Physical Intelligence: Come Back, a Thousand Times, Come Back

by Alan Davidson

I read about these two brothers, Danny and Al Kovado, who have mastered what they call body-weight strength training. They use gravity and the great out-doors to train their body.

In this 2:56 video clip Al Kovado shows just what you can do with your own body’s weight and a couple props found in any park in the world.

Do I dare to dream that I can restore my own body to this kind of peak conditioning…and model for my own pictures for physical IQ?

My favorite kosmic riddle today is a riff by Persian Poet, Rumi:

 Come, come whoever you are! Wanderer, worshipper, Lover of leaving, come.

 This is not a caravan of despair. It doesn’t matter if you’ve broken your vow a thousand times, still come, and yet again come!

 I’m knocking on the door of kindness, the gentleness Rumi offers with “even if you’ve broken your vow a thousand times.”

I’m feeling a bit like Hester Prynne these days. Hester is the heroine of Hawthorne’s classic The Scarlett Letter. Condemned by her Puritanical Boston community, Hester wears the scarlet-red A on her dress as a mark of shame for birthing a baby girl out of wedlock.

Like Hester, I wear a mark of silent-shame every day. My scarlet letter is the 100+ pounds I’ve gained over the past few years. I returned from a fabulous trip to Italy eleven years ago weighing 232 lbs. I was the most healthy, trim and fit I’ve ever been in my life; ever since I’ve been quietly packing on the pounds.

My shame only deepens when I autograph a copy of my best-selling and award-winning book, Body Brilliance: Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences. I watch people’s faces with pride when they flip through the spectacular naked photographs of yoga poses, tai chi moves, and conscious calisthenics. And I witness the quizzical look on those same faces when they realize the over-weight man in front of them wrote a manifesto focused on physical intelligence.

Like many overweight people I’m an expert on food, nutrition, and diet. But knowledge isn’t enough to stop behaviors driven by dark emotions and buried memories. Truth is I’m an emotional eater. I eat to feed my hungry heart and soothe a wounded soul.

Thus my knocking on the door of kindness and gentleness that Rumi offers with “even if you’ve broken your vow a thousand times.”

I have always been a man who seeks to the spiritual solutions for my life’s challenges. I spent many years as an ex-meth junkie bartending to the fabulous (and I was often just as drunk as the “fabulous” I served). It’s been twenty-three years since I had drink or stuck a syringe in my arm. Finding the principles of a spiritual life and living the wisdom of my own body have served me well on those counts.

with an extra 100 pounds

But I haven’t cracked the code for eating like a healthy, fit, and naturally thin person. Not with the shadows pressing my heart and the constant subconscious triggering of my freeze-fight-flight response to “stress, threat and danger.” So through eleven years and cycles of will-power, injury and neglect I’ve gained the 100+ pounds.

I’ve committed this summer to cracking that code to “eating like a naturally thin person.” My friend Brittany Watkins gifted me access to her summer training, “Reboot Your Brian.” Brittany is a world-class expert on emotional eating, food cravings, and EFT/Tapping. I’m lying very low through these dog-days to focus on my own deep emotional healing. I’m already sensing subtle shifts in my body and my relationship to food and eating. Sometimes it feels like a step forward and sometimes two-steps-back. But I do feel different…and hopeful about my body for the first time in a very long time.

All the while my insights into Physical Intelligence continue to guide me. My lifelong research into peaking Physical IQ and its foundation of Sense and Center, and its essential pillars of Strength, Flexibility, Grace, & Bearing still serve me.

I pulled my most favorite exercises from the canon of physical fitness training. I call them my Twenty-Five To Five.

  • Tai Chi Five Elements – clockwise,
  • Tai Chi Five Elements – counter clockwise,
  • Five Tibetans (I’m gently working into the full movements and reps),
  • Five stretches, or yoga asanas, and
  • Five strengthen exercises.

That’s a total of twenty five exercises. It takes about twenty to twenty-five minutes to move through all of them. I can also scale the number from the full twenty five exercises, based on the amount of time I have, down to as few as five movements. If I only have the time, interest, energy, or will to do five, then the Five Tibetans give the biggest bang for my investment.

I share all this for two reasons…one, to pull the curtain back on my own pilgrimage to healthy, happy, and wise living. And also to encourage you, no matter how many times you’ve broken your personal vows to come back to your desire for excellence.

As Rumi says, this is not a caravan of despair. Come, and yet again come!

Love your way,

Alan Davidson

Al Kavaldo – master of body weight


  1. I am so glad that you have come out on this issue alan …

    so many of us are in the same boat
    on one level or another …

    I feel sure that this courageous move of yours
    will make your teachings exponentially more powerful
    for yourself and for others …

    are you familiar with ?
    he has an interesting approach to weight loss …

    may the force be always with you brave being ………


  2. Alan,
    Your honesty is so sincere and touching – AND you are becoming so in tune with your body. Healing the emotions and thoughts behind the fight-flight-freeze is so very important. Sending you love for your journey to find peace with yourself and thus peace with your food. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. Sincerely, Karen

  3. Danielle Eastman says:

    Lots of love and joy to you Alan! xoxo

  4. David, your article is inspiring. I’ve been on a similar journey. Right now I am very close to being in peak physical condition; it took me 15 months of work to get where I am today, losing 90 pounds and also gaining lean muscle. However, I always, in the back of my mind, fear a set back, that something may trigger habits that had caused me to be 90 pounds heavier. David’s article gives me hope. I need to address my own “emotional healing” so that I can reach my peak physical conditioning and maintain it and that is going to start with “knocking on the door of kindness and gentleness.”

  5. P.S. LOVED his cheeky little smile at the end.

  6. Alan, I love you for sharing this… strange my inner bitch came out to play, I haven’t really let her out fully for a long time. I honestly believe as long as I’m conscious of my thoughts, still blessing the ones that have really screwed me over, I’ll keep her. I heard this little voice in my head (from a past life?) “you shame us” excuse me….(not my exact words mind you) that would be your shame then…you can keep it and sent them blessings. I really felt it too, it was great! I’ll visualize that for you and you at 232. Darling man. I’m trying to be more limber with yoga stretches, that’s my goal for the summer. We can do it! And holding on to a positive vision for myself. Thank you, I’ll try not to run and hide. 😉

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