Monday, July 28, 2014

Winning Over the Terror Within

    One of the most striking events of the last few weeks was the funeral of Staff Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli. A dual US-Israeli citizen, originally from California, he was a “lone soldier” (ie, a soldier with no family living in Israel). At his funeral, thousands who did not know him came to express their thanks, and support for his grieving family.
    This moring, I turned on the (radio) news, and caught the tail end of the previous program. Someone who had been at the funeral (and apparently who has written a song about it) said (approximately) the following:

“What is terror? Terror is the sowing of fear and hate. Hamas wants us to hate and live in fear. Instead they are bringing out the ‘ahavat chinam’ (love of our fellow man) in us.”

   Unfortunately, this is only partly true. Yes, there is a very large consensus in Israel that we are behind our troops. We pray for their safety, weep over every loss. For most people, there is no such thing as skipping the hourly news updates. There is also a widespread unanimity that this time we need to take enough action that we will not be replaying this movie in another two years… and that the constant “dribble” of rockets aimed to our south needs to be stopped.
   But here’s the rub. “Everyone and his uncle” has a different idea of exactly how to achieve this. And this has brought out a certain ugliness, discord, and polarization between various segments of Israeli society.


   So I call on all of us to not let Hamas reap the victory of building an internal divisiveness amongst us. Let us answer their terror with trying to hear our neighbors, our colleagues, and encouraging more “ahavat chinam”. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Walk, and the Tragedy at the UN School

    This morning I had decided to go walking in Tel Aviv. There had been fewer rockets attacks and thus less chance that I would have to lie on the ground somewhere. (If caught by an air raid in a non-built up area, or while riding the bus, I would need to prostrate myself on the floor to help avoid shrapnel injury; for TEN minutes…..)
   I was about to leave at eleven AM, but exactly then the quiet was broken, and there were, in a few minutes, several rockets over the area. (The booms were pretty loud.) I considered not going, but since I would be in a built up area 97% of the time, I decided that I didn't give a #%&*#** and went anyway. I stayed within running distance of buildings as much as feasible, but I guess Hamas had used up their quota for Tel Aviv for today because until I returned there were no sirens (IN MY AREA; IN THE SOUTH THEY HAD SEVERAL SIRENS, AS ALWAYS).
    The walk was not as nice as I had hoped it would be. I was on the beach area very little (not enough buildings). I also pittied the store owners in the area. The normally bustling boardwalk was not quite a ghost town, but customers were VERY sparse.
    However, while living under air raid threat is disquieting*, I am thankful that I am not a Palestinian.  I just now heard about the numerous civilians killed at the UN school. I don’t care what “side” you are on… it is a tragedy. That said, I will wait until the Israeli Defense Forces makes an inquiry before jumping to any conclusions….
      However, even if an Israeli shell hit the school, it seems that the school had been used by the terrorists. (If so, I trust that we will have the camera footage to prove that.) And even the head of the school admits that they were warned to leave. (Why they did not do so in time remains to be explored.)
     UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commented the other day on Hamas using the UNRWA schools to store weapons:  "those responsible [ie, Hamas] are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children, UN employees working in such facilities and anyone using the UN schools as shelter."  Unfortunately, today’s scenario proved him right.
   Yes, it is a tragedy. It is a shame that this occurred. It is a bigger shame that Hamas seems Hell-bent to stick to their radical ideology, and their desire to destroy Israel. If they desired peace, we would have had it ages ago.  

*In Tel Aviv it is disquieting. In the “sfala” and southern areas of Israel, the constant barrage of rockets makes normal life absolutely impossible.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Walking tests, Sirens, Weights, and Geocaches

