John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Diet Update – Before and After Pics

Here is my “Before” alongside my future “After” pic. 

About 6 months from now….while thinking about how much better I look with all that weight off, especially when I stand on a rock and look out over the ocean while wearing faded torn jeans with a tan and long hair with the wind blowing through it and a stylish watch in case I want to know what time it is.



Serious before and after:


Josh Bowen: 10 Foods You Need in Your Diet

joshOf all the types of questions a fitness professional is asked, nutrition is the most common subject. Quite frankly people are clueless when it comes to what they eat. Conversely, that is not their fault. In this country we search for the quick fix, the easy way out and our media has done a great marketing job on “diets.” These diets usually consist of restriction some selection of food; fat, carbs, meat etc. So we are constantly told what we “shouldn’t” eat and rarely are we told what we should eat. So I wanted to put together a list of 10 foods that most everyone needs (barring food allergy, religious reasoning or preference). These 10 foods have various purposes that go beyond how many calories they consist of. These foods help the body ward off disease, decrease inflammation, and add vital vitamins and minerals to our body.

1. Eggs- Eggs are on this list for a variety of reasons; the whites are full of high biological value protein (that is a good thing), the yellow is full of leptin (which controls appetite) and they are extremely versatile (scrambled, poached, boiled etc.).  Eggs also have 12 vitamin and minerals, one of which (choline) is vital for brain development and increased memory. Eggs are nutrient dense only containing 75 calories per egg.

2. Nuts- If you only look at foods based upon their fat content and calorie count you would probably leave these section of food out. You would be missing the point of the article. Yes calories matter, however a twinkie may have less calories than a Big Mac that does not mean it is a good option. Most nuts are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids that are good for the cardiovascular system and act as an anti-inflammatory warding off potential disease. Also nuts are considered an antioxidant which has the potential to decrease the potential for cancer. Because most nuts are high in fat, thus high in calories, use proper judgment and portion control and monitor the salt as well. Almonds, cashews, pistachios are all good choices.

3. Sweet Potato- One of my all-time favorite foods that packs a punch and is nutrient dense. Sweet potatoes are technically a vegetable, although we rarely think of them in that way. Their dark orange coloring makes them high in Vitamin A and C and an outstanding source of potassium. Diabetics can enjoy these foods because they are lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, generally because of their high water content. Sweet potatoes also act as an anti-inflammatory.

4. Broccoli- Another one of my all-time favorite foods. Without the cheese, broccoli is a true super food that is packed with potassium a rich source of Vitamin A, C and K. It can be very beneficial for diabetics because of its high fiber content. Just remember, no chees

5. Apples- Not all fruits are created equal. Some are good and some are not. Apples however are unique, the skin is full of fiber (blunting the insulin effects of sugar) and they have high antioxidant content. Apples have been linked to prevent lung cancer, improve lung function and help prevent Type II diabetes.

6. Salmon- the American Heart Association recommends eating salmon twice per week because of the high Omega 3 content. It is low in calories, high in protein and low in saturated fats. If at all possible choose fresh salmon versus farm-raised.

7. Kiwis- They are a nutrient dense food that has an entire days requirement of Vitamin C in one large kiwi. Also high in fiber and potassium and a good source of Vitamin A and E. Great taste and texture makes this fruit a great super food.

8. Beans- Beans are loaded with insoluble fiber which is great for ridding the body of unwanted waste. These are heart healthy foods which are low fat good source of protein. Beans are versatile, they can be a good side dish, a great substitute for meat and chicken and can also be mixed in with other foods to make a great snack.

9. Quinoa- What? Yea Quinoa (pronounce keen-wa) is an ancient grain that is now readily available in health food stores and sections of your commercial grocery stores. Its high in protein and fiber and a good source of iron. It is as easy to prepare as rice and can be combined with nuts and beans as a good meal.

