Saturday, November 21, 2015

Why Is the World so Blase' About Terror in Israel?

   One thing over the last week has rankled many Israelis over the last week.  While we also showed our support for France after the last attack, we noted very carefully how that type of  support never seems to come our way.  Yes, the terror attack in Paris was larger, but population percentage wise, probably not.  The world noted that Parisians have to deal with a new reality… a reality that we in Israel have been living with, 24/7 for a LONG time.  Why is there such a discrepancy in the attitude towards Paris/Israel by the world at large?

   While some may be because of anti-Semitism, I think the answer is much simpler.
   The average American, while he may sympathize with Israelis who experience terror, probably does not feel threatened by it.  The Israelis, by their thinking, are experiencing terror because they do not reach peace with the Arabs, because of the Gaza wars. They theorize that the Arabs, reacting to their situation, attack Israelis. This is no threat to the American in Indianapolis, Memphis, or Chicago.
   However, when Arab terrorists hit Paris, the gut reaction of the average American is probably, “there, but for the grace of G-d, goes I”.  The target this time was not soldiers, not Jews, but your normal-everyday citizen.  I suspect that this feeling of vulnerability is what led to the wide outpouring of support for Paris this last week.
   Well, Americans, please note that the Islamic terrorists are set on wiping out Western culture. This is not a political issue, but a religious/cultural one. And when you side with terrorists, WHEREVER they strike, “legitimizing” their actions, you just help to spread their lies.

   Folks we are in the long haul here. America and Europe will need to do what is standard here in Israel: search bags of people entering malls, movie theaters, government buildings, and the like. But if we want democracy to survive, we will need to call terror what it IS, and work against it. That does not mean that political solutions can not help. They may at times. But the extremist will not be satisfied by these “solutions”, and we need to wake up to that fact, FAST.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Hikers

    I have done a fair amount of hiking in my life, a lot of it in the Rocky Mountains. There, on the trail, it is quite common to give a nod or a good word to fellow hikers you pass. Sometimes as you “leap-frog” each other on the trail a few times, one can even strike up a conversation, ask them to take that perfect photo with you in the foreground….
      While we would never do such a thing in the city, somehow in the park trails we do. Perhaps part of that is because in case of emergency, our lives may well be saved by that fellow unknown hiker. 
        [Once when I was young, my parents and I, along with my older brother  (who was  about 14-years old????)  went on a hike to either Fern or Odessa lake. Suddenly we heard an SOS whistle from the “little Matterhorn” which towered above us. My Dad quickly pulled out HIS whistle to signal them that they had been heard, and my brother ran the (considerable) distance down to the trailhead in order to alert the park rangers. We heard later that one of the rock climbers had broken their leg.  Our hike for the day was interupted …  but we would have never dreamed of not helping another hiker.]
    But the hikers who always puzzle me are those I see sprinting along the trail. I realize that they are doing it for their fitness goals…but besides the dangers** of running along a rocky trail, I am flabbergasted that they would willingly let such gorgeous scenery pass by in a blur.  Even when going up rocky paths slowly, I need to remind myself to occasionally glance up from the stony path at my feet, and note the beauty and wildlife around….(That’s one reason hiking I enjoy so much hiking with my brother. Besides the added safety, and his knowledge, even if one of us is oblivious to the deer ahead, the other will often catch it and cue off the other!)

[image: deer near the trail]

** It is easy to fall if running, and generally the few big cat attacks in the Rockies have been on runners.
   OK, ladies, you may all be asking by now, “OK, nice story, but WHAT the H*LL does this have to do with me?”
   The point I am going to make is this:
      Often we set goals for ourselves. Whether it is to climb a peak, fashion the greatest Halloween Decorations on the block, or loose ten pounds….. we often get so set on our goal that we miss the wildflowers growing at the side of the trail.  We often think “When I get to my goal weight, THEN I’ll be happy!”  We envision being pleased with ourselves and having peace of mind upon reaching our goals…

[image: bee on flower, with saying: "Enjoy the journey".]

     But allowing ourselves to only be satisfied on reaching our goal will only lead to frustration. YES we will reach our goal, but then we are likely to set a new goal for ourselves… and once again we will be “hiking with our eyes stuck to our boots and the rocky path”.  
   We must allow ourselves to revel in the joy of the journey… celebrate even small successes….. to enjoy the journey itself as part and parcel of the entire package! 

