Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Weight Loss Tip #1

A commenter asked for weight loss tips, and I thought I'd post one for those interested parties. This is usually my fail-safe strategy, and has been at the heart of my success, I believe.

If it really matters- you can do anything
Ask yourself this question: If I absolutely had to, could I do anything for 10 minutes? The answer, I am positive, is yes. I mean, if you really had to do something, anything, for 10 minutes- you could. Then extrapolate it... if you really had to do something, couldn't you do it for a day? A week? Two weeks? Then do the program! Sometimes you'll only be able to say, I can do this for a day, but I can't do it for a week. Sometimes you'll think you can only do it for 10 minutes, but not a day! That's ok, but do it for that 10 minutes. Then ask yourself again- can I do this for 10 minutes? Note, not for another 10 minutes, but starting now. Can I do this for 10 minutes starting now? You can! If you think for one minute that you can't, prove yourself wrong!

I think I may have learned that from my parents. My mom always used to tell me that I could do anything I put my mind to- and she was right... about me, and about you! Your mind is the greatest weight-loss tool you have. I really psyched myself out when I started looking at the program as something I'd have to do FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. That's too harsh for me. I had to break myself into it, and look at shorter time spans. With this strategy, I'll never look at the program as this neverending tunnel- I'll see 2 week periods, 1 week periods, 10 minute periods, all adding up to a lifetime of maintenance. This is also why Weight Watchers concentrates on short term and long term goals. The first goal of a new Weight Watcher is losing 10% of your body weight, which for me was around 19 pounds. That was a whole lot easier to envision than the 52 pounds I had to go before I was at my final goal.

So, tell me- couldn't you do anything if it really counted?

I thought so!


After much deliberation regarding the liability issue with erecting a sukkah in the parking lot of our new condo building, DH and I will be builing our sukkah tonight. In our parking space. Erev Sukkot. That is, after Farbrengiton practice. Oy.

That brings me to... yontif meals! Our schedule is: Wed night out. Thurs noon hosting 2 friends, Thurs afternoon sukkah party at the Rockin' Royalton, Thurs eve out. Fri afternoon with family (out), Fri/Shabbat eve hosting anyone and everyone. Shabbat lunch out. "But Becky," you ask, "what pray tell are you serving?" JR, here ya go- my menus:

Thursday lunch will be a traditional Strachan Big Breakfast complete with The Mother, and The Other for me, pancakes, scrambled eggs with sauteed onions (my new favorite breakfast), lox on bagels and cream cheese, smoked chubbs, OJ, milk and vegetarian sausage.

Friday night will be Salmon-Spinach-Gefilte Fish, chicken soup w/ matzo balls for those who are interested, maybe meatballs (haven't decided what to do with the extra-lean ground beef), Unfried Chicken, guacamole, salatim, and homemade angel food cake (my first attempt with my new tube pan).

In contrast to Rosh HaShannah, this time we have a plan- and far less produce! Hey- it's good to start a new year with variety!

Gut Yontif and Shabbat Shalom!

I Have a Weight Problem

My whole life, I've had a weight problem. I was sharing this with DH, and wondering if I'd ever get used to seeing myself as something other than 'the fat girl' or 'the one with a weight problem'. DH reasoned that maybe I didn't have to- because I do have a weight problem... I just also have a weight solution. I like that idea!

The other part of this is that people who didn't know me pre-weight-loss don't necessarily know that I have a weight problem, or ever did. Most of the time, when I meet someone who is not overweight, I assume they simply don't have to watch what they eat, and have never had issues with weight. This is very often, I'm finding, simply not true.

Last year I went to a wedding of a friend of mine in Lakeview, and shortly after the engagement was announced, I met his fiance for the first time. She's absolutely beautiful, and probably a size 4 or 6. At the wedding, she was the absolute picture of a bride- you could put her bridal portraits in a magazine, really! In talking with her, WW came up- and she told me she loves WW- lost 45 pounds on WW! Having met her only post-weight-loss, I had simply assumed she couldn't possibly understand what I was going through. Just goes to show (me), you can never judge a person by what they look like currently. The uberfrum girl sitting next to you could have become BT last week, the dredlocked guy on the bus could have a PhD, and the thin people in your life very well may not have always been so.

I Never Appreciated an Insult So Much!

