Tuesday, July 26, 2011

# 12 - Bad Math

The math in my health life is very bad.
If you've read this blog already, you know I have been failing pathetically at getting 10,000 steps in every day. I am averaging somewhere between 1500 and 3500. I think that was the lowest steps category, sort of couch potato status.
So, IY"H, I'm hoping to fix that somehow with a bit of time on the treadmill. Or maybe I'll go out and buy a dog. At least I'll have to walk it every day. Um, no. I think I'll draw the line at buying a dog just so I can get enough steps in each day. Hey, I'll borrow a dog. :)
In addition to my low step counts, I am scoring a zero at willpower.
Zero willpower!
If I don't have anything "bad" in the house, or if I stay out of the kitchen, I am fine. I don't crave food. I even forget to eat half the time. (It's the half I remember that's the problem.) But sometimes I do have to walk through the kitchen, even if it's only to get out the kitchen door. And I inevitably pass by the fridge. And who on earth can pass through the kitchen without a quick glance at the pantry or the fridge?
I could have a rope rigged outside my window and bypass the kitchen with this handy device, but if I have a rope outside my window to get out, what's to stop a burglar from using it to get in?
So, I have to have a new plan.
Fast and Hurry Food
Zero willpower plus zero ability to choose the right food if I'm in a hurry. Eating right means contemplating your food, not grabbing in a hurry. Hurry food is very unhealthy. It's a rule. You know it's faster to grab a cookie than it is to peel a carrot. The cookie is hurry food. That's why fast food is making America fat. Fast food is even worse than hurry food.
Now, I'm only telling you the following story, because it ended up okay, or else, I wouldn't even mention it.
I was rushing outside, ran to the kitchen for my keys, and on the way, opened the cupboard.
Oh my gosh!! Cheese doodles (or whatever they're called here). I love cheese doodles. I love their cheesy taste and the orange that dyes your fingers for at least a week.
Now, I could eat those cheese doodles instead of a cheese sandwich. Or I could eat some as a snack - one portion of cheese doodles. Hm. But, what's ten cheese doodles?
I looked at the bag and decided that maybe I should just eat the whole bag to get rid of it, and then I remembered that I'd have to write down the cheese doodles on my food journal (I'm keeping a food journal for nutritionist Judy Kizer). And I didn't want to hear all those sighs of disappointment that I ate cheese doodles, so I grabbed the cheese, I mean, keys and left.
Then I remembered some advice from Efrat Women's Health Center social worker Alizah Shapiro. Alizah said, "If your willpower is low, but you have to have junk in your house, because the kids want it, try an alternative. Give your kids money and say, 'If you'd like to buy any junk, here's some money, but please eat it out of the house.'" I think I'll tell the kids to buy the cheese doodles and eat them in the park.

# 11 - Working Moves

I'm back to writing about walking again, because it's my most difficult thing to achieve. I can behave in the food department. I've even started to go to sleep on time - meaning in the 12s.
I am just finding it impossible to get those STEPS in.
I'm a writer, and I'm at my desk for the majority of the day. And when I'm on a deadline, forget it. Don't even try to move me.
Still, I know it's not healthy to sit for so long.
If I could only walk and type at the same time!!

Here are my latest counts of my steps:
* Monday (with exercise class): 1497
Before the exercise class, my pedometer read 399. Oy vey.
* Tuesday (with tap): 2248
Before tap, it read about 450. Oy oy vey.
It's been like that just about every night.
My major problem is that when I'm work, or busy with all kinds of other responsibilities, I get tons of things done, but I don't get to move at all.
When I'm on a deadline for my magazine, www.voices-magazine.com , http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com, I sit at my desk from 10 AM until 2 AM. Lately at least until 12 midnight. That's a lot of sitting.
I tried following Alizah Shapiro's suggest to take five minutes and walk up and down the steps, http://aimwellwomen.blogspot.com/2011/07/7-stepping-up.html. That adds a few hundred steps, and it feels silly and good. But I think I'm going to have to try to find a way to begin my day with some time on the treadmill.
Or maybe I'll actually walk outside. Then I'll get my Vitamin D and a few steps in there. I googled this site: http://www.thewalkingsite.com/. I'm even contemplating doing what it says for beginners: How to start: First of all, start out slow and easy. Just walk out the door. For most people this means head out the door, walk for 10 minutes, and walk back. That's it? Yes, that's it. Do this every day for a week. If this was easy for you, add five minutes to your walks next week (total walking time 25 minutes). Keep adding 5 minutes until you are walking as long as desired.
I probably won't do it, but at least I'm contemplating it. That's a first step.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