10. Berries- pack an incredible amount of nutritional goodness into a small package. They’re loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, low in calories, and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. And their flavors satisfy sweets cravings for a fraction of the calories in baked goods. Blueberries lead the pack because they are among the best source of antioxidants and are widely available. Cranberries are also widely available fresh, frozen, or dried. All can add flavor and nutrition to numerous dishes, from salads and cereals to baked goods and yogurt.

So instead of focusing on foods you shouldn’t eat, concentrate on the foods you should. Start incorporating the above and watch your health increase dramatically which will vicariously help you reduce body fat, lower your blood sugar and help you build more muscle. Let me know if you have any good recipes!

Josh Bowen: 5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Being a Personal Trainer

joshThis week’s installment, is not necessary about “tips” but more so about perspective. I took on a new fitness challenge recently and it got my thinking about my time as a trainer and what it has taught me. I believe we can look at all aspects of our life and extract many learning experiences from it. Here are mine.

My 11 years in the fitness industry has taught me a lot about life. It has taught me what to do and in some cases what not to do. Life often emulates art and I have always thought of personal training as art, it makes sense that I have learned some important life lessons. In no particular order, these are the 5 things I have learned about life from being a personal trainer:

1. Anything can be achieved with passion.

I’m not the best personal trainer and I am far from perfect. I am however passionate, a word that is thrown around in the fitness industry more than anything. My definition is simply one who eats, sleeps, breathes their work. That I do. Fitness taught me how. Through ups in downs, passion has let me conquer personal issues as well as professional. An unrelenting quest to be the best version of myself was taught to me from my experience in this industry. I attribute everything I have accomplished personally and collectively due to that passion. Without it, I have nothing.

2. If you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to achieve it.

My clients and clients of other trainers have taught me this. My client Rolodex is full of people who conquered the odds, all because they wanted it bad enough. In my book 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom I tell a story about a woman from Columbus who lost an extraordinary amount of weight and developed a community of enthusiastic people wanting to do the same. Or the woman who I have trained for many moons, who at first just wanted to be fit but now owns her own personal training business, all because wanted it more than other people. If you want it bad enough, you’ll go get it.

3. No one gets to where they are, alone.

I didn’t get to this point by myself. I had help…a lot of help. That help came in the form of support from others a long this 11 year journey. It also came in the form of detractors and negative people who taught me what I didn’t want be. No matter how successful you are, you got there with help. If I was never given a shot to train at Gold’s Gym in 2004, I would never be here today.

4. Bad times will always pass.

Obstacles are put in front of us not to stay and best us down but to leave after we have conquered it. I’ve seen it a thousand times, some one who goes through turmoil but keeps at it and never quits, always turns out for the better. If I have learned anything from working with trainers and clients is, regardless of the situation, if you keep at it, never waiver and never quit you will come out of the dark and into the light. It’s that simple.

5.Look to add value versus make money.

Money comes and goes like the wind blows. No matter how much you have you cannot take it with you. Having money is not impressive, adding value to other’s is. I have learned this through experience in the fitness industry. I have seen people with lots of money that truly had nothing, nothing because they were not adding value to others. The single most important lesson we can all learn is how to add value to someone else’s life. Whether it is to listen, be a shoulder to cry on or help a friend in need, adding value to someone means so much more than money. “Choose legacy over currency,” is a favorite quote of mine and it means to simple to add so much value to someone that you build a legacy and are never forgotten. A very important lesson.

I could write a list longer than this but for time purposes I will keep it short. Being in fitness has taught me so much that I feel honored to talk about it everyday. The lessons I have learned are so important not only to my life but the lives that interact with on a daily basis.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: A Final Worthy Act

jyb_musingsThere is nothing noble about how Phillip Seymour Hoffman died. Nothing courageous; nothing thoughtful; nothing exemplifying caring for those who relied on him. And there was plenty to suggest deep pain, deceit, secrecy, and recklessness—all flowing effortlessly from a piercing drug addiction.

Professionally, Hoffman left an extraordinary legacy of achievement. But in his personal life, his legacy to his children was cut brutally and inexplicably short. Yet his will, leaving direction but limited resources to his three children showed, in my opinion, that he loved his children devotedly and cared deeply and thoughtfully about their well-being.

