Walking in Beautiful Places

I don’t know what goes on in your head, I can only (attempt to) tell you what goes on in mine.

I enjoy everything, and I feel happy. I love being young, and my entire existence feels light and silly. In the same moment, I feel profoundly isolated. I disappoint myself, and I’m disappointed by others. I ruminate and dwell on things that I could probably change but don’t. I feel uncalm, yet strangely unfazed. I’m just watching IT happen, and IT is (for the most part) awesome.

Night time shore walks bring me stillness, especially in the colder months. Usually, I’m  there alone – little Dorit versus the entire ocean and world. I’m tormented by the most intense loneliness and sadness. I’m humbled and silent and reminded of my insignificance.

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Yes, I got soaked. 

Then, suddenly, it all feels like the greatest gift. I have to let it wash over me or I’ll burst. I feel almost unbearably grateful to be living the best possible life at the best possible time. The world is great, and its begging me to make it even better. I can’t be stopped (possibly because I’m having a manic episode?). It’s beautiful and special to feel all of these feelings.

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Night time skyline walks can have a similar effect. 

Then I start to feel that I’m crazy. Then I start to feel that I’m sane. Too sane. Maybe the last sane person walking on earth.

My regular walk takes about three to four hours, during which time the ocean regularly lights a fire under my ass. I write short stories in my head (usually about murder) and I think about how the world will end. I’m never very interested in the plot. I like to play with the sentences and scenes, and I text myself the favorites. Later, I’ll adapt them to whatever context.

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Isn’t this shit special?

When I walk all alone late at night, I feel unpleasant things.

I’d love a friend to talk to, but if one came along, I have a feeling I might lie and say I have plans. I need to leave the world regularly, and go to a beautiful place and just walk. Then when I come back, I can function (most of the time). The world is filled with incredible landscapes to walk through and appreciate.  It’s the greatest gift.

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Passing Over the Good Stuff

I’m Jewish. So … tonight we celebrate something weird.

First, we celebrate our emancipation from slavery in Egypt.  Not so weird.

Second, we celebrate that time when God decided to kill all of the first born sons of Egypt, sparing all the Jews. To tell us apart, God advises us Hebrews (and Shebrews) to spread blood all over our doors with a lamb shank. Then God goes on a GTA style killing spree, “Passing Over” the first born Jewish boys and killing only the gentiles. How nice.

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Herman’s face when I told him God only spared the Jewish puppies.

Let’s Talk About Food

…Yada yada yada… God is weird, and here we are countless years later commanded to dine on salty eggs, horseradish, and flavorless crackers the size of large plates.  Score one for God in the WTF department.

No matter what we’re commemorating, the story eventually gets lost as culture and tradition (AKA FOOD) take the spotlight.

…At some point God killed all the Egyptian babies and then we spent some years wandering in the dessert. Is it so wrong to suggest that God’s killing spree and the act of eating chocolate matzoh until your stomach explodes are tenuosly connected, at best?

Passover versus Passover

Holidays are a nice time to eat together with family and friends. They can also derail your weight loss efforts, or provide a convenient excuse for days of overeating.  For many, there is the added pressure of relatives who insist you “have a little more.”

Passover, in particular, is not known for the delicious food. Due to the many food restrictions  that apply during this seven day period, we eat many specialized foods that are only available during this time of year. We might even justify eating vast quantities of “Kosher for Passover” desserts even if we don’t normally eat desserts, and even if those desserts don’t taste very good. We’re only human, and the “limited time only” aspect gets us. Every time.

But ultimately, the choice is yours! There are TWO WAYS you can use the word “Passover” at feast tonight.

Option one: Passover the [Insert food item here]

In this case, you want to consume a comestible, but it is across the table. Examples include:

  • “Hey you – Passover the macaroons”
  • “Grandma, could you Passover the salt please?”
  • “Would anyone mind Passing over that flourless dessert?”

Option two: Passing over [insert poor food choice here].

In this case, you pass over a second helping, or even a first helping of a most likely gross tasting Passover dessert. Examples include:

  • “Eh – I’ve already had enough tsimis. I’ll pass over that second helping.”
  • “Oh, thank you. But I’ll pass on the chocolate matzoh.  Look at all this yummy fruit.”

