Sunday, August 28, 2011

# 21 - Fresh Air, Sunshine, Picnic Panics

My family and I just returned from a vacation on the Golan Heights, Israel's recreation capital. Mountains, streams, horses, cattle, fresh air, orchards, vistas and views, breathtaking scenery, fun in the sun.
The Golan really is all fabulous. It is the one vacation that pleases everyone from two years old to thirty-two. But along with a Golan vacation goes planning meals for 16 people. Even worse, planning yummy meals that will please everyone, and then trying to eat healthy.
Breakfasts weren't bad - cereal of every sort for each taste - fruity, sugary, grainy, crunchy, and even plain Cheerios for me.
Lunches were more of a challenge. Every morning at 9:30 AM, I began taking orders for the day's sandwiches. I started out by making sure everyone had two sandwiches, but a person gets hungry out in the fresh air, so two sandwiches a day quickly became three. They had to be both delicious (read: edible) and keep everyone satisfied along the trail or look-out until we got home at night.
We bought white rolls, whole wheat rolls and sliced bread. Everyone had his choice - peanut butter, chocolate spread, carob spread, butter, cream cheese, cheese. Then I packed for myself - four rice cakes and two pieces of cheese. Okay, okay, I know that cheese was a bad idea (high in everything not good, plus it also melted every day into a limp mush), but I couldn't think of many more choices for touring on the go.
Actually, one day when my son cut up a zillion vegetables, I had a whole wheat roll with vegetables and tuna for lunch. That was scrumptious. Then later I had rice cakes and cheese. (Okay, so I'm not good with variety. We're going to work on that.)
Dinner was not that bad. I hadn't wanted to spend days cooking, so I brought bags of franks and chicken for a BBQ, shnitzel for one meal, dairy quiches for yet another night, and lastly deli. Yes, (Yes, I know deli has dangerous nitrates and all kinds of terrible stuff, but is it really so bad once a year, is it?)
Then there were snacks. I made sure everyone had a nectarine or other fruit. And I told them, "No, Cheetos until after your sandwich and fruit are done."
Well, B"H, we survived a week of family togetherness (actually, every loved it), and although I didn't lose too much weight (.4 kilo), I didn't gain.
I didn't eat the ceremonial end-of-day ice cream after each tour. I didn't eat white bread. I didn't eat Cheetos. But I still had fun. I enjoyed with my family and I didn't feel deprived.
We didn't hike across the mountains or swim in the streams, but we were active all day from morning until night and we were out in the sunshine under the gorgeous Golan sky.
More than anything, I feel I was a good healthy-loving example for my family, and that made be feel terrific.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

# 20 - How to Keep that Morning Feeling

I'm not a morning person. If you've read my past blogs (if you haven't, you can still do so now :) ), you know that I'm very much a night owl. I always found that my best times for getting anything done were from 10 PM - 1 AM. But in the past few weeks, because of advice and strong recommendations from Efrat Women's Health Center nutritionist Judy Kizer and social worker Alizah Shapiro, I close my computer around 12.
I try to get up earlier too, so that I can start my day a tad earlier and regain some of my lost evening time.
So my eyelids flicker at 7:50 am and I make sure I'm out of bed by 8, IY'H.
I greet the morning with high hopes. I have so much packed into my daily schedule, I'm usually hopeful and excited that it will be a good day all around.
I hope it's going to be a productive day, a day with happy family moments popping up here and there, a day for a hi-and-bye with friends, and even a healthy day.

Yes, there's so much hope and anticipation in the morning, but it's not entirely realistic.
Truthfully I can't possibly accomplish all I hope for during the day, and inevitably my work is going to pile up. Oh joy, not.
Besides that, it's morning, and I haven't even gotten to the kitchen yet. I can anticipate eating healthy foods all day, getting a little sun, chalking up a load of steps, but it's only that morning feeling of positive inspiration. So how do you keep that morning feeling going? I have no idea, but I'm going to try.

