reconcile that with my handy-dandy medical insurance-less existence?

I got pneumonia after staying up all night preparing for a wedding to a man with whom I knew I was ill-suited to spend my life. Good man, turned out to be a great dad to our son, but not right for me.

See where I'm going with that? It's all about taking ultimate responsibility for yourself. We've been trained to do the opposite, and now many of us are stuck in passive victim mode.

Unplug from the medical industrial system. It really doesn't serve you, and exists only to perpetuate itself. Take back your power and start living life as you were meant to live it—free, healthy, independent, and strong! It's never too late.

UPDATE Friday December 16, 10:12 AM PST:

Well, as I expected, this has caused a bit of a kerfuffle among people who feel we must at least have emergency medical insurance. Please see Tom's comment below on that issue, in addition to the short post I just wrote on Facebook:

I'm taking some flack on this from people (the anger is what I've come to expect when I bring up radical personal responsibility) with concerns about accidents and how it's important at least to have some kind of insurance for emergency care. What I want to convey, and perhaps I should've gone further down the rabbit hole in my post to explain this, is that we won't be able to count on insurance of any kind AT ALL in the very near future because of powerful economic and political factors currently in play. In particular, Medi-Cal/Medi-Care are not viable options in the long-term for those with low incomes who cannot afford insurance.

My post was meant to instill a sense that it's time we all become completely self-sufficient and stop relying on the government to provide for us in any way, shape, or form. To depend on this crumbling, broke, corrupt, and inept system is far riskier, in my opinion, than going without Medi-Cal. I suggest making friends with a surgeon or doctor, or better yet learn how to treat wounds and injuries yourself, stop eating sugar and processed food (anything in a box, can, or bag), get fit, and take responsibility for your own health and your family's. My message is as simple as that.

Now, having said that, if my kid broke his arm, would I take him to the emergency room? Of course I would! Here's my point, though: What if I COULDN'T? What if it was filled with hundreds of other injured people seeking care? What if it was closed? What if the doctors left? What if I couldn't even get to a hospital in the first place? See my point? All I'm advocating is self-sufficiency. We've been encouraged to rely completely on a system that's about to shut down. How are you going to respond?

UPDATE Monday December 19, 3:00 PM PST:

I'm still getting some blow-back from folks who say they have to have insurance, or what would've happened to Granny in '01 when her ticker started to give out, and do you think we should've just gone bankrupt because Johnny needed ACL repair after that tough fourth quarter last fall?

Believe me, I have the same concerns! And that's what concerns me! My son Cisco was born with seizures in 2000 and spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital while they did MRIs, CAT scans, blood tests, etc. I was and will always be grateful to the people who helped us during that tough time. (By the way, it turned out Cisco's brain was mildly bruised during our 34-hour-long discussion over whether he was going to get born or not after running two weeks late. He's a very bright, happy kid now, and loves to be on time! Go figure. I adore my big-head baby.)

Anyway, that little stint in the hospital cost $16,000. That's sixteen thousand dollars. Would I pay it all over again if I had to? Of course. Did we have insurance? Yes! Did we have to fight BlueCross for every single f---ing nickel and dime of it? You bet. Took six months of heavy paperwork as I nursed my newborn, gave him his antiseizure medicine, cried, and prayed hard for his full recovery. Years after that, even as Cisco was entering kindergarten, we were still getting harassing calls from providers and insurance people alike insisting that we pay more toward the hospital bill although we had been "fully covered" under our policy.

What would have happened to Cisco, and Granny, and Johnny if they hadn't been insured? Would they have received treatment? That's all I'm asking you to look at.

And I'm asking you to consider helping me to find a way to end our dependence on a very shaky, very corrupt, and very ineffective system that was supposed to protect and serve us, but which has been co-opted by forces that do not give a damn about any of us. Do individuals within the system work hard to take good care of people and do the best job they can? I have no doubt about that. Are they severely hampered by rules, regulations, bottom-line thinking, and the systemic enforcement of mediocrity? I think you can guess the answer to that.

