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5778: A Year of Great Expectations

5778: A Year of Great Expectations[1]

 “From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out, …” – Patrick Lange – Winner Kona Ironman 2017

Parsha (Torah Portion) Noah in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

G‑d instructs Noah—the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption—to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch. A great deluge, says G‑d, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth; but the ark will float upon the water, sheltering Noah and his family, and two members (male and female) of each animal species. 

Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely—exactly one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood—G‑d commands Noah to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth.

Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G‑d. G‑d swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G‑d also commands Noah regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal. 

Noah plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is punished for taking advantage of his debasement.

The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy their Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility; G‑d confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations. 

The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noah to Abram (later Abraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to the land of Canaan.


Not planning to do my normal post-race Blog, my daughter Michaela commented that my Melbourne Marathon race number, 5778 is the current Jewish year. In Shule (synagogue) on this past Sabbath, Rabbi Noam Sendor commented that we all need to look back at this ‘marathon’ of Jewish festivals and take some inspiration, meaning and life lessons etc.

 “There is a quote in the Talmud that ‘when a mitzvah comes your way, run to do it at the first opportunity.’”

Many people have the custom that straight after Yom Kippur they start to put up their Sukkah to fulfil the quote above, but what else did I learn from this mitzvah? The goal of Sukkot is to take the spiritual experience of Yom Kippur and bring it down to the reality in which we live and to make it part of our everyday routine. If we hum and we ha, we do nothing.

A race is very different experience to a training run. It is a bit of a spiritual experience, and while the memories are fresh in my mind, I need to try bringing this experience into my training and planning or setting a goal for my next challenge?

After a tough training year and my forced break from training, I did not set a very high goal for this race. Normally, I potentially over-train for an event to make sure I am 110% prepared, but I was way more relaxed in my training and the pace I set in my training runs.

Before the race, I said to my mate Anthony Barnett that I was planning to run in the 3:40 or 3:50 group. He said that I was crazy and should join him and his running mate Neda Nahemoff in the 3:30 train. I had not really done a training run at 5mins/km pace or tested this pace on a run? “Embrace courage. // Crush life” – Robyn NYC  – So, against my better judgement I joined them and will share my experience and lessons:

  • Following a bad plan” – Matt Frazier (The No Meat Athlete[1]) – I think that this was key to me doing the time that I did start slowly and built up to a good steady pace rather than racing out the blocks. I have noticed that since coming back from my forced break that I have been able to hold a certain pace, but have battled when the pace speeds up or people surge. This I think was my undoing with about 3km’s to go. I am sure as my base builds I will get stronger, but understand that this all takes time and patience.
  • Even champs have a bad day – In Lance Armstrong’s Stages Podcast[2] that was a race re-cap of the Kona Ironman. In the podcast, Lance said that the previous year’s winner, Jan Frodeno was this year’s hero. Jan was reduced to stretching on the side of the road and walking 5km’s into the run. BUT he pushed on, finished, ‘honoured’ the race and his fellow competitors. (See Instagram post[3])Frodeno floor

 “It was a downright awful day,” he admitted. “Just when you think you’ve got this race figured out, it does a 180 on you and I guess it’s a tradition of our sport. So many guys out there are still fighting and fighting for a long time and it was my first taste of what some of the age groupers get to feel. Again, my respect for you guys has grown.” – Jan Frodeno

So what does this have to do with my experience… Well. At about 13km’s Anthony Barnett who has 10 x more experience than me, needed a toilet stop and said that he would catch up to us. Neda and I kept hoping that Ant would catch us, but unfortunately, he had a very bad day, and was unable to catch us, which was disappointing to us and very upsetting for Ant, but he persevered… You just never know how your body is going to respond on race day. No training or experience can prepare you for this…

  • On route, Neda’s neighbour and family were cheering her on, which was very exciting for her on her first marathon (Family – I was not expecting to see you, so don’t feel guilty). Neda ran so consistently and was able to pull away from me in the last few km’s and run under 3:30. Bumping into her neighbour the next morning at the pool, he said that Neda is very headstrong. So much to do with an endurance event is in the mind. I don’t think we fully understand how powerful our minds are and what we are capable of. (Yip I am thinking of David Goggins[4]).

“If you have ANY mental toughness, if you have any fraction of self-discipline; The ability to not want to do it, but still do it; If you can get through to doing things that you hate to do: on the other side is GREATNESS” – David Goggins

  • With about 6-8km’s to go in the race, I suddenly got so bloated (GI Issues). I was able to push on, but it is not very comfortable. “Unfortunately, what can result from a focused attempt to obtain carbohydrate calories for high fuel needs, is that your stomach becomes overfull and does not empty quickly or comfortably[5].” For years, I have been trying to get off the sport brand products without much success. Post-race on the Stages Podcast, I was listening to Lance’s discussions with triathlon greats, Mark Allen and Dave Scott. Dave provided unbelievable insights on nutrition and discussed these GI issues. Hopefully, with what I have learnt from the race and the advice of experts I am hoping this will put me in a better position for my next race. The answer may be avoiding sports bars and using salt tablets?
  • I noticed that there is a high correlation between highly structured training program prepared by an expert and race performance. I must congratulate some of IMG_1999my running buddies who followed these ‘crazy’ training programs an achieved unbelievable PB’s – Well done Daniel, Danny, Mark & Barak. Len B, you have inspired us all this year and I hope your injury is not too serious. What was just as inspiring was seeing so many Team Bear runners doing the Marathon. Well done to you all, especially first-time runner Evan Nathanson. There is one other person I need to congratulate – Adrian Godlewicz. I would not say he runs with us, as with a turn of speed he leaves us in his wake. Adrian has been very reluctant to do an organised race, so I was very surprised to see him at the start (he entered a few days before the race), but with his immense talent he was able to do his first marathon under 3hours.
  • Slightly off the topic, but very important is to thank people who have supported, guided and loved you during your training – Thanks, Loren. I have recently heard a few Podcasts featuring Esther Perel. Esther is an author, a psychotherapist and a self-described expert in relationships and sexuality. As an athlete, we can sometimes get selfish and forget about our family and spouses. One lesson I learnt from a recent Esther Perel Podcast with Mia Freedman[6], was that she said that what ‘turns a woman on’ is when she is removed from her ‘responsibility’ as a wife and a mother. So, as a husband, it is not about ‘helping’ with the dishes etc. , but taking ‘responsibility’ for the dishes, removing this burden from our spouses and giving them time to think about themselves and do something for themselves without this burden of ‘responsibility’.

To end a quote from Rabbi Meir Sendor[7] for the year ahead “May we all be blessed for the year ahead … – for a year of healing, prosperity, inspiration, creativity and closeness to Hashem and to each other.” Plus with good health, a healthy lifestyle and improved performance. BUT we need to remember that most of us will settle back into our routines, perhaps relieved that the Yom Tovs and marathons are over. So before you get too comfortable, remember all those resolutions, those goals and those ideas.

