The care of our bodies

In this follow-up to my post entitled “Stewardship or possession“, I talk about the care of our bodies, which in a way are our ultimate possessions. How do we and how should we regard and care for our bodies? We each only get one body during our lifetimes. How do we want to spend our last years of life? As invalids, caught in a painful, dreary existence or as vibrant individuals who are still able to move around, spend meaningful time with others and travel to see the world?

Stewardship or possession?

What’s the healthier, saner way to view that which have or enjoy?

Should you regard it as a possession or should you see yourself as a steward of it? What’s the better long-term approach to these matters? Join me for a (non-religious) discussion of the subject in this video. I’ll talk about various topics related directly to this subject, such as the relationship between husband and wife, one’s home, business and other “possessions”, such as cars, furniture, clothes, etc.

I hope this helps you!

The story of a pair of shoes

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I’ve owned these monk-strap shoes for over 10 years. I photographed them this morning for the purposes of this post. These are one of the pairs of shoes I use around the house for all kinds of work: home office, going to the cellar to fetch firewood, going into the dusty attic to put or get various things, renovation work, etc.

I used them last night as we mounted this restored door frame back in place, as I used a miter saw in the cellar, carried the various parts up to the house, used a nail gun to secure them in place and assemble the frame.

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You can see these same shoes in this video.

I also used them when I built our garden shed in Florida.

In spite of all the wear and tear I’ve put them through over the years, a little elbow grease always gets them looking great, and that’s a testament to the craftmanship of the shoemaker. The brand (Mario Calugi) isn’t as important here as the lesson to be learned from the experience.

Lots of people make a big stink about how wearing leather contributes to animal cruelty but the truth of the matter is, using every little bit of an animal that’s going to get sacrificed for its meat anyway, is the right thing to do.

Furthermore, taking proper care of your belongings, especially the ones made from other beings (because animals are beings, not things) is crucial and it is part of showing respect for the sacrifice of that animal, for the protection its skin profers you and for the hard work that went into making the finished good you now have in your possession.

Good leather lasts a lifetime if you take care of it. Great shoes also last a lifetime if you take care of them. Yes, it means changing the soles when they wear out, it means treating the leather and polishing it, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s part of being a good, responsible human being to take care of your stuff. Please do it.

Poze de la Raw Generation Expo Cluj, Ediția II

Here are over 500 photos from the latest edition of our Raw Generation Expo. It’s one of our worthwhile projects, an event through which we promote healthy foods and a balanced life. This one took place in Cluj-Napoca and it was the second regional edition we held there. We’re coming up on twelve national editions and this one makes six regional editions. Here’s to a good life for everyone!

Ligia Pop

Raw Generation Expo Cluj a fost un eveniment extraordinar de bine primit, care a incununat cu succes seria expozitiilor de anul acesta. Am avut parte peste 40 de expozanti (mai multi ca la prima editie) si in ambele zile foarte multi vizitatori fericiti. Mai jos puteti vedea o parte din pozele de la eveniment. Multumim Cluj-Napoca pentru primirea frumoasa si ne revedem in toamna lui 2017!

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The right attitude toward possessions

In this video from The Elegant Gentleman series, I talk about one’s possessions and the attitude we should have toward them. In a nutshell: it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And it doesn’t matter if you’re wealthy or on a limited income. You should always opt for quality or you’ll pay more and feel cheap in the long run. Enjoy the video!

Introducing “The Elegant Gentleman”

I’d like to present a new project of mine, something that I’ve been thinking about and planning for a while. It’s called “The Elegant Gentleman”, and it’s going to be a journey on which I’ll hope you’ll join me, where we will explore clothes, manners and the finer things in life, in the search for a noble, enlightened existence as gentle-men, in this modern world of ours where stress and busy-ness seem to dominate the lives of those around us.