In closing, I'm posting a link to a new kind of doctor who's completely bucking the insurance-ruled medical industry and returning to her original purpose in wanting to become a doctor: healing people. Wow, that's radical in these times. A friend also alerted me to a new kind of health-care paradigm that I find very hopeful and fresh. Perhaps we can begin to find a solution through such "renegades" by encouraging them through our own willingness to take responsibility for our health, rather than giving our power away to entities that see Cisco, Granny, and Johnny only as dollar signs.

We cannot count on faceless, inhumane, bureaucratic institutions to protect us from danger, discomfort, or disaster. We must begin to rely on ourselves and each other, as we've done for millennia. There's no reason to return to the Stone Age--let's use our brilliant surgeons, our incredible technological advances, our understanding of our Earth to create a future that serves us, rather than oppresses us.

Many blessings to you as we ride the wave of this intense energy into 2012! Long live truth, beauty, and love!

PS: Here's Dr. Wasson's Facebook page if you want to send her some love and encouragement. It's not easy to buck the trend, and she's out there on the leading edge of a new, better version of humanity.

Occupy your health!

Let's look this week at how to start taking back your health from the monopoly run by the FDA, Centers for Disease Control, most medical doctors and dentists (although that's slowly changing as their education and awareness improves), Big Ag, and Big Pharma. Three things happened to me last week that really highlighted how important it is to become your own family doctor and nutritionist. Am I talking about "serious, scary" stuff like cancer, too? Oh, you bet. Click here to enter the Rabbit Hole, Alice.

Disclaimer If a jaguar rips off your leg for a midnight snack, please go to the emergency room to have it sewn back on (if you can get it back and assuming you don't die from the sepsis many people pick up at the hospital).  However, barring jungle maulings and other unfortunate accidents, if you take good care of yourself with smart exercise, nutrition, enough sleep, a spiritual practice, and emotional trauma-release techniques, the usual crap that sends people to the doctor won't happen anyway. Overly simple? Nope, it's just that simple.

Thing One My friend Lucinda at Illuminated Life sent me a link to this article on how MSG, a potent and highly addictive neurotoxin, is deliberately hidden in the vast majority of foods consumed by most Americans. This includes all the "hydrolyzed soy protein" in your favorite high-protein snacks. (That stuff's usually genetically modified, too, so you get to participate in one of the greatest health experiments in all of human history! Monsanto thanks you for signing you and the kids up! Oh, you didn't get that memo?)

*Lesson learned: The general food supply is poisoned.

Note I said "poisoned," not "poison," although both are true. What do I mean? Well, if the existing power structure, which regards you as a slave and income source, can also make you sick and you don't know how to heal yourself, then you get to pay massive medical bills by maxing out your credit cards and borrowing from all your relatives while you keep working until you die of the disease they can't really cure you of! Isn't it perfect? (For them?) Think I'm exaggerating? Follow the money trail.

Thing Two I got a link in my email to a newsletter about how to heal (yes, heal) cavities in yourself and your children (and prevent future ones), even if your regular dentist says a root canal is in order. How? Can you add two things to your grocery list? Raw butter and fermented cod liver oil. Oh, yum. But hey, I've had a root canal! This is NOT a hard choice to make!

*Lesson learned: I don't have to fear dental problems for myself and my family! Wow! Huge relief. For good measure, I ordered Ramil Nagel's book Cure Tooth Decay: Remineralize Cavities and Repair Your Teeth Naturally with Good Food from the Healthy Home Economist's site (that's an affiliate link, so she gets a few bucks).