I just had to re-end with a lesson from Matt Frazier on the mistakes runners make “Actually, you know another big mistake people make? This one is sort of different… It’s that they don’t think running a marathon is possible for them. They think it takes a certain type of person to be able to run 26.2 miles (42.195kms).

Nope. Unless you have a serious medical condition, you can run a marathon. I mentioned earlier how I overcame injuries (that’s a story for another time) and have since run ultramarathons.”


[1] “Marathon mistakes = sad runners” – Matt Frazier – Email

[2] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/stages/id1254370585?mt=2

[3] Janfrodeno So this is where it all unravelled for me today. A pretty sudden muscle spasm locked my lower back up (SI joint) and it took me a good 10min to even be able to stretch it. Not sure if a nerve got some pressure or I need a spoon full of cement to harden up, but this was one of the more painful experiences I’ve had. After 5k of walking things started to loosen up and I could even get back to some jogging. But I guess that makes me one of many out there today who just had to honour this race and their fellow competitors by bringing it home. Until next time… (https://www.instagram.com/p/BaQjBIol0bV/?taken-by=janfrodeno )

[4] http://davidgoggins.com

[5] Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2005/09/training-center/nutrition/the-feed-zone-with-monique-ryan-that-bloated-feeling_8940#0lg1oS7oj9LAR5XF.99

[6] http://www.mamamia.com.au/podcast/no-filter-esther-perel/

[7] http://www.talorot.org/rain-dance/

[1] http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/5778-a-year-of-great-expectations/2017/09/20/

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Bitumen is Boring…

 

Try “green exercise” and take your workout outdoors.” – Sarah Berry[1]

I am going to keep this Blog very short, but I have had a few ideas to share.

In this period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we add some additional text to the silent Amidah[2]. These additions include the phrase “Remember us for life…”.

After doing a run/ race, I normally like to remember a few aspects and try to learn from the experience. Recently I did my first trail run, after being pushed by my mate Aubrey Levy to join him on a trail run in Anglesea on the beautiful Great Ocean Road. The experience is worth remembering. Below are a few points:

  • Bitumen is boring… – I noticed lots of competitors with this phrase on their shirts. I think this is more than just not running on boring black bitumen, but having more of an ‘experience’ for want of a better word. Look we did run on the beach, trails, sand roads, through water and over rocks.
  • Trail running is MUCH harder – There are a few reasons for this including:
    • Running on so many different surfaces;
    • Some of the hills climbs, stairs (up and down) are so difficult to both navigate and to get up. Normally I try not to walk in a race, but this rule does not apply on a trail run; and
    • You need to keep your concentration – going up, down or running on a flat, there are always obstacles, slippery or wet surfaces and there is always the chance for twisting your ankles or falling. Yip, I twisted my ankle, but was very lucky…
  • Can’t get too precious – On a normal run, I try to do all that I can to avoid my runners getting dirty. On this trail run within the first 300m, we had to run through a river on the beach – Yip the mix of sand and water!
  • The scenery is magnificent – What more can I say!
  • I was soo stiff a few days later – DOMS[3]

Nature nurtures the elemental inside of us. It really only takes getting outside and taking a walk on the wild side to experience the effects for ourselves.” – Sarah Berry[4]

In an article in the Herald Sun regarding the Melbourne Storm’s preliminary final win against the Broncos last week. The article mentioned 3 Things we learnt. I think that some of these lessons are very important for us all. The 3 things mentioned were:

  • Billy is brilliant;
  • Cooper Cronk is tough as; and
  • Finals football is survival of the fittest.

For me, the key point was about the great Billy Slater and how even after so many years in the game he still shows ‘unbridled enthusiasm’ and was ‘still going’ when no one else was. This epitomises a champion and on how he will one day be remembered.

The last thing I want to mention is to remember a few lessons that I learnt over Rosh Hashanah.

  • Rabbi Noam Sendor gave a brilliant Drasha on Avraham’s 10 tests and why different commentators include different tests and why the order of the tests differs. But for me the lesson from having the 10th test was this possibly extra test of “Abraham’s purchase of a burial plot for Sarah (ch. 23)” and the lesson that after going through Rosh Hashanah with these commitments and resolutions to improve ourselves, we now need to implement these into our everyday life. This is what Avraham did when he purchased the plot for Sarah, he knew he knew even after G-d many times promised him the Land of Israel, he was forced to spend an exorbitant amount in the purchase of a plot to bury his wife, but he still acted like a true gentleman.
  • In a brilliant article by HaRav Yehuda Amital z”l titled the ‘Sounds of Silence’. He talks about the fact that even though we cannot always convey our feelings, thoughts, desires and fears into words when we are praying, the power of concentrating while listening to the blowing the Shofar, is a conduit.

Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar’s call] is saying:  Wake up, sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.  (Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4)”

The Yom Kippur service will end with the blowing of the Shofar. The lesson from this blowing is that it is now time to celebrate. It’s been an otherworldly experience, and now we’ve come out the other end. The blowing of the shofar publicizes to all that the evening following Yom Kippur is a holiday, and it is now time to celebrate the closeness we’ve achieved and the forgiveness we’ve secured during this awesome day. Like soldiers returning triumphantly from battle, we blow the shofar to celebrate our victory over the prosecuting angel, a.k.a. the Satan and we can walk away, certain that we’ve been granted a sweet year.

To end I listened to a brilliant Podcast[5] featuring Dr Frank Lipman[6]. In the Podcast, he mentioned the Xhosa phrase Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]). He described the word to mean “What Makes us human is the humanity we show each other”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity“.

As we approach Yom Kippur, let us remember experiences, decisions and lessons that we have learnt. I love this lesson from the teachings of Maimonides[7] “…Rather, one should be easy to pacify and difficult to anger…”. In a Blog[8] post by Rabbi Marc Angel, he says “Yom Kippur can be just another external show of piety, or it can be a transformative occasion.” I think the decision is ours….

To end a quote from Rabbi Sacks[9] from last week’s Parsha Ha’azinu – “Moses does not exist in Judaism as an object of worship but as a role model for each of us to aspire to. … Moses continues to inspire.

 


[1] Sarah Berry lives and breathes her job as Lifestyle Health Editor for Fairfax Media. She is constantly putting her body on the line to test the latest health trends then delving into the science of why they do or don’t work.

[2] The word Amidah literally means standing, because it is recited while standing. It is also known as Shemoneh Esrei, meaning eighteen, because it originally consisted of eighteen blessings, and as tefilah (prayer) because it is the most important Jewish prayer.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

[4] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/does-nature-have-restorative-powers-when-it-comes-to-health-20170914-gyhkj9.html

[5] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mindbodygreen-podcast-motivational-interviews-covering/id1246494475?mt=2

[6] https://www.bewell.com/about/

[7] Maimonides provides another very important lesson in his Laws of Repentance (2:10)

[8] https://www.jewishideas.org/thoughts-yom-kippur-1

[9] http://rabbisacks.org/moses-man-haazinu-5777/

Just Do it (part 2)

 

Live a life filled with wonder and curiosity. Ask questions.” – DREW SAMS[1] [2]

Parsha (Torah Portion) Ki Tavo in a Nutshell – http://www.chabad.org

 Moses instructs the people of Israel: When you enter the land that G‑d is giving to you as your eternal heritage, and you settle it and cultivate it, bring the first-ripened fruits (bikkurim) of your orchard to the Holy Temple, and declare your gratitude for all that G‑d has done for you.

