December 10 08

In fall of 1996, instead of heading off to college like most high school graduates, i headed off to Jerusalem, to spend a year abroad drinking a lot “finding myself”. This, surprisingly, was not uncommon amongst my friends. An all expenses paid year off (not to mention the ENTIRE YEAR OF COLLEGE CREDIT i got)…who would say no to that? I mean, truth be told, many of my friends went for much more enviable reasons; they actually did WANT to learn or they actually did want to find themselves.

apparently, all i wanted to find was the food.

to give you a little perspective…um, here’s moi, circa this morning, let’s say, 109 pounds.

now, imagine me, boarding an airplane to Israel at, let’s say, 5 pounds LESS than this. and then let’s say that there was this little bakery called Marzipan. and let’s just say that they made the most amazing cinnamon buns and chocolate rugalach, um, ever. and let’s just say that my school was a mere hop, skip, and a jump from said bakery.

and let’s just say for the sake of saying that i wasn’t really interested in learning about how for two weeks out of every month i was going to have to NOT touch my husband and that i was going to have to wear certain colored underwear and there *might* be a time that i might have to give my underwear to a RABBI so he can have a look at it…um, hello? seriously? GET ME TO THE BAKERY!!

now. what you are going to see is going to disturb you*.

it’s something i’ve never SHOWN to anyone. This is me, the very heaviest i’ve ever been. this is me in January of 1997. this is me with 29 pounds of baked goods packed on to my small frame. this is me, having put on 29 pounds in FOUR MONTHS!! (*the reason it’s so disturbing. four months.) this is me, having gained more weight that i had carrying any of my three children.

OY VEY.

take that, Oprah! You aren’t the only one who yo-yos!

this is me, planting a tree. awesome. in an elastic waist skirt and a giant tshirt and a giant hoodie (also must be commented on…the hair! the nikes! the watch! THE HAIR!). you see, when you wear elastic waists, you have no idea just how big you are actually getting. because in addition to all the eating and drinking i did while i was in Israel, i did a whole lot of nothing but being a kid…i took advantage of having a year to live with my best friend and just ENJOY THE HECK OUT OF LIFE before we had to go back to REAL LIFE and actually go to a real school (and one that didn’t teach me about giving my rabbis my underwear)(and don’t even get me started on the rabbi in israel who more than likely WANTED to see my underwear…that’s a story for a different day) where our grades actually, you know, mattered. So, we did a lot of acting like a bunch of single girls living in a dorm….and it was GREAT.

and it ALWAYS came back to the food. see? we even took pictures of ourselves in front of the food.

(holy denim shirts. that’s really all i’m going to say about that)

and then i developed that photo of me planting the tree. (remember when you had to actually take a ROLL OF FILM in to get developed? well, in Israel is was about $20 a roll and maybe half of the pictures were usable. viva la digital!)

and then i died.

and then i avoided the bakery. and i stopped eating at burger king. and KFC. and pizza hut. i bought myself a little electric burner and a pot and ate steamed vegetables and NO RUGELACH OR CINNAMON BUNS and stopped taking the bus and stopped drinking on Ben Yehudah Street and lost it all, plus an extra five pounds.

and i vowed to never, ever eat a Marzipan cinnamon bun ever again.

(until the next time i visit Israel, of course)

(old habits die hard, i guess)

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  1. I have pictures like that (sans elastic waist) but I’m not quite back to the before picture. It all started with a job selling jewelry in the mall, right across from a deli that sold deep fried cheese sticks. Hello, 20 pounds!!!

    Thanks for sharing this because most of us probably thought you’ve always been a skinny little bitch! LOL

    lorens last blog post..Goodnight!

    [Reply]

    Comment by loren on December 10, 2008
  2. You look like one of those people that can never gain a pound no matter what they do. That tells me that I need to, with the fact that I can eat an apple and gain 10 pounds, stay the hell out of Jerusalem.