Today's aerobic walk was a real comedy of errors.
I had decided that since I was fed up with walking in Bnei Brak (it is NOT very scenic compared to the Yarkon Park or the Tel Aviv coastline...) I would take the bus to Tel Aviv. There I could walk along the built-up part of the Tel Aviv port, as well as the next-to-buildings side of the Yarkon park up to Namir road.  95% of this route would have buildings within a 90-second running distance.  Add to that the fact that there had been no sirens in Tel Aviv for about 24 hours, I felt I could risk it. I wasn’t going to walk in the open areas of the Yarkon park, after all. I was itching to go, and considering the very low level of risk, I was not going to let unwarranted fear (or Hamas) to rule over my life.
   In addition to the above, I wanted (for an online group I am in) to do a one-mile walking test. I do these tests periodically, always along the same stretch of the Yarkon Park. And while that area was off limits to me (ie, an open area with NO buildings), I decided that I would do the test in the other, built-up end of the park. Maybe the results would not be exactly accurate, but it would be good enough, considering.  I felt good about this, as I had told my friends not to expect me to do the walking test, as my running track was shelter-less.
   I took a bus most of the way to the port; I got off about a forty minute walk away, in order to “grab” a geocache. The cache was blessedly easy to find, and I was off walking down an avenue in the direction of the port. On reaching the port area I was enjoying the view when the air raid sirens started screeching away. I dashed into the nearest building, and a couple exiting from an office told me “This way!” as they (make that “we”) dashed down the stairs to an underground parking area. The area filled up quickly as tourists and locals hurried to safety.  In sort order we heard two missiles being shot down. At that point one man tried to leave, but he was restrained verbally by someone who reminded him that we need to spend ten minutes in the shelter, until all the debris from the rockets and anti-rocket  hardware would fall. So we waited, and people slowly relaxed from the tenseness that had been there a few moments before.  When  I finally was able to leave, I saw a bunch of ten year olds,  exiting from a different building. They were starting to set up chairs for what appeared would be their lunch break, chatting away. If you had not been there you would never know that they had just emerged from an air raid shelter.
    From there I turned north, striding  along the sea shore……. and on reaching  the glatt kosher coffee store there, I bought a coffee “to go”, just to give them some business. (Business is down there due to the “situation”.) Then I passed a sports store, and I remembered that my 4 kilo weights are getting too light for certain arm exercises. So I entered the store, bought a 5 kilo weight, and, in addition, an itsy-bitsy one kilo weight for when I will be allowed to start doing weight lifting with my left arm. (Two months ago I had surgery on that arm due to torn tendons.)  As I exited the store, 6 extra kilos weighing down my back pack I swiftly realized:
1)      There is no way that I will be able to get accurate results on a walking test, schlepping along an extra 6 kilos of weight.
2)      If a siren would sound again, those 6 kilos just might make running to shelter a *bit* more difficult!
    I decided not to fret. When I reached the Yarkon park area (where the buildings would be running distance, rather than closer, as previous to then), I simply held my (expensive) phone in hand, and decided that I would merely pitch my backpack into some bushes if needed (ie if there was a siren).  [I trusted that no one would haul it off all that quickly anyway, and the contents were not all that expensive.] I DID time my walk… it was definitely longer than my previous score of 16&1/2 minutes, but was a decent (considering) 20 minutes. What DID strike me was this: if a measly 6 kilos can slow me down that much, HOW in heaven’s name, did I manage to even MOVE when I weighed 80 kilos more than I do today!?!?!?! (After all, 80 kilos = 13 times 6 kilos!!!)

   So that was my “saga” for the day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Son's Facebook Post..&. NOW is the Time

   A few days ago one of my sons posted an item to facebook.  The source of the item was a left-wing Israeli newspaper, and it seemed to indicate him being against Israel's actions up to that point in Gaza. 
    Immediately several of his Israeli friends posted some very nasty comments, including "death to the leftists", and cursing him and his "neturi karta" family. [The "neturi karta" group is a very small anti-Israeli Jewish Orthodox group. It is not representative of the general attitude of the Orthodox community, even of those who do not "hold" by the Israeli government (like Satmer).]
    I know my son well enough to doubt that he meant his post the way it was being taken, and in the end, I was correct in this.  I wrote a comment, mentioning three things:
1) I was pretty sure that the post was not meant as it was being taken
2) statements like "death to the leftists" are loathsome. Groups like Hamas like to kill people who disagree with them; we need not fall to this level.
3) My son's family are NOT "neturi karta", and even my son who does not "hold" by the Israeli government, is NOT pro Arab, and is worrried and concerned for all the Jewish  residents of aretz (Israel). He said Tehillim (Psalms) daily for Gilad Shalit, and was heartbroken over the death of the three teens. [I have no doubt that he will be saying Tehillim tomarrow for the safety of the soldiers who are entering Gaza.] 
   The reaction was swift in coming. ... further explosive statements, name calling.  [This is typical of online discussions. People VERY RARELY listen to each other online. It tends to generally be a simple shouting match.]
   At this point my son noticed the hornet's nest that his post had caused. He posted an explanation, and shortly afterwards deleted his post. (This was probably because he wanted both not to be misunderstood, as well as to keep his crazy mom from mixing in.....).

