WordPress Professionals unlock ways to exercise at work

WordPress Professionals unlock ways to exercise at work

“Ever since I have been sitting, which has been for about the last three years, I have noticed that I don’t have my six-pack anymore.” – Adam Lamagna


Be sure to check out the LifehackrDiet Podcast Show notes for content and links mentioned.


WordPress powers 25% of the internet and the professionals that are behind that number work hard. For many high-tech workers, their jobs require them to be chained to computer screens for long work days.

“Today, the average office worker sits for about 10 hours, first all those hours in front of the computer, plowing through e-mails, making calls or writing proposals — and eating lunch. And then all those hours of sitting in front of the TV or surfing the Web at home.” The Washington Post

I went to the WordCamp Rhode Island 2015 conference where I knew I would find plenty of talented, hardworking screen-slaves to ask the simple question: “How do you exercise to stay healthy while you work hard at your job?” Here are some surprising and interesting answers, in their words…

Jennifer Kusiak

Jennifer Kusiak

Senior Project Coordinator


Connecting Brand + Design + Interactive

Office: (401) 305-5228



Organizer WordCamp Rhode Island

Paul: So a lot of you are probably asking – what is WordPress and how do I know that it’s even important to me? So I have here, Jennifer who is one of the organizers of WordCamp Rhode Island and I will have her tell you in her own words. Hi Jennifer!

Jennifer: Hi thank you so much for putting this together. It’s awesome!
WordPress is a content management system and it powers amazingly enough, I think the last statistic I heard was 33 to 34% of all websites on the World Wide Web. And the thing that drew me into WordPress and to organizing a WordCamp Event like this where all kinds of WordPress users from every walk of life, every age group basically anyone anywhere that has ever touched a blog or a website or an online survey or anything related to WordPress, comes here to kind of geek out about WordPress and learn and share information.

I will tell you some of my background. I am a professional certified project manager. I work for Linchpin. Our URL is www.linchpin.agency and we got involved this year myself and our co-organizer Aaron Ware, to really just to lend a hand and give back to the community that basically supports and gives us our livelihood. We are, I would say, a 95% WordPress-based shop. We have about 11 employees and they are all here to lend a hand and they are all passionate about WordPress. So that’s the scoop.

Paul: Awesome! Well if you have any more questions about WordPress or about Linchpin I will put links in the show notes. Jennifer has been doing a wonderful job organizing and pulling this all together so thank you very much.

Jennifer: Absolutely.


WordCamp Rhode Island, 2015 website

WordPress Rhode Island Meetup Group

Linchpin Agency

Learn About WordPress

Adam Lamagna

Adam Lamagna

Solutions Consultant Oomph Inc.

Oomph Inc.

Technology crackerjack, pop-culture heavy-hitter, musician, movie quoter, and morning-person. Yup!

Paul: I am here in another hallway with Adam Lamagna.

Adam: Lamagna just like lasagna.

Paul: Excellent. And Adam is kind of interesting because he is a young handsome gentleman.

Adam: Thank you Paul!

Paul: He is in excellent shape but I think I found a crack in his façade here. So I am just going to hand it over to Adam.

Adam: Awesome! Hi guys. Yeah. I am Adam Lamagna, sounds like lasagna. I am a solutions consultant for Oomph and that is what I do. I sell web projects for Oomph.

Paul: Excellent. Can you give me an idea of what an average day is for you and how you get exercise?

Adam: Sure, sure yes. So I get up pretty early in the morning and I am sitting from I would say 7:00 AM to about 5[pm]. I want to get up for lunch. I might play some ping-pong at the office a couple of times during the day and then when I get home I am sitting either watching TV or still working and about 8 o’clock I will go to the gym and I will do some weightlifting sessions and I will either be on the treadmill or on the bicycle machine.

Paul: That’s great! How many times a week do you think you do that?

Adam: Pretty much I do it at least five days out of the week.

Paul: Yeah, that’s great. Well you are doing better than me. But there is a problem. There have been some scientific studies and I will try and find them and link to them in the show notes but there has been some scientific studies that suggest that even going to exercise once a day several times a week and working hard and getting cardio and all of that sort of stuff, although it’s good for you, the sitting 8-10 hours or even more hours a day is bad and it is killing you.

And so what the studies suggest is that even standing at the very least but if you can do it a walking desk is even better because you are moving all the time and our bodies really are meant for moving.

Adam: So I am not going to dispute that. I totally agree with you because I have been doing this. Ever since I have been working, sitting at a desk job, I used to do construction before about three years ago, I was in great shape, great shape as I was moving all the time. Ever since I have been sitting which has been for about the last three years, I have noticed that I don’t have my six-pack anymore and I’ve got a little tiny…

Paul: A little insulation in there.

Adam: A little insulation, right. And I go to the gym all of the time and I can’t get rid of that and I believe it is because I have lived this sedentary lifestyle where I am sitting all day long and so I am definitely up for trying either standing desk or doing some kind of treadmill. I think it might take a while for me to get used to.

Paul: You might surprise yourself. The other thing is I am getting ready to publish a big blog post on how to get 10,000 steps a day while you work and even simple things like if you have a meeting with maybe two people, instead of sitting around or going to the boardroom, go for a walk.

Adam: That’s not a bad idea.

Paul: And if you are working on a problem that you are trying to figure out or an idea, go for a walk with your phone. Use the Siri or just record notes on things that you are trying to figure out because Steve Jobs did this. He used to go for walks and think. Charles Darwin used to do this, Beethoven used to do this and so Adam I’m I think you are in that stratosphere of those three guys.

Adam: Paul thank you very much. I don’t know if I am looped in there but thank you I appreciate it. So those are fantastic ideas and I love what you say about if you in a meeting, take a walk, that’s something kind of unique and that might even send out in sales because I essentially do sales. I will absolutely try that Paul thank you. And make sure you send me that blog post when you have it because I will definitely check it out.

Paul: I will try to link to it in this show notes. Thank you very much Adam, have a great day.

Adam: Thank you Paul.


Here is the article mentioned in the interview and more supporting information about sitting and your health.

The New York Times: “Sit Less, Live Longer?”

Washington Post: “Health experts have figured out how much time you should sit each day.”

You can download the Infographic as a PDF here.

Jeff Golenski

Jeff Golenski

Photographer + designer who codes

Photographer + designer who codes @automattic / @jetpack.

Dedicated to pushing innovation on the web. Continuously vibrating at 528hz. Life Enthusiast. ॐ

Paul: So I’m standing here in a hallway trying to avoid a whole bunch of noise with Jeff and Jeff has a really interesting story. Why don’t we just start off by having you tell us your name, what you do and what your average day is?

Jeff: Hey everyone, my name is Jeff Golenski. I am a designer and front-end engineer for a company called Automattic; makers of WordPress.com and more, specifically I am the design on the jetpack team which is a free WordPress plug-in. Check it out if you are a WordPress user. So typically every day I wake up probably around 10 AM, I am not a morning person, these things happen, and I have a hard time like many, finding time in my busy day to get any exercise that my body and my mind needs.

So what I have recently done is I have converted to a standup and a treadmill desk combination. So every morning I work a little bit in the morning sitting down but after about an hour I get enough energy I will lift the standing desk from sitting position and I will hop on the treadmill and I would walk most of my work day. So at the end of a given day I will walk between eight and 10 miles while I am actually working, while I am designing; illustrator, Photoshop, sketch and then while I am even coding. So throughout the day I get my workout while I am working so there is no need to go to the gym after that unless I want some more excessive work out but it usually works that way.

Paul: That’s awesome! You are a brother from another mother because this is what I have discovered too, it just transforms your life, transforms your body. That’s awesome. I think you were telling me a couple of minutes ago about another thing that you do which, I downloaded the app right away because I thought it was just the most wonderful thing you could do. So why don’t you tell us about it?

Jeff: So there is an application you can download for your iPhone, I am not sure if there is android just yet but there is an app called Charity Miles. And this is an amazing app if you are a runner or a cyclist I urge you to download this app.

And what it does is pretty much you get to pick a charity of your choice and then Charity Miles will use your GPS signal or the sensor on your phone and track your mileage. Now you if you are a runner, there is a company that will sponsor you through Charity Miles, it changes often, but they would donate if you are a runner, it is $.25 per mile that’s tracked and if you are a cyclist, that’s $.10 per mile.

So after work you can go out for a run. If you ran 5 miles, that will generate a $1.25 for whatever charity you choose; there is like a dozen or two on the list. Recently they have updated so you can now do it on a treadmill. So what I will do is I will set it up, turn it on, put it in my pocket and then I will walk either 10 miles and while I am doing that, while I am working, I am generating some revenue for a charity of my choosing.