    Your floors are way too shiny btw. That’s ridiculous. You’re making the rest of us look bad. :(

    Marias last blog post..I can do it better myself…

    [Reply]

    Comment by Maria on December 10, 2008
  3. Hmmm…In Lutheran tradition, we have “drinking beer at the Diet of Worms”, things I’ll never forget from Sunday School (Martin Luther was apparently fond of the brewskis), so I’ll count that as my rugelach.

    But the undies thing? No analog I can find. Hell, it can be hard to get Lutherans to even admit to having underwear!

    [Reply]

    Comment by IrishGumbo on December 10, 2008
  4. Good for you! You look fantastic! I have lost 20 pounds myself this year but just by trying to eat less and exercise a little more. I am blessed with great metabolism so I am taking advantage.

    Hockeymans last blog post..Little Alone Time

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    Comment by Hockeyman on December 10, 2008
  5. You look fabulous! And…
    Ali, I want those boots.

    Nenettes last blog post..Best of Life Candy, as Voted By Complete Strangers Worldwide… & Me.

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    Comment by Nenette on December 10, 2008
  6. Unsubscribing. If that photo is “disturbing,” clearly I am too fat to read your blog.

    [Reply]

    Comment by impy on December 10, 2008
  7. 109 lbs? If it’s alright, I’m really gonna have to hate/hit you right now.

    [Reply]

    Comment by gorillabuns on December 10, 2008
  8. I’m going to attempt to get past the 109 pounds thing in order to say how fabulous that you took a “gap” year, and how much I wish that idea would catch on more in the US. And I like your boots very much.

    Elastic waistbands are truly vital to any good “study” / life-finding travel abroad. I myself made it through a glorious summer in Italy thanks to a black (ie, slimming) elastic-waisted skirt. Wouldn’t trade those happy (read: fat) days for anything.

    Legallyblondemels last blog post..Pretty Ice Princess – Victoria Beckham???

    [Reply]

    Comment by Legallyblondemel on December 10, 2008
  9. Yup, I’ve learned this year, that sugar was the enemy. Incredible how cutting down just on sugar can shed the lbs.
    And I’m sure it took twice as long to lose right?

    But you still had that cute dimple on your left cheek .. awwwwwww!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Sarah on December 10, 2008
  10. Oh, Jesus Christ. I love how we aren’t allowed to judge ourselves at all. Because clearly, with this post you are attempting to tell everyone who is larger than you in these photos that they are too fat to live (or read your blog as the case may be). We all have our own personal “fat” points, and we are entitled to them. Fucking people, ya know?

    [Reply]

    Comment by slynnro on December 10, 2008
  11. gee i hate how everyone can lose weight and no matter what the fudge i do it will not go away! and Ali you were pretty even when a bit pudgy…

    [Reply]

    Comment by LAVENDULA on December 10, 2008
  12. I’m going through my “oprah” phase right now. Two years ago I lost 100lbs,depression struck, and now I’m a fat lard again. BUT I’m still going to read your blog whether you like it or not! LOL ;)

    Take comfort in the fact that you are adorable either way. Me? I look like I could eat my friends or something. haha

    [Reply]

    Comment by AJ on December 10, 2008
  13. I think Impy has read too much into what it is about that photo is disturbing.

    It is not, I presume, that you look large on some objective scale, a scale you’d apply to other people, but rather on the subjective scale of what an acceptable body type is for you. I presume this because I’m the same way. I saw a picture of myself in which I looked like a blueberry and I thought “wow, I’m just not happy about how much weight I’ve put on.” It is okay to be unhappy with a personal mistake. And feeling that way doesn’t imply anything at all about the way you view other people.

    But really you are kind of tiny. Eat a pizza or something. ;}

    Backpacking Dads last blog post..Almost

    [Reply]

    Comment by Backpacking Dad on December 10, 2008
  14. This is the precise reason I cannot look at photos of myself from my freshman year in college. Chubby Rhi is not cute Rhi.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Rhi on December 10, 2008
  15. Your trip to Israel sounds just amazing. What fun!! I bet you have some of your best memories from that time.