[image: view from Flattop mountain]

   However, as a final note, let me add that there is a flip side to all this.
     Last summer I managed to hike to two places I had never been able to hike to as an adult: the summit of Flattop mountain,  and blue lake.

    I accomplished neither of these with wishful thinking. It took daily walks to increase my stamina, and to acclimate a bit to the altitude. It involved getting up well before dawn so that we could reach our goal and get below tree line before the rains might arrive. It meant climbing Twin Sisters as a preparatory hike, even though the trail there was rough in places due to a washout.
   Yes, we need to enjoy the flowers on our way to the summit of weight-loss and maintenance. But we also need to tread the trail, even when doing that is a bit difficult.
     Set that alarm for an hour early so that you can get a quick jog in.
     Buy that good windbreaker so that the rain won’t stop you.
     Decide that you can celebrate Shabbat without gorging on sweets and nuts.
     Do a slightly better strength training than last week…

Please share  something you ENJOYED this week .

[image: wildflowers, with saying: "Your best moments are those you live in, not those you rush through."]

Monday, October 19, 2015

No Other Words: a Lynching

   Last night a foreign worker was mistaken for a terrorist and was basically lynched .  I remember how in a previous terrorist attack a sephardic Jew was also killed when mistaken for a terrorist.

   And here comes the rub: quick reaction to terror is needed to prevent further casualties. Yet caution is needed to avoid mistakes.

   HOWEVER, the foreign worker who died yesterday was killed not just because of being shot, but due to the subsequent lynching.  ONCE A TERRORIST has been unarmed, there can be no excuse for a lynching. We are allowed to defend ourselves, but we should never descend to the level of our enemies.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Simple Truth

   There is a lot of accusations flying around about the video showing the Arab youth bleeding while passer-by curse him.  First, let it be clear that the youth is alive.
   I saw the video, and yes it appears at first glance to be shocking. HOWEVER let us look at the simple truth:

Every culture has people who get excited and curse during conflict.Yes, there is someone cursing him. That someone is being kept away from the youth by the police.

  But the way our societies view these hotheads is VERY different:

    I would add that if a Jewish extremist were actively involved in a terror attack, and would not stop, he would also be shot by responding police or soldiers.

   And yes, the ambulance passed the Arab in the video. Does he really deserve to be treated BEFORE his victims?!???!???!  Eventually he was taken to the hospital, where he receives the same care as any Jewish patient. (Although he IS handcuffed, so that he can not carry out any further attempts to hurt others.)  [And he is in better condition than his victim..........]

Monday, October 12, 2015


   I saw a post on the NBC news site today. While I am used to a lot of slanted reporting, I must say that NBC outdid themselves.

Some samples:

NBC:  "So far, 23 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed. Around 20 Israelis and more than 500 Palestinians have been injured."

NO mention that the Israelis killed and injured were all hurt /killed as victims of terror attacks. Many were innocent civilians just minding their own business,  NO mentiion that almost all the Arabs killed and injured were hurt/killed while they were either committing a terror attack or engaged in VIOLENT demonstrations, doing acts which can be lethal to others.. 

NBC: "On Thursday night a right-wing mob marched toward the Old City in East Jerusalem, many of them chanting "Death to Arabs" and with the stated intention of looking for Arabs to attack.
"They chant 'Death to Arabs' and nothing happens to them," says a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem who asked not to be named. "If I said 'Death to Jews' I would be killed."

REALLY?  The Arab clerics and media are full of incitement, urging arabs to kill Jews.  In the few cases were Jews attacked Arabs, they were stopped by other Israelis, and these acts were roundly condemned by Netanyahu, and the IDF. (Israeli army). 

3) The piece is full about Arabs being afraid to walk the streets. I guess we Jews are not afraid; we are used to to getting stabbed outside of the local shopping mall.

