Sunday, December 18, 2011

# 54 - Get Thee Behind Me, Seitan

Once a month Dr. Tsipi Morris, founder of the Efrat Women's Health Center, hosts a Healthy Cooking Demonstration. During these sessions she introduces us to food we would never have made. 
Who even remembers the names of the other stuff? Sometimes I think she's putting us on.
She prepares and cooks everything in front of us, sometimes with us. And we get to enjoy her hard work for dinner. Then surprisingly for some of us (okay, read: me) at the Efrat Women's Health Center, the new healthy food is really tasty.
Dr. Tsipi is probably hoping we'll incorporate some of her food fare into our dinners.
You know what? Change that to a maybe. I actually did make her nut-filled butternut squash once and I even served her unique fruit-and-nut baked apple concoction. It went over pretty well in my house. But I think I ate a little too much of it all by myself.
Most recently we learned how to cook with Seitan, a wheat-based meat substitute. The Women's Health Center staff are always encouraging/brainwashing us to eat proteins other than meat - beans, nuts, chick peas, sardines, etc.
I had never seen Seitan, let alone heard of it. It comes in packages of what looks like a few small steaks. It cuts up like steak too, and that's more or less how we handled it.
Tsipi cut it up, sautéed it a bit, and added all kinds of vegetables.
We put it in a whole wheat pita with salad and a dill and cucumber dressing and we had a Yiro. The photo above is Dr. Tsipi with my yiro. It looked and tasted like shwarma. It was pretty good.
Then me made a curry concoction with the Seitan and it was kind of like chulent, or something you'd find in an Indian restaurant. A new taste and aroma for some of us (read: me).
Dessert was a half of a cantaloupe stuffed with pomegranate seeds. Beautiful and delicious.
To your health.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

# 53 - Picturing Good Health

We did a pretty interesting group exercise at the Efrat Women's Health Center last week.
Alizah Shapiro, our social worker, rolled out two body outlines. They looked straight out of a crime scene.
Actually, Alizah was the model for these two outlines, traced by her five and eight year olds. We were supposed to fill in the outlines. Body #1 was a "healthy body". We had to include everything we thought had to do with a healthy body.
* A big smile
* A calm head
* Strong arms
* A happy heart
* Healthy food in her mouth
* Sneakers on her feet that like to exercise.
We even drew weights in one of her hands for the exercise we know she does, and a pillow near her head for the good night's sleep she gets.
The unhealthy body  had a hammer banging at her head for all the headaches she has, a big mouth that intakes too much unhealthy food, a stomach that's plagued with indigestion and all kinds of ills, dry hands, bad knees, and a couch for her couch potato status.
It's easy to see which figure we'd rather be. The goal is to PICTURE good health and then to do everything we should to attain the good health that we picture.
We are what we picture, I guess. And we'd better start picturing all good things.
I recently was lucky enough to celebrate my anniversary, B"H. My wonderful husband got me a card whose cover sported a young happy in love couple. I bought my husband a card that sported an older happy in love couple. It was clear that my husband looked at us as young, and I was shocked that I seemed to look at us as old.
Well, I'm ditching that card, and buying a new one. I am going to picture us as young and vibrant, and, of course, in love and happy.
The way we think about ourselves impacts how we feel about ourselves, and influences how we go forward to change things for the better.
And I'm going to work very hard on picturing myself as that Healthy Body with a happy smile, a happy heart, and a happy healthy everything else. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

# 52 - Don't Be Annoying

One of the things you really have to be careful of when you're watching your health is how you come off to other people.
If you're going to start telling folks, "Oh my gosh, how can you eat that? It goes straight to your hips/thighs/abdomen/heart", then no one will want to be near you anymore.
They'll groan every time you appear.
I learned a great lesson early on from my brilliant nutritionist Judy Kizer. In a social setting, don't comment on other people's food. Don't even look at their plates. Don't make health comments until they mention the subject first. Then if you say anything, just answer a question and do not seem antagonistic.
If you show a good example without shoving good health ideas down people's throats, they'll be more inclined to listen to you when you do say something.
It's important to be truthful about your food and health ideas, while you try to maintain a pleasant exterior. But there are challenges.
* "Yum, look at that cheesecake. Sha, do you want to split a piece with me?" "No, thank you. I don't eat cheesecake." "Oh, you don't, eh! Humph!"
I guess you could sneeze and then say, no thank you. That might be a better out.
* "Hey, let's play If I Were on a Desert Island. Okay, whose first? Go ahead." "If I were on a desert island what two foods would I bring?" Well, it used to be so clear to me. It used to be a no-contest desert island choice of potato chips and Coke. Over time my island fare changed to a definite Entennman's chocolate covered donuts and milk. Now I have no idea. Whole wheat bread and peanut butter? What about a drink? Well, if it was a desert island with coconuts, and if I could climb to the top of the palm tree without breaking my leg, and then if I had a hammer or a very heavy rock that I could actually lift, I could have local coconut milk. Hm. Something to think about. But, you see what I mean, even playing games has changed now. And if we played Desert Island and I said, "Rice cakes and cheese," folks would roll their eyes and never ask me to play again.
    You don't want to be annoying in social situations, but you've got to escape potential pitfalls.
* I attended a birthday party last week, and was offered a piece of birthday cake. It's an insult to say, "No, I won't eat your birthday cake." B"H, I was surrounded by a supportive crowd, so I said, "I would love to have a piece of your birthday cake. It looks so delicious. Mazel tov. I'm just not allowed to have it." That passed quietly, B"H.

