Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Update - Struggles already with new diet.

Wow, I didn't realize I was already on Day 4.  Here is my diary so far.

DAY 1 (SUNDAY, 7/24):
On Sunday, I just had my juiced vegetables and water.  My wife made me some coffee, and even though this is not the best way to start, I figured that it is a good idea to start one step at a time.  I don't function well without coffee.  For dinner, I cooked some sweet potatoes and then blended them with some spices.  It made for a very delicious dinner.

DAY 2 (MONDAY, 7/25):
Same as day 1; everything was going well.  I decided not to have coffee (too acidic), so I was moody and groggy for much of the day.  Also had a huge headache from the hunger pangs.  However, at night, my wife was starting to bug me about me doing this.  She asked me, "so are you going to only be drinking juices? Will you be eating meat or anything else at all?" and I answered, "[Eve,] I have not decided exactly what I'm doing yet.  But yeah, sure, I'm sure I'll be open to eating meat."  Then I saw that she made this gigantic leg of some kind of beef.  I'm talking the kind of meat that you would see being sold at a carnival!  I'm telling you, the meat was red, it looked like corned beef on a bone, and it smelled amazing!

Inside, I had this dilemma.  I really didn't want to eat this meat, but I didn't want to seem like an extremist either.  Also, how bad could this one piece of meat be?

I took a few bites, and then I stopped.  Then I took a few more bites, and then after being upset with myself, I finished off a bag of parve cheese doodles.  "Damn," I thought.  I wish I were stronger.

DAY 3 (TUESDAY, 7/26):
Being slightly upset about the night before, I resumed my "vegetable juice only" regimen.  I drank my water throughout the day, drank green juice throughout the day, all was good.  In the afternoon, my wife made the same kind of soup I made just a few days before, but she didn't spice it at all... plus, she used carrots.  When I asked her about it, she said she made it for me.  After tasting it, I decided to improve the taste (or at least give it some), and so I added some salt, an apple, and some spices.  The problem is that I poured clover instead of ginger, and then when I realized it was the wrong one, I used too much ginger.  I tasted it and I dealt with the horrific taste of clover between my tongue and the top of my mouth.  Later that night, my wife tasted it and almost spit it out.  She said it was terrible tasting, and I apologized for ruining her soup.  In the evening, I saw my wife cooked the kids some chicken nuggets, a minimal amount was left on their plates after they went to sleep.  I gobbled up what was there (maybe a piece or two), and then I decided that I need to balance that with something healthy.  I steamed some organic broccoli, and that, along with some green juice and Yerba mate tea was my dinner.  Tea tasted disgusting without any sweetener.  I think I'm going to go get some Stevia or something healthy.  All in all, this was a good day.

Today I was having a difficult day.  In the morning, I saw that my weight had dropped to 238 lbs -- holy smokes!  This was the first time in years I had broken below this weight!  I started my morning with my green veggie juice, but I had a serving of Halva my mother-in-law got us from her trip to Israel.  Throughout the day, I drank water - a liter or so, but in the afternoon when my wife was cooking herself that yummy meat (my piece from Day 2 that I did not eat), I took two pieces of cheese and ate them (dairy is no good for my diet). A few minutes later, I had another serving of Halva, two more pieces of cheese, and then I walked away realizing that I suck at sticking to this healthy food thing.  I'll be having more green juice and some veggies for dinner.

All in all, this takes a lot of will power.  I'm used to having lots of coffee each day, and I've cut that out, at least for now.  Part of me thinks I can use the caffeine, and so the Yerba mate tea does have a lot of caffeine, so I'll try that instead.  I went to IKEA this morning with my wife and our kids (the two not in day camp), and we spent two hours roaming the room setups.  I purchased a strainer so that the tea doesn't get mixed with what I drink.  Yesterday I brewed it in my coffee maker, but the instructions said that to benefit most from it and not kill the enzymes (or whatever nutrients are in Yerba), let it sit in cooler water first, then pour the hot water and heat it up.  My coffee brewer shot boiling water all over it.  The problem is that now that I have a strainer (it cost $0.99), I need to toivel it because it is metal.  Now I need to figure my way over to the shul and gain access to the mikveh.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New weight loss regimen. Time for some life changes.