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Naturally, we won’t have an enlightened existence without the inner search for higher ideals. A preoccupation with “the finer things” alone will leave you empty in the end. But the practice and appreciation of character traits that ennoble us, and the search for meaning and happiness in the world around us, will make us enlightened. And I’ll tell you a little secret: when the search begins within and reaches outside, those “finer things” will begin to have a meaning that enriches our lives and helps us stay on a higher plane of living.

This all sounds somewhat esoteric, and on some level, it is. That’s why there are so few true gentlemen in the world. So won’t you join me as we seek membership in this exclusive club? The journey will be the initiation ceremony. The dues will be the experiences we will each have. And the reward will be a life better lived, a life worth living, a life full of wonderful memories for us and for those around us.

I’ll be creating and posting videos to my YouTube channel. Here’s the first one of the series:

And I’ll be posting frequently on my Facebook Page, and writing articles here on my site, where I’ve added a new category, called… you guessed it, “The Elegant Gentleman“. There’s even a website by the same name.

See you soon! Cheers!

Dr. Brian Clement on Stopping the Aging Process

Ligia and I attended a talk given by Dr. Brian Clement of the Hippocrates Health Institute — the foremost center of natural and complementary health care in the world. The event took place at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton, FL, on March 22, 2010, and the talk was on aging, and what we can do to stop it. It may sound like the stuff of fairy tales, but the advice given is common sense, and it works. Dr. Clement himself is almost 70 years old, though he doesn’t look it.

In a nutshell, we must change our nutrition to include a large proportion of raw vegan foods, particularly sprouts and vegetable juices. I invite you to watch the entire video, which is about 45 minutes long. It’s quite interesting, and the Q&A section at the end also provides actionable and important advice.

Sorry about the somewhat unsteady video. I recorded this handheld. And the focus is a bit off for the first 1:30 minutes, but it does get better after that, so hang in there!

I’d also like to thank the folks at YouTube for allowing me to post the entire video without cutting it up into smaller parts. This summer, they raised the limit to 15 minutes for each video, then did away with it completely a few weeks ago, which meant I could upload the entire 45-minute video, in 720p HD, at over 3GB in size, without any problems. Thank you YouTube!

Gotta give them something to do

It’s easy to decry TV, movies and sports as nothing more than a time suck, as a constant push toward looser morals and a consumer culture, but they also provide a benefit that’s not often discussed — that of giving people something acceptable to do with their time. Among other things, they redirect energy that would be spent on real life behaviors into vicarious behaviors, and in some ways, that’s a good thing in today’s world.

You look back through recent history, and you’ll see that as societies became more civilized, people distanced themselves from nature and segmented their existence not only in terms of time but also in terms of space. When economies were based solely (or mostly) on agriculture and crafts, people had plenty to do all day long. Life and work followed a natural cycle, and they intermingled. (You see some of that these days with telecommuting.) People had homes, and they had land, and they worked on that land and around their homes all day long. They put in long hours during the spring, summer and autumn, and relaxed during winter, at home with their families. Nowadays, very few people still live on that cycle. Most people have office jobs and live in apartment buildings, particularly in the larger cities where the costs of owning a home are prohibitive. When they get home at night, what’s there to do? Little, really. When you have an apartment, what are you going to do? Stare at the walls? Vacuum the floors? Re-organize your sock drawers? I suppose that’s how the need for mass entertainment developed, first with sports, then movies, then TV. When you have (roughly) five hours of free time per day, you’ve got to spend it somehow, so why not become a sports fan, or why not watch movies or TV?

As one follows the progress of their favorite sports team or TV show, they live in that world, through those characters or stars, and experience the highs and lows of that microcosm. Some would say that’s a form of population control, of dumbing down the population, of occupying their time with nonsense so they don’t wake up and start something. In some ways, it is, but it’s also needed. What would people do with the energy and time they spend on sports and TV if those outlets didn’t exist? Some would spend it in positive ways — with their families, on books, arts, hobbies, games, newspapers, trips and the like — and yet others (and this is a number that can’t be quantified) would spend it in negative ways — and the variety of those ways is something that would boggle the mind. For that group of people, the fact that they spend their time in front of the TV or in the stands, cheering for their sports teams, is undoubtedly a good thing.