First I think I will go to the mirror, make a big smile, and hope for good things.
If you've got any ideas, please let me know. And if I do succeed in keeping that great morning optimism going all day, I'll let you know.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

# 19 - Going Up or Going Down

I was about to take my seat at a funeral when someone called out to me, "Hey, Sharon, you're losing yourself."
I immediately checked to see that my hat was in place, that my zipper was closed and that my blouse was buttoned.
Then I turned to her quizzically. She said, "You. You look good."
I smiled.
OMGosh, she made me smile at a funeral. Oy. But it was a great funeral. Everyone was saying terrific things about the grandmother who had passed away, and everyone, including me, was alternating between smiling and crying. So, it was okay.
Then last night I went to a bar mitzvah and a few people said, "Sharon, you look good." I told them, "The Efrat Women's Health Center!!!" I felt like an advertisement.
Now the truth of the matter is that I weigh 13 pounds more than I did when I first went on stage in JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat ten years ago with the Efrat/Gush Etzion Raise Your Spirits Summer Stock Company, which I was honored to have founded.
I weighed three pounds more than I did this year when I went on stage with The Promised Land, the latest production of DAMES of the DANCE, which I founded four and a half years ago.
Now You Tell Me
But lately everyone's been saying, "You look good."
So, first of all. Thanks, everybody. You may think I look good, but you're making me feel good. (Even my husband said, "You look very good, dear.")
It's just funny. Ten years ago no one said, "You look good." I was a zaftig Pharoah on stage in JOSEPH.
Four years ago no one said, "You look good." I was a round and bouncy tap dancer when I first danced Two O'Clock Jump in DAMES. (That's me in the back.)
But this week, I look good. That's because I've been about ten pounds heavier on life's escalator. And folks are used to seeing me that way.
If they'd known me when I was thin and athletic, then as I went up the body escalator, they'd have said, "Yuch," at this point. (Or hopefully, they wouldn't because most people want to be polite.)
But since they see me going down the body escalator, they think I look good, B"H.
So, I guess it does make a difference which escalator you're on.
And I hope I can stay on this one.
Going down!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

# 18 - Family Support

Do you think it's easy to change your lifestyle?
Do you think it's easy to give up some of the food you love in exchange for the food you don't?
Do you think it's easy to go to sleep early when your work is piling up higher and higher?
Do you think it's easy to go exercise at the end of the day when you're exhausted?
Do you think it's easy to get on the scale when you think you didn't lose any weight?
NO. NO. No, none of the above are easy.
That's why Dr. Tsipi Morris of the Efrat Women's Health Center and social worker Alizah Shapiro think that everyone trying to change her lifestyle should have support.
Well, I get together as a group every week with the other women in the Center. We talk about our obstacles and our achievements and we cheer each other on. But we don't see one another on a daily basis, and unless we're going to start calling each other during the day to say, "Yay, for me, I walked to the store instead of taking the car," then we also need a supporter that's close by.
Alizah said I should get some family support. I told her that I'm totally not interested in sharing my Quest for Better Health with my family, because they'd probably think, "Yeah, Ema, good for you. How long is this going to last?" I didn't want to include them because if I become a Women's Health Center failure, I didn't want them to hug me sympathetically while thinking, "Well, we knew it couldn't last."
Alizah disagreed, but she just said, "You might fail at this program, but you won't be a failure."
Then she told me that Dr. Seuss failed at submitting his manuscripts 27 times, but on the 28th attempt to be published, he was accepted, and look at the library full of Dr. Seuss books in every home. She said that Abraham Lincoln started many businesses that failed, and tried for every position possible without being elected, and he ended up president of the United States. RH Macy, Franklin Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe, Mahatma Ghandi, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, the list goes on and on.
Okay, I got it. I may fail (which I hope I won't) at beginning a healthier life (which I really want), but I'll never be a failure.
And when I thought about it, I realized that I had a supporter in my family all along. Her name is Shir Tehilla. She is eight year old. She supports everything I do. She wants me to eat healthy food. She's happy when I have long nice nails. She's proud of me when I go to sleep early. So, I do have a supporter. And every day I see her, I even show her my pedometer, and she absolutely cheers when the number is high. Yesterday it was 5,895, my highest amount of steps yet. I can't wait to show Shiri. She's going to give me a big hug.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

# 17 - A New Pedometer Sweeps Clean

They say that if you don't like the grades your child gets in school, switch tutors. If you don’t like the doctor’s advice, switch doctors. A new broom sweeps clean. Any other appropriate sayings?