Our Parshah also includes the laws of the tithes given to the Levites and to the poor, and detailed instructions on how to proclaim the blessings and the curses on Mount Gerizim and Mount Eival—as discussed in the beginning of the Parshah of Re’eh. Moses reminds the people that they are G‑d’s chosen people, and that they, in turn, have chosen G‑d.

The latter part of Ki Tavo consists of the Tochachah (“Rebuke”). After listing the blessings with which G‑d will reward the people when they follow the laws of the Torah, Moses gives a long, harsh account of the bad things—illness, famine, poverty and exile—that shall befall them if they abandon G‑d’s commandments. 

Moses concludes by telling the people that only today, forty years after their birth as a people, have they attained “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.”

In my last Blog on Phil Knights autobiography, I did not include any inspiration from the weekly Parshas. I had a few ideas to share, and together with my reading over Shabbos, I would like to share a few thoughts on these ideas and their link to Phil’s book.

In last week’s Parsha, Ki Teitzei we learn about the rebellious son. The Gemorah teaches that there will never be the case of this rebellious son. So why is it in the Torah? The answer given is that it is in the Torah for us to study and to get reward for studying. Different Rabbi’s learn different ideas from this, including teaching about parenting and how far a kid can go off the tracks, but Rav Yisroel Salanter[3] teaches that the primary reason is that we are commanded to do so. As the old Nike commercial used to say: “Just Do It.” Sometimes, you just must dive into the experience to get something out of it. Our reward is attained from this elevated purpose in learning Torah.

I love this quote from ex-swimmer Stephanie Rice on a Podacst[4] – “You delusional to think that you can make changes without personal development

 In a beautiful Blog[5] from Rabbi Meir Sendor on the mitzvah to send the mother bird away to take the eggs or the chick. According to Maimonides, the purpose of this mitzvah is to avoid causing emotional pain to the mother bird, so she is shooed away so she doesn’t see us taking her offspring – since animals feel love and anxiety for their children just as humans do. In the Blog, he asks if we should for the sake of a Mitzvah chase away the mother bird to touch the eggs or the chicks to fulfil the commandment? I loved the response from Rabbi Barukh Epstein in his Torah commentary Torah Temimah.  Rabbi Barukh Epstein argues that to harass the mother bird in the name of symbolic theurgy when you don’t want the chicks or eggs loses sight of the meaning of the mitzvah and turns it upside-down, from a principle of compassion to an act of cruelty.

““Enjoy life!”, “Just do it!”, and “Live it up!” are all catch-phrases and slogans of Western culture. That culture calls for people to do whatever they please in order to enjoy life without thinking of the future consequences. Western culture lives for the present. On the other hand, the Jewish approach is to always look towards the future. Before a person performs any given action he is expected to thoroughly contemplate whether its outcome will bring about something positive or not, and then act accordingly.” – Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein[6]

In a deeply impactful Drasha from Rabbi Noam Sendor, talking about the role of Modern Orthodoxy (Modern Orthodoxy has an ideology of joining the best of Western civilization with a commitment to Jewish law and traditional Jewish values.) and the difficulties of being Modern Orthodox. As a Modern Orthodox Jew, we don’t always see things as black and white and are challenged by several worldly issues like human rights, Zionism, feminism, the environment and social justice.

Everyone has their complaints “the school is too religious, but not spiritual…”the school is very close minded and does not teach about sustainability…” etc. etc.

It is much easier to avoid the real issues than to face up to them. At the very least we should be able to identify and reject these confusing disturbances.” – Rabbi Wein[7]

The words at the start of last week’s Parsha, Ki Teitzei means “When you go out”. It is talking about going to war. The Medrash says that the battle referred to here is a milchemes hayetzer, a battle against the Evil Inclination. When we preempt the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination), we are far more successful at outsmarting ‘him’ than when we wait for ‘him’ to launch the first strike, which catches us unaware and ill-prepared to fight ‘him’ off. In a brilliant talk from Rabbi Menachem Woolf (from SpiritGrow), he teaches that we are all going out to battle, the battle to refine ourselves, the battle to choose right & wrong, the battle to not stoop to the level of our enemies, the battle to consider other and the battle to make ethical decisions.

“It’s about the relationship between faith, consumerism and environmentalism.” – Rich Roll

I would like to share some thoughts from Rabbi Wein[8] on the month of Elul. Elul has always been portrayed as a time of introspection. As we prepare for the coming good and blessed year, we should also stop to consider the occurrences and events of the past year. The new year is an uncharted mystery to all of us. But whatever it will bring, understanding and appreciate the lessons of the old year will certainly be helpful. All of us made mistakes this past year and we pray that the holy day of Yom Kippur will again wipe the slate clean for us. Nevertheless, we should recognize those errors that were made and resolve not to repeat them during the coming year. We should strengthen family bonds, even with those with whom we may disagree personally or ideologically. We should be much more tolerant of all sections of our society, be less judgmental and refrain from imposing our standards and behaviour patterns upon others. At the same time, we should strengthen our loyalty to the Torah and to the observance of its commandments.

I think that the “…real and meaningful goal of Torah life[9]” is for each of us to take the first step, from the place that we are today, at this moment. If we don’t know the message from Judaism, we at least know it from NIKE in their advertisements, “Just do it” – We need to fortify our commitment to Jewish life, the basic norms of Torah morality and to consider others, the environment & human rights.

In a Podcast[10] with Senior Pastor & Head of Staff at Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Drew Sams. Drew talks about choices and the difference between choosing based on preference and based on our responsibility. He says that People think that sustainability, social rights etc. is a Preference, but he says that it is a Responsibility.

I will end with a thought from this week’s Parsha and from Rabbi Gannen. This Week’s Parsha Ki Tavo, includes the words Ki Tavo which mean “when you enter”. I think that we can all enter the new year as a better person if we “Just Do It” and make the right decisions. In a Drasha from Rabbi Gannen, titled “As we come close to Rosh Hashanah[11]” – He talks about making decisions, knowing our struggles and challenges making the right decision, not making decisions to get approval from others, understanding what is the right thing to do and understanding what Hashem wants from us before making decisions.