# 10 - The Big 3 for Weight Loss

At our last meeting of the Efrat Women's Health Center, Judy Kizer cued us gals in on three natural weight loss aids: fiber, vegetables and water.
Fiber helps you feel full, regulates your stomach and helps prevent all kinds of diseases.
Judy asked anyone who gets enough fiber to raise her hand....one. Not good.
She said we could find fiber in whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Okay, that doesn't sound too hard. Tomorrow, IY"H, I start my search for fiber.
Vegetables are very low in calories and also fight against all kinds of diseases. You really can never eat too many vegetables. I mean, did you ever hear anyone say, "I gained two pounds this week because I ate two many vegetables?" Um...no.
You can steam them, puree them, chop them, grill them, bake them, dry them, sautee them or even dip them, but you've got to eat those vegetables to be really healthy. Hey, you can even eat them raw, and give it a fancy name "crudite".
Water is underrated and under-loved. Judy said that anytime you feel hungry or tired, drink water. It can decrease your appetite, help you burn body fat, help you maintain your energy level. You may not even be thirst, but your body needs a lot of water winter, spring, summer or fall.
I'm not a big fan of water, but I decided to make myself seltzer to keep by my desk every day. How will I know I've had enough? I guess when I burp about 100 times, sort of like the 10,000 steps program - 100 burps to a healthier life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

# 9 - You're as Worthy as Anyone Else

The other day I wrote a blog about scheduling some time for YOU/actually ME in your/MY weekly planner:
Well, that's my goal for the coming week, finding little slots of time where I can schedule great things for myself - like cutting up vegetables and getting on the treadmill. (Yes, I live a daring and exciting life!!)
Despite my desire to really do that, I don't know if it will work out. I guess we'll all find out together.
This morning Judy Kizer, the terrific nutritionist from the Efrat Women's Health Center, www.efratwomenshealthcenter.com sent me an article exactly on that topic.
Since women are people-who-care-for-other-people, they most often don't want to push themselves forward ahead of the needs of their friends or loved ones. This article says, "Okay, don't make yourself first, but count yourself at least as important as someone else."
Well, you can read it for yourself. Good column:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

# 8 - Remember that Treadmill?

Is there anyone in the civilized world today that doesn't own a treadmill?
It's the perfect structure to hang your husband's shirts and your skirts. Each one has his own side. And in the middle, you can stack the books that just don't seem to have a place.
Well, because I was so horrified that I only walked 399 steps yesterday (I was working at my desk from morn to night), I woke up this morning and began the day by clearing off the treadmill (oh, that's where I put my maroon robe) and then walking on it for a half hour. (It still works!!)
I didn't run. I didn't do anything incredible. I just walked for a half hour. I checked my pedometer - 1258 steps. B"H, my self-humiliation is over for the day.
Now, I'll sit by my desk the entire day with less guilt, and maybe later walk my staircase steps at around 3 PM for a break.

# 7 - Stepping Up

I'd been at my desk working all day, and I hadn't moved for hours, so I took the advice of Efrat Women's Health Center social worker Alizah Shapiro and I climbed the steps in my house for a break.
Today's total of steps on the step ~ ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY THREE
You probably think that's nothing.
But it's a start. Gotta start somewhere. I started at 163.