* I had a very long meeting recently. Once upon a time, I'd have spent the night picking on the nosh on the table. To avoid that I brought a yogurt from home. From the hostess's table, I added some almonds and dates. Yum. I drank coffee with everyone else. That lasted about an hour. Now what? Tick tock tick tock. The cookies were still on the table, but I didn't touch any, and I didn't comment on anyone else's cookie intake either. I could have brought carrot sticks to munch on all night long, but that would have been obnoxiously in-your-face, so I didn't. When I came to the meeting, I found that the hostess had graciously put out nuts and fruit to pass the evening in addition to the baked goods. So, I made it through, B"H, and did it hopefully without my health attitudes grating on anyone's nerves. But just in case you don't know what the hostess is serving, bring sucking candies. No one will think twice if you pop a sucking candy instead of a snack.
Your health is your business. Other people's health is theirs. Acting and eating properly is a gift for yourself, and if other people are inspired to join in a healthy life, that's great. Of course, you're thrilled when folks choose a better lifestyle, and you can be encouraging, but never push them or meddle into their mouths.
The holidays are on the way. Here's to the gift of health for everyone!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

# 51 - Salad Queen

While I eat a pretty good variety of foods - the whole nutrition triangle - I try to have at least one big salad a day. In the beginning of my journey to better health, I had to choke down my salads or drown them in dressing. 
But I have heard again and again the benefits of salads. They contain fiber and lots of nutrients and vitamins that we need for a healthy life. They help reduce the risk of cancer. They fill us up and help us reduce the calories we eat at a meal. They really make us feel better. (You see, I do listen during our health sessions at the Efrat Women's Health Center. :) )
Well, I've learned over the past few months to really love salads and make them as interesting as possible.
I even get my family to eat my designer salads. Sometimes they take seconds. That's amazing.
I throw in everything, plus the kitchen sink, to my salads. Every vegetable in the house, plus some nuts or seeds and a cut up fruit. The perfect combination of taste with every forkful. Yes, I have absolutely become the Queen of Salads. 
I don't always have time to make Super Spectacular Salads, but when I do, there's no competition.
I invite you to make Super Salads too. Then, Long Live the Queens.

(Pictured are MY salads.  The top is an original creation with the guidance of nutritionist Judy Kizer. Left is a salad from 

Kosher Elegance by Efrat Libfroind.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

# 50 - Beloved Torturer

At our last exercise class, our instructor Daphne Kupietzky (who seems like such a lovely person in real life, but is a slave driver on the work out floor) started us on reverse jumping squats.
What is it? I have no clue. I guess the best way to describe it is: the opposite of my most hated exercise - jumping squats. In evil jumping squats you squat down as low as you can and then you jump up. With a reverse jumping squat, you jump and descend into a squat. (See photo at left.)
Where do these trainers and instructors get these exercises from? Exercise nightmares.
Once before I wrote that Daphne was trying to kill us. Tonight I was sure of it.
Then she said, "Look at all of you. Three months ago you would never have been able to do this." She seemed so proud of us.
At that moment I realized, Daphne's not trying to kill us. She is trying as best she could to whip us into some kind of better shape - to bring our once-totally-pathetic physical abilities as high as she possibly can. So she teaches us a new choreography every week that is not REALLY supposed to frustrate us - just keep us on our toes.
And she upgrades our sprints to new and more difficult challenges each week.
My emotions during Daphne's workouts vary from frustrated to fun to shvitzy to fainting to fantastic.
When Daphne finishes torturing us and the class is over we always just sit down together for a few minutes - for no reason. Class is over. Maybe it's just a "Team, we made it through" moment that we try to hang on to for just a little while longer.
Thank you, Daphne.

# 49 - Choice Challenged

I have a major problem with making choices. I can make many choices, but sometimes I'm not sure if I've made the right ones.
Perhaps my dislike of choices makes me like familiarity, or my preference for familiarity makes me dislike choices. In high school I never had to choose summer reading. I simply reread my favorite book Pride and Prejudice at least twice during every summer vacation.
Even today I plan every family summer trip to the same spot on the Golan. I like the friendly home-y feeling of driving up to our yearly vacation destination and saying, "Hello, Golan, we're ho-ome!!"
Now that i think of it, I seem to wear more or Iess the same clothes every day, even though, B"H, I have a closet full of lovely clothing.  It would be just torturous for me to stand in my closet for ten minutes trying to decide what to wear. 
So, compound my dislike or perhaps  difficulty in making choices with my busy schedule and you can imagine that I have no idea what foods to make for any meal.
In the old days, Pre-Women's Health Center, I was an advocate of Grabbing Something.
"Ema, what's for dinner?"
"Oh, just grab something, darling."
And I did the same. I often just grabbed the nearest easiest item in the pantry.
Now I still grab. I grab an orange or a banana. But I also want my family to be healthy, so I make healthy foods whenever I can. And if we can't sit down at the table together, I can still tell the gang, "Oh, grab something." but I know I have healthy things to grab in the kitchen.
While it's difficult for me to make choices, I am fabulous at following directions. So recently I sat down with nutritionist Judy Kizer who helped me make a food chart filled with the foods I always eat anyway, but organized in a better fashion.
My suggested menu is made up of the foods I like - nothing strange or difficult. It's perfect for me. I can choose to eat what Judy and I decided on, or I can be adventurous. I'm pretty adventurous when I'm creating a project or working in a new layout, but I'm happy to go with someone else's ideas when it comes to food. 
La Brityut. To good health.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

# 48 - The Best Gift

My  husband and I went away for the Sabbath to our son and his family. We hadn't seen them for a few weeks, because they've moved pretty far away from us.
Well, when I walked into their home, I got the best gift possible. My son, who had become a bit round, had trimmed down and was looking quite handsome!! 
I was so excited to see him looking so well. I was so happy that he was doing his best to be healthy.
I am so grateful that I have been able to set a healthier example for my family. When I started out on this journey to good health, I was afraid that my family would say, "Oh yeah, how long will it last?" But now, they're also looking at healthier lives. B"H and hooray.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

# 47 - Back in Action

After a few sedentary days because of my annoying cough, I moved tonight for the first time. I went to my tap class with amazing choreographer Judy Kizer (who just happens to also be my nutritionist at the Efrat Women's Health Center). After having had no exercise all week, I was finally feeling well enough to get up out of my chair.
And boy what a night. Judy tortured us with tricky across-the-floor exercises and she challenged us with some new steps.
Then when we were already wiped out, we began to learn some new moves for our dance, Rock Around the Clock. I coughed into my elbow so I wouldn't infect anyone, and I danced the entire hour. Okay, that fakakta cough is still lingering, but I'm up and about.
Tomorrow, IY"H, it's back to the active life. Treadmilllll, remember me. Hooray for feeling good.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