*    *    *    *    *    *

    I feel very strongly that right now as Israeli troops are entering such a dangerous action, we need G-d's favor.  Sinking to the level of prejudice, hate, and name calling is not going to endear us to the Almighty. Now is not the time to be divisive, but to unite. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Magic Dancing Smartphones (in Israel)

How to teach your cell phone to dance:
1) download an application to notify you of air raids
2) set the application to all areas (of Israel)
3) set the application's sound setting to "vibration"
That's it! Hamas will do the rest!

Like His Father, My Son

    I want to share with you something that happened a few days ago, that I had wanted to write about, but this got pushed aside by “war” blogging.
    One of my married sons called me; I suspect to be sure that I wasn’t freaking out from the rocket attacks. After talking a few minutes about shelters, politics, and the like, he gave a little laugh and said “Mom, you won’t believe what my son did yesterday. He did something fitting for me once to have done. He lit a fire.”
     This son as a child had an absolute fascination with conflagrations. He was an excellent student, a very well-adjusted kid… but he LOVED looking at flames.     As an example:
      I used to have a friend who came to visit me nearly every Friday evening, after the Sabbath evening meal. Once we were sitting in the kitchen, sipping some tea, and I mentioned that I was a bit concerned about my son and his over-enthusiasm with anything that was lit. She was “poo-pooing” me, until my “pyromaniac” son entered the kitchen. At that moment, the lit fire on the stove (under the cholent pot) happened to let off a few extra flickers. My offspring’s immediate reaction to the spark was to start singing a bon-fire song, “Bar Yochai”.   “Hmmm…. I see what you mean” my friend admitted.
    Anyway, amazingly enough, my son grew up to be an exceptional fellow,  and today is not, to the best of my knowledge, lighting fires in the Jerusalem forest or committing any acts of arson.
    So returning to the phone call of a few days ago….. it seems that my grandson lit an area full of thorns, causing a fire. Luckily it was in a place where the flames could not cause much real harm, and it was extinguished fairly quickly.  My dear son was pondering about how to handle the situation……

    I hate to admit it, but as long as things are kept under control, and dealt with, there is a certain amount of grandmotherly pleasure when one of our grandkids pulls a stunt that their parents used to do (or easily could have done). The feeling of “Gee, now my kid will realize what I put up with, with him….” is, I think, a hope that our grown children will realize that our role as parents was not that easy. It’s almost a prayer that they will forgive us for any lapses or mistakes that we made, as they comprehend just how easy it is to not be a perfect parent.

The Dream


     I usually don’t remember my dreams. Even after Ricki’s death, when all my family members shared dreams where they had seen her, I was a bit disappointed, wondering what was “wrong” with me that I had no dreams to share. I finally made peace with this, realizing that I probably just didn't remember any dreams I had, and that even if I did not dream of her, it meant nothing about my feelings for her.
    But last night, not too long after falling asleep, I woke up in muddle of thoughts. I had dreamed that I was striding down a street in nearby Ramat Gan when an air raid siren sounded, and had started looking for a safe shelter. As I awoke, I quickly realized that there was a good chance that there had been a sounding of the air raid siren (since we often dream about sounds we hear while asleep).  IF this was the case, since I wasn't hearing the warning screech at that moment, it meant that I was in the near-to-the-end-period of the 90 seconds I had to reach safety.  So I ran to the stairwell, and when I saw there were no other neighbors there, I gratefully realized that it had been just a dream, and my adrenalin levels started climbing down the ladder that they had been scrambling up.
    So  then, before returning to sleep, I finally downloaded to my smartphone an application that sends alerts in case of a missile attack. I even left the application on “silent”, I just wanted a list of recent alerts, in case I ever again have a doubt about whether I need to dash for safety. In addition, I can see on it when the towns my kids live in have had a siren. [An extra tool to help me be a more worried mom and grandmother……]
 SHEESH!

[But, by the way, they DID throw rockets at us already this morning. I woke up VERY well to that (real) siren, thank you!]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Taste of Life Under Rockets

      Amazingly, except for when the air raid sirens sound, life here in the Tel Aviv area has been going along fairly much as usual. [Note that in places where there are more sirens than here this is not so. It is hard to live a normal life when you need to drop everything several times a day to go run for your life...]   

Some Basic info:
Very old buildings have no shelter whatsoever, and the residents of these buildings need to run outside to a public shelter. If this is not feasible, they would go to the stairwell of the building. Newer buildings have, by law, a reinforced “safe roof” in each apartment. For parents of young children or those with elderly  parents, this makes getting to shelter (like at 3AM) much easier. My married son who lives in Beit Shemesh has such a “safe room”, and he has chosen to put his kids to sleep there…..which makes middle-of-the-night- sirens much easier.