Paul: That is so awesome. I am going to put a link to the app in the show notes and as I said I have downloaded the app and I’m going to be using it on a daily basis because this year I am targeting about 3500 miles so I can’t do the math in my head but I am sure this a couple of bucks, so that’s wonderful Jeff. Thank you so much for sharing. It doesn’t sound like you have any issues with getting exercise while you work and it’s great to see that you are working hard and getting lots of exercise too so thank you.

Jeff: Thank you.



Charity Miles
Simply turn on the app, choose a charity, and press start. As you exercise, we’ll track your distance and the money earned.



Charity Miles Social

Charity Miles on Facebook
Charity Miles on Twitter

Charity Miles Apps

Charity Miles iPhone App
Charity Miles Android App
Charity Miles - iPhone Spread-02 2
Jeff and I have started a Charity Miles Group for Office Walkers. In the Charity Miles app go to GROUPS and search for “walkingATwork” we would love to have you join us to walk and earn money for our favorite charities.

Amanda Giles

Amanda Giles

WordPress theme developer + evangelist


I run the Seacoast NH WordPress meetup.

I sneeze loudly, love roller coasters, and have a bit of a prime number fetish.

Paul: So I am sitting here with Amanda and I just overheard her talking about the fact that she skipped the gym to come to WordCamp Rhode Island and so of course that initiated the conversation. So why do we continue it on the podcast and everybody can learn?

So Amanda welcome and want to tell us a little about yourself?

Amanda: Hi, thanks for having me Paul. I am a WordPress theme developer. I work for myself so I essentially an IT consultant but WordPress has taken over more and more of what I do. I live up in New Hampshire and I also run a WordPress meet up.

Paul: Where can people find you?

Amanda: People if they are looking for me online, they can find me on my website www.amadagiles.com or you can find me on twitter at @amandagilesnh.

Paul: Excellent so won’t you tell us what your workday is like because I know you work hard.

Amanda: I try. My workday, I usually work from home and my work routine actually, I am trying to get in better shape so my work routine right now is that Monday’s, Wednesdays and I go Fridays to a kettle Bell gym and I have a training appointment right at 8 AM and so I go and do that first thing those mornings and then I come back and then I try to get to work and cram in as much work as I can. It’s a struggle sometimes making that transition though between the two.

Paul: Absolutely. So you don’t know me and you don’t know what I do but I was kind of in that situation too and a lot of my listeners know. But my issue as I kept trying to go to the gym. I would schedule it and then something would always come up and I would say, “Oh, I will do it tomorrow” or “I will do it next week” and I would never go. So for me the big thing was just saying – stuff it, quit. I am not going to the gym anymore. And what I did instead was I found ways in everything I did to get exercise. So for example do you have dogs?

Amanda: No.

Paul: Well you can take a pretend dog for a walk in the morning. In fact I find it’s really helpful to go for a 20 minute walk in the morning because it allows you to kind of clear your head and get out of the media world that’s in our houses and allows you to really kind of prioritize what you need to do because I find a lot of the times during the day I would go downstairs, I will go to work because you have to do XYZ and then I get half way through and go – oh, that was dumb. I should’ve done F, G and Z. So I find a walk in the morning is very useful for kind of prioritizing and figuring out what works. So that’s very simple thing you can do.

The other thing that I have discovered is I have a lot of back issues and sitting kills me and there is some science to the idea that if you workout which you obviously do, on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays or whatever it was, that’s wonderful but if you are setting for the next 12 hours several times a day it’s slowly killing you. So standing desk or something.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s funny you should mention that because I have actually had my eye on a standing desk and so I kind of waiting for a month when I feel a little more flush. But I was lucky, I was at a client’s office last week and they just moved to a brand-new building and they had always had tabletop standing desks, although I didn’t have one at my desk being a contractor but in their new office all of the desks in the offices are standing desks and there is just too little buttons on the edge of the desks and you do it up and down so I actually just spent the afternoon put the desk up, just totally forgot about it in the morning.

I used the buttons to put it down so that I wasn’t hurting my wrist but then I was like, “I can go the other direction.” So I put it up and it was great. I put Spotify on my headphones and I took off my shoes because they weren’t good standing shoes and I basically just walked out for a couple of hours just kind of dancing when I was working and yeah, it’s perfect so I am looking forward to getting one.

Paul: Awesome. So it sounds like you’re on the path. The other thing that I suggested, just small things and for people who work at home, we don’t have a lot of distance to cover going to the bathroom or something like that but one of the things we can do is when we are on a conference call just pace around.

You can get a couple of dozen steps in a minute just pacing around and talking and since you are moving and blood is flowing through your brain and you’re not sitting you’ll actually be sharper. So an hour conference call you are going to get a fair amount and you do that several times a week, you are talking real money there. So there are lots of little things that you can do and I am going to be writing actually have written and just formatting a big post about how to get 10,000 steps at work and so I’m going to be including a lot of these tips and it is also nice to know that a lot of very famous people would take breaks to go think and walk and that’s a very important thing. So really my simple advice to you is every opportunity you can think of, just keep moving.

Amanda: Luckily my cat helps me with that because my office is in the basement and my cat likes to go in and out and so when he comes to the window and the way to let him in means I have to walk to the other side of the house, go up the stairs, walk back over like walk to where my desk is, my office is to let him in and then he is actually a tease. So sometimes when I get there he is like, “No, I changed my mind.” And I have to go back across that house down stairs and back over. But I actually don’t mind it because it is helpful to keep moving.

The other thing that’s actually great for me is we have a little bit of a home gym and so sometimes I walk by there and I will go sit on the bench and do 20 situps or something just to have some movement. On my way back from the bathroom, I will stop and do a little something in there so every little bit I really feel especially I am over 40 now and I feel that my body is not getting any younger. I am not going to magically get any more flexible so yeah.

Paul: Awesome cat. I don’t know if we can productize her or him but let’s clone him and – the exercise cat – that’s awesome. So wonderful. It sounds like you are on a great path and I wish you lots of luck.

Amanda: Thanks so much Paul, great chatting with you.

Here is Exercise Kitty. Please share and pass on the good health.


Jesse Friedman

Jesse Friedman

Experience Advocate on @jetpack at @automattic the makers of @wordpressdotcom and other awesomeness.

Author, Speaker, Writer, ♥’r of Ideas and Sharing them.

Paul: I am sitting down with a keynote speaker at WordCamp Rhode Island. He just gave a wonderful inspirational talk. His name is Jesse Friedman and Jesse I would just want you to talk a little bit about yourself and your journey and how you look at work and exercise and changes that you can make and the little hacks that you can get away with.

Jesse: Thank you for having me on. So a little bit about myself. I currently work at Automattic which is the company behind WordPress.com. And you can look us up at www.automattic.com and if anybody out there is a designer, developer, writer we are always hiring.

So the great thing about Automattic is we are distributed company which means that we all work from home. It is an awesome benefit for us as employees but some of the challenges that come with it, the fact that we end up staying in our house a lot. And so some of the things I have done to help me as someone who has worked from home, out of the last seven years I have worked from home for 5 1/2 of them at Automattic and other companies.

As far as distraction goes, it’s good to seclude yourself but that also has his own problems because you can end up spending six hours in this chair and never even get up. So I have two dogs who need to be walked up so it’s a quick little thing that I can do every day to make sure that not only am I getting out and getting a little bit of exercise and meeting my step goal but I am interacting with my pets and then I am also getting out, getting some fresh air which clears my head.

The other benefit I have at Automattic is that I have a very flexible schedule. So I get to make the hours that I want for myself as long as they don’t conflict with anything that goes on with work. So I get to go to the gym at the part of the day when I feel less motivated to work and more motivated to get out. So I usually hit the gym around 10 o’clock in the morning which is great because it’s quiet and it’s relaxed at the gym and then I come back feeling very motivated and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

The last bit that I would say is that because I work at Automattic they actually help you build a home office and I opted instead of for a really nice ergonomic chair, I went for a tread desk. And as someone who has battled weight loss is whole life I can say that I am finally making progress this past year because of these things. And a tread desk, while it’s not something I can do for the entire day, it takes a toll on you and about the two hour mark is where I start to see that it starts interact with my daily job.

But before that I am undoing the damage it’s caused by sitting all day for two hours and I think something out there that says for every 10 minutes that you stand you undo 30 minutes of sitting damage. So those are the three things I would say that I do every day to try and help myself stay fit and get into better shape.

Paul: Great, that’s awesome. Thank you very much.

Jesse: Thank you.


Automattic sounds like an awesome company to work for. They are looking for Developers, Designers and Writers. Check them out!

Here is Jesse Friedman’s Keynote speech at WordCamp Rhode Island 2015.



WordPress Professionals Unlock Ways to Exercise at Work

Listen to the PODCAST or read the BLOGPOST.

