Sure you’re sexy but how’s your insulin sensitivity?


Big Steve

Big Steve had huge arms – about 20 inches at the biceps. He had always been well proportioned and muscular but there was that one-year when his body seemed to explode.  This was the early-80’s.  Those of us at the gym knew that he had to have had some chemical assistance.  It didn’t matter.  He moved to the elite level in the local bodybuilding circles.  He had hopes of taking it to the national stage.

On one of the slower days at the gym, a few of us sat around and talked about the world of competitive bodybuilding.  I had competed in a few contests and did well enough to compete in Vegas in the “couples” section (that’s me with hair in the photo).  I was tiny compared to these other guys.  They saw that I worked hard and none of them ever tried to pressure me into using steroids.  I was in law school after all, and was going to make my mark in the legal field instead of on the posing dais.

It seems that Big Steve (and a couple of others at the gym) were using ridiculously high levels of oral anabolics.  These were even more dangerous than the injectable steroids.  Someone asked him why he would take such crazy chances with his health.  Wasn’t he afraid of dying in his 20’s from a heart attack, a stroke, or his muscles exploding out of his skin?  Steve gave a quick laugh and said the only thing he cared about was that they “bury me massive.”

Knowing What You Want

You had to respect a guy who was clear about what he wanted.

I’m not sure what happened to Steve.  I don’t know whether he got his wish or revisited his goals.

My health and fitness goals have evolved.  I still have one eye on aesthetics when I train.  I have to maintain a certain level of sexiness so my wife doesn’t leave me.  But I have other concerns that are even more pressing.

Staying Out Of The Home

In my mind, I’m still in my 20’s but I have too many people reminding me that I’ve been here for more than half a century.  I think I told you this before but I’m not relying on any of my children to look after me when I hit an age that most people would consider “old.” I have a pretty good idea of the strength and movement markers that will allow me to remain independent.  I’ve written about them here but let me know if you want more information on staying strong for longevity purposes.

There’s also stuff going on inside that we need to pay attention to.  I measure my heart rate variability (HRV) every morning to determine my level of activity for that day. I try to take my blood pressure regularly. I meditate and listen to binaural beats (ask me next time we talk).  My blood pressure is pretty good although I’d like to lower it down a few points to get in optimal territory.


Insulin Sensitivity

Another thing I pay attention to is my blood sugar levels and my insulin sensitivity. You are  insulin sensitive when your body needs only a relatively small amount of insulin to reduce elevated glucose levels.  This is a good thing.

Insulin resistance is associated with obesity and non-alcohol fatty liver disease(NAFLD).  It is also strongly connected to dementia.  You can test your insulin sensitivity by testing your blood glucose levels.  Let me remind you, I’M NOT A DOCTOR.  What I’m laying out for you is how I am bio-hacking my life.

I tested it yesterday shortly after waking up.  This is called fasting glucose. It was over 100.  Most doctors would tell you that a 100 fasting level is nothing to worry about.  A clear picture of the implications is also complicated by the fact that if you eat pretty low carb as I do, you can have paradoxically high glucose levels.

So I have a choice.  I can flex in the mirror and be happy that I have to buy new pants because my waist is a little smaller.  Or, I can pay attention to the research that shows that even if you’re blood sugar is just high normal, it can still be predictive of an up to 30% greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s.

My plan?

  • ONE glass of wine (at most) each evening.  Alcohol can have a negative impact on insulin function.
  • I’m going to slightly increase my carbs but keep them below 150 grams.
  • I’m going to add another 30-45 minutes of walking to my routine.
  • I’m going to increase my sleep by 30 minutes.
  • Take more regular glucose readings.  These will be post-prandial as this is a more accurate measure than a fasted reading or an A1c test.
  • I’m going to bring my omega-6:omega-3 ratio closer to 5:1, which means more fatty fish and paying more attention to my cooking oil which can increase the omega-6 levels.
  • I’m going to supplement with Berberine.  This supplement not only helps blood sugar control but it improves liver health. I’m excited about this one.