# 46 - My Hardest Challenge - Staying Healthy When You're Sick

I felt pretty proud of myself last week. I accomplished two important health related projects - I updated the prescription on my eye glasses finally after six years. And I got a flu shot.
So maybe I felt like a big shot - an icon of good health. That'll show you/me!
Okay, now I'm stumped. I have a terrible cold. I cough until it feels like I might faint, and am filled with yuchsa phlegm. I can't stop coughing, so I can't sleep at night.
During the day, I have a lousy cough too and that is keeping me from eating any dairy products. Dairy products are not good for a cough. So, there's not much that makes me feel okay to eat. I could eat tuna, but I don't want tuna.
I think I'd like toast and butter. My mother always gave me toast and butter when I wasn't feeling well.
I'd also like farina. I always ate a big bowl of boiling hot farina when I was sick. I put in salt and loads of milk. It was creamy and yummmmy. Or what about a hot cocoa? Mommy always made me delicious feel-better hot cocoa. Sigh.
I want to eat healthy while I'm sick, but I can't think of anything else to eat. I had salad twice today with chicken, but those are just foods, not foods that make you feel better when you're sick.
Adding to my problem...I also can't exercise tonight. I usually go to Zumba on Saturday night, but I'm afraid if I get sweaty and worn out at Zumba then I'll get pneumonia. This is the first time in many many weeks that I went two days without real exercise. Oh no!!!! 
So, unless I can come up with some good ideas, I think this sick week might not be too healthy for me. Oy. Cough cough. That hurts. And it will hurt worse if I gain weight because of this cold. Not fair. Achoo. Tzu gezunt (to your health). Thanks.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

# 46 - Exercise, You CAN Have It All!

My friend invited me to try out her exercise class. I told her, "Not now, thank you. I like my exercise class. I'm used to it, and I'm comfortable there." Really, I do like my teacher. I understand what she wants. I know what to do, and I feel like I'm really getting something out of it.
Well, in the past two weeks at the Efrat Women's Health Center, we've had a few different teachers substituting for our regular exercise and zumba instructors.
Each one of the instructors had her own routine, her own rhythm, her own way about her. And although they didn't have the "way" that I was used to, it was a different experience and even exciting to try to exercise in a new way.
Last night, Laine Richler,  the exercise director of our Healthy Living Program, taught our class. She had us Rumba-ing and Mambo-ing all over the room. She had us squatting (my least favorite exercise) and jumping around in all kinds of patterns. And while she was teaching us, she was explaining the reason for each movement. That was pretty interesting.
It made me realize that while exercising in one class is a fun and comfortable (even when you're sweating) way to go, that if I had to find a different exercise venue, I'd be able to make it.
That's nice to know.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

# 45 - The Tests

My friends have been coming to me lately to tell me that I look B"H good, and asking me what I have been doing. I have told them all that I have been going to the Efrat Women's Health Center to participate in the healthy living program there.
I might be starting to look good, B"H, but I am no health expert. The Efrat Women's Health Center is packed with health experts. That's why I go to them.
My friends have listened politely to me, and then told me all the reasons why the EWHC program would not work for them. I felt, as I listened to them, that I was hearing myself at the beginning of the program in July.
Their objections were tests for me along my long journey to good health. I am so thankful that I have passed some of those tests and I hope I can continue to do so.
The Work Test
One of my friends told me she works very long hours and therefore eats at weird times, sometimes very late at night. I can't imagine that there is anyone in the world that had worked longer hours than I did, but I decided that instead of grabbing a nosh while I was working, I'd try to grab something healthy. I stopped totally grabbing dinner at 11 PM or 1 AM, and if I eat something late at night, it's usually a fruit or I have a hot cup of tea.
I also try to have healthy food around so that when I am working long hours, there's something in the fridge that's Sharon-friendly. And you know what? If I don't have time to make it, I send someone (or even go myself) to the local restaurant and have them prepare a big salad for me to eat when I can.
Besides that, following EWHC social worker Alizah Shapiro's advice, I go to sleep earlier every night. She wanted me to go to sleep by 12. Meanwhile I go to sleep in the 12s and I feel that I have so much more energy during the day. Hooray.
The Time Test
Another friend said she has a busy life and simply doesn't have time for this program. She doesn't have time to prepare food. She doesn't have time for meetings. She doesn't have time for exercise. B"H, I am passing this test too. My daily schedule is so packed that the schedule reminder on my cell phone rings at least every hour with yet another appointment, task, reminder that has to be attended to. I really don't have time to add any superfluous meetings or exercise breaks into my schedule. But I want to live a long life, so I scheduled health time slots for me in my schedule. As long as these things are scheduled, I'm able to work with them and around them. I learned that from Alizah too.
The Stress Test
One of my friends told me that she has so much personal stress from different members of her family. The stress makes her eat (or keep from eating healthily). Well, unfortunately lately I've had family stress and worries too (I mean, who doesn't), but instead of reaching for a brownie and ice cream, I reach for a hug from someone near, or I call a friend or family member. B"H, I am passing the Stress Test.
The Shabbat Test
One of my friends told me she is great on weekdays, but is just destroyed on Shabbat. She's forever thinking, "Okay, I'll begin again on Sunday." Shabbat was always a very big test for me, and it took a long time for me to get better at my Shabbat Lifestyle. But I'm trying to follow my nutritionist Judy Kizer's suggestions - I make much less kugels and much more whole foods. I serve less courses. I take the food off the table right after the meal, so that we shouldn't sit around "picking". I bring out fruit (in addition to cake) and encourage my family to try that for dessert. I try to think ahead of time what I would be eating and how much. I learned all kinds of Shabbat tricks from Judy and I try to use them to pass the Shabbat Test.
The Social Test
I could go an entire day without eating (not good either), but I love to eat in company. I love to share yummy stuff with friends. I love to enjoy a piece of Yerushalmi Kugel at a kiddush. I love to stand/sit around, shmooze and nosh. I love to sit in a restaurant over a hot soup and a heart to heart. So many social activities revolve around food, and since I'm a social kinda gal, I'm a food kinda gal too. Over time I've tried to pass the Social Test. In restaurants, I don't wash so I won't eat the yummy rolls. At a kiddush, I grab some crudite and then stand away from the kiddush table. While hanging out with friends, I try not to take a taste of their delicious whatever, and if I do take a taste, it's hopefully a tiny one. Recently my children had a party. My daughter-in-law, whom I love dearly, asked me how everything was. I said, "Great. Everything looks so delicious." She asked if I ate any of the cookies, pasta, barley/wheat salads. I said, "I would have loved to, but I try not to say the blessing "borei menei mezonot" (a blessing recited over pasta, crackers, wheat stuff). She was taken aback at first, but then laughed and gave me a hug. I'm still trying to pass the Social Test every day. I'll keep you posted.
The Fear of Failure Test
Some of my friends said the words I had said myself so often. I don't want to start any kind of program or diet or anything else, because I might fail, and then everyone would say, "See, she couldn't keep it up." I was really worried about this at first, because B"H I've never failed at things, and I didn't see much chances of the success of the Healthy Living Workshop because of all the tests above. But Alizah Shapiro once said something very wise to me. "You might fail at this health program, but you're not a failure." She was right. In life we can attempt many types of challenges, at some we succeed and at others we didn't, but if we tried, if we gave our all, if we learned something than we might have failed at the specific challenge, but we're not failures. And then again I thought, "Hey, I might succeed. Wouldn't that be neat?"
So far I've succeeded in following the EWHC advice on healthy living. I probably can be stricter on myself, but I want to live a healthy life my entire life, so I want to keep it easy and comfortable. It is. It feels natural, and I hope I can continue to "stay in the Zone", as my sister calls it, for many years to come.
To anyone out there who wants to change her life: You can do it. It's not easy. It takes work. But you can make yourself and your health one of your life's many priorities. Your family and friends love you. I do it. Good luck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

