John Y’s Musings from the Middle: We Need Some New #^$%&^$ Curse Words!

I think we could use a few new curse words.

We hear the same four or five over and over again.

Any suggestions?

“Trog” seems to have some potential. As in “Trog you” or “Trog it.” Or “What the trog?”

And maybe “Blat.” Like “Oh blat! I am in trouble now.” Or “He is a real blathead?”

jyb_musingsI think “Constantinople” would make a killer new curse word but it is apparently being used for something else. I could really put my heart into that one.

Oh well… I mean…blat!

What a troggin’ waste!

Julie Rath: Your Personal Iconic Look

Men's Personal Shopper: Steve Jobs turtleneck

A lot of guys have a “uniform” – something they wear throughout the year, no matter what the weather is. I know one guy (not a Rath & Co. client) who wears the same logo’d windbreaker everyday to work over his dress shirt and keeps it on all day. On really cold days, he wears another jacket over it. Oh, and did I mention he even wore it to a holiday party I attended at his home — with shorts and flip-flops? He’s evidently missing the chip that handles distinctions for situational dressing.

To say the least, the “uniform” of the guy described above has room for improvement. However, in some cases, having a set look serves a positive purpose and is even desirable, but only if  it’s well thought-out and well-executed. I get requests for this quite often from prospective clients – they want their own personal, iconic look, à la Steve Jobs. I get the appeal of this. First of all, it streamlines their getting-dressed routine. Also significant is that it can help cement one’s identity and give a solid sense of self both internally and outwardly with others. My only caveat here is that this needs to done in a way where a) it’s not boring (perhaps there are slight variations within what you wear each day – black v-neck sweater vs. black turtleneck sweater), and b) even though you’re sticking with the same theme each day, it shouldn’t look sloppy or as though you don’t care about your appearance (think Mark Zuckerberg’s hoody).

Men's Image Consulting: Matthew McConaugheyMatthew McConaughey in his signature fitted Dolce & Gabbana suit (he appears in their fragrance ads).

How to develop that look? Well, that’s easier said than done and, I’ll be honest, you may need help from a professional. But I’ve outlined four steps below on how to move toward creating your own.

1) Make a list of words that describe the look you’re going for and how you want to be received by others. Then narrow that list down to three or four. If you’re not a wordsmith, spend quality time on Google looking at images of other guys who embody what you’re going for. Then describe that look verbally. You may also want to consult the thesaurus for ideas once you come up with an initial word or two.

2) If you haven’t already found visual examples of others who give off the same vibe you’re looking for, do that now. Then ask yourself, what are the identifying characteristics in those outfits that create that sensibility? It may only be parts of different looks (the shirt fabric, or the way patterns are combined, as two examples) that resonate with you. Make a list of those items. This is the source list that you’ll be pulling from when you test things out.

3) Using the list above, test each of these things out one at a time. If your financial resources are limited, you can do this in a dressing room without purchasing items. Ask friends whose opinions you trust and who you know will be honest whether the look works for you or not. (Generally, this is not going to be a store salesperson.) Doing this will allow you to narrow down your source list to your final choice(s). A word of caution: if the elements you’re trying out make a really bold statement, like brightly colored bracelets or socks with a standout pattern, limit yourself to a max of 3-4 items along these lines per outfit.

4) Whatever you go with, have CONVICTION about it. This is important because if you don’t feel confident about your appearance, most likely others won’t either. And remember, everyone looks at himself more critically than other people do (honing in on specific perceived flaws like a thick midsection or short legs – which others might not notice as acutely as you do), so try to take a more macro approach as I mentioned in this article on defining your personal style.

I know this can sound like a big undertaking, but if you follow these steps above and get advice from a professional or people you trust, you can absolutely achieve it. If defining your style is something you’re working on, let me know how it goes for you. I’d love to hear about your hits and your misses.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Kidney Stones

kidney stoneOur family is comprised of my wife, Rebecca, our son, Johnny, our daughter, Maggie, and our two dogs, Macy and Winston.

But on Monday we had–not what I would call an actual addition to the family–but a temporary intruder that has introduced himself (or herself) into our extended family. After several hours of agonizing pain in my lower back a CAT scan confirmed I had given birth to a small calcium deposit more commonly known as a kidney stone.

The process of birthing a kidney stone is cruelly painful. It feels like a tiny army has invaded your body and is attacking your lower back with miniature jackhammers.

I have been told repeatedly that a kidney stone is the most painful condition a man can experience—“like childbirth.” OK then. I’ll treat that way. I’m going to give my calcium deposit (or kidney stone) a proper name while it is residing swimmingly in my bladder waiting to burst out into the universe.

Buster has a nice ring to it. And I think I’m calling it a he.

