Coming up in but a mere couple of hours is the fast of the year for all those alike in the Jewish faith. Those that mock at their own kind and those that worship their own kind; those that eat pig with a nice slice of all-American cheese, and those that wait six hour intervals between the consumption of meat and dairy. It is the day of the year, where majority of the observant and non-observant alike tremble in fear at this upcoming fast of Yom Kippur (also known as The Day of Atonement).
Just a wee bit of unrelated-yet-related knowledge: Kippur is a type of herring. And Jews love their herring. Yum kippur!
Anyway, as much as I couldn’t be more ready for this day of immense introspection laden with thoughts of my actions, beings, and capabilities, I am even more excited for the 24-hour detox cleanse my body is about to embark on. Ah, my diet. How have I been on it? Why have I been so quiet, all my faithful covert followers may want to know?
Well in short: I have been doing awful. I have been 108% loads of awful. Why the random 8? That’s how my body figure feels more so than looks. The reason for my downfall is crystal clear: my downfall begins and ends when I go back South for the holidays. In case you couldn’t realize, I am back in Florida. The land of imitation Ho-ho’s, two types of Ben and Jerries ice cream, and lasagna for dinner. Interesting to note how I don’t come from an obese background at all, despite our household staples. But the weight is creeping up on me faster than you could say “Lord, forgive my gluttonous ways.” I thought a little day of atonement humor would be apropos.
As I came into the kitchen I had made the very clear statement that I was hungry. No tantrums were thrown, just some tomatoes. Just kidding, but I did look up and down the pantry like a little mouse in search of cheese. Until Jackie pipes in (yes, she’s back): “Have some baked beans with me.”
“I don’t really like baked beans” I stated with a mildly acrid face.
“Well, what kind of beans do you like?”
“I don’t know…beans, I guess.” I shrugged.
“hehe…jellybeans?” She laughed.
The walking and breathing piece of jello had a point. Being back in Miami is bringing back my incessant cravings I had gotten rid of in NY. With that, I decided to book my flight back a week earlier and stay by my Aunt and Uncle’s house. Why am I running away to them? He may be a court reporter and she an incredible housewife and head of chapter organizations, but in their past life, they ran a boot camp that showed no mercy. If the apple falls from my parent’s trees, it gets picked up and baked by my Aunt and Uncle. Literally and figuratively. I couldn’t be more ready to reconvene with my healthy eating lifestyle.
But I divert, the upcoming fast is near. It may be the most craved spiritual time of year for some, but no-doubt it’s a dreadful food deprivation day for most. But not for me. Within the next 24 hours my cycle starts over and I will be back on target. My introspective thoughts and life goals back on check…and if this 24 hour fasting period leads me to gaining that silver, slender, and sleek body (mirroring the characteristics of the mentioned herring) I am working toward, well then, Yum Kippur indeed.
What screams louder than a lamb knowingly going to the slaughter? Me on the holidays eating that lamb—and much more. A bit gruesome, but the holiday cooking makes me want to jump right out of my skin. Only the holiday cooking gives me a ton more extra skin to jump out of. These past few days, I will publicly admit, I have been bad. Real bad. Even though I gave up the white flour enriched enemy of a carb, I still gave way (weigh) to the apple strudel. Is it just a Jewish thing that on the holidays you have two souls to feed? Or something like that. Well, the Nana of the household whipped me good over dinner—and publicly at that—but I will spare details and further self humiliation.
I am not THAT much of a masochist.
One can contact for the full story. Anyway, my goal date (February 11th) is around the bend and I must get to my goal weight. So this coming week of more Jewish festivities: What screams louder than a lamb knowingly going to the slaughter? Not me.
A singular truism I have long now accepted is that I have a phenomenal group of best friends. So phenomenal is this somewhat diverse but unified group that I actually sat back for a minute this week and contemplated them running England. (The country, not the landscape).They genuinely could. It wouldn’t fall apart.
This is by no means simple, this articulation of what I have for so long known to be true. But it has been decided, I am in awe, filled with admiration and overwhelming gratitude. Truly humbled. Let me lay it out for you: To my mind, I see each of them as a mini representative of great women in history. A Margaret Thatcher here, a Jackie Kennedy there, a Florence Nightingale, so on and so forth, (and even my very own Oprah Winfrey!-we’ll get to it).
And it must go without saying, ladies and gentlemen, that such company has the profound capacity to crease.me.up. Indeed, there is never an occasion, however troublesome or wretched I have insisted it is, that won’t end in belly-aching laughter. Somebody WILL have me doubled over, laughing harder than the day before. How is anything truly problematic with these women around?