_____________

All of this is just a long-winded way of getting to a few fairly obvious points.

  1. Eventually, everything turns into an excuse to eat food. If you don’t have an excuse to eat more than you should, you will find one.
  2. That’s OK – it’s our human nature to feast. Humans like feasting, and that’s OK. You can let go every once in a while on a holiday. No one gets fat because of one Passover meal.
  3. On the other hand, the choice is yours. If you don’t want to make the hard sacrifices that fitness often requires, that’s fine. But recognize that the choice is yours. Don’t say “oh today’s not a good day to diet – it’s Passover.” You can make good choices at Passover, or you can make bad choices at Passover. No one is holding you down to the chair and force-feeding you lamb shanks. Unless of course, someone is holding you down to the chair and force-feeding you lamb shanks.
  4. You can politely decline. Jewish people want to feed you. But you are in control of what goes in your mouth. It’s nice if you try a little bit of things that people cook, and show some appreciation. But it’s also nice for people to respect your choices. You can politely decline whatever you don’t want to eat, and that won’t make you a heathen. If it offends people, oh well. That’s their problem – unless you make it your problem.

To me, most Passover food tastes as weird as its origin story. So I’d rather not overeat at the Passover table.

I don’t think God likes gluttony, and I don’t think it’s important to him that you overeat. I  believe that God favors those who take steps towards their own self-actualization and happiness.

Is a little overeating on a holiday OK? Sure.
Is a lot of overeating on a holiday OK? Sure.

Everything is OK, provided that you are making the choice that YOU want to make.

As for me? I’ll be “passing over” some things, and taking second second helpings of others.

Happy Feasting.

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Lara Bars

Aside from the kind you get wasted in, I’m not the biggest fan of bars. By that I mean, I don’t (generally) eat:

  • Protein and/or Weight Loss bars
  • Cereal and/or Nut bars
  • Nutrigrain bars
  • Fiber One bars
  • Quest bars
  • Isagenix bars
  • etc etc etc bars
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I’ll make an exception for these crummy things

Reasoning

  1. Taste. Many bars taste like chemicals.
  2. Calories vs. Satiety Some of these bars have a ton of calories for just a few bites. Even those bars high in protein don’t seem to satisfy me.
  3. Ingredients. I try to stick to whole foods. Many bars have too many weird ingredients.
  4. Expense. Bars tend to be pretty expensive for what they are.

Lara Bars

Lara Bars are fruit & nut bars advertised as “food made from food.” They are one of the only bars that I eat. And even these, I don’t eat often.

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Here is what they look like before I eat them. 

What I like about Lara Bars:

  • Made from whole foods. Take, for example, the Banana Bread flavor. It has only three ingredients: bananas, dates, and almonds
  • They are vegan.
  • They taste awesome. My favorite flavors are Cherry Pie (3 ingredients) and Carrot Cake (9 ingredients)
  • Nutrition. Every flavor I’ve tried has had a great nutritional profile.

What I dislike about Lara Bars:

  • Calories. Most are around 200-ish calories.
  • Addicting. Maybe it’s me – but I find them slightly addicting.  Meaning, I could easily  eat five bars in one sitting. Not good!
  • Not always easy to find. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, and they often don’t have my favorite flavors.
  • Annoying website. Don’t even go on it, it’s not worth the agony.

In Sum

If you’re looking for a decent bar, a Lara Bar might be a good pick. Especially if you’re trying to avoid processed foods.

But be wary. I would never buy a box and keep it in the house: the temptation is too strong.

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Four Ways to Fight Apathy

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When I reached my highest weight, I felt nothing but apathy. It was as if every day was a cold rainy day, and I just didn’t want to get out of bed. At that time:

  • Getting into even decent shape seemed so far away that it felt more like a fantasy than an achievable goal; and
  • Getting into great shape was completely outside of the realm of possibilities.

The result? 

  • I fell into a complete state of apathy. And if things had gone a little differently, I might still be there today.
  • I wasted precious time dreaming of a fantasy transformation instead of slowly beginning to introduce the small changes that my body actually needed and wanted.