For real childbirth the gestation period lasts about 38 weeks –or 266 days, on average. But for a male to create and discharge a fully grown calcium deposit is much a much shorter gestation period—about 3 or 4 days. Tops.

A dog’s gestation period is  61 days. A cow’s 279 days. The only thing on the shorter end of the spectrum even close to a man’s incubation period for a calcium deposit is a fly. Flies have gestation periods of about 4 days. But it’s not really gestation because they lay eggs. But they get it all done in 4 days and the only thing close to what I’m doing now with my kidney stone. I looked it up on the internet.

So, back to Buster. Our newest family member, sort of. I’ll be giving birth to him shortly. I’m in Day Three of my gestation period. The doctor expects Buster to be birthed (or “passed”) tomorrow, provided I drink lots of water and take Flomax. The male/kidney stone equivalent of Lamaze.

How did I find out I was “with stone?”

It all started late Monday afternoon. Day One was just awful. I didn’t think I had done anything  deserving  punishment….but the nurse–trained to read the body language of patients– knew immediately something was wrong with me when she walked into my hospital room and I was screaming at the top of my lungs “Oh God. Ohhhhh God!!! Oh God! OH GOD!!! Please help! OH GOD!” She asked me to point to the pain and I pointed to my lower right back.

My wife was shushing me and I waved my finger angrily at her and said, “No! No!  Don’t shush me! Screaming it the only thing that helps distract me from the pain!”

Admittedly, it was not my finest moment as a husband. Or hospital patient. And I later apologized to both Rebecca and the hospital staff.

As wimpy as I felt for making all that noise, I was grateful the nurse knew exactly what to do. She administered a pain medication that sedated me and then took me in for a CAT scan. A CAT scan sounds like it could be fun. Something with a small furry house pet like our dogs, Macy and Winston. But it’s not. At all. It’s really boring. They put you on an oscillating bed and slide you back and forth through this giant contraption that takes pictures of your insides. That’s it.  There are no cats anywhere. I guess the main take away about my reflections on the CAT scan is that the pain medication was working well.

About 30 minutes later a doctor came into my room and told me that I was about to be a proud father of a small calcium deposit. (Those weren’t his exact words, but you get the idea.)

jyb_musingsI asked how big was my creation. The doctor said 2mm. “Smaller than average” and it should drop into the bladder soon “because it’s so small.”

I felt slightly self-conscious and think the doctor was embarrassed for me not being able to create a bigger kidney stone.

Feeling relief from the pain medication I felt more like myself and asked the nurse if she’d seen any other men with kidney stones this week.  She said she had several kidney stone patients recently. After a pause, I asked, “How big was my kidney stone compared to the others?” I blushed while awaiting my answer and explained, “It’s a guy thing.” The nurse said, my stone was “big enough to cause a lot of pain” but wouldn’t offer a comparative opinion. I took it that my kidney stone fell on the small side. Maybe the smallest. The “runt” of all the stones seen recently in this hospital.

I was discharged with medicine, directions to drink lots of water and given a paper sifter to capture Buster when he was ready to meet the world. I returned Tuesday with no stone. The doctor wasn’t surprised and said it sometimes takes “several days to pass.” That’s all well and fine but I could tell he felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough and should really try to put my heart into it more.  I was a little depressed—disappointed in myself, I guess, for not delivering.

Then again I am 50 years old. Birthing a calcium deposit at my age isn’t as easy as it sounds.

I am proud but hope this doesn’t affect my diet. Because in a way I am eating for two now.

As the nurse checked me out for the last time, she said to me routinely “I hope you feel better.” I said, I “didn’t feel that.” And added, “I don’t think your heart was in it.” She laughed and tried again and I said, “Better…but ….no…not really.” The third time was a charm and I left with us both laughing….kind of cool way to end an awful experience.

And soon–maybe tonight—Buster will pass. Pass into this universe –ever so briefly—and then get flushed into oblivion. OK. I know. Buster is just a calcium deposit. But he is my calcium deposit. And as painful and miserable as a kidney stone is to experience, it is possible—if you try really hard like I am doing now—to find something positive in even the most miserable experiences. A silver lining, if you will—that is un-phased by the jagged edges of my little runt of a kidney stone that is about to be introduced, albeit briefly, to this amazing but sometimes very painful world.

Josh Bowen: The Power of Touch and Encouragement


Josh and JM

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Bascaglia


It is said that 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. It is also common knowledge that there is a psychological effect to touching. In fact there are several scientific research articles stating that when a person is touched by a person they trust, it elevates oxytocin levels and decreases the stress related hormones. Touching has also been shown to develop relationships between two people.

It is the first language we learn,” said Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life” (Norton, 2009), and remains, he said, “our richest means of emotional expression” throughout life. One form of touching that is always acceptable and has the power to show appreciation, respect, care and develop the trainer/client relationship we are all after; the high five.


