Tuesday, February 28

My Journey from 200 lbs Back to 150 lbs: February

by Craig Ervin

Ahoy from the chilly final days of February! My phone tells me that it’s currently 50 degrees out, but surely that can’t be right…

During my last update, I talked about a few different means of motivation (including non-creepy people watching, good music and establishing a routine). As I found myself thinking ahead to summer, I realized there was a huge motivator that I neglected to mention: GOALS!

Keeping my eyes on the prize, my overall goal is to achieve a 50-pound weight loss by June. After dropping a huge amount in January (nine pounds!), my body decided it wanted to put the on brakes a tad. In February, I’ve lost a total of four pounds, bringing my grand total of weight loss to 22 pounds! 

To those extra 28 pounds left: I’ve got my eyes on you…

Along with my weight loss goal, I have a physical/mental goal in my sights, which involves completing my first Tough Mudder run in June. In short, the Tough Mudder run is a grueling 10-mile obstacle course concocted by British Special Forces. Oh, and there’s mud involved as well - a ton of it! The run has helped keep me focused during those days when I just want to go home and relax on the couch. To me, losing the weight is great in itself, but the totality of the experience isn’t realized unless I’m able to capitalize on what I’ve gone through! 

And yes, I see the humor in suggesting that ‘punishing’ my body with a 10-mile mud run is thought of as capitalizing on an investment!

So what goals have you set for yourself? What do you do to ensure that you’re keeping your eyes on your own prize?

More about Craig Ervin

Thursday, February 23

JCC’s Got Talent!

by Lisa Freeman
Are you a doodler who has taken it to the next level and signed up for an art class? Used a camera to capture a breathtaking vista while on vacation? Love the smell of oil paint on the brush as you sweep it across the canvas? Relish the chance to dig into wet clay? 
Your time in the spotlight is here. There is an amazing amount of talent amongst our members and staff at the JCC - and now is the time to express yourself and share your creativity with our community.
The JCC Art Gallery will be hosting a juried JCC member and staff art exhibit during July and August. Here’s what you need to know:
  • JCC members in good standing, as well as JCC staff, are invited to submit up to three pieces of artwork for consideration for our member and staff art exhibit. 
  • Contact Lisa Freeman (Arts & Education Program Coordinator) at lfreeman@jccindy.org or 715-9240. Please contact Lisa by Fri., May 25 so that artwork can be submitted no later than Thurs., May 31. 
  • Notification of acceptance will be made by Fri., June 15. If artwork is selected, it will need to be delivered to Lisa Freeman no later than Fri., June 29. There will be a $10 fee to help defray the gallery reception and refreshments for the opening. 
  • All exhibiting artists will need to sign an Art Exhibit Contract prior to the show opening. For all artwork sold, the JCC will take a 30% commission.
Find your inspiration now!

More about Lisa Freeman

Tuesday, February 21

A Lesson in Pastrami

by Al Herbach

In the Jewish deli world, there is no meat that is more prized than pastrami. But what is pastrami, why did it become a Jewish staple and why is the version you get in a deli so much better than any other kind?  

Pastrami is made from brisket. This cut of beef (also used for the eponymous Friday night dinner entree) and corned beef (a whole other topic) is from the lower chest of the cow. It is a tough cut of meat because the muscles in the chest actually support the majority of the weight of the cow and get more exercise. The toughness makes it a cheaper cut of meat that was afforded by poor Eastern European Jews, and therefore, they developed methods of cooking the brisket that would tenderize it.  

Pastrami is one meat where you really want to go to the experts. Everyone says they have a recipe or knows someone who makes their own, but the truth is that it is much easier to go to your butcher. The process can take weeks to complete: 
  1. First, you brine the brisket and then coat it with a mix of spices. Each purveyor has a secret mix of spices, but commonly we find coriander, pepper, allspice, garlic and paprika. 
  2. Then, as all BBQ pitmasters know, the meat is smoked low and slow. The extended cooking time helps break down all that toughness. Another benefit to the brining and smoking is that it preserves the meat for a longer period of time. 
Now we have all the ingredients for a great pastrami.

Pastrami should be served hot and sliced thin. For the purist, seeded rye bread and spicy mustard bring out the best flavor. Two of the most popular ways to enjoy pastrami are on a Reuben with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese or on a Rachel with coleslaw.  

What you shouldn't do is go to the supermarket and buy pastrami. The pastrami (and most other deli meats) in the deli section are usually pumped with preservatives to increase shelf life. If you have ever tasted a lunch meat that had a slightly metallic taste and a rubbery texture, that is the reason - so enough already! Find your nearest Jewish deli or trusted butcher, order some pastrami and make yourself a sandwich. Would that be so wrong?

Guest blogger Al Herbach CEO of SchmaltzOnline, a classic Jewish deli that ships Jewish goodness to people all around the country.  

