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Beating Kevin

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

I think it is safe to say that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I can travel (unlike many Jewish holidays), I don't have to host (thanks to my generous and organized mother-in-law, Carol), and I don't have to deliver a sermon!!!

BUT it has all of the the food pitfalls of all of the other holidays. Even though I don't eat Turkey (gobble gobble), I do usually have to loosen my belt or wear something with an elastic waist band on T-day. Here is the quicksand I usually find myself in during this sumptuous holiday:

1. If I don't eat, _______________, it's not Thanksgiving. What is your fill-in-the-blank? Pumpkin pie? Pecan pie (drooling, glahhhrg). Stuffing (glahhhrg again). When I wasn't a vegetarian, my favorite was a fork prepared with three items all stacked on my tongs ready to invade my mouth in this order, Turkey-Stuffing-cranberry sauce (regretting vegetarianism right now). Somehow the food makes the holiday. Will I feel satisfied without my favorites?

2. I'm enjoying myself and want to add to the pleasure with various caloric and delicious accoutrement like wine and deviled eggs.... mmmmm, mayonnaise goodness. Oooh, ooh, I just remembered the biscotti that my hubby's cousin makes. TO DIE FOR. As I said last week, sugar loves sugar, and pleasure loves pleasure, so I end of wanting to marbim besimcha, increase my joy with joyous foods.

3. I'm feeling anxious. There is something about seeing family that you only encounter once a year that makes you defend yourself and life circumstances, even if it's just in your head. There must be some sort of ligament in my arm that is attached to the area in my brain for small talk because I end up mindlessly shoving forkfuls of stuffing in my pie hole every time I answer questions about what it's like to be a rabbi on Long Island. In reality, I should be stuffing it in my stuffing hole, but that is neither here nor there.

4. I don't want to hurt anyone's feeling by not eating their food. Does this sound familiar, "honey, just try a sliver for Grandma Silvia (note there is no Grandma Silvia in my life)." Even if it is not explicitly said, you still don't want to hurt imaginary or real feelings, by "ignoring" someone's dish whose stove must be very hot because they were slaving over it. I end up over eating because I don't want to hurt other people's feelings. What about my feelings??

5. Leftovers. Leftovers. Leftovers. You end up eating the same foods again and again.

OK OK. Now that the pitfalls have been discussed, here are some SURVIVAL TIPS. Thanks to my meeting for inspiring many of these ideas:

1. Don't starve yourself the day of. Being ravenous only leads you to eat more later on. Eat a small, but substantial enough, meal like an omelet or yogurt with nuts.

2. If there is nothing "on plan" for you to eat at your meal, bring a dish that will make you satisfied and proud of yourself. You are worth the effort and most hosts will welcome some extra help.

3. Eat your main meal on a salad plate. This small swap actually works and you end up eating less. If you go back for seconds it's still less than if you ate on those platters we call plates.

4. Remember that when you say YES to someone else, you are saying NO to yourself. We deserve YES too (thanks for this tip, Stacey).

5. How to say YES to yourself in constructive ways: Treat yourself to something just for you that morning or the day before. I go out specifically to get a skinny vanilla latte that morning. It helps me get out of the house and the act of treating myself reminds me that when I say YES to myself in ways that are healthy and make me happy, I can make better choices later.

5. Move a little more:
 A. Add 5 minutes to your jog or walk that morning.
 B. In the middle of the meal, pause, and walk up and down the stairs a couple of times.
 C. Start a walking revolution. Invite other guests to walk around the block between the main meal and dessert. Don't forget to help clear first (Thanks, Joann for this tip)!

6. Keep your hands busy and have a special cup/drink that is no calorie, to inhibit your hands from picking.

7. Decide if you are willing to take a weight gain, a plateau, or if you want to lose. Everyone else will have different goals. If you're good with a weigh gain, how much? To each, his or her own and if Thanksgiving is your absolute FAV then maybe you're good with a bigger number on the scale. You can recover and rededicate the next day or next week.

8. Give away, throw away, or freeze leftovers. 'Nuff Said

I have now shared all of my wisdom and have none left. I hope you leave your meals feeling satisfied. Some people say that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.  Not my favorite saying. On Thanksgiving, the food tastes pretty damn good. But being satisfied with your choices and having control is glorious.

Perhaps we could say, "nothing tastes as good as being proud of yourself feels."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sugar Loves Sugar

I heard this phrase, "sugar loves sugar," from a woman in my meeting and I understood right away. You have a crazy hankering for something sweet. You pop a weight watchers bar in your mouth, thinking it will do the trick, but it doesn't. You chug some diet coke, go into the freezer and chip away at frozen chocolate cake. Suddenly you have consumed an entire bag of kettle corn popcorn and you finally wake up. Something stops you finally and you only wish that this sudden halt would have happened an hour ago. 

SUGAR LOVES SUGAR. Eating something sweet just leads you down the rabbit hole. This isn't to say that this is always true, sometimes (when?) one Hershey Kiss is enough (what am I saying?). But often we find ourselves sliding down that slippery slope. And we have blown our extra weekly points and feel so out of control that we might as well not even calculate the damage. 

It reminds me of a teaching from Pirkei Avot: "Mitzvah goreret mitzvah, aveirah goreret aveirah." Doing one mitzvah leads you to another. Doing one sin leads you to another." A sense that you get seduced and it opens a door within you. 

The same is true of mindful acts to take care of yourself. Do one and you feel more inclined to do another. Intentionally get out of the subway one stop early and walk a little more. Buy a type of fruit this week that you have never tried. Eat dinner with a beautiful place setting and make dinner an experience. It's amazing how one act can lift you from an eating fog. We often think that weight loss requires major changes, but in truth its just a little decision right now that can shift our behavior. 

And what if we find ourselves down the rabbit hole, 60 points later? Should we just give up that day or the week, thinking "I can't lose this week anyway, why bother?" It is so easy and natural to think this way. One of my previous leaders said, if you broke one egg in a carton, would you go ahead and break the other 11? Of course not! So why not just change our thinking, forgive ourselves, learn something and then move on. 

Sugar may love sugar, but self care also loves self care. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

For Your Sake

“Our master taught:  Every person should have two pockets.  In one pocket should be a piece of paper saying:  “I am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27).  In the other pocket should be a piece of paper saying:  “For my sake was the world created” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

I'm focussing on those times when you need the 2nd note.

