Wednesday, April 18, 2012

# 66 - It's Still Eat Less, Move More

Since I began the Efrat Women's Health Center eight months ago, my thoughts have evolved to the words of nutritionist Judy Kizer and social worker Aliza Shapiro - Eat Less, Move More. Well, they didn't actually say that, but they've guided us into making healthier eating choices and making up our minds to get exercise. I once wrote, "Exercise is the key," and it really is. It's the key to losing weight and to preventing a whole slew of diseases and health issues.
Today I read an article in the Jerusalem Post that validated everything we've been learning at the Efrat Women's Health Center.
And what's more, although fad diets claim the loss of tens of kilos in only a few weeks, the study by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center written about in the Jerusalem Post confirm, "...the old tried and true methods of eating less fat and exercising are some of the most effective paths to weight loss success."
Furthermore, the study explained, "Additionally we found a correlation between joining weight loss programs and greater reported weight loss, which may speak to the importance of structure in a weight loss regimen."
So, I guess the members of the Women's Health Center are on the right track, B"H.
Diet and exercise, and a terrific framework of support, encouragement and good fun.

# 65 - Exercise Aids Patients Undergoing Cancer Treatment

This article was written by a reader of this blog, Mr. David Haas. Thank you, David, for sharing your words on diet, exercise and cancer treatment. May it benefit others.

Keeping physically active and eating a nutritious diet are the best ways to stay healthy and prevent many infections and chronic conditions. But what about if you are already sick? Most medical doctors will say light exercise can be productive when experiencing flu-like symptoms, but it can actually cause damage during fevers. The common wisdom has been to exercise only if the body feels up for it, no matter the illness. Research, however, has shown definitively that a regular exercise program can offer benefits for patients with many chronic diseases, including cancer.

How Much Exercise is Best During Cancer Treatment?

With exercise and diet, the optimum routine varies between individuals and treatment types. One study shows the 
efficacy of establishing a walking program for breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Walking was found to help manage common symptoms, such as emotional distress, fatigue and insomnia. This is comparable to what is known about the effects of exercise on healthy individuals, namely stress reduction and metabolic regulation through building lean muscle.

Patients were observed during a 14-week endurance-training program following surgery for non-small cell lung cancer. Contrary to popular belief that lung surgery greatly inhibits the amount of exercise possible, patients in the high-intensity program received the same benefits attributed to exercise for healthy adults. A physical fitness expert who tailored the program to each individual encouraged the safety of patients, and their motivation to stay with the program, with supervision.

Though the research is lagging on the many types of cancer, most research organizations agree that establishing an exercise program is important for every cancer patients. Even terminal patients with mesothelioma or brain cancer will see improvement in quality of life and reduction of symptoms from the cancer and treatment.

What Type of Exercise is Safest?

Though everyone says exercise is a good idea, most research has focused on either walking or endurance training. Few studies have been performed to determine whether benefits extend to other forms. There has been an increasing call for fitness experts to be included in cancer treatment programs, because this is the best way to maintain patient safety and maximize exercise effectiveness. Fitness experts working with mesothelioma doctors, for instance, are in the best position to make safe programs available, from range-of-motion therapy to water aerobics. All types of exercise offer benefits, and the choice ultimately depends on collaboration and personal preference.

Monday, April 16, 2012

# 64 - Passing Over the Nosh on the Holidays

We were back in the Efrat Women's Health Center tonight after having been away for about two weeks for Passover vacation. It seems like it's been forever. After our exercise class with Daphne Kupietzky, we sat down with our nutritionist Judy Kizer and our social worker Aliza Shapiro to evaluate how we did over the Pesach holiday.We all agreed that Pesach had been difficult. Our family members were eating all the time, and while we were sitting around with our gangs, everyone was munching Pesach cookies, cake, nuts and junk. The worst days for me (and probably everyone else) were the last two - two days in a row of non-stop holiday/Shabbat meals. It was very difficult...actually, nearly impossible not to reach in for those Pesach chocolate bars, among other Passover favorites.
Although it was indeed not easy to eat healthily when the kids were opening their tenth bag of potato chips and cousin Chaya was smiling over her Pesach-cheese cake, we all noticed that we had done our best to realize what we were and were not eating.
Judy and Aliza were thrilled. "Look at last Pesach, and compare it to this Pesach," they said. "There was a big  change. Last Pesach you weren't even thinking about whether something was a healthy choice or not. And look at your list of abandoned foods. No chocolate. No margarine. No candy."Pesach wasn't easy for me or my buddies, but suddenly I felt very proud that in the last eight months I had made so many changes in my life that my Pesach really was healthier and more successful (in the food department).B"H, it is indeed possible to keep healthy over the holidays. We passed over the nosh for the fruits and vegetables, and we're feeling pretty good about it.If you succeeded too, give yourself the credit you deserve (and maybe some cash too for a great reward).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