My guess is that these measures will also have a positive impact on my body composition and strength.  That’s not why I’m doing it.  I’m sharing this because I want you to take more responsibility for your health, too.  Don’t ever take what I say at face value.  Please understand that where you get your health and fitness information may be the biggest factor in evolutionary selection in the near future.  I can only tell you that I do my homework even if it’s just in pursuit of my n=1 experiment.

I don’t care that you’re younger than me.  After all, Bernadette and I might need you to take care of us one day.

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The Secrets To Long Life And Early Death


Here’s a simple formula from a guy in rural Bolivia. He’s reputed to be the world’s oldest person at 123 years of age. Carmelo Flores Laura said his secret was avoiding sugar and pasta, long walks everyday, a local wild grain and a staple of skunk meat (with pork and mutton on rare occasions).

The world's oldest man

Simple, huh?

Preventing Early Death

This one seems a little more complicated than not getting enough skunk meat.

This was a headline from mainstream media reporting on a recent study. What they don’t tell you in the story is that most of the participants who died before their breakfast eating counterparts also smoked, drank a lot of alcohol, were overweight and were old!

We Get What We Ask For

Sensationalism sells. Fear and greed always beat curiosity. So we get the hyped health and nutrition headlines that proclaim the latest finding from poorly designed studies that were paid for by Big Pharma and Big Ag.

You’ll hear about red meat causing cancer until some study claims that it’s actually fish oil that does. There’s a new herb that will “rip the fat off your body” and another supplement that will keep your muscles hard for four hours – after which you’ll need to see a doctor. Fear and greed.

These are all distractions. They’re the kind of things we fight against every day in our business. It’s why we’ve discussed instituting “a red velvet rope policy” for new clients or taking our training completely online. I feel about the fitness industry the way I have come to feel about the mainstream education mills. Self actualization and personal responsibility are the enemies of both industries.

Fitness has become a business that plays to Fear and Greed as it eliminates symptoms without attempting to cultivate wholeness. You have to develop compassion for all the different parts of your body if you want to become something more than an emotional and physical Frankenstein.

The Diet and Exercise Wars hide the fact that adherence is probably the most critical component for positive results. It’s not sexy so it won’t sell.

If you choose to get your news from the popular media you will be on the path to disability and an early death. This is usually what happens when you rely on a combination of “experts” and Fate. I may be aging but I’m not limited and neither are you.

Our Evolution

We will continue to evolve a business model that helps people live the largest story they are capable of telling. We will help the women who want the help to embody their original wholeness. Our plan is to do this through online training, retreats, workshops, and speeches.

For the women who ask “but what can I do about this jiggly part?” You’ll see us smile and give them another exercise for the “burn.

P.S. If you haven’t already, LIKE us on Facebook.
P.P.S. Should we evolve our business or just get better at eliminating the “jiggly parts?” Let me know in the comments or in an email.

Don’t Starve Yourself – Part 1

Starving Yourself
Healthy Food


Is there a time in your life when you were a model of healthful eating?

A Healthy Childhood

I never realized it until  I got older but my mother was not only a good cook, she was a very responsible and health conscious one, too.  When Swanson Frozen TV Dinners came out, us kids looked at it as a real treat. My favorite was “Salisbury Steak.” It was quite an advance that freed up Mom from the kitchen. It is also the kind of thing I wouldn’t touch now unless I was starving.

She indulged me in my own food experiments like drinking Malta Dukesa (a non-alcoholic beer that is popular in Puerto Rico) with a raw egg.  She and my father introduced me to escargot (yup, snails), frog legs (tasted like chicken), kumquats, and brussel sprouts.  They helped me expand my tastes.  This has served me well in places like Sudan where I ate freshly butchered lamb intestines that were given to me as the honored guest.  I pleased my nomadic hosts with the gusto with which I threw the lamb bits down my throat. I still wonder sometimes if someone set me up.