 Our building, which is “middle-aged”, comes from the period when the law called for constructing an underground bomb shelter for the use of all the building’s residents.  Since we live on the third floor, I am grateful that we (living in the Tel Aviv area) have a full 90 seconds (and not 15 like in some places) to reach the shelter.   The time it takes, from reacting to the siren, and running down four flights of stairs, can easily reach a good minute. [However, my husband, who has Parkinson’s, cannot make it all the way down in ninety seconds, and he has to be content with reaching the middle floor stairwell, which would protect from shrapnel and pieces of rockets falling,  but not from a  direct hit on the building.]
*  *  *  *  *
      [By the way, the main reason for the “lop sided” death statistics shown to the world is because we in Israel have consistently spent money to build shelters in nearly every building, using our resources to protect ourselves. That, plus the fact that we do NOT use our women and children as “protective human shields” for our armaments. It is not because Hamas hasn’t been trying to kill us.] 


 But even here there are some interesting side effects to living under the shadow of missile attacks:
1)  It is nine PM. It has been a long hot sweaty day, and coming back from a brisk walk, I am drenched. I definitely need a shower.  HOWEVER, what if an air raid siren will sound when I am in the shower? I can hardly go dashing down the stairs to the shelter,  in front of my male orthodox neighbors, in my birthday suit.   In the end I decide that since the statistical chances of a bomb hitting exactly my building is zilch, I can settle this once with reaching the middle of the stairwell. So I proceed, but being as careful as possible to be ready at any moment to participate in the Olympic who-can-get-presentably-covered-in 15-seconds competition.
2) I have temporarily given up all my scenic walking to Hertzalia and such. Not only are there no shelters in these open areas, but since it IS an open area (and the iron dome anti-rocket missiles cost a fortune), the area will not be covered by the anti-missile system. Yes, I miss the nature areas, but it simply isn’t worth taking the extra (even if minuscule) risk.  But even in city areas, I am not able to just “go walking”. As I walk I keep an eye open for what type of buildings are around me, and plan my walks accordingly. I will choose a regular street with houses over the playground, and a newer neighborhood over an old decrepit one. I simply try to ensure that I am, at any given moment,  within a 90-second dash distance to the nearest shelter.  
3)   Even with all of number 2 above, walks in the city can be “entertaining”. IF there is an air raid siren in my area, I hear the siren, seek shelter, and prepare myself for the load “boom” that we will hear when (hopefully) the rocket is shot down by the iron dome system. [Actually, there would be just as loud of a boom if the iron dome missed, but so far, thank G-d, I have yet to hear any real falling of a rocket….] 
   However, we receive sirens only when OUR part of Tel Aviv is targeted, but not if the missile is headed to another part of the metropolis. So I can be walking along, trying to have a nice evening walk, when a “BBOOOOOOOMM” assaults my ears, and perhaps I even feel the shock wave from the explosion. Did you ever on a sunny summer day hear very unexpectedly, a huge roll of thunder?  It’s a bit unnerving, like that, but add to that the feeling that someone is really trying to kill you.   And that the falling pieces just might kill some poor soul who could not reach shelter.

4)  Income for many people has gone down, as people stay home more. Even I have had several cancellations, as students stayed home with their kids rather than leave them on their own.

Finally a joke…. People who laugh as Hamas threatens a big barrage of rockets at XXX hour. The joke is:
    Hamas is threatening to send rockets tonight at 8:15 and 10:00. They will broadcast an televised replay at 3 AM for whoever misses it…….

   I would like to add that I DID look at some of the photos from Gaza today. I do NOT want ignore their plight completely.  I do not want to become a non-thinking, prejudiced, type of person.    Yet I must rank my safety, and that of my children, and grandchildren, first……
      (I will just mention that part of the lack of electricity in Gaza is due to rockets HAMAS sent which hit the power lines from Israel to Gaza.) [Also, it is sad about the four kids killed in Gaza today, but  NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin said that Hamas calls the Israel’s warnings to evacuate certain areas psychological propaganda and that they urge civilians not to leave ……… so they should be honest enough to admit that they are largely to blame for this.(Because they told people not to evacuate, and also because they locate army supplies in a city center.)
  

