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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘weight’

Avoiding Weight Gain This Winter

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Winter seems to be a time when many people put on some extra weight. Have you ever considered why that is? Here are some of the top reasons and what to do about them.

More layers equals more room to hide. Bulky sweaters and loose coats give us that fake comfort and temporary ability to live in denial. I always tell my clients to have one summer outfit easily accessible and to try it on, on a regular basis. Aside from serving as a reminder that Summer is just a few short months away, it will be an accurate measurement of how your more fitted (and less layered) wardrobe feels.

Hot comfort drinks. Don’t we all associate those hot chocolates and creamy lattes with cold winter days? Did you know that these drinks could contain up to 700 calories? Many people falsely assume that “liquid calories” don’t count. This is obviously false. Try herbal teas instead, or lower calorie versions of your favorite drink. Substitute whole milk for skim, skip the whipped cream, and use cinnamon powder for flavor, instead of flavored syrup.

Feeling too lazy to exercise.  Many people feel a lot less energetic in the winter months and that is understandable.  The days are shorter, it gets dark sooner, and getting out of the house requires bundling up, and even warming up the car.  Outdoor exercisers find it more challenging to stick to their routine with the unpredictable weather, and it getting dark so early in the day, giving them less hours of “ideal workout conditions.”

My suggestion? Adjust your schedule or routine accordingly.  See what works for you.  Cold weather should not mean no exercise. Whether you are used to outdoor workouts, or just get lazy with the cold season, here are some tips to help you get you heated up even when the weather is cold.

1. Stock up on fitness DVDs. Make sure you pick ones that are fun and motivating (check out the Shape Fitness kosher workout DVD).

2. Find an exercise buddy. This way the two of you help each other get the workout accomplished, whether indoors or out.

3. If you are a walker or jogger, invest in warm yet comfortable gear. This should be something that is warm enough to wear outside, yet comfortable enough (and not bulky) to exercise in.  Make sure to protect your head and ears.

4. Try to exercise during daylight hours. The days are shorter but it is easier to exercise when it is light out.

Chanukah parties, office holiday parties, Chinese auctions, dinners, and fundraisers… need I say more? As always, plan ahead. Do not ever starve yourself the day of a function, planning to make up for it later on. Eat regular balanced meals throughout the day, and try drinking 2 glasses of water before the event. When you get there, scan the room and decide what you want to eat, before you fill up your plate. Treat a buffet style table as a visual menu. “see” the food there as simply a feast for the eyes, and it is up to you to make the best choices from it.

As always, having professional guidance is one of the best tools you can invest in. Whether it’s a nutritionist helping you plan your menus, or a personal trainer working out with you and measuring your results, having that professional guidance is extremely valuable.

Remember that Summer is right around the corner. With just some planning and willpower, you can avoid weight gain traps this winter.

Sinai Spinning out of Cairo’s Grip, Creating Major Headaches for Israel

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Recently, we wrote here about the great landmass on Israel’s southwestern border that “given its physical proximity to Israel, Sinai is not only an Egyptian challenge. That it gets such a small degree of media attention is a puzzle.” [See "Egypt's Sinai problem and ours"]

Since then, there has been a new set of Sinai developments to absorb. Under the headline “Islamist gunmen kill three Egyptian policemen in the Sinai | Assailants ambush cops in El-Arish, shout ‘God is great,’ then flee“, a Times of Israel report says “suspected Islamic militants” carried out an ambush in the northern Sinai today, Saturday, murdering three Egyptian policemen.

The gunmen pulled in front of a police vehicle in an unmarked truck in the area’s main city of El-Arish, before standing up on the truck bed and opening fire, the officials said. They then raised a black flag associated with jihadis and shouted “God is great.” Intelligence officials said the suspects then sped off. The head of security in northern Sinai, Ahmed Bakr, confirmed that three policemen were killed in the Saturday attack. The incident was the most serious since terror cells killed 16 Egyptian security personnel in an attack near the Egypt-Israel-Gaza border in August. Since then, the government of President Mohammed Morsi has moved to try to quash the cells in the unstable Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel. [More]

Even before that terror attack, Britain’s Foreign Office had issued an elevated terror threat level warning for the Sinai on Friday. The British are advising against all but essential travel to the peninsula. They say [according to Daily News Egypt] that ”the terror threat level has risen from ‘general’ to ‘high’ in response to a number of incidents in the Sinai.  There are also reports that police in the Sinai thwarted a terrorist plot organised by Al-Qaeda last week.”