May G-d grant us the serenity to accept the things which truly cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Rabbi Shneur[12]

[1] https://www.facebook.com/surferdrew

[2] Dr Drew Sams, senior pastor and head of staff at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yisroel_Salanter

[4] https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/humans-of-purpose-podcast/id1205858107?mt=2

[5] http://us14.campaign-archive2.com/?e=0a9b496929&u=a3ff8e0ceaa6f59af296da05e&id=34e7758267

[6] https://www.ohr.edu/7485

[7] http://www.rabbiwein.com/blog/post-2021.html

[8] http://www.rabbiwein.com/blog/post-1668.html

[9] http://us14.campaign-archive2.com/?e=0a9b496929&u=a3ff8e0ceaa6f59af296da05e&id=34e7758267

[10] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/drew-sams/

[11] https://soundcloud.com/beit-halevi/rabbi-menachem-channen-coming-close-to-rosh-hashanah

[12] https://thearkcentre.org.au/septemeber-2017-parshat-ki-tetze/

Shoe Dog

I love this quote as I am always trying to think of ideas for my Blog.

I’m never not working on material. Every second of my existence I’m thinking, can I do something with that?” —Jerry Seinfeld


Torah Parsha (Portion) Ki Teitzei in a Nutshell – www.chabad.org

Seventy-four of the Torah’s 613 commandments (mitzvot) are in the Parshah of Ki Teitzei. These include the laws of the beautiful captive, the inheritance rights of the firstborn, the wayward and rebellious son, burial and dignity of the dead, returning a lost object, sending away the mother bird before taking her young, the duty to erect a safety fence around the roof of one’s home, and the various forms of kilayim (forbidden plant and animal hybrids).

Also recounted are the judicial procedures and penalties for adultery, for the rape or seduction of an unmarried girl, and for a husband who falsely accuses his wife of infidelity. The following cannot marry a person of Jewish lineage: a mamzer (someone born from an adulterous or incestuous relationship); a male of Moabite or Ammonite descent; a first- or second-generation Edomite or Egyptian. 

Our Parshah also includes laws governing the purity of the military camp; the prohibition against turning in an escaped slave; the duty to pay a worker on time, and to allow anyone working for you—man or animal—to “eat on the job”; the proper treatment of a debtor, and the prohibition against charging interest on a loan; the laws of divorce (from which are also derived many of the laws of marriage); the penalty of thirty-nine lashes for transgression of a Torah prohibition; and the procedures for yibbum (“levirate marriage”) of the wife of a deceased childless brother, or chalitzah (“removing of the shoe”) in the case that the brother-in-law does not wish to marry her. 

Ki Teitzei concludes with the obligation to remember “what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt.”


In ancient Greek religion, Nike (/ˈnaɪki/; Greek: Νίκη, “Victory”, Ancient Greek: [nǐːkɛː]) was a goddess who personified victory.

This is the first time this has happened. I started a Blog with an idea to talk about a few ‘ideas’ and link these ‘ideas’ to Phil Knights autobiography, “Shoe Dog”. BUT, I was battling to bring it all together, so instead of giving up I will do my Blog on lessons I have learnt from this amazing book and share some insights from others. Phil Knight is the founder of Nike. I must say that it was one of the best autobiographies that I have ever read. To me, it was like reading a suspense thriller that you could not put down.

“An Honest Tale of What It Takes to Succeed in Business” – Bill Gates

Sometimes Our “Crazy Ideas” Are the Best Ones[1]

At the beginning of the book, Knight refers to his shoe company idea as his “crazy idea”.

But for him, it was the only idea worth pursuing. He didn’t want to follow the trend and work for somebody else. He wanted to build his own thing.

We don’t get burned out by what we do… We get burned out because we forget why we’re doing it.” – Jon Gordon[2]

Prepare Yourself for the Journey[3]

As Phil Knight discovered again and again, entrepreneurship is far from an easy path. It’s a journey of ups and downs, and there is almost never 100% certainty. What’s more, you’re responsible for your own success.

Your business is always on your mind, and you’ll always feel like there’s more you can do.

Plus, there are the big risks involved, like running out of money, legal trouble, etc. (which Phil Knight ran into a few times thanks to some of his dishonest competitors).

You have to love this journey. You just have to love being in the middle of the cyclone, to face what seems unsolvable, every single day.

Shoe Dog, …… is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. In fact, the only thing that seems inevitable in page after page of Knight’s story is that his company will end in failure.” – Bill Gates[4]

In a recent Podcast I listened to, they were talking about Passion and it was interesting to read that the meaning/ root of the word is to suffer (Passion- root is suffering – “The word passion comes from Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Thus, compassion means to suffer-with: the compassionate aren’t immune to other people’s pain. And passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched.) Phil and his team were so passionate about the journey and the brand that I suppose, they knew that there would be a level of suffering along the way.

Culture is More Important Than Talent[5]

“Nike Inc.’s organizational culture supports business resilience and capability. Organizational culture is the combination of traditions, habits, values, and behavioural expectations among employees” – Nike

Knight mentioned a few times how he kept hiring accountants and those who were good with numbers. But every person he hired had a love for the business of making shoes. Every one of them had a passion for athletics, even if they weren’t athletes themselves. They pushed harder when most people would quit. They uprooted their lives for the sake of the company.

In most cases, Knight let his team do their thing without trying to tell them how they should do it. I think that in and of itself is one of the characteristics that define a true entrepreneur. (I think that means he never micro-managed)

“What I identified most with from his story were the odd mix of employees Knight pulled together to help him start his company. Among them, a former track star paralysed after a boating accident, an overweight accountant, and a salesman who obsessively wrote letters to Knight (to which Knight never responded).” – Bill Gates

If you hire people for their values, you can teach them what to do. It’s the “how” that our values often dictate.

Culture is one of the biggest keys to Nike’s success.

As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to build a winning culture within your company. This goes back to hiring people with the right values, as well as your style of management.

Cash is KING[6]

Firstly: cash is all that matters. Cash buys time, no cash buys death.” – Adir Shiffman[7], Adir Shiffman is executive chairman of Catapult Sports and a serial investor and entrepreneur.

The unfortunate flip side to Nike’s obsession with growth is that before its IPO, the company nearly always appeared broke because it was investing every spare dollar back into the business. With a cash pile that was never enough to cover its bills, the company grew dependent on ever more creative and desperate ways of paying for its large inventory orders:

“… we weren’t broke, we just had no money. Lots of assets, no cash….. I was forever pushing my conservative bankers to the brink, forcing them into a game of chicken. I’d order a number of shoes that seemed to them to be absurd, a number we’d need to stretch to pay for, and I’d always just barely pay for them, in the nick of time, and then just barely pay our other monthly bills, at the last minute, always doing just enough, and no more, to prevent the bankers from booting us. And then, at the end of the month, I’d empty our accounts to pay Nissho and start from zero again..” – Phil Knight

For years on end, Nike played this circular game, the business equivalent of living pay check to pay check. But somehow, the company managed to just barely avert disaster many times over. Fortunately for Knight and company, Nike would finally go public just a few years later.

