John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Positive Self Talk

jyb_musingsThis morning as I walked briskly from the parking lot to my first meeting I saw my reflection in a store window and thought to myself,

“I may be 51 but I have the gait of a 40 year old. Bam!”


When I see a guy wearing a “slim fit” shirt I know it is because he is genuinely slim. (I also know that I probably won’t like him and definitely don’t trust him.)

But when a guy wearing a “slim fit” shirt looks at a guy wearing a “classic fit” shirt, I wonder if he knows that “classic fit” is really just a euphemism for “out-of-shape and portly?” And if so, is feeling sorry for us and knowing we are not a threat part of the reason slim-fit guys seem inclined to like and trust us?


I have just finished going off a medication and suffering withdrawals that no woman should ever have to endure. And that many men shouldn’t ever have to endure either. And I am in that group of men.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Aging Optimist

jyb_musingsI have a feeling today is going to be a great day. But don’t know what it is that is going to be great today in my life.

But since I am in my 50s and won’t be able to remember tomorrow whatever great thing happened in my life today, I am OK with not needing to know specifics about today’s great things that I feel are going to happen.

I am content just knowing today is going to be a great day. Involving something. I just don’t know what and, even if I did, I wouldn’t remember it anyway. But because of my “can do attitude” that won’t stop me from being an optimist.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: What does Walgreens know about me that I don’t know?

jyb_musingsI love Walgreens. Don’t get me wrong.

But the “Be well” mantra from every Walgreen’s employee at the end of each verbal exchange is making me more than a little paranoid. And has me wondering what is wrong with me that the Walgreens employees know and aren’t being straightforward about with me.

I went to Walgreens today to buy some vitamins and toiletries. The sales clerk who helped me was very helpful and as I walked away she said sincerely “Be well.” I took it as a kind of encouraging “atta boy.” It seemed like a natural –if somewhat meddlesome—thing to say to me. After all, she had helped me find vitamins that will make me healthier or “weller,” in the Walgreens parlance.

But before leaving Walgreens I looked at some phone chargers for my phone and the sales clerk who helped me told me that didn’t carry what I was looking for. I thanked him and he, too, told me to “Be well.” He said it in a more concerned tone and almost knowing manner. I thought that was odd and, frankly, it scared me a little. I don’t know him personally and I was just looking for a phone charger –not something that affected my health. Had he talked to the sales clerk who helped me with the vitamins? Did he know I was taking a vitamin supplement because I worried my diet wasn’t sufficient? Or was he just repeating a catch phrase he was told to say to every customer and was only pretending to be deeply concerned about my health (and, presumably, my phone charger situation)?

As I walked to the check-out counter I wondered if Walgreens had somehow gotten involved with the Church of Scientology. I remember meeting some members of the Church of Scientology years ago and they seemed “programmed” and had certain buzz words they used as they encouraged me to do a personal “audit” within the Dianetics program. Interacting with Walgreens employees is always pleasant. In fact,a little too pleasant. Almost robotic And every conversation ends with the same mechanical “Be well” farewell and hope that my health (physical, mental and emotional health?) will somehow improve. But it isn’t clear what they are really saying to me. Do they know something about my health failing that I am not aware of? Or maybe Walgreens employees are using this hypnotic “Be well” chant to “guide me” to a better level of “being” within the Dianetics framework of personal growth.

I thought to myself I could easily see Tom Cruise and John Travolta shopping at Walgreens instead of Rite Aid. Why didn’t this occur to me earlier?

As I checked out and tried to pay the sales clerk, he asked me if I was a “Balance Rewards Member.” I said I didn’t know what that meant. I figured it must be one of the levels of Scientology but didn’t say anything. I gave the sales clerk my phone number as requested and he told me I was at the “Balance Rewards” level. As I watched him type in my phone number all sorts of data about me was processing before his eyes.

I was informed I had reached a level of 27,000 points. I couldn’t tell if that was good news for me –or if perhaps it meant my health was in jeopardy. As I took my bag and walked away the cashier, who was a thoughtful and quiet man, he kept staring at the floor and muttered to me against his will to “Be well.”

Obviously he didn’t mean it and was saying it merely as part of some Scientology “group speak” based on all the information he had about me. I think he knew I wasn’t going to make it. I turned back to him and motioned toward the vitamins I had purchased. I wanted him to know I was at least trying. But he said nothing. Not even “Be well.” again or “Hang in there. You can still make it.” Just silence. What else could I conclude except he knew I didn’t have much longer to live and that he was just trying to let me down easy by not being more direct and specific?