Note: since I wrote this, the article has been changed a bit.and is a bit more balanced. RE the  stabbing attack in Pisgat Zeevthe  13 year old victim is  barely hanging on to life. He was BIKING home, and on the way stabbed 25 times!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

On Terror, Life, and Prudence

 Yesterday (Wednesday)  a terrorist stabbed a man at the bus stop (in Petach Tikva)next to a mall that I occasionally go to. Also buses in Jaffa got stoned (I travel by bus on that street to go to Rina's grave, and often I walk in Jaffa).  (And as I write this, I hear of another attack, noontime today (Thursday). A yeshiva student is stabbed in Jerusalem. I pray that it is not my grandson. Or a friend of his.  Or the son of a friend of mine.)
   While I always know in theory that terror can happen anywhere, and that no one is guaranteed immunity, the sheer number of attacks yesterday (and this week), along with the proximity of the attack in Petach Tikva, drove home the gut-wrenching realization of “There, but for the grace of G-d, goes I”.  Just two days before I had called my “ultra-Orthodox” son and daughter-in-law in Jerusalem, who do not listen to radio news, to be sure that they aware of the escalating violence and atmosphere.  Luckily, the word-of-mouth-news  network works quite well in their neighborhood, and they knew of the need to be extra vigilant when outside.
   Later on Wednesday, my husband informed me that I need to be more careful when out “walking”.  Knowing that any belittling of the danger would only increase his anxiety, I agreed with him. But, realistically, I thought to myself, I am much more likely to be hit by a SMS-messaging car driver than to be killed by a terrorist.
   Yet, despite the clear calculation just mentioned, I was much more alert on my walk to and from the swimming pool last night.  It was not a disabling fear, but an extra awareness of my surroundings.  “Why,” I wondered to myself, “am I apparently more afraid of the miniscule risk of terror, than the possibility of a car accident, or of having a heart attack in the pool, both of which are statistically much more likely to occur?”
   The answer, I believe, is that with accidents and health concerns, we feel that at least to a certain extent, that we can take precautions.  If we eat healthy, exercise regularly, don’t text-and-drive, and cross the street carefully, we have a fairly decent chance of reaching 80 or 90. With terror (whether in Israel or elsewhere) we are much less in control. Yes, there are things we can do as a country perhaps to decrease these incidents, but when a fanatical or deranged individual goes on the rampage,  only chance, or by G-d’s grace, are we not among  the victims. Realizing that vulnerability can be quite unsettling.
      Then today, a friend sent me this link:  This is a Ted-Talk about a dance group of “senior citizens” the “Hip Op-eration Crew”( and the philosophy behind it). The organizer was asked (seriously!) “What if one of them dies (ie. dancing, or on the plane)?”   And the response of the organizer (“Well, what if they did?”)was correct. After all, if we let fear of dying stop us from living, what worth is living then?
    Yes, as countries we need to work on security, mental health, and combat terrorism.
    But as individuals, in our private lives, the reaction can only be one:
MAKE TODAY COUNT. We don’t know-ever- how long we have to remain on this globe.   

[As religious believers, we can try and “curry favor” with G-d, by doing good deeds. These activities may perhaps affect things in a spiritual sphere. But we should not kid ourselves that those deeds will guarantee our safety. Sometimes G-d feels the best thing   for us is to experience suffering.]

Friday, October 2, 2015

The un-News

    Just out of curiosity, I went to NBC’s news page to see what they would write about the incident. Seeing nothing at all, I went to the “world” page. There it mentioned the Palestinian flag having flown at the UN, but the story I was looking for had not been mentioned.
    You can be SURE that if an Israeli soldier had killed two Palestinians at point-blank range, with no provocation, the news would have been explosive.
   But the fact that a young Jewish couple were gunned down and murdered in front of their 4 under-age ten children last night is not news.

   May their families be comforted. 
 Photo: The murdered couple, Eitam and Neama Henkin

Note and Update:
    I rechecked the NBC news page Saturday night (Israeli time). The video about the Palestinian flag at the UN is still up. The Henkins still don't matter it seems. And the  murder today of two Israelis (and the critical wounding of another, and the attack on a baby) are apparently not news either. Now I know some will say "Not every murder gets told on NBC." But as I said before, you can be SURE that if Israelis were randomly killing Arabs, it would definitely "make the grade".....
Further update: Is now on NBC site, and the headline is actually OK

Thursday, October 1, 2015

G-d Save us From the Idiots

   Today I saw a lovely video on facebook (see HERE), of an Israeli hula-hoop artist, Tal Fransky . She is very extremely  talented.
    What got me riled up (enough to sit down at 10 AM to type this up) were the numerous people who felt it absolutely imperative to note in the comments that the performer was on the plus-size side.

   Tell me, do these idiots really believe that the other viewers could not see this? Did they imagine for a moment that the performer herself is not aware that she is overweight?!??? And of course, what the (*&^%^$#& does her weight have to do with her wonderfully talented performance?