Thing Three:  A few years ago, when I had a regular life, knew pretty much nothing, and had medical insurance, I had surgery to eliminate a nasty infection on my thumb that had eaten down to the bone over the course of two years. Three rounds of different antibiotics hadn't touched it, and the pain was excruciating. (Ever notice how much you use your thumb?) A biopsy revealed the presence of a weird, persistent little germ called Mycobacterium marinum. It kills fish instantly, but is also dreaded by sailors and people in aquaculture everywhere for its tendency to recur over the years. It can get pretty serious if it's not addressed. The "fish tank finger" bug had apparently taken up residence in a cut while I was maintaining our little koi pond.

Last week, after two years, it came back. I was terrified. That little telltale blister on my thumb opened up and the itching, stinging pain began again. I started to panic. Then I remembered Dr. Ohhira's probiotic. I remembered that my friend Tom Imhoof, a certified health coach, says Ohhira's kills viruses and bacteria, and that he knew of a man who had been saved from a massive, hospital-acquired staph infection by having Ohhira's applied topically to his lesions.

I figured, hey, it can't hurt. I opened a capsule, smeared some on my thumb, and slapped on a Hello Kitty bandaid just to be thorough. Two days later, the blister was gone and the skin was perfect again.

*Lesson learned: Do some research, remember what you've learned, try something new, ask a friend or your grandma. Don't let "the Authorities" scare you! You can do this.

So, that's it. Occupy Your Health! Take back your power! Here's a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt to think about while you're deciding whether to take the plunge:

Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.

 

Psst! "Old" doesn't have to mean "sick, frail, and demented."

I just got back from a 15-minute sprint session out here at the Farm, and I got to thinking as I watched the ground race by underneath me—I still get the same joy out of running fast as I did when I was a nine-year-old girl. I still love the feeling of my strong legs pushing me off the earth and kicking rocks back behind me. I feel invincible, powerful, and free. When does that joy in and trust of our bodies go away for so many of us?

What beliefs are we fed and raised on that give us an early expiration date? Why do we allow them to come true?

I taught yoga at Bloom this morning for my early Friday class, and found myself inspired to bring up the concept of aging and what, in our society, that's "supposed" to look like. Most Westerners have been deeply trained and indoctrinated in the beliefs that as our bodies and minds age, disease, frailty, and mental decline are inevitable. The following things are supposed to happen as we age, according to the existing power structure:

1. You will experience more and more pain, so you'll have to stop doing the things you used to enjoy. Besides, those things are just for kids, anyway. Who are you to be having fun?

2. You'll get diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, high cholesterol and blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

3. Your mind will cave in on itself, leaving you unable to care for yourself in any way. Your family will have to pay many thousands of dollars every year to warehouse your body, even though you no longer recognize them.

Do you agree to believe in and live by these edicts? I hereby resolutely refuse to give them my attention, except to point the way toward the truth: that sickness, decrepitude, and dementia are NOT a normal part of aging.

Along with a growing number of others who are awakening now, I understand something that so many Westerners, and Americans in particular, it seems, have forgotten. Are you ready for this? It's radical, it's revolutionary, it's absolutely forbidden knowledge. Here it comes...

YOU HAVE TO KEEP MOVING.

Your body is one of the most staggeringly beautiful and complex organisms in all of Nature. It is a divine gift that allows you, your Essential Self, to experience creation up-close and personal. It's like an astronaut suit for we who travel through space and time, seeking to perfect ourselves and gain greater understanding. However, like a fine automobile that languishes under dust covers and sits out in the rain, it will eventually lose its vibrancy, its power, and its ability to tune you in to Source Energy if it isn't cared for. And used the way it was meant to be used.

There are powers right now that actively seek to prevent you from understanding this truth. There are powers right now that want you to forget that you are a Being of Light who came here with a purpose and a mission. They want you to take drugs to mediate the symptoms of the diseases that result from eating they diet they recommend and subsidize at great cost to you, the taxpayer. If you follow their lead, you are paying for your own demise.