# 44 - Good Morning, Treadmill

I am a very busy person, B"H. Between work and dancing and volunteering and my dear family, I don't have a minute to my name. That was one of the reasons I really hesitated joining the Efrat Women's Health Center. I really didn't have the time to attend, and I didn't have time to dedicate to getting fit.
But you know what?? I wanted so much to be a healthy wife, mother, grandmother and dancer that I found the time.
I go to sleep in the "twelve o'clocks" every night and get up at around 7 AM. I don't set alarm clock. I just wake up every morning around them. And after lazying around for a few minutes, I get my act together and say, "Good morning, treadmill."
I clear off all the stuff that has accumulated over night. (How do my clothes know to jump on to my treadmill. It is one of those deep mysteries of life.) I grab my phone, my cell phone, my air conditioner controls, my TV controls, my DVD controls and I'm set.
Getting on the treadmill every morning has become a ritual for me that I hope I can keep up always.
I was never a morning person, but I have come to love my early morning treadmill time. I watch 30-40 minutes of a movie that my sister prepared for me, and I have some time to rev up my batteries.
I don't think I'd ever be able to find time in the later morning or afternoon to squeeze in walking or exercise, because once the day gets going, I am just too too busy. But getting my walking done first thing in the morning, makes me confident that the day's going to be great, IY"H.
I chalk up a few thousand steps (I don't know if I'll ever reach the magic 10,000 a day, but I'm still hoping), so I don't have to sit at my desk in guilt. And then when I approach different food choices, I can think, "Hm, if I eat this, it's an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill. Forget it." Or "Okay, I can live with that."
When I get off that treadmill all sweaty every morning, I feel great – maybe even happy. You might say, "It's those endorphins – or runner's high." But I can assure you. "I ain't no runner." I walk. I walk quickly sometimes. I walk steadily, but I don't usually run. All the same, I enjoy starting my day with a happy walk.
I watch Fred Astaire or Betty Grable or Kathryn Grayson and I start out my day with a song. Isn't that the best way?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

# 43 - Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow

The US Postal Service has a motto, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Well, as I stepped outside tonight to go to my exercise class at the Efrat Women's Health Center, I felt like a US Postman.
It was pouring, well, really ...hailing. And the lighting was fat and bellowing.
But I was not going to allow a rainstorm to stop me from going to work out. In fact, I was thrilled to run to the car through the rain. And as the plump drops plopped on my windshield, I was filled with thanks to the Creator of Rain and everything else, for the wonderful treat.
I got to the Efrat Women's Health Center looking like a drowned rat. But I got there. And I worked out for 40 minutes. By the end of the session, you couldn't tell which parts of me were dripping because of the rain, and which because of the leg lifts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

# 42 - A Role Model of Good Health?

I received a message on my phone last night from my granddaughter, the one whom you might remember is my greatest supporter. She asked, "Savta, do you have any cantaloupe and cottage cheese in the house? And do you have a piece of pomegranate too? If you have, can you please make some for me to take to school? I'd like to eat healthy like you."
I was flabbergasted. Was I suddenly a role model of good eating? I've been called a role model of good middot (character traits), B"H, a role model for my charity activities, a role model for my dedication to the Land and People  of Israel, and a role model for my journalistic endeavors over the past 30 years, but I had never been a role model for healthy living.
Now I feel a big responsibility on my shoulders. I'm going to try to keep living right, eating right, exercising right and show my family that heathy living is the best living. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