Into the Sewer

College and law school saw a dramatic decline in my ability and willingness to eat well. At first, freedom led me off the gastronomic garden path.  Pizzas, 48oz. sodas, Philly cheese steaks, and hoagies (the last two because I was in college in New Jersey) made up a large part of my meals.

My finances in law school determined my menu choices.  I lived in an abandoned building without heat or hot water and worked twenty hours a week as a personal trainer.  This was how I was able to supplement my law school scholarship.  I continue to use it as an excuse for my disappointing (to say the least) class ranking.  I ate one meal per day and it was usually pasta.  When I had extra money, the pasta had sauce.  I was also a competitive bodybuilder.

That’s a summary of my nutrition history between the ages of 18 and 25.

I had the stresses of little sleep, law school, a job, workouts, making up for lost time in my dating life, and terrible nutrition. Guess what? It didn’t make any difference to my energy and I looked “maaahvelous!” I was also starving.

Lessons Learned

Now older and somewhat wiser, I sometimes wonder how eating like that affected my long-term health.  But as you and I know, the past is just an illusion that punishes us with regret.  Staying in the NOW, I obviously make much better choices.  Ironically, current healthy eating for me resembles my mother’s balanced meals (didn’t eat much grain back then either) that consisted of real food.  There’s a problem now that I didn’t have 35 years ago.

Our food supply has been so compromised and soil so depleted that it’s virtually impossible to get all the nutrients we need from our everyday food.  That’s one of the reasons we use our Prograde supplements. It doesn’t matter how conscientious we are.  The absence of some of these nutrients can be crippling and in some cases deadly.

What are the most common missing nutrients in our food?  This has gone on pretty long  so I’ll tell you about those next time.

What are your healthy eating habits?

Go to the top right and sign up for fitness and health information to get you where you want to be.

P.S.  Every now and then we will recommend books and products-like Prograde-that we use and that we think might be helpful for you.  If you buy through our links, we make a couple of dollars and you get items that have the Brownstone Fitness seal of approval 🙂

Feeling Better Should Be Natural

women and self defense
Self Defense

Self Defense

Two weeks ago, Bernadette and I held another free self-defense workshop. This time, it was for a group of girls from the East Harlem dance program, “Groove With Me.” It was pretty cool because several months ago we had worked with the mothers of these girls.

Like the moms, these girls hit really hard. It took a while to get them to the point where they would hit me with aggression. There were also a few tears (theirs not mine) to get them to that point.

Some of the girls needed to give themselves permission to fight back. In the short time we had with them, they needed to be convinced that they were valuable enough to deserve self-protection. This wasn’t about protection from a police officer or boyfriend but self-protection.

Perfectly Good Animals

They didn’t know of the anthropologist Margaret Mead and her quote that “(W)omen should not be allowed in (military) combat because they are too fierce.”

Their limiting beliefs had kept a couple of biological and evolutionary truths hidden from them: they are perfectly good animals capable of amazing physical and mental feats of survival and creativity.

Too many women and men have stopped the natural dance between their masculine and feminine sides. It’s not your fault.  Women are told how they’re supposed to look and men are told how much they’re supposed to earn. his is how value is decided. Both get separated from the truth of the joy they were born with and live out other people’s assumptions and fantasies. Our true gifts with inside of us before adolescence.

Too many of us have become numb to our essential selves and we try to destroy our shadow sides. The numbing shows up as overeating, overworking, and obsession with pursuing the goals that other people have set out for us. The fight moves us away from the pipeline of our natural Wisdom.

We are all born with innate mental health. We don’t have to seek it or find a guru to provide it. All you really need to do with your body and your mind is to press “RESET.” To paraphrase Rumi, “Stop weaving and watch the pattern improve.”

