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Monday, March 01, 2010

Suggestions please

I rarely turn to the readers here for help and advice (although as a rule you are generous with both), but yesterday I got a real wake-up call.  We were goofing around taking photos of one another in our Purim costumes yesterday, and when I started looking at them I was appalled by how much weight I've put on. 

I have been walking (although not in an organized fashion like before), but the whole food intake/exercise equation is just completely out of balance.  In short, I don't see myself taking in much less food (although I could certainly improve the mix of foods), so I need to find new, and more challenging, physical activities that will fit into my schedule.

My schedule doesn't lend itself to joining a gym, and I know from past experience that even if it did... without a gym buddy, my chances of sticking with it are slim to none.

This leaves me with two possibilities:  A treadmill and swimming.

So first off, if anyone in Israel is selling (or knows of anyone selling/lending/giving away) a good quality treadmill, please be in touch. 

Second, I am looking for advice about pools anywhere in the Gush Etzion and South Hevron hills areas.   My major criteria are that it have very early morning hours... and late evening hours would be a plus.  Seasonal pools and those which have women-only hours first thing in the morning are not a good fit.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some advice. 

Posted by David Bogner on March 1, 2010 | Permalink


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here's your first possibly annoying comment - why not focus on the food intake and not the exercise? It could be you could tweak things slightly and avoid some bad foods and that would make a much bigger difference than just exercise alone.

Another thing is that I think you should do exercise with a weight bearing component - cardio is generally not very good at weight loss, unless you do intervals.

Just my two cents!

Posted by: Katherine | Mar 1, 2010 2:28:54 PM

Katherine has good points. Building up and training muscle mass is the choice when you need to increase your metabolism rate (i.e. burn more fat). That's something you can do at home.
But do turn to company for some complementing cardio. As you know, walking is an all-time classic in Israel; isn't there someone who does early morning walking? Someone from the neighbourhood watch group, maybe? (You can also do walking with extra lead weights)

Have you considered sessions with a nutritionist? Since you're overall healthy, the real problem might be with the kind of food you consume or even the times of day when you consume it. The thing is, even if it's healthy and lean, it might not be the kind of nutrition your metabolism/system can cope with, and even more sports can't help.

{I know that Americans are used to have two warm, complete meals a day (lunch and dinner) - something which we in Europe would hardly ever do unless we really needed to put on weight.}

Posted by: a. | Mar 1, 2010 2:55:43 PM

The pool and gym at Ramat Rahel open at 5:30 on weekdays. With the new road through Har Homa it is a very short trip from Efrat.

Posted by: avi | Mar 1, 2010 3:10:29 PM

Forgot to include a link to the Ramat Rahel sports center -


They have late evening hours as well.

Posted by: avi | Mar 1, 2010 3:14:51 PM

Katherine ... No, not annoying. But I should point out that I really don't eat that much, and I have all but given up snacking between meals. My problem is that my job conspires to keep me chained to a chair, not to mention occupied during the hours when most gyms/pools are open.

a. ... My weight really started to creep up here in Israel because my office serves a large hot meat lunch... but because we are Americans, Zahava tends to prepare and serve hot evening meals as well. Lately I have been saying no to the evening meal more often than not. But my weight keeps climbing. >:~(

Avi... Wrong direction. I need something in the Gush or on the way to Beer Sheva. Also, I would need a wealthy benefactor to affort Ramat Rachel's rates.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 1, 2010 3:17:18 PM

Also along Katherine's train of thought: start with food control rather than exercerise, and the second will come into your schedule naturally. I am also in the process of losing weight, using www.sparkpeople.com, which is free and which I use to track how many calories a day I eat. There's no gimmickry in the site, but there is a demand to be very exact about what you eat and how many calories it is and in general what kind of lifestyle you'd like. It also has a huge supportive comunity, some of whom are in Israel. I had no idea how much I was eating and then found out that 2 slices of pizza is 600 calories, or almost half of how much I should eat in a day. Good luck..it's really tough.

Posted by: Vicki | Mar 1, 2010 3:50:39 PM

Get back to mor eorganized walking by setting up a new walking challenge and try to eat fewer carbo-hydrates. It is tough but it works, even better with men than women which is quite unfair on us!

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Mar 1, 2010 6:00:24 PM

I agree with Ilana-Davita above, the easiest way for men to reduce their excess weight is to reduce their intake of carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates such as sugar, etc. Regular exercise, both aerobic and resistance exercises, added to your lifestyle will also keep you healthier

So, my suggestions:

1. Purchase some dumbbells with adjustable weight levels and start using them regularly. Search online for which exercises can be done. No need to purchase an expensive gym or pool membership, and no need to drag yourself out at 5 in the morning. Continue your regular walking, and perhaps pick up the pace a little over time to make that exercise more aerobic in nature.

