Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Was Expelled From The Diet Group

Last week, after another long hot summer, the Jewish Festivals, and the recent security situation in Israel I hit rock bottom (again) vis-a-vis comfort eating, weight gaining, and not feeling good about my health in general.

As if by magic, I received two great sources of motivation to get out of this rut. The first was a photo of a friend whom I hadn't seen for about two years. Like me, she'd been overweight but she now looks spectacular. She hadn't just lost some weight, she looked slim in a way that I wasn't sure was possible this side of 50. We chatted online and I've been referring to her photo all week. Thank you dear friend, you know who you are. xxxx

The second source of motivation was being invited to join a group to promote healthy life habits. It's a wonderful idea. You choose a healthy habit to adopt for two weeks, whether it be diet, exercise, meditation, or whatever, and you report in every day for support and encouragement.

I chose the habit of eating three small meals a day with no snacks in between. For the first four days I reported in with a positive: I did it! And I briefly said what I'd eaten for each of my three meals. I also left positive and encouraging comments for other group members. We quickly created a nice atmosphere of warm mutual respect among the group members and it was working for me.

When I went shopping this week I stocked up on fruits and vegetables for making smoothies with spinach and nuts and ground flaxseed. I bought wholewheat bread rolls, tomato juice, nuts... I didn't buy eggs as I'm still striving to be vegan (well pisce-vegan with fish but no mammals or fowl). No sugar things like cakes, biscuits or ice-cream... I was psyched.

On day five I was expelled from the group.

The group leader sent me a pm asking me not to post what I was eating daily as it looked like she was endorsing my food choices and, as a professional in the field, she couldn't do that. Fair enough, although the group was free it was carrying the name of her private practice. No problem, I was only posting the food as a convenient alternative to writing it down in a notebook. I agreed to stop.

However, she also said that my diet was unsustainable and unhealthy (she actually just said I'm eating too little and not enough protein but implied that there was an etc).  Obviously I disagreed with her. For a start she couldn't see my portion sizes which are more than adequate.

It's true that if you write 'avocado salad' and roast potatoes with ketchup for dinner, it doesn't look like a very balanced meal. But if the avocado salad is a large plate of avocado with loads of other vegetables, including pulses and nuts.... Ditto the spaghetti with vegetable soup as a sauce where the soup is a thick vegetable soup made with loads of vegetables and lentils served with pasta. One night I only ate the crusts of DD's pizza which she won't eat - so I don't have a super healthy meal every time but we're talking once in four days here. Maybe she didn't like that I'm not a breakfast person and when I'm on the run it tends to be just a cup of coffee. And I suppose I should have written apple/carrot smoothie instead of apple/carrot juice.

So I replied by pm that I found her assessment unfair but that I won't continue with the food diary. Tbh I don't know why she felt the need to belittle my diet in that way. Even if she did have healthier suggestions, there are ways of saying so without just dissing everything I've been doing. And I am on no way a fad dieter or a starver - I'm far too level headed for that and I need my energy to get through the day.

On my thread in the group I said that I understand about not listing my food choices and that's fine. However, I disagree with your assessment that my diet is unsustainable and I'll prove you wrong. I thought coaches love it when you rise to the challenge and achieve your goals despite negative feedback, or even because of it.

Apparently not. I got a pm saying, in light of what you wrote on the group this isn't going to work, I wish you all the best. And I was expelled from the group.

So what did I learn from this?

1. At only day five of my new healthy habit, being expelled from the healty habit group did not send me diving into the fridge looking for comfort. This was a revelation to me. (Ironically the group leader asked me only yesterday if I'd had any realizations yet and I hadn't as of then.) So five days in, the habit is already takng effect as a habit.

2. If someone tells me that I'm not capable of making sensible decisions about my health and diet, that only challenges me to prove that I am. As long as my actions are positive, healthy, helpful, and that they don't harm anyone (including myself). Not to gloat but for my own satisfaction that I'm capable of making sensible choices and following it through.

3. I've no time for other people's sensitive or controlling egoes (even on their own turf). Nor for people who don't give the benefit of the doubt and start from the belief that I'm a good team player who isn't out to make trouble. People who aren't up for any discussion. Don't we all know that most disagreement in writing is not getting the nuances or full picture from a few words?