    Rheas last blog post..The Pea Under My Mattress

    [Reply]

    Comment by Rhea on December 10, 2008
  16. I may have found your 29 pounds but I’m going to keep it until spring. For insulation purposes. My wife makes a mean rugelach. Mmmm, rugelach…

    Captain Dumbasss last blog post..Santa Claus, Jedi Master

    [Reply]

    Comment by Captain Dumbass on December 10, 2008
  17. MMMMMMMMM – marzipan.

    Did I ever tell you about the time I took 2 kilos of marzipan rugelach and cinnamon rolls with me on the plane home…and got off the plane with an empty box?

    And are Jews the only ones who smuggle kilos of something on an airplane, and it’s food and not black tar heroin?

    [Reply]

    Comment by Pants Wearer on December 10, 2008
  18. i was hoping there would be a picture of me!!!

    hi, remember me? ill be back at work in three weeks (!) and will email you then, cause ill finally have time.

    but i loooved seeing those pictures. i may have to dig my albums up now and have a good laugh.

    [Reply]

    Comment by obabe on December 10, 2008
  19. Aw, you are gorgeous, no matter what!

    [Reply]

    Comment by mamatulip on December 10, 2008
  20. Haha, wow. You are a brave soul, woman ;-)

    Although, I packed on TWENTY pounds in four months living in Edinburgh. I attribute it to my discovery of alcoholic cider and baked potato bars.

    Camels & Chocolates last blog post..The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer*

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    Comment by Camels & Chocolate on December 10, 2008
  21. Dude. Instead of the freshman 15, I gained the freshman FORTY.

    We really are twins :)

    Angellas last blog post..Bodies In Motivation

    [Reply]

    Comment by Angella on December 10, 2008
  22. You know, I had this up this morning — didn’t get to comment, or finish reading, thanks to a DEFIANT Monkey and a ransacking Rascal…. And, I just saw 2007!!!!! I was, like, NO WAY you looked like that EVER since I’ve known you!!!

    You did look tray happy, though! You always do, though. :)

    Haley-Os last blog post..TERRIBLE TUESDAY

    [Reply]

    Comment by Haley-O on December 10, 2008
  23. I love that you posted this.

    What’s amazing to me is being able to remember when certain pictures were taken, when I was super thin and in shape and remembering how even then, even at a weight I am going to be busting my literal ass to get back to with this new running regime, I STILL thought I was overweight, because there was always someone smaller than me. Which hi, that is life, and I am 5’10″ and most of my friends weren’t, so they were supposed to be smaller than me.

    But it’s just nuts to me to look back and remember that I wasn’t OK with myself, even when I, by most standards, looked pretty damn awesome. Learning to be OK with me, at whatever size, but knowing that I need to be a healthy one, for endless reasons, is the constant balance and struggle for me.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kerri Anne on December 10, 2008
  24. my husband LOVES those marzipan chocolate rugelach. he talks about them all the time

    Shoshs last blog post..Sienna

    [Reply]

    Comment by Shosh on December 10, 2008
  25. Hey! That tree planting pic looks a lot like me now, and I haven’t had any cinnamon buns. I want my cinnamon buns!

    Beth Fishs last blog post..Hobbies?

    [Reply]

    Comment by Beth Fish on December 10, 2008
  26. You are adorable before and after.
    And this is why, when I spent a year in Israel, it was on a kibbutz, where the most delicious things were the Israeli boys ;)

    [Reply]

    Comment by kgirl on December 10, 2008
  27. Hey Ali – I LOVE your blog – are you really 109? How tall are you and what do you do to workout. You look great after having 3 kids! DO TELL

    [Reply]

    Comment by Karen on December 10, 2008
  28. I know how much it took for you to post this and I’m damn proud of you! I think you look just as beautiful then as you do now.

    Misss last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – Under the Sea

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    Comment by Miss on December 10, 2008
  29. You look GREAT at either weight..who are you kidding.. you have the perfect face..