And so many lessons! So much I’ve learnt. 6 of the smartest, headstrong women I know equates to 6000 things to learn. Incongruous, unrelated but utterly brilliant. One of the wisest and most valuable things I’ve ever been given came from my very own Oprah, approximately a year and a half ago, “it’s okay to be uncomfortable” she told me. And with that, I began to understand that acceptance of a situation, good or bad, frees you up a little. That if you would only make peace with an uncomfortable time then it passes. And the growing pains subside. We’re not always here to smile. Comfort isn’t everything. Comfort isn’t growth.
Margaret Thatcher has theee most tenacious, head-screwed-on-the-right-way, marvelous advice I have ever heard. Pretty much always. And the most patient, non-judgemental pair of ears I’ve ever come across…I still maintain that her and Oprah are very alike. They believe otherwise.
Whilst Florence Nightingale is secretly Mother Theresa and Martha Stewart all rolled into one. In short, I’m frightened to entertain guests if she isn’t around. Genuine anxiety prevails. The girl can cook, clean, and has more useful general knowledge than google. What’s more she’s faster and funnier. And she can measure a bra size more efficiently than the women employed in the M&S fitting deparment (I’ve seen her do it, better, faster and funnier) with the added bonus of no awkward fumbling or cold hands. (Think they wanted to employ her after that episode).
So when Jackie Kennedy sends me a one-word text that reads ‘Starbucks?’ (she has an uncanny ability to know when caffeine and sugar are most necessary) and we sit covering as many topics as we can humanly manage until they kick us out, I remember things are awesome. And so is Jackie – my fashion icon, both literally and metaphorically. Nobody does it better. And whatever she has- she’ll share with you. That’s a tall order when you think about it. Pun totally intended.
That leaves 2…wonderful, creative, exceptional beings who’ve moulded and shaped so much of the person I am. Don’t you doubt for a second that I’ve run out of flattering comparisons, it’s just not the case.
Once I passed out from laughing too hard. True story. One moment my cheeks were aching and I couldn’t sit up straight and the next I was out cold. Just for a few seconds. But it felt like an eternity. I could hear the sound of my own laughter resounding inside my own head, until I came to, completely bemused. I believe that sometimes we go through phases that due to their intensity, seem to last a lot longer than in actual fact. Without the resounding laughter, they might go on forever. The fact is, I wouldn’t know. Because I have the Protein Queen, as she shall be known. Strong, lean and not at all mean. She’ll tell you how it is, she’ll tell you how it needs to be. If I had to, I’d say a cross betwixt Golda Meir and Kim Kardashian. But you might imagine why I’m hesitant in that regard.
Many times I’ve woken up next to a curly dark mass of hair on my pillow belonging to my 6th flag. Ironically, she’s probably the oldest flag, the one that’s been there the longest. And we’ve seen a lot together, a lot of places and faces, a lot of trips, a lot of memories. Just like the others, but more. By default. Or genetics.In any event I genuinely don’t have a comparison but at this point I’ve started to believe her heart is actually golden. It pumps gold the way most hearts pump platelets. And I’m cool with that.
It is my wish for these girls to remain as anonymous as they appear, although they’ll undoubtedly recognise themselves. It would be hard not to.I only wanted to share with you, with them, a plethora of ideas that now and again come crusading by and subtly remind me of how entirely and utterly blessed I am. For my 6 Flags. And all the tenacity and vibrancy they encompass. For the perpetual speckles of laughter.
And for everything in between.
Finally! After a week of sweating, toiling, and ultimately doing whatever it took to stave off my insatiable cravings (and incessant drawings) to whatever processed crap was laying around my Miami apartment, I am back in New York City getting fit on my own turf!
And if this past week’s progress wasn’t great enough, these past ten hours coming back to New York City has been doing me wonders!
I have officially given up my love for white, enriched flour-filled carbohydrates! A ton of progress when such carbs were popped in my mouth more than wine corks at a Gala.
The following new rules have also been established in my food shopping criteria: 1. whatever packaged food I now buy could only have up to 3g of fat maximum (of course I use my discretion based on the item) and 2. I now have to KNOW what I am eating. Memorizing the chemical names and pronunciations by heart is a habit that has now been nixed!
But, most importantly, I have also entered a 90 day diet contest that I am visibly rockin’! Winner receives one hundred dollars and way too many things, all at once, have been calling my name…
Overall, the past week filled with lifestyle changes has been beyond marvelous.
I went for a run in Central Park earlier today, and even though it made me miss my 1950’s gym back at home, it has also helped me fully embrace the new lifestyle I am embarking on. And even though the runners in Central Park will most probably intimidate you at first, and run you over faster than they will notice you, nothing can compare to the exhilaration it brings… Even if the only way to confidently face the aggressive NYC runners is to constantly recite the verses of Woodie Gunthrie’s This Land is Your Land…it’s worth it.