    Do people who make comments like this REALLY think that by making these comments that they will increase the chances of ANYONE losing weight?

   Shaming people does not lead to weight loss. NO ONE who has lost a considerable amount of weight has done so due to self-hate.  Weight –loss comes when you love yourself enough to stop overeating. It comes when you can figure out what is causing you to over- eat (when you KNOW that it is not good for you, but you do it anyway…), and finding other ways to deal with those “triggers”.

       I was extremely overweight for most of my life. I knew I was, I wanted to change, but it took me MANY long years to figure out HOW to do it! But all those years, my mother, while letting me know that my weight was not healthy, did NOT bring it up constantly. (Although I confess to giving my overweight kids a nudge every once in a blue moon, I bite my tongue 95% of the time.) And she would certainly not have done this publically, for example in a store while buying clothing. [Thanks, Mom!]
    Just yesterday I saw a man who was our guest shaming his wife for her weight. I felt so terrible for the lady, and wondered if he really thought that this was the way to effect a change in her.  (I finally told him point blank why he was doing things wrongly. But I doubt that it will help.)

    And another point: As this video shows quite aptly, weight need not be an impediment to exercise. I weighed MUCH more than Ms. Fransky  when I started my weight-loss journey. I started with walks of 20-30 minutes. From there I gradually built up to an hour or more daily. When hiking in the Rocky mountains, I took TONS of photos, using those moments to catch my breath, and  hoping that  my mother would not notice HOW out of breath I was! (On that first trip, nearly EVERYONE on the trail said “Good for you!” as they passed me. I felt a bit like a circus elephant clambering up the trail.) SO if you are overweight, try and find some exercise that you enjoy, whether it is walking, swimming, hula hooping, biking, dancing......because you will be healthier and feel better for it (even if you don’t lose a gram!).

   And by the way, hula-hooping is great exercise. It is excellent to do when watching a movie, or inside on a broiling HOT or RAINY day.  All you need is a few meters of open space, and an adult-sized hoop. (It should reach to about your waist).  For example:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2 Funerals

    The street corner by our house was black, full for the second time in less than 24 hours, with men dressed in black  suits and hats, returning from a funeral.
    Yesterday evening of course, the crowds were much more massive. Rav (Rabbi) Vozner had died, and the Jewish world came to mourn his passing. Unfortunately, the funeral ended in tragedy when someone was trampled to death in the pushing and shoving. This was a mere two blocks from my house.  This afternoon the casualty was buried, and people apparently felt a need to say with their presence at HIS funeral that “This should never have happened.”
   I am sure that Rav Vozner would agree. Indeed, I am positive, as my son told me this story this morning:
   Several years ago, on the eve of the Passover holiday, my son went to watch Rav Vozner (and other Rabbis) drawing water to bake matzot with, at the city well near our house. Suddenly there was a lot of shoving as people strived to get closer for a better look. Rabbi Vozner stopped in his tracks, refusing to continue until the pushing stopped.

Unfortunately, he was not able, at his funeral, to protest the unruly behavior…..

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Doctor with the One Earing.....

Years ago, I was at the ear doctor with Ricki. A  rather eccentric fellow (he had a large earing in one ear) He had been highly recommended to me as the “really good ear doctor familiar with patients with Down syndrome”.  And indeed he was very nice , and explained things quite thoroughly… in short, very professional.
    Ricki was quite young at that time-about 5  years old, and had as-up-to-then-undiagnosed-ADHD in addition to her Down syndrome. And Mr. Ear doctor shared office space with his gynecologist wife. In short, while there Ricki managed, among other cute tricks, to spill some lubricating fluid in an open container next to the gynocologist’s exam table ALL OVER the carpet. I was embarrassed as could be, but the slightly  unconventional doctor waved his hand as if to say ”It’s OK”. I was still mortified.
   Leaving from his office I schlepped (that’s Yiddish for “dragged myself”-remember, I was still very overweight then) the three or four blocks to the main road, and then several additional streets to the bus stop I needed. (I must have turned the wrong way on the main road….). Then the bus took FOREVER to arrive. And all this time, Ricki had been acting absolutely atrociously. I was tired, and really in a black mood.
   Finally, on the bus, I sat down, and pulled out the letter the doctor had written. The first line was the diagnosis: “cute little girl with Down syndrome”
   That one line reminded me what she REALLY was (“cute”), and made the remainder of the day SO much better. I mentioned that to the doctor the next time I went and he was flabbergasted…. He had never dreamt that this one sentence would have such an impact on me.

