Monday, February 25, 2013

Changing My Role

    Yesterday the Non-Jewish world was preoccupied with the Oscars. To the Jewish world, it was Purim, a day of feasting and sending gifts of food to friends and neighbors.
   Like every other holiday in the world, people have taken Purim and cellophane wrapped it, commercializing it way beyond where we should have allowed. Certain aspects (sending food gifts and allowing moderate drinking) have been emphasized, while others, like giving gifts to the poor, take a poor second place in our attention. And two groups of people tend to view Purim with a bit of fear: those hoping to not gain weight, and families of alcoholics.
      There is a religious obligation to imbibe wine on Purim (except, as many Rabbis have ruled, there are physical or mental health problems involved, which would include nearly every alcoholic). Not surprisingly, any alcoholic person who is not serious about changing his ways will use Purim as an excuse to drink to excess. And this can often deal a very "unfair" tone and pall to that which is a favorite holiday to the rest of the community.
     The other group that uses Purim as an excuse to indulge an addiction is the "food addict".  Just as the alcoholic faces wine on the table, the overeater faces plates of home-baked pastries and chocolates. Ideally, we should be sending (as I do) salads and fish, and receiving the same (I wish!).
      I tried to not over-indulge in the cakes on Purim, and I failed. Not totally, but enough that I am still wondering what type of craziness entered my brain. But at least that failure was partial, and as long as I return to my eating plan immediately, has (and had) no negative impact on my family. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the alcoholic, and a guest at our Purim meal managed to effectively wreck the whole celebration as we tried to limit their drinking, shouting, and vulgar talk. And my emotional reaction to this situation was undoubtedly a big part of "the craziness that entered my brain". (Which may explain it, but not excuse it.)
  All of this highlights for me the inevitable connection between addictive overeating and emotions. Which means that simply resolving to "be careful", "do it smart this year", etc., just isn't going to do the trick. This means that if a "Purim Binge" on petit-fours is not to be a yearly disaster, I need to make a better action plan than simple resolutions.
    I definitely need to change my role, and if I do, the Oscars will have nothing on me!

Friday, February 15, 2013


I need to work on getting enough sleep. Up until now I have realized intellectually that I need more sleep, that it is not heart- healthy, and is a major trigger to overeating. However I have been  loathe to give up the activities that are keeping me up late at night.
   So today I read on Spark people a few articles on sleep, and here are a few additional gems:
1)      In fact, if you’re sleep-deprived you’re likely to have higher concentrations of sugar in your blood, which could contribute to development of a pre-diabetic condition.
2)      Sleep is instrumental to good health and even weight loss. A disruption in your hormones and your different metabolic processes has all kinds of adverse effects. Your fat cells respond to the food you eat differently, based on your hormones. Sleep loss affects the level of certain hormones, putting your body in a position to gain weight.
3)      Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscle – sleep and proper nutrients help re-build the muscle.  [ie, lack of sleep may be why I am not seeing so much difference in my muscles, even though I am doing toning exercises]
OK- so I DO need more shut-eye… I need to try and think of a plan to do it, to deal with the activities that are keeping me up….

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"The Best" vs. "My Best"

   Today I only did 55 minutes for LCW ("Last Chance Workout" for a Biggest Loser Competition group on SPARK site). Normally I do much more, often 2 hours or more. And believe me, the will to do my normal output was there. I love walking, and the idea of a nice aerobic hike in the Yarkon park today, a lovely sunny day, was very enticing.
   However, there were other considerations at play. Passover is nearing, and I have a long list of things I hope to get done this week. Chief among them is going through Ricki's old study materials, and deciding what to give to friends, what to family, etc. And while the job needs to get done, it is much less alluring than a brisk walk. So the thought "I'll walk and THEN get to work" dogged me. Because, you must understand, my online group was counting on me. And I would LOVE to earn the accolade of logging in maximum points…….
   Often we feel a pull between what we need to do, and something conflicting, which we prefer doing. At these times we need to examine what are we really choosing. And not only which actions, but the ramifications of that choice. Here the choice was this:
1)      Either go walking, getting good vibes from fellow on-line team members ("The Best"). The ramifications of this choice is that I will not get the cleaning done, or all of it, leading to more pressure and probably less sleep in a week or two.
2)      or clean, and be "MY best". The ramification is not doing my best for the on-line group.

   Once I not only looked at the actions, but at the ramifications of the choice, it was easy for me to choose.
   So, dear online group members, I only did 55 minutes of walking today. But I'm not going to say "I'm sorry", because I'm not. I'll just say "I wish I could have done both".