Thursday, February 16

The Path to Fitness

by Richard S. Kordesh
A long time ago, I swam laps almost daily in the JCC Indianapolis pool. That mile a day constituted my major form of exercise. I mostly worked during the rest of my waking hours, spending rather stationary time at desks, meeting tables, and in the car. Those quiet, churning minutes gliding back and forth in the cool water served up a healthy, splashing brew of physical stimulation and mental serenity.
I get my exercise differently today. I work out at a YMCA in the Chicago area on machines that had not yet been invented while I was a swimmer. I grind away on an elliptical trainer and clench my abs on a “crunch” machine.
But I’ve also come to appreciate activities that build in exercise naturally. Take that living workout space: the garden. There are deep knee bends and squats that position one close to the dirt. Moving a heavy load of compost in the wheelbarrow works the biceps, abs and lower back. Fine motor skills and the small muscles needed to execute them are kept in tune when planting tiny seeds in micro-spaces only inches apart under light, thin coverings of soil. Pounding stakes into the hard, spring ground wakes up the triceps, hand muscles and “lats.” Balancing oneself while crouching between rows of fragile plants calls for the coordination of upper and lower muscle groups.
That communities provide many paths to fitness – formal and informal – is something to celebrate. As spring approaches, I challenge you to find your path to wellness by finding out what nature - and your community - has to offer.

Guest blogger Richard S. Kordesh is the author of Restoring Power to Parents and Places and has worked professionally in the community development field for 35 years.
More about Richard S. Kordesh

Tuesday, February 14

A Lesson of the Heart

by Katherine Matutes, PhD
Did you know that denial is a sign of a heart attack? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, denying that your symptoms could in fact be a heart attack should put others on alert and encourage you to seek medical assistance or call 911. According to survival psychology experts, people
fail in survival strategies because they prefer to normalize dangerous events or conditions. Heart attack victims often delay seeking medical attention, believing instead that they are merely suffering from indigestion or that the symptoms will eventually subside.

Symptoms that are most commonly recognized as signs that someone may be experiencing a heart attack include:
  • Heaviness or pressure like chest pain that may radiate to the left arm or shoulder and up the jaw
  • Back pain and/or deep aching or throbbing in one or both arms
  • Breathlessness or inability to catch your breath
  • Clamminess and sweating
It is important to realize that symptoms may come and go. Symptom severity may differ between individuals. One person may have mild radiating chest pains and another may describe an excruciating, crushing feeling.

Heart attack symptoms that are not as commonly known or recognized include:
  • Dizziness - unexplained lightheadedness, possible blackouts
  • Anxiety - unusual nervousness, feelings of impending doom
  • Edema - fluid retention and swelling usually of the ankles or lower legs
  • Fluttering - rapid heartbeats, palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Denial
These symptoms tend to occur more often in women. Women are more likely to deny a heart attack than men - in part, because women have the false belief that they are less likely to die of a heart attack. The truth is, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both genders in the U.S., with 47.2% of men and 52.8% of women dying annually, says the American Heart Association. Women also take about 30 minutes longer to seek medical assistance.
Celebrate American Heart Month this February by sharing this vital information with those you love and make sure you’re prepared to recognize and act if someone you or someone you know is in denial. You can learn more about heart disease and prevention here.

More about Katherine Matutes, PhD

Thursday, February 9

All That Jazz

by Larry Rothenberg

JAZZ… Take a second. Say the word. Feel it. Hear it. For me the word – JAZZ – starts with a jump “JA”  and then trails off with a sense of expectation and mystery “ZZ…” It is smooth. It is possibility. It’s a promise of a thrill.
Jazz is one of America’s great gifts to the world. From the heat of the cotton fields of Alabama and the juke joints of New Orleans it grew to become a trademark for excitement, creativity, good feelings. When someone says they are “jazzed” that can mean various things, but it is always good.

This spring the J is serving up jazz. Truly great jazz. If you are a jazz fan – you want to join us. If you are not yet a jazz fan, what a great way to jump in. You’re gonna like the way you feel – “I guarantee it” (thanks, Men’s Warehouse).

On Sunday, February 12, two local jazz treasures, pianist Dave Hepler and bassist Frank Smith, return to the JCC for an intimate afternoon performance playing original compositions as well as interpretations of masters such as Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and John Lennon. Mellow and sensitive with always a touch of swing, Dave’s music is exceptional. At only $10 a ticket ($6 for members), this is a true musical value.

About a month later, March 14 – Herbie Hancock plays at the Palladium. Purchase priority tickets at a discount through the JCC. Few living artists have had a greater influence on acoustic, electric and cross-over jazz than Herbie Hancock. Why? Because he is brilliant, open-minded and forever young.

Spring is the time that the heart turns to Jazz. Join us!

More about Larry Rothenberg

If you’re happy and you know it, join the movement Feb. 11

by Vicki Bohlsen
I just finished watching a documentary called “Happy” by Roko Belic. The movie premieres worldwide at 600 locations in 60 countries on all seven continents this Saturday, Feb. 11. I was tickled (no pun intended) by some of the things I learned from watching this advance screening:

  • Only 10% of our happiness comes from socioeconomic factors – our marital status, career and/or housing situation.
  •  Experts say that 50% of our ability to be happy is genetic. 