Remember this: you're meant to leave this world in a body that's still flexible, strong, and joyous. It might get quieter and slower, and that's as it should be. We're naturally encouraged to slow down and go within as we age, and for good reason. It's part of a beautiful process that moves us gracefully toward the physical shutting down and re-emergence into Spirit that we call "death."

Here's what you can do as you age instead of getting sick:

1. Make your own meals using whole, organic, mostly raw and/or grass-fed and free-range ingredients. Grow some or all yourself. Eat huge amounts of leafy greens and berries. (If you get gas frequently, trying cutting out pears and apples--bet you have fructose malabsorption like I do. Whew! Big relief.) Antioxidants reduce or stop inflammation, which is caused in large part by processed food (i.e., anything that comes in a box, can, or bag) and damaged fats. I believe reducing or eliminating grains and sugar is a really good idea. (It works for me and Jim, anyway.) Eat lots of raw fat, like organic coconut oil.

2. Exercise really strenuously several times a week, and gently or not at all on other days. (Excessive exercise leads to stress and injury.) If you have an injury or illness that prevents you from reaching a level 8-10 on the 1-10 scale of effort, find a way at least to move your body. If you're bed-ridden or sick, start drinking organic green juices immediately and daily. Refuse the hospital food. Tense and relax your muscles one at a time. You'll get stronger. Our bodies are incredibly forgiving and adaptable!

If you're relatively fit or even new to fitness and you can walk, go as fast as you can on the flats for 30 seconds 2-5 times. Then find a hill and try it in a couple of weeks. Keep encouraging your body to get stronger! It wants to! Jog or run or sprint if you're able. Rest for 30 seconds in between and go again. Do what your body can do right now to reach a level of 8-10 on that effort scale. Hint: You will not be able to put a sentence together.

Start slowly. Experiment. You'll be amazed how fast you progress. This kind of workout, unlike the usual tedious, oft-prescribed hour-long slog on the treadmill, lights you up body and soul, burns fat like a banshee, releases human growth hormone (our chemical Fountain of Youth), and unplugs all your blood vessels and arteries. If you were a disused race car, in other words, you'd be "blowing the carbon out."

If you're very fit and reaching toward elite athlete status, try for 5-10 sets of high-intensity combinations of plyometric, explosive movements. Here's a great resource, and here's a video of my favorite recent workout. (More coming soon, with modifications for those who've told me, "Yeah, right!")

3. Practice yoga. It addresses at least three issues in one:

a) It breaks up the adhesions that cause so many of us to become prisoners in our own bodies, especially as years of neglect begin to pile up. (Adhesions are strong, microscopic ropes of collagen caused by surgery, infection, inflammation, trauma, and radiation treatment. They bind together organs, nerves, muscles, and other neighboring structures in a strong, glue-like straight-jacket, with a strength of about 2,000 lbs. per square inch.)

b) It reduces chronic and excessive stress, which causes disease and mental illness.

c) It joins us with Source Energy, however that looks to you. Some call it God, Mighty Spirit, Nature, the Universe. Its Names are endless.

4. Know why you're here. What did you come here to do? If you don't know, find out. Quit with the aptitude testing and online quizzes. Your heart knows... Sit down quietly, ask sincerely, and it will tell you loud and clear, if you're open to the answer. Step 2: Operate from that knowledge.

5. Learn new stuff all the time. Find out what music 15 year olds are listening to and download some for yourself. Try "Making Candles with Organic Beeswax" at the community college. Find out about meditation. Like that. (Here's the kind Jim and I practice.)

6. Engage with other people. When was the last time you looked a stranger in the eye and said hello with a smile? Tell somebody with an inspired, funky outfit, "Hey, you look great! Wish I had the guts to pull that off." And then get some.

7. Lose your fear of death. Talk about death. Read about death. Sit with someone who's dying. That's a great gift. Practice releasing your physical manifestation in yoga poses like sivasana ("Corpse Pose") or in sacred ceremonies among people who love you. To the extent that you can lose your fear of death, your joyful liveliness will increase exponentially. After all, your body's going to die; something's gonna getcha—will you really spend your whole life dreading that day and much of your precious life force trying to prevent it? Commit to releasing the tremendous psychic energy you spend on fearing this inevitable thing that could occur at any moment.