So, beside the fact that there are very real benefits to TV networks and advertisers as more people tune in to see TV shows and sports matches, or to movie studios as more people go to see their latest creation, or to sports teams when fans fill their stadiums, there are arguable benefits to be gained for society in general as more people tune out the outside world and turn on their TVs. The issue is clearly more complicated than that, and I’m oversimplifying things, but I wanted to point out this particular aspect. It’s but one view among many that can be taken when you talk about this subject. The more I think of this, the more I realize its complexity can’t possibly be explained in a single post, so don’t expect an overarching conclusion here — just an observation.

Luigi Cornaro and the simple life

Luigi Cornaro

A Venetian nobleman on the brink of death discovered a way to stay healthy and alert to the ripe old age of 102. He lived in the 15 century, and his name was Luigi Cornaro (1464-1566).

At that time, Venice was a thriving commercial port — one of the main shipping hubs in Europe — and a life of abundance with little thought for health was the norm for all wealthy people there. What also factors into the equation is the average life expectancy during that time, which was somewhere around 40 years. Yet Luigi Cornaro was a nobleman who chose to live a balanced life, eat a healthy diet, and lived to 102 years. That is truly remarkable.

How did he do it?! It’s really no mystery. At the age of 83, he wrote a treatise on the subject, entitled “Tratatto de la vita sobria”, followed by three more treatises on the same subject, published at the ages of 86, 91 and 95, respectively. In his treatises, he described in detail just how he lived his life and what he ate, hoping that others would follow his advice and reap the same benefits.

He believed in consuming the best quality and most easily digestible foods in small amounts. He reduced his food intake, cutting it down to twelve ounces a day of solid foods, divided into two meals with fourteen ounces of light wine, also divided into two servings. He sometimes ate a little beef, but mostly he would eat one egg yolk, vegetable soup, coarse, unrefined bread, salads, small quantities of locally grown fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, and he’d drink slightly fermented wine. His stomach didn’t agree with fish or chicken, so he avoided them.

The amazing part is that all his faculties stayed intact and even better, improved with age, right up to the day of his death. He had no memory loss, his eyesight and hearing grew keener with the years, and he was able to stay active, physically and mentally, in his advanced age. In his nineties, he even studied singing and horseback riding.

His writings are now part of the public domain and thus freely available for download. If you want to live a healthy life, do yourself a favor and read through them. Google Books, has an 1833 English translation of his writings, entitled “Discourses on a Sober and Temperate Life“, translated and edited by Sylvester Graham. You can download the entire book as a PDF there, or here on my site (see 1st PDF below). You can also download an abridged version of Cornaro’s writings as a 6-page PDF (see 2nd link below). It was sent to me via email, and am not sure who its translator is, but would be glad to give credit if someone will contact me.

If you’re interested in modern advice on the subject, US News recently published an article entitled “10 Healthy Habits that Will Help You Live to 100“. They didn’t mention Cornaro, but their advice is easy to follow, if you’ve got the willpower.

Download Luigi Cornaro’s writings:

What do you do all day?

We are defined by what we do with our time. When it comes to our health, that same adage can be re-stated to read: our bodies are the record of what we do with our time.

If you happen to sit in a chair all day, perhaps you wish for a job where you can move around more often. If you have to stand up all day, or run around from place to place, you may wish for the comfort of a cozy chair and a steady desk where you could sit and concentrate on some quiet work. But have you wondered what your job is doing to your body? Just what are the long-term effects of what you do all day, every day?

Desk work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Any job that involves an extended amount of sitting, whether it be an office job or a driving job, just isn’t healthy for the body. It makes you sick, slowly, over time, without realizing it. It deforms your posture, it fattens you up, slows down your digestive tract and metabolism, widens your hips, flattens your curves, rounds out your shoulders and hunches your back. Your muscles slowly atrophy from all that inactivity, and they get replaced by fat reserves. Before you know it, you get flabby and fragile. At first you’re angry, then you get complacent, and finally you accept it as a normal part of growing old. But it’s not a normal part of the aging process! It doesn’t have to be that way.