An Exercise

Let’s try something. For the next three days, in a spreadsheet or in a list, note your limiting beliefs – the things that you think you can’t do. Then run each of them through this filter developed by Byron Katie:

“Is it true?”
“Can you absolutely know that it’s true?”
“How do you react/feel when you think that thought?”
“Who would you be without that thought?”

If they don’t have permission to touch your mind or body then keep them out.  Hurt them if you have to.

If they do have permission to touch you, there’s nothing wrong with telling them how you  want to be touched.

Feeling good all the time is tough to do.  Feeling better is only one thought away.

Send me an email ( and let me know if anything shifted or if you want to go deeper into the process. You can also go here to find out about the book I’m writing on these issues.

I hope this wasn’t too abstract. Just know that the other option was a comparison of the luteal and follicular stages of the menstrual cycle to the way we do business at Brownstone Fitness.

P.S. For one woman’s journey, go here to support my fable. We’re in the home stretch so go here and spread the word.

“Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” – Syd Banks

Find Your Life Purpose Without Going Broke

Find Your Life Purpose

Do you know what your life purpose is? Are you living it?

My youngest daughter had a birthday party last week. It went really well – thanks to my wife. I acted busy to cover my extreme shyness. I don’t like crowds but when it’s “Showtime” I can turn it on. I’ve heard that these kinds of people are called “ambiverts.” This wasn’t Showtime so I took my time making sure the pizza and cake were cut just right.

At the end of the party, I was talking to a very nice man who had done some wonderful caricatures – you know, those drawings where the person’s features are exaggerated. He told me that he had seen my bio and mentioned that I had an “impressive career.” That was my cue to explain that I couldn’t hold a job. I said this with humor and sincerity.

Part of my problem has been that I thought I had discovered my life purpose at the age of 6. I convinced myself that I wanted to be a lawyer. With those magical powers I planned to correct the world’s injustice. It would have been parental malpractice for my parents to talk me out of such a noble middle class dream back then.

I did the lawyer thing. I have a policy of living with as few regrets as possible so I’ll leave it there for now. I was fortunate to have some great education opportunities open up for me. I traveled in the lanes that were available to people who could play the game or were brilliant. You can decide where I fit.

There are other lanes open now. In fact, the traditional path to the American Dream looks pretty crazy right now. You can choose to “invest” in the education bubble, incur ridiculous amounts of student loan debt, and, if you’re one of the lucky ones, become a worker pretending you have a career. Another way to go is…

Self -Employment

The life of an entrepreneur, at least the way I’m living it, has not been easy. I don’t recommend abruptly quitting a high-paying job. My family and I have very little financial security. We’ve put everything we’ve had, and then some, into the business.

While we scramble for ways to scale it up, we get to tell our kids “no” to things like eating out and expensive sports camps. We do get to spend a lot of time with them and to have important conversations. I’ll just have to wait and see where they come out on the resentment/gratitude scale.

Despite the challenges, I believe that the life of an entrepreneur can be spiritual and transformative if you remain aware. It’s kind of like how the most difficult people in your life can also be your most profound teachers.

Somebody Should Have Told Me

I wish I had had someone to mentor me in what it took to be successful. I’m still grateful that my mind and body are healthy enough to move on this path in my mid-50’s. I still think I could have learned some of these lessons a little faster with the right guidance. It now pains me to see so many younger people going numb or living with the emotional (and often physical) pain of living without meaning or joy. One day I’ll talk about the distinction I that think needs to be made between “joy” (our natural state) and “happiness” (our “should” state).

The American Dream was to supposed to mean that life would “be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social or circumstances of birth” (James Truslow Adams in 1931).

That hasn’t worked out for a lot of the people I know. People from my generation were mostly groomed to be workers in an economy that is rapidly vanishing. Some people rebelled and made art with their lives – as solopreneurs, as social entrepreneurs, and even in corporations.

I’m a husband, a father of daughters, a co-founder of a school for girls in India, and the co-owner of a fitness business that works with women. This next part is for any woman who knows someone like this…

Do You Know This Person?