8. Release emotional trauma. It causes illness. Your body will store things for you until you can deal with them, but not indefinitely. Find a way to heal anger, hurt, betrayal, shock. You don't have to re-experience it. In fact, modern behavioral science, for those you who follow such things, is finding that there's no benefit to opening that old closet full of skeletons. Just gently touch the old feeling and say, "I release you. Thank you for serving me and keeping me safe. You may leave me now." For more extreme or traumatic experiences, find someone to work with who resonates with your spirit and gives you goosebumps. My good friend Nell teaches the Emotional Freedom Technique, which can work wonders (and has for me).

9. Put on your own oxygen mask first. The most selfless thing you can do right now for your family, friends, and the planet in general is to take good care of yourself. Then serve others from a place of abundance and ease.

Let us know how it goes, and please share your thoughts. Much love to you!

PS: If this information appeals to you, you might be interested in Training for Humanity's Quantum Leap: Skills for a Leading Edge Life™ coming up in 2012. We'll be going over these ideas and much more to keep us strong, healthy, and moving forward with our evolution—individually and as members of the human community.

The miracle that is my $10 coffeemaker, and other wonders.

My alarm went off at 7:00 this morning.  I like to have my quiet wakeup time after emerging from the chaotic underworld of sleep (or sometimes the dreaded night-long half-doze) before I feel qualified in any sense to be a human being. Thus, I get up early in order to be up to speed with the rest of life if I have a yoga class to teach or a meeting in the morning. Imagine an oceanliner moving away from its berth, navigating out into the open sea, and opening up to top cruising speed over the course of two or three hours, and you'll have a good idea of what I'm like in the morning. (And please don't say anything perky if you happen to encounter me during this critical period. Fair warning.) Anyway, as is my custom, when my (expletive) alarm goes off, I sigh, roll out of bed, and trundle into the kitchen, where I perform my first sacred ritual of the day: I turn on the coffeemaker. When the cheery red light blinks on, I retreat to the scrumptious haven of my still-warm bed to meditate on the coming day. This period of introspection, during which I gaze in an unfocused fashion at my beloved elm tree, is accompanied by the delightful sound of my three-year-old, $10 coffeemaker from Target cycling through the gurgling, sucking process that culminates in my reluctant re-emergence from my cocoon to pour a perfect cup of hot coffee into my favorite giant rooster mug.

This morning, for some reason, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd never thanked my amazing little coffeepot. Every day it faithfully makes coffee for me without a complaint. (Those of you who know me understand what a crucial task that is.) I thank many of the other objects in my life—my spectacular, oxygen blue Mini Cooper; the gate that lets me into the farm where Jim and I live; my beautiful, silly cat who does a somersault when he sees me; my amazing kid Cisco who runs like the wind and loves to play with words; the birds who cheer me up and make me laugh with their play; the chair I lie on to soak up sun; the pretty house that shelters us.

Do I literally thank these ordinary items? Yeah, I do! I really pat the Mini when I get home or at the top of a huge hill and say, "Thanks, Mini, you're awesome." I go, "Thanks, gate!" I holler out, "Hi, crows, thanks!" I stoop down and say, "Aw, Birdie, you're so funny." Do people think I'm totally weird? Probably. That's OK. Everything has a spirit and a life force, even if it's a shopping cart, a pumpkin at the Halloween patch that no one else wants because it has a big flat spot and a black thingee, or an old laptop that accompanies you faithfully every day to the coffee shop.

So I was a little dismayed this morning to realize I'd never said thanks to my trusty coffeemaker. And I got to thinking, that $10 machine, like all of the other things in our daily lives that support us and help us, are miracles. Strong word? I don't think so; I think that's just about right.