# 6 - Putting Sharon in the Schedule

If you saw my weekly or even daily schedule, you wouldn't believe how packed it is. I have meetings and interviews and appointments and errands and visits to my children and grandchildren scheduled.
Just about the only thing not included in my daily schedule is Time for Sharon. I don't have time to read a book, or just sit on the porch, or cut up vegetables, or make healthy food or take a walk.
Today the Efrat Women's Health Center social worker Alizah Shapiro told me I had to schedule some time for me.
Alizah said that I'm not the only one who lives like this. It's more or less a mother's syndrome. We're caregivers and nurturers and we take care of everyone but ourselves. So, although my dearest mother (may she live and be well until 120) told me the same thing, and my brilliant sister did too, this time I'm going to try to listen.
The Calendar Rules
I live by my daily calendar. I have too. In order to do all the work, community and fun activities in which I'm involved, I have to keep my calendar very accurate and very detailed. So I'm going to start by scheduling in Sunday and Tuesday mornings for cutting up vegetables. And I'll try to get a walk in there during the week too. I'll keep you posted.
Take the Steps
I'm working on a deadline for my magazine Voices, www.voices-magazine.com or http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com, this week, so I don't have time for anything, let alone walking. Some working people get by their deadlines and time constraints by walking to work, or once their in their office building they climb the stairs to their offices. But I work from home, so I don't have to walk anywhere, and my office is one ground floor, so there are no steps.
Alizah asked me today if I have any steps in my house. I do. She suggested, when you're really bogged down with work, and you can't get away, stop for a few minutes and walk up and down the steps in your house. See how many you can do, and then challenge yourself to do more.
You know what? I liked that idea, and I'm actually going to try it.
Good luck to anyone who's trying to organize their life. I hope you succeed. You deserve it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

# 5 - Can't Get the Steps Thing

Okay, I understand the concept. Nutritionist Judy Kizer told us, "Eat less. Move more."
I can eat less, or at least I'm trying to do that (until I chance to be in the kitchen or at a simcha or in a restaurant or...). But to move more...
When I had my first meeting with Dr. Tzipi Morris of the Efrat Women's Health Center, she said that the goal of each person should be to walk 10,000 steps.
Walking is good for your state of mind, your blood pressure, your heart, your weight, your life. I know this cerebral-ly. Now I have to somehow incorporate the walking thing in my life.
Dr. Tzipi gave me a pedometer and said, "Play a game with yourself. Every day, try to increase my 250 steps."
Well, that sounded great. But I've been a very giant steps failure. I think I fall into the couch potato category.
On Sunday July 1oth, I walked 2487 steps.
On Monday July 11th, I walked 3506 steps. Yay.
On Tuesday July 12th, my pedometer said 2676 steps, but I had a wedding that night and the pedometer didn't match my outfit or my jewelry, so I didn't wear it. But I did dance!!
On Wednesday July 13th, I clocked 5153 steps, but that included our Zumba class, so does that count?
On Thursday July 14th, I walked 2137 steps. Not so hot.
And on Friday July 15th, my pedometer read 1733 steps before I took it off for Shabbat. Then again, on Friday, I went swimming for two hours. I did about 30 laps, so while I wasn't walking, I did fit into the category of Move More.
Still, today, I'm at my computer all day, and I don't see any walking opportunities. Actually, I went to work right away and didn't even put on the pedometer.
You know what? I'm going to get that pedometer. It's at least 20 steps to my room and back, maybe even 40. Hm, I'm feeling better already.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