Monday, June 30, 2014

May We Be United, in the future, for Good Things

    I am assuming that my readers have heard the terrible news, that the bodies of three youths, undoubtedly those kidnapped 2 1/2 weeks ago, have been found. It is a sad day, and I feel literally ill.
    To lose a child is hard enough. To lose him as the result of a brutal atrocity like this must be absolutely heart wrenching . My condolences to the families.
    I rarely write political things on this blog, feeling that the chances of me changing anyone's mind is probably nil. I see that with on-line discussions people very rarely listen to each other; the modis operendi seems to be name calling. And I am not going to go into politics now…. Now is simply a time to be unified in our mourning. I am leaving the politics to those more knowledgeable in that area than I am.
    But I would like to note one fact. Sometimes the different streams of Orthodoxy here in Israel distrust each other. Some feel that others are not religious enough; some feel that different groups are shirking their duties. But in this, we ARE united. A few days ago my granddaughter had an end-of-the-year program at her school. When I went to take the bus home, I was pleasantly surprised to see next to the bus stop (in a chareidi –ultra Orthodox -  area), a table piled with Tehillim booklets (Psalms), so that people could pray for the boys' safe return while waiting for the bus.
    And just now, my oldest son (who does NOT vote in elections, and the like), who I knew had been praying for the kidnapped teens, phoned me. "I heard the terrible news. Please tell me details." He does not own a radio… but he heard… and simply had to know. Because he really, really cared.

   My prayer for the future is that our communities can be united to celebrate happy occasions, and not be united only in sorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lessons From the Titanic

     Today I did something a bit interesting. I went to see the exhibition of artifacts from the "Titanic", which is currently in Tel Aviv for a two month stay. I went with my husband, purchasing tickets as a special treat for him (knowing that he would enjoy viewing the display)
[Note to Israeli readers: the tickets are 154 shekeks; the exhibition is NOT shomer shabbas. Be sure to buy tickets including the audio earphones, which add a great deal to the visit. ALL of the exhibition material is in English/ Hebrew/ Russian. The entire show is wheelchair accessible.]
[image: myself, standing in front of a model of the grand staircase]

   The display was very well done, giving one a definite feel of life on the ship, and of the various types of people aboard. This is the emphasis of the material shown, rather than the sinking itself (although the sinking and aftermath ARE also covered). In addition, there is an added-on part about Jewish victims/survivors.


  Having spent so much money (three tickets---I had a married son come along to push my husband's wheelchair -=, plus an outrageous 50 shekels for parking= almost $150), I wondered what lessons I can take away from this experience.

Here are a few thoughts:
1) Even the glitzy is often tarnished if you examine it closely.  The first class passengers paid $2500 for passage (equivalent to about $57,000 today), enjoying the most luxurious amenities available at that time.  Yet the gossips, the mistresses, and the card sharks were there as well.
2) Try to keep in mind that the things we feel are stable and permanent in our lives may very quickly turn out not to be so. Life can be fragile. Let your family know how much you love them.
3) And finally, I noted one more thing: The first-class section had a gym room with state-of-the-art (for that day) equipment. If the rich (those who can afford the equivalent of over $50,000) understood the need for exercise, why are we shirking…..???????

   And just to prove that I am not shirking, I went walking afterwards from the exhibition center to Reading power station and from there to Tel Baruch and back to Reading… And here are a few pictures from there:

[image: sea view near sunset ]

















[image: rocks along the shore ]


















[image: yellow blossoms]



Sunday, June 15, 2014

WHERE are They?!?!?

WHERE are all the people who bemoaned the inability of the Palestinians to ship in concrete, as they criticized Israel for enforcing a blockade?

WHERE are all the people who bemoan the difficulties Arabs have in traveling to work in Israel, when they have to undergo security checkpoints?

WHERE are all the people who cry over the loss of "freedom of movement" that the security wall  causes?!??

   What about the lives and freedom of the three teens who were kidnapped? Why do all the people who championed the above causes not raising the roof?