Friday, February 8, 2013

Keeping Kosher Away from Home

   I've travelled abroad several times in recent years, and keeping kosher away from home can be a challenge, more in some places than others. The Blog Me-Ander touches on the need for "real food", when one is traveling, and she is right! I remember seeing an apple in an airport eatery once, and grabbing the chance to purchase some REAL food!
Here are my ideas:
Before traveling, look up online for as much information as you can, and email kosher stores to try and determine if they still exist, and the products they carry. Determine which chesherim (kosher certifications) are commonly used in that area, and choose those which you are willing to use. In addition, the phone number of a local Rabbi if there is one (or from the nearest large city) is invaluable.

   In addition, check the customs laws for the country you are traveling to, and in they allow you to bring in salami, breads, etc. I have generally found getting kosher bread and meat (and chalav Yisroel for those who are stringent) more problematic than other products. But, for example, in Brazil the "kosher store" carried mostly tuna, meat, and sweets.
   However, there are MANY things you can do or buy to make keeping kosher easier:
A.     Pack in your CHECKED baggage a cutting board and a small knife. With these you can easily make salads and prepare fresh fruit. If taking a salami, take along an extra set of boards/knives for that. This last trip I took very thin plastic cutting boards which were basically weightless.
B.     Be sure to carry some REAL non-liquid food into your carry-on luggage, especially since sometimes ordered "kosher meals" don't arrive to a flight. (Or in one flight, they served a "milky" meal 4 hours after a meaty one.) Even if the kosher meal arrives, it is usually rather unhealthy fare… Good food for carry ones are:
-        "Mana hamah"
-        fresh sandwiches (yellow cheese keeps well)
-        pitot with a small (under 100 ml)(unopened) can of tuna
-        a fruit or two.  Cucumbers and carrot sticks are good too. (The fruit and vegetables you will want to finish before your arrival.)
-        Good high-energy foods are raisins and nuts
C.     Good foods for after your arrival:
1)      -Packages of tortillas (stay fresh until opened, make a great wrap for tuna fish and salads), and for soya products
2)      a WHOLE salami, unopened, the kind that does not need refrigeration until being    opened (It might be problematic bringing into the US. In Brazil, no problem….)
3)      packaged rice that can be cooked in an oven (double wrapping it in foil) or (if your Rav allows, in plastic in a microwave).
4)      vacum-packed "swarmah" soya (needs no refrigeration until opened)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eulogy for Moni (my MIL)

Moni was regal.
     I know that when I say this, no one who knows Monil be surprised… we all know that Moni had class.  She had the tremendous ability to impart unto others her ideas and visions, without losing sight of who she was speaking to. She spoke to you with such a tone as to let you understand that she understood you, but expected certain things as well.
   In addition, Moni was generous and loving. Maybe that's why she was so compelling… we knew that her requests were always based not only on her clear sense of justice, but her love as well.
   Moni, today you leave this complicated world, going to a place much clearer and simpler. May you go in peace, finally joining your husband. You leave us, missed by so many, cherished by so many children and grandchildren (and great grandchildren). And those who had the privilege of knowing you will never forget that powerhouse called "Moni".
   I am so grateful that Sammy and I managed to come to see you; I feel that you deserved no less. I wish I could give you a final chug, to whisper in your ear how much I admire you. And may we all learn from Moni to act with determination, with class, with love.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Switch

From "Psychology Today":
"However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, or gamble or shop, nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior." 

    I am not surprised at this. For me, aerobic walking has taken on many of the benefits I used to gain from overeating: it is energizing, relieves stress, gives the body a "feel-good" state. And on which days do I find overeating hardest to control? on the days I don't exercise. So it seems that I have switched exercise for overeatimg. But since it ISN'T ruining my life, I'm OK with that..

A "visit" to Ricki

Last Thursday was (in the Hebrew calendar  a full half year since Ricki's death. ( That fact alone is hard for me to believe. It seems just yesterday she was here. Maybe that's because she is in my thoughts a lot...) Anyway, I had planned to mark the day by visiting her grave site  But I just simply didn't manage . I had been up late Wednesday night finishing up a dress for a family occasion, so I got a late start on Thursday. Add to that expected guests coming for the weekend.... So I realized that if I wanted to arrive in a halfway normal state to the family celebration, the living would need to take precedence over the dead, and the visit to the cemetery would have to wait. 

So Sunday I went to visit Ricki's grave. And that means that I probably will accomplish less of certain on-line commitments than I had hoped to do. But that is OK with me; my real life must take precedence over my virtual friends. And as much as I would like to be perfect and "do it all", the question of "at what price?" begs asking. 
Can we accept ourselves as imperfect creatures? Can we celebrate our successes without getting dragged down by our failures? Can we internalize the need to accept ourselves as a "journey in progress"? 
Very often we feel that if we can't do something 100%, we should not attempt it at all. This outlook is nearly always not called for: 
-If you can't get 8 hors of sleep at night, so aim for 6 rather than giving up and settling for 5 or less... 
-If you break your diet, no excuse to gave a super-binge... Limit the damage.....

In loving memory of "ricki"  [Photo: picture of mosaic I did at her grave, for a lovely teen who flew away so fast.]