Image: greenphile /

It is motzai shabbos, July 23rd, 2011, and I am taking something on that I could use some support on.

Last year, I went to the doctor and he told me that I was months away from a heart attack. I wasn't significantly overweight -- at the time I was 245 lbs and being a tall 6'4" with broad shoulders, my weight was bad, even "obese" according to the BMI chart, but I wasn't walking around with a gut. As a result, he told me that my good cholesterol was low and that I needed to start taking Niacin pills to hold me over while I change my lifestyle.

With the permission of my wife, I used our income tax return money to purchase a Vitamix 5200 Juicer, and an EasyGreen sprout grower. I also bought a step counter and committed to walking 10,000 steps each day. I did this religiously for a while, but I never reached 10,000. I also grew sprouts regularly for a while and juiced them with vegetables, but as the document review project that I was on ended and I started studying for the NY bar exam, so did my exercise and my diet.

Since then I've kept it up only intermittantly, juicing maybe once every other week, growing sprouts, etc. but the exercise dropped off a cliff and never returned. Similarly, the step counter ran out of batteries, and I got tired of seeing that I only walked 4,000 steps that day which was embarassing, especially since my wife hit 10,000 on her step counter just running around with her smaller steps doing regular chores. Then she got pregnant, and I quit the whole health thing.

However, now it's almost two years later, and I am just as fat, unhealthy, and I've been getting sick a lot, especially since I have been working the law firm each day without leaving the home. It seems as if every other week, I come down with the flu or some cold which knocks me off my feet. Theraflu has become my tea of choice these past few months. In short, I'm getting tired of being sick and tired.

So my wife started exercising, and I've been listening to old audios of Tony Robbins (Living Health) that I have in my audio archives. I've also been re-reading the books I have on the shelf regarding the importance of staying hydrated, keeping your body alkaline, etc. I'm also watching streaming health videos on Netflix (at this moment, "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" which I am finding humorous since I relate to the character so much) which is a stark improvement from the Prison Break series or Battlestar Galactica which took up many months of my evening viewing in the past year.

So here's my plan, and this time I hope to stick to it. I will resume juicing and eating greens so that every day I have healthy liquid vegetables to drink. I will resume drinking at least three liters of filtered water each day. I will go to the gym at least twice each week. I will also get my sleeping habits in order so that I can wake up early and immediately start on this regimen -- this is my commitment. Hopefully being away in the morning will also lead me into the halls of the Empire Shteibel, my shul. In the past, this has been sufficient to get my health back on track. I cannot and will not commit more than this because this seems to be an overwhelming lifestyle change. I will not give up food, snacks, junk food, coffee, soda, or other vices, at least not yet. I am adding the good before I start subtracting the bad. Step by step is the way I will go.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Afraid Hashem is firing a shot across the bow.


First of all, this is the first time I have gone through my e-mail since December, 2010.  I am floored, honored, shocked, and a bit embarrassed that many of you read the blog.  For a while, I thought this was merely my sounding board for people who hated my guts and called me all sorts of names.  I liked it because for once, I got an honest answer to the issues that were bothering me in life.  Now I just checked my e-mail, and holy smokes, you actually read this stuff!  As if the dysfunctional parts of my life are fodder for your reading pleasure.  I actually almost cried because I felt cared for when I read all your e-mails, and I apologize for not returning any of them.

I usually don't write because I really have nothing to say.  I'm working my law firm out of our bedroom closet, and we've made more money than ever and I'm scared as hell that this won't last.

I've been successful in my niche area [which kills me that I can't talk to you about it because there are so few people doing what I'm doing], but the problem is that where a few months ago I was pulling in weeks where the firm was making $9K-$12K a week -- don't get me wrong -- this happened only a few times -- my average these past few weeks has been $1,000 - $2,000 per week.  That's still more than I was making at document review, but it is no longer so impressive.