Last night, we had a visitor, whom we will call JR. JR stopped by our new place for the first time, and saw some of the photos we have haphazardly hanging on the pre-existing nails the previous owners were kind/lazy enough to leave in the walls. Most of these photos are pre-WW pictures. JR knows DH from growing up/the neighborhood, but didn't know me well and therefore didn't really remember what I used to look like. Upon seeing my 'before' pictures, he exclaimed "Wow! You were really big!" You have to understand, my immediate thought was 'well, duh', and my second thought was- 'if you think that photo shows me big, you should see the others!' It truly didn't occur to me until later that usually someone exclaiming "you were really big" is an insult! In retrospect, though, it's pretty cool that the comment only applies in past tense.

In JR's defense, if there needs to be one, I was really big, and he really meant it as a compliment, which I readily accept- and appreciate.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


So Nervous...

Today is my weigh-in... it's only my 72nd weigh in- but I'm really nervous today. I'm 3 pounds from goal, and what if I weigh high today? G-d forbid- what if I gain? I mean, I know the answer to the 'what if', that's a stupid question... but I really don't want to stop this trend... lost 2.6, then lost 1.6, the lost 1.6... if I can keep this up, I'll be at goal by our 2nd anniversary (Oct. 6), but one backtracking week could put the kabash on all of that. oy oy oy, please let me weigh down today- pretty please with Splenda on top...

Monday, September 20, 2004

Ooops- Time to Take Stock

This Wednesday night, DH and I had yontif dinner by his parents, and good friends, husband and wife, of the 'rents were there. The Mrs. of the couple (we'll call her Mrs. Nice) is, well, rather exuberant in her complimenting- of everyone, and of everything. Usually, in my experience, behavior such as this comes across as somewhat transparent, and can be insincere... but not from Mrs. Nice. She truly and sincerely means every word, and has only nice things to say about everyone- no exaggeration. I'm a big fan of Mrs. Nice, and I don't think she even has any idea!

Anyways, I was wearing a new yontif outfit, and to be honest- I looked great. By design, mind you, but still- I walked out of the house quite pleased with my appearance, bolstered by the fact that I'd just reached my personal goal. Upon arriving at my in-laws, Mrs. Nice began to compliment me- it's been a couple of months since she saw me last, and apparently she hadn't seen the latest lost inches/pounds. To be honest, usually in these situations I will politely respond, share some of my story, and try to deflect the conversation in another direction. Wednesday night, though, I did nothing to deflect conversation. I think I was the focus of nearly all of the conversation, and while it felt good- I think it felt too good...

There's a line that each of us are in danger of crossing between Pride and Confidence. Aish.com differentiates between Pride and Pleasure, expressing that Pride is seeing yourself as better than the next person, and Pleasure as seeing yourself as fortunate, having been granted qualities, abilities or opportunities by Hashem and through people in your life. Elsewhere, Aish discuses Jewish Pride saying, "Pride is not arrogance. Pride is justifiable self- respect... But pride in the past is not enough. It is not yet a perfect world and there is still much to be done." If we use this national example and apply it to our singular lives, I believe we learn that proper pride, as differentiated from gaiva (arrogance), is an accurate assessment of your accomplishments, with credit given to Hashem and those around us, and with an eye towards continued improvement.

I am fortunate- fortunate for this challenge! Had I always been a size 8, never had a craving in my life, and actually enjoyed water, I may never have found out what I'm made of! Or, G-d forbid, I may have suffered far greater a challenge to discover my abilities. Yes, I control what goes in my mouth, and I control (99.9% of the time) how much activity I get in- but ultimately Hashem girds me with the strength to do all of this! Most Shabbats, when I light the candles, I take a moment to pray for the things closest to my heart- and most of the time, I'm praying for strength to handle that which life throws at me. Who am I to say "I did this!" without giving credit where credit is due?

I didn't do that on Wednesday night, and while I believe it every word I'm writing, I wonder- by writing here that I give credit to Hashem, does that actually create more arrogance? Does reaffirming for myself that I'm not suffering from gaiva actually instill a greater gaiva? I told DH that I have 27 years of self-confidence to make up for... but that does not grant me a heter for gaiva. I would like to think that I'm starting to develop a sense of self-confidence, rather than a sense of arrogance. Perhaps that's what my next challenge is...