When does apathy strike?: 

Apathy tends to strike when the place where you WANT TO BE seems too far away from the place where you CURRENTLY ARE.

So naturally, you need to find ways to trick your brain into feeling:

  • that the road ahead of you isn’t so bad; AND
  • that you’re closer to where you want to be than you actually are.

Four Ways to Fight Apathy:

  1. Reduce your ambition. This seems counterintuitive, but it works. Try the “do one thing” rule
  2. Set SMALL Behavioral Goals. You can never control outcomes, but you can ALWAYS control behaviors. What is one SMALL behavior you can change every day for this entire week? Examples: have salad for lunch every day; do 50 crunches before bed; eat one probiotic food every day.
  3. Increase your motivation. See here.
  4. Chop up your outcome-based goals. To the extent you do focus on outcome-based goals, cut them up into bite sized chunks. This is important! See my post on Aiming for Eight.

What are some ways that you fight apathy?

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Body Shaming Boys: Wentworth Miller

When we think of body shaming, we usually think of lady-victims. But apparently, the internet knows no gender-limitations. Because the internet is a douche.

I don’t know who Wentworth Miller is, but apparently he’s British. He’s also an actor in a show called Prison Break. Whatever that is, it’s not The Walking Dead. And whoever he is, he’s not Rick Grimes. So immediately, my attention is lost.

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The only man I’ll ever love. 

In any event,  as if the indignity of not being Rick Grimes is not enough, Mr. Miller was recently the subject of a not-very-nice meme. It was about his weight, and Prison Break, and McDonalds. He came back with an epic response:

The Problem of the Internet

Sure, this IS an instance of body shaming. But it’s also a joke.

..It’s a joke at someone else’s expense. Which is never nice. But jokes are often mean. That’s why we make them. Jokes are aggressive. Should we expect the world stop making them?

I’m reminded of an episode of SpongeBob called “Squirrel Jokes.” Spongebob makes a killing telling jokes at Sandy the Squirrel’s expense. Sandy is sad, but Spongebob convinces her it’s no big deal. She concedes, until people (fish) begin treating her differently as a result of Spongebob’s act. Ultimately, she nearly kills Spongebob by purposely acting in a manner consistent with his caricature of her. Lesson learned!

The result? Spongebob doesn’t stop making fun of Sandy. Instead, he starts making fun of everyone. No one feels like the sole victim, and everyone is happy.

The problem of the internet is that unlike Spongebob and Sandy, Miller and whoever made this meme are not friends. The meme-maker is anonymous, and to him Miller is just a face – he doesn’t know anything about his personal struggle.

At the same time, Miller is a public figure, and he made himself that way.

Kudos to Miller for speaking out. He took this negative comment, and turned it into a platform to talk about depression and suicide. He OWNED this situation – and that’s the best you can do.

But at the same time, the internet is calling this body shaming.

..And I have to wonder – is this really comparable to the body shaming that women experience on the daily? Isn’t this more comparable to the telling of a not nice joke? It’s rude, and it’s hurtful. But is it really the same issue?

  • Body shaming, as it applies to AVERAGE sized women is generally perpetuated by the media, not by a random person on their computer.
  • While men are also expected to fit into certain standards, I can’t imagine anyone on the street looking at Miller in that state and calling him fat
  • If anything, it’s in the contrast – the before photo is so thin

It’s About Being Nice

Anonymous people on the internet will take any opportunity to make a joke, forgetting (or not caring) that the subject of their joke is a real human being who might be affected by it.

I don’t think this is necessarily about body shaming. I think it’s about living in a very weird and interesting time where people have a platform to comment on anything, and often use that platform in a mean way. So really it’s about a bigger message.

Who knows – Miller could have been perfectly thin and picking his nose. Maybe there would have been a different meme.

Most people who “liked” or shared this meme probably thought nothing of it. It was just a tiny moment in their day.

But this is a great reminder of a basic courtesy – don’t say things about other people that you wouldn’t want said about you. Because when it comes to the internet, there IS someone on the other side.

..And don’t “like” or share those things either. (Unless of course it’s REALLY funny).