Well, I was feeling really bad that I couldn't rack up more steps every day. Of course, I wasn't walking the miles to do it, but I was looking for little achievements. :) And with my busy schedule I thought I was doomed to low mileage (which for a car is great, but for a woman is very unhealthy).
Then last week at the Efrat Women's Health Center, Center director Dr. Tzipi Morris walked in with a gift for everyone - a new pedometer. It doesn't say the Efrat Women's Health Center in red, but it gives me much better numbers each day. Yes!!

Since I got my new pedometer, so far each day, B'H, I have made more than 3500 steps. 3500 was couch potato, remember?
On Friday when I turned off my pedometer for the Shabbat, I had made 5580 steps. That's a record for me. Say hooray.

# 16 - Wonder of Wonders

My sister-in-law gave me a copy of a women's magazine that she loves. It really is fantastic. You can't believe all the exciting information packed inside.
It tells you that you can sleep better with a spider plant giving off more oxygen in your room, and you can get rid of mold with a peace lily. You can look 10 years younger by wearing colorful nail polish, and you can do better in college by sitting next to the window. Wow!
Women who read this magazine must have wonderful lives.

On top of all that it tells you about the woman who lost 104 pounds by thinking positively, the diet trick that guarantees you lose 10% of your body weight, another that promises eight pounds a week, a probiotic yogurt eating plan that sends you from flabby to fabulous in record time. Then it's filled with interviews of women who tried each of these programs and lost 60, 80, 100 pounds.
Good Intentions
Really, I bet every one of those plans work, as long as people stick to them. There's something good in every weight loss program. It's called good intentions, and if you have good intentions, and act on them, then good things must happen.
I mean, this one smiley woman said, "Honestly, I lost 15 pounds in 17 days." 15 pounds in 17 days, that's unbelievable.
I've given up chocolate and cheese doodles and working late and don't forget, I'm trying to take more steps every day (it's 3:23 PM and the pedometer says 3863 - I've already passed the couch potato, yay!!!!), and I'm grateful if I lose a pound a week and then I flip through the magazine and I see this lady who says "I've gone down 3 dress sizes this month alone."
So how does all that make me feel?
I'm happy for all these ladies. I'm glad that by wearing green, laughing more, walking in the sun, eating yogurt, making friends and all kinds of other things , you'll lose weight.
And I hope to add, not just one of these tips into my life, but all of them, plus the advice of the Women's Health Center, because every week I'm learning some new way to make my life healthier too. Then watch out.
Well, gotta run ... To eat my yogurt.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