# 4 - Sport and Support

Wednesday was some day!! I was pretty sure that one of my daughters-in-law was going to have a baby within a few hours. I even took my two grandbabies to my house so that their parents could concentrate on the mother-to-be without worrying about the kids.
We picked up two more grandchildren and sat together at the pizza store, spilling soda, pulling the cheese off the pizza, finger painting with the tomato sauce and having fun. Okay, not the healthiest of food choices, but desperation made me do it, and the slush they drank along with the pizza might just have had some fruit juice in it, so it's not totally bad. Suddenly I remember that I had my Efrat Women's Health Center meeting in only a few minutes.
I frantically wondered what I would do with a two-year-old, two three-year-olds and an eight-year-old. One look into my husband's eyes told me that he was not going to skip his class to watch them. I got two junior babysitters in the last minute, and B"H, I was able to run to my meeting.
I skidded into the room to find Tanya Richardson, one of Efrat/Gush Etzion's favorite Zumba instructors teaching a you-can-do-it-too form of Zumba. And you know what? We did it. Tanya said, "Every time you do something you couldn't do before, give yourselves a hand!! Yay, you're great."
That's what we needed - a pep rally - just before we sat down for Part 2, a meeting with clinical social worker Alizah Shapiro and nutritionist Judy Kizer.
Alizah's the one who is supposed to train me to change my bad life habits. Good luck, Alizah!
We all sat around chatting a little, and I was happy to find that there were other people who found it difficult to be healthy, because they didn't have time to prepare healthy foods. Now, why this made me happy, I can't say. Perhaps it just made me realize that I am not so strange. There are others who have the same problems that I have.
As we broke the ice in our new group, one of the women quipped, "First we had sport and now support." That was pretty good, and it was right on the money.
Think Big, Act Small
Alizah asked us what our goals for the group were, and more or less everyone said that she'd like to live a healthier lifestyle, live an active life, live a long life, etc. These are all big beautiful goals, but Alizah said that while we can think "big", we should break down the big goals into smaller achievable steps that we could actually achieve. So while, "Get healthy," might be a lofty far-reaching goal, a smaller step to get there would be to "Eat healthy," and a smaller step to get there might be to include more vegetables in our diets.
Judy Kizer noted that the key to weight loss was "Eat less, move more." Of course, if we did that, we probably wouldn't be sitting together in that room. Judy said that the first thing we had to do was raise our consciousness about what we're eating, and she gave us homework, "Food journaling." We have to write down everything we eat. It's like writing a food diary. Let's see how that works out. "Dear diary, today I ate chulent. Yum." Unfortunately, we're going to have to hand in those journals, and get comments back. So, I'll probably see a lot of "Thanks for journaling. Here are some ideas for healthier choices. :) "
Judy added that we should focus on drinking eight glasses of water a day. B"H for seltzer, because water is not my thing. I think I can polish off a bottle of seltzer every day. I'll keep you posted.
Stress and De-stressing
Time flew as we were discussing our health goals and impediments. And the clock was ticking on my babysitter. But before we all ran, Alizah commented that several of us noted that we've got a lot of stress in our lives. "In some people, stress is connected to eating," she said.
Alizah didn't want to let us leave without teaching us a breathing exercise to de-stress. You know all those movies where a guy is so upset, he's about to explode? His wife comes up to him and says, "Now, honey, take a few deep breaths." Well, it seems that the wife wasn't kidding. Getting more oxygen into your system interacts with the stress hormone to help your body relax a bit.
I'll probably be doing that ten times a day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

# 3 - Move It or Lose It

There are all these expressions that just miss the mark when it comes to our aims for a healthy life. Take "move it or lose it." Actually, where good health is concerned, the correct expression should be "move it and lose it."
On Monday night I walked into our first meeting of the Efrat Women's Health Center and was greeted by the star aerobics instructor Daphne Kupietzky. I could not believe that Daphne was going to lead us in our first aerobics class. I mean, she teaches real aerobics classes with women wearing special color coordinated outfits and chic headbands with matching wristbands.
We were a half dozen women in varied states of shape, but we were rarin' to go. I asked Daphne what the goal of the session was. She said "to move and to sweat."
Well, hooray, I reached my first goal already. I moved and I sweated. And it was a pretty good session. However, she almost lost me on those stomach curls, but I did my version of the curl (let's say the stomach wave) and I got through it.
I always thought that exercise was dulls-ville and too much of an effort. But Daphne's exercise was rhythmic and it almost seemed like dancing. And that's the magic word for me.
As we were doing leg lifts, one of the women called, out, "Boy, I'm in bad shape." Well, that's why we were there! The good shaped people were probably at their health club or at the movies or planning their trip to Italy (good shaped people always go to Italy - the others are on line at Disney World).
All seemed to be going well until Daphne said, "Get out the mats." Mats mean "Get down on the floor." Well, I haven't gotten on the floor since 1991. In fact, I have it in my Raise Your Spirits performance contract that no role I play is required to get down on the floor.
So, when Daphne said, "Get out the mats," all I'm wondering is "Who is going to pick me up?"
But you know what? It went well. We did leg lifts. We did splits, or virtual-splits, and we got up off the floor.
B"H, we all felt the feeling of triumph, so it seems we're aiming in the right direction.
Step It Up
Dr. Tzipi Morris, head of the Efrat Women's Health Center, wants everyone to work up to 10,000 steps a day. If that actually happens, the Messiah will probably come. But then again, we know he's on the way, so we might just make those 10,000 steps one day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