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Deprivation Works. And Doesn’t.

dieta

Of course deprivation works!

What does it mean to lose fat? It means to burn fat because:

  • you are starving to death, and
  • you are not giving your body enough fuel to do the functions it needs to do

If you ARE getting enough fuel, then you’re NOT going to burn fat. There’s no magic. You’re just NOT going to burn fat without depriving your body of what it needs – fuel.

..And that’s why losing weight feels shitty. No matter how you do it.

You can lose weight:

  • Slowly, by eating SLIGHTLY LESS than you need over a long period of time;
  • Quickly, by eating FAR LESS than you need over a shorter period of time;  and/or
  • *Optional* by increasing your need for fuel by increasing your energy output (exercise) [slowly or quickly]

You can also:

  • Set yourself up for success by understanding habit formation;
  • Set yourself up for success by removing addictive foods from your diet and life (at least for a short period);
  • Set yourself up for success by understanding how willpower and motivation actually work.
  • Set yourself up for success by understanding the basics of appetite, and also becoming mindful of your appetite.
  • Set yourself up for success by understanding the basics of metabolism

Deprivation works to lose weight, NOT to maintain it.

I CAN’T lose weight slowly.  Healthy or not healthy – I just can’t do it. I spent 20+ years trying. I can’t deprive myself ‘slightly’ day after day for months, hoping to lose 1-2 pounds per week.  I can’t continue to eat a diet of processed foods, while counting calories. It just doesn’t work for me.  I can’t do it, and I won’t do it.

I CAN lose weight quickly through “RESPONSIBLE Deprivation.”  Here is what I CAN do:

  • lose weight (relatively) quickly in spurts, and *IMPORTANTLY* punctuate these periods with periods of maintenance.
  • use methods like intermittent fasting to lose weight
  • cut out processed foods that I find addicting for long periods of time during weight loss periods

I CAN’T maintain my weight through responsible deprivation. I CAN’T maintain my weight through:

  • counting calories,
  • cutting out food groups, and/or
  • dieting.

To me, that’s not a life – it’s too much deprivation. In the end, too much deprivation will cause me to gain weight.   To maintain my weight – I eat a mostly whole foods diet. Here is how I eat. My weight maintains itself:

  • mostly plants, most days (including starchy plants)
  • mostly whole foods, as little processed food as possible
  • watch my alcohol intake
  • never eat unless I’m hungry
  • lot’s of soups and salads

We need to separate “weight loss” from “maintenance.”

Weight loss is hard! Somewhere along the line, something got messed up and now you need to fix it. The only way to do that is by giving your body less fuel than it needs. And that’s fucking hard! Your body thinks it’s dying. So it’s best not to gain weight in the first place!  (duh!). 

..but once you do find yourself in a position where you need to lose weight, then forget the weight loss myths. Lose weight however you can, and forget the lies. Just be careful of the following:

  • don’t give yourself nutritional deficiencies
  • don’t give yourself electrolyte imbalances
  • don’t physically exert yourself while suddenly eating less
  • listen to your body

Weight maintenance should NOT be hard! 

Why? Because if weight maintenance is hard, you’ll gain the weight back. You can’t deprive yourself forever. You can only do it for short periods.

If maintaining weight is hard, that means you’re eating the wrong things. What are “wrong things”? “Wrong things” = foods meant to addict you aka processed foods.

Being Fit in an Unfit World

This post is largely an oversimplification.

But my point is this: many of the things you hear about weight loss are myths and fantasies.

When it comes to weight loss, do whatever you CAN do. Because weight loss is hard, and you need to fight this uphill battle in whatever way works for you. Just be careful not to hurt yourself, and be smart.

And once you lose weight, be mindful! You can’t deprive yourself forever, so you need a system for success.

My system is sticking (mostly) to foods that human beings are suppose to eat. This means avoiding things that come out of boxes, but enjoying these things in moderation to whatever extent I find reasonable.

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A Diet Pill State of Mind

Between the ages of 12 and 16, my friends and I use to hunt down 18 year old boys in the mall. And not because we wanted their AOL screen names. We needed someone with I.D. to buy us diet pills.