The Wall Street Journal happens to have run a serious investigative article on Friday dealing with events behind the scenes in Sinai, and focusing on El-Arish, scene of today’s shootings. WSJ’s Matt Bradley writes

["Makeshift Islamic Courts Fill Void in the Sinai"] about the Sinai phenomenon of “a fast-expanding network of unofficial courts meting out Islamic law” in Egyptian Sinai.

“The rise of such Shariah courts is one measure of just how far the remote Sinai Peninsula has drifted from Cairo’s orbit and into the hands of fundamentalists intent on imposing a strict form of religious order.

The revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak and his secular-leaning regime early last year emptied this vast desert region of police and most normal government services, leaving a rush of kidnappings, smuggling and terrorism in its wake.

Partly filling the justice void are judges such as Sheikh Abu Faisal, who punish offenders with fasting periods instead of prison sentences and levy fines paid in camels rather than cash…

Shariah courts have a centuries-long presence in Sinai as arbitrators over small disputes in which contesting parties agree to follow the judges’ verdicts, say legal experts and local politicians.

But since the revolution, and with the election of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, that system of mixed tribal and religious justice has begun to expand its role…

The Shariah judges’ expanding ambitions threatened state sovereignty in the mostly rural Sinai Peninsula, a regional flash point bordering Israel and the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip…

The government tolerates but doesn’t monitor the Shariah courts, said Ministry of Judiciary spokesman Ibrahim Abdel Khaleq. While Cairo hasn’t acted to tamp them down, Mr. Khaleq said their expansion “could be dangerous” if they challenge state authority…

Some legal activists in Cairo said they were concerned about the proliferation of Shariah courts in Sinai because of their radical outlook.

They offer no appeals, women’s testimony holds half the weight of men’s and some Shariah judges, including Sheik Beek, say they hope one day to impose Islamic hudud – punishments such as stoning for adultery and cutting off the hands of thieves.”

Al Arabiya’s coverage of today’s El-Arish terrorist killings points out what all of this implies for Israel’s security and safety:

“On September 8, an Egyptian official said there were about 225 tunnels in Sinai, 31 of which were destroyed. The tunnels are used to smuggle various kinds of products into the besieged Gaza Strip and the Egyptian authorities have often turned a blind eye to the cross border activity. Efforts to impose central authority in the lawless desert region are complicated by the indigenous Bedouin population’s ingrained hostility to the government in Cairo.”

Israel’s security establishment does not need much reminding of how easily and quickly the south can heat up and cause very serious problems.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Love And Fear…Of Food

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Some of us climb a scale each day in terror and dread. Some of us alight a scale, with our hearts thumping and throats tightening. We may know how to jump off and on, or gyrate this way or that to create a different number. And we will stare at that all important number – which could very well dictate our mood for the rest of the day. We believe the final number to be the true judge of our worth – of how well we are doing. And we are sorry that the scale could not be fooled.

I try not to think back to those obsessive weighing-in days. Yes, I am not as slender as I was back then. Yes, I still have days where I feel very large, and need to remind myself that I am much more than a dress size. One day I discovered other ways to monitor size, and my scale lost its power over me. No longer was my self-worth tied to random blinking numbers. I bravely abandoned the scale that was my companion most of my youth and put it away. I learned about a whole world that did not revolve around food plans and rigid choices. I learned that food could be my friend, and I could enjoy it based on my tastes and likes. I learned that my body actually knows when food is necessary, and that I could trust my hunger. I realized that G-d wants us to eat and enjoy, instead of feeling tortured when faced with tasty food.

Eating is a constant, and we ought to notice what it is we consume. What am I choosing to eat at this moment? Do I eat with abandon, or with awareness? Am I even enjoying the food? Am I making my blessings properly, before and after a meal or snack, expressing to G-d how grateful I am for these choices?

