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Personal Growth

September 21, 2014 | by Ira Bodenheim

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, I have been tackling my personal growth. And by that, I mean weight gain.

It seems that sitting down at the kitchen table or getting up for that matter, does not constitute physical activity, at least according to the physicians and physical trainers I’ve talked to. Neither is getting in and out of a car. Who would have known? And all along I thought I was tightening up those stomach muscles.

This is an issue of life and death. My mother will be visiting soon and if she sees my excess baggage she’ll kill me.

Some professionals recommend jumping rope to stay in shape. Jumping rope consists of leaving the safety of mother earth for periods of up to one second at a time while swinging a rope in vertical orbit. I find that interesting since I can’t remember ever having left the ground other than in an airplane, if you don’t count that time I stepped on a broken step and flew out the door. I was airborne for a good two seconds before crash landing and breaking my foot. I don’t remember having lost any significant amount of weight then; quite to the contrary.

The "personal growth" issue has caught my attention since I took some blood tests not long ago. I suddenly realized that losing weight for me had become a matter of life-and-death. Oh, the blood tests were fine, it’s just that my mother will hopefully be visiting us in Israel soon, and if she sees me with this excess baggage, she’ll kill me. Of course if I lose even an ounce too much it will be, “Are you well? You look so thin and pale.” The way I see it, either way, I’m a dead man.

To make matters worse, my oldest brother lost a decent amount of weight a while back and has actually managed to keep it off. Of the two of us, I was always the younger and thinner one, and I’d like to keep it that way. I know it won’t be easy and I'll have to work very hard to return to my "thinner than thou" status, but to quote an overused cliché, “desperate situations call for desperate measures.” I know what I have to do. As of tomorrow, a daily pizza will be delivered to my brother's doorstep, size XL with extra cheese and toppings, followed by Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey flavor, from an “anonymous admirer.” Sure it'll cost some money, but sometimes one must invest a little to gain a lot.

To make matters even worse, I made an appointment to see my doctor.

Doc: "You do realize you're overweight, don't you?"

Shocked me: "I'm what?"

Ignoring me Doc: "And your hearing is not like a 20-year-olds' anymore."

Sure, I admit that I may be carrying an extra pound or ten here and there, but my hearing? No problem there!

Doc: "At your age, exercise is vital to remain healthy."

That was just fine with me. Hey, if he could exorcize my weight away, all the power to him, just as long as I didn’t have to do anything.

Doc: "And you must watch your diet; eat vegetables with every meal, like a big tomato and cuke."

Me: "Forget about the tomato, but I can handle the coke. I didn't know coke was a vegetable."

Doc: "Your hearing is not that bad!"

Obnoxious Me: "What?"

I didn't really think he said coke, but cake is good too.

I asked my very slender 12-year-old granddaughter what kind of diet she uses to stay so thin. Basically, she lives on macaroni, ketchup and cheese, cookies, at least one large glass of chocolate milk daily and French toast. I'm not crazy about cookies, but if that’s what will do it, I’m certainly willing to suffer through it!

If there’s one thing I've learned about diets over the years, it’s that diets don’t work, diets work, diets don’t work, diets work … I actually consider myself something of an expert in the field, having lost a good 21,509 lbs over the course of part of a lifetime using every diet imaginable, from measuring my daily carbohydrate intake using a carburetor to cabbage soup three times a day, to the famous drawer diet discovered by my wife in a drawer at work. All these diets are carefully designed to help you lose gobs of weight and then put back on double gobs of weight. Too bad I don’t get mileage for all those pounds I lost or at least extra weight allowance. Unfortunately, what most dieters don’t realize is that the globe must always weigh the same or it will wobble out of orbit and crash into a foreign planet. So if one person loses weight, another person somewhere on the planet, will have to gain weight to keep the planet properly balanced. It's one of nature's wonders. This is known in scientific circles as "The Wobbler Effect."

Living in an overseas country such as Israel, one can choose to lose weight in either kilograms or in pounds, depending on the kg./lb. exchange rate. Some places give you 2.2 lbs per kg, but if you bargain well you can sometimes get 2.3 lbs per kilo or even 2.4, losing you more weight in pounds.

Too bad losing weight doesn't work the way doing teshuva (repentance) does. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we focus all of our energies on our personal growth and on reconnecting to God. We leave our sinful ways behind and turn over a new leaf, resolving never to repeat a transgression, particularly when presented with an opportunity for a repeat offense. Then through God's never-ending mercy, we start over with a perfectly clean slate.

If only we could decide to stay off the pastries, ice-cream and all the other fattening stuff, especially when passing the bakery. Then we could return to our optimal weight and start over with a perfectly clean plate.

"Okay everyone, we're all starting fresh now. Everyone back to your optimal weight! See you all in ten pounds!"

"Members, whoever you are, you have all been advanced to step 12. Next week's meeting is cancelled."

But it doesn't seem to work that way.

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