#2 - Meet the Doctor

In my quest for A Healthier Me, I went to see Dr. Tzippy Morris, founder of the Efrat Women's Health Center. She's friendly, smart and someone that everyone probably wants to be friends with.
But she thinks letting her kids have cereal with vanilla rice milk is a big treat – major eye roll here.

Before our appointment, Tzippy (I hope I don't have to call her Dr. Tzippy – that would just be too Steven Martin-esque for me) sent me a zillion page questionnaire that she asked me to fill in. It covered the most detailed issues of my health and lifestyle – from how many hours I sleep at night to what kinds of foods I eat, what illnesses I've had to whether I use a smoke alarm.

I surprised myself by answering everything truthfully. I thought… why not.

After our talk, Tzippy (Dr. Morris to you!) suggested I needed some reprogramming (that sounded familiar) to put some better habits into my schedule, or more likely, to actually create a schedule for me that would include good habits.

I have stubbornly lived my life shtupping in as much (work, action, good deeds, family, fun) as I can, expanding my daily envelope on all the edges. Therefore, it will be very interesting to me to find out if this woman (Moi!) can be reprogrammed to live a healthier life filled with healthier choices.

Starting Easy

Tzippy began our observations with easy non-threatening advice. Get the flu shot. Buy a fire alarm. Make sure your family knows CPR. Keep up to date on your mammograms and don't forget self-examinations. Wear hats, sleeves, sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Visit your gynecologist every year.

So far, so good.

Then she told me that I eat too much meat and dairy. (Nutritionist Judy Kizer had told me that too, but I just had to close my ears to such information.) You see, I'm from America – meat/chicken almost every night. Now what? And I won't know what I'd have for lunch without my cottage and yogurt or CC and cantaloupe (even if there is a cottage cheese revolution in Israel – I'm "Switzerland" when it comes to cottage cheese).

I'll really need to be hypnotized or given electric shock therapy if you want me to give up my cottage cheese. And puh-lease, don't tell me that soy is yummy.

Now, while I don't nosh (Judy Kizer got me to give up chocolate long ago), I sin on Lite Ice Coffee (maybe it's not so Lite). Tzippy wants me to cut down to once a week. Today's Sunday and I've already had my one. What's there to look forward to now?

Tzippy must have been talking to Judy, or maybe she just figured out, that Shabbat is my hardest time for healthy eating, and she wants me to change my Shabbat menu. This might be very impossible, and so this blog will be short lived. But because Tzippy and Judy know that I want to be long lived, IY"H, I've got to try. And that because my family loves me, they'll want me to try. (I think I'll have to remind them of that next time they come and there's no barbecued roast beef on the table.)

Move It

A big part of the program in Efrat's Women's Health Center is exercise. I don't really like exercise, so I don't know how that will work out. But I love to dance! For the past four years, I've been taking tap dancing with the fabulastic Judy Kizer and I'm addicted to it. During that time I've also been dancing 60s with fun and funny Cheryl Mandel every winter and I've danced through whatever else I could get my feet into. (Read more about my life in dance, here.) So if exercise has anything to do with dance, I'm in. I'm going to try to get to Zumba somehow, someday, somewhere.

Meanwhile to encourage my movement :), Tzippy gave me a little pedometer that I'm supposed to wear all the time and record my steps. I can count my steps – ten to the computer, ten back. But she said every day to try to increase those steps. Okay, 11.

Tzippy wrote down home many steps a couch potato takes every day (something like 1500-2500 - in point of fact, it sounded like a lot to me), how many steps a regular person takes (something like 3500), and then someone who's trying to get healthy (It was thousands, but you won't believe there are so many steps in the world.)