And proved again that love is better measured in time and thoughtfulness than dollars and cents.

One can hope, ironically, that this legacy Phillip Seymour Hoffman left to his children in death, may help in some important way to protect the children he loved from meeting the same tragic end that Hoffman himself did.

Josh Bowen: Work + Rest = Success

joshAs I sit here on my 2 day vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I have to remind myself of the importance of rest. As most know, I will push myself to limit everyday, sometimes working 7 days a week and working out 6-7 days. Rest has not been my best friend, but thankfully I have great people around me who encourage that I take a break. And that break was must needed. For the last 2 days, I haven’t done much of anything besides walk the beach, work on my tan and disconnect from everything. It is a great feeling, every once in a while. 

Not only did my mind need a breather, my muscles did as well. For the better part of 15 years, I have consistently worked out, 6-7 days a week. However, lately injuries have mounted. My biceps tendon was an issue for 2 weeks, then it was my hip. After resting the past few days, my aches have subsided. My body was telling me to take a break. And for the first time in a while, it got it. 

So here are three components of rest we must remember to take our bodies and our minds to the next level: 

1. Sleep- helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later. While lack of sleep can have dire consequences, adequate sleep provides only positive, healthful benefits. In a typical day, a person’s waking hours are consumed trying to meet the many mental and physical demands encountered at every turn, as well as replenishing vital nutrients as they are being used up during these daily activities. In the hours remaining during sleep, the body takes time out to rebuild and recharge, preparing for the day ahead. PLUS…your body only changes when you sleep, so no sleep equals no change. 7-8 hours is recommended. 

2. Relaxation- in addition to sleep, your body and your mind needs to relax. Working out hard is great but you cannot take your body to limit all the time. Taking a day off to recoup is a great idea. Listen to your body, it will tell you where to go and what to do. Yoga and meditation are great relaxation techniques to put you in a great mood and keep your body changing and results coming. 

3. Recovery- can encompasses the 2 above but I would also like to include the nutritional aspect. Adequate amount of protein, healthy fats and vegetables should be used to help recover your muscles to go again. Remember muscles don’t grow and body fat does not disappear during exercise. It is during the recovery phase that changes happen. 

We we all work hard and sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Just remember this equation: Work + Rest= Success. 

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Diet Update



A little over six months ago I saw a friend, Kent Oyler, and told him I had just started a diet. He asked me my weight goal and I said I didn’t have one yet and he thought that was a mistake. I agreed and then asked Kent, since he was my height and in great shape, what he weighed. He told me and I said that was my weight goal. It was 27 lbs for me to lose. 

Last night I reported to Kent that I was actually only 3 lbs away from my goal of reaching his his weight. But Kent then reported that he had actually gained 3 lbs this summer and we were now at the exact weight.

I raised me arms in exultation….feeling, for a moment, like I had achieved my goal of attaining Kent’s weight. But being honest with myself my real goal is still about 3 lbs away and I’m hanging in until I reach, well, both goals!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Designer Jeans

10440666_10154397471030515_4011639381858913638_nNow I find out!

I finally lose enough weight to buy a pair of designer men jeans–as opposed to “Dad jeans” –and find out almost all have a button-fly instead of a zipper. I am serious! 

What is happening to the male population? C’mon guys. What self-respecting male would prefer button-fly over a zipper? And if they did, what would the reason be?

It isn’t for practical reasons or to impress women. I am pretty sure my wife couldn’t care less about my fly stylings. Is it to impress other men like women who dress for other women?

jyb_musingsWhat happened to my gender while I was overweight and in dowdy clothes?

Surely I didn’t lose all this weight just to be able to wear a svelter pair of Dad jeans, did I?

Josh Bowen: Living to Die or Dying to Live: 5 Steps to Being You

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Recently I was reading an article I found on Facebook called 5 Regrets of Dying,” and the first regret was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This got me thinking about life in general and how I see people who live their lives for someone else and not for themselves.