  Often we do not realize the effects of our actions. Sometimes a small tiny action we do for someone else can have a much larger effect than we could ever imagine.  Those tiny little things we can do for others, in a moment, can have lasting effects. We have all heard of people who inspired others with a single act or a few words.
    Who has inspired YOU, or effected you, with a kind action, or a wise sentence? Please share !!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Our Hidden Enemy: Perfectionism

     Very early on in my weight-loss journey, I realized that one of my biggest “triggers” to overeating was lack of sleep. And that the reason I didn’t get enough sleep was because I had to “manage” to do “everything”. I had to be perfect.  I tried to be perfect.
       It just didn’t work.
       And I have seen this tendency in many other women as well.
      Why in the world do we push ourselves past the point of what sanity would dictate?  And even if we can answer that question (which I was able to do after a LOT of thought and reflection), to relearn that feeling that I have to do it “all” is SO hard to beat! (Jewish sages say that it takes 70 years of work to undo a bad habit, and quite frankly, I don’t have seventy years! LOL).
    I think the key is:
1)      Practicing here and there NOT being perfect
2)      Positive affirmations when we are NOT able to do it all (Mine is: “G-d created you as an imperfect being. My task is to grow/progress, not to be perfect.”)
3)      Learning to love ourselves as we are

Are YOU a perfectionist? Can you share an affirmation that helps you?

 I WOULD HAVE LIKED to add in here a cute photo, but it is almost time for me to leave for swimming....... So you will get this  sans a picture; the post will be imperfect, and that is OK!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Rio Tramway and Making a Plan!

    Jutting out of the Atlantic ocean waters in  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are several large granite-like pillars. By far the  most famous of them is “Sugarloaf mountain”. Rising 396 meters (1,299 ft) above Guanabara Bay, on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic, Sugarloaf attracts some 2,500 visitors daily. From the top of this granite pillar one sees an impressive panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro.

[image: Panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf mountain.]

    When I went to Brazil in 2013, for a short one week visit, Sugarloaf was the first item on my list of things which I wanted to see. I knew that the tramway had existed in the50’s & 60’s; I remember seeing pictures of it when I was in grade school. However, I was surprised when I learned just how long ago the original tramway was built. In 1907, Brazilian engineer  Augusto Ferreira Ramos had the idea to build the cable car. The first section was finished in 1912, and the second stretch in early 1913. And how were the materials carried to the top? By hundreds of  workers climbing the rock face, dragging ropes,  which were then used to haul up heavier items. This  Sugarloaf cable car system was the first in Brazil and the third in the world, and it was longer than the previous two. It was truly a technological feat in its time.

[image: Two of my sons (who are so different yet so similar to each other), horsing around in one of the original tram cars.]
    Now can you imagine that Mr. Ramos built this structure without a plan? Surely not. He had a plan, and he carried it out.  Because without a plan, things just don’t get done!

[image: Mountain scene with the caption: "A goal without a plan is just a wish."]

    Often people who are not overweight look at people who are, and wonder why we don’t just decide to lose. What they do not realize is that deciding is not enough. We need a plan. A plan to deal with all those little things that get in the way of weight loss and maintenance.
    Once I had a friend who told me how TERRIBLE she was; the day before she had overeaten. She had rushed out to her job, forgetting to pack her nutritious lunch, and at 13:00 discovered that the only edibles around were some high calorie pastries, so that is what she had eaten. Then as an afterthought, she added: “Today I made SURE to pack my sandwich.”
    Her inner voice was telling her that she was terrible… and unsuccessful. But in actuality, she had run into a problem… and developed a plan to correct it. To me that is PROGRESS!

   Can you train your inner critic to note what you are doing RIGHT?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

trip to Beit Guvrein

The area of Beit Guvrein, which is about halfway between Beit Shemesh and Hebron, is unique due to the many caves carved out by those living in the area. The limestone stone in the area has a hard upper crust (called "Naari"),. This harder stone gave support to allow the digging out of caves in the softer limestone beneath the Naari.