# 41 - Zumba Mania, It's Got Me

Last night at our Efrat Women's Health Center Zumba class, led by our exuberant and fun teacher Tanya Richardson, I decided that I'd be in the best shape ever if I could do Zumba every day. I never contemplated daily exercise before. I am so busy and do my best to do what I do already - that's tap twice a week, another dance once a week, and two nights of exercise (at the WHC). 
I try to fit in the treadmill when it's possible. It ain't easy, boy. Most people hate exercise (of course, they don't know my exercise teacher Daphne Kupietzky - she's great). But everyone like the results of exercise.
More than 12 million around the world love Zumba. Zumba is different than exercise. It's aerobic at times. It's fast. It keeps you moving. Most of all it's not threatening. A Zumba session is one big Dance Party (actually, that's what they call it), and you know I love to dance.
It's Latin. It's African. It's tribal and sometimes silly. You can dance as hard as you like, or as lazily as you wish. As the music plays (Zumba music or the latest hits), you do whatever you feel you can do. So, the real hard-edged exercisers bend more and really put tension into their movements. The other folks (probably me) do the Zumba routines with a happy whatever-I-can-do attitude. But they're moving every moment. And meanwhile, when they can breathe, they're laughing and sometimes singing along.
There's a friendly atmosphere in Tanya's Zumba class. At the Efrat Women's Health Center, we goof around sometimes during Zumba, like when we're jumping and playing fake guitar, or when we have to twirl and scream, "Hey."  Sometimes we're very serious, like when we're trying to get a new step. But Tanya's all full of encouragement for us, so we get through anything she can throw at us.
I've also been to Tanya's regular Zumba classes. They're more intense than those at the Efrat Women's Health Center, but they're still filled with the feeling of fun and do-your-best. It's nice that all different kinds of women of all different ages, shapes and sizes dance together at Zumba. Some jump around a little more and some a little less, but we're all evened out on the Zumba floor - a great big group of women who just want to be healthy and enjoy life together.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

# 40 - Husband Dear

I'm working hard at my desk, and I really don't have time to make lunch, but I'm hungry!!
In the old days, I would have would have run up to the kitchen to grab a cookie (they're fast, easy and they usually have eggs in them - not so bad). But not today. Instead I ran upstairs, grabbed a mug, put in ice cubes so that I can have cold seltzer, and then I took a rice cake, so I'd have something to crunch.
Then my dear husband was lucky enough to walk by.
I said, "Dear, whenever you're finished eating your lunch, would you mind making me a salad? You can put in every vegetable that's around."
Dear said, "Yes."
I went back to work, and then a few minutes later, he came into my office with the most gorgeous salad. And it tastes as good as it looks.
B"H, Thank G-d for good husbands. IY"H, nice husbands will help their wives be/stay healthy.
Thank you, Dear Husband.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

# 39 - 3 Hi Maries and 20 Minutes on the Treadmill

Today I enjoyed Grandmother Utopia. I made cookies with two of my granddaughters. Now, I have to say that I do not know how to make cookies. I can hardly cook at all, so baking cookies is definitely out of my league. But I always wanted my granddaughters to have that Perfect Grandmother. I didn't want them to feel left out when the other girls spoke about their amazing domesticated grandmothers, who can cook and bake and make the best Grandma Cookies.
So, I planned ahead. I asked my daughter who is not only multi-talented, but she can cook and bake, to make me a cookie dough. When my granddaughter finished her lunch and washed her hands, we took the cookie dough out of the fridge, and my two young ladies each got a few balls of dough, which they patted down and then added sprinkles to.
The plan worked. The girls were so thrilled, and they thought they were actually making the cookies. My daughter had made quite a batch, so we had enough for my other grandchildren and their parents. My mini-bakers were very happy that they'd be able to share the fruits of their labor with their parents and cousins.
Before we started cooking, I told myself that I would not eat any cookies. They were just for the children. I more or less (more of the less, than the more) kept my word. I didn't have a whole cookie. I broke off a quarter of one cookie straight out of the oven, because I was so curious to see how they came out. (Amazing!) Then when everything was divvied up, I broke off another cookie. So I didn't have a cookie. I had a half a cookie. But still, this was a rich delicious cookie, so I'm sure it was pretty weighty.
So I have to make atonement. I figure it's worth about 3 "Hi Maries" and 20 minutes on the treadmill. I'll try to pay up tomorrow.
I'd feel sad that I had the cookie, but I can't. I don't feel like I cheated on a diet. I'm not on a diet. I'm entrenched in a healthy lifestyle. But living life is part of that lifestyle. And I had such a memorable time with my granddaughters, I have to feel happy. Plus... I'm willing to pay the price, so I guess it was all worth it.

# 38 - So THAT's What the World Looks Like

Many weeks ago my pedometer shamed me into moving more. Dr. Tzippy Morris of the the Efrat Women's Health Center had told our health group, right at the beginning, that we should do our best to work our way up to 10,000 steps a day. That was it. 10,000 was the magic number.
So I put on the pedometer she gave us and checked every few hours. 495 steps. 739 steps. 2900 steps. On most days my step tally didn't even make it up to couch potato status. I was more like "boulder with lots of moss around it".
Now. up until then I had a pretty wholesome and happy self-image. But suddenly I was thinking, "How pathetic are you. You can't even go from inanimate object status to plant or living thing. Get with it."I was determined even in my busy schedule to add more steps to my life. No one else would know about it, but for my own personal self-image.I walked up and down the staircase in my home a few times (the Center's social worker Alizah Shapiro's idea). I walked to my bedroom a few times. Those teeny jaunts were good for a few hundred steps, and I was feeling desperate about my inertia. I knew those few hundreds steps were not enough to change from categories "'most pathetic in the world" to "pretty pathetic", so I decided to try something drastic (for me).<>I got up a little earlier than usual and walked on the treadmill for a half hour. I turned on one of the unwatched movies that my sister sent me and I walked. 
I didn't walk too fast (I mean, let's not go crazy here!), but I walked. Sometime I'd go a little faster. Sometimes I'd go faster than that. Sometimes I'd walk for 30 minutes and sometimes I'd make it to 40 minutes. I go with the flow.