One thing is pretty certain, for most of us, going to work every weekday is given. What is unwritten is how we work and exercise so that we stay healthy and happy. Here is what people at WordCamp Rhode Island 2015 had to say.




  • That Adam Lamagna, a technology crackerjack, is discovering that all his sitting is causing an alarming side-effect; he can’t find his six-pak anymore!
  • Jeff Golenski has got it all figured out and he’s earning money “under the table” for various charities while he walks + works at automattic.
  • Amanda Giles has discovered a unique method of getting exercise while she works in her home office… It involves the utilization of a cat! (no cats are harmed with this exercise regime!)
  • Jesse Friedman has an awesome job that allows him to hit the gym at 10am so that he can avoid rush hour outside and inside the gym.
  • Also, we have lots of links to all the great services, articles, companies and charities our interviewees mentioned in their interviews!




“And as someone who has battled weight loss his whole life I can say that I am finally making progress this past year because of these things.” – Jesse Friedman.

Adam, Jeff, Amanda and Jesse show us examples of how everyone can find small ways to make the long hours spent at our jobs, a little healthier.


What have you done, or will you do after listening to these WordPress professionals tell their stories of work and exercise co-existing? Let us know in the comment section. We can all learn from one another!


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SUBSCRIBE Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher Radio to get automatic updates.


Please join the conversation and leave a comment below. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.


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014 – Sync Solver App Saga; From Debilitating Back Pain to an App Helping You Get Healthy: An Interview with Jim McAndrew.

014 – Sync Solver App Saga; From Debilitating Back Pain to an App Helping You Get Healthy: An Interview with Jim McAndrew.

LHD Podcast 014: Listen Here;


LHD Podcast 014 – Sync Solver App Saga; From Debilitating Back Pain to an App Helping You Get Healthy: An Interview with Jim McAndrew.

Good smartphone apps help solve problems. In this Podcast Interview, Jim McAndrew has a great story of how he solved his health problems. Inspired, he built an app that helps all of us do the same.


  • Jim’s Journey from debilitating back pain to relief – just with lifestyle changes.
  • Jim uses a Standing Desk to help eliminate his back pain and burn calories.
  • How you can send a message to Fitbit and Apple telling them that your data is YOURS not theirs!
  • In our modern era, anyone with an idea, skills and persistence can make a big difference!
  • How Apple’s Health app and underlying HealthKit technology could save your life in the future.
  • By making one simple change (cutting out breakfast cereal) Jim was able to lose 10 lbs!
  • When the Doctors and Physical Therapists give up on you, it’s time to double down and make changes that bring about a positive lifestyle.
  • What is QS (Quantified Self) data and how it can help you get healthy.
  • Fitbit and Apple are in a corporate power struggle – What it means for you.

Plus hear a great story about someone who overcame tough medical issues and turned his lessons into something that can help all of us.

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.


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At some point in our lives, we will all have physical issues which will impact our quality of life. Some issues are best solved with the help of modern medicine. Other issues, we as individuals can be a huge part of the solution. By understanding our lifestyles through observation and with the use of “Quantified Self” data that we can generate with our activity trackers and smartphones, we can make changes that will improve our health and wellness.


Jim McAndrew's Weight Loss chart due to lifestyle changes he made. @SyncSolver

Jim McAndrew’s Weight Loss chart due to lifestyle changes he made. @SyncSolver


Thanks for LISTENING!



Thank you again for your support,

SUBSCRIBE Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher Radio to get automatic updates.
Click Here to Download the Transcript for Episode 014 (PDF) (Coming Soon!)


Show Transcript Below----->

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LHD Podcast 014 – Sync Solver App Saga; From Debilitating Back Pain to an App Helping You Get Healthy. An Interview with Jim McAndrew.

Transcript: Jim McAndrew interview.

Paul: Welcome to this LifehackrDiet podcast. I am interviewing a fascinating guy. He is the founder and principal of Redshift Development which is a consulting company specializing in software that enables people to capture, analyze, optimize and automate the world around them and you will see how all this plays in shortly.

He’s also the developer of a little app for the iPhone called Sync Solver and we are going to talk about that today. But more importantly, Jim is a husband and father of two little children. He is a regular guy with a really interesting story that relates to health and taking responsibility for your health and wellness. And also the quantified self movement which is just a general term for what we are all doing with our digital pedometers and our apps.

And he made some very interesting lifestyle changes that yielded huge results and he did that partly from the data that he collected using his Fitbit in the Fitbit app. And we are also going to discuss why your data is yours or should be yours and it should always be yours. And I like to joke with Jim that he is my brother from another mother because we’ve traveled a similar path but have come to different conclusions or different answers that we have implemented so that we can help everybody else.

So I would like to welcome to the LifehackrDiet podcast, Jim McAndrew. Welcome Jim.

Jim: Thanks a lot Paul.

Paul: So you have a wonderful story and it actually reads like a novel. I find it fascinating. We did a call last week and afterwards I was just spinning like – can you make a movie of this? It’s an amazing story. So let’s just jump right in. And why don’t you talk a little bit about the back pain that you had and what you discovered and the sort of changes you made?

Jim: Yeah, sure. So starting back, it must have been 2011 or 2012, I was an avid runner. I would run 4, 5 miles a day and this kind of all goes in with using the Fitbit and doing all the quantified self stuff. But I was an avid runner and one of the biggest reasons I like to run was so that I could burn a lot of calories so that I could eat whatever I wanted to and I kind of thought about things mostly as just an energy equation, just however much I burn and then I can eat that much.

And I kind of got stopped dead in my tracks when I started having just searing back pain going from my lower back all the way down into my legs. I guess it could be most closely identified with what people sciatica but it actually took me quite a while to get a diagnosis on it. At the beginning I figured I pulled a muscle or something and I just kept trying to play through the pain like my coaches used to tell me to do in high school.

Paul: That’s a fun thing to do but not always the best answer.

Jim: Yeah, exactly. So I went to my family practice doctor. She did some x-rays on me and we couldn’t really figure out what was going on. And eventually after about a year and a half of it I got fed up and it was I was like, “What could we do to figure out what is really going on?” She said well you need to go get an MRI.

So I went and got an MRI, the spinal Institute near my house and they essentially identified that I have a bad disk between 04, 05 vertebrae that was degenerated and bulging and impinging upon my nerve right there. And it wasn’t that it was even impinging that much, it’s just in that area, when you have the slightest amount of pressure on those nerves it can just cause searing pain.

I mean I was getting to the point where I could barely even roll over in bed at nights sometimes. And then other weeks I would have no pain at all so it was really frustrating. I couldn’t really correlate anything and once they came back with the MRI results it was like, “Okay well go see a spinal doctor.” And I walked in there and he looked at my MRI and was like, “Yeah, you’ve got a back that looks like an eighty-year-olds back and at some point you’re going to have to have surgery so it’s just a matter of when and how much pain you are in. So here’s my card, call me when you are ready.”

Paul: Wow, nice bedside manner huh?

Jim: Yeah. I mean it probably wasn’t that bad but something to that extent.

Paul: Now I just need to interject for the audience. I actually had something like this as well for about a year. I was in really serious pain and I actually have video footage of me playing with my kids when they were younger and we’d be playing in the living room and I would be lying on my back playing with them because there was just no other way I could do it.

Jim: Exactly.

Paul: And I went to my doctors and I am not 80, but I guess I was in my late 30s, early 40s that point and I have a little bit of a degeneration between the discs as well. Surgery wasn’t an option and they basically said, “Go to PT and see what happens.” And I did PT for a long time and they basically give up on me and I just continued doing all the exercises and almost to the day a year later I was a great.

So just going back to the point of brother from another mother, we were going through the same thing. So please continue what happened after that?

Jim: I relate to that. I mean because I have recently had… I have two young kids and it was really disheartening to just think that this was the new normal, like I wasn’t going to be able to play with my children, roughhouse with them and just be a fun kind of dad and it was pretty demoralizing.

And I am not against Western medicine. I kind of try to take a more holistic approach to things. I mean obviously if you have the take drugs it’s fine, it can get you over the hump – I don’t really like to see that as a long-term solution. So I was looking for some more alternative things that I could do whether it be just stretching and exercising the yoga that you were talking about or I did acupuncture, did some chiropractic treatment, I got an inversion table so I was hanging upside down every day.

Paul: Daddy the bat.

Jim: Yeah, I’ll admit, my daughter got a kick out of that one. I will be the first to admit. I mean I engage in a lot of activities that aren’t necessarily awesome for people with bad backs. I mean I am an avid golfer, I like to do snowboarding so it’s kind of… I’m definitely using my back a lot, I understand that.

So I kept trying to do everything, we bought a new mattress, it was just… We had tried all this stuff and it was just not… I wasn’t seeing really any results. It was just every three or four weeks I would have a flareup and I would sort of be out of commission for a couple of weeks and then it would just kind of go away and then I would just realize it was going to happen again another 3 to 4 weeks.