While on the surface it appears as if the niche area of law I've been working on has had its time, I have this sneaking suspicion that our berachas are running out.  G-d has given me such an opportunity to allow me to be frum and I've blown it by not davening with tallis and tefilin, and by separating myself from our community.

Today, I almost cried because we got a check for $1,000, but the help the new client needed was moot and so I e-mailed him that I was going to return his check because I couldn't help him.  I told my wife that I was sure that this was Hashem firing a shot across the bow.  He is saying, "I gave you this parnossa; I can take it away at any time."  But all over me not davening?!?  This kills me.  I am so strong in so many areas of yiddishkeit -- kashrus, Shabbos, learning Torah, especially nigleh!  I spend roughly an hour each day learning torah, and over Shabbos, sometimes I learn up to four or five hours.  Plus, whenever I get bored, instead of picking up a book on whatever, I usually grab for something torah-oriented.  I love learning!  I hate davening.

Anyway, that's it for now.  I'm wiped out because our kids have gotten into the bad habit of waking up at 5:30am, and this infuriates me because I really don't do well with getting enough sleep.  As you all know, when I become sleep deprived, I am not at my best.  My days start by how I wake up, and the way I have been waking up lately has made me a mess.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 2011 Frumpter Update -- No Longer Doing Slave Labor, Started Own Firm

Image: Idea go /

It has been so long since I have written that I couldn't even remember the password to log into the Frumpter blog account.  What sparked me coming back here was an e-mail I saw from months ago telling me that I should remove the semi-porn photo from this blog.  Not remembering putting up even a provocative photo, I thought to myself, "the blog must have been hacked."  So I logged in, and I started reading all the posts about my wife's grandmother, my document review position (now long gone), the fights my wife and I were having.  The more I read, the worse I felt.  This blog is not good for my shalom bayis, and I'm glad my wife didn't have the interest to ever look it up.

In short, at some point last year we had a fire in our home.  Nothing major, some damage to my books and some items in the kitchen, but nobody was hurt.  At the time, my Rabbi told me that there are sources in Chassidus which teach that when someone has a fire in his home, it is usually a sign that person and his family will shortly become wealthy.  The logic is that an outbreak of a fire ("Aish") contains so much concentrated Gevurah (lit. severity) in one place, that there is no choice but that the fire ends up bringing down Chesed (lit. kindness/mercy) in equal proportions, often in the form of money and wealth.  Obviously no doubt a jew should never fortune-tell his future based on events that happen, but still it is something to smile at and wish it would be true.

Well in short, I was working crazy hours while working the document review project full-time.  I was commuting back and forth from Crown Heights by way of the subway (eek, think hand sanitizer every day), and I was getting home around midnight almost every evening.  Why?  Because after document review, I would go to the nearest Starbucks, and I would sit there for hours and make phone calls because I was starting my law practice.  In short, I was working two jobs -- the document review full time, and the law practice almost full time as well.

I was too afraid to start the law practice without having at least six (6) months equivalent of document review salary available -- the logic was that if I worked the law practice every day for six months after leaving the document review project, I would be able to find another one if I saw that my efforts were not bearing fruit.  Funny enough, since the project I was on was only producing something like $30/hour (maybe $25/hour, I cannot remember at this point), all I needed for 6-months of salary was $30,000.  Since all the money from the document review went into just basic living expenses, I saved this money by working nights at the law firm and taking on new clients.  As soon as I saved this 6-months of salary, I quit the document review project, and I went to work full time on my new law firm.

It was February 2011 when I left the project and hit the ground running on my firm exclusively and full time.  I still kept time sheets as if I were still working the document review because I didn't want to slack off and work fewer than the 40-50 hours I was working as a minimum each week at the project.  However, the firm quickly became successful (with a huge amount of effort, obviously), and now I have more people calling than I can take on as clients.  I have focused my practice into one little niche area, taken on a bunch of clients, and now this is all I do each day from morning to evening.  I am a bit burned out from all the effort, but I am just keeping my routine and thinking of my practice as my good-paying job.  In four hours of work (billable hours, that is), I make as much as I would have made in a week of working my butt off in the document review project.

