Commit to Fit | Week 5

Author | Commit to Fit 2013 Winner, Judith Zissman

A dear friend recently recovered from a major surgery that left her unable to walk without enormous pain for several months. In the days afterwards, she posted something to her Facebook page about watching people on MUNI choose the escalator over the stairs, and feeling so grateful that her body could take the stairs again. I was reminded of this “manifesto” I’d seen a few days earlier: “Being Healthy is a Revolutionary Act”, and went back to see #54:

“Reframe Exercise as a Privilege: You don't have to exercise. You get to exercise. Visit a person whose mobility is severely limited, and you'll appreciate the distinction. Do what you can, and count yourself lucky.”

I thought about this while I was working out this week. A lot. At the same time that I was struggling Wednesday afternoon to do some challenging step-ups with Billy, a childhood friend was having a bilateral mastectomy after a routine mammogram detected cancer in her breast tissue.

My friend made the difficult decision to have this surgery to prolong her life with her children. This, of course, was the same motivation I had for the much easier decision to apply to Commit to Fit, so as I did those step-ups I thought of my friend with each lift, and her bravery. I thought about how lucky I am to be in this relatively healthy body, and how lucky I am to have the chance to work with the best personal trainer at the best gym in San Francisco  to become even healthier.

So yes, exercise is a privilege. An enormous privilege. And realizing this has made it more enjoyable. When I struggle with physical effort, I now feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment instead of the tiny whiny voice I used to hear in my head when I exercised. No wonder I never enjoyed exercise before - who wants to listen to someone whine for an hour as you’re working hard?

In other news from the past few weeks, I spent some time visiting my family for Passover. It was a wonderful trip, and my son got to see his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends. We held the traditional Passover seder (a short version, since there were five kids under age 4) and ate all of the traditional foods, including my mom’s amazing brisket. I managed to watch my portion size, though, and lost another two pounds that week.

I’ve been doing my weigh-ins with Sarah at MV Nutrition, and enjoying working with her to optimize my food choices. I feel like I’ve been doing well with portions and calories, but too often reach for a default snack or meal of bread and cheese, because it’s easy and delicious. When I was pregnant, I lost the taste for raw vegetables and salads, and that hasn’t returned yet, sadly. I love most vegetables, but seem to only like them cooked these days. So now I’m trying to cook up some big batches of veggies to have on hand for snacks and meals.

This week, I roasted cauliflower with whole grain mustard, and brussels sprouts with some amazing lamb bacon. Since I grew up keeping kosher (observing Jewish dietary practices), I don’t eat pork, and am happy to enjoy the lamb bacon from Fatted Calf as a substitute. To make about a pound of brussels sprouts, I slice them in half, mince up a few pieces of bacon into tiny bits, toss them all together with a drop of hot sauce and a little bit of something sweet (maple syrup, apple cider syrup, etc.) to caramelize as it all cooks and roast in the oven for a good long while. If you time it just right, the sprouts are crispy on the outside and creamy delicious on the inside. It sounds decadent, but it’s really not that rich - your veggie-to-bacon ratio is still pretty good, and there’s no extra fat or starch, and hey, #32 on that manifesto is “Savor What You Eat”. Try it and let me know what you think.