I can be accused, justifiably so, for being a workaholic and someone who is passionate and borderline obsessed with his work and craft. But I will say for all that I sacrifice; personal time, vacations, time with friends and family, I do my work, not because I have to but because I want too. I lead this life the way I want. Everything is my choice. Some people will love me and some won’t. That is the nature of life.

So putting fitness aside, I thought I would write about life in general. And pose the question to everyone; “Are you living to die or dying to live?” Here are five steps to separate yourself from everyone else and be who you are suppose to be:

1. Radical Self-Responsibility

We have become people who always point the finger at others. As to say it is always someone else’s fault or problem why we are where we are. At the end of the day, the responsibility falls on our shoulders. If you didn’t workout today, that is your fault. Manage your time better. In order to get out of the usual and become someone of distinct characteristics, we must take full responsibility for everything.

2. Stop Caring What People Think

Right or wrong we all care what people think of us…to a degree. I care what my family thinks of me. However, I do not let them sway me one bit. Some people will love you, others will not, stop caring what those who only want the worst for you, think. “Wolves do not fret over the onions of sheep.” Are you a wolf or a sheep? You pick?

3. Stop Being So Superficial

At the end of the day, we will all die and the way we looked or the things we had will not matter. What will matter most is the impact we had on the people we leave behind. Treat your body right but don’t obsess. Have nice things but realize they are only just that, things.

4. State Your Opinion

This is a difficult one. In today’s landscape, having an opinion can be looked at as a hindrance more than a benefit. However, I was always taught to stand up for your beliefs and to give your opinion if asked. To this day I do not shy from stating my opinion no matter how unpopular it is.

5. Realize Life Will be Over Soon

To quote a phrase, “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time.” None of us are here for a long time. We are given a certain amount of time on this earth and we must make the most of it. If you want to try something, go try it. You want to start your own business, go start it. Fear absolutely nothing and careless what anyone has to say about it. Leave a legacy someone could be proud of. It will make a vast difference in the world, trust me.

We were all meant to be extra-ordinary in our lives. But you can’t do this from your desk or your couch at home. You must get off your ass and change your mindset on being you, the real you. Show people who you are. It will make a world of difference.


Matt Ranen: Time for CEOs to Choose Sides?

Matt RanenIf you are the CEO of a major American or European based multinational you have a difficult question on your plate right now. Are you going to the St. Petersburg Forum in late May this year? If it were Switzerland and this were the World Economic Forum annual meeting, the decision would pretty much make itself (unless you are just bored of Davos). But this is Vladimir Putin’s show, the Russians’ answer to what they see as the ‘Western-centrism’ of the World Economic Forum.

You’ve probably gone to St. Petersburg the last few years without much worry. Like Davos, it’s a good place to network, share perspectives, and talk informally with government officials. At St. Petersburg it’s often been about alternative perspectives, a map of the world that puts a big resource-centric ‘emerging’ economy right at its center rather than (as seen from Davos) at its periphery. That’s a useful intellectual and strategic exercise… and St. Petersburg is a great backdrop for it.

But this year is different. This week is the one year anniversary of the Edward Snowden story breaking. Then there was Crimea. And now, Eastern Ukraine. In the background looms Syria. If it were only one of these four things where Putin had stuck his fingers in Washington’s eye, people would be talking about St. Petersburg as a useful opportunity for another chance at a ‘reset’. But not this time, not with all four on the table.

In the last two weeks, top executives from companies like Alcoa, Goldman Sachs, Pepsi, and ConocoPhilips have taken phone calls from the White House asking them not to attend St. Petersburg this year. Nobody is telling them they cannot go — and it’s not illegal under current US sanctions. But is it worth saying no right now to people as close to the President as Valerie Jarrett or John Podesta or possibly John Kerry, for the sake of a few days in Russia? Is it worth a photo-op handshake between you and Mr. Putin that shows up on the front page of the New York Times?