Being cooped up in my family’s apartment for what seemed like a lifetime (reality: three days,) forced me to come to a few realizations. As I opened the kitchen pantry, memories from my high school years came rushing back to me. Staring at the items sitting so innocently, yet so maliciously, on the wooden shelf made it all so clear to me. I had finally realized why it is quite impossible to diet in my family’s household. Why I had lost close to twenty pounds the moment I moved out. Why I haven’t even caught myself strolling into the large to extra large aisle in a hella long time. The reason was so clear cut and it hit me as soon as my fingers pulled open the pantry door. Our household staples includes: Entenmanns donuts, Godiva chocolate, and imitation Ho-ho’s from 7-11. It couldn’t be any more clear! The reason why that age old trick of: “don’t buy it unless you can pronounce the ingredients” didn’t apply to me is because I memorized how to say the likes of “maltodextrin” and “Guar Gum.” I even perfected rolling the “r” in “Guar!” I slammed the door shut and turned my back to it (whilst simultaneously opening the refrigerator door.) With nothing but fried and processed foods sitting on the clear plastic shelf, I closed the door in dismay.As much as I wanted to stab whatever contents was sitting on the shelf to tame the stampede running a muck inside of me, I forced myself to learn the beauty of self-control. Of course, I whipped out every excuse in the book about how I will be out of here this upcoming Sunday and on my own again in New York City. But it proved very difficult to even attempt with my sister’s voice on repeat in my head saying, “poulkes…poulkes…poulkes.” I decided to do this, and for real. After all my weight and goal are both plastered on the public inter-web. Backing out on day two would be as pathetic as going to the movie theaters just for the popcorn. Which, shamefully, has been done. So, I pulled out the Kellogs box of Special K that I bought for myself (which I saw my dad feeding to the birds last night—but that’s another story) and I poured myself a bowl. Admittedly, Special K isn’t the healthiest of choices, but when the storm’s got you trapped…it’s either that or the Ho-ho’s.
It seems throughout a lifespan, us humans are constantly reaching toward a new milestone. Walking, talking, getting food in our mouth and not around it etc, are the ones we could barely remember. The first real milestone I could remember, clear as day, is when at six years old I swapped my back seat booster for a new “feet out the window, cigarette in hand” passenger seat kind of look. Skipping a few years to when you are in your mid-teens and you kiss the days your parents pulled up to the movie theater in their soccer car or broken down Volkswagen goodbye because you just got your driver’s license. Of course this example doesn’t apply to me because I was a grandma and waited till my early 20’s to receive that thing. But you get the gist. Then of course there is graduating college and getting married. Y’know the minor ones. One major milestone that occurs throughout a lifetime, I realized, usually always has something to do with weight. Losing ten pounds, gaining 5, always ends up being a major (catastrophic or not) event. After spending my last few weeks of summer on the beach, I grew accustomed to watching the stick figured teeny-boppers run around as if this were a perpetual Baywatch episode on repeat. After watching them strut their stuff for all of Miami-Dade to see, I had caught myself becoming a little envious. And then it hit me; the wave had knocked me down. I can’t even remember the last time my weight range was in the 120’s through the 150’s. Was I in Middle School? Junior High? High School? Definitely not my year studying abroad when there were fresh baked goods for the equivalent of a U.S. nickle steaming outside my apartment. I returned home to my size-two sister cooking in the kitchen. The following conversation with my sister is what preempted this blog in the first place.
Me:”Jackie, am I fat?”
Jackie: “No way am I answering this question. Every time I do I get in some sort of trouble.”
Even though I knew she was right, I continued to badger her until she finally caved.
Jackie: “You’re not fat but… you do have ‘poulkes.'” She said with a grin and a shrug.
Me: “I have…what?” I asked rather confused. Was that some kind of meat entree?
Jackie: “You know…’poulkes'”
Pronounced: Pull-kehs. Pointing down to the area just above and around my knee cap. Poulkes? I thought to myself. Does anyone else coin it that? If they don’t, then there is no way anyone else could have noticed. Right? Wrong.
As I solemnly said “alright” and began to walk away, Jackie snuck in another source of access adipose tissue on my body. The girl was having a field day.
Jackie: “…and thunder thighs.”
“Oh, come on!” I said turning around rather annoyed. Even though I did sign up for it. “Where else, Jack? Anything on my arms you would like to comment about?”
Jackie: “Well, we all have a little flab there.” She said lifting up her own and jiggling it with her dainty fingers. “But your stomach is pretty flat!”
Thanks Jack. The imagery that went on in my mind was gruesome. But I managed to turn my humiliation into determination. And thus begins my journey on going from 156 and down to my goal weight of 128…Welcome Aboard. (And for the record, Jack was right, I didn’t speak to her till the following morning…)