# 63 - Oh, Nuts!

While I didn't eat one piece of cake over Pesach (kol hakavod...thank you), it was torturous to sit at the table to hours as everyone nibbled on Pesach cakes (which it seems, aren't that bad). It wouldn't have been so bad if I could have taken out a rice cake with some jelly, or something else to munch on...but I had nothing to compete with the brownies and coffee cake and cookies.
So, I tried nuts. I know I overdid it with the nuts (they're not calorie-less), but I feel at peace with my decision to eat nuts while everyone else was eating cake. They may not have been so dietetic, but they were surely healthier than a chocolate torte, and they made me feel that I was in control. I knew I was eating a bit too many nuts, but I was proud that I passed over the cakes and chocolate bars.
When I get on the scale on Monday, I may say, "Oh nuts!", but I'll know that I did my best to keep control of my health on Passover. That makes me feel good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

# 62 - Motivations to Keep Going

Passover has not been an easy holiday for me. Okay, I've kept away from the matzah, but I'm having a real hard time finding something to chew on. Rice cakes are out on Passover (unless you're a Sephardic Jew, which I'm not), and that doesn't leave much stuff that's crunchy. So every night, I've had walnuts and dates. The walnuts give the crunch and the dates add some sweetness.
But tonight I must have looked in the fridge, freezer and pantry a dozen times, looking for a crunch.
I could have given in and had a brownie or some cookies or washed my hands to sit down to matzah with cream cheese and jelly, but I kept control, B"H, and stuck to my walnuts and dates, then drank a cup of lemon tea.
I've had to think several times during this holiday about what it is that motivates me to eat healthily.
Here's what I've been thinking:
** When I eat healthily, I feel fitter.
** Since I've started losing weight, I look better.
** Since I look and feel better, I smile more. I act more confidently. I actually feel proud of myself.
** Since I have shown myself that I can change my life habits in a positive way, B"H, I realize that many other dreams that I have can come true. That's a very empowering thought. 
** Since I've lost weight, I have to plan on buying some new clothing. And new clothes make everyone happy.
** Getting fit makes me feel younger, and act younger (not too young). I like being able to run and play with my little grandchildren, and I like hearing that my children's friends think I'm very with it.
** Feeling fitter prepares me to gather my strength to take new challenges.
I just figured out what motivates me to stick with the Efrat Women's Health Center program - I want to be the best and healthiest me possible.

Monday, April 2, 2012

# 61 - Being Good at the Pina Chama

Pina chama (literally, warm corner) is our name for the Gush Etzion Soldiers Hospitality Hut.
In the Pina chama, men and women from all over Efrat and Gush Etzion volunteer to spoil our men in uniform - members of the Israel Defense Forces. We serve coffee, tea, cocoa and hot soup in the winter. In the summer, it's cake and coffee or chocolate milk or slush. We're most famous for our cakes - baked fresh every day by different women in kitchens all around Gush Etzion. Brownies, maple walnut, marble, chocolate chip, honey cake. We've got it all, and it's all delicious.
We're pretty busy on our  Pina chama  shifts, serving between 50 and 80 soldiers in two and a half hours. We chat with the soldiers, ask where they're from, tell them about Gush Etzion, and also clean up in between and cut cake platters. But there is some down time. When that happens, most volunteers sit down behind the counter with a cup off coffee and a piece of Gush Etzion's famous  Pina chama cake.
It is very difficult NOT to take a square of brownie or Blondie crunch cake - especially when it smells incredibly chocolatey good.
But I come to 
Pina chama armed - not with rifles, like our soldiers - but with Cheerios, a banana and a pack of raisins.
I start my shift with spoons of cereal in between my servings of Turkish coffee and instant (one and a half sugars) Nescafé. On my break I sit down for my customary cup of coffee, but I eat a banana instead of a cream cake, and instead of munching, I chat. It's just about as satisfying.
And honestly, since I consciously know that all the cake and cookies are bad for me, so far I have been able to resist. I hope I will still be able to say that next year.