Always have a plan B[8]

One of Knight’s most important lessons came when he learned that his sole shoe supplier, Onitsuka (ASIC), was going behind his back to cut him off and work with other US distributors. Knight was the original distributor of ASIC’s in the USA. As soon as he found out, he started working on a plan B: to produce his own line of shoes.

Knight’s partners and staff were always thinking of new ideas that helped athletes. Before the NIKE brand was started, he was giving these ideas to Onitsuka. When he decided to start his own brand, they already had ideas on how to make a better shoe.

The way to stay ahead was through product innovation. We happened to be great at it.” – Phil Knight

His story is a lesson in Commitment

In a brilliant Podcast[9] featuring former Nike employee and Strava Board member, Sarah Robb O’Hagan[10],  she talks about her time at Nike and how much she loved Phil’s book and said that everyone should read the book. His story is a lesson in Commitment, not with the only idea with exit strategy.

Nike is a world class leader at disrupting themselves, constantly on-boarding new people, with an unbelievable culture. Take away” – Sarah Robb O’Hagan

To be a great sustaining company, you have new thinking but never lose sight or roots and heritage. The brand is anchored by heritage story and culture. She says that what has kept Nike brand from not stagnating is innovation and serving the needs of the athletes. She goes onto to say that Nike UNDERSTANDS the consumer (They don’t concentrate on the competition). Their job is to solve problems for the consumer/ the athlete.

3 keys to a great season

In a Podcast[11] featuring Jon Gordon[12], the author of “The Energy Bus”. Jon is an American author and speaker on the topics of leadership, culture, sales, and teamwork.  In the Podcast, he talks about 3 keys to a great season for an NFL player. These are not only applicable to an athlete but to Nike, other companies and entrepreneurs:

  • Be positive/ optimistic – “Positivity is like a boomerang. The more we put it out there, the more it comes back to us.” — Jon Gordon;
  • Stay connected as a team – “You need to work as hard to be a great teammate as you do to be a great player” – Jon Gordon; and
  • Grit/ stay the course. – “Everybody wants the quick fix, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be willing to put it out there. I call it ‘the secret to being an overnight success,’ which means there really isn’t a such thing as an overnight success. ! The secret is you work really hard for 10 years, and then you become an overnight success.” — Jon Gordon

In the Podcast he talks about the ‘inside out approach’ (The Inside-Out approach is guided by the belief that the inner strengths and capabilities of the organisation will make the organisation prevail.). I think this is very relevant to the way that Phil Knight ran Nike by continuously focussing on their strengths.

Jon is a very big supporter of culture and mentions how culture impacts companies. He says that businesses need to “focus on culture” as “culture drives behaviour”.

I will end with a few good quotes.

The way to stay ahead was through product innovation. We happened to be great at it.” – Phil Knight

We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.” “Play by the rules, but be ferocious.” – Phil Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.business2community.com/books/5-lessons-entrepreneurs-can-learn-shoe-dog-memoir-nikes-founder-01791009#qpCOUEkXvhUrxqf5.97

[2] Jon Gordon is an American author and speaker on the topics of leadership, culture, sales, and teamwork.

[3] http://www.business2community.com/books/5-lessons-entrepreneurs-can-learn-shoe-dog-memoir-nikes-founder-01791009

[4] https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Shoe-Dog

[5] https://openmerit.com/blog/learn-from-phil-knight-nike

[6] https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/01/14/3-lessons-for-entrepreneurs-from-nike-shoe-dog-phi.aspx

[7] https://amp-afr-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.afr.com/technology/the-time-i-ran-my-startup-out-of-cash-and-what-i-learnt-20170816-gxx6lh

[8] http://www.thegeniusworks.com/2017/05/secrets-shoe-dog-i-learnt-business-nikes-co-founder-phil-knight/

[9] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/flywheel-ceo-sarah-robb-o-hagan-on-getting-fired-success-vulnerability-mbg-podcas

[10] https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-robb-o-hagan-249130/

[11] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/jon-gordon/

[12] http://www.jongordon.com

Critical Reflection

 “Love is giving someone the power to destroy you…but trusting them not to” – Paulo Coelho[1]

When we fight, if we hold on to our dignity and honour, even if we lose we will never be defeated, because our soul is intact.” – Paulo Coelho


Torah Parsha (Portion) Re’eh in a Nutshell www.chabad.org

“See,” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse”—the blessing that will come when they fulfil G‑d’s commandments, and the curse if they abandon them. These should be proclaimed on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal when the people cross over into the Holy Land. 

A Temple should be established in “the place that G‑d will choose to make dwell His name there,” where the people should bring their sacrifices to Him; it is forbidden to make offerings to G‑d in any other place. It is permitted to slaughter animals elsewhere, not as a sacrifice but to eat their meat; the blood (which in the Temple is poured upon the altar), however, may not be eaten. 

A false prophet, or one who entices others to worship idols, should be put to death; an idolatrous city must be destroyed. The identifying signs for kosher animals and fish, and the list of non-kosher birds (first given in Leviticus 11), are repeated. 

A tenth of all produce is to be eaten in Jerusalem, or else exchanged for money with which food is purchased and eaten there. In certain years this tithe is given to the poor instead. Firstborn cattle and sheep are to be offered in the Temple, and their meat is eaten by the kohanim (priests). 

The mitzvah of charity obligates a Jew to aid a needy fellow with a gift or loan. On the Sabbatical year (occurring every seventh year), all loans are to be forgiven. All indentured servants are to be set free after six years of service. 

Our Parshah concludes with the laws of the three pilgrimage festivals—Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot—when all should go to “see and be seen” before G‑d in the Holy Temple.


“Eight years after the breakup of Oasis – Which was definitely not his fault – Liam Gallagher is finally ready to take on the role of solo artist” – Hamish MacBain (Saturday Good Weekend[2])

How often has a boss, a spouse, a friend, a colleague, a mentor, a stranger and even your child been critical of what you have done, said or written? None of us like being criticised, being told what to do or accepting responsibility when involved in a dispute. Look, on rare occasions, people may have an alternative reason to criticize, but most times people are pointing out an error, trying to help us or to break bad habits. Most people may view what we are doing differently and constructively want to help.

Change brings with it renewed sense of vigour and motivation” – Psychologist Sasha Lynn[3]

A few weeks back I did a Blog. There was something that I had written that I knew may offend, but decided to include. The person called me and we discussed what I had written, and I made a change. She was in no ways upset with me, but I did want comment and feedback. Only through feedback will I be able to improve my blog, improve my demeanour or behaviour or grow as a person. I often read the Modern Guru in The Age, Dr Joanna McMillan’s “My Day on a Plate” column or other question forums and wonder if people take notice of the advice or criticism that they are given??? 

