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. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Purim Splurge

   Today was Purim, and as I often do on holidays, I splurged.
 I STILL haven't figured out why I do this and sabotage my weight loss on holidays.**
 The good news is that it was not a week-long fress, or a two day, or even a one day. The overeating was this afternoon and evening. (But THAT was bad enough…..)

** Although, now that I think of it, lack of sleep is probably a contributing factor.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Two Good Choices

   We all have foods that "one-bite-isn't-enough", those foods that like a fire-alarm-gone-wild, just keep assaulting your consciousness. In general, it is not worthwhile having those things around…..

Victory No. 1:
     Now I love cheesecake, and allow myself a slice every Saturday night. In order to avoid cutting WAY too large a slice, I cut the cake in advance, on the day I purchase it. Then it hibernates in my freezer until I pull a slice out each Saturday evening.
    Well, I finished my cheesecake last week, so today I wanted to buy a new one. Entering the bakery I was amazed at the variety offered: with blueberries, with butterscotch, or with crumbs. The blueberry version looked like the blueberries were more jelly than fruit, so I pulled the butterscotch one out of the fridge. I headed to the cashier, and then stopped short.
    "Do you REALLY want to buy that? It has more calories than plain old regular cheesecake . That butterscotch icing cream has just got to be loaded with extra calories….."
    So I turned around and replaced that butterscotch confection with something more realistic for my eating plan.

Victory No. 2:
    In about a week and a half it will be Purim, a holiday when people traditionally send "portions" of food to friends, family, and neighbors. Most people send things like wafers, chocolate, cake, and wine. I send challot (braided bread), and containers of home-made salad. [And sometimes I pass on as well the various sweets I have received from others..…..]   
  One year I made the mistake of baking "nice and fresh" on the night before Purim.  I no longer try to do that, as I want to be awake enough on Purim to hear the scroll of Ester being read, and going to sleep at 3AM just doesn't allow for that….. So I bake in advance, and freeze. Yesterday  was the day I had chosen to accomplish the baking marathon, and  I baked about 20 small challot.
    I used a generous amount of egg yolk to glaze the top of the breads, and was pondering what to do with the egg whites which were left over. In the end, I decided to bake a coconut- chocolate-meringue cake, which not only disposed of the egg whites, but also some coconut that I wanted to finish off. I had used sweetener instead of half of the sugar, and I allowed myself a smidgen of a taste, just to see if the experiment was actually edible. It definitely was. I wanted more, but managed to curb my desire, and headed out the door for my Wednesday night swimming session. I would pack up the cooled bake goods on my return.

   Late that evening I was still short of my daily calorie allowance by 200 calories, and I contemplated having some more of the coconut cake. But in the end, I decided that it wasn't worthwhile to do so: cake should be saved for special occasions. Besides, I WANTED an apple more! Gee how my tastes have changed!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ricki's Bed

    After Ricki died, her brother "Y" received her room. (Before that, as the only daughter at home, she had a room to herself.) He was grateful for his privacy, if not for the reasons that led to it. However, last year as Passover came close, Y and I agreed that HE would clean his room for Passover.
    This year, Y has also fled the nest, and since the room is largely unused, I decided to clean it early. Why wait until I am busy with more pressing pre-Passover chores. So for the first time since Ricki died, I cleaned her room for Passover……
   What can I say? It was boring as can be. No writing on the walls, no mounds of trash under her bed…..

   As I moved the bed and found one solitary shirt label there, I truly and sorely missed the missing trash (well, at least the "lady" who would have thrown it there…….) .

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hungry--- but under 70 K!!