And that was up until about mid 2013 where I kind of hit a new plateau in my weight. And this is looking back at it, I didn’t realize this at the time, I was 195 pounds, I am 6’2”, I have a fairly large frame so I could carry 195 pounds pretty well or at least so I thought.

And at that time, this is kind of where the story kind of weaves in. My wife had also had pretty debilitating back pain and a lot of the same symptoms as me which was kind of strange but it was a totally different diagnosis. Her diagnosis is actually somewhat where autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis and there is not too much you can do, you can’t do back surgery for that one. It’s more about inflammation in that case and so there are pretty expensive high intervention infusions that you can do that are similar to the ones that Phil Mickelson is pitching for his rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, I can’t remember which one he has but it’s a pretty similar condition. And it’s just pretty high intervention so you really don’t want to go there unless you really have to.

So she was looking for ways to sort of manage her inflammation, manage A.S and she came across a lot of literature on low grain to no grain diets like the gluten-free or paleo kind of diets. And she started working that into; I mean she is the main cook in our family so whatever she puts on the table is kind of what I eat.

Paul: That’s what I call spousal diet creep.

Jim: Yeah, exactly. Now I was kind of on my own for breakfast so I would… The very first thing that she recommended I cut out was all the breakfast cereals. And so this was, so going back to mid 2013 is where I hit that plateau in my weight. I cut out the breakfast cereals. I went to like a high-protein like eggs and sometimes bacon for breakfast every single day. And now looking back at it and we can pull up the charts on the website at some point but looking back at it I started a steady decline from 195 down to about 185 over the course of about six months and then when my wife really went hard-core paleo like no grains at all; no flour, no rice basically no corn, none of that, I had kind of gone on the bandwagon with her. That was in like a July of this year, that’s when he just started precipitously dropping.

So I went like from 184 down to now I am at 165 in the course of like three months. And that’s really had the largest effect on my back pain. I went from… the chiropractic treatment was kind of definitely helping it from an acute standpoint. If I got a flareup I could go get some chiropractor and it would help me out but it would still just come back. And now that I have dropped the 30, 35 pounds, I don’t have all the extra weight on my belly pulling down on my back and making my back muscles tighten up which is just making the bulging disc worse. Now I have gone down to essentially not having any flareups at all or if I do have a flareup it’s a very mild thing that goes away and it lasts for like a couple of days and it’s not debilitating at all.

Paul: I actually had similar things. I’ve had flareups when I was heavier but also since I’ve lost weight I still get them but they are far more rare and what I found was my last really bad one, I found walking, believe it or not was the solution for me. And since I have a walking desk, I’d get on the walking desk in the morning and I’d look like some ape dragging my knuckles on the ground. And about 2 or 3 miles in, I’d be straight and pain-free. So you’ve got to find what works for you but it’s amazing how adjusted these simple solutions can really help out.

Jim: Yeah, I totally agree. And I agree about walking. That really helps my wife out with her A.S and her inflammation. I have essentially given up running at this point. So I guess that’s the other half of the equation. I stopped burning all the calories but then I changed the diet but really I feel like it’s the input side of the equation that affected my weight the most. But I am still consistently walking about 3 or 4 miles a day at this point. I haven’t switched over to the treadmill yet underneath my stand desk which I do have a stand desk which was part of one of the things I was trying, but I agree with that.

Paul: So I just want to talk about seeing the power of the data. And this is what really brings it home for our listeners because a lot of listeners will buy Fitbit or they will buy the Misfit Flash or something like that. And it’s just for fun and they walk a little bit and they kind of look at the charts and it’s more of an amusement type thing. And both of us have discovered that it’s a lot more than that. I mean it’s a narrative and if you look at it you start analyzing it, it’s a story with solutions or with possible solutions to what your issues are. And I think that is very important for our listeners to understand, that although it’s kind of a hobby at the moment, what you are doing is you are creating a new narrative to your story, to the story of your life.

And by looking at it, you can make positive changes. So tell us a little bit more about once you started to realize the correlation between the data and what was happening to you, what you did and then we can kind of segue into what you’ve done for all of us which is really amazing; but go ahead.

Jim: Yeah, sure. And I was definitely in that first category of people where it was just more of an about the kind of thing and I was collecting the data and looking at the charts every now and then in just kind of a “whatever” kind of deal.

The ah-ha moment was really sometime in August or September after I really started the precipitous decline and what I was able to do, and part of the problem that my wife has and I am totally with her on this, is that when you have pain and you have just conditions like this happening and so much other stuff is going on in life, it’s really hard to document it and if you don’t write it down in very specific detail, then it’s really hard to go back and remember – how many times really was I flaring up? And how bad was it really? You start to almost question like, “Was I really in that much pain? And when was it? And how often?”

Paul: There is just no way as human beings we can remember that stuff…

Jim: Yeah.

Paul: It’s just impossible.

Jim: Yeah, exactly. But when you start quantifying it and you have this trail of data that you can go back to that’s totally objective and it’s not just based on – you wrote something down and it was in your diary or something, you don’t know whether or not to believe yourself. Now you can actually go back and look at this chart and be like, “Okay, there is clear inflection points.” So then I could go back and be like, “Well, what happened at that inflection point?” And I could go back and talk to my wife and I would be like, “Is that when you really started doing the full paleo thing?” Or, “Is that when I really started cutting out the breakfast cereal?” And then she can corroborate it.

And then once you have the real world human corroboration of what’s going on that chart which is the objective data, then it’s like, “Wow, that really did make a difference.” Because at the beginning of it I was like, “Really? Is cutting up breakfast cereal really going to matter? Like I can’t believe that’s going to matter.” And if I hadn’t captured this data, I may not have believed it. I may not of really even known and then I would be tempted to just fall right back into it and go back and start eating it and then all of a sudden six months later my flareups would start coming back and I would have forgotten about all of it at that point and I would just be back at square one, I wouldn’t have any idea of like what really… How did I go through the six month period where I didn’t have flare-ups.

Paul: And this is why when I take people through the LifehackrDiet, the very first thing I have them do is nothing. I have them actually get themselves a pedometer, a digital pedometer and I have them record their week with the digital pedometer. And I have them record their food intake with the diaries that are associated with a lot of these apps.

And the reason for that is because most of us really are unconscious when we eat. Most of us are unconscious when we do or don’t do things in our day like taking the elevator inside of the stairs, we don’t even think about it.

And so by being mindful all of a sudden of your day and having objective data that also shows, suddenly things come into focus and so I think that is probably one of the most important things, the most important kind of humps you can get over to realize that all of it does matter. Every action you take has an opposite and equal reaction and it affects you in some way.

So the point that I really want people to understand and I think you so clearly illustrated is that this new age of quantified self, this new age of collecting your data, it’s important and it’s meaningful and it goes alongside with your photographs and your audio recordings from your life and your home videos because it’s another way of telling your story. And I joked with you when we were talking about this before but when I do something that I am proud of; for example I wrote about this in one of my blog posts and then podcast, “Climbing the chief in Vancouver,” actually climbed the hundred, it was actually 161 flights of stairs in one day, almost killed me.

At the end I got a badge from Fitbit that said, “You have won the 150 flights of stairs in one day badge.” And so basically I took a screenshot of that and I put that along with my photos of climbing the chief. And in a way is part of the memory.

Jim: Yeah, exactly.

Paul: It’s a quantifiable aspect of the memory. And you will find that as soon as you can start reading your data and start understanding it, it becomes meaningful. It’s very, very interesting and I discuss that a lot when I take people through LifehackrDiet and try and show them how little things like if you are not getting a lot of sleep… I didn’t know why I was being woken up at like three in the morning every morning. And then I realized it was when one of my dogs jumped on the bed and snuggled right up to me and so now she’s in the basement at night and I sleep better. But these are all the little things but they are extremely important.

So let’s segue now into what’s happening; what’s happening in the big picture here with people like Fitbit and Apple.

Jim: Yeah, sure. This is kind of where I have that ah-ha moment and then just randomly at the same time, it just happened that Apple was releasing their health app and I saw a news story break that was saying the Fitbit CEO had come out and said, “We are not going to support Apple health anytime soon.” And when I read that, my first reaction was just, “What?!” I mean what happened? Because if you go back to the WWDC conference, they had actually listed Fitbit of one of their like Premier partners that was going to be supporting health in the beginning and I was all geared up and ready for it because I am using my Fitbit for a couple of years now and I am a rabid apple fan and everything was going to be great.

And then they came out with that announcement and I was like, “Man! Okay, so what am I going to do with this big bricked of hardware? Am I going to have to buy the Apple watch?”

Paul: So just if you could take a moment to explain what health kit and what app on iOS 8 does, for our audience.

