Blah, also Passover

Yeah, it’s just been kind of like that the last few days.  Feeling unmotivated and snacking at night.  I’m having trail mix which isn’t so bad but it’s also my first reintroduction of peanuts and the next day my stomach is not happy with me.  And my exercise routine has fallen to the sidelines the last two weeks as well.  I’m just feeling kind of, meh, right now.  Also doesn’t help with the Passover preparations when we have to get the house Passover ready in less than two weeks.   

Can we sidebar on the topic of Passover for a second?  I feel as though Passover gets a bad rap mostly stemming from the cleaning aspect of it.  People clean probably way more than they need to and turn it into “spring cleaning” which it’s not and many rabbinic opinions say as such.  But it is probably the most Jewish thing we do.  Think about it, you keep super extra stupid crazy kosher, it’s one of those holidays even non-connected jews celebrate, gefilte fish on everyone’s table, and we’re recounting the Exodus story, the big story every one has seen Charlton Heston star in.

But at the same time it is one of the most differentiating holidays we have.  Go to two different seders and neither will be the same.  Customs vary from country to country, city to city, shul to shul, and house to house.  When my wife and I started hosting Seder at our home we made the decision to make our seder kid-centered.  Now some of you out there might not find this unusual, considering Chazal talks about keeping the children engaged throughout the seder, but a kid friendly seder wasn’t something she grew up with and this was another way for us to create positive and fun jewish moments and memories for our children that they will be able to look back on and, hopefully, keeping them connected.  Basically I let the kids run the show, our seder is based on what they are learning in school that year and it expands, little by little, each year.  And it’s not just for the kids, we enjoy providing a different jewish experience for her family, especially her sisters.  An experience that, I think, shows the way Judaism can be fun and engaging.  It’s a faith that’s supposed to celebrate life and we are encouraged to be happy doing mitzvot and not be ashamed.  Sometimes, when heavy topics get thrown into the mix, you can lose focus on that aspect of Torah.  Just as the song says of Torah:

עֵץ חַיִּים הִיא לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ. וְתמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּׁר:
דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי נעַם וְכָל נְתִיבותֶיהָ שָׁלום

It is a tree of life for those who cling to it, and those who uphold it are happy. Its ways are pleasant,​ and all of its paths peaceful.​ 

Happiness and joy are the truest sign of a strong emunah (faith).

May we all merit to walk in this world on that level.


The man in the mirror

I’ve said it before but the worst critic is yourself.  I know that is the case for myself.  Last night it really hit me, just feeling bloated and gross and looking at myself and being very critical of what I saw.  I hadn’t worked out like I planned and I was feeling totally drained having been up since 3.  This morning when I got up and saw myself I felt so much better about my body and wondered why I was doing this to myself, meaning my self criticism.  Why do we view ourselves in a negative light, especially for those of us working toward bettering our health?  Is it because so many of us have spent years feeling down on what we saw and, even now, look for the flaws in ourselves to justify giving up on the journey?  I was in this boat really hard last night, looking down at my midsection and still not happy with what’s there.  People have come up to me and told me that I look good and how what I’m doing is inspiring, bit when you’re alone, with that mirror, sometimes all you see are the love handles and not the changes you have made.

It’s part of the constant battle in my own head.  How easy would it be just to eat like I used to, live like I used to, especially when I look in the mirror and I am not happy.  I know it sounds really whiney and all, like I’m looking for sympathy, but I feel like this is a battle anyone going down this path will have and I want to give voice to it in my own way. 

May we all look in the mirror and see our better selves.

Crowd sourced entry

So I was having a hard time with this entry, not sure what to write about and I’m kind of busy around the house at the moment.  I mentioned this on Facebook and some friends came to me with topics to discuss which I will touch on.  Now, this will get a little off the normal script of health and wellness so bare with me.

How about the teen arrested for the jcc bomb threats

My initial thought when I heard about this was…Idiot.  For those not aware an investigation by the FBI and Israel uncovered that the perpetrator of several JCC bomb threats was a teenage boy…an American-Israeli teenage boy.  There are several hebrew terms I would like to use to describe this boy and his actions.  Really?  You do this to your own people?  The f*ck is wrong with you??  Now, this story is still developing so we’ll see where it goes but if I could have a word with my fellow Yiddin for a moment.