By the same token, any job that involves an extended amount of standing up isn’t good for you either. It introduces posture problems of its own, puts extra stress on the spinal column, the hips and the knees, not to mention your feet, and can lead to varicose veins, among other things. You get home exhausted at the end of the day, with pain in your joints and your back, and crash into your bed, only to put your body through the same punishing process the next day. Again I say, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Over the past several years, I’ve seen many people who had the symptoms I described above, and until recently, I used to think it was due to one’s nature or old age, but I was wrong. Those problems could be traced directly to what these people were doing — or not doing. Because, you see, what you aren’t doing is just as important as what you are doing.

In life, it’s very important to counteract the negative effects of any of our activities with their proper antidotes. If what you do all day is sit on a chair, then you must get outside more often, and jog or run or exercise. At the very least, you should do some crunches or push-ups every day. If you stand all day, then you must mobilize your leg and hip joints. It sounds counterintuitive, but think of it this way: if you kept your arms locked outward all day long, wouldn’t you want to bend them at the end of the day? Wouldn’t your elbows feel horrible? It’s the same thing with our knees and hips, except we’ve gotten so used to standing on them all day long, we’ve forgotten that we need to bend them every once in a while, to put those joints through their full range of motion — so do some squats and lunges, and stretch your hamstrings and quadriceps muscles too.

Our bodies were made for motion. They were not made for sitting or for standing up or for lying down. They need constant, varied movement and effort to keep them in shape. If they don’t get it, they deteriorate. We become wrecks of our former selves — flabby, misshapen bags of skin, fat and bones — a sad memory of what we could have been, and no amount of liposuction and plastic surgery and botox is going to fix that, in spite of what some people may think.

Look, if you want to do things right, then you’ve got to figure out what you want in life. You’ve got to figure out what you do with your time all day, and how you can use it better. If you want to start exercising, then you’ve got to carve out time for it in your daily schedule — you need to find the resolve for exercise, and you need to stick to it. If you don’t, just look around you. The majority of people out there never got their act together on staying fit, and they look it. Do you want to be one of them, or do you want something better?

Flabbier by the day

I used to smirk when I heard the excuses I make now. I used to feel superior. What me, ever get flabby? That’s for losers who can’t find the time to visit the gym, right? Well, here I am, thirty, and getting flabby. Sure, you can’t see it yet. If you saw me, you’d say I still look fit or even thin. But that’s not the picture I see, since I’m privy to more revealing details…

It’s ironic, finding myself in the same situation as the people I used to deride. I went to the gym regularly, obsessively, one could say, from the start of college to my mid-twenties. It was easy. I was driven to get big, and I got big. I wanted strength and muscles, and I got them. Then, complacency set in. That, and the fact that I got tired of homosexuals trying to pick me up during my workouts… I tell you, those were traumatic experiences for me, because I started to associate the gym with being harassed by homosexuals, and how much fun are workouts going to be when that happens? But let me focus on the things I could have changed instead.

About 25, I got a job as a director of IT at a hospital. The responsibilities were huge, and given my young age, the pressure was on to deliver results. I stopped working out as I worked long and longer hours. When I did manage to go to the gym, my mind was on other things. My workouts were sporadic. And as we all know, consistency is key to most things in life, including exercise. I couldn’t exercise consistently, and a trip to the gym here and there wasn’t going to cut it. I’m a naturally thin person, so my muscle mass kept dropping, along with my weight. I’m now somewhere between 155-165 lbs (haven’t weighed myself in a while), and this seems to be my natural weight. My body tends to stay there no matter what I do. At 21, I was 195 lbs at 7% body fat. At 18, I was 135 lbs at 4% body fat. Yes, that’s a big weight difference. No, I did not take steroids. I did eat like a horse though, and worked out a whole lot.