The high five, the same form of non-verbal communication professional athletes exude.  The same expression we learn through pee-wee football and little league baseball to show praise for a good job. The high five is the ultimate trainer’s tool for relationship development and appreciation for a client.

Right, wrong or indifferent I touch my clients. I give them high fives to show they have done a good job; I give them a hug when I feel they need it and I tap them gently on the muscle being worked. The power of the high five allows me to do the following:

Develop a great relationship

When I give a high five to a client I show them respect and gratitude for the work they are doing. Sometimes that message is difficult to convey through words. For my super competitive clients this takes them back to athlete days and puts them in an environment they are use too. For everyone it shows appreciation for their work, something sometimes their out-of-the-gym life doesn’t supply. After a great set of bicep curls, supply a simple high hive to show you are paying attention.


Conveys to potential clients my relationship with my clients

In a gym setting, during a 60 minute session on average 14 people will watch at least 20% of the session. This is marketing at its highest! I want to produce the vibe that I care about my clients, especially for potential clients watching me. Post workout, end the session with a powerful high hive, someone on the treadmill above will notice.


The word fun is often not associated with exercise. People view working out as a chore or that it hurts. Add a few high fives and a smile and now it becomes a little more tolerable. Honestly, after a few sessions, people realize how fun this really can be! Not everyone is an athlete or will think exercise is fun, provide a high five during the session changes the feelings towards exercise.

Help carry the load

Performing a high five to a client, physiologically, signifies I am offering to “carry” their load. “We think that humans build relationships precisely for this reason, to distribute problem solving across brains,” said James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.” Before a session, especially for my clients who come after work, provide that high five to show you understand their day and you are here to help “carry their load.”

The power of the high five is over reaching. It takes little effort but supplies dramatic reward. Personal training is all about relationships and how those relationships develop, no better way than to communicate through providing your client a simple high five.


Josh “JB” Bowen is an industry veteran, holding many positions within the industry and is currently a personal trainer in Lexington, KY and Quality Control Director for Compel Fitness. He was a global 2013 top ten finalist in Life Fitness’ Personal Trainer to Watch, and author of the 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Born to be Wild

jyb_musingsYou know you are 50 when….

Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” pops up to play on your iPod and instead of proudly displaying the album image and secretly believing it is your way of warning others that you, deep down, have a ferrel and dangerous side that they should be wary of—you instead flip quickly to the next song because you know, deep down, that others have nothing to be wary about in your presence.

And others know that, too.

And when the next song that pops up us Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel you proudly display the album image for others to see and secretly believe  it is your way of saying, “I may not be wild today but back in the 70’s I had a very sensitive side and loved Simon and Garfunkel’s melodic Scarborough Fair no matter what other people thought.

And that’s how I still roll today.”

Lauren Mayer: I Thought “Don’t Drink The Water” Was Only For Other Countries

If you’re as old as I am, or a devotee of topical comedy songs, you might be familiar with Tom Lehrer’s song, “Pollution,” in which tourists were advised, when visiting the US, “don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air.”  Which was making fun of the traditional advice to American tourists visiting other countries, advice which is still given regarding many destinations.  (And rightly so in some cases – apparently journalists covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi received notes in their hotel rooms warning them not to drink the tap water or put it on their faces because it ‘contained something bad’ and was a dark yellow color.  Some news anchors compared it to the color of beer, although as Jon Stewart pointed it, it looked more like ‘the result of beer.’  But I digress . . . )

No matter what we experience overseas, we expect safe water here in the US, so when it turns into gray sludge (like in North Carolina’s recent coal-ash spill) or smells like licorice (West Virginia’s chemical spill), it attracts quite a bit of attention.  We are used to trusting our senses – if it looks or smells funny, we aren’t reassured by public health officials saying the water is fine (just not for pregnant women).  Apparently regulations in those areas were so lax, no one had any idea that the pipes or storage tanks were going to fail.  Sure, we can have a civilized debate over the best ways to regulate toxic chemical storage – but when several counties in two different states have either gray sludge or licorice water coming out of their faucets, we know something is definitely wrong!  So I guess it’s time for a new song about tainted water . . .

Jonathan Miller: Working together to take care of our service men, women and returning vets

This article appeared originally in The Hill.

nolabelsorg-87_600When California Congressman Ami Bera met New York Rep. Christopher Gibson at a dinner last April, they began a conversation about how the two of them — a physician and a retired Army colonel, a Democrat and a Republican — might work together in Congress to advance the country’s interests.

It didn’t take them long to come up with an idea.