The word "miracle" is from Old French. It originally meant something that causes wonder or astonishment, or something that makes us smile with delight. How did it come then, in modern times, to mean a thing or event that is so far out of our ordinary experience as to cause awe or shock? How, for that matter, did a miracle come to be something that can only be "performed" by someone like a Buddha, a Jesus Christ, or a top-level religious official with a long pedigree full of "spiritual accomplishments"?

I'd like to propose a radical shift in our thinking about miracles. I'd like to suggest that miracles are happening all around us, all day, every day. You know when you turn the faucet and hot water comes out? Miracle. How about when your dog runs away and the kind neighbor brings him home before you even realized Fang was missing? Miracle. What about when you turn the key in your car and a spark ignites some gas that punches down a cylinder that starts a chain reaction that makes your car take you to work or school? And don't leave out when your child smiles at you or the sun comes up (again!). All miracles.

I've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement and am so moved and inspired by the massive awakening of Americans (and humanity in general) to take back our power and our divine right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from those who would seek to keep us enslaved to a system that no longer serves us. These protests are a really important step in identifying what we do want—by identifying what we don't.

I wonder how things would shift, though, if the protesters and everyone else started to look around and identify all the miracles that are unfolding on a daily basis. In other words, what if everyone right now who's angry, upset, and miserable began to focus their attention on what's right in their lives. I'm not talking about good old positive thinking, although that's a start. I'm talking about looking at the people or entities that we identify as our "oppressors," and—this is insane, I know—find something that's right about them. What's the miracle they bring to the world? Everybody brings at least one.

That line from Avatar (the blue people movie, not the cartoon) keeps running through my mind: "I see you." What does that mean? Like the Sanskrit namaste, it connotes a deep look within a person or object to see past the physical manifestation and its effects in the world, both positive and negative. It looks far within to the divine nature of every thing--rocks, plants, stars, people, buildings, animals, and all that exists on this beautiful planet and elsewhere. All of it is made of the same stuff, the same divine building material.

So when you witness someone who is doing something we perceive as wrong or evil, I ask you to consider this: he has temporarily forgotten Who He Is. I ask you to consider this as well: "Sin" is nothing more than forgetting Who You Are. Sin cannot occur when you remember that We Are All One. I believe that this "original sin" idea that many of the churches try to sell us to make us think people are inherently bad (and thus fearful and thus more easily controlled) is really only the forgetting of our divine origin. That we are capable of all Jesus Christ and Buddha could do, and more.

What if the next time someone "sins" against you, you take a deep breath, look them full in the face, smile big, and say, "I see you." They might curse and walk away. They might call you nuts. They might get even angrier and meaner because you're calling them on their shit in the kindest and most profoundly effective manner available. And I guarantee they're going to feel a shift—if not right then, then later. Having someone witness your inherent divinity, especially despite seeming evidence to the contrary, is Big Medicine.

Many of our leaders at all levels are sinning. Many corporations are sinning. Many religious leaders are sinning. Anyone who has forgotten Who They Are is sinning. Help them to remember (including yourself! Look in the mirror!) and stay centered on your divine purpose here as well, whatever you've identified that to be. It's easy to get pulled off center right now.

So what does this have to do with my $10 coffeemaker? It all starts with appreciation of the daily miracles that make up our lives here on Planet Earth. There's so much to be thankful for. Don't be shy—say a heartfelt thanks to your favorite kitchen appliance today!

I see you.

Rocket Fuel Renegade Workout #1

For all my friends who have been asking about the "crazy" body weight workouts I do, I finally put together (with my able assistant/son Cisco) our first video that shows you exactly how to do my fav kind of workout. Why is it my favorite? Because it's fast, it's fun, it's not in the gym, and it works really, really well to burn fat, build muscle, reduce stress and depression, and turn on your human growth hormone. That means you feel better and look better fast.

