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There’s Got To Be Another ‘Weigh’

I just don’t get it.

Why do people cope with post-feast remorse by determining how much they weigh?

It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with this practice. I know plenty about hopping on the scale as the last flames flicker from the havdalah candle after the Sabbath to validate the belief that no one gains weight on foods eaten purely in honor it. Sure enough, this futile effort would prompt yet another commitment for the following Sabbath to regard that second (or third) (or fourth) indulgence of my famous Reese’s Chocolate Oat Bars as even more of a sacred experience.

Then one day, my frustration reached its limit: Each visit to the scale was bad news. Even when I lost weight, it was never enough.

I know I’m not the only one disillusioned by my scale. I once attended a weight loss meeting when the leader asked about our motivation to lose weight, to which one participant responded, “I knew it was time to do something when I stepped on my talking scale and it said, ‘One person at a time, please.’ ”

Even exercise left me in a quandary. How could it be that I ran for a mile twice each week on the treadmill without even losing an ounce (even though it was being exchanged for an extra helping of my favorite foods)? And if swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales???

Through life-changing events, including many frustrating moments where I was ready to give up, I finally found my way out of the world of weight loss lunacy and into a new life devoted to a healthier lifestyle, no matter what I weigh. The details of how I managed to lose all the weight slowly and naturally and keep it off for the past five years are for another time (stay tuned).

Wisdom In My Inbox:
After an exhaustive review of the research literature, here’s the final word on nutrition and health:
1. Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
2. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
3. Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
4. Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
5. Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

What is important to note, however, is my discovery that a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to wait until next week or even tomorrow. It can start right now, at our next meal. And what’s a better motivation than our precious girls at the Home, who are planning their own nutritional meals at this very moment.

On all levels, not just emotional, our loving staff persuades the girls to believe in their own unique potentials. The younger girls are encouraged to enjoy the outdoor playground which was donated by our dear friend Alison Hyman of Irvine, California. Everyone is anticipating the indoor gym that will allow even more physical activity for all the girls in the form of organized sports and other outlets.

Although exercise is crucial, even more alarming is the degree to which some of our girls use food to cope with their emotional wounds. With some weighing in as much as 250 pounds, it was obvious that the girls needed to internalize a new understanding of how their choice to seek solace in junk food was destroying their health.

This prompted the staff to draft and introduce a program to raise awareness of nutrition and weight management. Bracha Runes, the Program Director at the Home, is happy to report the girls’ enthusiasm for the program. As they enter the third week, they have modified some behaviors and are achieving weight loss success as a result. (The staff is careful to monitor the girls’ weight loss to determine that it is healthy, slow and steady.)

So far, 12 girls have benefited from the program, which is costing 6,000 shekel (about $2,000) each month. Special foods are prepared and even though the staff has implemented a rudimentary exercise program, the girls still need treadmills, exercise bikes and other sports machines for maximum health.

Bracha is inspired at the girls’ efforts to achieve their goals.

My friend, I know it’s not easy, believe me. I went through months of what I thought were insurmountable challenges just to change one habit. But if I could do it, and especially, if these girls from troubled pasts can do it, then all of us possess an inherent ability to make changes to benefit our health and other areas of our lives, no matter our circumstances. All that’s needed is a burning desire to fulfill a dream, to make our future better than we could have ever imagined.

A common refrain I hear is that there’s simply no time to exercise or plan healthy options. Yet if we think about it, how would we rather spend our time? Working to protect our health or trying to recover from the fallout and dangers of being overweight? I still remember making the conscious choice of chopping vegetables and spending as much time as possible preparing healthy foods rather than spending even five minutes at the podiatrist dealing with heel spurs that formed from carrying too much weight.

So weigh your own options! And please keep me posted – I’d love to know what you discover.

Wishing you a great day and hoping we can share a bright and healthy future,

Rachel Weinstein
Director of Development


  1. Shimon Paley

    Dear Rachel,

    This is actually an area I’m very familiar with. I’ve lost about 200 lbs. in the past two years and have learned a good deal of simple things that make a huge difference over time.

    Here is a list that I’ve tried to put in order of priority;

    1. No carbonated beverages or alcohol;

    Contrary to the claims that drinking diet sodas will help reduce, they actually help increase weight by expanding the stomach and the empty feeling that it creates makes us feel hunger, even as we are eating. Alcohol even in small amounts slows down the metabolism and takes a fair amount of sugar to create the fermentation process (I was in charge of Cheder Yayin when I was in Ulpan at Kibbutz Yavne, so I know the process), along with the natural sugar in grapes, it needs to be avoided if someone really wants to lose weight.
    2. Smaller plates:
    A lot of our the hunger response is visual and a full small plate is much more physiologically satisfying than a larger plate with the same portion of food.

    3. Slow down;
    Put your fork down between bites of food, too often in modern society we treat it like a shovel a put food in our mouths before we are really done getting down the first bite of food. In general, Europeans weigh close to half of what Americans weigh, even eating relatively the same diet, because they are much, much slower than Americans in throwing food into their stomachs. They take about twice as long to eat a meal and weigh about half. Hmmm… It is almost like the two things might be connected.

    4. Walking:
    I walk twice a day to Shul even when a ride is available. I’ve stopped taking elevators and walk both directions on the stairs. Walking is pretty much ideal because we get motion without extreme pressure on the joints and circulatory system.

    5. Don’t Isolate;
    Hiding because we aren’t happy about our bodies will only increase depression. I’ve set a goal of asking a certain number of people each day how they are doing. It isn’t enough just to greet other people, to get beyond isolation you have to actually reach out and hold at least a small conversation. This has become truly difficult for me because of all the radiation I’ve had for the cancers, germs are more of a threat to me than they would be to others. So, Pikuach Nefesh, I need to maintain some distance to avoid getting yet another life-threatening infection. I’ve increasingly used the internet to maintain what is for me a safe social life, but I still go to Shul and Cancer Support Groups to keep from being isolated.

    Of course, there are many more things a person has to do to not just lose some weight, but keep it off, but from my experiences these are top changes that need to happen if a person is serious about not just losing weight, but maintaining a healthier weight.

    Anyone who has questions about my experiences or is looking for an opinion from someone who as been-there-done-that, is welcome to write me at; paleyshimon@hotmail.com or my more commonly used email at; paleyshawn@yahoo.com

    May HaShem Bless all the girls with Health, Beauty, Grace and All Good Things.

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Shawn (Shimon) Paley

  2. Itzhak Rosen

    here’s a thought: eeat right for six days and take a break on the sewventh. You’ll notice that after a while, the need for junk food is reduced and slowly extinguished b/c it just doesn’t taste the same.

    for those who are super-impulsive, suggest they wait 5 seconds before downing a nosh and as they achieve success increase the waiting period to 10, 20, 30 secs and eventually five minutes or so. By that time, the healthy ego will take over to prevent gorging.

    ps: this works well with many developmentally disabled young adults with whom I work

    1. Rachel Weinstein

      Itzhak –

      Thanks so much for you input. I totally agree: After a while of refraining from sugary foods, they just don’t have the same appeal or taste. In fact, I found that, at this point, if I indulge in even a small amount of sugar, I sometimes end up with a headache as a result.

      I like your idea of waiting before we eat. Lucky for us, we have the added requirement of blessings before our food, so we already have a cause to pause and think about what we’re eating and where it all comes from.

      Great hearing from you and much success in your work!


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