Jim: Yeah sure, I mean I think what Apple is trying to do is there is they are trying to make a one-stop shop for all the various ways that you collect your health data, you can write it all into this secure place, in one place on your phone and have access to it in one app. That way you won’t have to open up 15 different apps to see it all because as you can attest to Paul, you have a trained eye now for these charts. And as human beings, it’s one thing to see all the charts right next to each other and be able to correlate them and see it as sort of a big picture, is how we do pattern recognition and stuff like that. When they are in 20 different apps, you can’t do that.

And so I think Apple has the right idea but of course they are competing with Fitbit I guess at this point. At least that’s how Fitbit sees it with the Apple watch although I kind of don’t necessarily agree with that. I think the specs on the Apple watch doesn’t have a pedometer so that’s kind of my big hang up on it and my reason why I still want to use my Fitbit because I don’t always have my phone on my person but my Fitbit is small enough to where I can.

Paul: Right. Now the health kit also not only does it allow you to store all of your information but it allows you to control who you share it with. So for example I have apps that write to my Health Kit or my Health app and I have apps that read from my Health app. And theoretically in the very near future, I could okay my doctor to get certain information points from me so that if I had a heart condition or something like that and I had a piece of hardware that followed my heartbeat, they could put certain parameters on their end of the solution that’s grabbing my data and when something happened that I didn’t know about, it just happened today, they get a message saying, “Paul just had XY and Z, you better get a hold of him.”

So there are huge ramifications to having this data in one place and huge ramifications to being able to share it where you want to. And so we are getting to a point in time… And I have to also just interject that both Microsoft and Google for Android have also built similar projects to Health and Health kit. So this is not going away and it’s only going to get bigger and bigger.

Jim: I totally agree.

Paul: So all right so we’ve got Apple and we’ve got Fitbit and they are locked like two wrestlers not going anywhere. And so what are you thinking? Little leading there, I know.

Jim: Yeah, sure. This is not my day job. I actually work as the director of machine learning for a startup company that’s based in Dallas. I was kind of just throwing something together for myself, nights and weekends. I just went to the Fitbit website, I saw that they had an API and I looked at it, didn’t seem like it was going to be that hard. I never built an iPhone app before. I have a Mac so I just downloaded Xcode, bought the developer license, got the Fitbit API key and started writing code. And I actually had a working prototype within about 5 to 10 hours that was working pretty well for me but I knew it was going to take quite a bit more effort to get it polished enough to help other people out and actually release it on the app store.

So I spent a couple more weeks and then we decide, “Let’s go ahead and see what happens. Let’s throw it out there.” So we threw it out in the app store. This was like mid November and…

Paul: What’s the app called?

Jim: Sync Solver for Fitbit.

Paul: Okay. And what’s the URL if people want to find…

Jim: Yeah. You can go to [www.syncsolver.com].

Paul: And I will have all of Jim’s information in the show notes so please be sure to head over to the podcast.lifehackrdiet.com and scroll down to the podcast, get all the notes and the charts and all that kind of stuff. So anyway please go ahead.

Jim: Yeah. So once we released it mid November, we tweeted it and a couple of the bloggers that had broke a story about Fitbit not supporting Apple and Apple insider picked it up followed by 9 to 5 Mac, Mac Rumors and Mashable and Tech Radar and a bunch of others. And at that point the whole world just kind of got set on fire and just started getting thousands of downloads per hour essentially.

It was pretty humbling. I didn’t expect… It’s kind of funny actually. So I published it and then I woke up the next morning and looked at the stats or whatever and 39 people had downloaded it, this was before the stories ran. And I turned to my wife and I was like, “Who are these people that like downloaded my app?”

Paul: One of them was me!

Jim: How did they even find it? How did they even know about it? So I got kind of an inkling there that there may be kind of a pent-up demand for it and as soon as the stories broke it was just the torrent gates opened and since then it’s just been a pretty crazy ride. A lot of great user feedback. We just released a new version that allows the syncing throughout the day. It used only let you get your data up to yesterday and trust me, that’s all part of the issue.

There is another issue here with how Fitbit gives us access to your data or I should say restricts access to your data but yeah, it’s been interesting.

Paul: So let’s just, if you could just take 30 seconds and just describe in simple terms what Sync Solver does and how it can benefit somebody.

Jim: Yeah. So Fitbit has an API and Sync Solver is very simple; you just download it, there is one button in the app. You tap the button, you give it your Fitbit login credentials, tell it which data point you want to allow to read and write in your health app on your phone and then it just goes out and it downloads every piece of data that it can to the finest level of granularity that it can from Fitbit and puts it into Health for you. Then it will just run in the background from that point forward and get all of your new data several times per day.

Paul: So basically I’ve had a Fitbit, various Fitbits but I’ve had a Fitbit for two years now. I walked 5,000 miles in the last two years with my Fitbits and up until you came along, 4,950 miles of data and a year and whatever were locked up in Fitbit’s app and I couldn’t get at it other than going to the website or looking at the charts. And by downloading Sync Solver and running it, suddenly all that data came down and went into Health app and is now in my possession. So you have basically freed two years and 5,000 miles of hard earned data to my phone where it belongs.

Jim: Exactly and the question is, whose data is that? You bought a piece of hardware from Fitbit granted but you are the one that logged it and the data was about you.

Paul: So I’m very curious to ask my audience whether you knew about the situation before or whether you are hearing it first time on this podcast; what do you think about this? What do you think about the fact that these companies that sell you a piece of hardware and allow you to create data, own it and basically control where you can use it or put it. What do you think about that? What do you think should happen? And what do you think about Jim’s response?

I love to tease him that he is David and they are Goliath but I was one of those people frustrated and screaming at both Apple and Fitbit to come up with a solution. And what drew me so strongly to Jim McAndrew’s story is the simple fact that he came out of nowhere, he is just this little peeny guy; I mean 6’2” is not peeny but anyways, it’s just that this guy…

Jim: This guy who grows smaller every day right?

Paul: Just this kind of guy who came up with an idea and hacked it together and why all these big guys were fighting and steaming, he solved the problem. So I love that story from just so many aspects. It’s the quintessential American story of, “You can do anything you want. You can be successful if you work hard if you have a good idea,” it’s that story. But it’s also what I love about what is happening nowadays with all the technology and with the ability to write software is it’s a leveling field.

Any 15-year-old kid, anybody can come up with an idea and make something and then thousands or millions of people can benefit from it and I just think that’s so incredible and that’s why I love the era we are living in, it’s just so exciting.

Jim: Just to clarify, I am 31. I don’t have two kids and I am 15.

Paul: No, I’m just saying any 15-year-old kid can…

Jim: Yeah, I know what you mean.

Paul: I wasn’t going to presume how old you were so yes. No, I didn’t suggest that, but I was saying any 15-year-old kid can come up with an idea. In fact I think there was one who sold his app to Yahoo and made millions, a British kid, it was a news app. So there are 15-year-old kids who are doing it. But anyways…

Jim: True, true.

Paul: So again I would love to hear what people have to say in the comment section; that’s podcast.lifehackrdiet.com and let’s get a discussion going about this because in truth, this problem hasn’t been solved. Jim has come up with a really neat patch and clearly all of us think is pretty wonderful but if Fitbit wanted to, they could kind of kill it or make it really difficult for you.

Jim: Yeah, in some sense they are still making it difficult. We get access to daily data so we get the total numbers get step counts for a given day but they still won’t give us access to down to the nearest 15 minutes or down to the nearest minute and we’ve had a request in to them for quite a while at this point over a month and they’ve just ignored it. So we’re getting some access. We are enabling you to have access to some of your data but not all of it even still. There is still a ways to go.

Paul: So we need everybody out there to voice… Make their voice heard and we need to change this around so that no matter what device you buy, no matter what app you use, your data is your data and I think that’s really important and we are past the 30 minute mark and I swear I could talk to Jim forever about this stuff.

There will be this podcast that’s available with the show notes but I’m also going to write a blog post about Jim and I’m going to talk about how he built a solution to his office because I think that’s really interesting. As many of you might know, I am like hard-core and I have a desk and a walking treadmill underneath it. So I actually walk while I work.

Jim has found a perfectly good solution as well that works for him and that’s a standing desk set up. So I’m going to talk about how he came to that conclusion and what he’s done and how it’s benefited him.

And in 2015 I’m going to be focusing more on standing desks and walking desks and just alternative solutions because I think that this is one of the most important changes that you can make your life because most of us sit all day and it’s killing you whether you like it or not, it’s killing you.

Jim: It really does take years of your life.