I’m relieved the main point of contention between you and your wife is flushing the toilet – Jessica Rowe (Dear Jess – Sunday Life Magazine[4])

In an insight, I read on a Gemara[5] (Sanhedrin 19a) from the Daf Yomi. The Gemara expounds and teaches: “Adorn yourself (strive to perfect your own character) before you look to adorn others.” When someone is being criticized, he should not reverse the focus and question the one delivering the words of rebuke, but he should rather consider the worthiness of the words themselves and whether they are justified or of value. If there is truth to the matter, he should hearken to their call and should accept them. Maybe it is people nature to respond defensively by questioning or arguing…OR it may be that the person rebuking is not doing it in a nice way. I have learnt that often it is the tone or way that you rebuke can make a difference.

There may be times that you are criticised for in effect a good character trait, that possibly you push the boundaries with, like being a perfectionist and people tell you to “relax”. “The more people that tell you this, though, the more frustrated you get.” – Megan Blandford[6]. Are they wrong???

In a brilliant Dvar Torah from Rabbi Dr Tzvi Hersh Weinreb[7] on this week's Torah Parsha Re’eh titled “How’m I Doing?” – We read at length about false prophets. The false prophet not only gives false guarantees about the future, complacently predicting peace and tranquillity but assures the people that they are doing nothing wrong, that they need not change their behaviour. The false prophet gives no feedback. “For feedback to truly be effective, it needs to be solicited. That is, the recipient of the feedback must ask the observer to tell him how he is doing. This signals a readiness to receive criticism, to modify one’s behaviour, and to change. Without that readiness, feedback is (or maybe) doomed to failure.

Feedback or criticism also needs to be specific….

Human nature is such that it is the rare person who asks for feedback, and that few of us are comfortable in delivering criticism. However constructive and well-intended, it is hard to give feedback to another person. We are afraid of confrontation, of possibly embarrassing the other, and so we avoid giving feedback even at the cost of assisting the other to change in a positive way.

And yet, there is nothing more helpful to anyone learning a new task than to have feedback delivered to him or her in a useful, nonjudgmental, constructive manner. As the Talmud puts it, “No one has ever mastered Torah study without having first erred and made mistakes.” Mastery is only achieved when mistakes are pointed out to the student so that he can correct them.”

There are times when you do need to stand up for your values and go into battle for what you believe will benefit everyone. It amazes me how some of these sports stars and team managers, like Arsene Wenger (I am a very loyal Arsenal Fan), take all this criticism but stick to their guns, keep their jobs and continue to manage the teams on THEIR terms. It makes you wonder that if maybe they would change, listen or even step away from a position, would things at the club change? (or do they take the advice from the Modern Guru (Danny Katz)[8] – “Never. Defy the haters. Stay Bold and push hard…”) I noticed a nice quote from radio personality and comic, Jo Stanley[9] in the Sunday Age that shares a similar message “So for the good of my daughter, I'm going to get more selfish. I'm going to stand my ground, fight for my way, sometimes just for the sake of winning. I'm certain she'll end up with better life skills, better relationships – and, we can only hope, better musical taste.”

I must say that sometimes there are people who just want to fight and criticise without a reason. This week filling up with petrol, I had a guy hooting and screaming at me because I did not go to the front petrol pump. I explained that I could not use 91 Petrol and the front pump did not have 98 Petrol and could not move forward, but he just continued shouting and pointing. I just thought WHY??? The only thing you learn is how not to criticise and to try to keep your cool.

People may criticise us for being inconsistent with our values. In a Podcast with Greg Steltenpohl[10] on the MBG Podcast[11]. Jason Wachob asked Greg for one lesson that I think is a very good way to avoid being criticised “Practice what you preach.

In a brilliant Podcast/ YouTube[12] by Rabbi Sacks titled “Lessons in Leadership – Responses for the Harvard Business School's Executive Education Programme”, he answers leadership related questions. In one of the questions – How did you discover your strengths and passions? He explains that only through critique, both in a positive and negative way was he able to get an understanding of his strengths and passions. “Failures… maybe… nudges to say you in the wrong territory” – Rabbi Sacks

Instead of concluding, I will end with a few good quotes…

I have to add this quote from Cain Sellers who commented on my blog. I think it sums it up "Praise has value, criticism is unmeasurable, without it we cannot move forward, repair, correct and evolve :)"

Who do you spend time with? Criticizers or encourages? Surround yourself with those who believe in you. Your life is too important for anything less.” – Steve Goodier[13]

 “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

 

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Coelho

[2]http://www.theage.com.au/good-weekend/why-liam-gallagher-is-finally-ready-to-take-on-the-role-of-a-solo-artist-20170802-gxnq47.html

[3]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/breaking-your-routine-can-be-just-as-beneficial-as-resting-20170810-gxtium.html

[4]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/dear-jess-how-can-i-balance-my-own-space-when-supporting-my-depressed-housemate-20170803-gxolnx.html

[5] The Gemara (also transliterated Gemora, Gemarah, or, less commonly, Gemorra; from Hebrew גמרא‎, from the Aramaic verb gamar, study) is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah.

[6]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/parenting/how-letting-going-of-perfectionism-made-me-a-better-mother-20170801-gxn1hk.html

[7]https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/rabbi-weinreb-on-parsha/reeh-how-m-i-doing/

[8]http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/modern-guru[9]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/jo-stanley-we-need-to-teach-kids-life-doesnt-always-go-our-way-20170803-gxoiwe.html[10]https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/17/business/greg-steltenpohl-califia-farms-odwalla.html[11]https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/greg-steltenpohl-interview-mindbodygreen-podcast[12]http://rabbisacks.org/lessons-in-leadership/

[13]http://stevegoodier.blogspot.com.au

#LifeChanging

“A few things I know to be true: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Life is as beautiful as it is hard, and there is always a new hardship or challenge around the corner. I’ve often held onto my child-like demeanour in waiting for someone to hold my hand before it feels safe to cross the road. I’ve longed for the support of the crowd before signing my name on the dotted line. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

My alter-ego has jumped out of planes, leapt from bungee cords, and taken risks where the safer and expected choice would be to nap in my designated box. My take away from it all — no one will believe in you more than yourself. Don’t let the darkness snuff out your fire. Stop waiting for approval and hold on to that stubborn voice that tells you, “Burn, baby, burn.”” – Kathryn Budig[1]

Torah Parsha (Portion) Eikev in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org

In the Parshah of Eikev (“Because”), Moses continues his closing address to the children of Israel, promising them that if they will fulfill the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah, they will prosper in the Land they are about to conquer and settle in keeping with G‑d’s promise to their forefathers.

Moses also rebukes them for their failings in their first generation as a people, recalling their worship of the Golden Calf, the rebellion of Korach, the sin of the spies, their angering of G‑d at Taveirah, Massah and Kivrot Hataavah (“The Graves of Lust”). “You have been rebellious against G‑d,” he says to them, “since the day I knew you.” But he also speaks of G‑d’s forgiveness of their sins, and the Second Tablets which G‑d inscribed and gave to them following their repentance.

Their forty years in the desert, says Moses to the people, during which G‑d sustained them with daily manna from heaven, was to teach them “that man does not live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G‑d’s mouth does man live.”