   I've been hungry nearly all morning, with no real explanation.   (Well, now that I think about it, I DID get a bit less sleep than usual……) Anyway, I have nevertheless managed to restrain myself from overeating… simply because this morning instead of weighing 69.9 or 69.8, I was 69.5. Thus I feel that I can celebrate being out of the seventies, and having lost 80 kilos! And I certainly don't want to bust THAT!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Comment on an Article

First please go read this article.
As a person who used to weigh 330 lbs, and today under half that, and as  a registered nurs, I feel that I have a unique perspective on this..
   I admire the doctor's honesty in exploring this difficult topic.... and it is a multi-faceted one.
    I remember only too well my former loathing to go to a doctor, when many were openly hostile. Overeating in the extremely obese is nearly always an addiction. [A person who finds moving difficult due to a back injury might be slightly overweight, but 600 lbs is an amount that indicates that something else is in the equation.] As with any addiction, the food is satisfying some need that to the addicted person (temporarily) is more important than the current disadvantages.(The future disadvantages he chooses to try and forget.). Even when they reach a point where they WANT to change, because the physical/emotional/social effects outweighs the "advantages", the overweight person is often at a loss of HOW to accomplish what appears to be a nigh-impossible task.
    However, I can empathize with the frustration of the medical staff. When a patient is so large that doing even the most elemental procedures becomes difficult, an overworked, understaffed hospital staff can easily feel thwarted. It is very frustrating to try and help someone when they appear unwilling to help themselves, and the situation appears hopeless.
    The staff, however, should not make snide or insulting remarks. Not only are these remarks hurtful... they also are not helpful. A bit of understanding of the complexity and difficulty of the overweight person is in order. Because weight loss is not only about eating less. It is about how to MANAGE to eat less.
 The overweight patient needs to learn that treating his addiction is possible- and up to HIM. (And BTW, not as hard as you fear!) The rest of the world, while they can try to help, can not cure all the woes he has, he needs to take responsibility for himself. If he is not willing to make the effort, he cannot expect that others will always "save" them!

    As a society, we all need to show compassion, while simultaneously promoting an environment more conducive to healthy living. And facilitation of practical, useful interventions of food addictions needs to be a priority in the health care system.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The "Dybuk" (evil spirit)

    It was as if a "dybuk" had entered me. I was upset and anxious and suddenly I was overeating.  It was in less amounts than once, and not too bad, but bad enough. I undoubtedly ruined the weight loss of the last two weeks with one evening's splurge.

Gee, I guess I am human, and will just have to get back RIGHT NOW to doing what I REALLY want to do--- which is to be healthy. And I'll need to  find a better way to deal with life's problems…….

POSTSCRIPT next day:
   Thankfully the extra 700 calories did not cause any sizable weight gain (I weighed less than yesterday), but I sure am going to be on my guard today!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A lovely Walk , a Walking Record

     Most days (unless I have lots of "walking-to-do" errands), I try to do an aerobic walk of about an hour. In addition, once every week or two, I try and take a longer walk along with my best friend. However that long walk with my friend can get boring if we do the same walk weekly, so I try and come up with new ideas of places to go with her. And it is preferable if I can check out the area in advance, going there once by myself, before bringing my friend.
    For a long time I have been wanting to check out two areas: a fairly open but undeveloped area north of Tel Aviv's Ramat Aviv neighborhood, and the beach boardwalk in Hertzalia. Today I tackled them both.
   First I took the 45 bus to just after the "Aretz Israel Museum", and spent the morning exploring and traipsing through several parks in the upscale Ramat Aviv area. Then I went north to the are just beyond. There I found a site I knew about only because there was a geocache there: a Samaritan burial caves area.
[image: Samaritan Burial cave.]

[image: Black Iris flowers]

   Then I backtracked a ways south so that I could reach the Namir freeway (without traipsing through mud in the open area). From there I took a bus the remainder of the distance to Hertzalia.
   Arriving at the Hertzalia junction, I walked north-west to the Mediterranean shore, to the northern end of the boardwalk.

[2 images: the sea from the boardwalk]


From there I walked back to the Hertzalia marina (a short walk). After a coffee break I walked from the marina south to Reading (a long walk).
   Total walk was about 40,000 steps (about 19 miles?), a record for me.

   Mind you, I might gain weight tomorrow, for a day. Even though I definitely have a calorie deficit for today, I did not pack tons of food because I  returned later than I thought I would. Thus  I ate 2/3 of my calories after 8PM, and I KNOW that this can cause a temporary gain. But that's OK, it will even out in the end.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


   I have put a link here to a video of Angela Duckworth's talk for TED. If you haven't seen this (especially if you are a parent/teacher ), it is WELL worth the 6 minutes it takes to watch.