Paul: Absolutely. So I am just going to wrap it up and again Jim I don’t know maybe we should do another podcast or something. I just love your story so much and I would like to honor you today to be an honorary Lifehackr dieter not because you did the LifehackrDiet but you took the same philosophy; you took the same approach, you took responsibility for your health and your wellness. You analyzed your data; you came up with changes to your lifestyle that yielded results that worked for you and you took it to a whole new level. I am doing the LifehackrDiet, you are doing Sync Solver. We are coming at it from different directions but I absolutely completely respect what you’re doing. I think it is awesome and I think we should be part of the “Free your data” movement. And it’s just so important owning this data just like it is owning your photos and your tweets and your Facebook posts but that’s a whole different situation.

So I just want to thank you again and wish you the best of luck moving forward. Everybody should go down, go to the iTunes store and search for Sync Solver. Can they get it just through Sync Solver?

Jim: Yeah. You just search for Sync Solver or you could go to www.syncsolver.com as the link.

Paul: And download this app. Help Jim put food on the table. Help Jim with his mission and help yourself.

Jim: Yeah and I would just say let’s try to… I mean the more people that download it, the more Fitbit will get the message.

Paul: Perfect. Yeah, absolutely so download it twice.

Jim: That’s the real goal here. I mean basically putting food on the table is good but our real goal is a social change.

Paul: And I think that’s wonderful, that’s wonderful. So Jim thank you ever so much for being on the LifehackrDiet podcast and again I wish you tons of luck and maybe we will check in with you in a little while.

Jim: Great, thanks a lot Paul.

Paul: Thank you.

Jim: Bye.


© 2014, Man Mountain Productions, Inc.

How Yoga Can Positively Transform Your Body and Mind at any Age. From a Female and Male Perspective.

How Yoga Can Positively Transform Your Body and Mind at any Age. From a Female and Male Perspective.


[youtube http://youtu.be/ZaUkbfv6IPA]

How Yoga Can Positively Transform Your Body and Mind at any Age. From a Female and Male Perspective.

I was cynical about the idea of taking up yoga. I’m a 50 year old guy, why would I do yoga?! Over a year later, I confess, I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Listen to what I discovered on my journey and the perspectives of a female and male yoga instructor.



  • YouTube video of this interview! Check it out!
  • Yoga is a great way for Men and Women to get and stay very fit and learn how to clear your mind for mental health.
  • We aren’t born into Yoga, each of us has to discover it our own way. Learn how Paul, Maggie and Jerry discovered this transformative practice.
  • The practice of Yoga can bring many benefits to all stages and ages within your life-cycle.
  • The physical and mental benefits to practicing Yoga.
  • Getting started. How do you choose a Yoga studio and a Yoga teacher?
  • How much gear do you have to buy to practice Yoga? It turns out, almost nothing!

Plus more many more great tips and stories about how Yoga can positively transform you.

Check out this video on YouTube and please feel free to comment or ask questions!



For millennium, people have been benefiting from the practice of Yoga at all stages and ages of their lives. By starting your Yoga journey today, you will see positive physical and mental benefits that this practice brings to your daily life.


Yoga Teachers Interviewed;

Maggie Fiorella Winter

Maggie Fiorella Winter
OTR/L, RYT 200 and Owner of Green Tea Yoga

Maggie began her journey as an Occupational Therapist working primarily with autistic children. After implementing numerous yoga techniques with these children she noticed a significant change with their level of concentration, body awareness and overall well being. Because of these profound effects, and her individual growth in her own practice, it inspired her to receive her Hatha Yoga 200hr training.

Maggie loves life and expresses herself through dance, music, art and yoga. In her classes, Maggie encourages adults and children to explore and feel what is right for his/her body without being afraid to fall or make mistakes. She teaches a fun and lively class to all sorts of people and levels and makes a point to focus on personal growth and truth. She is so lucky to be doing what she is passionate about. She gives thanks and gratitude everyday for this opportunity.

You can contact Maggie here.


Jerry Urban

Jerry Urban Yoga Instructor, RYT

Have you ever come into something that you knew would change your life forever? This was yoga for Jerry. But it was not an immediate change or something readily apparent, at first. It was a slow and steady progression through years of practicing and quitting and practicing some more, slowly gaining little awakenings, transitions and transformations, and on occasion, even recognizing them. Each time he went away from yoga, there was always something bringing him back, usually a girlfriend. And then one day, it just stayed with him. And he’s been thankful ever since.

Though his primary influence is Shiva Rea, it would be hard to exclude any instructor that he’s ever practiced with or any number of styles of yoga that he’s touched upon. Inspiration comes in many different forms and occasionally it requires a change or shift to find where it’s hiding. Each teacher sharing their inspirations and practice provides a new and different avenue of thought or perhaps, a new path to follow. So come and do a little digging with Jerry, you might like what you find.


Thanks for WATCHING!



Thank you again for your support,

SUBSCRIBE Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on On YouTube to get automatic updates.

Click Here to Download the Transcript for this interview. (PDF) (Coming Soon!)


Show Transcript Below----->

[youtube “http://youtu.be/UIvB8qUk8XQ”]    



How Yoga Can Positively Transform Your Body and Mind at Any Age. From a Female and Male Perspective.

Paul: ​This is LifehackrDiet Podcast number 013. It’s time for some warrior pose.

Announcer: ​Most diets are going on a trip, the food is different, your activities are different and then it ends, you fall back into your old ways and the diet fails. LifehackrDiet.com is different because you make small changes to your lifestyle that get results. When you hit your goal your lifestyle has been reinvented by you and change is permanent. LifehackrDiet.com this is your last diet!

Paul: ​The LifehackrDiet Podcast exists to empower you to get one step, 1 mile and 1 pound of weight loss closer to your goals of superior health, wellness and well-being. Hello and welcome, I am Paul Michaels the host of LifehackrDiet podcast and I am thrilled as usual that you are here for podcast number 013.

​And today we are going to be talking about one of my favorite subjects, believe it or not and it is yoga. And I have been doing yoga for little over a year now and I didn’t start off thinking that I’m going to go to yoga, I want to learn how to do yoga. It actually started off as a way of getting my eldest son into yoga which failed miserably. But what we did is we ended up having some classes, private classes with our family. And the idea was since he suffered from muscle pain and when he was going through puberty he grew like a ton, he is like six-foot four now and he grew a ton really quickly so he gets muscle pains and so we were just looking at yoga as a way of possibly dealing with those things. Whether or not it would help his muscle pain I don’t know but as a teenage boy he wasn’t having any of it.

​But the good news is my wife and I who were attending the classes with him, the private classes, we got hooked big time and have been doing it ever since and just absolutely love it, it’s transformed us in so many ways.

And so I say to people and this is not based on science but I’m sure there is some science out there that can back a little bit of this up but I have to say I think yoga is a prescription against aging or at least slowing aging down, it is just incredible. And on the LifehackrDiet I have been losing weight, I have lost over 30 pounds and by doing yoga at the same time as I lose the weight, yoga tones my muscles and as a result I am… I don’t know, I am shapely. I am chiseled as a result of both losing weight and walking and doing yoga.

​And at 50 it’s kind of weird but I am more muscular now than I was as a teenager and I did sports, tons of sports as a teenager. So the yoga is absolutely transformative and has a huge impact on your life. And I really want to share this with you and I want to show you how it can transform your life too.

​And as a male certainly in the minority in yoga classes and frankly I have no idea why because it’s not an easy thing to do, obviously you start with the easier classes and you work your way up but when you get into the medium to upper medium levels, it’s really tough and you have to be really strong to do it, it’s quite something.

And when I watched some of my classmates, female classmates who are in their 60s, 70s, 80s and they are doing all of this stuff, it’s just mind-boggling. It’s incredible! They are phenomenal, they are enjoying life and they are in shape and there is really nothing they can’t do.

​And for the men that are in the classes, again we are usually a minority but there’s really no reason for it, there are huge advantages to being there and I just want to make sure that everybody gets a chance to hear this message.

So what I have done in this podcast is I’ve actually put together two of my favorite teachers Maggie Winter and Jerry Urban and I decided to interview them together so we can kind of get a he said, she said, she said he said about yoga and get a perspective on how it can positively affect your body, your mind and it’s something you can start at any age. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today so let’s get right into the interview, I will catch you on the backend.

Maggie: ​Hi, my name is Maggie I am the owner of Green Tea Yoga. I’m a yoga instructor. I started practicing when I was 19 years old. I had moved to the New England area from the Midwest and when I arrived here it was the stimuli increased tremendously so I had moved from a very quiet town to a very hectic, chaotic place and I started realizing that I was more stressed out, I had more anxiety, I couldn’t breathe like I could before, I couldn’t slow down and I was kind of losing who I was when I moved out here.

​So I walked into a class at the Y in Waltham and I started practicing and from then on I just continued my practice. I had taught as an occupational therapist, I was working with a lot of children in schools and different centers, outpatient centers and I started implementing a lot of yoga with these children, children who had problems with coordination, problems settling, problems focusing or balance issues. And I noticed a tremendous effect with these kids; they grew, they became more outgoing, they talked a lot more. And so I decided to go and get back my training in Newburyport and from that point on I started teaching about 10 years ago and ever since I have been a yoga teacher.