Moses describes the land they are about to enter as “flowing with milk and honey,” blessed with the “seven kinds” (wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olive oil and dates), and as the place that is the focus of G‑d’s providence of His world. He commands them to destroy the idols of the land’s former masters, and to beware lest they become haughty and begin to believe that “my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.”

A key passage in our Parshah is the second chapter of the Shema, which repeats the fundamental mitzvot enumerated in the Shema’s first chapter, and describes the rewards of fulfilling G‑d’s commandments and the adverse results (famine and exile) of their neglect. It is also the source of the precept of prayer and includes a reference to the resurrection of the dead in the messianic age.

This week I decided to join some friends riding in the Dandenongs. I was a bit hesitant to join some of the A-Team riders as I am still in the process of getting back into riding, have not climbed a hill in over 3 months and definitely have not climbed nearly 1600m of hills in the Dandenongs. Brad said “Ian, we will take it easy on the climbs” I really took it easy on the climbs and enjoyed the morning riding #ProHours. Brad killed me on the last 11km climb from Montrose, but I am sure I will be stronger for the experience… There is this unbelievable feeling you get riding through the beautiful Nongs. I just love the massive trees and giant tree ferns. It is so therapeutic. It is a time to get out into the country, think and clear your mind. It is a #happyplace

Driving to the Nongs I was listening to a Podcast with Kathryn Budig. Kathryn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher and author. In the Podcast she talks about stripping for a nude photo shoot with acclaimed yoga photographer Jasper Johal[2]. In the shoot, she had to do various yoga poses. After being very nervous at the start she realised that her nude body was just a ‘meat suit’ with little appendages and talks about the experience as being her most liberating and empowering experience ever. The experience enabled her to feel totally comfortable in her body.

In Ryan Holiday’s weekly e-mail[3] this week he tells the story of French nobleman named Michel de Montaigne was given up as dead after being flung from a galloping horse in late 1569.

As his friends carried his limp and bloodied body home, Montaigne watched his own life slip away, like some dancing spirit on the “tip of his lips,” only to have it return at the last possible second.

This sublime and unusual experience marked the moment Montaigne changed his life. Within a few years, he would be one of the most famous writers in Europe. After his accident, Montaigne went on to write volumes of popular essays, serve two terms as mayor, travel internationally as a dignitary, and serve as a confidante of the king.

Ryan goes on to say the truth is we don’t need a near-death experience or a cancer-scare to tap into this energy. We can access it right now—and there is great power in doing so.

This was Kathryn’s and Montaigne’s life changing experiences. Riding in the Nong’s was not life changing, but therapeutic, so good and a time to #smelltheroses. I was trying to think of some of my own life changing experiences?

Instead of writing about my life changing experiences, I am asking us all to think about these experiences, why they were life changing and what impact have these changes had on our lives? Kathryn Budig’s new book “Aim True” is described as “..this guide is as beautiful as it is life-changing.” Recipes have been described as being life changing like the Life Changing Bread[4] (Which we have tried).

Reading a nice Dvar Torah from Rabbi Daniel Epstein[5][6]. He says that in this week’s Parsha Moshe continues his farewell address to the Jewish people. He reminds them not to trample on the “smaller ” commandments with their heel. 

Judaism is about relationships. Our relationships with each other and with G-d. Moshe instructs the people that relationships are based on the small details, the little or “smaller” things.

Rabbi Konig gives an analogy. When you go outside barefoot to take out the garbage, what hurts the most is a tiny little pebble that goes under your foot. In life we don’t trip over mountains we stumble on pebbles.

In our relationships, hopefully, we remember the big events, birthdays, anniversaries. It is the small things like writing notes to each other or knowing a person’s favourite dinner that creates a fulfilling relationship. The day to day stuff. 

The little things are the true expression of our love. This week’s Parsha contains part of the text of the Shema which we recite every day. Relationships are not all about life changing events, they are about small gestures of gratitude repeated daily so that the other person knows we care. This is what the Shema is, a few “Small” paragraphs recited daily, the real backbone of our relationship with G-d.

“There are those who say that the root of the Hebrew word for “test” (nisayon) is nes, meaning a high pole. It is the test that elevates the person.”- RABBI SHMUEL RABINOWITZ[7]

[1] http://kathrynbudig.com

[2] https://jasperphoto.myshopify.com/pages/about

[3] https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2017/08/heres-why-you-should-think-about-death-every-day/

[4] https://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/

[5] http://www.danstorah.com/eikev

[6] http://www.danstorah.com/eikev

[7] http://www.jpost.com/Not-Just-News/Parshat-Ekev-Difficulties-in-life-impetus-for-growth-466056

Magic-Bullet Mentality

Want the take home message? It’s far more important to listen to your body than trends. If you want to get healthier, don’t cut out whole food groups to be healthy. Simply cook more👩‍🍳. You’ll naturally eat less sugar, salt, additives… even just one or two more meals a week makes a difference.[1]” – nude_nutritionist[2] (Lyndi Cohen)

Torah Parsha (Portion) Va’etchanan in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org

Moses tells the people of Israel how he implored G‑d to allow him to enter the Land of Israel, but G‑d refused, instructing him instead to ascend a mountain and see the Promised Land.

Continuing his “review of the Torah,” Moses describes the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of the Torah, declaring them unprecedented events in human history. “Has there ever occurred this great thing, or has the likes of it ever been heard? Did ever a people hear the voice of G‑d speaking out of the midst of the fire . . . and live? . . . You were shown, to know, that the L‑rd is G‑d . . . there is none else beside Him.”

Moses predicts that in future generations the people will turn away from G‑d, worship idols, and be exiled from their land and scattered amongst the nations; but from there they will seek G‑d, and return to obey His commandments.

Our Parshah also includes a repetition of the Ten Commandments, and the verses of the Shema, which declare the fundamentals of the Jewish faith: the unity of G‑d (“Hear O Israel: the L‑rd our G‑d, the L‑rd is one”); the mitzvot to love G‑d, to study His Torah, and to bind “these words” as tefillin on our arms and heads, and inscribe them in the mezuzot affixed on the doorposts of our homes.

 

As I have often said – I am no nutritionist! I suppose you are waiting for the but….

People continuously complain that models on the catwalks are too thin, this week on TV they were complaining that companies were now using obese models and this was sending a bad message. They either too thin or obese…  Why the extremes?  Why do we always complain?

Last week running one of my buddies was talking about someone who said that he trains hard so that he can eat whatever he likes. I was thinking that this is truly crazy diet advice?

Every year I see a list of the best and worst diets for the year[3]. Sometimes I think to myself who in their right minds would try some of these diets! In the press and in marketing often diets make mention of “celebrities” using! I noticed in the Sunday Age Newspaper, in the Trends Up and Down section a trend on the UP, is Ketogenics (the high-fat, low carb diet that is a HIT with celebrities and our friend N). What do some of these celebrities know about health and nutrition? I know N  is doing a lot of research on the diet and even asked me for advice? Me……N what do I know?

