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L Chaim is Not Just a Toast or a Song
L Chaim literally means “to life”. Many people first heard of the phrase L Chaim from Fiddler on the Roof. To Life, To Life, L Chaim, L Chaim L Chaim to life. No question, a catchy tune. But the definition of L Chaim is not what appears to be most interesting, neither the melody, or the history. You also might know that L Chaim is the traditional way that Jewish people toast each other, so instead of saying ‘Cheers’ or ‘Nasdrovya’, Jewish people say L Chaim.
L Chaim though, is more than just a toast, a song or a quaint ancient custom. In that one phrase is a depth, which if plumbed, can even help a person out of depression and ideation. Even if you have heard L Chaim a million times, at Bar Mitzvahs or in movies or on broadway, this time, think about the meaning. To life. The phrase is not just about life, it is “to life”. To move towards life. It is clear, that by definition, when we say life, we all want the best life possible. No one hopes or plans for a mediocre life. Nobody wants to have a difficult or a hard life. So, when you say L Chaim, it means that you want to move towards the best life possible, even if you are facing major obstacles.
The Hashi Mashi Diet and To Life
It is now officially six months, actually over six months, 183 days into the Hashi Mashi Diet here. I began on June 21, 2012 and today is December 21, 2012. In any case, I created and started the Hashi Mashi Diet out of pure desperation, specifically to lose weight. I was tipping the scales at 275 pounds and was very uncomfortable in my body. That is an understatement. I had constant heartburn, indigestion and zero energy. Somehow though, this experience of Hashi Mashi has grown into more than just losing weight.
This experience has taught me that I can be consistent and that if I take gradual steps forward, I can effectively build a new body. You can eat food and transform the shape and health of your body, not just your weight. Of course your body is still going to be the age that it is, but I think that there is no question that I have at least made it a lot more comfortable for my body and for myself to function in the world.
Body and Mind Transformation
I will even venture to say that this last six months of staying focused on eating real food and working out to gain strength has perhaps changed my brain chemistry. My moods are much more even, less negative, more optimistic about the future than I have ever felt. And even if I am dreaming, hey, it is a lot more of a fun dream than feeling dismal and dark about the day or the future.
A friend said to me yesterday..
“Hey, I was checking in on you. You have done a lot of favors for me recently and I got concerned that if you ever got a life, that you would no longer be available for me!” I will not go into all of the reasons, but since he knows me personally for many years, he has been witness to many situations which had left me fairly , lets just say on my own. And it has been a long stretch of time. Of course it has been frightening in a way, cause I have been by myself and during times of the year which are very family oriented, it can even be more painful.
Now, before I go any further down the path which leads into the dark quagmire of self pity, let me pull myself up and say that I think I have found a way out, maybe not the only way out , but it is a way out, and it ties back into completing six months of the Hashi Mashi Diet, as well as to the idea of ‘L Chaim – of getting a life – creating a best life possible’.
Initially, I was a bit upset about what he had said. No one wants to feel like they have no life. Isn’t the whole point of living, to be alive? Even in Fiddler On The Roof, Tevye sings ” L Chaim – To Life!”. So, I went to the gym to do deadlifts and curls, but mainly wanted to concentrate on the deadlifts. I knew that lifting heavy free weights would make me feel better. I did 5 sets, starting at 125 pounds, up to 135lb, 155lb, 165lb and my last set of 1 repetition was 175lb. I am pretty close to being able to lift my body weight and I believe that I will be able to make it up to 200lbs at some point, I think I could have gone higher, but gradual will win the race. So, I stopped at 175lb. But the whole time I was thinking about what he said to me, “If I Ever Got A Life” how his life would be worse.
And I wondered, what have I been getting out of Not having a life? Does it feel better? Is it safer? Does it attract attention or sympathy? Can I control it in any way? What do I have to do to get a life? By the end of my workout, I definitely felt better, then I went to get what I now call my Hashi Mashi Nicisoisse, which I will write more about another day, but it was a great one, and I was able to get to sleep by 2am, a big improvement for a big insomniac.
Can You Get a Life from Hashi Mashi, from a Diet?
Today, it dawned on me, that the same way that I have rebuilt or transformed myself physically, and the same way that these changes have even benefited my thinking, why can I not find a way to rebuild my life in the sense of ‘getting a life’. I never want anyone else to look at me again and say “aw, he has no life, what a shame, what a pity”. No. No. No. I am going to ‘get a life’. And I thought about those words – L Chaim. How those words mean that we should put all of our efforts into having the best life possible, for us, for our families, for our friends and neighbors. And yes, getting your physical house in order, eating real food daily, following the Hashi Mashi diet will definitely help get you on the right path. I know how magical real foods are. Shocking in fact at how powerful food is.
L Chaim is Personal but Not Selfish
Some people think that the only way that their life counts, is if they only do or think about others. We all can understand that way of thinking. L Chaim teaches us in a toast, when people are together, that it is okay to seek the best life for yourself. L Chaim does not just mean to live your life for others, it means for you to have a great life. This helps people focus on themselves when they need to. Anyone whose life is spinning out of control because of addiction, depression, obesity, divorce, job loss, estrangement, trauma, loss, can understand.
You need to stop and think about L Chaim. You can benefit by thinking about building a new life, especially when you have suffered loss or cannot get control of such a basic issue like your weight. It is not your fault and that is a different topic. Think L Chaim, think about moving towards the best life for yourself first. That is not selfish. The stronger you are, the better it is for anyone else that knows you or depends on you.
The most basic element of getting a life is to believe and feel that you do have a life, and it is not for anyone else. If you do not have the narrative in your mind that you do have a life, why would anyone else? Frankly, it is not important what anyone else thinks, it is important what you think, because based on how you are thinking, that is how you ar going to feel. If you think you have no life, well then, you will be feeling quite morose, down in the dumps, sulking around the world.
Number two, be grateful right now for the life you have and to build on that, gradually. Perhaps that is obvious to everyone, but as a long time prisoners of their own minds, people struggling with overweight, obesity and/or depression know, this is a new way of thinking. Honestly, I do not believe that I would be thinking this way if I had not been eating real food daily for the last six months. I am convinced that it has somehow helped my mind, perhaps it is with the right nutrition, perhaps the exercise, perhaps both, perhaps being more comfortable and having energy.
I have decided to add on to rebuilding my body, mind, emotions and rebuild my life as well. What that means is that I want to bring new people into my circle. I am going to acknowledge and accept where there is distance and perhaps where other people have moved on or are busy in other ways, and I am going to reach out and be grateful for those people who invite me into their life or accept my invitation. The point is that I see it and I know that it is the way to ‘get a life’ to go ‘l Chaim’ , to move towards a better life.
Just like you can rebuild your body with real food, with real nutrition, you can literally transform your life. Just like your old body is no longer recognizable, so too will your new life be so different from your previous life. Perhaps, we can also see that in the word L Chaim. The word Chaim is translated from Hebrew to English as ‘Life’. But, really, that is not accurate. Chaim actually means lives, the plural of Chai, which means life. So, L Chaim is saying ‘to lives’ , to your old life and to your new life that you can create if you work on it. If we can rebuild our bodies, we can also rebuild the social structures of our lives. It will not look like the old life, but it will be a new life, and to that you can certainly say on the good fortune you have had to change your life ” L Chaim – To multiple Lives, the old and the new!”