You ever have one of those days where you feel like everything you say is wrong or unintelligent? We have the most irrational thoughts on these days. We tell ourselves no one loves us, that we are ugly, undesirable, that if people really knew us, they would run the other direction. We forget what happen is feels like and we are 90% sure we will never feel that way again.

OY it's hard to be human.

It's on those days when we are searching for something or someone to take away that pain, to say to us, “ I know you and the world was created for your sake, this moment was created for your sake.” We are lucky when we have people who know us well and make us feel so loved. To be honest, I strive for that kind of self love independent of who or what is around me. So that I am master of my own happiness. Sometimes it works. Often it doesn't. It's really hard. We often don't have the right back up to combat those feelings. And they would come on a way. So we feel that pain and turn to something soothing. Everyone has a different poison. Something to fill the void left behind this feeling of worthlessness.

It's strange that on those days we can't remember the feeling we have had of satisfaction. Wouldn't it be great if we could bottle that sensation? This is what commercials and packaging do. They try and convince us that whatever they want us to consume will make us feel like a million bucks. It won't. We will be momentarily distracted. Sometimes we need a little distraction but maybe one that is less fattening. I remember a meeting where a leader suggested hugging a teddy bear or calling a friend. We can distract with healthier options, but even too many frozen grapes can lead to a weight gain.

The question is, how do you shift from thinking you are dust and ashes to thinking that the world was created for your sake? Therapy is always a good choice. Good friends help. I think this is a lifelong battle for most of us. Not a switch that can be flipped. But there are things we can do to strengthen the self love muscle. Little gestures to ourselves can help remind us that the world was created for our sake.

I heard in a meeting that a woman goes out of her way to make herself feel special by drawing a bath. Another woman gets her nails done. A shopping trip or sitting down and making an elaborate meal just for yourself with a place setting and a rose. A deliberate act of saying to yourself, “you are worth the effort.” These are the notes in the pocket that say to us, “ the world was created for your sake.” Maybe we need to make a literal note that says this!  I envision a t-shirt with this printed or a pretty sign that is sold in Ace Hardware for your kitchen, right next to the sign that says, “I cook with wine and sometimes I even add it to the food.”

We spend so much time making others feel loved. Let's steal a little back and devote it to ourselves. We can also take a break and realize that even this feeling will pass and we will feel satisfied and strong again. Know what note you need at what time and don't be afraid to pull it out. It's not a luxury to make yourself feel good. It is a necessity. The right note at the right time. We’re worth it. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Leaning in

I survived the High Holidays! With a little bit of distance and reflection I can say that there was something different this year.  There was an dynamic energy in the room, a rhythm, a different vibe. Even my own prayers were more deeply expressed and felt. 

With my 30th birthday falling out on Yom Kippur, I would have expected the opposite. Fasting is enough to bring your energy down, but celebrating a birthday without cake or the usual fan fare can get you depressed.  As I've expressed before in this blog, this birthday also comes with tension. These big milestones cause us to not only celebrate, but also to grieve years behind us we will never be able to revisit and ask big questions. This tension really challenged me to do a deeper cheshbon hanefesh, soul searching. Elul, the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah, we are charged with confronting the decisions we have made. Couple that with another decade behind me and my cheshbon hanefesh was in full force, asking: What have I accomplished? Who have I become? What do I want the future to look like? I was living the tension, breathing it and running full force into it.

Coincidentally or not coincidentally,  I am also at my lowest weight (not just because of the fast, ladies and gentlemen!) This got me wondering, what is the relationship (if there is any) between "leaning in" (thank you Sheryl Sandberg) instead of ignoring tension and success at the scale?

This question really gets at how we deal with hard emotions in general: panic, anxiety, frustration, disappointment and boredom.You know what I'm talking about. Let's pretend you just wrote an entire blog entry (ahem) and it got lost (ahem) twice... (ahem), and you instinctively pop a brownie in your mouth without even realizing it. I can remember preparing for a big presentation the night before and getting so worked up that I began rummaging through my pantry and consumed the remains of a delicious eggy Zomicks Challah. Mmmmm..... Sweet sweet pillowy challah. Focus. This quick mindless snack soothes, distracts, and allows us to momentarily get our minds off of what is causing us tension. The issue is that we are left with the same problem after we're done chewing and we're making it harder for ourselves to control our eating.
So, what do you do? Lately I have been naming the emotion, literally saying out loud, "I am panicked because..." Naming the feeling doesn't remove the pain but it does allow it to settle with less frenzy.

I think of it like Adam in Genesis 2.  God needed a gardener and a zoo keeper for Eden so God makes Adam. What is Adam's first task? He names the animals. Naming something gives you some ownership over it, not to subdue it like Bereishit 1, but to be able to interact with it and call it to you. You become its master. Call the tension towards you instead of dodging it.

Weight loss is not only about food management and exercise. It's about the inner world of the individual. I know how many points are in a bagel. I don't need my meeting leader or friends for that. But each week, new challenges are sent my way and each week I need new inspiration, a different perspective, and refreshed commitment to help navigate the tension in my inner and outer life. Sometimes, when we lean into the tension, call it to us and don't let it wander our way, we not only feel more in control, but we feel more satisfied and we're willing to challenge ourselves and grow. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Al Chet: a Weight Watchers Confessional

During the High Holidays, Jews do sincere self assessment, cheshbon hanefesh and we confess our mistakes in the Al Chet prayer.  This is my Weight Watchers Al Chet:

For the mistake of Mindlessly eating
For the mistake of Thinking it's all about the # at the scale
For the mistake of Forgiving others and not myself
For the mistake of Allowing others to bully me into eating
For the mistake of Letting my emotions overrun my carefully laid out plan
For the mistake of Eating in front of the TV
For the mistake of Choosing Facebook over reparative sleep
For the mistake of Falling back into old habits 
For the mistake of Forgetting to return to what works
For the mistake of Not taking the first step
For the mistake of Thinking I was over my struggles with food
For the mistake of Not celebrating another's weight loss success because of my own jealousy
For the mistake of Throwing out the whole day for one blunder
For the mistake of Not translating a mistake into a learning opportunity
For the mistake of Saying I will start on Monday
For the mistake of Not loving myself
For the mistake of Avoiding the scale when I know I have a gain and don't want to face my disappointment
For the mistake of Impatience with myself
For the mistake of Skipping meetings
For the mistake of Losing sight of all I have accomplished
For the mistake of Eating when I'm not hungry
For the mistake of Brushing off a compliment
For the mistake of Forgetting gratitude for my food
For the mistake of Comparing myself to others
For the mistake of Settling for what I have always done
For the mistake of Complacency in my workout 
For the mistake of Trying to game the plan instead of trying to eat for my needs
For the mistake of not working out because I only have 20 minutes
For the mistake of waking up after eating half of the bag, and finishing the whole bag
For the mistake of Not thinking I am worthy

For all these,  and more, God of forgiveness,  forgive us, pardon us, atone for us. Help us to be more mindful, patient, compassionate so that we can eat to live and sustain ourselves with gratitude.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Make for Yourself a Kevin

Aseh lecha rav, u’kneh lecha chaver...” — “Make for yourself a mentor and acquire for yourself a friend...”

Many of you remember my "beat Kevin" challenge. My friend Kevin doubted whether I could lose a certain amount of weight by the time I was leaving for Israel in July. All I needed to hear was him question my ability in order to light a fire under my tush. With his friendly competition, I not only crushed him but achieved a long time goal. While I give myself credit, there is something to be said for having another person inspire and challenge you.

This is why the teaching above is so important. "Make for yourself a (rav) mentor, and acquire for yourself a chaver (friend)." One might think that going it alone is best. A lot of my friends do Weight Watchers online or try other diets. I understand that meetings are not for everyone, but even so, it is so valuable to have people around  to talk and inspire you.

This teaching sheds light on 2 important roles in life, mentors and friends. Both are so necessary to keep us devoted to our weight-loss journey and occasionally one person can be both. The first category, rav, includes people who challenge you and will encourage you to move passed your comfort zone. This person is hard to come by. This was Kevin for me. He pushed the right competition button that got me motivated.

And now I get to be a rav for Kevin! He is in the last week of a summer challenge to get to an all-time low after a tremendous amount of weight loss. He is dedicated and determined to beat me almost as much as I wanted to beat him. I say "almost" because I can't imagine anyone as fired up as I was. But he seems pretty determined to crush me as well. We'll know next week if Kevin "beats Dahlia."

The 2nd category from the teaching above, chaver, is much more nurturing. This person listens when you are struggling and celebrates you when you triumph (rav can do that too, btw).  They are the voice that soothes you when you have a set-back. When you lose sight of your success, they remind you of all your milestones. Going to meetings introduces you to a whole host of people like this. There is such a sweet feeling when you announce a success at the scale and a room full of likeminded people clap for you and your leader gives you a gold star. Sounds like Kindergarten, but only in the best ways (minus nap-time).

I am so grateful to find a WW leader that is both a rav and a chaver (shout out to Joann). She meets you where you are, encourages self love at all times, but also helps you shoot for the stars. An amazing leader helps you strike this challenging balance.

I have rejoined Weight Watchers 4 different times. When I stopped attending meetings the weight crept up. When you attend regularly, new ideas flow and you hear your journey in someone else's struggles and success. When achieved in community, weight loss and maintenance can not only be rewarding but sustainable. When I first started, the idea of attending meetings indefinitely terrified me. How daunting?!?! Now, I see it as my weekly spiritual nourishment, my community of chaverim (friends) and rabanim (mentors) and I feel so lucky to have them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Can I Trust Myself?

People often say that maintenance is harder than weight loss. How could that be possible???? asks the sane person. You made it! You're at your goal! The hard part is done. Now it seems to be about keeping momentum and good habits up even when you don't have the endorphin kick of a loss at the scale. 

When I hit goal, I started to understand this. I was suddenly overcome with fear that I was going to lose control again and slide back into sloppy eating. Please don't imagine me with a bib on covered in bbq sauce- not that kind of sloppy eating! The kind where you sneak in an extra brownie here because you've "earned it," or you stop measuring out food because you're a pro by now. Many of us, me included, have been repeat Weight Watchers offenders, having to rejoin multiple times. 

How do I trust myself not to slide back into old habits? I hate to admit this, but I don't have a straightforward answer. I cannot predict the future. Who knows what stresses life will throw at me? There are all sorts of reasons why we gain or become less focussed on our eating. Sometimes other things need our focus!

But I do know that we are in a very important time, the month leading up to the High Holidays, which offers us great strength and insight. The buzzword for this time of year is teshuva, which you can translate as repentance, but I find it much more satisfying to translate it more literally as "returning." This is the time of year in which we return back to ourselves, and to others in our lives. But this blog is pretty selfish, so we'll focus on what it means to finding our way back to ourselves. I call this returning to factory settings. 

In these weeks we sit down with pen and paper and look at ourselves honestly, asking tough questions:

1. How have I disappointed myself?
2. How have I lived in my my body?
3. When did I take risks this past year?
4. What positive habits have fallen by the wayside?
5. Am I happy? What small steps could I take to get back on the right course?

This is so hard to do because sometimes it is painful to look at ourselves too closely. We might not like what we see so we often gloss over things or pretend they are not happening. It feels easier, but it gets us in trouble and leads us away from our goals. 

This is another of Judaism's greatest gifts, the periodic opportunities to return to ourselves. I'll share a private Jewish practice that is important to me which goes along these lines. On a monthly basis, I visit a mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath. After my monthly cycle, I go to a beautiful spa like mikvah and go through a process of returning to the most basic and honest version of me. I take off all of my jewelry, remove all make-up and nailpolish. I am bare. I take that time to sit and write in my journal about successes and failures from the previous month and hopes for the month to come. I examine my body to make sure it is ready for the mikvah and take an honest look at what has changed and what has stayed the same. It is a very grounding practice, one that ensures that I do not stray too far from myself. 

It is unreasonable to expect that I was always be at this weight or in this same condition. I also don't discount the possibility that I can grow and change and push myself harder. Holding my breathe and hoping I don't mess up is not an option. Life will happen and get in the way, but Im working on trusting myself to be honest, return to meetings, and return to myself. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Need a Hero!