2. Slowly remove as many simple carbohydrates from your diet as possible, and reduce your intake of other starchy carbohydrates.

Do this for a few months and you will feel better and look better.

Posted by: Mark | Mar 1, 2010 6:26:03 PM

So basically, Dave,(referring to your post above)you're eating every day the way we eat on Shabbos. Oy. I think you need to give up, at least on occasion, the lunch at work. Don't even go into the room where the food is. Or, not eat the same amount everyone in the household does at dinner. Maybe go out for a walk instead of the lunch buffet?

Posted by: marsha | Mar 1, 2010 6:28:48 PM

Since I am approximately half your size (by either measurement), perhaps I'm not the best one to give you advice. But that never stopped me before. (I won't comment on the eating because it's not an issue for me so I have little to add). As you know, I'm a big advocate of spinning. It's not nearly as boring as a treadmill and if done right, it can burn a huge amount of calories. And, a spin bike is completely mechanical and therefore realtively cheap relative to good treadmills. Also, if you really get into it, you can transfer the skill to an outdoor bike (and eventually join me on the Alyn Tour).

Posted by: moC | Mar 1, 2010 7:51:56 PM

Cut your breads and pastries.Spinning is good.I`ve been using exercise bands for about 4 years,and love them.You can select the exercises,very compact and use when you have the time.Plus,you can gradually increase the number and size of the bands,gives the feeling you`re making progress.The time wasted traveling to and from the gym can be used working with the bands.

Posted by: Ed | Mar 1, 2010 8:24:38 PM

someone ( whose name escapes me for the mo') once suggested that I should try biking- it worked for me

Posted by: britac | Mar 1, 2010 9:11:26 PM

The dietician at Kupat Holim did wonders for me: I've lost 18 kg in the last 9 months. It's more about planning your intake than eating less.

Posted by: Simon | Mar 1, 2010 10:49:58 PM

I'm going to answer the question you ASKED, regarding the used treadmill:

Try posting on, or checking recent ads on, Janglo (www.janglo.net)

Try Yad Shniya ("second-hand"), which I *think* is www.yad2.co.il. It's sort of Israel's answer to Craigslist

Try Craigslist, which, I understand, has a pretty good following in Israel.

Ask around at gyms to let you know if they decide to upgrade to new treadmills.

That's all I can think of right now.

Posted by: sarah | Mar 2, 2010 12:16:51 AM

Any diet with an end date (lose weight for the summer, for example) tends to make people fatter in the long run.

I've lost weight several times in my life:

1. On a long bicycle trip. Consider biking on a regular basis.

2. I went on an all vegetable diet and ate mostly overcooked string beans for 3 months. I lost 50 pounds but when I went off it the weight came back.

3. I cut back on work hours and walked a mile 5 or 6 times a week. I kept the weight off until my arthritis stopped my regimen.

4. If you're not the over-organized type (like me) then don't start detailed calorie counting, you won't keep it up.

Several of my friends went on all-vegetable diets except for Shabbat; Eat as many vegetables as you want. Greens, sweet potatoes, vegie soups, whatever. I've started this and it is helping.

The only other option I know works is surgery on the digestive tract.

I'm really skeptical about the treadmill. The last owner stopped using it. Do you know of anybody who has used one for over 5 years? If you use it for 2 years and then stop you'll end up as fat or fatter.

Study up on weight loss. There is some good knowledge out there.

Posted by: Fred | Mar 2, 2010 12:37:37 AM

Your Kupat Holim will be able to help with a proper diet plan drawn up by a professional dietician and having to 'answer' to someone really helps keep you on the straight and narrow. Don't be tempted to skip breakfast - it really is the most important meal of the day. Take a planned packed lunch to work and cut out the cooked meal at lunch time in favour of the family meal in the evening, but use a smaller plate than you would normally, and no second helpings!

Posted by: Israelinurse | Mar 2, 2010 1:25:31 AM

Time Magazine, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin"


I've seen some remarkable long-term results on people that have eaten more protein like meat and legumes, and less bread and other carbs.

The swimming will make you ravenously hungry, and the treadmill doesn't work for weight loss.

If you do choose to exercise with the goal of weight loss, I understand that short, intense sessions are best.

Posted by: Ari | Mar 2, 2010 3:00:22 AM

...And a few other tips I've heard:

- Eat large, high-fiber breakfasts like oatmeal. This ensures that your metabolism doesn't slow down and conserve energy by going into starvation mode. With a large breakfast, you'll eat less throughout the day too.

- Small, relatively frequent meals and snacks ensure that your blood sugar doesn't fall off a cliff and make you insane with hunger, then drive you to overeat.