You did what you were supposed to do. You paid attention in school and worked on your social and academic skills. You were told you could have it all if you just followed the road they laid out for you.

Then life intruded. You sit at a table with a mound of bills in one hand and your paycheck in the other. Like every month, you have the sinking feeling that THIS check won’t cover THESE bills. Those stupid student loans!

But you get up every day and show up to your 9-to-5. It’s boring and some of the people are jerks but you feel fortunate to even have a job. So you swallow your pride and hide your dreams.

Worse than the boredom and the annoying people is the fear. Fear that you’ll never meet your dream partner. Fear that you’ll lose your job. Fear that you’ll stay on this treadmill and never do the things that inspire and ignite you.

You didn’t go to an elite school. Your family wasn’t wealthy. Your parents didn’t give you that network that would plug you into job opportunities. You weren’t the tenth employee of Facebook.

You’d love to take a chance on finding your dream job or starting your own business but you still feel the recession. You know in your mind that you’re still young but your heart tells you you’ll soon be too old to follow your dream. What happened to that personal style that you developed in high school and really rocked with in college?

Life Purpose

There’s something inside of you that wants to make a difference. But how can you figure out what kind of a difference you can make? The daily grind keeps question as a dull ache with no relief in sight. Wanting to have children doesn’t make this any easier.

Sometimes you think it’s about making as much money as you can and buying that car, those shoes, and the nice apartment. Is that all you’re supposed to want? Those things are what your friends talk about all the time. Is there something wrong with you if you want something else? It’s not just your friends’ opinions that concern you. Your family has expectations that you feel pressured to meet.

Your fear and confusion are not your fault. The pressures of modern life have caused us to forget that we are conscious beings with the gift of Free Will. You’ve been lied to. It’s not all about competing and doing whatever it takes.

External factors, whether they are your family or your current finances do not have to keep you from fulfillment.

Take action on your wisdom instead of other’s expectations. Attract abundance by standing in your emotional and spiritual truth.

Are you waiting for the right time, enough money, enough experience? It’ll never happen. Talk to your parents or spend time in a senior citizen’s home if you don’t believe me. We all leave this earth. What will your friends and family remember about how you lived your life? Will it be a story worth telling?

Two Exercises

One of the things I love about my two youngest kids is that they have their own sense of style. I fight a constant battle with myself because while I love that they have such a strong sense of themselves, I know this society will try to beat it out of them. In my clearer moments, I tell myself that being overprotective is just as bad as being abusive. At my best, I pray to God that He will protect them and allow their God-given wisdom to guide them.

I want you to recapture your style, too. Let’s start with a couple of exercises I got from Barbara Sher (not personally, but I wish!).

1. Choose a color that you like. It doesn’t have to be your favorite color. Find something with that color in it and have it in front of you. It can be a picture, a crayon, a piece of clothing, etc.

You’re going to role-play that color. If you’re “orange,” who are you? How do you feel as orange? What do you like to do? What other colors do you like to associate with? I am orange and I…

When you pick your color and express who you are as that color, you are declaring yourself and making a statement as to your style. You’re taking off the uniform that other people have made you put on and you’re making a personal statement. Get in touch if you want more on this.

2. Find someone you love and trust, and who loves you. Get something to write with and set aside five minutes. Ask that person to tell you everything they like about you. They aren’t allowed to be vague and you aren’t allowed to interrupt. You might also want to switch roles. Being both a good praiser and praisee has its benefits.

Too many children are lavishly praised for every little accomplishment. When we become adults, praise is withheld and “honest” self-evaluations are only allowed to include criticism, otherwise we are viewed as being vain.  Go ahead and see how it feels to give and receive honest, deep praise.

Since you’ve read this far, I feel comfortable asking to you to Retweet this and otherwise pass it on.

Live with purpose and irony!

P.S. – If you need some help with any of this, call me or send me an email. We’ll talk. It’ll help. I promise.