     And of course, there is NO comparison to any of the above and the targeting of children.
    See also this post by Paula Stern.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Walk North of Hertzlia

Sunday I did something I haven't done for several months: I went "exploring".  With Passover cleaning, the Passover holiday, and my operation, I had been too busy. But Sunday I felt definitely ready to try walking in a "new" area. I like to do this, and then, once I have discovered the best route (and what to avoid) , I share with friends. (BTW my knowledge of this area is largely from the geocaching site. HIGHLY recommended……)
    Note: This walk is largely in the sun. It is best to do on a cooler day, and with a good sun hat, sun screen (bring extra with you to re-apply), and plenty of fluids!!!!!!!!  Also wear shoes that will do well on sand roads (ie, closed).
   So I started out near  the central train station, on Derech Namir (route 2), where I took a "sherut" (shared taxi)  heading in the direction of Netanya. I got off next to the small town of "Shefayim", which is a bit north of Hertzliya. (One can get off also at the next stop, "Ga'ash".) Between shafayim and Ga'ash there is, next to the shore, the Hof HaSharon Nature Reserve. In my opinion, the side nearer to Shefayim is nicer.
   This reserve is a wild area, on the cliff-bluffs overlooking the ocean. There are several paths.
[photo: view of the Mediteranean Sea from the overhanging bluff.]
   After leaving the park, take back roads (a google maps app on your cell phone helps here) towards Hertzliya. On the way you should pass the green gallery", an outdoor sculpture display.
[photo: "sculpture" of a vase.]



















   As you reach the outskirts of Hertzaliya, you will arrive at the Appolonia Ntional Park. Here there are the remains of a crusader fortress. (There is an admission price of 22 shekels.)
[2 photos: Crusader fort ruins.]  

    An additional half-hour walk will take you to the Hertzliya Beach area, from where you can take a 90 bus back to the Tel Aviv area. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Spring Thaw and The Cookie Monster

   The past few weeks have been "non-standard" for me.  Nearly 2 weeks ago I underwent surgery on my shoulder, to repair the ligaments I tore in December (from a fall). This means that for 6 weeks my arm will be in a sling, and movement will be limited for up to 6 months.
  A week after the operation came the "Shavuot" holiday, followed a day later by the bar mitzvah of my oldest grandson. I had cooked in advance for the holiday, so I "managed" fine.
   However diet-wise the 2 weeks have been challenging. After the operation I was OK about my intake, but my exercise level was WAY lower than normal, so I gained a bit. Then came the holiday, accompanied with my favorite calorie-bomb, cheesecake. And while I have done much worse in years past, my consumption was not going to earn me an abstinence-prize.  Then came the bar mitzvah. I overate…. And overate. On arriving home I went to upload the photos I had taken for family members living abroad. In the middle, I felt hungry (hungry??!? After ALL that I ate at the Bar Mitzvah!?!?), and I went to the kitchen and prepared myself half a bowl of cookies.
   Now years ago, I could eat a full bowl of cookies, and often add an additional helping as well. So a half bowl was less than that… but that was very small consolation. I had thought that this cookie monster who could devour a bowl of cookies had long ago been slaughtered by my new habits. But suddenly I realized that cookie monster had only been hibernating. Underneath it all, he was alive and well. And since I had started a "spring thaw" by not restraining better my eating for the previous week, cookie monster had woken up and started stirring.
   THAT scared me, so early the next day I was 100% back on track. I have already lost nearly all that I have gained.  But what I want to explore here is the difference between a small planned "leniency" and a "spring thaw". I often tell my diet pupils that for holidays they should allow themselves a bit of extra leave way.  Completely abstaining from cheesecake (as a possible example) on the Shavuot holiday is only going to lead to feelings of deprivation, and "I-can't-live-like-this". But if I allow myself "extra" for the holiday, won't that lead to a "spring thaw"? Not necessarily.  A few hints can help prevent that:
1) Even if allowing yourself a bit extra, keep tracking what you ARE eating.
2) Plan in advance exactly what you are going to allow yourself extra, and when.  This should be very specific. And allow yourself to enjoy that extra portion, guilt-free.
3) If possible, cut and prepare the planned portion in advance.
4) Decide exactly when you are going back to watching yourself 100%
5) Plan other, healthy  low-calorie treats for the holidays as well. Make the holiday food "special" even if low calorie.
6) You can also make an effort to set the table in a pretty manner, to add to the feeling that the holiday is special.
*   *   *   *   *  

Yeah, I know… I should have posted this BEFORE the holiday… (But I WAS post-operation….).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Average X-minute one mile, and the Un-at-Ease-Holiday