 The first several photos here are of a family burial cave , apparently of a Hellenized Edomite family. The original drawings had been vandalized, but luckily the first archaeologists there had made extensive drawings of the originals, and from those drawings these replicas were made.

The next photo is of a small columbarium (dove-house), located under a house, essentially a small family fertilizer business.

An oil press:

Entrance to a water cistern located beneath a house.: 

An enormous Columbarium:

The  most famous site in Beit Guvrein are the Bell Caves.  A small hole was made in the Naari sone above, and then the stone below was quarried out. These caves are from the late Byzantine/ Early Islamic periods.

The original entryway to the quarry:

Friday, December 26, 2014

After the Holiday; A Letter to a Friend

You tell me that you “blew it” over Channukah!
1) First, I hope that you had a lovely holiday! If you had extra food, at least I hope that you enjoyed it, and that the whole day (week!) was GREAT!  I hope that your kids also enjoyed the holiday.  Holidays give us the break, the inspiration, and the happiness that helps us navigate life .Even if you overate, holidays are meant to be enjoyed.

2)   Learning HOW to navigate the holidays without destroying your eating/exercise program completely takes time. You are pretty new at this; hopefully you will be better on the next holiday, and better next Chanukah as well.

#3) I used to think that making a firm resolution to
"eat within reason" at holiday time would get me through "OK".IT WASN'T. I learned that I MUST track (even if just keeping a running tally mentally), EVEN IF OVEREATING. Being honest about HOW MUCH I was eating (even if deciding to allow myself some "extra" ) helps me stay within reason (or half reason)

4) Rather than moan about the fact that you went overboard, turn this around to a "learning experience". Evaluate:
a) Where did I go wrong? When? What were the biggest temptations, the biggest triggers? Who was I with? How was I feeling?
b) were there other factors involved? Did I get enough sleep? (THAT is probably pretty hard for a young mom like you!) Was I under stress due to ______
    Then after you evaluate , make a PLAN how to decrease the "other factors", and how to cope with the temptations. WRITE this plan in your calendar for the next holiday (Tu B’Svat? Purim?) .  [And turn to a middle page  of ELUL (last month of the Calendar) and write there: “Write in next year’s calendar my pre-Chanukah plan.”] After the next time evaluate HOW it went, and fine tune. Consider giving yourself some type of prize for success.

Here’s a personal example of how I did this as regards Passover:
The First Step in the “twelve steps” is admitting that we are out of control.
Before Passover, knowing full well the family “custom” to (over)eat chocolate during the pre-Pesach (pre-Passover) days and during the holiday itself, I bought several bars of the finest Swiss type with trepidation. I knew that these bars of “instant energy” were a potential diet bombshell, especially as I was running at that time on about 4 hours of sleep nightly.
The question was, why should I buy at all?
Well, Orthodox Jews take seriously the command not to eat leaven over the holiday (unfortunately the command to guard one’s health seems less critical at this juncture), and the types of food available with a really good kosher certification (for Passover) are somewhat limited. (Especially for those who also do not consume legumes over the week.) I wanted to have good treats to give the grandchildren, and my husband might very well see non-purchase of an essential like chocolate to be grounds (almost) for divorce…..
So I ate some before Passover, and although I was eating much less than once, it was surely enough to cause a dent in my plans not to gain over the month. I realized that sleep-deprivation and stress were factors in play, and consoled myself that once the holiday entered, these factors would fall by the wayside, and I would be able to get my eating under control. After all, salads and vegetable soups are great Passover foods, not just matzah with butter.
So the holiday has started, I have returned to having time for aerobic walking, and I discovered to my horror, that my consumption of fattening foods has stayed out of control.
Finally last night I admitted to myself step number one: I am powerless over the Swiss bars. So I passed them on to someone else to distribute to the grandchildren.
This does not mean that I am perfectly in control already. The lack of many of my regular diet “substitutions” has still made dieting this week very difficult, but I am beginning to get a semblance of normal intake.
For those readers uninitiated to Pesach (Passover) cleaning, the words “spring cleaning” is a mere whiff of what I do before Passover. We are enjoined not to eat, own, or use “chometz” (leavened products) during Passover. And while there are easier ways to clean for the holiday, basically one needs to rid the house of every crumb of bread/cake/etc. And after that, the kitchen counters, stove, etc need to be covered before being used for the preparation of scrumptuous holiday repasts…. So Passover cleaning tends to be a LOT of work. And as much as I try and plan ahead, and to work by a schedule, I invariably fall behind, have less time for walking, and get too little sleep. The usual outcome for me is overeating and weight gain.
    Wednesday (ALL day) and Thursday morning I cleaned my kitchen for Passover. For the last few years I have “done” the kitchen before the living room, where we continue to eat non-Passover foods. I prefer to do the heavier work at least a week before the holiday, so as not to arrive to the holiday “seder table” exhausted. In former years I have used “cleaning the kitchen” as an excuse to consume “instant energy”, in the form of fine Swiss chocolate. Even last year, well down the “diet road”, I succumbed to temptation (albeit much less than in previous years), and this year I hoped to do much better. The chocolate I had purchased for holiday baking use I placed along with other groceries for the holiday in sealed boxes. And for several days, even though I was VERY hungry (blame habit and lack of sleep), I was doing GREAT. Then, when emptying out some of the closets in the kitchen on Monday afternoon, I found a stashed-away half bar of chocolate. And as the evening progressed, I slowly and surely polished off the entire 90 grams of creamy smoothness…. Having given in to temptation once, on the marrow I was craving chocolate with my whole soul. But, determined not to gain too much over the holiday season, I decided to allow myself on Tuesday a few high calorie items, but not chocolate. Then on Wednesday, I allowed myself extra calories, but not sweet items. The idea was to allow myself a bit of leeway, but to progress back gradually to a normal eating plan. Now why did I do this? BECAUSE WHEN I FOUND MYSELF NOT FOLLOWING MY EATING PLAN, I TOOK NOTE, AND ANALYZED THE SITUATION, AND DEVELOPED A PLAN FOR ACTION. If we want to redeem ourselves from our bad habits, we need to Think and PLAN. The redemption for Egypt was quick, and given as a gift. Redemption from our evil inclination is not going to be that easy.