# 15 - Eating Healthy - Try It, You'll Like It or Some of It

Tonight the director of the Efrat Women's Health Center Tzipi Morris held a healthy cooking workshop. We stood around a kitchen island and listened as Tzipi presented every ingredient of tonight's dinner and then sang its praises.
Quinoa and Black Beans
I bet you never heard of that! Or perhaps you have. There are types like that everywhere. Okay, so let's say I never heard of that.
Well, first it's got quinoa (is that kin-o-a or kin-wa? whatever). Tzipi said that quinoa is a plant protein, a seed and not a grain.
It's the sacred seed of the ancient Incas, so it must be good! It's higher in protein than wheat or barley. It's heart healthy and fills you up. It helps your digestive tract and has lots of calcium.
Cilantro-Lime Salsa
There's a ton of diced tomatoes in there, plus onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice (or lemon) and fresh jalapeno peppers. Most of the women didn't want the peppers, so we had the salad with everything else. But the jalapeno peppers have a humongous amount of Vitamin C in them, plus they're an anti-oxidant that helps with immunity and fights the effects of aging. Oy, I wish I could like them, and I'd stay young forever. Okay, we'll find some other magic foods yet.
I didn't even know what cilantro was, but everyone else seemed cued in, so I nodded knowingly. Cilantro is an anti-inflammatory that helps arthritis symptoms and helps ward off urinary tract infections. Important vegetable!
Tzipi baked the kohlrabi and it was really delicious. I bet if I served it instead of potatoes, the kids would look at it a few times to see what's different, but they'd eat it just like they ate roasted potatoes.
Kohlrabi is low in calories, high in vitamin C and dietary fiber. And it has especially good amounts of many B-complex vitamins. It also has health-promoting phytochemicals that appear to help protect against prostrate and colon cancer.
Our dessert was mango. What can we say about mango? Everything! Rich in fiber, helps protect against different cancers, lots of potassium and vitamins. Plus it's yumm-a-licious.
What a great dinner! I think I'll make it for my family this week. They might even eat it if I don't let them know it's actually healthy.

# 14 - Applause!!

Last week at our Monday night exercise class, we had two guests - exercise instructors who were part of the Efrat Women's Health Center. They came to exercise with us, to evaluate if we need to work harder, change some of our moves, etc. etc.
Besides being in perfect shape, and bouncing during all the moves, one thing gave them away as "Pros" immediately.
They clapped really loudly.
You know, one two three - kick? One two three - back?
Well, our instructor Daphne Kupietzky wanted us to add a clap. One two three - kick/clap. One two three - back/clap.
Now, I ask you, if you have been exercising for 30 minutes, and you're just dragging yourself and hoping to still stay alive, can you start kicking your leg up and clapping? You're happy to be vertical altogether, now really!
But the three instructors in the room were going full energy. One two three - kick/clap. One two three - back/clap.
And then I realized what one has to do in order to be an instructor. In addition to learning the routine, you have to learn to clap loudly. Everyone else is barely breathing, so to keep the excitement up, you've got to do the clapping for everyone. It's a real talent, but it's the clap that makes the difference.
I've been thinking of carrying a concealed recorder in the waste band of my skirt. It would be movement activated, and as soon as I kicked, it would set off the sound effects of the "clap."
If that won't work, I'm going to mike the instructor. Then again, her claps are so loud, you probably heard them wherever you are.

Monday, August 1, 2011

# 13 - Look the Part

As you remember, I joined the Efrat Women's Health Center about three weeks ago. We exercise, do zumba, learn how to deal with stress and change bad habits one at a time. We celebrate little victories and try to learn how to overcome our own personal big obstacles. We talk about ways we can succeed in getting healthy and encourage one another to get moving.Our group of women are getting to be friends and are starting to care for each other and understand the challenges the others face.
But more than anything else. We're getting into the health shvung.
Clothes Make the Woman
We began by coming to the Center in our regular clothes - exercising, chatting, going home.
Already a week ago, when I walked into the exercise class, the health transformation had begun. Some of the women looked seriously ready for action - hair swept up in clips or pony tails. Lighter weight clothing - usually black!, and exercise clothes from the super-white double-tied sneakers on the tips of their toes to the new haircuts to cut sweating to a minimum. (Okay, I know the photo on the left is a guy, but did you really think I'd show you the women in their black exercisers? Um, noo!) One of my friends looked ready to run a marathon.
You might think these clothes are silly, but they honestly help to encourage a good work out and get you into the healthy frame of mind. They say, "I'm serious about my exercising. I want to make my exercising fun."
I guess in time I'll have my special work out outfit too. Of course, mine will probably be bright pink, instead of black. (No, I won't show you a photo.)
Meanwhile you must have a look at my zumba teacher's sneakers. Wow, talk about dressing for zumba success!!! They're exciting and fun like zumba and they glow in the dark. :)