SECTION A OF THIS POST:
I wanted to do a one-mile walking test, to compare the time it takes to QUICKLY walk a mile, to the last time I did this test, in the end of September. (THEN I did the 1 mile in 16 minutes.) The best location to attempt to record my "best time" is in the "Yarkon" park, it being just about the only place nearby where the path is basically level and smooth enough. My first effort to do this now was Thursday afternoon. However on Thursday, after traipsing all the way from my house to the park, the walkers'  application on my phone simply wouldn't log onto my GPS. So In desperation, I used the application to time, and my smartphone's fitbit app to see when I had gone a mile. But in order to see the display, I had to keep fiddling with the phone, the result being that I tripped once. (Luckily I did not get hurt, but I was SCARED. I don't need any MORE torn ligaments!) My time was 15m:57sec . (However, the path I took was different than the time in September.)  
     Yesterday the walking app was cooperating, and I managed to squeeze in the time to get to the Yarkon. So I re-did the test ( hoping to avoid skewing the results by stumbling over my own two feet) for a fantastic 15m:25sec  1-mile time.  That put me in the "good" range not only for my age range (which I am at the younger range of), but in the "good" range for 50-59 year olds as well! This second time I took the same path as in September, and it seemed that the end point was slightly nearer, but I chalked that up to poor recollection.
    Today is Israeli independence day, a day when the popular custom is to go to your local park and have a picnic lunch/barbecue.
[image: Israeli picnickers in the Yarkon Park.]

 So I decided that if I wanted to take a long walk as I usually do on Tuesdays, I better get out early in order to beat the crowds. [For those readers who wonder why I wasn't out celebrating, I have no one to go out with. My older kids do not participate in Independence day celebrations, my younger ones, who do, are all in the USA.] So I decided to walk from my house to the Tel Aviv port via the Yarkon Park, and from there to the bus stop, a distance of over 7 miles. Upon reaching the Yarkon Park I realized that today would be a great chance to check what my REGULAR aerobic walking speed is, when I am NOT trying to beat my record. So starting where I did yesterday, and with the app thankfully working, I did a mile…. But in so doing, I discovered that the "mile" I did YESTERDAY was 0.07 miles too short. And this time it matched my recollection from September. If so, my time yesterday for a fastest-speed-mile should have been only 16 minutes and 30 seconds. That's slower than in September and only "average". [And here of course my inner voice protests, that with all my walking, is my fitness level only average!?!? Hard for me to believe and/or swallow.]
    I question also just how accurate this test is. Perhaps one day I have more will to push myself than another. But I am clearly in the 16m -16m:30 sec range.

PART TWO OF THIS POST:
      [NOTE:A few of my readers may not know about how in Israel, Israeli independence day is preceded, on the previous day, by Israel's memorial day. [This is sometimes difficult for families of fallen soldiers, to make the switch….although I suspect that for them ANY day is overshadowed by their loss.]
[image: Monument in the Yarkon Park  to soldiers who fell between the Yom Kipper War in 1973 and the 1982 Lebanon War. ]

    As I was walking today (luckily, AFTER my timed mile) I suddenly heard the noise of 2 large helicopters. I quickly glanced in the direction of the racket, and saw 2 army helicopters flying in the direction of Tel HaShomer hospital. My instinctive reaction, after often seeing these helicopters flying wounded soldiers in for top-notch treatment, was a sinking feeling in my gut. Had there been a terror attack at an army base? WHAT was going on? My eyes misted up a bit as I thought of the mother or wife who would hear that her loved one had been wounded. But maybe it was something else?  I opened my cell phone and logged on to check the news. No mention of anything. About a half hour later, again I rechecked the news, and was relieved that all seemed quiet. I relaxed.  Then an hour later, as I neared the Tel Aviv beach, again I heard the clamor of the rotors, and I started to tense up……. but suddenly relaxed, realizing that this must be part of the traditional Independence Day fly-over. And sure enough, over the next several minutes I saw various formations of planes overhead.
[image: One group of planes flying in formation overhead.]


[image: People gathered near the beachfront, watching the flyover.]


     But the point is this. Here in Israel, we take Memorial Day seriously. It is NOT a day for picnics and outings. Most Israelis have lost someone they know personally either to war or a terror attack. We are EXTREMELY conscious that our existence on this tiny strip of the Middle East is due to the Grace of G-d, and bought with the blood of our brothers. May we never forget that.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Ultimate Bias

    I was relaxing this evening  I was wasting potential sleep time this evening, having discovered some interesting You Tube videos from a TV program called "What Would You Do?" This program apparently explores people's reactions when witnessing wrong-doing / discrimination. Often people will intervene, sometimes less.
    But what I noticed was that in an episode where teenagers (actors for the show) were truly vilifying the "unknown-to-them-victim" (also an actor) for being overweight, almost no one intervened. If you get insulted by strangers for being gay, or black, people are likely to react fairly quickly. But if you are overweight, people are less likely to stand up for you. Apparently the feeling that it is "their own fault" makes it more acceptable to insult and badger a larger-size person.