These statistics have been researched and agreed on by experts all over the world. So, based on these proven numbers, this leaves 40% of our propensity to be happy up to ourselves. The way I look at it, this means that statistically, nearly everyone could be happy. You just have to choose it. 

What makes you happy?

If we spend time every day doing regular tasks that get food on the table and clean clothes on our body, why can’t we take time to do what can help toward the daily chore of being happy? If it’s exercise you need – just do it. If it’s doing something nice for someone else – all the better. If it’s being with family and friends – enjoy.

I know it makes me smile when I see a joyful person. And I bet people prefer to be around me when I’m in a good mood.  I mean, “love makes the world go around” – right?

The producers of “Happy” are declaring Feb. 11 “World Happy Day,” and I hope everyone will participate. It would be amazing to see what the world would be like if everyone smiled at each other, performed random acts of kindness and just chose to do something that made them feel content, at peace, overjoyed.

Please accept this challenge and do something that would make me happy: Tell your friends, family, co-workers, postal carrier and random strangers about the day. 

Let’s see what can happen on Feb. 11.

Guest blogger Vicki Bohlsen is the owner and president of Bohlsen Group, a public relations, strategic communications and event services agency in downtown Indianapolis.
More about Vicki Bohlsen

Tuesday, February 7

The Annual Barry Reunion at the JCC

Photo (left to right)
Front row: Lindsey Barry, Noelle Barry
Middle Row: Danielle Barry, Rachael Barry, Meghan Barry, Kevin Barry, Maureen Barry
Back row: Mike Barry

by Mindi Epstein

A family that plays together stays together, and the Barry family is living proof of that. They have been “competing” in the JCC’s annual Indoor Triathlon since 2008. This year they are returning with an even larger number of family members, seven in all.

The Barry clan stands out among the many athletes who participate in the Indoor Triathlon. They jump in the pool together, cheer one another on and generally have such a good time that it is infectious. Maureen Barry is the family’s ringleader. She lives in Manistee, Mich., but Indianapolis has always been a convenient place for the Barrys to gather because one brother and his family live here and another brother and their mom live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

We had to ask: Why the JCC Indoor Triathlon? Her answer was quite simple – her mom’s birthday is Jan. 30th and the family gathers for that celebration every year. The triathlon is well-timed with its late January date and Indianapolis is a convenient location. The whole idea of a triathlon sounded like fun, and one family member or another over the years has been in training for a walk, run or triathlon, so everything converged and the planets aligned and there you are – the Barrys arrive en masse each year at the JCC to swim, bike and run for 20 minutes in each sport.

“Everyone is so friendly,” Maureen offers, “and I love that there is always someone cheering you on with every lap you run or swim.” 

The first year Maureen came out for the triathlon was just 2 months after her knee surgery. She was happy to walk for 20 minutes that year, but now she’s able to run the segment comfortably. Brother Mike, a Fishers resident, is participating this year for the first time. His excitement is palpable. 

“I’m celebrating my one-year anniversary after having bariatric surgery,” he exclaims. “Never in my life did I even dream of doing anything like this, but when my sister called I decided why not? I’ll try it.”

Mike’s daughter Meghan and sister Maureen are using the Indoor Triathlon as part of their training for the Mini Marathon. Though each family member comes with his or her own story, and each for his or her own reason, they come together and they come every year to the JCC.
More about Mindi Epstein

Thursday, February 2

Jewish Food as a Cultural Touchstone

by Al Herbach
Jews everywhere are united by their food. It makes no difference if your ancestors came from Eastern Europe and were fond of flanken, schav and kasha, or if they came from Spain and brought chickpeas, rice, olives and fish to the table. Food always was, and always will be, a central part of the Jewish experience. From Chanukkah latkes and soufganiyot, to Friday night Shabbat dinners shared with friends, to the Passover seder and Yom Kippur’s break the fast, our lives revolve around family, prayer, study and food. Not only are the foods delicious and comforting, but they are prepared and presented with purpose and meaning.
The prototypical Jewish mother (and grandmother) was a baleboosteh (Yiddish for excellent homemaker). She made chicken soup with matzo balls (sinkers, not floaters) when you were sick. She baked treats from rugelach to challah. Her carrot tzimmes was sweet and bright and gave you a reason to eat your vegetables. When Pesach came, she made her once-a-year treats, the chocolate seven layer cake and the matzo brei. She had her own secret recipe for brisket, which, if you were lucky, was passed down to you. These foods helped you understand that you were special, you were Jewish.
In this column, I hope to bring the tastes of Jewish food to you. We will explore recipes, different styles of Jewish food and how it all relates to being Jewish. In addition, I hope to start a dialogue with you about the foods you remember and how you carry on your Jewish food traditions.
Guest blogger Al Herbach CEO of SchmaltzOnline, a classic Jewish deli that ships Jewish goodness to people all around the country.