My morning walk gives me my steps (okay probably not nearly 10,000) right up front, and the pressure's off for the rest of the day.
The Sky is Blue
This morning my friend called to ask if I wanted to walk with her. Well, I was just about to walk on the treadmill. I can walk fast on the treadmill (if I want too). Thanks to the treadmill's dashboard, I know exactly how far I've walked and how many calories my walk has burned. I get to see Kathryn Grayson reunite with Howard Keel as the Showboat pulls our of the dock (You probably don't even know dust I'm talking About. For this I pity you. See Showboat, MGM, 1951).
But I love my friend and I'm always so busy that I don't usually have time to socialize with friends, so I said 'YES.'
We walked about 4 kilometers around the neighborhood. We chatted. We went up hill and down. The sun was shining . The sky was blue. Hey the sky is blue with bouncy white fluffy clouds. Nice touch. I'm usually in my office and don't get to see that nice sky. Thanks, G-d. Great picture-perfect sky.
Other walkers scooted by in the other direction. We did the Walkers' Nod. No one could tell that I wasn't a regular. It was a fun change from the treadmill  I get to hear Old Man River on my treadmill, but I got to be with a friend, see the cars whooshing by and hear the birds sing along my walk. They're no Kathryn Grayson but they do have a lovely cheery appeal, so I'll probably do this again some day. Nice sky.

Monday, November 7, 2011

# 37 - The Social Eating Challenge

At the Efrat Women's Health Center, we have received advice, instruction and help toward a healthy life in every way possible - from exercise to visualization to arts and crafts projects. :)
And I have been a very good girl. I have listened to just about everything I've been told. I go to sleep around midnight (instead of 2 or 3 AM, which was my previous habit). I don't eat at night. I reach for a fruit or vegetable instead of a cookie. I get up earlier than I once did and then walk on my treadmill. I've given up cake. I try to have only one Ice Coffee Lite a week. Etc. etc.
As Eliza Doolittle would have said, "I'm a good girl, I am."
Yet, even with all the above, I still have a very big weakness: social eating.
I'm a social person. I love my friends. I love to be surrounded by great people. I love to participate in groups and I love increasing my circle of friends.
When I'm in a social situation - dinner out with loved ones, a kiddush in shul, company at my own house - I eat more than I should and more than I would have if I had been alone.
Now...I try to stay away from the kiddush table at a simcha, because it's almost impossible for me not to eat the Yerushalmi kugel. I try not to wash when I go with friends for lunch, so that I won't munch on four bread rolls. But when I'm eating dinner with the family and we're sitting around, I'll continue eating as long as we're sitting. If we sit together for 15 minutes, I'll eat for 15 minutes. If we sit together for an hour, I'll eat for an hour. Food and friendship go together, and that speaks to me.
Unfortunately it also influences me in a bad way. I have to figure out a way to have my friends without eating along with them. Hm, sounds like a new challenge to me.

# 36 - Compliments in the weirdest places

I dutifully went this morning for my annual mammogram. I hate it, because it's so painful and stressful. I love it, because when it's over and IY"H I hear the words, "Everything seems fine. See you next year," I am thankful to Hashem for my health and my life. 
So today after my mammogram, the technician said, "You lost weight." That really caught me off guard. I didn't know her, so how would she know.
I must have given her a funny look. She said, "Your x-rays! Your breasts are smaller than last year."
I cracked up. 
My children are always telling me that the Efrat Women's Health Center is changing my life. It's even changing my mammogram.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

# 35 - The Key to a Healthy Future

The Efrat Women's Health Center Social Worker Alizah Shapiro and Nutritionist Judy Kizer try to drill good healthy thoughts into our minds in many different ways, including arts and crafts projects to stimulate our creativity and imagination.
You might remember that last month they had us create a mantra - a sort of motto of our lives.
This month we began speaking about life after the Efrat Women's Health Center and Alizah and Judy wanted to know what we each thought the key to our continued healthy lives would be. So, of course, we made keys.
My key, pictured above, gives my thoughts on how to retain a healthy lifestyle:
* Think about good health on a daily basis
* Be health conscious
* Remember the rewards and punishments of bad choices
* Eat less
* Move more!!
* Live life!!!
Being a part of the Women's Health Center has made me "health conscious". No, I'm not one of those health nuts that tries to influence everyone to her way of life, or who eats tofu or seaweed. But I am conscious of what foods or activities are good or bad for me. I think about being healthy quite a lot. I want to live a healthy life, and I know that will help me live life to its fullest.
I try to remember the rewards and punishments of bad choices. Is that pizza worth the pound you'll gain? Do you really need the ice cream? If you pass up the cake, you'll feel better. If you don't overeat at the Shabbat table, you won't feel bloated. Remembering those points will help me continue making healthy choices.
And since getting exercise in my life was so difficult, I am grateful today that I try to put exercise into my daily routine. I hope I can keep it up.
Other women in our group had different ideas about the "key" to their future success.
Here are some of the thoughts they hope will keep them on track:
* Spirituality - gaining strength to go on (despite the difficulties) through prayer
* Motivation - keeping their eyes on the goals of a healthier life and finding motivation in others or themselves to continue making healthy choices
* Support - setting up a support system - folks who will encourage them and cheer them on
* Organization - having their menus ready and their days organized so they can find time to shop and prepare their healthy food and exercise, as well
* Feeling good about yourself - the better you feel about yourself, the more you'll try to be good to yourself and work to be healthy
* Flexibility - going with the flow, so that chinks in life won't set them off track
* Exercise - the more they exercise the healthier their lives will be
* Rewards - finding appropriate rewards to encourage their continued healthy lifestyle
We all have a key that will open the doors for a good healthy future and set us on the right path. The challenge is finding that key and making it a vital part of our lives.
Whether you're trying to improve your health, your time management, your marriage, whatever, search inside yourself for the key that will motivate you to reach your goal.
You can even draw it out, like we did. Keep it. Look at it. Make it real.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