While the two men held different career perspectives, they shared a deep concern about health care for our military’s men and women. They knew that there were serious problems, particularly with the muddled and inefficient health-records system in which active duty service members received care through the Department of Defense and veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The doctor and retired officer understood that with little coordination between the two mammoth agencies, service members often encountered frustrating bureaucratic delays in accessing benefits and health care as they returned to civilian life. And they agonized that this was a terrible way to repay those who’ve served our country.


Both Rep. Bera and Rep. Gibson are members of No Labels, a fast-growing movement of citizens and political leaders who are dedicated to the politics of problem solving and consensus building. As members of No Labels’ Congressional Problem Solvers, a group of nearly 100 lawmakers from both parties and both houses, they were committed to working together to find a better way to take care of our service men and women and returning vets. And they did.

Out of their conversation that night came the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act, a bill to construct a streamlined and easily accessible electronic health-records system for military service members and veterans.

The bill became part of a legislative package, Make Government Work!, that the No Labels Problem Solvers unveiled last summer with sponsors on both sides of the aisle.

So clearly beneficial was the No Labels bipartisan, common-sense bill that key language from it was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in December.  The language set out standards for the creation of an authoritative health-data system that will, for the first time, merge the electronic health records of the Department of Defense with the Department of Veterans Affairs—thereby, as Rep. Bera stated, “saving money, making the transition to civilian life easier for vets, and helping address the VA backlog.”

If all goes according to plan, patients will be able to download their own medical records and, in time, share them via a secure, remote storage system with their healthcare providers.

As Rep. Bera noted after the original bill was introduced, “Creating an efficient and responsive health care program for service members and veterans isn’t just a Democratic or Republican priority, it’s important to all members of Congress regardless of party, and it’s something we can achieve if we just listen to one another and work together.”

The adoption of this measure is proof that listening to one another and working together really can make a difference and lead to results. This is just one example of what No Labels and the Problem Solvers group can do and continue to strive towards.

The group has just embarked on a three-year campaign to develop a national strategic agenda, a shared vision for this country built around goals and concrete actions that reasonable people of differing political persuasions can agree upon and rally around.

The group is working with members of Congress — people like Congressmen Bera and Gibson and more than 75 others who’ve said they support the concept of a national strategic agenda — as well as other political leaders and some of the nation’s leading voices in business and economics to develop a set of objectives and policy options. No Labels hopes its national strategic agenda — a new sort of governing process based on shared goals — will emerge as a major part of the political discussion in the next presidential campaign.

The process won’t be easy—nobody ever said democracy would be. But the continued progress of our nation and the well-being of citizens depend on our earnest efforts and more constructive, good-faith conversations between Democrats and Republicans.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Memories….of my memory….remembering things….

Memories….of my memory….remembering things….that I didn’t really remember….but thought I did…but was something else.

Seeing someone on the street late last week I said to them…

“Hey there! How are you? I was just talking about you to someone the other day….Oh, who was it…Actually it was about a month ago not the other day. Who was it I was talking to? I can’t believe I can’t remember. Oh, it wasn’t about you but something you were doing.

What…you know ….that, umm, what is the name of that charity you are involved with.

Or not charity, but project you are on the board of. The, um, the…..Oh, I remember now. It was about someone who wanted me to introduce you to them because they wanted to discuss the project with you.

jyb_musingsThat’s what it was….and, well, darn it, I told them I would introduce you two and I just forgot all about it until just now.

I’m glad I ran into you so it jogged my memory!”

Erica & Matt Chua: Oman

Oman is a country that wasn’t our radar before we booked a flight to the UAE.  Then our friends told us we had to visit Oman while in the area…how right they were!  It was a highlight of our time in the region.  We were intrigued by the mystery of a country covered in sand with reportedly gorgeous beaches, incredible hiking and a goat market that has to be seen to be believed.  Oman delivered on all counts!  Better yet, it was easy to get to from the UAE.


DON’T MISS: The Friday goat market in Nizwa.
MUST SEE: Nizwa’s old souk, Wadi Shab and Muscat.
MUST TASTE: Hummus and meat…think about it…it’s as decadent and delicious as it sounds!


TRIP PLANNING: Plan on at least a week to enjoy this beautiful country.
GETTING AROUND: Rent a car, there’s no way around it as there is no public transportation, however make sure you have the correct insurance if you are renting a car from the UAE.


OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $123.22. Half of which was the car rental from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
COST OF A BEER: Let us know if you get your hands on some in this beer desert (literally and figuratively).
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Fill up your car in Oman as the gas is so cheap!


YOU NEED TO KNOW: It is hot and dry, even if you are in an air-conditioned car you’ll want a stash of water.
IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would have budgeted many more days to explore Oman and do some hiking.
HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: WikitravelNizwa goat market information.

Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: Oman

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Rest in Peace, Zichro Livracha, Harold Ramis

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