    Kims last blog post..Smell McDreamy – Excuse me while I name drop

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    Comment by Kim on December 10, 2008
  30. Someone actually unsubscribed to YOUR blog after YOU wrote about how gaining 29 pounds on YOUR frame impacted YOUR lifestlye and desire to be healthier? Seriously? Wow.

    Anyway…

    It’s good to know that no matter where we go in the world, there’s a Burger King out there should we need a Whopper.

    P.S. – You’re stunning. Why can’t I get my attempts at a side ponytail to turn out as super hot as yours?!

    [Reply]

    Comment by foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) on December 10, 2008
  31. Ah…the Machon days….when we ate “fat free” fro-yo, pizza, bagels, Bubby Borenstein brownies and kilo upon kilo of Marzipan! I am looking forward to the post about “that” Rabbi who wanted to get in your pants.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Arica Saltzman on December 10, 2008
  32. BTW-Marzipan expanded and is now triple the size(just like all it’s customers)!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Arica Saltzman on December 10, 2008
  33. You are still such a cutie pie even with the extra pounds! Not many people can say they look better now than they did before college! I weigh what I did before university but during my first year where I drank lots, did little, and ate cafeteria food (meal plan = dessert with every meal!) I did manage to gain some weight. When I went home at Thanksgiving my Mother laughed at me because I was ‘chubby’.

    porters last blog post..My Tranquil Moment

    [Reply]

    Comment by porter on December 10, 2008
  34. Holy denim shirts, Batman! I had a few of those in my day. :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Moose on December 10, 2008
  35. You are teeny tiny, though, so I know what you’re writing about – I have petite little friends and ANY EXTRA POUND shows up on them INSTANTLY – while I’m 5’7″ and can hide quite a few extra pounds before I need to whip out the ol’ elastic waist pants.

    It’s my own kitchen that I need to avoid, though. So wish me luck, eh?

    Becks last blog post..My Favorite Christmas Songs, 2008 Edition

    [Reply]

    Comment by Beck on December 10, 2008
  36. And people! Geesh! She said that it was “disturbing” that she gained 30 pounds in 4 months! Gaining 30 pounds in 4 months is disturbing!

    Becks last blog post..My Favorite Christmas Songs, 2008 Edition

    [Reply]

    Comment by Beck on December 10, 2008
  37. That is an awesome story, with pictures and everything. Guess that goes to show you what you can do when you set your mind to it.

    So, can we talk about your boots? Lovely! Brand please? I’m in the market for boots. (won the Split-The-Pot raffle of $155 at the work christmas party)

    monstergirlees last blog post..Herself Framed

    [Reply]

    Comment by monstergirlee on December 11, 2008
  38. As a person who ALWAYS struggles with her weight, and weighed 109 when she was like TWELVE, I relate (in SOME ways, ha!). But truly, I really enjoyed this one sister. xo

    Aimee Greeblemonkeys last blog post..We are gonna have one SAD little boy on Christmas morning.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Aimee Greeblemonkey on December 11, 2008
  39. Film? What’s film?

    Chriss last blog post..Need

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    Comment by Chris on December 11, 2008
  40. If I lived by a donut shop, that would be me.

    kd@abitsquirrellys last blog post..Free Chair to Good Home (with Bonus!)

    [Reply]

    Comment by kd@abitsquirrelly on December 11, 2008
  41. I never knew you lived in Israel for a year. That place is magical (which is why we will be moving there when my husband graduates).. but seriously- everyone there weighs 10 pounds. I cant find clothes that fit me there- it’s crazy!

    you think you were big there? I tipped 200 lbs with the twins- and they were preemies~!

    [Reply]

    Comment by maya on December 11, 2008
  42. I like to tell people that I backpacked through Europe. What I really mean by backpacked is that I stayed in nice hotels and went on cushy tours while pulling around a lot of luggage. I had the opposite effect though. I lost a lot of weight in Europe, because in every place until Paris the food was shiteous! When it came time for Paris, I gained quite a bit back since our hotel was next to an awesome bakery.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Amanda on December 11, 2008
  43. MARZIIIIIPAAAAAAN! I think I just gained 5 pounds looking at the picture. You’re making me want to dig out my Israel pictures.