I think of a friend, a mentor from my days in New York. She was a truly special woman who not only raised a large family, but had also begun to have grandchildren. Then she succumbed to an awful illness and quickly was gone. The first thought I had then upon hearing the news was “but she never got to be as thin as she wanted.” Yet, G-d took her. Her time was up.

What if we spend our all our waking moments mourning over an extra morsel of cake? What if we regret our food decisions each time we make them? What if we don’t see what we’ve become?

All of us are expert calorie counters. We know all the labels, and can recite the calories fat and carbs of each item. Our generation is truly more educated than any other about food, and the consequences of eating poorly. Even young children have jumped on the food bandwagon, and can rattle off the fat contents and calories. We have the knowledge to make better choices.

It is good to be aware, to be sure we are not eating recreationally, to fill time, but rather that we are reaching for food based on our internal hunger signals. I wonder, though, do we focus equally on our spiritual progress?

The High Holidays are just a few weeks behind us. We have been judged by the one true Judge – and we made promises and resolutions. The real world, the real judgement of our worth, lies entirely in our behaviors and choices. Good intentions are nice, but only valuable if we make them concrete with action. G-d does not care about the number on the scales; He does not care how much we weigh. However, He does care about how we treat our mothers and fathers. He will measure the nuances of our speech around our coworkers and how we act when we are behind the steering wheel.

Am I spending all my waking moments mourning over something I ate that was high in calorie? Am I noticing how I look or who I have become? Do I appreciate the gift of what I do have? Do I truly revel in the present, appreciating life? Do I count my blessings or my calorie consumption?

Contemplating the Divine Together

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

We live on the first floor of a Netanya apartment building, which means that our living room panorama window overlooking the street below is about 15 feet high.

Our girl cat, Lightening, sits in the window much of the day, basking in our Mediterranean sun. She wasn’t for the move to Israel initially, but by now she’s very happy, grooms regularly and even put on some weight.

When I come home from shul Shabbat morning, around 10:30-11:00, I walk up the paved path from the street and whistle at Lightening and she recognizes me. She stiffens up, shocked at the notion that someone who is usually inside the house is now, by some unexplained miracle of science, on the other side of things.

Then she calls back, arches her back and rushes to the door to greet me. When I open the door, she’s there, demanding a thorough back scratch (and tummy).

She’s a lot like a dog that way.

But while dogs worship their masters, I believe Lightening sees me as an equal, who is sometimes frustrating when he doesn’t get what she’s asking for.

And I believe that this picture, of a cat davening alongside his co-equal, proves my point.

Jewish Contractor in Cuban Jail May Have Tumor

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Jailed Jewish-American contractor Alan Gross may have a cancerous tumor that needs to be treated, his lawyer said.

Gross has an unidentified mass behind his right shoulder, according to reports. Cuban doctors declared the mass to be a hematoma that would reabsorb over time.

CT and ultrasound scans of the mass conducted by the Cuban doctors were sent to Gross’ lawyers in the United States.

“Gross has a potentially life-threatening medical problem that has not been adequately evaluated to modern medical standards,” U.S. radiologist Dr. Alan Cohen said in a statement released by Gross’ attorney Jared Genser.

Cohen said in his statement that Gross should be treated at a U.S. hospital and that the mass should be biopsied. A “soft tissue mass in an adult who has lost considerable weight must be assumed to represent a malignant tumor unless proven to be benign,” the doctor said, according to Reuters.

Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the state.” He was arrested in 2009 for allegedly bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.

Last month, a Cuban Foreign Ministry official rejected claims by Gross’ wife, Judy, that Gross was in ill health, and also said Cuba was willing to negotiate his release with U.S. officials, reportedly in exchange for five Cuban spies, four of whom remain in jail in the U.S.

Gross reportedly has lost more than 100 pounds since his arrest and his family says he is suffering from degenerative arthritis. His mother is dying and one of his daughters has cancer.