Jerry: ​Hi, my name is Jerry Urban. I’m a yoga teacher here at Green Tea Yoga amongst other studios. I discovered my yoga in LA when I lived out there. I had been working out at the gym a little bit and I noticed that every time I had an injury I would kind of go towards the yoga classes.

Like I tell everybody else there were a lot of cute girls going into one specific room and I couldn’t figure out why so I took a peek and there they were doing yoga and it looked like it was a little bit challenging. I thought it might be kind of fun and I then had a few friends that went to classes and went and told me that I should give it a try.

​And so I did and I liked it a lot and I never really… I was going back and forth between yoga and working out and I think upon moving to Boston I just found that it became more of a place that I liked to come into, it would kind of ground me. There were moments when I was going through and on grounding.

And so it felt like that was something that I was drawn to and it felt like it calmed me and gave me a little bit of centering. And so from that point on I went to Kripalu to do my first 200 hours and I think I jumped right into Shreya training right after that in which I am still evolving in the training. And yeah, that’s kind of how I got into what I did with that.

​I didn’t have any background in, like Maggie had for Occupational Therapy. It was more about what was good for me and what I needed at the time and when I started yoga I could even touch my toes. And so it was a practice over time. And I think I started somewhere in my 30s I’m thinking like 33 when I first started doing yoga and so it’s been a long process. I am 50 now and I can still touch my toes which is an amazing thing.

Paul: ​So Maggie, why should a woman consider doing yoga and what are the benefits for her?

Maggie: ​When I think women today, they are constantly multitasking, they are feeling very stressed, they have a full-time job, a lot of children, responsibilities at home with their families; women are overwhelmed today and they are feeling the stress.

​So they get into yoga, one great thing is just decreasing stress, it’s giving them time to be alone, to turn inward, to shut off the mind. Another important part of it is it helps sleep; a lot of women especially as we age, we get up as your cooking the morning and you have a difficult time going back to bed. So you notice through a regular practice you sleep much better and you find that.

​And of course women we are always worried about bodies and how we look and the expectation, especially for women as you age, guys you’ve got it a lot easier, as you age the expectations of staying beautiful and thin and toned and all of these things, women feel that. So they come to yoga and they don’t… We don’t like to just work out, we don’t like to go to the gym and sit there on a treadmill, it’s kind of an art so you can move your body in all sorts of different positions and it’s challenging but it’s graceful in a flowing way putting these pieces together with your body and really connecting with your body.

So I think just overall helping with decreasing stress, your body, your health and sleeping at night.

Paul: ​So Jerry, why would a man be interested or benefit from yoga?

Jerry: ​Most men come to it because they either have tightness in their hamstrings or shoulders, they haven’t been able to touch their toes much less see their toes sometimes. So for them, it’s more about the physical issues and the longevity of what we come into because sometimes you wake up and you just don’t want to get out of bed; back hurts, your shoulder hurts, there’s a lot of physical laborers out there that yoga would benefit because we don’t often take the time or structure our days around a release, everything is go, go, go we’ve got to get this done, we’ve got to do that, time to get home, put the kids to bed. And by the time the day is ending, you are about ready to go to bed and you wake up again and start all over. And sometimes you just need to shut the other stuff out, focus on self for a while and we don’t often do that, to come into ourselves and really, really process the getting rid of stuff.

​And so when you connect to the mat and you place your hands and feet on the ground, it’s a great place to just kind of connect. And when you start to breathe and get that breath flowing in the head, sometimes the ideas kind of just out slowly, it is still there circulating but it will drip out slowly and so at some point it becomes just you and the practice and nothing else around you. ​We often come in with a lot of stuff and after you are done with the practice it feels like you might be a bit lighter, a little less weighted down. And over time with the consistency of the practice, allows you to actually, on a physical level, get into a deeper more gracious aspect between you and your muscles because we don’t often give ourselves much praise or thanks, we are always hard on ourselves and this is a place where you can really appreciate what you have or don’t have and work towards a place that you can appreciate.

Paul: ​So I think you both touched on this but what are three clear benefits that both men and women will get from starting yoga?

Maggie: ​For women one of the things is definitely strength; physically and mentally and emotionally; being able to have the confidence and the strength to get through the day. We are always bombarded with challenges, things we can’t control and being able to find within, a place of balance of calmness, strength. I think probably that’s one of the most important things.

​And then also is just being able with your body just been able to keep your body mobile as we age through life, being able to be flexible and find the movement and again preventing any injuries and just knowing where your body is in space. So sometimes we’re just moving throughout life and when not really present with our body that connection is not there so finding that body connection and again just reiterating, sleep at night I think yoga really helps you sleep well. So it gives you that by balance to sleep throughout the night so when you get up in the morning your nice and refreshed and ready to go the next day.

Paul: ​And Jerry, for men?

Jerry: ​First aspect is the quality of both strength and stretch. When people look into a room, yoga room and they think, “That looks like it’s a little bit difficult stretch wise” because for men we are more focused on the billing aspect then the releasing or stretching out the muscle afterwards. We always go in for the pump and not for the release.

​And so in yoga when you are practicing your actually creating retention in the muscles so that you’re strengthening at the same time and when you start to strengthen maybe drawing like feet together toward one another in a warrior pose, you are creating resistance and that resistance in essence is releasing another muscle so that you can settle into the pose a little bit more. And it’s not just about stretching but it’s about creating that and that strengthening within the yoga practice isn’t about the way that we look but it’s a way to kind of release the energy in our head. When we are refining the muscle, strengthening and stretching, we are into a place where we are not comparative so much anymore.

​And so you’re not trying to compete necessarily and it’s more, that’s when you start to draw into yourself and the focus becomes more about being on the mat and what you are doing for yourself and the focus again draws into the aspect of coming into oneself rather than trying to please everybody else.

​Because if you are unhappy and you’re trying to please all of these people, you’re probably pushing more than you are drawing in and so when you start to realize that you don’t have to have all of this outward energy going out all of the time but if you focus on yourself and you focus on cleaning out the crap inside of your life, it’s kind of like cleaning your closet out and every once in a while we have to do that. And so your focus, when your mind is uncluttered becomes clearer, you can see a little bit broader than that narrow vision and sometimes that lends itself to you may be reaching out into a more expansive quality in things that you can absorb in life.

​If you are like this, there is a lot of stuff on the outside that you’re not going to see and so when we start to release the clutter and open up that vision there’s a lot more that we’re going to take in in this life because it’s not just about what’s in front of us all the time and that’s a really important quality in what I think yoga can give us. Did I go through three there? I hope I did.

Paul: ​I think you got it. All right Maggie, let’s look at stages of life from being a kid to being 20, thirty-something, middle-aged and then beyond. How can yoga helped in each of those stages?

Maggie: ​So I’m starting with children, especially young girls. I teach a lot of kids classes and you see more and more pressure on these young children, especially girls, boys too but already seven, eight-year-old children, the pressure of looking a certain way, wearing certain types of clothes, the name brands, wearing your hair a certain way and you have children picking on each other, making fun of one another they come in here very stressed already at a young age.

​So when I’m working with them, we start a lot with breath. We do a lot of breath work, we talk a lot about the yamas and niyamas of yoga. We talk about Ahimsa nonviolence, self-esteem, working through things, how to be better friends, how to be… How to come from the heart center space instead of judging.

​So from the very beginning if you can start young, that’s the best place to start. I mean it’s great to start anytime you can but they are open, they are intuitive, they are ready to take it in. So children nowadays they really need yoga, it’s very stressful with all the homework, the sports that they are involved in. They are just being judged all the time or other children and I think the breath work, the body movement and the self-esteem piece of the yoga practice for children is really important.

​And then moving on to teens or adults especially for adults as you get older, you realize, “Oh my gosh what did I do in life? Where am I now?” Maybe the kids are finally out of the house, maybe you are the place you don’t want to be at anymore so you start to find a practice and you start to realize, “This isn’t my truth, this isn’t where I want to be at this moment.”

​So you start practicing, you gain confidence, you gain strength, you become more aware. I think that’s a huge step in the middle age adult population, is awareness and then you realize, “Oh, I need to make some changes in my life. I am working too hard, I am not balancing my life, I am not eating well, I’m not resting well, I am not exercising,” and you start practicing yoga.

Even if it’s for the asana or the poses of the physical part, you start to see a transformation within. You see that you are more flexible, that you can sleep at night, that you have more energy, that you can tolerate things better. You feel that you are more connected to people and you feel more bonded with the world whereas before you were just rushing through it. So I think it’s important in that age because there is a lot of change happening in that period.