An open letter to all of Klal Yisrael,

Hi, can we just talk for a minute about conduct and how it reflects on all of us?  Understand that your actions will never just be your actions to the goyim, it will be the way ALL OF US will be seen.  This has always been true and it will continue to be so until the end of time.  And I don’t care if your “religious” or not, even if you’re totally assimilated and don’t keep to a jewish identity, you STILL represent all of us.  Because as soon as you do some sh!tty thing and they find out your a Jew, then it’s “oh well you know how they are, what do you expect.”  Even more so if you are not outwardly indentifying as jewish because then there’s a layer of deception added on.  We have a responsibility to one another and our own conduct with the outside world is a part of that.  Think about the repercussions when you act, because your choices are OUR choices.

Here you go:

This article discusses the ways Israel as a nation and culture have built a resilience to the continual terrorism that country has seen for decades.  Interestingly this comes after the most recent attack in London where the mayor made a statement some people were not too pleased with, that this is just the reality of living in a large city in this day and age. People are in a stink over it but there is some truth to it.  Not in a roll over and give up sense but that this is war in the 21st century and we must come to terms with it and fight in our own way by soldiering on.  Not that there won’t be trauma to deal with, but you build an infrastructure to handle it.  The article is interesting and I highly recommend checking it out.  For my part, the years I spent in Israel I always looked to the Israelis as my barometer, if they weren’t panicking then neither would I.  And for the record, since I do get asked, I always felt safe there, even more so than here.

“I am kind, I am smart, I am important, I am starving.”


Hey Yo

Alright, well, that was fun. 

If anybody wants I would actually like to do another entry like this so leave a comment about a topic or question and we’ll do another crowd sourced post in the future.

Well on a different note, I am down to 184.2 lbs this morning which is friggen incredible.  I’ve been home the last two days as my wife had her teeth extracted on thursday.  Everything went well and she’s recovering, though it will be about a week before she can start eating real food again.  I’m planning on doing a personal challenge of exercise during the Omer.  For those who don’t know, between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot is a time known as the Omer where we count everyday in between the two holidays.  It is a total of 7 weeks, so instead of just counting I am going to be burning calories, everyday, for seven weeks.  Some days will be more intense, others not, but I am going to do this  I am excited to start and to see what the results will be.  For now I’m happy with what I’m seeing but now I need some new clothes so that will become a new line in the budget.  

For now have a healthy and happy Shabbat.

Follow on twitter @huffrants

Shabbat Shalom

Hitting a wall

I feel like I am at a crossroads now.  All week the cravings for junk has been hitting me pretty hard.  I don’t know if that’s from Purim when I didn’t hold back on treats or if I need to switch up routines.  Same with my body, I’m looking for more weight loss and I’m not seeing it.

Part of the body thing is that when I intially lost it was from cutting out the sugars, the weight just melted off.  Now this is the grinding period, the long slow journey which will most likely take months, not weeks.  Also for all my yoga I hurt my back the other day at work and it still aches.  So I’m frustrated because I’m over here thinking, “I’m doing all this sh!t to strengthen my spine and I hurt my back picking up a box??”  But I enjoy the workouts which is why I haven’t stopped.  I will probably switch up the different sets because I’ve been consistently doing the same one each time.  Also, because I’m still not physically where I want to be, I’ll get down on myself about the remaining pudge around the middle, which is dumb considering how far I’ve come but it can be difficult when you’ve spent most of your adult life looking into a mirror and hating what you see.  Your worst critic is yourself.

Food is another area I need to shake things up.  I need to find some new and different Paleo-esque dishes to help keep things interesting.  Otherwise my mind, and stomach, go right to junk food as the answer.  Same is true for dealing with stress.  Sugar was my go-to quick fix to any funk and when I hit a slump I feel myself craving it like a zombie craves brains.  So I need something to perk me up, but preferably not a food because I don’t think that helps me.  It would help if I could ease the level of stress in my life but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Something to stew on going into shabbat.  Shabbat Shalom everyone.

Post-Purim Roundup 

So yesterday was Purim, a very festive holiday with parties, costumes, food and booze.  It’s honestly one of my favorite jewish holidays, maybe my number one.  However this year was a bit hard considering my new life changes.  But I decided that I wouldn’t deny myself the treats of the holiday.  What I did do was make sure I didn’t go overboard on the junk food.  