# 34 - The Family Support Zone

I told my entire family that I won the exercise contest this week at the Efrat Women's Health Center. First of all, that's something humongous, because I started this project not wanting to discuss it with anyone in my family. I was pretty sure they'd say, "Yeah, Ema. Good luck. How long will it last. Doesn't sound do-able. Whatever."
When I first began my journey to good health, the only one I shared the news with was my eight-year-old granddaughter, who B"H has always been both proud and supportive of me from the start. She used to ask me every few days, "How long has it been now since you've eaten chocolate?" She was sincerely interested.
The family situation switched towards the end of the summer when a spontaneous happy hug from my granddaughter made everyone in the clan suddenly notice that my shape had slimmed a bit, and they suddenly took notice of my health journey. That night they all applauded my achievements. And I began to openly make healthy food for them as well.
In the beginning they made all kinds of cracks. But now that they see that I'm really doing my best to be healthy, they are very encouraging. And it's fun to have my whole family rooting for me.
Last night after I won my first exercise contest :), I messaged everyone to tell them. Almost every family member wrote back something like, "Yay!!," "You go, girl," or "We're proud of you," or "Keep it up."
My sister, who is wise and knowledgeable of the world of health, nutrition, diet, exercise and just about everything else, sent me a Talk Box message. "I'm so proud of you. You made up your mind to do it and when you get in the Zone, you get it and it's so easy to do. Once you're in the Zone, you've got to stay there as long as you can."
The Zone??
I was watching Dancing with the Stars with my daughter (and I think my dearest mother ad 120 was still here from America). One of the judges told a dancer, "" I remember raising my eyebrows, "The Zone??"
Which zone? Where is the zone? Is it time, is it space? Is it fame? Is it...whatever??? Then my sister said it to ME yesterday!!
I was really zone clueless, so I googled "in the zone" and it came up with this:
It has to do with Sports Psychology - being the best, focused, succeeding like on autopilot.
It said:
Are You In The Zone?

  • "Everything was effortless."
  • "I saw nothing but fairways and greens"
  • "I didn't have to think about a thing."
  • "It was magical."
  • "I was the ball."
  • "I was really confident."
  • "The target looked huge."
  • "The game was easy."
  • "I was in a cocoon of concentration."
My husband told me that when he swims in the morning, the strokes just come right after the other. He glides through the water and he can even close his eyes and continue. I guess he's in the zone. (I'd better tell him.)
  • So, my sister thinks I'm in the Healthy Life Zone. It sounds like the title of a book. Meanwhile, I'll try to keep in the health and fitness zone, and I'm proud that I can say I'm in the Family Support Zone.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

# 33 - Award Winner

I can't remember the last time I won an award. Wait, I'm thinking. Um. Um. Nope, I can't remember the last time I won an award.
Well, I won an award tonight.
Last week at the Efrat Women's Health Center, our nutritionist Judy Kizer and our social worker Alizah Shapiro discussed the major role exercise plays in obtaining a healthy, more fit life. Eat less, move more. That's simple for a while. But after weeks or months on a health program, you've got to move more and more. Simple exercising is not enough.
In fact, last week our exercise instructor Daphne Kupietzky moved us up another notch in our workout. And tonight our Zumba instructor Tanya Richardson had us dancing full speed in her routines. As the sweat flew in all directions (like some TV commercial for some crazy soda) off our brows, Tanya mentioned, "You might have noticed that I've increased the difficulty of your routines a little." A little!!! B"H, we made it through.
Anyway...last week Judy and Alizah announced that the person who exercises the most during the coming week would win a prize.
Although I love prizes (actually, what I like is working hard to earn the prize), I was hoping everyone would try to hard to exercise and win the prize that everyone would win.
Well, the time for the exercise count came, and the numbers came in - 200, 250 minutes. Forget it, I thought, I can't compete.
Suddenly Alizah smiled and said, "With 423 minutes of exercise time...the winner is Sharon!!" They, that's me. Wow, I still can't believe I clocked 423 minutes of exercise in the week. But starting out every morning on the treadmill gave me a really great base with which to begin my day.
Then I've got tap dancing twice a week, plus extra Zumba classes, and each block of time adds up.
So, I won a great new metal sports bottle. I love it. It's totally me.
And next week I'm hoping once again that everyone will win.
Oy, it's after 12. I've got to hit the hay so I can get up for tap.
Eat less and move more and more.

# 32 - Let Someone Else Enjoy It

My dearest mother (may she live and be well until 120) was visiting me for the past month. It was wonderful, B"H.
Yesterday in preparation for her return home, she made me take every single skirt and suit out of my closet. She had me pile them on the bed and then try on every single piece of clothing. Then she pronounced the sentence: lovely, throw it out, pass it along, ask ___ if she'd like it. If an outfit was beautiful, but too big on me, my mother would say, "Let someone else enjoy it." "But I like it." "You've already enjoyed it. Let someone else enjoy it."
My someone-else pile grew higher as the hours passed.
At first I felt unhappy to give away my beautiful clothing. Then I felt afraid that one day G-d forbid I'd need them again. Then I felt jealous of the person who would get it. Then I felt happy that when I was larger (a few months ago :) ) I had such lovely clothing, and now they would make someone else look beautiful. I was on to smaller clothing that would hopefully make me look even more beautiful. And I was determined never to wear those sizes again. May G-d help me to stay on track!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

# 31 - Old Clothes, New Clothes

Old clothes, new clothes. Black clothes, blue clothes.
When I grew out of my old clothes, I probably never thought I'd fit into them again. I sadly gave away most of them. But for some reason I kept some too.
Well, lately I've been digging into my closet to see what is there. And I've been finding some nice outfits that I had relegated to the Once-Upon-A-Time category. You know what? I tried them all, and they fit!!
So I started to wear my old clothing again, and it feels like I'm wearing something brand new. That's so much fun.
Of course, I have dozens of outfits that are still too small. I'm not discouraged. I'm planning on trying them on next month, Iy"H.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