Dieting and Yom Kippur

Aish.com has a wonderful article on dieting and how it relates to the personal growth and introspection we should all have during these Yomin Noraim, these Days of Awe. Definitely worth a read!

And for those of you who wonder sometimes how food and dieting seems to relate to every aspect of my life, this is a bit of insight into how dieting can make you reexamine yourself- your strengths and weaknesses, help you discover what you're capable of and to learn how to balance responsibilities and obligations with the pure living of life.

Personal Goal? Check!

Last week, I wish I had waited to post, because I posted my last post pre-chag about ½ hour before I weighed in pre-chag… and I hit (and surpassed) my personal goal weight. Since the beginning, I’ve had in mind to be 145 and a size 10. Last Wednesday, I weighed in at 144 and change, and I’m a solid size 8!

This all would have been more exciting had I posted it last week, but let it be said that I am, indeed excited.

3 pounds to go to Weight Watcher goal, and I can see the light! I will be at goal by Ari’s wedding (Oct. 31)!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Shana Tovah!

This will be my last post for a number of days, and I've been holding it back because... I don't exactly know what to post! Over the past two days I have been trying to plan out exactly what our plans will be for meals over Rosh HaShanah, which starts this evening and continues directly through Shabbat. My diligent planning skills, I have found, apparently apply in volume but don't transfer well to few and small, intimate meals with friends and family. DH and I will be eating out, or alone, for better than half of the meals over the next three days, and will be hosting two meals, with two guests at each. That means, rather than planning meals for 8+ people, I'm planning meals for 4. Should be less stressful, right?

Last night I bought nearly $100 in produce, 2 chickens and a roast. I'll make what I make from that. While I have recipes in mind, I haven't written out a menu, an ingredient list or a cooking timeline, and therein lies the anxiety.

Perhaps I am feeling anxiety at being at the cusp of a new year, when I don't know how exactly to take stock of the previous year? Last year, I saw my weight loss journey as 'far from over', and questioned whether I'd really be able to do this for the rest of my life. Last year, I started to examine my synagogue, the community and my place in each. Last year, I knew what I was eating for each yontif meal, where, and with whom. This year, I stand less than 5 pounds from my weight loss goal, and I know I can 'do this for the rest of my life.' This year, I stand in place to grow Jewishly, and challenge myself to take on greater observance- and be more tolerant. This year, I have the raw ingredients- and little to no plan... and somehow, that's ok.

I think that's what it comes down to for me right now. I have the ingredients, and the wherewithal to put it together. Life can't be planned to the tiniest minutiae, the most we can do is have the proper building blocks- and the potential to use them. I thank DH and Uncle Paul for teaching me that.

A word, also, at this time of prayer. Please pray for Avraham Volf ben Razel this year. He taught me, 'if money can solve it- it's not a problem.' May he have a refuah sh'leimah.

May we all merit a year of happiness, strength, love, peace, challenges, successes, and a bounty of raw ingredients.

L'shana Tova -- Ketivah vi-chatima Tova.
For a good year -- You should be written and sealed in the good (Book of Life).

Monday, September 13, 2004

Unexpected Microwave Feature

DH and I recently got new appliances, and I have discovered a unique feature of our new microwave. There are sensor cooking buttons on our microwave, one of which is a 'reheat' feature. Simply put your food in the microwave, hit 'reheat', and voila- a perfectly warmed meal with no figuring out how long or at what power level to nuke. Lst night, I put together a plate of chicken, brown rice and sqaghetti-squash and aparagus bake, covered lightly, and placed it in the microwave. I hit 'reheat'- and a couple of minutes later the machine gave me the 'attention' beep (rather than the 'I'm done' beep). The display read: "Feature for Single Serving Only".

Apparently, the 'reheat' feature is also a portion control feature!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Eating as a Chore

Before I started Weight Watchers, I couldn't understand people who complained about having to eat. Who in their right mind wouldn't want to eat?! Food, glorious food, sweet, salty, smooth and scrumptious!

I'm starting to understand.

When you're not addicted to food, which I feel like I may not be so much anymore, sometimes- I dare say- eating can be a chore.