Today is a miserable day. It is gray and rainy. There is nothing enticing about what I see outside. What really gets me is that this is my last few hours of a too short stay on the Jersey Shore's Long Beach Island. I envisioned waking up early, jogging on the beach, jumping into the ocean for a cool down and then reading the rest of the book, The Fault in Our Stars, while reclining in a beach chair. How nice does that sounds?!?!? Well... It's not going to happen and my disappointment grows with each of the tiny thuds of rain drops on the roof. This is one of those "hevel" (futility) days, when you feel like nothing will bring you happiness and you might as well just be miserable and hide under the covers with a jar of Nutella. (Don't you wish you were my family right now?)

By contrast, yesterday was glorious. Yesterday, after basking and baking (I'm a little crispy) in the sun for hours, I quoted my favorite verse from Psalms (we rabbis have things like favorite verses):

 זה היום עשה ה׳ נגילה ונשמחה בו
Zeh hayom asah hashem, nagila venismecha vo. 
"This is a day made (just for me) by God, let's enjoy it and be utterly content in it." (My liberal translation). 

That captures my feeling when the day just can't get any better. I love that feeling and I know I'm not alone. So what do you do when life gives you hevel (futility) and all you want is simcha (joyousness)?

I read in a magazine recently that "any day can be a good day." I took this to mean that you are the architect of what is a good day, whether you are given bright and shiny or dull and dank.

Lemons... Lemonade, right? Easier said than done. Because when you are in, what my hubby Aaron calls "a mood," it's hard to break out of it. 

I find that this is a question of will, that strength  and stubbornness inside that keeps you running that last (or first) mile, holds you're mouth shut when someone says "I" when it should be "me," and empowers you to turn down ice cream cake at a birthday party (why would you do that!!?)

My friend from my WW meeting, Kevin, inspired me when he said that his goal is to impose his will on life, rather than allowing life to impose itself on him. 

What a wonderful and powerful attitude. 

Just because you are served something it does not mean you need to except it as is. I'll give you an example.  Aaron leaves a little bit of whatever he is eating on the plate, just one less bite, to show himself that he imposes his will on the food, not the other way around. He is flexing his willpower muscle. Every time we do this, we grow that muscle and it becomes easier and easier to construct our lives as we want them to be and not just take what we are given. 

This is one of Judaism's greatest gifts to the observant Jew. Every time I look at a menu or go to a grocery store and say, "I eat this and don't eat that" because I observe kashrut (keep kosher), I am cultivating willpower. Every time I choose to read a book on Shabbat over going to the mall, I am sharpening that tool in my emotional and spiritual toolbox, the one that tells me that I can live out my values and not accept what others think I should do with my time. While we Jews love to eat, I will say that saying "no" to bacon all these years has made it easier to say "no" to other foods and habits that will not help achieve my weight or spiritual goals. Living an observant life of "don't's" and "do's" is reminding us that holiness is carved out of every day life. A snack is turned into a conversation with the unfolding source of creation when I say a blessing over my peach, because I didn't let hunger make me ravage it like a lion ripping into a gazelle. 

Willpower gives us the strength to take enjoyment out of a disgusting day, not allowing curveballs in our plans to derail our contentment. As we learn in Pirkei Avot, "Who is a hero? The person who overcomes his urges." It doesn't name grand heroic acts like saving a puppy from a burning building or splitting the Sea of Reeds. If you can break out of "a mood" and redeem the day, then you get a gold star. And if there is anything I have learned from Weight Watchers meetings its that no matter how old you get, we all love being rewarded with a gold star:)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hit Pause on Time

Can't I just stop time, even just for a little bit?

As I count down to 30, I'm feeling all of these desires to hold life right where it is. I was picking out cards for a friend's 30th birthday and I hated almost every card that I saw. One said, "Happy 29th... again!" Messages like that get me angry and I want to blast this notion that there is an ideal age out of my mind and out of Hallmark.... BUT, I also share the insecurities that cards like these embody.  I want to love myself at every stage and just walk around with an attitude of fabulosity (technical term). On the other hand, I find myself worrying about loosening skin, grey hair, and stomach flatness. At some point I will start a family and as I contemplate that, I remember hearing someone say: "Having kids is the end of fun and the beginning of joy." Well, that's all well and good, but I really love FUN!

I don't think this feeling is only about turning 30. I hear from parents that they just want to hit the pause button and enjoy the stage they are in with their kids, especially when their kids are young (note: not usually said by parents of middle school kids). I hear the same thing from grandparents who want more time with their grandkids, and adult children who don't want to watch their parent's health decline.

This desire to pause is so deeply seeded in us especially when we start to realize how precious life is and how easily it can fly by or disappear. There is a story of King Solomon who asked his servant to find him a ring that could make a happy man sad and a sad man happy. Eventually, after scouring the land, he brought back the item of jewelry that Solomon described. The King looked at the engraving in the inside of the ring and read the words:

גם זה יעבור (Gam zeh ya'avor)
This too shall pass.

I call this the Kohelet syndrome. The book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is also attributed to King Solomon. We read in Chapter 2: "
Therefore I hated life, because the deeds that are done under the sun were depressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind." He could have written for Hallmark. What a downer! I guess the guy really struggled with time also. This phrase, "grasping for wind" captures the urge to press pause. But it is just not possible. And when I accept that (reluctantly, because Superman was able to turn back time in one of his movies), I begin to remember the other parts of Kohelet.

The same Kohelet who appears  to say so often that living is vanity and time is slipping by also exclaims that there is nothing better than man rejoicing (3:22), and that nothing is better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and be joyful (8:15)....Go, eat your bread with joy, drink your wine with a content mind; for God has already graced your deeds (9:7).

… He obviously didn’t know how many WW points are in a roll:)

It seems that the fleeting nature of time also makes us savor each moment that much more. It makes me want to get together with friends and share a delicious glass of wine, not so much that I lose myself, but just enough so that I really enjoy the moment. I think that while we cannot pause time, we can focus in on every moment more intently, drawing awareness to the way we live.
In this way, we do press pause.

This morning, I was running to my car and realized that I did not stop to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face, so I just stopped dead in my tracks in front of my prius and gave up a little blessing that I felt joy over the warmth spreading over me.

