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Food, Sex and Rock’n’Roll – Not your Average Weight Guide Loss – Part I –

Food has been my number one addiction for quite some time. It offered comfort, taste, and filled the gaps within my soul. Unfortunately, the gaps were too large and all that love filled me up with extra pounds, just causing endless illness and suffering.

Happy Childhood

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Photo: Tashkent, Uzbekistan

 

“As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know.”  ― C.G. JungMemories, Dreams, Reflections

I spent my childhood in the sunny and friendly Soviet Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan, the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union. Both of my parents had full-time jobs. They were shifting from poverty and moving towards the middle class. I was raised by my grandma, who survived the war and hunger. She loved me wholly and unconditionally which meant feeding me well and constantly fattening me up. My grandma really loved to cook and feed our big family with traditional Jewish meals with Uzbek influences. The diet was rich in meat, wheat, pelmeni (meat dumpling), some fish, and pastries rich in sugar and cream. Due to the warm climate, rich harvests of grains and legumes were gathered as well as a great variety of fruits and vegetables: grapes, watermelons, melons, gourds, greens, berries, etc. Veggies and fruits were always on the table but only as a side dish.

I remember moving from my grandma’s house to my parents when I was around 10. My parents had a lot of friends. They loved to have fun, go out, eat, drink and dance. By the time I was 11, my parents were doing pretty well and life was good for a while.  They took me to the restaurants, museums, theaters and on beach vacations. All these activities were accompanied by lots of food and alcohol. But my parent’s marriage was totally falling apart by the time I was 12. My dad became a very sick, old man.  He had diabetes and was severely depressed.  Just like divorce and diabetes, depression also was not understood in these days. My parents were constantly fighting and life became a living hell during my pre-teen years.  I found my rescue on top of the roofs, by the abandoned lake sides, and with books and food. I picked up smoking and got my first taste of alcohol. In addition, I became aware of my sexuality and all the worst boys in my neighborhood somehow were becoming my best friends. Then my dad moved to New York. By that time, I was hooked on alcohol, cigarettes and my fast and furious slide towards the rock-bottom was happening, while the gap in my soul became larger with every bite.

Party Time! 

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Photo: My Party Time!

“Look at that party the other night. Everybody wanted to have a good time and tried real hard but we all woke up the next day feeling sorta sad and separate.” ― Jack KerouacThe Dharma Bums

I’ve had many thrills since the age of 12.   At the same time, Mikhail Gorbachev assumed the leadership of the USSR. Gorbachev introduced glasnost, or political openness. Glasnost eliminated traces of Stalinist repression, like the banning of books and the omnipresent secret police, and gave new freedom to Soviet citizens. People became a little more open. While I’ve never been a good student. School was quite boring—I was a voracious reader with a curious mind. When I wasn’t drinking, I’ve spend hours reading about philosophy, art, history, Soviet repression, mysticism, and Sufism which expanded my conscience saving the brain cells damaged by alcohol.

Gorbachev also believed that private initiative would lead to innovation. The individuals and cooperatives were allowed to own businesses for the first time since the 1920’s. This opened even more doors.  Night clubs and fancy hotels were popping up everywhere. Suddenly my world exploded with books, fashion, culture, mysticism, and dancing.

In August of 1991, Gorbachev was placed under house arrest during a coup by high-ranking members of his own government. I was staying in Moscow with my friend in a really fancy hotel as tanks, soldiers and an angry mob tried to take over the city. We flew back to Tashkent in a small plane in the night. It was scary. Luckily, the military regime didn’t come to power and we were safe! But it was very unsettling. People knew, Russia will always be corrupted. The first big wave of immigration was on the go.

Life was fast, and fun filled with drunken parties, boys and food. I would fly to Moscow to go out dancing all night, have breakfast in fancy clubs and fly back home with a few friends I’d met along the road. On one of these trips, I stayed with one of these ‘friends’ who stole all my money and kicked me out – I was only 16! Luckily, I’d met a guy while waiting in-line at a night club, with whom I stayed for a week in the drunken haze. I eventually ended up on the streets until my ex-boyfriend sent me money to get a ticket to go home. One of these days, I will write a book with all these stories but there is not enough room here. By the age of 17 I had already had an abortion and was totally addicted to booze. I was starting to feel sad, empty, wandering the streets alone and questioning my motivation to go on living. I began to crave changes. I moved to Moscow, got a job. Things turned really ugly very quickly. I was bored, restless and lonely and I’m lucky to have lived through the roller coaster I’ve experienced.. I’ve decided to explorer the New York.

New York

Photo: New York Life

Photo: New York Life

“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.” ― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

I came to New York just in time for my 19th birthday during summer break. New York was a dreamland; with skyscrapers, culture, architecture and a variety of everything imaginable and unimaginable. It was like a dream. Unlike many other fellow immigrants, I’ve known that I can always go back to my mom. I’ve been very fortunate to have many choices in life.

