Posted by Ran Isner

Here we are, the final post of the “Light Yourself On Fire” challenge and the emotions are bittersweet. On the one hand, I am sad that it’s come to an end because I have put so much into it. On the other hand, I am happy because I know that my journey doesn’t end here.

I have been reflecting on this 16 week journey for the past couple of days and I cannot believe how much was accomplished during the time. I have created a healthy routine, I have held myself accountable to you and I have let go of things that have not been serving me and I was not open enough to acknowledge.

The most important one and the one that was affecting me the most was the overwhelming sense of guilt I’ve been living in for over a decade now. I have not allowed myself to be who I really was because I was feeling guilty about leaving my home in Israel and creating a new home here in the US. Guilt has almost broken up my marriage because I  refused to see that my actions were not serving the best interest of my family, meaning my wife and children, even though they are the world to me and I cannot imagine my life without them in it.

Owning up to me guilt has been instrumental in my transformation because it go me to reconnect with ME again and my soul so desperately needed that. It has deepened my connection with my wife because now I can truly express myself without any judgement and guilt. I am able to be present with my children and enjoy the moments we get to spend together. For the longest time I was so unhappy with who I have become and I felt that there was no hope.

Working on myself and understanding the events that have shaped my life have allowed me to be open to experience new things. Peta Kelly’s “The New Way Live” event in May is what inspired the “Light Yourself On Fire” challenge because it spoke about being the first one to do something so you can inspire others to do the same. The theme was about finding your jeaniius, the one thing that you can do so well that it is your moral obligation to share it with the world. I know now that I was put on this earth to change lives, to encourage people to find their own jeaniius and make a difference in this world. I gave myself the permission to operate from the space of love because I know n my bones that it emirates from me so brightly and that people deserve to know that they are loved and that they have permission to love, themselves and others. I call meek The Love Warrior because  love is the one thing worth fighting for.

I express gratitude every day and am thankful that I am where I am and that I am doing what aligns with my soul and that I am practicing to approach every thing I do with love.

I would like to thank you all for being a part of this journey and for holding me accountable to be the most honest, real me that I can be and for being my sounding board for my breakdowns and breakthroughs. This might mark the end of this challenge but it is most certainly not the end of this journey, it is merely the beginning. Life is lived in the present moment so it can never truly be the end.

Results:

Weight: 151.0( -5.5 since last week, -5.6 since start)

Cleanse days: 16 total for the challenge

Workouts: 42 ( 6 short of goal)

Books I have read:

  1. Love Louder by Preston Smiles
  2. The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield
  3. The Big Leap By Gay Hendricks
  4. 50 Ways To Yay by Alexi Panos

What I would like to be acknowledged for this challenge:

I would like to be acknowledged for finally loving myself enough so I could find the Ran that has been absent all these years. The Ran that dimmed his light so much that he was depriving the world of his true gift and his true sense of purpose. I would like to be acknowledged for focusing on the process and not the result.

I am a stand for all of you to find or re-discover what it is that ignites your soul and a stand for love and the notion that we all make an impact in other people’s lives. How are you going to light yourself on fire?

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Pledge Of Allegiance

August 24, 2016

Posted by Ran Isner

A little over 11 years ago I moved to the US to study acting. After my freshmen year I met my wife and 4 years later we got married. All my life people told me that I should live in America because I know everything there is to know about American pop culture that i might as well be American.

One never knows where life will take them and my life happened to bring me here. I believe wholeheartedly that I was meant to come here so I could meet my amazing wife. I was meant to be on this journey that brought me here and has me writing these words. With her I feel that I am right where I need to be, and we have two beautiful children which further affirms my belief.

Not too long ago I started my naturalization process and by the end of this process I will be an American citizen. I like to keep myself up to date on what happens in this country and basically be well informed. The way I see it is, if I live here I might as well have a say in where this country is headed.

This decision was not a difficult one to make. My life is here, my family is here and this is where I want to be. I’m not saying I don’t miss Israel, I do, and I think that I sometimes block those emotions from coming out because I feel guilty. I feel that I haven’t been in touch with my Israeli self and that includes introducing Israel and it’s customs to my children. I have wanted to assimilate so much to make it easy on myself that I have been neglecting my roots. As I am writing these words I am getting very emotional because I don;t want to feel that guilt anymore. The fact that I am becoming an Amrican doesn’t mean that I must forget where I came from.