Hard question. Russia is not a place that you just write off. It’s a large emerging market and an energy superpower. It’s a place where lots of money is being made and can be made so long as you are in the good graces of the Kremlin. Mr. Putin will surely take attendance at the meeting. Does anyone doubt the inevitability of subtle (or not so subtle) retaliation against the no-shows? Even more frustrating, how will it feel to cede the playing field to other companies who do go — including companies from some of our allies, like Germany, that are less severe in their judgements of Putin?

We’re not giving big bold advice here about whether anyone in particular should go or not go to St. Petersburg. The general point is simply to recognize that this type of decision, with these kinds of stakes and higher, is set to become a much more common dilemma for global corporations going forward than it has been for the last decade or more.

The global business environment has always been embedded within a global political environment, that used to go by the phrase ‘geopolitics’. Every decade or so, a pundit arises to proclaim that the interconnection between the two is over and that economy will henceforth dominate politics on the global stage. This pundit usually ignores history (an expensive error) and imagines that he or she is the first person to ever make this argument.

It usually doesn’t take long for the pundit to be proven painfully wrong. This time around it’s Putin’s turn to put reality up front. It’s not that the Kremlin ignores or doesn’t get the interests of global capitalism. Rather, the Kremlin competes in that game by doing everything it can to limit American freedom of action in the world and moving determinedly to increase Russian influence by wielding political and military power, not market power, because that’s what Russia has.

Russian geopolitical strategy in one phrase, is to put more sand in the gears — increase the friction — at any place and any time where life can be made more difficult for Barack Obama and US-based multinationals. This isn’t stupid, retrograde, anachronistic, or self-defeating. It’s basic strategy, blocking and tackling in a geopolitical sense.

Why? Because friction differentially benefits the less efficient, less global, and less powerful players in the game. It differentially hurts the players at the technological and economic horizons. And thus on a relative basis, it’s good for Russia.

There’s going to be more of it coming in the next few years. And not only from Russia, since the logic applies to many other emerging market governments and multinationals as well. As a result, CEOs of American based global companies are very quickly going to find themselves in a real bind.

No one wants to have to ‘choose sides’ in an argument like this, but the argument is not going to go away. This is going to require very thoughtful and subtle corporate diplomacy. The single most important question a CEO can ask right now is this: what do I need from governments, going forward, to limit the friction that my business will encounter at geopolitical flash-points? A little foresight and advanced planning may help.

Josh Bowen: Surviving the Grocery Store

joshWe are almost half way through the year and I would like to do a short exercise with everyone.

Ask yourself these three questions:

What have you accomplished in the last 6 months?

What are your current challenges and obstacles?

What are you going to complete in the next 90 days?

It is always a great idea to reflect on the last 3-6 months; what went right and what went wrong. Not only from a fitness perspective but also from a life perspective. This is an important exercise for us all, myself included. If you would like to share your list with me, I would be more than happy to listen.

As we approach the back half of the year, I look forward to what we are going to do together and separately. It will be a fun ride.

Onto the topic at hand, the grocery store. For many people the grocery store can be a confusing place, full of many aisles, misleading food labels and foods that may or may not appear good for us. I admit it, in my early days I was confused by the grocery store. Too much stimuli can be confusing.

To keep things simple I have included a link to a grocery store list/guideline for you to take with you.

Remember it is important to work off of a list, if it is not on the list, you do not buy it. It is that simple.  The list gives you the following navigate the supermarket like a pro; • shop as efficiently as possible; • reduce temptations and distractions; and • ensure you get all kinds of healthy foods!

A few notes: The shopping lists are to give you ideas. You don’t have to buy everything on the list! I suggest you start with a few of your favorites from each group.

For example: • 3 veggies: spinach, carrots, broccoli • 3 fruits: blueberries, oranges, grapes • 3 proteins: extra-lean ground beef, salmon, lentils • 3 fats: coconut, avocado, almonds • 2 grains: oatmeal, wild rice

Not to spoil your excitement, I will let you click on the link and see for yourself!

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