Friday, July 6, 2012

Remembrance of VH1 Videos Past

Shalom, chaverim! As we settle into our post-Ulpan lives, we've been busy resurrecting our more intensive fitness regimes. This includes continuing to go to the gym three or four times a week, but also adding daily one-hour walks along the gorgeous seaside. Elul is even more gung-ho than me, and frequently goes on bike rides with our friend in the evening. He also gallantly rides to the store, often hauling back forty pounds worth of groceries on his back and lugging them up the steps. As for me, just getting my carcass out the door for a walk in the morning is a triumph.

Back in Boca Raton, where we lived before making Aliyah, we also did daily one-hour walks and went to the gym regularly. However, once we hit Israel and started Ulpan, my self-discipline was taken up entirely by homework, and my fitness routine went out the door. Studies have shown that people have daily allowances of will-power, so until a new practice (such as exercise) becomes a comfortable habit, you have to "spend" your willpower to make yourself perform the activity. For example, if you are trying to stop frivolous spending and diet at the same time, you shouldn't window shop before you go to a party where there will be lots of food. If you have to "spend" your willpower by not spending money in the stores, you're more likely to be unable to resist the extra food at the party.

Anyway, spending my willpower elsewhere led me to put on weight again, and now that it's swimsuit season, I really can't lie to myself any longer about this very visible evidence of months spent in sloth. This is a very vexing feature of being an aging woman: every year your metabolism decreases, so you either have to eat less or exercise more (or both) just to stay at the same weight. And heaven help you if you want to LOSE weight on top of that.  So now my job is to get serious exercise to become a comfortable habit again, so I don't have to use much willpower to get it done. Then I can "spend" my willpower on cleaning up my diet, cutting portion sizes and so on. Bah!

But, I mentally sputter to myself, being in Israel has had such a tonic effect on me! During Ulpan, I felt like a young woman again, full of hope and excitement, and living the life of the student--albeit a student in a much better dorm room. I also rode a big wave of personal triumph that we'd managed to make Aliyah at all. Now that it's over, it feels like we've been given a fresh start, and a chance to build new careers and a new (and happy and sane) way of living. I've already "scratched the itch" of becoming a home-owner, and of having a nice car, somewhat nice clothes, and a job with an impressive title (if not the pay), so I don't need to chase those things anymore. So has Elul, and as such we're on the same page about what is and is not important in our lives. Therefore, it's always surprising to look in the mirror and not see my twenty-something self reflected back. I feel younger, happier, and more optimistic than I have in years, so why don't I look that way? How did I get so...thick?

This sense of being in a kind of mental time warp hit me hard a couple of days ago. Elul and I were relaxing and watching television, and we found the music video channel VH1 broadcasting a countdown show of the top 100 one-hit wonders. Like Proust being triggered by his fiddly, fancy French cookies, I had a wonderful time watching these hits, because I remembered every single song and what I was doing at the time they were (so achingly briefly) popular. So I leave you with two of my very favorite songs from that countdown: "Dance the Night Away" by The Mavericks, and "The Macarena" by Los del Rio, which I humbly admit I hadn't thought of or heard in years. And what's really silly is that I realized I'm now closer in age to the Los del Rio guys in the suits than to the dancing girls!

Enjoy this blast from the past, chaverim, and shabbat shalom! And as usual, if you can't see the video links above, please go directly to my blog at  Don't forget to turn your up your speakers and boogie on down!

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