    [Reply]

    Comment by metalia on December 11, 2008
  44. Oh my goodness…you in that denim shirt with your purse criss-crossed over you shoulders…I have a photo of me looking EXACTLY the same…I think it was summer of 1997…what were we thinking? I remember feeling so cute that day too!

    Amys last blog post..I breastfed for 14 months…

    [Reply]

    Comment by Amy on December 12, 2008
  45. Oh for fuck’s sake Impy, get over yourself. Nowhere in there did she make fun of fat people. She didn’t like the way SHE looked. So she changed it.

    And I’m her friend and I’m fat and I still read. And she even still talks to me!

    Kristabellas last blog post..Almost Friday Bullets

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kristabella on December 12, 2008
  46. I NEED those boots. Like, I might die without them.

    [Reply]

    Comment by heather... on December 13, 2008
  47. Dude, I think that owning a denim shirt was the law in 1996.

    [Reply]

    Comment by katie ~ motherbumper on December 14, 2008
  48. [...] your favorite word, kristabella!) from the Marzipan bakery in Israel (the ones that caused me to gain 29 pounds while in Israel) and Grodzinsky’s iced shortbread cookies, Salad King’s red curry, Mengrei’s taro [...]

    Pingback by Cheaper Than Therapy » Blog Archive » it’s all about the food porn around here…I blame the RROD on August 13, 2009
  49. [...] (And this should tell you something, but I have let you behind the curtain and shown you this.) [...]

    Pingback by » One Snapshot Cheaper Than Therapy on October 25, 2011
  50. What I need to know is why you had to show a Rabbi your underwear? I must be missing something here…

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    Hahaha. It’s one of the most, um, interesting, rules in Orthodox Judaism.

    It’s a long long long story, but basically, you count the days of your
    period (when you can’t touch your husband) and then once it’s over,
    you count seven more “clean” days (still can’t touch him), when the 7
    clean days are over, you go to the mikvah (ritual bath) and then you
    are deemed PURE and then you can go home and, well, touch and stuff, until your period again.

    so, basically, you want to hurry up and be period-free as early as possible…so they say that if you aren’t sure if your period is over, you may have to give your panties to a rabbi so he can TELL YOU.

    So, from the wikipedia entry:
    In the Orthodox Jewish community, women may test whether menstruation has ceased; this ritual is known as the hefsek taharah. The woman takes a bath or shower near sunset, wraps a special cloth around her finger, and swipes the vaginal circumference. If the cloth shows only discharges that are white, yellow, or clear, then menstruation is considered to have ceased. If discharge is red or pink, it indicates that menstruation continues. If it is any other color, like brown, it is subject to further inquiry, often involving consultation with a rabbi. The ritual requires that the cloth used to perform this test is first checked carefully to ensure that it is clean of any marks, colored threads, or specks; the cloth itself can be any clean white cloth, although there are small cloths designed for this ritual, known as bedikah cloths (meaning checking).

    [Reply]

    Comment by Sandy on October 25, 2011
  51. Thanks for the reply! That’s so interesting to me. Also interesting that you’re allowed to ‘touch’ your husband again right around the time you’re likely ovulating. I don’t know how you could not be sure that you’re period is over, but the whole tradition is fascinating. I love hearing about different cultures and traditions/rituals. I’m going to guess that sex during menstruation is a huge no-no. I had to go there… ;)

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    It IS fascinating, isn’t it?

    You can’t touch from the time you start bleeding until after you have gone to the mikvah – it’s usually halfway through your cycle…usually around ovulation…it’s basically set up SO YOU CAN GET PREGNANT. Ha!

    and that includes any bleeding, like, the kind in childbirth…so no touching from the time you start bleeding during labor until 7 days afer you stop bleeding after giving birth. Can be a long time!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Sandy on October 25, 2011
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