     Yes, the obese individual can make better choices.  But couldn't we all? And the bystanders have NO IDEA what "beyond-their-control" factors enter into the picture here. I even noted commenters on the video saying that fat people need to be told the truth, so that they will change. I have new for them:  Insulting someone who is overweight is NOT going to make them change. Instead, they need to be encouraged to take care of themselves by getting enough sleep, taking the time for themselves that is needed to cook properly and exercise, and to love themselves as they are. ONLY then is there a hope that they can succeed at losing.

Bottomless Pit Blues

   Well, Passover finished almost a week ago. I did great (weight-wise) in the days leading up to the holiday. During the week of the holiday I was less successful. Altogether I gained a few kilos, most of which I have already lost.
    The overeating during the holiday must have stretched my stomach: the first few days following the end of the holiday I was ravenous. However, I was committed to keeping to my eating plan 100%. The fact that I had planned for several SMALL meals each day helped: I was never THAT far from the next mini-snack.
    However, Friday was especially hard. Since we eat a certain amount of items for the Friday evening Shabbat meal, my intake on Fridays is more restricted than normal. And after eating a small breakfast, I simply felt like the two slices of toast that I had eaten had disappeared into a bottomless pit: I was still as hungry as I had been before eating.
    What to do?

    First, I decided to wait 10 minutes. Often it takes time for the stomach to send a message to the brain that food has been ingested. In addition I got VERY busy. Finally I just told myself the line that I always say when I am in this situation: "NOW you are losing that extra weight!"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Old Habits Die Hard

     The Pre-Passover (Pesach) period is a busy one. There is tons of cleaning/organizing/shopping to be done. And later, there will be cooking to be done as well. In addition I tend to get less sleep during this season (although I am TRYING to get more…..). All this makes sticking to my eating plan difficult. I USED to "survive" the period with "instant energy" (ie., chocolate…..).
     So every once in a while So several times a day that inner devil pipes up "How about some chocolate? Or maybe some chalvah*?"
     In general I have been able to brush away these whims fairly easily. [It helps that I bought myself a nice bracelet for the holiday which I am only allowing myself to use if I do not gain in this period. Bribes DO work……]  Occasionally I may allow myself an extra 100 calories, if I am working hard, but choosing something healthy like soup or a fruit rather than the sweet stuff.
     What amazes me is that this inner voice still sits insides me, expounding self-destruction oh so insidiously yet nonchalantly.


*A confection made of honey and tahini, can be healthy, but nevertheless fattening.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cake and Erev Pesach

[Note: To any readers unfamiliar with what "erev Pesach" (before Passover) cleaning entails, read this post's introductiuon: ]

    Today I took an early morning stroll to the post office, to mail some scrumptious-smooth- "sin" (ie, special Swiss chocolate), as a gift to them for the upcoming Passover holiday. On the way I passed the bakery.
   The cakes on display called out to me how I should buy them for my husband for Shabbat (the Sabbath). I continued to the post office, but  meanwhile there ensued a conversation between me and my "Yetzer Hara" (evil inclination):
Me: If I buy it, I'll eat it.
YH: for Shabbat! Buy some on the way home!
Me: There is cake in the freezer for Shabbat.
YH: But your dear husband will like this cake even better!
Me: Too bad. And that is questionable anyway, Mr. YH.
YH: So buy it for him to eat next week when there will be a lack of normal food….
Me: He'll get enough. And I can always buy next week if I need. Besides, YH, you know that YOU want it for yourself, not for DH. Did you forget that you had an eating plan for today? And that there is a piece of cheesecake waiting for you for Saturday night? Exactly how much cake did you intend to consume?
YH:  Well, you could have a piece of cake instead of the salad and Pecans you were going to have.
Me: Your accounting is lacking…
YH: OK, and the tangerine as well.
Me: YEAH?!??? And feel like *(@*^$&% afterwards? Healthy food makes you feel energetic.
    At this point, YH gave up and slithered away to his cage somewhere in my brain.

But I held my nose as I passed the bakery on the way home……..

 Healthy weight loss and/or maintenance depends on small everyday victories like this. 

Final note:

    Just in case I don't post next week, I wish all of you an easy and FUN erev Pesach. [AS LONG AS YOU ARE CLEANING, PUT ON SOME MUSIC AND HAVE FUN.] And a kosher Pesach as well.