4. If someone doesn't want you in their gang you can start your own gang. I almost started a new fb group called, 'Make it a Habit'. My group is about any good habit - reading, studying, learning a language, writing, decluttering, cleaning your house, as well as healthy habits. Whatever you want and however you want to do it. As long as it's not harmful or hurtful to anyone, I won't judge. But then I thought - who needs another fb group anyway? I am going to continue with it on this blog though, adding a new habit every three weeks instead of two weeks (I read that it takes three weeks to really establish a habit).

5. Some ridiculous events in life are nevertheless good blog fodder.

Anyway, at the end of the first week I have lost 5.2lbs. I'm still sticking to my new habit of three meals a day with no snacks in between. And I'm still motivated thanks to my friend with the photo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits #35 - After School Treats

At the Ice-cream parlour after school. I forgot to take a photo before she ate.

Me: What does single mean?
DD: One.
Me: What does double mean.?
DD: Two.
Me: What does triple mean?
DD: Another scoop on top?

There were two questions to answer for Hebrew homework, and one more optional question for bonus points.
DD: What are bonus points?
Me: Extra points.
DD: But what do I need them for?
Me: I don't know, nothing.
DD (looking at me like I'm mad): So I don't think I'll be doing that question thank you very much.

Collecting DD from school
Me: Hello Darling, did you have a good day? (We hug and I give her a kiss.)
DD (hissing): No kissing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits #34 - Heaven And Earth

DD: There's no such thing as ghosts is there?
Me: No
DD: Right, it's just dead people in heaven doing things.

Watching a video with a girl talking about her birth parents and her adopted parents. 
Me: Do you know what adopted means?
DD: Yes it means if you need a new mummy and daddy like if your birth parents die or if they're frozen or something like that.

After learning about The Creation at school.
DD: But when did the dinosaurs appear?
Me: Good question, ask your teacher.

DD: But how did Elohim  create the world out of nothing?
Me: Because Elohim can do everything.
DD: Yes that's what everyone says but the question is how did he actually do it? That's the question.
Me: If you study hard in science you can help all the scientists who are trying to find out.
DD: Well that sounds a bit boring.
Me: Well if you want answers to difficult questions you have to work hard to find them.
DD; Nah, what do I really need to know that for?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Chutzpa Of Closing A College Course In Israel

I teach in a teacher training college. One requirement for a degree in Israel - any degree - is passing an exam at a certain level of English. That means every student, has to take Academic English. The logic is sound - if you're entering academia you need to be able to read articles in English. But can you imagine having to pass an exam in Academic Russian if you want to be a nursery school teacher in Yorkshire? Or if you want to be a nurse in London, a social worker in Cardiff, a electronic engineer in Brighton..... You can see why many students hate it.

Another aspect of Israeli academia is that the students find it very hard to take 'no' for an answer when it comes to due dates and deadlines. There are reasons for this too. Firstly every male student does up to a month of army reserve duty every year. He has no say when this will be so you have to give extensions when it occurs. Also every exam has a second sitting a month later - with a different exam paper at the same level, obviously.

Secondly, Israeli students are older as they've completed several years of army service plus the needed year off to clear their heads and get out of the heat. This gap year is also when they take the Psychometric exam for university entrance so it's almost compulsory. Many students are already married with children. Female students disappear for a few weeks to have a baby and then come back. Male students are working night shifts to support their family. It's hard not to give them some slack when the reasons for being late with a paper is not because of partying.

There's always an extension. And then there's an additional extension. I teach some online courses in which papers can be re-submitted with corrections for an upgrade. During the extension period I refuse to check corrections. This is my one little power trip as in reality, online courses are very difficult to close. I still have students badgering me about finishing off last year's course (course ended 30th June 2015, 1st extension end of July, 2nd extension until Rosh Hashana, 3rd extension until the new semester starts on October 11th). I'm making them go to the college authority for special permission to continue and they are shocked at my chutzpa.

This summer I facilitated a summer course. We said it would be intensive and we said it would end on September 30th 2015. On October 1st I sent a letter to all students saying I would not accept any papers after October 11th when the new semester begins. The final final deadline was midnight on Saturday 10th October. No exceptions.