I left Walgreens with my vitamins and toiletries. But when I got home I felt like it was pointless to even start taking the vitamins. My fate was sealed and based on my interactions with Walgreens employees, I figured it was time for me to get my affairs in order.

Who knew that the Walgreens employees and their creepy and overly solicitous “Be well” comments would convince me to update my will and to start making peace with the fact that my days are numbered? I just needed a multi-vitamin and some shaving toiletries. Geez!

I wonder if I should try going to CVS for a second opinion?

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Weather Reports

jyb_musingsA Layperson’s Weather Report

Today’s temperature is a witch’s teat minus 20 degrees served inside an ice cube tray.

That is without the wind chill factored in.

And if you have a body piercing you are probably going to re-think that decision this morning.


Today’s weather report:

No one will care today if it is going to be cloudy or not. It is too cold to look up.


Mornings this cold can make a coward out of a Super Hero.

If Louisville were Gotham City this morning, I could easily see Bruce Wayne deciding to put Alfred in a nursing home, selling the mansion and moving to a condo on the West coast with Robin and letting Gotham fend for itself.


I can’t help but suspect this morning’s frigid weather is more evidence of the Democrat’s (or is it the Republican’s) “War on warm weather.”

OK. Maybe not. I just can’t resist the American tendency of whenever we are uncomfortable to assume that there is a conspiracy by our political enemies to blame.

Josh Bowen: Body Image

bowenLast night I had the pleasure of seeing my little brother tie the knot with his beautiful bride. These are moments that you never forget and no matter how “tough” you are, will always bring a smile to your face. These are the times in life you just need to “smell the roses” so to speak to enjoy the moment and live in the moment. A great feeling from yesterday, for sure. Now onto the task at hand..

I was in an airport recently and I went to the magazine stand to look for some reading material. There were dozens of different magazines covering subject’s matters from money to parenting to exercise. However, I started to see a trend that did not set well with me. It seemed like every magazine cover was obsessed with physical characteristics highlighted by “Ripped Abs in 30 days” “Lose 30 LBS without Dieting” or my favorite, “Reduce Your Belly Fat by Eating this Fruit.” If that isn’t bad enough, the covers of these magazines make things worse. On the “Muscle Mags” you have an Incredible Hulk like figure with muscles in places most people don’t have places. On the other side of the coin the magazines aimed at women have relatively thin, almost emaciated cover models. What is going on here? What is the “media” trying to tell our society?

Now, I have no issue with the people on the covers of these magazines, they are in great shape (in most cases) and it’s their job to look like that. I myself have trained; physique athletes, a Miss America contestant and other “body conscious” athletes. I have no issue in competing in something that judges your body in some way. What I do have issue with is the projected image of what is beautiful and in shape. It is unrealistic for the average person that picks up one of these magazines and expects to look like these people. Most of these individuals have been athletes all their life, have put in the hard work to look the way they do and have a great genetic profile. Should that stop them from trying? No! But should it convince them that because they saw this on a magazine cover that they are inadequate if they don’t look this way? Our society’s opinion on what is acceptable, beautiful and realistic is warped.

I am by no means a small man; I am 5’11 and 200 lbs with relatively low body fat. By most standards, I am a bodybuilder (I do not compete). I was blessed with somewhat decent genetics but how can I expect to look like these individuals in these magazines? I cannot. This public opinion has caused people to go on a quest of something unrealistic and causing people to forget about what’s important; overall physical and mental health. Our self-image has become distorted because of what we see and what has been projected as acceptable. This happens to both women and men. Referring to women, it is unhealthy to look like a stick and have no muscle tone. Quite frankly it is more attractive to have muscles and maybe, just maybe a little body fat. This is just my opinion.

The reality of it is its OK to have a little body fat and have a little extra weight to lose. I cannot tell you how many times a client has brought in a picture of a Victoria’s Secret model and said, “I want to look like this.” My reply is, “No you don’t.” The perception of what is attractive and what is beautiful is altered by what we are shown everyday. We have a generation of young girls striving to be “skinny” and an age group of young boys wanting to be the largest my ripped person on earth. This is not healthy.