Sold? OK, take a look.

We were running low on battery time and I was out of breath, so here are a few more tips to go with the video:

1. Try to do these on an empty stomach to boost the release of human growth hormone (your own personal fountain of youth), and then DO NOT eat any fructose-containing foods (you shouldn't be eating sugar anyway, right?) for at least 2 hours. That will shut off the HGH. Bummer.

2. Go at your own pace, but do try to get to at least an 8 on a 1-10 scale of effort. So, while I might do 15 squat jumps, you might want to start with 3, or 30! (Also, land softly on those leaps, bending deeply at the knees, bringing the weight onto your heels, and keeping chest lifted--very important.)

3. Form is everything. Don't do 20 reps with crappy form. Do 10 with great form and progress faster.

4.Take 30 seconds in between sets, and do between 3-8 sets no more than 2-3 times a week. These are intense, and I don't want you breaking muscle down faster than you can build it up! Rest is equally important for getting in shape when you work out this way.

Also, I promised you the recipe! For this week, it's these 4 moves:

15 squat jumps 10 push-ups (see the video for variations) 16 lunges (front and back; I like to use weights, but whatever you like) 14 downdog crunches

Let me know if you have any questions and leave a comment about how it goes! I'll post another workout next week.

Warrior Woman/Magnificent Man Breakfast

People who see me eating my peculiar, goulash-like breakfast concoction are always asking me, "What IS that?" in this repulsed-yet-curious way that I find adorable. There are a lot of people who see me eating my goulash, because (being a writer and inveterate night owl) I usually get up about two hours later than everyone else where I live, which means that I'm often eating my breakfast when they're eating lunch or having meetings.

So I thought that rather than continue to send out separate emails to those persistent enough to want me to write down the recipe for them (this separates the metaphoric men from the mere lookee-loo sheep), I thought I'd write up a quick post on what IS that bowl of stuff that I eat virtually every morning.

Now, keep in mind, my nickname around here is either RedBull or Fireball, depending whom you talk to and on what day. (Other days I'm known affectionately as "that pain the ass," but that's another story.) Therefore, those wanting to have more energy and get healthy tend to look at me, look at my breakfast, look at me again, and then ask, "So, seriously—what's in there?" Thus, without any further ado, I give you my ever-evolving Warrior Woman/Magnificent Man Breakfast Recipe. Promise you won't tell anyone.

In a big, pretty (or ruggedly masculine) bowl, combine:

about 1 cup of blueberries (organic fresh is the most awesome, but Trader Joe's organic frozen berries are great, too, and a little cheaper)

2-3 tablespoons of Protein Greens (from Paradise Essentials)

1-2 tablespoons of raw, organic coconut oil (my fav is Artisana from New Frontiers Natural Foods)

2 teaspoons bee pollen/royal jelly/propolis mix (Royal Rush by YS Bees rocks)

1/4 - 1/2 cup of organic ground flax seed

2-3 tablespoons raw, organic chia seeds (you may want to start slow on that amount)

1 teaspoon organic, raw maca powder (I like Maca Magic brand: nonjittery energy, adrenal-healing, hormone-balancing magic, that is!)

Instructions: Smoosh and eat. Try not to converse until you've swished the blueberries and chia seeds out of your teeth. Or, if you don't care whether you spit little dark-colored bits at people's faces while you expound charmingly on topics of your choice, you can skip that step.

I think that's it. Sometimes I put in other stuff, like goji berries or some kelp granules.

Three main things you might notice about my recipe:

1.) It has loads of good fat. Did you know that 1-3 T of coconut oil daily has been found to substantially decrease and even reverse Alzheimer's symptoms and brain degeneration? Not to mention help you lose tons of weight? And the almond butter (not peanut! one word: aflatoxin) is raw and organic to preserve the integrity of the fats, also adding protein to the mix.