This morning I was doing my filing (eww- work), and started to get shaky. I was on such a roll with my work, and here I have to interrupt it to eat something. Stupid shakies. You see, "normal" people can just wait to eat if they're on a roll with something. "Normal" people can go more than 3 hours without eating. Me? When I need to eat, zeh hu, I need to eat. Everything else takes second place- get me food. It really sucks! Sometime in my life, I'd really like to know what it's like to go about my life without planning to have a cheese stick in the bottom of my purse. To go to work with a normal size lunch without throwing a banana in, just in case. To be able to say, I'm hungry, and that not mean, I'm going to get disoriented and pass out if I don't eat in the next 20 minutes. Don't get me wrong, thank G-d this is my biggest problem! But still, it's a problem none the less, and what kind of Jewish woman would I be if I didn't complain about my problems?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Shabbat Firsts

This is my and DH's first Shabbat really hosting in our new home. We did host the members of Farbrengiton last week, but it didn't feel like we were really set up, or prepared. This week we have a new sink

and a new faucet

(installed this afternoon), our new appliances have been 'broken in', and the kitchen is really starting to feel like my own! So tonight I set out to cook a fully core Shabbat. And I did. Go Becky- you get a non-fat, low point cookie!

Friday Dinner
DH and me (awwww, isn't that cute? Just the two of us!)

Breadsmith challah roll (3 points each but absolutely worth it)
"Perfect Roasted Chicken" (pg. 94, new WW Core Cookbook)
Mashed Potatoes with fat-free Coffee Rich, Smart Beat® Super Light Margarine and fresh minced garlic
Spaghetti Squash & Asparagus Toss (also new WW Core Cookbook)

Shabbat Lunch
Us + 6 guests, IY"H

Challah (2 points per slice)
Hummus Solo & Turkish Salad (aka salatim. I probably won't have any hummus, though- it's too addictive!)
Glass o' wine (2 points- and I'm going to enjoy it!)
Green salad with Hod Lavan turkey breast (which I swear is the closest kosher thing to ham)
Israeli Salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, green onion, salt, olive oil & fresh lime juice)
Chollent (but it's not core, so only a bissel for Becky)
Cold Cuts (corned bison-which is a new one for me)
Spaghetti Squash & Asparagus Toss
Turkish Black Bean & Corn Salad (new WW Core Cookbook)
Brown Rice & Onions with Circum (kir-KUM: Tumeric; courtesy of Rebbetzin Nathan)
Fresh cantelope, strawberries and grapes for dessert

All in all, I expect to have about 10 points over Shabbat, which is not bad, not bad at all. And best of all, I get to spend it with friends.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Great Soup!

I made a new soup recipe last night, and it was/is so good. Very bright flavor, great staying-power in terms of satisfaction, and basically a 1-pot meal. Enjoy!

Greek Lemon-Chicken Soup
(Core, don't know points value)
4 servings

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast, raw
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 cups cooked brown rice

Bring 4 cups chicken broth and chicken breasts to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 6 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken breasts from broth, set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, whisk 2 eggs with lemon juice until frothy. When chicken is removed from broth, take 1 cup of hot broth and add slowly to the egg/lemon mixture (slowly, so it doesn't cook the eggs). Whisk well. Add spinach to remaining broth, still on the stovetop. bring just to a boil, reduce heat immediately. While that is reheating, tear chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and add back to broth/spinach mixture. Slowly add egg/lemon/broth mixture to soup, then add brown rice to soup. While you're adding the eggs, make sure the soup doesn't boil, it will curdle the eggs. Whisk three minutes and serve hot.

BTW, this is from the new TurnAround Core cookbook, though I'm typing the instructions from memory. There is a note at the end of the recipe that you'll need 2/3 cup raw brown rice to get 2 cups cooked- good to note!

Monday, September 06, 2004

Kosher Fat Free Cheese

I have been searching for kosher fat-free cheeses, and found only one at the local kosher supermarket... Smart Beat Fat Free American Flavor slices, O-U, D. Sorry to say, they taste horrible when eaten alone. I have yet to try to make an omelette out of them, but I can't imagine that the fake-butter-rubber taste will improve by attempting to melt it.

If anyone knows of a good kosher fat-free cheese, please let me know. I miss cheese.

Ah, Exercise

Let's me be honest. Exercise is, in general, not fun. You sweat, your muscles hurt, you're out of breath... it's simply not fun. The benefits from exercise are very 'fun', but exercise itself is not often my favorite activity.

