Traverse City Record-Eagle


July 10, 2010

Perspectives: My loss is someone else's gain

I almost have completed my personal geriatric health assessment!

The following "items" have been checked and cleared of any suspicious activity: teeth, eyes, blood, blood pressure, ears and all normally measurable internal organs.

According to my physician and annual medical report, I am good to go for another year. However, the doctor's comment — "Don't hesitate to call if you need me before that" as I am about to button my shirt, tie my shoes and exit — does leave me a little doubtful about my immortality.

So, to better my chances of seeing my grandchildren's children I have decided to lose 40 pounds. The charts at Weight Watchers indicate my ideal weigh is about 70 pounds less than my current weight. But I think "ideal" is a euphemism for emaciated and seemingly malnourished.

I have begun the process of writing down (pretty much) everything I eat, weighing portions and attending meetings. After the first week I lost five pounds. In the second week I didn't lose, but I didn't gain either.

I have found some nontraditional ways to cope with late-night/after-dinner eating. Sometimes I drink a couple of large cups of tea while watching TV. I get so busy sipping and walking back and forth to the bathroom that my hunger messages subside (and I tell myself I have added more walking exercise into my day).

On the days when I exercise vigorously I seem to eat just what is necessary. A message flashes in my brain announcing: "Dude, if you're going to spend two hours of your day getting to the pool, exercising, showering (again) and rescheduling your priorities, don't mess it up with excess food and drink!"

I love delving into weighty issues, and engaging in heavy and challenging conversation. I also love myself and life and my family, and want to be light enough to address the weightiness of life and its unpredictable events with them for as long as possible.

My decision to lose weight is not about denying myself anything; it is about giving myself more of life. (The only result I've ever gotten from denial was anger and resentment … and that, too, wears on my body.)

My oldest grandson will celebrate his bar mitzvah in less than two years. I want to be there. Shirley and I are three years away from our 50th wedding anniversary. I want to celebrate that one big time! I also want to go for as long as possible with my original equipment, like knees, hips, and whatever other pieces parts last longer with less stress from weight and more flexibility from exercise.

Maybe I should say it another way: I have decided to take care of my body with the same attention and caring maintenance I give my house and car.

For each pound I lose, I will donate one dollar to the American Cancer Society. At first this may sound like a $40 donation; but I suspect it will be more. From past experiences I know that I sometimes have to lose the same pound more than once.

How often do you and I have the opportunity to say: "My loss is your gain and mine?" I invite you to join me in this "Everyone Loses, Everyone Gains" project. You pick the amount you wish to lose and the charity you wish to support.

Send an e-mail to or write to me care of the Record-Eagle, 120 W. Front St., Traverse City MI, and I will update readers on how much has been lost and how much has been pledged.

With your help and health, I believe we can raise several thousand dollars, lose several hundred pounds, and benefit ourselves and many others. I await your responses.

Albert Micah Lewis is rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Traverse City. His latest book is "Soul Sounds, Reflections on Life."

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