There were meals with pies and cakes and candy and brownies.  I didn’t eat a ton of that stuff like I used to, though I probably had one too many shots of scotch (how “too much scotch” is a problem, I dunno, usually scotch is the answer). 

At the end of the night, though, I felt gross and my stomach hurt the next morning. My face which had been clear this whole time broke out as well.  Clearly seeing the effects sugar and junk have on my body now.  We did take some left overs, nothing too bad but I did get some brownies, one for each of us.  

It’s a new week, so a new start.  Staying to my routines and did some DDPYoga today.  Now It’s time to gear up to Passover, yet another eating holiday.  I have decided that I am going to challenge myself. The 7 weeks after Passover are known as the Omer where we count up to the next holiday, Shavuot.  This year I am going to do 7 weeks of DDPYoga.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I’ll do some before and after pics for that as well.

Time to get back on the train.  Gotta stay on track.  Lets do this!  

BWYWTB – Meal breakdown

Hi folks.  Sorry for not posting more recently but it’s been busy in the Coon residence.  My wife’s teeth have finally stopped hurting her and we went to an oral surgeon and are scheduled to go back to have 5 of her teeth extracted.  Yeesh.  Don’t even bother asking about the price.  Lets just say that times like this I miss having nationalized healthcare.  Also Purim is this weekend and we’ve been getting ready for the fun as well as looking ahead to Passover.

So today I thought I would throw some meals up to give folks a little taste of what I’m eating.  

Omlete with Sweet Potatoes.  Pretty simple.  I toss in some Trader Joes salsa and avocado in my omlete as well as kosher salt on the potatoes.  I find the salt really brings out the flavor in the potatoes.  Yum!  A great way to start the day.

Spinach and chicken salad.  Diced up cucumber and tomato with crushed cashews.  Also I made a homemade dressing (in the baby food jar) of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Trader Joes Everything but the Bagel seasoning which is SPECTACULAR!  Wife and I had this for lunch 3 times this week.  Delicious!  

This one’s a little off the road.  Brown rice spaghetti with turkey meatballs and organic french bread.  I tossed the meatballs in with the sauce into a slow cooker and let it cook on low for 8 hours and the house smelled amazing!  The sauce cooked down and OMG YUM!  I had to watch myself with both the pasta and the bread, my carb dragon was roaring.  But I felt good afterwards.

Paleo chicken nugget.  Super simple.  Breaded in almond flour with italian seasoning cooked in olive oil.  The first time I made it I did homemade fries which was dangerous so we stuck with veggies this time.

Not pictured is my wife’s failed attempt at paleo chocolate chip cookies.  They were burnt and not that good.  And yet…AND YET I KEPT EATING THEM!  I DIDN’T EVEN THINK THEY WERE GOOD AND I KEPT GOING BACK!! I eventually had to throw them out both for my own sake and, well, they weren’t very good.  It’s one of those trigger things.  I can’t imagine how I would be if they had been successful.  Dangerous.  I was explaining this to someone at synagogue on Shabbat.  Every person reacts to food differently.  I’m eating nuts as a go to snack but for him nuts don’t agree with his stomach.  Look it might be a mild allergy but that’s why it’s so important to get a good read on what your body is telling you.  And clearly my body can’t handle cookies.  Or at least my mind.  I FELT fine but I saw cookies and felt like I HAD to keep eating them.  

It only goes to show that while I may have begun a physical change as a result of my new diet and exercise, the psychological change will take longer.   I may never get passed that desire to eat junk until I am physically ill.  But I’m trying.  I’m being honest with myself about my own demons in my relationship with food, and hopefully telling all of you will keep me honest for many years and decades to come.

A Happy, Healthy, and Fun Purim to all!

BWYWTB – Tragedy Strikes

When it happens it can come out of nowhere.  The loss of something so dear takes deep reflection and introspection to help those who are suffering to move forward and come to terms with the way life will be forever changed.  Now it seems such a tragedy has struck my home.  It will send shockwaves through our lives and forever alter the course of my family for years to come.

I don’t think I can have beer anymore.