Experts criticise the XXX and XXX diets, in particular, for being ‘fad diets’ that unnecessarily wipe out entire food groups. These diets perform poorly because they are too restrictive and are not easily sustainable in the long term[4].”

 Over the last few years there has been a growing trend of LOW CARB[5] diets including Atkins, Paleo, Tim Noakes’s Banting diet and now the CSIRO[6] low carb diet. While reading Tim Ferriss Book “Tools of Titans”, I was reading in a section about Charles Poliquin and something he called a “Slow Carb Diet”. This sounded brilliant. Loren and I decided to do some research on this diet. My father who had put on a lot of weight wanted to lose weight. What we found in a lot of research is that several diets were descriptive and not prescriptive, so we decided to design our own diet that was very prescriptive for my Dad. He needed all his meals, portion sizes and options set out clearly. The result was that he has lost over 12kg and is still doing the diet (well done Dad!). Loren has given the diet to others who are using it successfully. Yip, maybe there is a business in the diet….

BUT, why I am mentioning this is that there are healthy diets that make sense and the research stacks up, but then some people take some of these diets too far. They are extreme and potentially unhealthy. The Paleo diet of today differs significantly from Yuval Noah Harari’s description of a “hunter-gatherer” diet in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, where he describes that these hunter/ gatherers ate (Before agriculture and industry, humans presumably lived as hunter–gatherers: picking berry after berry off of bushes; digging up tumescent tubers; chasing mammals to the point of exhaustion; scavenging meat, fat and organs from animals that larger predators had killed; and eventually learning to fish with lines and hooks and hunt with spears, nets, bows and arrows). In it, he argues that hunters-gatherers before the arrival of agriculture had few needs and could easily satisfy themselves with what he calls “a marvellously varied diet“.

This is purely my opinion that when you read articles about a few other diets and trends, you say, what the Fxxx!

  • Protein Pacing is staggering your protein intake throughout the day, and trying to increase your daily protein intake above the daily recommended amount;
  • Ketosis is when your body reaches a state of being completely fuelled by fat. There are some benefits, but there are many side effects and it is not healthy to be in a constant state of ketosis. (There are experts on Ketosis who know MUCH more than me. This includes Dom D’Agostino[7] and Charles Poliquin[8], who I have read about, but all information I have read or listened to talks about some of the dangers.); and
  • Crazy detox diets like – Lemon Detox Diet, SkinnyMe tea, and the Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge Diet. Experts say that “…you don’t need to go on a severe detox because your body has an inbuilt detox system – the lungs, liver, and kidneys working every minute of the day[9].”; and
  • Intermittent Fasting[10] – Although some research suggests that it can be an effective way to lose weight, and although some swear by it, I discourage the practice, especially for endurance athletes. Some reasons are – It’s not normal and fat burning is overrated. In interesting research done during Ramadan – “On average, the subjects’ 5000-meter performance dropped by 5 percent between the beginning and the end of that month intermittent fasting.

I noticed a statement[11] from the first of the seven Lubavitcher Rebbes that is so true – He said, “Sometimes the long road gets you to your destination faster than the short trail, which will delay your journey.”

Then there are the diets that, may be a bit of a kick-start, but are in no ways maintainable in the longer. The worst listed diet in the diets I mentioned above is the Whole30 diet. (The Whole30 is a 30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets.) The story of the founder, Melissa Hartwig[12] is an amazing story and I have mentioned it before in a previous Blog, but the diet does not get rated very well. (She does have close to 200,000 followers on Instagram and her transformation from druggy to health nut is unbelievable)

In a Podcast with the physician, herbalist, and midwife, Dr Aviva Romm[13], that I recently listened to and really enjoyed, she gives some tips on diet and healthy living. One point that she makes is that we must “Introduce pleasure to healthy eating”. I think too many people get caught up in focussing on the fringe ideas, the wrong things and develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

“Now, make no mistake: If your current diet is very bad, you will need to make significant changes in order to achieve your health and fitness goals…… But there is never any need for more severe measures ….” – Matt Fitzgerald[14] (I think based on Matt’s book his philosophy re diet is “The Endurance Diet shares key strategies for optimal health and performance: eat everything, eat quality, eat carbohydrates, eat enough, and eat individually. Whether you want to lose weight, win a race, or look a little more like an elite athlete, this plan is for you.”)

There is so much press about radicals and extremism. There are many extreme movements on both the right and the left that we are all exposed to or read about. In all aspects of our lives there are things that we may do that are extreme. Over Tisha B’Av I was inspired by Rabbi Sendor to read the writings of the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira. A compendium of his teachings called the Eish Kodesh has been translated and commented on in a book The Holy Fire by Nehemia Polen. In this book, The Rebbe said in a speech in the Ghetto in 1939 that while a moderate degree of suffering may be of benefit to the individual’s spiritual development, excessive tribulation is beyond endurance and is unacceptable (This statement was made in the context of Sarah getting the shock on hearing about the binding of Isaac). I do not believe that EXTREME or RADICAL is and can be healthy.

The ‘best’ diet, like the best exercise, is the one you actually manage to practice and maintain,” – David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Centre.

I noticed a quote from entrepreneur Sheryl O’Loughlin, after listening to her on a Podcast[15] titled “REBBL CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin on overcoming an eating disorder, hiring smart and why Balance is BS”. Sheryl said – “Sheryl is passionate about ThinkThin’s mission to support women’s wellness and encourage Americans to abandon dieting mentality and embrace healthy living.”

‘Getting a fresh start’ isn’t the magic bullet you thought it’d be.

[1] https://www.instagram.com/p/BXChHTTnxFL/?taken-by=nude_nutritionist

[2] Lyndi Cohen is The Nude Nutritionist, a Sydney media and TV dietitian and blogger who specialises in helping people stop emotional and binge eating.

[3] https://www.popsugar.com.au/fitness/Best-Worst-Diets-2017-42937973    

[4] Read more at https://www.popsugar.com.au/fitness/Best-Worst-Diets-2017-42937973#85TKTEG38rmA6aH1.99

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-carbohydrate_diet

[6] https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Health/CSIRO-diets/CSIRO-Low-Carb-Diet-Book

[7] https://tim.blog/2016/07/06/dom-dagostino-part-2/

[8]http://main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1474/Pros_Cons_of_A_Ketogenic_DietMany_Benefits_Includi.aspx

[9] http://researchnutrition.com.au/2016/03/16/top-nutrition-experts-vote-worst-diets/

[10] Read more at http://www.triathlete.com/2016/02/nutrition/is-intermittent-fasting-a-good-idea-for-endurance-athletes_128108#mROjjO1FXE6RGOo1.99

[11] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/17099

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_Hartwig

[13] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/mbg-podcast-dr-aviva-romm

[14] https://mattfitzgerald.org

[15] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/rebbl-founder-sheryl-oloughlin-wellness-interview