    I first saw this a while ago.
    Today it struck me that ALL of my children have a lot of "grit". My children learned early on that learning is possible, that effort reaps results. They saw the effort Ricki put in, and the wonderful results she obtained. And they saw their mother dealing with difficult situations, persevering and going on. These are valuable gifts for children.
    Sometimes people want their kids to see them as invincible, and that is a mistake. We need to be honest about our trials, and our successes. They need to see that successfully overcoming a challenge was not necessarily easy, but that we struggled to do the right thing.

   And for those of you trying to eat in a healthy manner, note that Ms. Duckworth defines "grit" as "passion and perseverance for long term goals". This means that your best chance to succeed at losing weight is NOT some mythological "will power". Your best chance at success is if you can become truly passionate (day-by-day!) about living healthily. It's all about changing your priorities, and making healthy living a central one in your life.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Crazy Day, with a "Valentine" from Ricki

    Yesterday  wasn't really that crazy of a day, but it got off to a bad start. On awakening this morning, I thought that I had overslept a half hour, and jumped quickly out of bed. Afraid that I would be late for my first physiotherapy session for my shoulder, I started panicking. Then, AFTER  all that adrenalin had flooded into my system, I realized that I had arisen an hour and a half too early!! At least that meant that I had plenty of time, but returning to sleep was out of the question.
    The physiotherapist was very nice, and seemed quite competent. However, part of the treatment was an "uncomfortable" +6 on the 1-10 pain scale.   In the end I used my old Lamaze breathing to get through the twenty minutes of electrical "massage" of the torn muscle.
    On my return home I proceeded with my "pre-before Passover cleaning". This is organizing things in the house, and cleaning of items that do not need cleaning before Passover per se. (But things I want to get clean anyway.)  This type of spring cleaning I do prior to real "Pesach (Passover) cleaning", IF I HAVE TIME. And one of those jobs is to dust off and air the books in our huge library. Having finished yesterday airing out the Hebrew books, I turned my attention today to the books of the "special needs" lending library. And the books were quite dusty, as last year I did NOT clean them. (I mentioned already that I do this only if I have time, right?)
    As I lowered a handful of books from the upper shelf, a piece of paper, apparently used as a bookmarker, fluttered to the floor. It was a letter from Ricki to me, from who knows how long ago.  I had not remembered that I had this, and to be gifted with this "find" today truly warmed my heart.
(rough translation)  :
   "You are a good girl, and very very nice. You are a good girl and very wonderful. Very  very. You are (very very) my mom. You are a successful student in every class. Today you are as sweet as honey. You are my mom, and I love you."
[Note: she writes in the same style of language people praised HER with –"good girl", successful student". And she was probably trying to apologize for some type of misdemeanor…..]
   I sent a photo of the letter to my youngest son, and he posted it on facebook, adding:
  "Do you realize how much love she contained? Understand that we received as a gift a wonderful and sweet girl… we spent 18 years with her, and today, even though she is not here with us, we still feel her love for us, and discover new things about her.  We find ourselves thinking of her, crying over her, missing her, and smiling. Smiling because she knew how best to make us smile."
     Oh yes, my son is so correct. Even when we were upset with her, it was hard to be truly angry.  And this one-day-early "valentine" is going to get laminated and kept. I guess I'll need a different bookmark.

   And while I'm posting, I'll share my latest "mosaic"; I had lots of time, and the weather was balmy (not too hot nor too cold)… so I had the chance to do something a bit more intricate than usual:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Generation and Culture Gap:

A phone conversation between me andmy son currently living in the USA (but who grew up in Israel) :
My son: it's a holiday here today...
Me: Yeah, happy groundhog day! Was there sun or shade?
DS: Groundgog?!?! What's that?????
(I explain)
DS: But that is not what I meant...
Me: So what holiday IS it???

DS: Superbowl game day.