Given that I exercised regularly for such a long time, my body stayed together and looking good for a good while after I stopped. I swam in high school and worked out regularly for seven years, almost every day, so I was in great shape. For the sake of those numerous workouts, I managed to get through the two years in my stressful IT job without showing much damage. Then, I had another computer job for a couple of years, implementing a complex new system for a university. Even though my office was right next to the gym, and even though there were no homosexuals to harass me there, I couldn’t bring myself to go regularly. I always found excuses, usually work-related.

So here I am today, in another computer job full of responsibilities, having turned thirty some months ago, and getting flabbier by the day. After five years of practically neglecting my body, it’s starting to show. It’s amazing I’ve lasted this long, and it only goes to show how resilient the human body really is — but I can see it won’t work anymore. My bones are starting to make cracking sounds when I get up or exert myself. Physical effort tires me out. If I go up two flights of stairs, my breathing will noticeably increase. I get a lot more headaches nowadays. If I don’t consciously tense up my abs, my stomach bulges outwards, just enough to scare my wife. When I sit down, I can grab the fat layer on my abs in my hand. I’m starting to get love handles, and no, there’s nothing love-ly about them. Instead of pectorals, I now sport two soft placeholders, sad reminders of what used to be there. My shoulders have rounded out and my biceps, once the size of baseballs, have turned into golf balls. My strong back muscles, once able to squat and deadlift hundreds of pounds, have now flattened out and gained the consistency and firmness of sponges. My quadriceps, once rock hard all the time, are now soft, and jiggle like jello when I walk. I can feel them doing that, and it’s really sad. I’m ashamed of my calves once more. And of course — the most telling sign — when I wave my hand, what used to be my triceps now flips and flops worse than some current-day politicians. It’s really depressing, so I won’t go on.

Here’s how my typical day goes, and I’m sure it’s like this for many, many people. I get up from bed, where I’ve been lying down, and sit down to have breakfast. Then I sit in the car on the way to work, where I sit in my chair for 8-9 hours, only to walk out and sit in my car on the way home, where I sit down for dinner and sit at my desk for another 3-4 hours, working on consulting and personal projects. When my wife and I relax or visit with friends, we sit on couches. During the weekends, most of our time is spent sitting in church on Saturdays, or at home, with friends, at the movies, in restaurants, etc. There’s always something to do, but most of the time, it involves sitting. And it’s really easy to make excuses for not exercising. After all, there’s always something pressing: a deadline, an email, a project that needs finishing, a movie we’ve really been meaning to see, fatigue from overwork, malaise, etc. The reasons keep coming, they never stop, and that’s just it. We need to stop them! I need to put a stop to them! Because if I don’t, life will go on, and I’ll get flabbier and flabbier, till pretty soon, I’ll be a sorry shadow of what I once was, worn out and exhausted, dysmorphic, continually making excuses for something I could have changed a long time ago.

The point is, I did it to myself. Outside of a couple of things I had no control over, I am responsible for this. And I’m also responsible for turning things around. I can do it, but I need to stop making excuses.

As I write this, my sorry substitutes for pectorals and triceps are sore from a workout I did last night. My abs are still sore from a workout I did two days ago. Yes, it’s sad that it’s taking so long for my muscles to recover, but that’s a hole I dug for myself. I made a promise last night that I’m not going to let myself slip into pudginess and dysmorphism, and by golly, I’m going to keep it! Say it with me people, it’s not cool to be flab-ulous! 🙂 From now on, I’ll push work and personal pursuits aside for the sake of exercise.

The truth is, and it’s taken me a while to realize this, life gets busier as we get older. And if we don’t make time for exercise, if we don’t consider it as important as sleep, food and water, we’ll never be able to do it regularly. And when we don’t do it regularly, we get flabby, fat, overweight, obese, etc.

I’ll post updates from time to time on my progress. And if this inspires any of you out there in the same boat as me to start exercising, that’ll be wonderful!