The antidote to rushing time seems to be cultivated gratitude and mindfulness. Kohelet is right, we cannot turn 29 again, we cannot grasp at wind, but we can stand still occasionally and appreciate the breeze on our necks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This Is Good

I found a surprise on my seat during my Weight Watchers meeting this morning. Along with my name tag, sat a card. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was for, but when I opened it I found birthday wishes from all of my Weight Watchers friends from that meeting. So sweet! I must have the best meeting. I had told my buddy, Kevin (yes, THE Kevin), that I was going away with 2 friends to celebrate our 30th birthdays and he rallied the troops to welcome me back with a card. Meanwhile, my birthday actually falls on Yom Kippur this year. Woohoo! Let's all celebrate with no cake and bad breathe. But we celebrated early to accommodate all our birthdays and now I have a card from my meeting to add to my simcha (happiness). As my mother always says, "happiness shared is multiplied."

The reason I am telling you all this is because of something amazing Kevin said to me. After I thanked him for the card, Kevin added, "you're worth it!"... What shocked me even more than his little blessing was my reply, "I think so too!" I'm not sure why, but tears flow through my eyes as I write this. Why is it such a big deal to say and really feel that I am worth it? Shouldn't this feeling of worthiness be ingrained in my deepest core? Shouldn't I look at the life I have built and the body that I live in and be like the God of Bereishit (Genesis) who looks at creation and says "this is good?" You're damn straight this is good (now militant Dahlia comes out).

 I'm angry that it has taken me so long to feel worthy. I'm not sure who I am angry with... magazines,  TV, models, our self perpetuating culture of extremes... It would take too much effort and therapy to figure that out and not enough room in this blog post. In fact my anger dissipates as I realize it is counter productive. It's time to nurture the positive, rather than stew on the negative. 

Our theme this morning in my meeting was body gratitude, identifying things you love about your body. It may seem self serving, but it is so important to cultivate and it really ties into worthiness. Think about all we have done with and in our bodies?!? I promise to keep this PG;) Some in my meeting shared that they loved their bodies because they had carried and birthed their babies. What a miracle! So I'll bare my soul and share what I am grateful for. I am celebrating this body because with it I have:

Climbed Masada in Israel many many times
Got down on the floor during the song "Shout" with my hubby and our friends at our wedding
Earned a bachelors, masters, and rabbinic ordination 
Done the freeze (break dancing move) at a ton of USY (youth group) dances...jealous?
Lifted my closest friends up on chairs at their weddings
Built a sukkah and various ikea furniture with my bare hands  
Stomped my feet with 100  8 year-olds singing "Ozi Vezimrat Yah"...(God you are my might) at camp
Lost 48 pounds! Even if some (or God forbid, ALL) of it comes back, I gotta celebrate that feat.  

This can just go on and the list will grow with every move I make. Maybe it will inspire others to make their own list. 

We're taught in the Jewish tradition that our bodies are on loan to us for our lifetime. They are a holy gift. Every time I cut up veggies or go for a run, it is not a punishment. It is an act of love and gratitude. 

Perhaps 30 will be the decade of, "I'm worth It."- Scratch that... I can't just wait and hope that someone will look at my life and bless it. It's time to look at the world I have created and say, "this is good." Because... it is:)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Impulses and Appetites

A friend once asked me why I still go to weight watchers meetings if I have lost the weight already and have kept it off. I tried to explain that those deeper places inside of me that want to soothe pain, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessnesswith food still exist and will likely always exist. I still make mistakes and fall in ruts. Weight loss surely brings higher self esteem, but I am who I am and I haven't white washed my inner canvas with weight watchers e-tools. The impulses and appetites still exist and this got me thinking about the Jewish concept of our primal inclinations, the yetzer hara. 

We normally translate the yetzer hara as evil inclination. I'm having a hard time with this, and I believe that our sages do too. 

The rabbis teach that "if it were not for the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, no man would build a house, marry a wife, or beget children." What are these inclinations? Competition? Self aggrandizement? Sexual desire? The need to be seen? There most certainly is a place for the yetzer hara inside of us and within our communities. City planning, scientific advances, and the survival of humankind would be at risk if we did not have these impulses. Our yetzer hara is integral to life. 

I believe it is my yetzer hara that helped me "beat Kevin," my friend who told me he thought I would be unable to reach a weight loss goal I set. That competition, the need to prove myself, and my own superficiality all played roles in my stubborn determination. I thank him for activating this in me. 

And now, KEVIN has started his own challenge, to lose 12 pounds by Labor Day. His focus... BEAT THE RABBI. The yetzer hara can be an incredible driving force. 

There is an interesting midrash, rabbinic folktale, that demonstrates this point further. It is said that two thousand years ago, a group of rabbis encountered the Yetzer Hara amidst the destruction of Jerusalem. Knowing that the evil impulse was to blame for the devastation of their Holy Temple, they grabbed him and wrestled him into a chamber pot, where they held him. Ready to destroy the Yetzer Hara, one rabbi interjected. “Who knows what will happen if you destroy him. Hold him for three days and see what happens!” The rabbis waited patiently for three days and then began scouting the city. Immediately, they noticed that the world was beginning to rot away. People stopped doing business. Chickens stopped producing eggs. Families stopped building houses. Immediately, they knew what they had to do. They let him go, knowing that the world could not be sustained without him. (Yoma 69b)

We're not ready to destroy those impulses and appetites. It can be dangerous to be too righteous. My new favorite teacher, Ruth Calderon, likens this to holding a beach ball under water until the pressure makes the ball uncontrollably crash through the water surface. In the Weight Watchers world, this looks like such strict denial of cravings that you end up binge eating on an entire challah when you could have just eaten one rugelach. 

I'm also not interested in shaming myself. Even God in Bereishit metaphorically feels the rush of endorphins that comes with creating or achieving something that you deem "good." Perhaps this is the point. If we want to diffuse the impulse, take note of it, label it, and perhaps find a healthy outlet. 

We're multifaceted so the same impulses that might make me want to eat destructively may also make me an empathic listener, and the impulses that cause me to achieve and strive can also make me trample over someone else's needs.  We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. 

It's when these impulses lead us to hurt ourselves or those we love when they become evil inclinations. To be human is to be flawed. Now it makes sense to me why we strive for the time of the Mashiach. All is this grey area will be much more discernible. 