​And then as you get even older and everyone is out of the house, you may or may not be with your partner still, you start to dive deeper within finding that spirituality so you really find a connection within. It’s a part of your life that you realize everything is passed by and I realize my life is temporary and things are always changing. So you get into the practice.

I find a lot of older women come to my classes to just meditate or relax. They come to just be present and they love the community, they want to be around other people, they let go of all of the expectations, they let go of the physical, they let go of the judgment and now they are really in tune with who they are and what they want in life and yoga just continues to have them evolve physically as well because they are more flexible, they are more mobile, they don’t feel like they are going to fall, their spine is more malleable and mobile as well so they just feel much better.

And they tell me that all the time, “I have an injury but it’s feeling better as I practice.” or, “I am able to sleep better,” or “I am able to move better,” “I have been playing this game with my friend…” whatever it is they notice changes in their body, their emotions, their mental state and everything.

Paul: ​I think she said it all.

Jerry: ​I know right. With regards to kids, there is huge energy. And for just that little bit of moment if you have them in class and they are able to sit down and find a moment where they can close their eyes and feel just a stillness they may not realize what’s going on but for them it’s fun because they don’t often stop. They are always go, go, go explore, explore, explore so it’s really great to get them in touch with that. And it may not be anything that they would get in touch with for a while. It may be that they would come into it in their teens or in their 20s or maybe later in life like me and that the realization comes in but over time it does.

​With regards to teens, they are going through a lot of hormonal changes and learning to adapt breath in the physical body can sometimes help alter what’s going on inside the body or help us adapt to that physical change so that it doesn’t become such a dramatic place to be especially the hormones make us just go out in different directions and when you are emptying and clearing the mind becoming a little more focused that the anxieties and the things and the distractions aren’t as prominent I don’t think.

And as a young adult or an older adult again, the physical aspect, if we are starting to get into her 30s and 40s we’re going, “Dammit, I wish I have started this way earlier.” But the fact is it’s like you can’t always look in the past, you just work yourself forward and go, “Okay I’m going to go with this and see what happens.”

​A lot of times people get overwhelmed by the fact that it’s really hard. They think, “Oh, that looks pretty easy,” until they actually get in there and they go, “That’s really hard.” Then it becomes a mind thing, “Am I going to stick with it or not?” And more often than not it becomes, it’s that type of thing where it’s like, “I can’t do this,” and sometimes you can do it right then and maybe you will come back to it later.

​Or if you stick it out just like anything in life and you put a little focus into it, little bit of effort, not the effort of willfulness but the effort to really realize that there is the potential in un-weighting yourself that it could ultimately leave you in a more elated a space, a grounded space, freer for the physical body and a nice place where you can settle in if you can sit for a moment. Because we feel like we always have to go for a moment and not taking anything or not leave anything behind but just kind of sit with the stuff that you have and say, “It’s okay to be here.”

And each day you sit with that presents a little bit longer. And soon we are old, we are seniors, we are walking around all hunched over, or we are actually rolling the shoulders back, standing up and we have our vision forward but sometimes it’s that the focus doesn’t, and I’m going, “Oh, I wish I had done that.” There is the time, you can do it anytime.

Paul: ​What should people be looking for in a yoga teacher?

Maggie: ​All right. So I think when you are looking for a teacher definitely look at the training, that’s a big part of it but you have to look and see if they are personable, if there somebody you can relate to, somebody who is not up there just showing off, somebody who is going to walk around and adjust you, talk to you, ask you if you need anything, someone you feel comfortable enough with to raise your hand and say, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, can you come over and please help me?” And that person is more than welcome to come over and help you and adjust you giving you props.

​I think also a teacher saying to you, “Please be aware of your own body, you are the best teacher for yourself. If you have any injuries, medical conditions, let me know. Tell me about them so I can help you through the process.”

Jerry: ​I like to go to different teachers because each one has something different to say; an aspect of reflection may be a motivational thing. And so it’s about exploring and through life we tend to explore anyways. But you are going to hear a voice that you like and probably a voice that you don’t like.

I have another teacher that says sometimes she goes to classes and teachers that she doesn’t like because it’s not about them, it’s about you. And so you have to experience the things that aren’t necessarily comfortable and know that those things are going to happen every day and maybe sit and see if you can change the aspect where it’s not something.

​But I really, really, for me is to hear what the teacher has to offer. I mean you’re going to get a lot of the same instructions with regard to the physical movements, not necessarily the same but roughly but it’s what you’re going to pull out of it and it might be a snippet, something that they say and go, “God you know what, if I could do that every day,” just one thing. And so for me the focus on the teacher is what they have to offer or somebody who can explain this.

Maggie: ​On that note sometimes I avoided the teachers when I need to be there, that’s the place I need to be the most but I have an aversion to it and I need to go and be there and stay with it the whole entire time. Sometimes I’ll avoid teachers who are really, really, really slow but that’s where I need to be.

Jerry: ​Yeah.

Maggie: ​So it’s nice to be open to everything.

Jerry: ​Exactly. It’s probably why she doesn’t come to my class all the time.

Maggie: ​No, you’re awesome! I’m always there!

Paul: ​What should people look for in yoga studios?

Maggie: ​You want to start?

Jerry: ​I think if you walk into a place that feels warm and inviting, I tend to like a warmer studio than a colder studio but not hot. For me I love hot in the wintertime, hate it in the summertime.

​If the people are nice when you walk in and they are inviting you in your like, “Okay, yeah I will come in and try it out.” But I think it’s just a feeling again, search it out and see. But knowing that there is a whole slew of teachers, you want to be willing to put money out and know that those teachers are going to support you and your practice and that’s a really big thing. Because when you’re buying class cards and month-long’s you want to make sure that there is enough classes to support that.

Maggie: ​I do agree with the Jerry on variety. I think the right is very important to come in and say, “Oh, I would like to try a restorative class. Maybe I would like to try a yin class. Maybe I am going to power it up today with this power hour class,” something that gives a variety so I can buy a class card and try them all.

​I also think you need to go by your intuition where you feel comfortable, where you can be yourself and feel like you can come in and wear anything you want, not worry about wearing the Lu-Lu lemon and all of those brand-name clothing where you can just come in and be yourself entirely. And also for me a big part of it is like the way it looks, I know that sounds a little superficial but just to the colors and the warmth that you were talking about, sometimes you can go into a studio and it feels very sterile.

Jerry: ​Right.

Maggie: ​… And there are mirrors everywhere when I am not the big mirror fan. So it’s nice to have a studio where you are just turning inward and you feel comfortable they are where you can just take your shoes off and relax and be yourself 100%.

Jerry: ​Yeah.

Paul: ​Great. So a lot of activities and exercises we do require a lot of gear. How much gear do you need for yoga?

Maggie: ​Nothing! You, your body!

Jerry: ​A mat you are comfortable with…

Maggie: ​Yeah, that’s it.

Jerry: ​I’ve been through… I can’t tell you how many different mats until I found the one that I like. I’ll plug Jade because I really like them but I went, they have a fat mat that I started with because my knees hurt and it was hard for me to be in poses like Ustrasan or camel pose. ​ And then after a while I started getting more adapted in my practice and then it felt better to be on a thinner mat so I went to a thinner mat. So find one that works for you because they are going to be different. Most studios will have blocks, some will have bolsters and blankets and straps. So I would say most studios will have what you need, not everybody carries bolsters because that’s a little bit more for strategy if they do more restorative practices than they probably will have them. Maggie: ​Yeah and I mean honestly, you need a mat maybe if that, a blanket if you want to start with…

Jerry: ​In fashionable yoga…

Maggie: ​… Yeah! Comfortable clothing for sure. Water, sometimes I just tell people to bring different layers of clothing; they can get chilly, some people want to warm it up so they put on extra layers otherwise is very simple, you really don’t need much at all.

Jerry: ​Yeah, water is probably important too.

Maggie: ​Water.

Jerry: ​Yeah.

Paul: ​That was great guys, thank you so much for being on the LifehackrDiet podcast and YouTube channel. It’s been great chatting to you both.

Maggie: ​Thank you for having us!

Jerry: ​thank you.

Maggie: ​Thanks!

Paul: ​Well I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as Jerry and Maggie did. They are wonderful teachers, wonderful people. They have a wonderful time doing what they love to do and it’s kind of fun because in Jerry’s class, Maggie is always in the back doing the class and vice versa so they really enjoy each other’s perspectives.

So I strongly encourage you guys to go to your local yoga studios, by one of the discount starter packs and give it some time and try different teachers, try different classes, take your time, have an open mind because there is such a huge, huge payoff and it really can be a huge part of your life and really enable you for all your years and all your stages.

So thank you for listening as all of us start down a unique path to leaner healthier bodies there is always challenges along the way which is why the LifehackrDiet community is so important.

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