Today I went to the USCIS processing center for my biometrics. That means that They took my fingerprints, a photo and my signature for record keeping. I realized that that’s the signature is going to be on my passport eventually! It wasn’t after I left there that I really understood the magnitude of it all. At the naturalization ceremony, you pledge to renounce your allegiance to any other country and as I was reading those words I felt a pinch. At that moment, when I let it sink in, it felt like I had given something up right then and there. Fun fact! Israel is one of the only countries that the US allows it’s citizens keep their citizenship thus becoming a dual citizen.

I am very grateful to be in the position I’m in and I am not taking it for granted. I know that I have exhibited some upper limit symptoms this week because I have been off my routine and have been allowing myself to take my eyes off the prize. This is a great thing that’s happening yet my mind and my ego are so afraid of change that they convince me that I shouldn’t be this happy.

Another thing I am grateful for? This blog. This medium a gives me the opportunity to let things out. It allows me to be present, raw and real and be who I really am. No masks, not stories, only truth.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it.

Bucket List Item #14…Check!

November 24, 2013

So my mother’s response to my bucket list item was, “Yoga in Israel? On the List? Really???!!!!” (I may have added some punctuation here but otherwise it’s a direct quote).

Well, yeah, yoga in Israel, On the List. Really.

I started practicing Bikram Yoga in 2008 on the recommendation of a dear friend of mine who is a dancer and definitely more in shape than I am. She suggested I try it in advance of my trip to Israel so I’d feel my best on my trip. I barely made it through my first class (almost passed out 2x), but I did make it, and I went back for more. When we left for Israel, I had done some google searching and found out that there were 2 places to do Bikram yoga in Tel Aviv and there were even classes in English! I definitely was going to go.

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If ONLY my head touched the floor this easily!

But then, you know, LIFE happened. I got scared and I chickened out. I had no idea how knowing absolutely ZERO Hebrew was going to kind of be a problem. I was to scared to go alone and my husband (and travel partner) was not yet ready for the challenge. So I packed the yoga clothes for nothing. Oh well.

In 2009, I had another trip to Israel and though for sure THIS time I would make a trip to the yoga studio, but it never happened. I was too busy socializing and eating and shopping to fit in a 90 minute class. Another dusty pair of yoga shorts went unused.

Now, four years later, we are finally back in Israel. I have a regular yoga practice and my travelling companion (read: reluctant Ran) had PROMISED to go with me. This time it was much harder to find any information on the internet, and the phone numbers were out of service. What had happened to Bikram yoga in Israel? Was it gone? Had it failed to gain traction here just like Starbucks? I was starting to panic! I thought, “I had 2 chances to go to yoga and I squandered them!”. Luckily, Ran remembered an acquaintance on Facebook who often posted things about going to Bikram yoga. So through the magic of the internet, Ran messaged her and was able to get all the details on where/when and which teachers could speak enough English so I could get through the class. She was a God-send! She told us that at 10am Sunday she would be going to class with one of the best teachers and we could meet her there. It sounded like a great plan on Saturday night.

But on Sunday morning at 8:20 as my MIL tried to wake me, I was seriously having second thoughts. It went something like this…

“Ugh. I couldn’t sleep last night. Jet lag till 3am. I’m tired, I want to sleep rather than go to yoga. I can always go another time. It’s so nice and warm in bed, and hell, I’M ON VACATION, I don’t want to do yoga! (I just want to eat and chillax, dude)”

So I woke Ran and told him we gotta make a decision pronto! Because we need to leave in 20 minutes if we are doing this thing. He said, “I’d rather go now than later today.” And with that I decided, “Let’s go man!” We dressed and got out of the house as quickly as possible and go ton the road. We drove as fast as we could, and even still we were cutting it very close. We got there with about 10 minutes to spare, so I jumped out of the car to go do our paperwork and reserve our places in class while Ran searched for parking. Parking in Tel Aviv is on par with parking in NYC, so there is none. So Ran had to park in a business high-rise where the Israeli KPMG offices were (to the tune of 67 sheckels – about $25). He also parked several blocks away and had to run the streets of Tel Aviv to make it in time for 10am class. Bikram classes are notorious for being punctual and they do not allow late comers.