In the meantime, trying for extremes, even righteousness, backfires. So we strive for moderation and we learn from mistakes. We don't let ourselves off of the hook, but we also forgive ourselves and sometimes each other. We go to meetings, we pounds our chests, and we reflect honestly, all to breathe air into our humanity, not to be stifled by it. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I didn't just beat Kevin (see aforementioned blog post), I SMASHED Kevin. I was 2.6 below the goal we had set for the challenge. And if I was concerned that I wouldn't be as satisfied as I hoped I would be, that all went out the window when my leader, Joann, handed me my 50 pound key chain. Since I first set foot in Weight Watchers I have lost a total 51.4 pounds. See picture below from when I was 15. 

A note on Kevin, my challenger: He was such a a good sport throughout this whole competition. He became my metaphorical punching bag, symbolizing anyone,including myself, whoever doubted me. Meanwhile, he was actually very supportive and made good on his bet with a box of 3 point bars. See picture below for me "beating" Kevin. I'm very grateful for the drive he stirred in me and we may be on the verge of a "Beat Dahlia" competition for him. 

It has been a long journey with yoyo weight loss all throughout. I will never be "done" because my circumstances, moods, and needs are always changing, but for now I can say that I achieved the goal I set for myself... I feel triumphant! I want to remember this sensation the next time I stare at a temptation. I want to tap into the depth of my satisfaction and hard work. Where there is a will, there is a way. I've learned that to make the "way" most successful, I need to cultivate that strong will. My own self worth, my drive to see if I could "do it", and the encouragement from friends and family made it possible. 

As Theadore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, famously said, "Im tirtsu, ein zo aggadah." 
"If you will it, it is not merely a dream."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Beat Kevin!!

Until now, I had forgotten that I could surprise myself. I, like everyone, have habits and certains behaviors that are etched in my mind, a certain way of jogging, the types of food I eat for breakfast... I even just learned that human beings tend to eat the same number of pounds of food every day, even if they are different foods. 

But every once in a while, something lights a fire under your ass that makes you shake up your routine and that's we where I find myself right now. It all comes down to two words: BEAT KEVIN! 

Let me explain... I sit next to a very nice man named Kevin in my Tuesday meetings. About 1 month ago, I nonchalantly mentioned to Kevin that I wanted to reach lowest goal by the time I leave for Israel on June 29th. He asked if he could look at my tracker, the one that records all of my previous weigh ins. With a clinical and objective tone, Kevin had the audacity to say: "I don't think you can do it." Now, before you start hating on Kevin, know that he was not being malicious. In his assessment of my patterns of weight loss, he didn't think I could pull off a loss of  7.8 in 1 month. At my current stage of weight loss, he was right. It would be extremely difficult and my track record of ups and downs didn't inspire confidence.

So we made a bet....   :)

It is a lopsided bet. I'm the only one who needs to lose any weight, but if I reach my goal, Kevin needs to buy me 1 pack of Weight Watchers shakes and if I lose I have to do so for him.

Well... the final day is Tuesday, June 23rd, less than two days from now and I actually have a shot of reaching my goal!!!  Let me tell you what I did in the last few weeks, things I never would have expected.

I bought T25- that 25 minute workout that burns a billion calories and leaves your drenched in sweat in only 25 minutes... yummm. Because that turned out not to be enough to earn the activity points I needed, I started jogging 1 mile before T25. And when that didn't seem enough, so I added another mile. Before "Beat Kevin" I was lucky to even jog through 1/3 an episode of the Biggest Loser (the only TV that will motivate me to jog).

To all those Jewish mothers out there, don't worry, I'm eating. But I have changed what I'm eating. When I was about 2 weeks away from the big day, I realized that at the rate I was going, I would not make it to my goal. 

I thought that tracking and not using my 49 weekly points would be enough, but it wasn't. I  considered that I would need to change the types of food I was eating, so I took a page from my mother's book. About 11 years ago, my mother did the Atkins diet and lost 90 pounds. What an inspiration!  I resolved myself to the fact that I would eat all of my points for the day, but that I would focus on low carb foods. This actually means that I cut out most fruits. I would never have done this in the past. I drank and continue to drink the Weight Watchers Koolade, that teaches we can eat everything in moderation, but my Weight Watchers Leader, Joann keeps telling us that we need to reflect on what has worked and what hasn't, and explore the foods that work for us. This was my time to experiment. And also, let's remember... BEAT KEVIN.

Support from family friends and community
A major BRAVO sticker goes to Aaron, my hubby, who has supported me every step along the way. He has gone grocery shopping multiple times a week (without complaining), chopped up celery, and the pièce de résistance is the T-shirt that he made featuring his face, along with our dog, Layla's with two beautiful words underneath. You know them already, "BEAT KEVIN." I have shared "BEAT KEVIN" with congregants at shul and with friends. All I have gotten is encouragement and I am so grateful.

I have been pushing my limits (within reason) and it feels amazing.  I was stuck in narrow places, my behaviors, my routines that never budged. This is how we view Egypt and the Israelite's enslavement. The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, can be broken down to two words, Mey tsarim, narrow straits. Egypt represents the ongoing prisons of our lives. Too often we are the ones enslaving ourselves. While leaving Egypt and moving towards the wilderness was terrifying, it is necessary to break free and be willing to explore the unknown. We need something (or someone) to light that fire underneath us. We need a focus, a reason to push.

Kevin ignited my competitive nature. Once he said I couldn't do it, I knew I was going to give it my all. The question for us, is what do we feel so passionately about that will motivate us to break through our blockages? In my view, every day we should do something, make one little change to surprise ourselves. Each little surprise adds up.

Come Tuesday morning, I will weigh in (likely wearing as little as possible while still being modest) and see where my exploration has left me. I cannot wait to tell you how it turns out. Stay tuned!!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ice Cream Revelations

I'm getting all 4 wisdom teeth out and I'm a little excited and a lot afraid. Let's start with the fear. I've never had laughing gas or any procedure like this. Some people tell me that I'll be able to work the next day while others warn me that I better not suck on straws because of something called dry socket (what?!?!). They advocate for multiple packs of frozen peas on my face and lots of ice cream. Therein lies the excitement- doctor sanctioned ice cream eating. Ice creams falls in the category of mushy foods I can eat. I have made a request for banana pudding from my favorite bakery in Manhattan, and my fridge is full of mashed potatoes and smoothie fixens. 