I realized this over Shabbat.  I had one beer, ONE, and felt bloated, gassy and gross.  Now, it was a brown ale and I’ve never been one for ales, much prefer a lager or pilsner, so maybe I’ll try one of those and see if my body has the same reaction.  But it’s disconcerting since I’ve built a reputation, both personally and professionally, as “the beer guy” and now my body is telling me it has a hard time with beer.  Oh well, scotch it is.

We went shopping for Mashloach Manot yesterday for Purim.  It is a rule that on Purim you should send gifts of ready to consume food and drinks called Mashloach Manot to your fellow jews.  My wife wanted to get candy to match the theme of our costume but as we were shopping I was thinking this was a bit hypocritical.  Here I am changing my life and I’m going to give garbage to my friends as a gift?  We scrapped the candy idea so if you get something from us expect it to delicious and nutritious!  

I’m looking for the next challenge or goal for myself.  Maybe a marathon or a Tough Mudder type thing.  For now I’m focused on forever ridding myself of this stomach.  It’s something I have dreamed of doing but never imagined I ever could.  I can already see definition I never knew existed.  I’ve also received many compliments both on the blog and the way I look which is totally surreal for me.  It’s funny because when I receive those compliments I am like half….

But then the other half is…

Along with handling my physical well being I’ve also refocused on some spiritual growth.  Making sure I have an appointed time for both prayer and learning.  Found a great podcast with short 10-15 minutes on Mishnah Berurah which is a discussion and explanation on Jewish law and customs. For me I really enjoy it.  Not that I don’t like the hippy “spiritual” side of my faith, it’s all fascinating, but I’m a big nerd at heart and essentially pulling the curtain back on why we do what we do, day in and day out, is just as interesting to me.  Does that mean every little thing I learn I start to immidiately follow or force my family to?  Of course not but it’s worth knowing and I enjoy it.  Now working on my financial well-being will take a little more doing…

Anywho, next time I want to share some dishes and recipes with everyone.  Maybe later in the week?  Sounds like a plan.  Until then folks…

BWYWTB – Listen to your body

I am happy to report that i am nearly down a full 20lbs from my starting weight. This morning I weighed in at 188 lbs, down 19 from my original start of 207.  I continue to be amazed at how my body has changed since starting this journey.  Definition in my body that I never thought I could have; muscles emerging that I hadn’t seen since my football days.  

I feel like I’m turning into a health food nut.  Everytime I see a commercial for a healthy snack or shake I know 90% of the time it’s a lie.  They advertise no sugar but it contains artificial sweeteners that are as bad, if not worse, for you as regular sugar.  Apparently my journey has inspired some of my coworkers, 3 of which began their Whole 30 journey today! Good luck guys!  Stay strong!  That first week is killer.

One thing that I’m also doing is listening to my body when it comes to the reintroduction of foods, especially any carbs that I might eat.  I know now I can have a controlled and moderate amount, like this past shabbat, without too many negative reactions.  But I have to be able to control my carb dragon.  My wife is currently hearing her body loud and clear, and she’s suffering over it.  She’s had a toothache for a while now due to one of her wisdom teeth basically falling apart in her mouth.  Well now the pain has gotten so bad she’s laid up in bed.  I went to take her to the local medical college’s dental school where they have an emergency dental office but because it’s a wisdom tooth they couldn’t help her.  We had to make an appointment with an oral surgeon…for next Thursday…meanwhile she’s going to have to suffer through the pain.  She admits it’s her own fault, that she should have gone sooner before the pain got this bad, but at least now she has an appointment and we can get this done.  Let that be a lesson to everyone: listen to your body.  If something feels out of sorts, and especially if it’s constant, go see someone.  You only have one body and one chance at this life so take care of yourself.  Take that from someone who used to eat two large pizzas by himself.

One of my favorite Hassidic thinkers, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, spoke about the importance of living a healthy life style in order to pursue holiness and service to G-d.  In his work “Lekutei Moharan” he wrote on the right kind of diet being a way to maintain a clear and healthy mind and that through sweat one could rid themselves of impurities in the body.  And this was from a man living in eastern Europe in the 18th century, how much truer is it today with our knowlede of medicine and science?  I think many doctors would say the key to a happy life is a healthier one, and being happy all the time was Rebbe Nachman’s main theme.  

So listen to your body, be happy and healthy and be where you want to be.