2.) Organic and raw. I repeat: organic and raw. (Technically, California almonds can't be raw because the government has to protect us from the horrors of raw, nutrition-dense foods, but at least they use low heat.)

3.) Very low sugar content. I've eliminated grains and sugar from my diet, except for the berries, a banana a day on average with more almond butter, and the occasional bite of birthday cake just to be sociable. I've lost my annoying little baby pooch (yeah, so Cisco's 12--what's your point?) and gained a good bit of muscle.

Now, you may ask, with all that talk about raw-nicity: do I eat meat? Oh, yeah. Guess what kind? (Wait for it....) Free-range, organic, grass-fed, sustainably farmed, humanely slaughtered, and practically everything but named Pookie.

So there you have it. Any questions? Leave a comment and I'll see if I can confuse you even further.

PS: Wait! I almost left out my traditional in-your-face blog bit! Here it is: If you want to become or continue to be overweight, are looking forward to developing diabetes and cancer, or just plain old want to feel like crap, continue to follow the USDA Food Pyramid Eating Guide. Lots of grains, low-fat everything, and make sure there's processed soy in most of your foods! Easy breezy!

Why I drink coffee and I'm not going to stop.

You know, I love coffee. Everyone who knows me knows I love coffee. That's how I got the nickname Redbull, I suppose. Yes, I'm a coffee achiever, and lovin' every minute of it, as Seinfeld's Kramer would say (although in a very different context). I get twice as much done everyday than the average person. Are my adrenals burned out? Probably. Why do I get out of bed in the morning? So I can have my coffee. After I have my coffee, I meditate. I feel much closer to God/Source/The Universe after I have my coffee. Meditating without having had my coffee is like listening for a pin drop through thick, wet wool wrapped around my face. "Sorry, all operators are busy. Your call could not be completed as dialed. Please try again later after you've had your coffee."

My friend Brenda Crane told me recently that people whose brains are accustomed to coffee and who enjoy their morning latte perform WAY better in all kinds of brain tests than people who missed their coffee that morning. However, people who don't ever drink coffee did equally well in the tests as the people who had their lattes. Hmmm. Well, that horse is out of the barn (for me, anyway). Have you seen that movie Limitless? That's how I feel about coffee, and--increasingly--kriya yoga. Also, qi gong as taught and practiced by Master Zhou. Even, in some cases, antidepressants. (Yeah, I know I'm gonna catch it for that one.)

I also love to cite studies (people tend to leave me alone when I cite studies) about how drinking coffee prevents Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer. The fact that I don't have a prostate doesn't bother me.

We human beings are limitless, of course. As Jesus said, "All these things that I do, you can do--and more." We've just forgotten Who We Are and how to do all the cool stuff we now fearfully call "miracles." Like heal cancer with a touch. Like allow our bodies to die when and where and how we damn well decide so we can choose a fresh, new one to play in or start all over. Like project such potent love to others that they wake up to their own divine nature, or at least get pointed in that direction.

We're so afraid of our phenomenal power that we often persecute or kill those who try to remind us or actually show us. After all, if we knew what we were capable of, what excuse would we have for watching Beavis & Butthead or working for $8. an hour at Walmart despite being smart and capable? People who show us what's possible raise the bar and wreck the curve. Generally, they don't end up being too popular with the majority of folks.

Well, I think that's changing. It's getting less dangerous to speak the truth, although it still takes big balls and a heart of gold. Meanwhile, I'm sticking with my coffee until I figure out how to learn Sanskrit in an afternoon or download Blackhawk helicopter schematics directly to my brain. At least I'll be alert while I'm tryin'!

Much love to you.

PS: If you drink coffee, please make sure it's organic, shade-grown, and freshly ground. I definitely do not recommend anything from Starbucks. Sometimes I go in there and ask, "Do you have any organic today?" I usually experience hemming and/or hawing from behind the counter. You could remind them that their corporate policy is to serve at least 10 percent organic.... Use your power as a consumer! (OK, that's another post.)