There is one other piece of the excitement that causes me concern. I'm wondering if and hoping that I will lose weight. Friends joke about losing 5 pounds after getting their teeth out and I just think, "sign me up!" I wouldn't sneeze at a 5 pounds loss, but the excitement crosses into dangerous territory. Pain and deprivation should never be intentional tools for weight loss. I know I'm not getting my wisdom teeth out for the purpose of seeing a loss at the scale, but I wish the thought didn't even cross my mind.

I am a firm believer in focus and determination in healthy eating, but it easy for determination to turn into obsession. It's a little like matzah. Matzah, baked for 18 minutes, is a requirement for the Passover seder, but if overcooked it turns into Hametz, the holiday's forbidden food. The same material used for the heart of the holiday can be used for its unraveling. Everything in moderation. That goes for leaven on Passover and controlled eating year round.

Ascetism, a fancy word for deprivation, is not a Jewish concept. Our rabbis are not celibate (thank God), Yom Kippur is only one day, and poverty is not a virtue.  Food, unlike other substance dependencies, is a required part of our day and we cannot shy away from it.  The part of our brain that enjoys a loss at the scale cannot override our better judgement. Balanced living is having the sechel (wisdom) to recognize our limits and when we are pushing ourselves too far. Hopefully, my wisdom isn't limited to those teeth I'm gonna lose. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No Stumbling Blocks

"Don't place a stumbling block before the blind."
- Leviticus 19:14 

A few years ago a friend from rabbinical school and I were going out for a dinner that almost turned into a weight watchers disaster. It wasn't dinner that was actually the problem, it was the fact that on every corner on our way home there was a gelato place or a bakery. I had planned friendly meal and was about to mess it all up with little falls from grace.  It was either going to be death by chocolate or death by cannoli. My friend kept telling me, "let's just go inside and see if anything catches our eye." My resolve was wearing thin and I almost gave in, but not until I flexed some of my rabbi superpowers and said, "Don't put a stumbling block before for the blind!" We were finally speaking the same language and he understood that by asking me to go into those delicious corner stores, he was setting me up to stumble. I just needed to speak up.  

It's hard to negotiate eating with other people and whether our loved ones realize it or not, we sometimes sabotage each other.
My dining companions sometimes ask for more chips and salsa/bread, or order a pitcher of something delicious. It's hard to resist and if it's on the table it takes a great deal of energy to keep myself from reaching for the basket... This is energy that could be put into being my usual hilarious self, but is instead funneled into restraining my limbs from doing the hand to mouth gesture.  We're dining together and for some, pre-dinner bread is their favorite part of the meal, but for me it's another pitfall. This is a negotiation especially with my hubby, Aaron. Just because I have a weight problem, doesn't mean he should be deprived of every delicious thing that could steer me wrong. I do need to have some personal accountability. That being said, we try to minimize stumbling blocks when it's reasonable.

The hubby has a healthy sweet tooth and candy and ice cream are frequent guests in my home. BUT we have some rules. Full fat ice cream only crosses our door step when they are flavors that I actively dislike, such as mint or coffee. We don't bring in peanut M&Ms or snickers and if he makes brownies, I sometimes ask him to triple wrap them in something opaque. When he brings down something candy-like to snack on, he'll sometimes bring a bowl of grapes for me and this works for us. 

Sometimes family can be our best supporters or biggest culprits. When my wonderful mother stays with me, instead of baking something she cuts up lots of fresh fruit. My mom has always been one of my allies in healthy eating. Meanwhile, my father (who I love very very much) snuck a cheesecake into my fridge for Shavuot. It was done with love and in the spirit of Shavuot (a dairy heavy holiday) but we spent a joyous afternoon evening off the cheesecake. For me (and the world), cheesecake=stumbling block. 

But... The biggest culprit is usually me. I know that if I bring Ferrero Rochers into my house, I will spend all week going in and out of my kitchen like a moth to a flame, trying hard to make the decision to eat only one. I learned in Weight Watchers that if I leave the trigger food in the market, then I only have to make one decision (don't buy it) and it's over with.  No need to sabotage myself. 

One of our most valuable Weight Watchers tools is the ability to ask for help when we think we might stumble and to be self aware about our strengths and weaknesses.  That seems to be just good advice in general. We all have shtick and we all stumble. To quote the Beatles, "I get by with a little help from my friends."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Love YOURSELF as your neighbor

Love YOURSELF as your neighbor.

This is my new take on the Golden rule, "Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 18:19)." I think it needs some rewriting for those of us who are our own worst critic. When a friend in a meeting has a weight gain at the scale, our group gives encouragement to not get stuck on the gain, but to move forward. We proclaim that we all have weeks that don't reflect our hard work and that it will show up next week OR if they just had a tough week of eating we coach them to shake it off, learn what works and what doesn't and keep going. Now, try telling that to YOURSELF and your mind resists the kindness.

When I have set backs, it is so hard not to feel like a failure. Even little weight gains leave me feeling inept and suddenly I lose sight of all of my previous triumphs. Even if I try and boost myself up, something inside won't let me forgive myself. If I'm feeling particularly down on myself after a gain, my mind will sabotage me with little disparaging remarks and I'll begin to believe them:

"I think this might become a pattern."
"This is the beginning of gaining all the weight back."
"You were bad."

How many times have I heard others and myself say to the people weighing us in, "I was bad this week." WE WERE NOT BAD. We may have made choices that don't help with weight loss, but it says nothing about our character. Negative speak doesn't get us anywhere. In fact those thoughts can become self fulfilling prophecies if we don't practice being kinder to ourselves. That is why we must love ourselves as our neighbor. 

Here is how we can put it into practice: Imagine that whatever set back you had actually happened to your best friend (not in a sadistic way). What would you say to him or her? 

"We all have hard weeks."
"You'll come back strong next week."
"Every challenge helps us know ourselves better."

Try this one. It is my FAVORITE new saying about set backs: "one step forward and one step back isn't a disaster, it's a CHA-CHA!"