I suppose eighteen year old boys like prepubescent girls, because we scored plenty of pills. In all fairness, I got my first period by age 10, so by 13, I easily looked 45.

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me, aged 13

..Those poor chumps probably thought they were helping out some nice MILF or widow.

Specifically, I recall:

  • Stackers;
  • Stacker II’s; and
  • Slim Quick (aka “slim death.”)

The ingredient I sought most = ephedra. Especially when stacked with caffeine.

Even at that age, we knew that most diet pills were BS. We had experience, and we had the beginnings of the internet.

DNA helix inside pill capsules

“No snake oil pills for me, my friend. I have dial-up.” 

Stacker II (with ephedra) was my jam. It was the only real pill. You could tell by the involuntary hand tremors and headaches. And also by how quickly it was pulled of the market.

…No worries – you could still score travel size bottles of the original formula at unscrupulous news stands for about a year after it was pulled.

At some point during this time…

I’m in the car with my mom on a warm Spring day. We’re driving past the recreation center, and I’m telling her about these new chips I bought at CVS.  They’re called Lays WOW! Chips and they have so few calories that I’ll probably eat a few bags.

Mom tries one. They DO taste good. “Can you get me these if you see them at Sam’s Club?” I ask.

Lays Wow! Chips contained a magical ingredient called Olestra (aka Olean). Olestra is a fat substitute that adds zero calories to foods. Zero ! ZERO !!!!!!

 

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90’s Kids – do you remember these chips? 

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You might recognize them from the warning on the bag..

In exchange for zero calories, Olestra blocks essential vitamins and minerals from entering you. Essentially, eating these chips will give you malabsorption.

For optimists, this is excellent news. Why wait 30+ years to develop IBS, Chrohns, or bowel cancer? ..You can experience painful bloody stool within hours, no strings attached. In related news, here are Lays Wow! Chips topping off a list of Five Foods that Cause Anal Leakage. Arguably, this is not a list that any major food product should aspire to…

Let’s not miss the silver linings here. Low calories = good. Fatty taste = awesome. And while anal leakage sucks, it might contribute to even more weight loss!

A Diet Pill State of Mind

Why have I shared these two anecdotes together in one post? 

Well, riddle me this…

..In the epic quest for weight loss, does it really MATTER  whether you rely on death pills as opposed to POTATO CHIPS THAT OPENLY MAKE YOUR ASS BLEED?!

Really, these two stories are the same. They illustrate the 26 years I spent searching for a magical weight loss solution. And yet all of that time, beautiful, delicious, colorful whole foods were right under my nose.

The Diet Pill Mindset

These stories reflect what I call the “Diet Pill State of Mind.”
..And in my experience, it’s not a helpful mindset to have.

Does this mean that you absolutely MUST take a 100% whole foods based approach to weight loss? No! …It doesn’t mean anything.

I think you can lose weight fast, OR you can lose weight slow. You can lose weight:

  • doing paleo
  • doing weight watchers
  • drinking slim fast shakes
  • eating nothing but pickles
  • drinking your own urine
  • doing isogenix
  • eating nothing but three pretzels all day long for 17 days straight

I don’t know what the right thing is for you. Because:

  • I don’t know where you are starting,
  • I don’t know HOW you became overweight in the first place; AND
  • I don’t know what your goals are

I also believe that weight loss is very different from weight maintenance.

When it comes to weight loss, I say do what works for you. Who cares how crazy or stupid  it is, provided that:

  • it doesn’t give you nutritional deficiencies; and
  • it doesn’t give you an electrolyte imbalance ; and
  • it doesn’t kill you

BUT! When it comes to maintenance, you MUST get onto whole foods. You can’t waste your beautiful life dieting. You need to (mostly) eat foods that come from the earth.

Another Thing I know

As you can see, I don’t know much. But what I DO know is this: a diet pill state of mind was NOT helpful for me.

..I needed to get on to whole foods in order to experience what I believe humans beings are meant to experience when it comes to food and satiety.

Slowly ridding myself of processed foods was the ONLY thing that worked for me. And I hope you find what works for you.

Here are a few articles that might help:

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