While Ran was parking, I went into the building and realized, I didn’t know what floor the studio was on, and the signs were only in Hebrew so I was He-screwed. My plan was to take the elevator up to each floor and investigate but then someone came in behind me. I asked him to read the sign for me, but he said, “No yoga.” I was sure I was in the right place, but honestly, I had no idea! The second man who came in after me totally had a “yogi-vibe” and he told me yes there was yoga and I could follow him there. Whew! I was in, finally! I was finally going to take my first international Bikram yoga class! I just kicked my yoga practice up a notch.

The class was great. I was able to understand most of what was happening (even though it was in Hebrew) because Bikram yoga is the same 26 posture the world ’round. I could even kinda figure out what the teacher was saying because I know the dialogue so well. I decoded the words for “lock the knee” and “breath in”/”breath out.” I felt worldly!

I’ve gone to yoga on vacation once before, but that was in Florida. It was still fun and felt great to be exercising on vacation. Vacations can be sinkholes for calories. You just eat out so much and really let loose. It can be great fun but really hard to come back from once the vacation is over. I find that fitting in a little exercise makes me feel like I am just thatmuch more on top of things than I would have been in the past. Taking this practice International was truly one of the things on my bucket list. I wanted to experience a class in another language and also be out of my element a little bit. It freshens things up! Especially when you take the same class for 5 years!

If you get the chance to exercise on vacation, I highly recommend it. In this case I treated it as touristy thing to do because I got to take a class overlooking Tel Aviv and observe how Israelis did Bikram yoga. Instead of chickening out and being afraid, I just went for it. And believe me, during that first breathing pose, I was cursing myself. Why am I here? Why do I do this to myself? I hate this pose, blah blah blah.

But then I reminding myself (as I do at every class), that is its a privilege to be there and I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be in the class on that day and that moment. So just breath in and breath out and enjoy.

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Tomato Sauce for Shakshuka simmering away

As I mentioned, for Meatless Monday we attempting a new recipe called Shakshuka.  I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it was very easy to follow and the results were deliciously amazing!  First you make a simple tomato sauce with jalepeno’s for added kick.  Cumin and paprika give it a middle eastern flavor.

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Eggs cracked into the sauce

Then you crack 6 organic eggs into the sauce.  Cover it and let it poach for 5 minutes.

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Shakshuka, ready to eat

The results are soft boiled eggs (or hard boiled if you let it cook longer) enveloped in a spicy tomato sauce.  We ate it with salad and some warm pita.  It would so satisfying as a meal, and there was plenty of tomato sauce left over.  The next night, we put the tomato sauce back on the stop top.  I added one small can of tomato sauce and some water and let it simmer.  Then added 6 eggs and made another fabulous dinner out of it.

In the future, I would probably only make 4 eggs because 2 for each of us is plenty.  Then I would save the sauce, as I did, and make it again with fresh eggs another time.  I have a feeling you can’t really reheat the eggs once they are cooked.

My favorite part of Meatless Monday is all the new recipes we are trying.  It’s become a fun project for my husband and I to tackle together every week.  Plus, trying 1 new recipe a week is just about all I can handle as I juggle health coaching, school, work and being with my son and husband.  Anything more than that and I might go a little nuts!

Next Monday we will just be returning home from a weekend out of town, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to try a new recipe.  But, having this one in my rotation will be great especially because it uses ingredients I normally keep in the pantry and it is so easy to make.

Hello!  It’s Sunday night so that must mean it’s time for me to rack my brain for a Meatless Monday dinner for the family.  While my husband and I were brainstorming ideas, we both came up with Shakshuka at the same time.  It’s an Israeli dish that is make with eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.  I’ve never made it before and have only had it out to eat at places like Mimi’s Hummus here in Brooklyn.  It’s a wonderful dish because it had tons of flavor and can be made with no meat added.

Marie and Ran overlooking Jerusalem, 2010

Marie and Ran overlooking Jerusalem, 2010

The recipe I’m going to attempt tomorrow night is from Smitten Kitchen.  I’ve never made any of their recipes, but I have heard good things.  Plus the recipe seems easy enough to follow. Fingers crossed!

I’ll probably serve the shakshuka with a green salad and a cucumber salad because I recently acquired some farm fresh cucumbers!  Pita bread is also a customary compliment to shakshuka.

If this recipe goes well, I look forward to serving it again at my next brunch!

So far, Meatless Monday has become a great family project for us to tackle.  We are really enjoying finding new and exciting recipes to make and enjoy.  It’s fun for us to do together and it really does start the week off on a good foot.