I’ve learned that my dad was suicidal and nearly died. With time he somewhat recovered and moved in together with a wonderful woman. But at the time my dad was a complete stranger to me. I hadn’t talked to him for about 3 years. I was just getting to know him.  It was tough and we fought a lot. I was rebellious. I was still smoking, drinking, and bringing different boys home. After a life of luxury, I found myself in a poor neighborhood living with a stranger who wanted me to get a job, quit drinking and smoking, and find a nice boy to get serious about my life. In other words – pure nonsense!  Only after I moved out and I became more mature, my dad and I reconcile. He passed away last year so I was very happy that we got to know each other and had a quite few good years before his passing.

I also missed my mom terribly. Nearly every night for a year I’ve dreamed of waking up in my old apartment with my mom is making fresh coffee. Then I would open my eyes, realizing it was just a dream and would cry for a few minutes before going on about my day.

Time to Work

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Photo Credit: pixabay

There are really no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

I came to New York with $500 and two bags. I was eligible for welfare. I showed up in the agency once. It was enough. There and then I’ve decided that I couldn’t and didn’t want to stay poor – Not Now, Not Ever!!! I needed to find work. As many first-generation immigrants, I worked in retail stores, cleaned houses, and waited tables. I spoke very little English. I worked during the day and studied English at night. As always, food came to the rescue. I made new friends and met many great people who helped me a lot. Many of my school teachers always thought me very smart but lacking motivation. I finally understood what they’ve meant. My desire to learn and excel in life fueled with my inquisitive mind allowed me to quickly expand my education and transform my skills to the New York IT market in a relatively short time. I landed my first job as an IT consultant with a large bank.   I got another offer in a few years from a brokerage house and another one a few years after that. My typical “New York” routine included a host of unhealthy and body-stressing practices: hard work with little to no physical activity, poor eating habits, and cigarette smoking. Working and making money was everything to me. I was stressed. I was becoming sicker and sicker. The doctors fed me with antibiotics while I fed myself with burgers.  My size 14 pants were getting very tight I was visiting the emergency room nearly every other month. I was getting worse. I could barely walk up the stairs, I had huge pimples, allergies and was sick of myself. I was feeling like an old women by the age of 22 and something had to change…

Changing Habits

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Photo: Anna Sheinman 40 pounds later

“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be” – Anon

My work project was finally over. My mom moved to NY. Instead of jumping into another job, I took a month off and decided to travel and look for a full-time job. My best friend was getting married and I was lucky to spend a month in Israel. Great food, the ocean, fancy hotels and good old friends was a much needed miracle cure. At the same time, I couldn’t eat much due to the horrible allergies (reactions to all the antibiotics I’ve been taking) and I started finally to lose some weight.

Randomly, I picked up a few fitness magazines and got so inspired by the articles and women in fitness when I got back to New York. I wanted to be like Alicia Silverstone and kick ass like Jennifer Nicole Lee! I wanted to quit smoking, to be able to run and swim, have a clear skin and be able to wear short skirts. But I was so far off. I had to start with eliminating my allergies and being able to walk without huffing and puffing. The first thing I read is to write down what you eat and associate the food with feelings. 20 years later I still keep the food log. This was a revolutionary idea. Smoking and drinking had to go as well.

I got married by the age of 23 and found a full-time job. I was all set! I embarked upon a new regime: with determination, I quit smoking (after 5 unsuccessful attempts), replacing that nicotine fix with exercise that included running and working out in the gym.

But the long stint of physical idleness took its toll and thwarted I rebounded. In my attempts to improve my health, I ruined my knees and the discs in my back gave out. My marriage was falling apart as well. I had my first setback. I fell in love with my husband’s cousin. She was a few years younger and just moved to New York.  We hit the New York and Miami clubs and restaurants just as if I was 16 again. At the same time, I also had another affair, causing me a lot of grief. I began drinking and eating again. This time the destination was Miami Beach. I had a blast flying to Miami, dancing all night, skinny dipping in the ocean, and meeting strangers. It was madness. This time, when I returned, I came back home with pneumonia and bad knees. My marriage was finally over. I stopped seeing my husband’s cousin and my mysterious stranger. Finally, I saw a physical therapist, who suggested trying yoga. Sometime in the year 2000, I took my first yoga class in a yoga studio and thus my life has begun.