# 30 - Ditch the Dishes and Dance

The Sabbath ended tonight after 6 PM. In my previous life I would have stood in the kitchen at the sink with my dirty pots and dishes for about an hour or two. So would my friends and neighbors.
But those days are gone. Now as soon as the Sabbath is out, we're in our sneakers and workout clothes, and we're all off to Zumba.
Really, tonight I walked in five minutes late to Zumba (how do people get there so fast), and found a room full of women jumping and twisting. Everyone has ditched those dishes to dance for an hour or two and salsa off the chulent and challah.
Well, there may be a lot of dirty kitchens in my neighborhood, but B"H, there are going to be a lot of healthier mothers around.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

# 29 - Celebrating with My Friends

I went to Zumba tonight to try to shake off some of the challah and honey that I ate the sukkah today. The room was packed. I guess everyone felt they ate a bit too much of those holiday favorites, gefilte fish and tzimmes.
One of the Zumba-ists tonight was also a member of the Efrat Women's Health Center. After tonight's class, she came up to me and told me that her child came home for the holidays and said, "Ema,  you look great!!"
My friend was so happy. She said she told her child, "Thank you. I still have a way to go." Her child said, "Ema, you look great to me."
I gave her a giant hug. She was just flying high and I flew with her.
Hooray. Victories like these mean so much!!
We've worked so hard for the past three months. Sometimes we wonder if we've actually made any difference in our shapes. Then we see someone we haven't seen in a while and they tell us how great we look. Well, that feels terrifico!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

# 28 - Is She Trying to Kill Us?

Twice a week I go to the Efrat Women's Health Center for interval exercise, Zumba exercise and a round-table with the Center's social worker and its nutritionist.
Tonight we had an exercise class with Daphne Kupietzky. Now, we've been exercising with Daphne for three months. When we began I asked our instructor, "What's the goal?" She said, "Move and sweat." I moved. I sweated. I enjoyed our exercise class.
A few weeks ago, Daphne explained that we had to turn our classes up a notch. We started doing interval training - working on something really hard for 30 second sprints, then taking a 30 second slower pace.
An interval training website said, "Interval training can supercharge your fitness, boost your metabolism, burn off that extra fat and start reaching those goals that you have set yourself."
So, Daphne feels she's pampered us enough and it's time for some real action.
We were on our feet doing a football run, squat jumps and pushing knee lifts. We gave it all we had to give. (Of course, next week, she'll probably say it wasn't enough and turn the screws up another notch. Wish me luck.)
I was sure reaching Daphne's goal - moving, sweating and going for the personal gold. I also reached my own goal tonight - surviving a session of interval training and then feeling great about it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

# 27 - The Ultimate Compliment

Although I've been busy like everyone else preparing for the holidays, I took time to join my friends at a protest rally against danger on our roads. The rally was very well-attended, and since I was running late, I went on my own. I stood alone during all the speeches and watched my friends from a distance. Before we left, my best friend came up to me from behind, and put her hand on my shoulder.
"I was looking for you," she said. "And then I caught sight of you, but I wasn't sure it was you. You look really good."
I was speechless. My best friend did not recognize me from across a crowded rally.
I must really be changing...for the better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

# 26 - Your Mantra, Your Life

Everyone has a mantra. Perhaps we don't realize it, but, yes, we each have a mantra or a motto. And it is this driving thought that keeps us going.
So, if we've already got a mantra, it might as well be something positive that will encourage us to do good things.
Tonight in the Efrat Women's Health Center, we took a break from discussing losing weight or our barriers to losing weight or the benefits to exercise or our lack of exercise.
We sat together and made a photo montage of our personal mantra.
Social worker Alizah Shapiro and nutritionist Judy Kizer gave up examples of inspirational mantras: Live Well; Don't Worry, Be Happy, etc. Then we had to think of mantras that would keep us on the right path in life, in health, in work and in relationships.
Everyone ripped apart Oprah Winfrey magazines and packages of stickers and stars, and created their personal mantra pages.
Some included: Perspective!!; Be Healthy; Watch Your Mouth :). Some were very deep and others were filled with fun.
Mine was Make It Happen!! Everyone's mantra pages included a lot of pictures. Mine included a lot of words. But that makes sense, because I'm a writer. My life is filled with words. Here were some of mine.
Make It Happen. Push. Run. Hope. Drive. Sparkle. Miracle Worker. Joy. Tap Here. Pizzazz. Excitement. Hooray, You. Live Your Best Life. Shine. Brighten Up. Lift Your Spirits. Mom. Bless You. Devotion. May We Help You? Pray. Try. Believe. Together.
I included a woman climbing as high as she can on a great ancient tree, a silly goose dancing with joy, friends helping one another. And right in the center is a united group of Jewish youth proudly holding aloft an Israeli flag. I guess those are many of the concepts that I believe in and try to keep as important parts of my life. Don't just talk about things, or complain or wish. Make It Happen.
How? Push, run, drive, hope...and if you succeed then "Hooray, You". What do you need to make it happen? You need to work together, to unite, to believe, to hope, to drive, to pray, to put in all your devotion. Then, you'll live your best life, you'll lift your spirits, and you'll be blessed. You'll sparkle, be filled with joy, excitement and sparkle.
I'm going to put my mantra page somewhere I can see all the time to remind myself to try my best in life, in work and in finding my way to good health.
Why don't you make a mantra page too? You can do it. Make It Happen.

# 25 - Exercise is the Key

At our weekly meeting with our social worker Alizah Shapiro and nutritionist Judy Kizer at the Efrat Women's Health Center we discussed the key to weight loss.
In fact, one of my friends mentioned a study that she had just read that stated that two groups were chosen for a weight loss experiment. The first group ate 1200 calories a day with no exercise. The second group ate 2000 calories a day and walked eight kilometers daily.
The second group proved to lose more weight, and also have all kinds of other benefits.
The message was clear. The key to a healthy life (including weight loss for those who need it) is to put exercise into your life, and increase its intensity with time.
Judy explained, "If you exercise now and can speak in paragraphs while exercising, notch it up by exercising to the point when you can only speak in short sentences."
We're back to the old adage, "Eat less, move more."
And I'm saying, even if right now you can't eat less, then at least move more!!