That being said, for a very long time I've been of the opinion that my weight loss has been impeded by my lack of exercise and water consumption. About two weeks ago I reinstated my Curves membership, and today I actually used it. I'm so out of shape. Four months off Curves, and I was ready to quit half-way through my second rotation. My heartrate should be around 25, and was up around 27 (acceptable)... but it felt like it was up around 33! I used to spend about a half hour after each session stretching and gaining flexibility. I've lost most of it. I got measured, and have lost 5 pounds since I've been there, but I haven't lost any significant inches- which is what exercise is for.

Directly after working out I came home, changed right back into my PJs and went back to sleep. I'll get back in shape- but it was certainly a wake-up call this morning!

Friday, September 03, 2004

New Forum

I've discovered a new forum of interest. Jewish Weight Watchers at Yahoo! Groups has a ton of information about keeping Kosher, at all levels, and losing weight. Check it out- you must be a member to post, but I believe browsing is open to all. Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!

Day O'Murphy continues...

Decided that rather than sitting quietly at my desk, I should try to jump-start my morning with the coffee I missed out on earlier. Headed to 7-11, poured my coffee, and dumped chunky creamers in! Chunky- eeewwwwwww... I guess it was the points police at work, because the International Delights French Vanilla single-serving creamers are 1 point each. I ended up giving in and throwing money at the situation- and got a Starbucks Venti Skim Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte... which is core.

Fresh Start!

Yesterday our new appliances (range, microwave, refrigerator) came- new new new- no kashering, no scrubbing, and best of all, no other-people-smell! In honor of our new kitchen, I stocked it with fresh core foods... puffed rice, puffed wheat and shredded wheat cereals, a full gallon of skim milk and a new try- WestSoy Fat-Free Vanilla Soy Milk, plums, oranges, cantelope, tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers, bison, chicken breasts, and 2 1/2 dozen eggs! I'll finally be able to eat without ordering delivery! Very exciting, though it may not sound so...

Today is also the first day of a new week, which means a full 35 allowance points, and a fully stocked kitchen will be a big boost. I stayed home yesterday with a stomach bug (read: stress & exhaustion), so I missed my meeting- I'm going to try to get to a WI sometime today 'cause I really want to know how core treated me last week.

So, with that kind of fresh start, why am I having such a Murphy's Law day?! I didn't plan enough time this morning to take care of Pepito (my friend's African Gray), and left late- didn't have time to dry my hair and didn't get my morning coffee. Got downtown just to realize I'd forgotten my work ID at home, and will have to borrow keys for the bathroom all day. Spilled 1/2 of my Diet Mt. Dew in my shoulder bag, ruining my brand new Complete Food Companion and stickying up everything else... I should sit quietly at my desk all day so nothing else happens!! At least Monday is Labor Day, and maybe the office will close early today (halavai!).

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Core Holishkes (Stuffed Cabbage)

As a follow up to yesterday's post wherein Nechama Dina Kumer was explaining how "traditional Jewish foods" differ from "Kosher foods", here's a traditional Jewish food, Holishkes, presented as core. Enjoy!

Turkey Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

1 medium head green cabbage
12 oz uncooked ground turkey breast
1/2 cup onion(s), diced
1/2 cup cooked brown rice, regular or instant
1 large egg(s)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 cup fat-free chicken broth, reduced-sodium

  1. Remove 8 outer leaves from cabbage and place leaves in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover and set pan over high heat. Bring water to a boil and boil 10 minutes, until leaves are pliable and soft. Drain and when leaves are cool enough to handle, cut off thickest part of vein from bottom of leaves, leaving leaf intact.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine turkey, onion, rice, egg, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt and black pepper. Mix until well blended.

  3. Place a small amount of turkey mixture (enough to fit in the palm of your hand) onto center of each leaf. Fold in sides of leaves and then roll up tightly from one end to other, making sure filling is fully covered by leaf.

  4. Pour a small amount of tomatoes into bottom of stockpot (enough to cover bottom with a thin layer). Place cabbage rolls in stockpot (pack rolls tightly to prevent opening during cooking) and pour over remaining tomatoes and chicken broth. Set pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer 45 minutes more. Remove from heat and serve hot. Yields 2 stuffed leaves and 1/4 cup of sauce per serving.