Actually the first day's pedometer said I walked 3041 steps. I think it must have meant 41, but I'm not telling anyone about the mistake.

Today's said 2467, which probably meant 67, but at least theoretically that's up 26 steps (and I still have to walk to my bed for the night).

I'll keep you posted.


BMI stands for Oy Veyz Mir. A person's BMI is supposed to be something like 18.5–24.9. Mine was 38.1. Humongously bad – putting me at risk, chas v'shalom, for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer – all the things I do NOT want to get. So even hearing that scared the bejeebers out of me, and it made this experiment sound more important than just about any other, because we're talking about my life here!!

And to All a Good Night

I have a reputation among all who know me for going to sleep when the milk man is getting up for his deliveries. That can be 2 AM or even 3. No good! I started long ago with spotty results to try to readjust, and Judy Kizer was even proud when I made it to bed by 1 AM. Still midnight is my personal goal. They say that sleep is important for a zillion reasons (guess we'll have to discuss them in a another blog). Mainly Dr. Tzippy Morris noted, "It is very important to get six to eight hours sleep in order to lose weight. Sleep deprivation leads to increased cortisol, which slows your metabolism and makes you gain weight." Just what I need – NOT.

Anyway, Tzippy wrote me a note, "A huge part of your identity is to be a caretaker for everyone you love. It’s now time to take care of yourself."

That's true. I guess that will be my goal now, and IY"H, I'm going to try to Aim WELL.
This is starting to feel like a very interesting adventure.

#1 - Mean Well - Aim Well

I am potentially a very healthy person. I mean that's what I want to be. I MEAN to be WELL, so now I'm going to AIM to be WELL.
Okay, back to the beginning… I really AM a potentially healthy person (at least in my mind - that's a start :)). So, when my brilliant tap teacher/choreographer/clinical nutritionist Judy Kizer said I should join the new Efrat Women's Health Center program and become a healthy person in reality, I actually thought about it.
Truthfully I didn't think that I needed a Women's Center or anything else. Judy is the world's best and most motivating teacher and nutritionist. Everyone who learns with her feels her support and encouragement, but I have one major impediment to my potentially health life - TIME!
No Time for Good Health
I find it too hard or maybe inconvenient to find the time to do healthy things. Life is so busy, B"H. My schedule is so jam-packed you'd think I was making it up if I told you what I try to accomplish in the course of a day. And even if you'd imagine some fictitious schedule, you wouldn't even come close to my daily calendar.
So when Judy asked me to walk on the treadmill every morning, I wanted to comply, but I could never find the time - too many morning meetings or appointments, or I worked so late, I couldn't get up early enough to walk. When she asked me to go to Zumba at night, I agreed, but for some reason every meeting, simcha and board meeting were called on a Zumba night. I really tried. I even got Zumba schedules, and yet I couldn't find one convenient time - although I'm still hoping that at least somehow I'll be able to free up my Saturday nights to Zumba with the rest of the crowd.
I also don't have much (read: any) time to prepare healthy foods and cut up vegetables, which is vital for a healthy life. Judy asked me to prepare them on Sunday morning. I did. I started my week off with vegetables, but I finished them by Sunday afternoon.
Besides that, I'm not the biggest balabusta (homemaker), and the only time I actually cook is on Friday when I make a giant Shabbat. B'H when my kids are home for Shabbat I want to treat them with all the yummy stuff they love. Judy says I must cut down on Shabbat, and I want to, but I also want them to remember Shabbat at home as a special experience. And food has just as much a part in the Shabbat excitement as the singing, playing, words of Torah and togetherness.
The problem with that is I can lose three pounds during the week and put on five on Shabbat. That's kinda depressing.
New Direction
All this must have been frustrating for Judy too, because she finally suggested that I should join the Women's Health Center and REPROGRAM my habits.
So, because I want to be a healthy wife and mother, grandmother too, and because I want to dance for many many years to come (did I mention that I have been dedicatedly tap dancing for more than four years) I decided that maybe reprogramming would be a good thing.
I really do mean well. And I guess together on this blog, we'll see if I actually can succeed in my goal to AIM for a life of WELLNESS and good health.