My conclusion is this; I am not attacking exercise related magazines, model related ads. movies with buffed up actors or actresses or the individuals in them. They work hard for their bodies but to expect to look like them for most people is unrealistic, de-motivating and in some cases doesn’t look good anyway. So from me to you, love who you are, continue to work out hard and use good nutritional tactics. Keep working towards your goals but don’t be discouraged by these “perfect” cover models. Love who you are, continue to challenge yourself and love your body.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Sleep

jyb_musingsI am about to go to sleep

After my insomnia lets go it’s grip on my brain
And sleepiness displaces restlessness
And I get ready for bed
And drink another warm glass of milk
And get into bed
And try to go to sleep
After I set my alarm
And check it to make sure it is set
And after realizing, again, it is far too late to be getting to bed
But feeling relieved that short sleep is nearing
And finally drifting toward oblivion thinking to myself

I am about to go to sleep

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Slim Fit

jyb_musingsI inadvertently purchased a “slim fit” shirt for myself over Christmas. And grabbed it and put it on quickly this morning before realizing what I had done.

At first I thought I may have unknowingly been taking steroids. Then I thought perhaps it was my son’s shirt. Or about anybody else’s shirt but mine. By the time I realized what happened, I was already in my car and several miles down the road and already running a little late so I was stuck.

I tried best I could to conceal the issue by standing as straight as possible and sucking in my stomach and trying to look like I wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I appeared to people looking at me and noticing my overly-strained shirt buttons trying not to snap off if I exhaled too fully.

I tried to give a look to others that said, “This shirt fits me fine. It really does. I may have picked up 2 or 3 extra pounds over the holidays that may make it seem a little tighter today than it really is. But that is just for today and a silly holiday thing. This shirt fits great and is shaped perfectly for me.” That is a really hard look to maintain for nearly 13 hours. Heck, that’s a hard look to maintain for 13 minutes. Or even 13 seconds.

But I did it anyway. Which says something about me. Mostly that I am able to go nearly 13 consecutive hours taking only short shallow breaths.

Josh Bowen: 5 Things to Start Doing

joshIf I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, fitness impacts everything about ourselves. From personal relationships to our jobs to our self confidence in ourselves, working out actually enhances ourselves to be better at many things. BUT life is busy and often times other people take priority over ourselves. Our spouses, our friends and family and our jobs take precedent over our own needs. It is a huge dichotomy over what we need to do and what we want to do.

I train people all day. I often think about my clients needs before I think of my own. For example my toe. I have a staph infection and for 10 days refused to do anything about it for fear I would miss a session or something would be off. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze into an appointment between clients and all was great. However, my unwillingness to take care of myself could of caused a big problem.

I also focus a ton on my client’s mental and emotional well being. This is important to me because if the mind is cleared and focused anything physically will be a piece of cake. I often find that people do not do a good job of taking care of their selves in one manner or another. So I compiled a list of 5 things that you should start doing for yourself to make life a littler easier and a lot more enjoyable:

Start Spending Time with the Right People

These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways.  They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally. If someone does not do any of the above, think about the relationship you have with them and what can be done to improve it or eliminate it.

Start Appreciating What you Have

It is easy to look at what other people have and become envious. It is also natural. However, when it becomes a battle internally on why someone has something you do not and then you take it a step further and continue to beat yourself up for it, this becomes a vicious cycle. I challenge you to look around you and see all the things that you do have and just how special they are to your life. Worrying about what you do not have is a waste of time.

Start Giving your Dreams a Chance

In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win. Fear nothing, achieve everything.

Start Accepting Things When They are Less Than Perfect

Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’  One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are.  Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to trying to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal.  No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.

Start Concentrating on Things You Can Control

You can not control what happens to you but you can control how you handle it. Concentrating on things you cannot control is the biggest waste of worry and energy. When you start to worry, ask yourself “what can I control?” If the answer is nothing then there is no reason to worry about it. Give yourself the credit you deserve by concentrating on things you CAN control. Life will be much simpler then.

Life is hard and will beat you to your knees if you let it. However, how we handle ourselves defines how we handle life. By implementing the above you can take your happiness and life to the next level, which will only help you fitness goals.

Josh Bowen: 30 Day Aspire Challenge

joshI have spent every morning drive to work, evening drive home and workouts listening to a variety of motivational videos on YouTube.

I feel these videos give me the juice I need to start and finish my day, plus have a great workout. I listen to the prophetic one liners that grab my attention like no other. The powerful statements that resonate in my brain and soul to keep pushing and working hard.

The best videos will be centered around the “why.” The why is most important driving force in any attempt to capture your dreams. As I explained last time, my why was the relationship I have with people and the ability for me to make an impact on them.