The "Challenge"

    Passover is coming… not THAT fast, but two and a half months from now I want to welcome the holiday calmly, and serenely. (Reality: very slight chance of that….)
   So this week I plan to organize myself, planning when to do different pre-Passover cleaning tasks, shopping, etc.  But that is not all. In addition I hope and plan to keep exercising and walking for as near to the holiday as I can. So for THAT I have made a "challenge" to myself:
-to do a small amount of strength training exercise twice weekly (3 times if at all possible) until at least two weeks before the spring holiday. (For the two weeks before the holiday I should be doing enough physical labor to keep my muscles in shape.)
-to do an aerobic walk at least 5 times weekly.
     And if I do all this I plan to reward myself with a new watch for the holiday.

    You must realize that we are capable of motivating ourselves to stretch beyond easy limits.
    Bribing works.
    We just need to know what "goal" will make all that effort worthwhile.

   And in the meanwhile, knowing that soon my L-O-N-G walks will need to take a furlough, I have been enjoying the lovely (but unfortunately too dry) weather we have been having, and have been walking along the shoreline:

2 weeks ago to Hertzalia:

This week south of Jaffa:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From the Corner

   On Sunday I really didn't have a lot of time to go walking, but I did want to get about an hour or more in. So I set out to do a few errands I had to do in some stores near the Yarkon river park, and from there I went for a short walk along the Yarkon, between the 7 mills area and the shopping mall.
    On returning to the mall, I elected to take a bus home, hoping that if I caught a bus right away, I might get home quicker. (Usually I would walk, but I was also a bit tired.) However, when I reached the 92 bus stop I realized to my distress that I had missed the previous bus by a minute or two, and the next one would be in only 25 minutes. So as I have done before, I headed over towards the next stop, where I could catch either this next bus, or the number 7 bus, whichever would arrive sooner.
   As I neared my destination (the bus stop that is), I was at the corner, waiting for a green light, when I saw the #7 bus arrive at the intersection. But he had a red light, and I had a green one.
  I took off running. The stop is about a third of a block away, and I was hoping to beat the bus, with a bit of luck. But I knew that it would be a close call, so I really  RAN. And RAN. And I (just barely) caught the bus.

   I never felt better in my life.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It Isn't Always Simple…..

    Many times people ask me "How did you do it?" I often think that this is a bit like asking one to recite a whole lecture series while standing on one foot.
     Weight loss isn't that simple, or we would all manage to have our weight under control.  We all KNOW that we need to eat less and exercise more, yet most people do not succeed long term.
   Weight loss is not just "eat this, not that", or "use your willpower".

   Weight loss involves eating less than our body is burning, so in a way we are doing something the body sees as stressful. So in order to succeed, we need to involve ALL of the things involved: our body, our emotions, and our minds. All of these must play together to have a healthy sustained loss of weight. We need to use our brains to be aware of what we need to do, we need to control and use our emotions in order to succeed. And we need to act in a way that is not too stressful on our body.  So all-in-all, it can get pretty complicated.  It is a real journey…. But a fun one as well!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nu, Just Do It!

   Generally I go swimming every Monday and Wednesday evening, my intent being to swim at least 1 kilometer each time (40 pool lengths).The swimming not only gives me aerobic exercise (as well as the 25-minute walk each way to and from the pool), but gives my arm a workout, which I need as my major exercise is walking. And, in addition, I enjoy the time there… usually at least.  This year the facility has even been heated a bit better than it had been in previous years, so the cold weather is no excuse not to go. (I'm not saying that it is WARM, but once you get swimming, it's OK….)
   However last week, even though I had the doctor's OK to swim (in spite of a torn tendon in my arm), my swimming pace was a bit slow---- and that, along with the wind squeaking through the cracks, made me COLD. The result? I wasn't sure this evening (Monday PM) whether to go to the pool.  But in the end, realizing that I had NO WHERE near my "mandatory" 10,000 steps, I shrugged and told myself "Nu, Just DO it!"
And I did.
And I felt great, swam fast, and wasn't cold at all. I even squeezed 50 pool-lengths in.  Even walking home I felt energized.

    You know, sometimes we have a task to do, a chore, or something that just doesn't appeal to us right at that moment. And sometimes we just have to shrug and "get on with it". And so often, we end up enjoying the task, or at least finding it easier than we thought we would. So often the REAL problem is not the task, but in our own minds. When we circumvent those inner doubts, fears, and disbeliefs, we liberate ourselves to succeed, to accomplish….and to change for the better.