We’ve also started eating meat only 1x per day.  I’ve been doing this for a while, but my husband recently got on board.  My main reason for choosing to eat vegetarian most of the day is because I really need to make sure that I get enough veggies in my diet. So less meat, means more creativity with veggies.  I’m also very aware of the fact that meat consumption is terrible for the planet right now, so I want to make a small difference by choosing to eat meat less and less.  I’m also buying mostly organic meat which is more expensive, so if we eat meat less I can mitigate the cost that way.

I’d really love to beef (haha) up the section of my recipe repertoire that’s vegetarian, so if you have amazing recipes you like for Meatless Monday, please put them in the comments below!

I promise to post pictures of my final product as soon as I can.  Wish me luck!

 

It Don’t Come Easy

August 10, 2009

When I started (again) on Weight Watchers in February of 2008, I was kind of obsessed with listening to Ringo Starr.  C’mon, don’t judge, he’s a BEATLE!  I had his song “It Don’t Come Easy” on my iPod and listened to it pretty much everyday on my way to work.  Along with “Photograph”, which has nothing to do with weight loss, but is, nonetheless, a great song.

IDCE became my theme song for losing weight.  Whenever I would get down on myself about having to count points, measure portions, etc.  I would try to just remember, “Hey, it’s not easy, BUT you CAN do it.”  And, “Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues!” So I paid my dues and I DID lose weight.  I lost my first 15lbs rather easily.

Then, came the summer…

“I don’t want to cook, it’s too hot.”

“I’m on vacation, I don’t want to watch what I eat.”

“It’s summer, I go out a lot.”

“It’s summer, I want ice cream.”

I definitely used some of these excuses to sabotage myself, not knowing it of course.  Despite this, I had a great summer buying new clothes to fit my new body, even fitting into some old clothes that hadn’t fit in a long time!  I bought a new bathing suit, and didn’t have a fit of tears in the dressing room about it!  The real success of the summer was coming back from a two week stay in Israel and only gaining .4lbs.  I was devastated at the time (“I wish I had lost!”) and then my WW leader brought me back down to reality.

Leader: “Most people gain 5lbs on vacation, so I consider your ‘gain’ a 4.5lbs loss!”

The secret to my success… I never finished what was on my plate.  I ordered wisely when out to eat, but never finished the food.  I always left at least a bite, sometimes more.  This sounds really simple to do, but it’s VERY hard.  Especially when you’re out to eat.  You want to get ALL the value out of the meal (hell, I’m paying for this!) and usually the food is so good that you want to eat it all.  I still try to follow this rule, because it works and it’s a helluva lot better than cutting carbs outta my diet!  (cutting carbs out = torture to this little Italian girl).

So it’s Monday, and I went to weigh-in today.  Little bit of success today, down .6 of a pound.  At first, I felt bad (ugh, only .6!) but then I said, “Marie, it don’t come easy!”  The trend is downward and that’s ALL that matters!

I’m having some friends over tonight and we are going to order Papa John’s pizza – there I admit it!  It’s okay though, we ordered one loaded with “the meats” (I admit that is a bit scary) for the boys and one with veggies for me.  The greatest lesson I’ve learned doing WW is that you HAVE to speak up for what kinds of food you need.  My husband would prefer “the meats” (God help him!) but it’s absolutely no good for me.  So now, we order 2 pizzas so I can have what I need in order to continue the downward trend.

I also made a wonderful Sun-Dried Tomato dip from Barefoot Contessa‘s book and substituted all the full fat mayo, cream cheese, etc. for the lower fat counterparts.  I’m serving it with chips (again, for the boys) and with endive spears for me.

And finally dessert, YES you can still have dessert!  A recipe that I learned from my good friend Cara…

1. Take any store bought cake mix – doesn’t matter what flavor or texture

2. add one can of diet soda (try to match the soda color to the cake, so chocolate cake goes well with diet dr pepper or coke zero and lemon cake goes better with diet sprite)

3. mix

4. make into muffins, bake and eat!

I usually put some fat free Cool Whip on top with sliced strawberries.  Each muffin is only 1 point, and the toppings are hardly anything at all.

Enjoy!

So this meal will be slightly indulgent (the pizza) and mostly healthy.  You gotta treat each day as an opportunity to lose weight, because if you follow the “Tomorrow is another day” approach you will never lose weight.  You’ll always be starting your diet (though, I hate that word) tomorrow!  No good.  Follow the words of the wise Ringo Starr, “The future won’t last, it will soon be your tomorrow.”

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