Now literally say that OUT LOUD to yourself. Close the door if you don't want people to start thinking you're hearing voices and talking to yourself. But say it out loud. We have to start being as kind to ourselves as we are to our friends. 

In order to fulfill the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself," you must first know how to love yourself. It may take practice, but self love will keep us strong and focussed. And we're worth it.   

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Accepting Your Portion

"Who is truly rich? One who is happy with their portion."
-Pirkei Avot 4:1

When I first read the quote above in relation to Weight Watchers, I immediately thought about the people I know who can eat monster "portions" and not gain weight. This is called ENVY. When I first started the program I thought, "why can't I eat their portion (and mine) and be skinny too?!?!" It doesn't work like that for me and I needed the program to unlock my weight loss tools. To my surprise, it worked!

When I first lost the weight, people would come up to me and comment, "Don't you think you've lost enough?" On the other hand, women who had taken off and put on the pounds like me advised, "Don't let anyone tell you that you've lost enough because when you stop, you'll put it back on." Oy, everyone has an opinion. And what a terrible feeling it is, that at any moment, if I let my guard down, if I don't continue striving to lose more, the weight will come piling back on! Am I doomed, like Sisyphus, to push the boulder up the mountain forever, only to watch it roll back down?

I am left questioning:
When will I be satisfied with who I am?
Can I be satisfied "with my portion," like the teaching says, and still strive for more?

Early on in attending meetings I set a target weight, which was to lose about 47 pounds.  I was 2.8  away from my goal when I stopped losing in 2002. I was so close!!! Then college hit and so did the freshman 15. It seemed that the ladies a few paragraphs back were right. I stopped losing so I started gaining and I knew it was time to go back to meetings. Cut to Rabbinical School and I had been hovering above the same weight (a healthy weight) for a long time, but still way above my original goal. My friend, Stacey, said "maybe this is just where your body is comfortable right now." She was right. I needed to listen more to where I was in my life, what my body was telling me, and what my commitments were. So I set a new goal that was 15 pounds above 16 year old Dahlia's original target weight.

This was an important step for me. I felt torn because on the one hand, it felt like I was letting myself off the hook, moving the finish line closer instead of pushing myself to the end of the race.  Was I changing the rules to make it seem like I had won? On the other hand, I was trying to listen to my body and my brain the way they were at the moment. It was time to stop worshipping some old version of myself. So, I asked myself honestly if was happy with how I felt in my body. The answer at that moment was YES, so I adjusted my goal. I felt relief and when I became lifetime, I still felt so accomplished.

Maybe goal setting and loving yourself is about knowing what you are capable of right now and going for it.

This was a paradigm shift for me. I gave myself permission to accept my body where it was, not the ideal that someone, even younger version of Dahlia, set out for me. I don't think I ever truly eliminated the desire to improve where I was, but I still allowed myself to love and accept the body I was in, no matter what weight.

Undoubtedly, my weight will continue to fluctuate, but there is no use in beating myself up.  I have  and will continue to change. I am in more control now than I was 4 years ago and am working towards a new goal. And 4 years from now I will have reassess. Life will be thrown at me and at every stage, I hope I have the patience and clarity to say, this is my "portion," and go from there.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

If I'm not for Myself...

"If I'm not for myself, who will be for me?
If I'm only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?" 
-Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Sages) 1:14

This teaching has followed me all week long, including at my weigh in. I went down 1.2 this week, and this is one of those times when I feel like I earned it. Sometimes, when I lose weight, I chalk it up to a good BM or some other reason that doesn't actually give me any credit, you know...the one who actually did the work. We all need to own our successes more. But, this week I didn't even try to make excuses. I knew I earned it and I'll tell you why.

I stopped worrying about how my food choices would make others feel, and I focussed on how they would make me feel. This is easier said than done because everyone has something to say about what what we're eating.

Do you remember what your mother used to say if you ever complained that your brother or sister didn't finish their broccoli? "Keep your eyes on your own plate!" Unfortunately, people generally don't do that, and what we eat seems to worry the people around us. Plug that natural human tendency into overt social settings, and everyone is a critic or a concerned party. 

My work, like a lot of other folks, comes with a whole slew of free food including cookies, cake, challah, bagels, and sometimes even eggplant parm. Add a conference into the mix and I would have expected a weight gain this week. Conferences mean that I am sitting all day and survive at the whim of someone else's menu. On top of that, there are tons of people around which means that either I am having a great time, which makes me want to eat, or I'm feeling very anxious, which also makes me want to eat. 

But I remembered my teaching, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?" I'll give you an example of this in action- When I realized that there were no vegetarian options that would make me feel satisfied, instead of eating what was put in front of me, I went over to the cafeteria and bought a meal that would fill me up and make me smile. I wanted to enjoy my food. And when I got back to the table, my colleagues and friends nudged me and poked fun about being a picky eater (being a vegetarian wasn't bad enough?). It was all good natured, but that kind of things stops us from making good choices. 

I have come to learn that I cannot wait for someone to make healthy choices for me and if the options are not there, then I'll forge them myself. Occasionally, that doesn't sit well with others.

Let's take family gatherings like Thanksgiving. Does Great Aunt Mildred (fictional family member) get upset if you don't eat her famous pumpkin pie and say, "not even a sliver?" Do you ever feel the pressure to eat seconds of something so that your host/ess knows that the meal was delicious? How about when you're out to dinner and you're the only one who doesn't want to share the wine or the appetizer? Last one, I promise: During my Passover shopping I came across those sour cream and onion chips that my father likes. I thought, "he'll be disappointed if I don't by them." Guess what... he barely touched them and I almost finished half the bag before I threw them out. 

I may ruffle some feathers, I may disappoint people, and I may make people uncomfortable with their own choices (or I may make that all up in my head), but if I am not for myself, no one will be for me! That is not to say that I go out of my way to make people squirm. Remember, the 2nd line of the teachings is: "If I am only for myself, what I am?" But there are other ways to connect with people and show our gratitude and love other than with food.

This principle applies to every corner of our lives, including our professions, and even within our families. Just a note on professions, there is a great book that I have been meaning to read called: Women Don't Ask The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation." We tend not to negotiate promotions and we tend not to negotiate eating or time to take care of ourselves. 

It's time to be our own best advocates because: "If not now, when?"