Day 468

What an amazing weekend this was! I was completely off my diet, and did not care. I told Leslie that I expected to go back to Canada on Sunday around 270 lbs., a little over 16 lbs. heavier than my best weight ever. I truly expected that with all of the eating and drinking that I did, coupled with the fact that I did not do any exercising whatsoever, I would step onto the bathroom scale this morning (we returned to Dallas last night) ten pounds heavier than when I left Canada. In fact, I was in for the shock of the day when I saw that I had actually lost 4 lbs. since the day we flew to California, which is absolutely a small wonder… if not really a victory. I should mention that in the week leading up to that day last Friday I was on edge, eating much more than I should have. I would even go so far as to say that I fell off the wagon completely, binging on the airplane ride from Canada to Texas. As such, my weight from that Friday was somewhat artificially inflated. With that said, I am extremely happy with this morning’s weight.

When I showed Leslie my weight this morning she was shocked. The only meal that we did not enjoy together in California was breakfast Monday, and other than that she saw what (and how much) I ate. She is and has been my biggest supporter on my weight loss journey and has been very aware of my mental ups and downs caused by some of my transgressions, plateaus, and roller coasters. I had told her before we even left for California that I fully expected to gain ten pounds this weekend. For me to have lost four pounds blew her mind as much as it did my own. All of my friends commented on how amazing I looked with my weight loss (I have lost sixty pounds since I was there in October). One of them joked that brides and grooms do not actually gain weight during their wedding weekend, and I told him that I so wish that were true. Who knew that it actually is!?

We sat on the airplane yesterday and I could not help but notice that the man sitting in the row in front of us had his fat hanging over the armrest. I thought back to not too long ago when that was how I was, and how much happier I am now. Eighteen months ago I would never have been comfortable in a seat that did not have armrests that could be raised… not to mention how embarrassing it was to have to ask for a seatbelt extender. We took our seats in the exit row (which afforded us much more leg room, but rigid armrests), and I was perfectly comfortable in my seat. I only wish I had taken the middle seat to let Leslie sit in the window… and what an amazing victory that is, knowing how miserable I would have been in the middle seat at my heaviest weight. Yay!

So let’s talk about the weekend. Firstly, we woke up Friday to find out that our flight was delayed by four hours, and when we finally got onto the plane, we waited nearly two more hours while they dealt with a mechanical issue. Arriving in Southern California at 3:30pm instead of 9:15am completely wrecked our plans to meet a friend for cigars in Beverly Hills, but that’s part of life. We checked into our magnificent hotel room and went for dinner. We both had pasta which was out of this world, and which is of course completely forbidden on my diet program. Following dinner we attended the Sabbath evening services at the shul which was lovely. Not only was it great to see so many of the people I have not seen in two years and to experience my first such service in that time, but it was also Leslie’s first ever Sabbath service. Despite being a bit overwhelmed (by both the experience and some of the people), she really enjoyed it. Following services, we adjourned to the hotel where we enjoyed a cigar on the patio before turning in.

The plan for Saturday was to run the last couple of errands that were outstanding – and there were not many of them – and to then meet with the rabbi and his family in the afternoon to discuss the wedding. We ate both breakfast and lunch at The Stonehaus (where I have spent countless hours, and where she and I would spend a lot of time during this trip). We then had dinner at a posh waterfront terrace where the sushi was some of the best we have ever eaten, and despite the lousy service (and the cold which came on fast when the sun went down) we had a lovely time. As is our norm, we then returned to the hotel for a cigar and then bed.

Sunday was the big day! I was stressed because I was still waiting for confirmation that some of the final details (some of which were quite significant) had not been confirmed. I find it much easier to rely on other people when they communicate better with me, so not having heard anything from the bakery in a week I was stressed that the challah and wedding cake might not be delivered. It was not until 1:15pm (the wedding was starting at 3:00pm) that I received confirmation that they had been delivered. That was the last of it… we were ready to go! My bride was absolutely ravishing in her dress, and my new shirt and tie fit perfectly under my suit. I had a very minor scare that my belt might not fit, but I realized the problem and then there was no problem. We arrived at the temple exactly when we were meant to, and just before our first guests began to arrive.

A Jewish wedding consists of three pillars: the ketubah, the chupah, and the yichud.

The first pillar, the ketubah, is literally a contract. Before the actual ceremony the rabbi must read the contract aloud to us and have it confirmed by two witnesses that he read it correctly. While he reads it, we had to hold onto two ends of a handkerchief. Had one of us dropped our end, the wedding would not have happened. Fortunately that did not happen. It was a bit amusing that it turned out the two witnesses that I selected did not even know how to write their names in Hebrew, but this was not the rabbi’s first day on the job, and he knew to help them beforehand. Still and all, their signatures in English look much smarter than their Hebrew ones!