Use Fish not Chicken for Kaparot

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Thousands of Orthodox Jews are preparing to swing live chickens over their heads before Yom Kippur, symbolically transferring their sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor for consumption. This practice is called ‘Kapparot,’ which literally means “atonement.”

Using fish, money or chickens are acceptable methods of performing this expiation ritual. Using a live creature has the impact of allowing one to appreciate his or her own life and the life of the animal. A deep appreciation for animal life is fostered by seeing an animal slaughtered so that man can survive.

This chicken swinging ritual is controversial both in terms of the practice potentially leading to animal cruelty and the view by many leading rabbinical authorities that the practice should be avoided because of its superstitious nature.

Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Code of Jewish Law, called the practice “heathen, foolish and superstitious.” Other Rabbis especially Kabbalists like Rabbi Isaac Luria encouraged the practice of using a live creature for Kapparot.

Another common objection to the practice is based on the Jewish principle that one is forbidden to engage in tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (causing unnecessary pain to animals). While the ritual itself does not necessitate animal cruelty, the pragmatic outcome may result in the unnecessary suffering of chickens:

Because modern kapparot chickens are trucked into the city from long distances, often in open trucks exposed to the weather and without adequate food or water, the question of … cruelty to animals …. has become an … issue. The birds may also suffer while they are being handled for sale or during the ceremony, because many urban Jews are unfamiliar with the proper, humane way to hold a chicken. (Which should be with a hand above and one below the bird, supporting the weight of the body, not held with the wings painfully pinned back, as is done at some kapparot centers.) In some places in Israel and the United States, chickens are sold on street corners for this ceremony, and not every merchant takes proper care of his chickens during this period. The birds are frequently cooped up in baskets, and some merchants neglect to give them sufficient food or water. In some cases, the caged chickens have been left out in the rain or under the hot sun with no shade or shelter, or simply abandoned in warehouses and left to starve if not sold in time for the ceremony.

Notions of animal cruelty do not apply to fish under Jewish law, so by using a fish for the Kapparot ritual one would avoid causing unnecessary pain to an animal yet still have the benefit of using a live creature for the ritual. Jewish law does not recognize fish as an animal for the purposes of animal cruelty laws. (See Beis Yehudah ביור”ד סימן י” where all opinions say you can cut a piece of fish when it is alive and no one says it is tsa’ar ba’alei chaim. Therefore it must be that there is no tsa’ar ba’alei chaim for Fish). Also ritual slaughter does not apply to fish, therefore it is understood that fish don’t experience the same kind of pain as an animal.

Another advantage of using a fish is that you avoid the concerns of rabbinical authorities that were critical of using chickens. At the same time you are respecting those authorities that said Kapparot should be done on a live creature.

Chickens are required to be slaughtered in a particular method for them to be deemed kosher. In contrast, fish do not require a particular method of slaughter, so by using fish you offset the concerns of the animal being rendered non-kosher due to an improper slaughter procedure.

At this Yom Kipur’s Kapparot, consider using a live fish instead of a live chicken. You will avoid potential animal cruelty under Jewish law. You will be respecting Halachic authorities that were critical of using chickens while also respecting those that encouraged doing the procedure on a live creature. You will also avoid concerns that your animal was slaughtered improperly. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Butter Lovers, Rejoice – Hebrew U Study Shows High-Fat Could Lower Weight

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Lovers of butter, rejoice – eating a high-fat diet on a schedule may keep you svelter than eating a low-fat diet at random intervals, according to a researcher at Hebrew University.

Professor Oren Froy of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment department posits that regularly scheduling meals regulates metabolism and reduces weight gain.

The results were published in the academic journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Mice fed a high-fat diet on a fixed schedule for 18 weeks gained less weight than counterparts fed either a low-fat diet on a fixed schedule, a low-fat diet on no schedule, and a high-fat diet on no schedule.

Additionally, the high-fat eaters seemed to metabolize what they ate better, rather than storing the fat in their bodies.

According to Froy, the findings reveal the importance of timing food consumption as a way of preventing obesity.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/butter-lovers-rejoice-hebrew-u-study-shows-high-fat-could-lower-weight/2012/09/12/

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