I work from home, and although my wife and I have agreed to very strict boundaries of when the closet (and a majority of our bedroom at times) in our Brooklyn apartment is my office, and when the closet is just a closet, I spend a lot of time with my family during the day.  Since I do patent work, most of my clients are over the internet, so I am fine being situated with a scanner, my laptop, a printer, and some office supplies.  I am obsessively organized with my client's paperwork, and I keep everything as organized as possible.  I say "as possible" because I have piles of papers which I no longer need, but I simply have not had time to digitize and scan them into electronic format and file them away.

Being that I work from home, I am able to spend time with my wife and now FOUR KIDS (our most recent child -- boy -- was conceived on/around Rosh Hashanna last year, and he was born early May, 2011).  My wife likes the fact that we are no longer struggling to pay the rent, and she also likes that she can each week tell me the dates and times she needs me for whatever purpose, and I simply block that time as "unavailable" to my clients so they cannot book appointments for those times.  She is also completely excited that after five years of marriage, we are finally going to be replacing her current sheitel with a nice (and unfortunately, but I am happy for her, expensive sheitel).  Her current one still looks good, but for those of you who wear sheitels, with the amount of hair pulling that has happened over the years, she has needed to change the style a few times now to cover over the areas of the sheitel that are starting to get "bald."

Being financially well off -- remember, this our fourth month of having good parnossa -- we both understand that this is a gift from Hashem and that it can end at any day, at any moment -- for now has been something that the two of us have had to acclimate ourselves to.  Our first inclination when money started coming in was to start spending and buy ourselves the things we always wanted.  However, after a few clothing sprees for the kids and seeing a few multi-hundred-dollar expenses show up on my credit card, my wife and I quickly had the conversation that money is not there to be spent -- it is there for times we need it, and for times where it would make us more comfortable.

Perfect example -- the most recent hospital stay when my wife was giving birth.  My wife didn't want to share a room with some stranger as she has done in the past, but the cost of a single room was quite expensive.  I told her to book a single room anyway because it is for times like this that the money is best spent.  Similarly, I have been looking at an English Gemara set on so that I can learn the Hebrew text line-by-line, and so I spent a few hundred dollars and bought the set.

(As a side topic, the author is a questionable academic with views of Judaism which comparatively delve into other religions more than I would like (and more than I would be comfortable reading about), but just as I often learn Gemara from the online Soncino version on the well known, anti-semetic Come And Hear website, if the Gemara doesn't have New Testament, Yoshka, or comparative texts from the Koran pasted all over it, I have nothing wrong with reading G-dliness (Oral Torah) from an author who might not be a follower of Hashem.  As long as he is not skewing the meaning of things or interpreting things in view of non-Jewish texts, I have nothing wrong with learning from his translations.  Torah is Torah, regardless of whether it is written by a G-d fearing Jew, a pious gentile, or even when quoted by a Hitler (mach'sh'mo).  [Maybe I am way off on this statement.  Something feels wrong about writing that.])

As far as shalom bayis is concerned, for now my wife and I are okay.  The newest boy is a screamer, and he keeps both my wife and myself awake most of the night, so we're pretty much pulling our hair out from all the stress and lack of sleep, but then again, I don't have that much hair to lose and hers is covered anyway. ;) The underlying issues are still there -- she treats me more as a roommate rather than a husband, and she sees her role in life as only a mother and she forgets that she is also a wife in a relationship that needs to be nurtured, so she forgets the simple things like, for example, talking to me once in a while, but things for now are fine.

My Rabbi told me that the best way to deal with this is to continue to act towards her like I would like her to act towards me, and that I should buy her flowers frequently (at minimum, every erev shabbos) and little things to show her that I think of her and that she's loved.  He told me to do this always, even when things are good, but not to expect any results in terms of her opening up to me and showing a change.

For now, things are good.  I'll post again in a few months. ;)