After cleaning our house, we need to store away our regular dishes, cover all counter tops, and get out the Passover dishes. And while doing this, we need to feed our families without the benefit of kitchen facilities. (For example, imagine making a salad where to rinse each vegetable you need to run to the other side of the house to a water source.) And if you are overworked and tired, the temptation to reach into a cupboard for some luscious Passover chocolate (read "easy instant energy fix") can be pretty great. Then, you start cooking holiday meals, hopefully festive ones, which generally are NOT that low in calories. So it is no surprise that each year I gain over Passover, and I am skeptical of my ability to withstand the temptations that are impending.
   And, as I indicated in the previous post, wishful thinking about "doing better this year" is just not enough. If I want to emerge on the other side of March without a gain, I need to take some concrete action. Here's my plan:
1)      I will buy the chocolate for cooking (and the grandkids) ONLY after the kitchen is ready for Passover and fully functional. When I am able to cook up a pot of vegetable soup, the lure of the sweet "fix" should be more manageable. Yes, it will cost more in the local grocery than the supermarket, but that's OK. (And if my husband insists on having the tan temptation, he will have to buy and hide for himself.)
2)      Plan menus which are easier and less time consuming for the holiday. There is no need to cook gourmet that leftovers are "a pity" to dispose of. There are lots of pretty, healthy, and easy menus out there.
3)      Work on getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Even if that means less spring cleaning and less time online.
4)      Try to maintain a minimum of "walking" (exercise) time (even if only half an hour). I know that walking not only keeps my metabolism going, but it decreases my appetite, and busts away stress.
  And then, for the holiday of redemption, I hope to celebrate redemption from my former bad eating habits.
   I bought the fancy chocolate only at the last minute.
I had a six week plan before the holiday, where I recorded exercise (TNT at least once a week, aerobic at least half an hour 5X weekly, staying on trackcalorie wise, and tracking sleep
I had a prize for myself (EXPENSIVE jewelry) that I would  only wear on the holiday if I kept in line (90% or better) with my plan.
This plan worked. I gained a smidgen over the holiday, but in general I was OK. I can live with that smidgen, I think it was pretty darn good!
2015:  (YES! I am already planning how to get through Passover in one piece this year!)

I have already bought my prize for “plan compliance” for this year’s Passover holiday! (It’s GORGEOUS! My best friend doesn’t know HOW I can resist wearing it NOW. I explained that my fear of going back to being fat overrides everything else! And I KNOW that I need a prize that I REALLY want!