Then I did the unthinkable. At 5 minutes past midnight on 11/10/15 I closed the course. I changed the website settings so that nothing further could be uploaded by students. By Sunday morning I had three emails begging me to reconsider. By mid-morning two students had visited me personally (we work on Sundays here) to plead their cases. I was strong. I didn't give in. I want the word to get round that the due dates for English are not gentle suggestions but law.

I did it but I can't believe I got away with it.

Oh the relief of knowing that the final papers thrown at me at the eleventh hour are the final papers to grade. As the new semester started last week and I'm already dealing with new students, last week got a bit out of hand. Even DD noticed how our home was being neglected. She told me she didn't want her friends to come over because it was too messy. Woops.

I've now finished grading the summer course - no exceptions. I've tidied our apartment. I've washed up a week's worth of dishes all over the kitchen. I've done about 6 loads of laundry including the last of the sheets and towels used by my sister's family when they stayed here two weeks ago!

Bring on the new semester!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why Can't Adoption Be Reversed?

Again in the Daily Mail there is a story of a couple wrongly accused of abusing their baby. (Here is the last one I wrote about.) This time the baby was adopted while the case was still in progress. By the time the couple were cleared (the baby had rickets and possibly a blood disorder) the adoption was official and there is almost zero chance that they will get their child, now three years old, back.

You can read the story here.

Of course the child should never have been adopted while the case was still open. I wonder if the adoptive parents knew that the case was not finished? Shouldn't they have been warned before the adoption was finalized? Big mistakes were made but it's the attitude going forward that I don't understand.

The precident is that once the child has settled with its new family it would be too traumatic to uproot him/her again and return him/her to the birth parents. So the child is brought up by others because the authorities feel that this is best for the child.

They talk about attachment issues which can be very real and life changing. I'm sure some children might suffer long term attachment issues but why assume that this is probable for all children? Parents die and the children are brought up by other adults without attachment issues. During the war children were sent away for years and then returned afterwards. Many suffered from this but many got over it with no lasting effects. It does happen that young children change parents without attachment issues so why not consider some of the disadvantages of not returning the child to his parents?

Many adopted children (not all by any means) grow up with identity issues. Why not consider this? At the very least, most adopted children (not all) want to know the circumstances of their birth and adoption, and who their birth parents are. All these children are going to have to deal with the fact that they were removed from their birth parents for no good reason.

I feel desperately sorry for the adoptive parents as they are going to have to deal with the emotional fallout from this either sooner or later. Maybe it would be better for them if they dealt with it now while the boy is still only 3 years old. Let a wrong be put right, and allow everyone to heal. The alternative might be an angry 18 year old who doesn't want to forgive them.

I don't have the correct answer. There are no guarantees that either route will produce a happy ending, My concern is that there is a legal precident of never reversing an adoprion that rules out any real consideration for the people involved, including the child. How can a one-size-fits-all policy possibly be applied to children and parents in these cases? Where is the discussion about the possible benefits to the child of returning him to his parents?

It feels like they don't want to open a Pandora's box of what might happen if adoptions could be reversed under special circumstances. I don't for one minute think this is entirely about what is best for the child.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The First Step

I just saw a meme on facebook. I was going to copy/paste it here but if I do that Blogger makes it disappear after a while. So here it is (From The Penninghame Process - which seems to be a sort of life enhancing retreat).

The first step to getting anywhere
Is deciding you're not willing
To stay where you are.

Tonight the is the end of three weeks of Jewish Holy Days. Starting with the New Year, through the Day of Atonement, hopefully being signed and sealed in the Book of Life for another year, and ending in the Rejoicing of the Torah where we finish reading the whole of the Torah that takes the year to read, portion by weekly portion. We are ready to start again with the creation in Genesis next Shabbat (Saturday).

There has been a lot of praying by those that do - both formal and communal and also private and personal. There has been an obscene amount of eating by everyone.

School, which had only started on September 1st after a long and extremely hot summer, was mostly about learning for the festivals and then was mostly on holiday for the duration.

On a personal level, I would say that this little family didn't really get with the school program on September 1st. We seemed to carry the summer lethargy with us into September. It wasn't entirely our fault as September disguised iteself with August weather.

But now it's all over. Now the new year starts for real. I want to make it a good one. I want to make this year count. I'm not willing to stay where I am. I'm ready to start again with the creation of a more productive me. Not a different me, but me with a twist.

Wishing everyone a great year. I hope you fulfill all your own twists.