Transformation Begins

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

People never change. The transformation is simply bringing what’s already inside up to the surface. I courageously faced the unknown allowing myself to continue to grow and evolve. I followed my inspiration and allowed positive changes to happen. Often I stepped back into what was more familiar, my ‘other’ not so constructive state. Every time the comeback became easier. Choosing the discomfort of the unknown, inspired, unique, and finally, totally breaking out of my shallow shell is the only way to evolve. The feeling of a new part of myself emerging and coming forward was awesome. Choice, I had a choice! A choice to living dead, die young or change and embark on a new trip.

My joints were getting better. I became more active and went on my first hiking and camping trip for my 25th or 26th birthday. I finally moved into my very first apartment. I was practicing yoga daily. It helped me to be more mindful, cultivating the ability to observe what was happening internally, establishing a link between mind, body, and my environment. The hole in my soul was filling in. I’ve worked with personal trainers, yoga teachers, and nutritionists for guidance. Most importantly, I was doing daily home work. The fat started to melt away, I was getting muscle definition and my allergies were becoming a thing of the past. I was becoming healthier and feeling more alive than ever! I was learning how to create a more balanced life for myself continuing my education about nutrition, health, wellness, and yoga.

I’ve met my best friend who later became my husband in 2003, followed by 13 years of magic. Of course we’ve had many arguments and fights, but it has only made us stronger. I’ve completed over 700 hours of yoga education. I’ve studied and practiced Ayurveda and Pilates. By continuing my elimination diet, I gave up meat, fish and finally dairy. I never felt like I’ve been sacrificing anything. I wanted to feel and look good and to have energy. So if meat was making me sick and fat it had to go I’ve adapted a diet of organic plant based diet.

My husband and I moved to Colorado about 3 years ago and adopted a puppy. My food addiction has been dormant with the occasional binge and setback. The comeback has become quicker and easier with time. I’ve tried numerous diets over the course of 20 years. I became a scientist, with my body as a lab. I often think of myself as a garden, which constantly needs attending. With proper soil and nourishment, the flowers will blossom while weeds will weave over if nourishment is not provided. The weeds never disappear – they just become dormant.

Read on to Part II – by clicking here

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 5th, 2016 at 2:20 pm and is filed under Detox, diet, fasting, Food, Mindful Eating, Mindful living, Uncategorized, Vegan, weight loss. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Food, Sex and Rock’n’Roll – Not your Average Weight Guide Loss – Part I –”

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  1. Deb says:

    So Crazy! Wow, the things you’ve shared about your life, your journey, are so empowering and truthfully, RELATABLE. My sanctuary throughout my life has been exercise, in some form. When my son was a young boy, I introduced him into a vegetarian diet. His dad and I had gotten divorced and I’d always been into more natural things. My son told me it was because of me, he later became a vegan. Anyway, like you-I used to struggle with diet before I became more aware later in life that meat and dairy did nothing for me, except create tummy problems and weight issues. I love my plant based diet and feel great knowing it’s helping me and the planet! Yes, there are still times, “I indulge”, either with a little to much coconut milk frozen yogurt or something, but because of my awareness, I get back to my “happy place” much easier. And exercise still saves my life. If I’m really down, exercise rejuvenates my “stinking thinking”. Restores mind, body, soul. I just turned 60. I know that exercise is something that will keep anyone feeling better then not exercising. I don’t look it and I don’t feel it. I am actually experiencing some very stressful things right now, but the exercise and proper diet is even more essential now. Great story Anna!!!! I really enjoyed your honesty and work!

  2. anna says:

    Hi Deb,

    I’ve started this blog as a weight-loss guide and my life story came out of me. Exercise is such a better sanctuary then food and booze…It is good to hear about your son:-)

    We can certainly function without meat and dairy. You are right on the money about your plant based diet – it is not only helping you, but also helping the planet.
    The standard American diet isn’t just making us sick. Plant-base diet cuts greenhouse gas emission. Just one serving of chicken from per week, would save the same amount of CO2 emissions as removing 500,000 cars from the road. In fact, a plant-based diet can cut your carbon footprint by a full 50%!!! Not to mention, land conservation and reduction of waste pollution. I can rumble on and on…

    Have something delicious every day! I also eat dark chocolates and frozen home-made deserts. Awareness is the key to healthy and well-being especially in combination with exercise, as you’ve mentioned, is a life saver.

    Happy Birthday!!! You meant 60 years young? Yes, you certainly don’t look it:-))

    Thank you very much for your comments and your kind words!

    Anna.

  3. […] I would just be getting home after another all-nigher. The shift in my life didn’t happen overnight. It took many years to add more productive habits and keep the destructive ones in check. My […]

  4. […] Vegan, weight loss. You can follow any responses to this entry through theRSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own […]

  5. […] stared this blog as a weight loss guide and ended up writing how my life story affected my food habits and what inspired changes.  Click here for the first […]

  6. […] stared this blog as a weight loss guide and ended up writing how my life story affected my food habits and what inspired changes.  Click here for the first […]

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