I use fitness to do that. Others use other methods to do the same. Everyone’s “why” is different. It is unique. It says a lot about the person and who they are, not what they do.  Now lets cut to the chase. Motivation, inspiration and accountability are all things I can offer anyone, client or not.

Today, I would like to throw down a challenge for anyone who is willing and able to accept it. We will call it the 30 Day Aspire Challenge or #aspire30 for short. This challenge is meant to keep us all accountable to improving ourselves. It will also keep you motivated and accountable before the holiday season is upon us.

The Rules

Number 1- if you decide to take this challenge you need to find one thing (only one) to focus on improving or taking action on for 30 days. This could be increasing the number of workouts you do per week or cut out all processed sugar. reading two books or eat at least three meals a day. It has be something that can be measured and it needs to be specific. Eat better is not a specific goal, eating at least two servings of green vegetables per day is. Figure out the goal and take action on it starting tomorrow.

Number 2- To hold yourselves accountable and to create a buzz, I challenge you to use the hash tag #aspire30 for everything social media post you make related to your goal. If you don’t do social media that is fine, shoot me an email or text to let me know if you want a little extra accountability.

Number 3- This should be fun. Have fun with it and see what happens in your life. I guarantee there will be a difference in your world if you just focus on one thing for the next 30 days. My challenge to myself to read 2 books; Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last both by Simon Sinek. I am a slow read so getting these read in 30 days will be a challenge but a challenge I am ready for.

So who is in??? See you on the other side.

Beth Gamulka: Can we teach professionalism?

Beth GamulkaThis week, 13 final-year male dental students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, were suspended from clinical rotations pending further investigation of complaints filed by fellow students and by 4 professors. These men were members of a Facebook group called Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen on which misogynistic comments about their fellow female classmates were posted. While the student complaints were initially filed in early December, the suspensions, announced on January 5 by the university, have now made national news.

The Facebook page comments that have been included in various articles are definitely misogynistic. These young men publicly discuss which dental anesthetics would best be used for date rape, and voted for which fellow female classmates would be best for hate sex.  What is most horrifying is that it appears the social media group was not new, and that these future dentists were just several months away from becoming full members of their profession.

I have no doubt that Dalhousie University will address the investigation of these complaints and follow through with disciplinary action in an appropriate manner. Like many universities, they have instituted policies that will direct the administration in an equitable and through manner.  It may be an arduous process (too slow for some—which prompted a complaint by 4 professors who felt that the university was slow in its response).  Given the turn of events, it will likely be a much more public process than the university had originally intended.  However, this process is still reactive and does not address the underlying problem. How can we teach professionalism to young men and women so that they will graduate not only with the clinical skills necessary to practice in their chosen health care profession but with the tools to conduct themselves as professionals in public?

Medical and dental school admissions have gotten even more competitive since I applied. There are many qualified applicants who do not get a spot and the vast majority of the current student body is superb.  However, medical and dental students are generally young and lack life experience.  They may have more scientific acumen than common sense.  Certainly, students in their 20s make mistakes.  How, then, can those of us involved in their education impart to them the necessary skills required to become excellent practitioners?

It is not just a good memory or excellent fine motor skills that are needed.  In every clinical rotation, students are evaluated for their professionalism as well as for their clinical knowledge.  Faculties of medicine and dentistry certainly value professionalism and understand that these attributes are equally important.   Health care professionals need to be reliable, to communicate well, to listen well, and to respect others, be they colleagues, patients or other health care team members.  They need to understand that they will be held to a higher standard in exchange for the privilege of interacting with patients when they are at their most vulnerable.

Can we teach professionalism by example? I hope so. I have repeatedly given students feedback about how to address families and patients when we enter rooms.  Students need to be reminded to make eye contact, to use lay language, to not speak as if the patient was not in the room and to address any questions openly and honestly.  Most appreciate the feedback and incorporate it into their patient interactions.  But there is an important part of their education that does not occur at the bedside or in the classroom.  Students need to lead by example for each other as well. They are each other’s future colleagues in a self-policing profession.  They should not lose opportunities to help each other develop those necessary skills.

The challenge of teaching professionalism will always be there. Like with school bullying, those who remain quiet when witnessing inappropriate behavior can influence the change.  Perhaps in a climate where poor judgment and immature behavior is identified early, and where fellow students can promptly and safely report inappropriate behavior, the new generation of health care professionals will hold each other to the high standards required of them.

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