- Don't fall into the low-fat trap. Fat fills you up for longer; just make sure it's of the non saturated variety

- Staying up late fools your body into demanding more meals. Go to sleep earlier.

Posted by: Ari | Mar 2, 2010 7:42:33 AM

I did the South Beach diet about 5 years ago, which is a lower-carb regimen. Dropped 40 pounds in about 3 months with that and exercising, mostly walking on a treadmill. I've kept it off, except for a few pounds which crept back on this past fall due to stress eating brought on by a family medical situation. One very basic thing you can do, which will yield you immediate results, is to avoid the white stuff: white sugar, flour, rice, potatoes (ok, maybe a little white-flour challah for Shabbos). Lots of veggies and low-fat protein,complex carbs when you do eat them, and have either a little protein or a little fat (or both) when you do eat the carbs, to slow the body's absorption of the carbs and avoid the blood-sugar seesaw. Good luck!

Posted by: bratschegirl | Mar 2, 2010 9:05:11 AM

Why don't you join the sports center at Ben Gurion University? I think the pool opens at 5:30 (at least when I used to arrive at 6:15 am, there were people that were already showered and leaving the gym!)
This leaves open the option of a lunch time swim or even after work...

Its pretty reasonable in terms of price (well, it is for faculty members, truth is, I'm not sure how much it is for "outsiders") and should be convenient to your work place.

Posted by: Naomi | Mar 2, 2010 9:53:54 AM

What I do with a similar day like yours is
1 - eat something small every 2 hours until lunch time, then I'm not very hungry (yogurt, vegetables, small fruit).
2 - at lunch I have just one plate with 50% meat/fish, and 50% cooked vegs and salad.
3 - mid afternoon the fruit from lunch.
I found that spreading the food over the day makes a big difference.

Also check out Mike Geary on the web.He insists that you can lose weight/get fit in about 30 mins a day, as long as you do the right exercises.

Posted by: Caroline | Mar 2, 2010 2:48:21 PM

Swimming is lovely, and really good for stretching out the muscles, but almost useless for weight loss. Can you go running in the mornings?

Posted by: zemirah | Mar 2, 2010 6:15:09 PM

We have an "elliptical" machine which we all like. Quieter than a treadmill, and the treadmill had the ill fortune to have ripped the skin off my youngest son's hand when he was two... so we are ill-disposed toward treadmills now. ;o/ But the elliptical, as I said, can be used very nicely while either watching TV (if you are someone else) or listening to music with or without headphones (if you are me).

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Mar 3, 2010 6:39:51 AM

..or much like me (we are the same age and build), you could just accept that there is an age/genetic element to this that is kinda unavoidable!

I tried the walking and even some jogging and I ended up putting weight on!

There comes a point where you just have to say, "Screw it, I'm fat, get over yourself Ken" (or Dave) or risk a heart attack trying to shift it!

Bad advice, I know, but I hate it when people say do this or do that, because in the end, it all comes down to your own motivation, desire and circumstance as to whether or not you want to get your old figure back. Just don't be too disappointed if you don't get there!

If everyone else wants to think I'm a slob, that OK too! :-)

Posted by: Ken | Mar 3, 2010 1:41:49 PM

You work near Be'er Sheva, right? Why not see if the University has swimming hours during your lunch break?
Good luck - I'm also trying to loose weight and it's like pushing a large chocolate-filled boulder up a hill.

Posted by: Shosh | Mar 3, 2010 10:19:31 PM

Jumping Jacks
Jumping Rope

Cheap, aerobic, high impact, and effective.

Posted by: RivkA | Mar 4, 2010 1:21:25 AM

Different things work for different people, but one thing that is important for everyone (I bring it up because a couple mentioned skipping lunch and you made a comment about forgoing dinner), don't skip meals! You (generic "you") may think you're cutting out loads of calories by not eating lunch or dinner, but all you're really doing is sending your body into starvation mode, which slows your metabolism to conserve calories.

You're better off eating a lot of very small meals. And Dave, you (specifically "you") mentioned you don't eat that much. During uni, I gained a bunch of weight, and years afterward, when I finally decided to do something about it, I joined a meal-plan program. Long before they added drugs and other garbage; this was just planned, portion-controlled meals. Before joining, I ate very small portions and rarely ate any kind of junk food. When they gave me my food, I could not believe the quantity they expected me to eat - it was crazy; about twice the amount of food I was used to eating. It wasn't the amount, it was what I was eating, and the combination of foods I was eating. That was a real eye-opener for me. I kept the weight off for 12 years, before a series of injuries changed my activity level drastically.

Exercise, but you might consider also looking into a nutrionist who can devise a daily meal plan for you.

Whatever you wind up doing, good luck! We're rooting for you!

Posted by: Alissa | Mar 4, 2010 8:29:57 PM

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