The second pillar is the chupah, which is a wedding canopy that symbolizes the home. It is traditionally the groom’s tallit (prayer shawl) attached to posts held up by four men, and the ceremony takes place under that. Our rabbi did such a marvelous job of explaining all of the traditions and symbols to both us and to the attendees. I am glad that one of my friends recorded it, as so much of it was a blur to me. The important thing is that Leslie and I were married, and after we kissed I stepped on the glass to break it… an old Jewish tradition.

The third pillar is the yichud, where the bride and groom spend time alone. While historically this was when the bride and groom would… consummate the marriage, this tradition is mostly an anachronism today… which is good, because the room to which we were led was separated from the hall by a curtain. Today the tradition is for them to spend a few moments together alone, feeding each other, and enjoying our first minutes as a married couple alone before greeting the guests. Leslie and I went into the library and shared a plate of food for ten minutes before we ventured out to the bridal table, on which was placed the largest challah bread I have ever seen. It was not only huge, but it was also delicious! We said the blessing over the bread, and I was asked to rip off pieces to throw at the attendees. It was a lot of fun, and this was a tradition that was new to me!

When the wedding cake came out we shared a piece, and Leslie did manage to smoosh a piece into my face. The pictures of that are amazing! The cake, one of the last pieces I was worried about, was indeed perfect… as was the rest of the wedding.

We finally drove to The Stonehaus, where most of the guests joined us for cigars. I think one of the guests bought a bottle of champagne as well, but at this point I remember very little The cigars were amazing, but the best part of the after-party was that I had nothing left to worry about. I had actually planned a wedding that went off perfectly, and at The Stonehaus it was all about chatting with friends. I did give a speech in which I hope I did not forget to thank everyone who needed to be thanked.

Between all of the meals (aside from pasta, we shared several pizzas and French fries, breakfasts, a shabu shabu (Japanese hot pot) meal with desserts, plus so much more), snacks (don’t even get me started!) and drinks (I drank more wine this weekend than I have in the past year), it is a wonder that I did not gain fifteen pounds! I was certain that I had lost a lot of ground with my progress. I knew that I would need to return to my disciplined program; on our return to Dallas I would start with a modified program, and then when I return to Canada next Sunday, I will be back on the full-fast program. Despite the fact that I did not lose any ground this weekend, I plan to stick to that plan. I do not know for how much longer I will stay on the full-fast program, but I am going to try for at least six weeks more. We will see how well I do in the next month… and how well I feel doing it. One way or another though I am going to be transitioned to at least semi-normal (rather, my new normal, as my old normal was how I kept gaining weight in the first place) by the beginning of July and my birthday.

Cigars… wow, did we smoke a lot of good cigars this weekend! Of course I brought a couple of very good boxes of Cuban cigars to share with our guests, and many of them gave us cigars and booze as presents. I also brought three special Davidoff Royal cigars – one for Leslie, one for me, and one for the rabbi. Any cigar smoker who has looked will know that while the Royal is not the most expensive of their offerings, it is in the top two. When Leslie first got into Davidoff cigars last year she saw them and bought two – one for me to smoke on the night of our civil wedding, and one for me to smoke on the night of our religious wedding. That was before she realized how much she really enjoyed cigars, and so I made sure that there were enough for the three of us. We took more than fifty cigars to California with us, and we came home with about the same number… having received many as gifts, and we also found a couple of unexpected treasures in my favourite Westlake Village cigar shop!

Friends… everyone wanted to spend time with us, and while I love all of my friends, they had to understand that this trip was a short one with one purpose, and that we did not have a lot of bandwidth for extra socializing. One concession to that was Monday evening when we went to my old cigar lounge to meet some of the boys. It was a lot of fun, but Leslie and I were both already drained before we went there. It might be the only time I have been there when I only smoked a single cigar. One bonus that came from that evening was that one of the boys told me that one of our old members is now working at a cigar shop in Dallas! I plan to surprise him today by just popping in. I can hardly wait to see the look on his face!

I have not been sleeping very well these last few nights, and last night was no exception. It is no wonder with the time change – we were in bed by 11:30, but where we woke up it was only 9:30pm. I hope tonight I will be able to get some rest. If I can, I will try to take a nap before I teach. Fortunately, I know that my class (the second to last one after three months with the same group) will be entirely review, so I really do not have a lot of preparation to do. That does not mean that I do not have to stay awake during class, so if I do not nap then I will have a coffee before class starts.

Tomorrow I will try to get out for my first jog in over a week, but I need at least one more day to recover. While my fitness watch is showing my Body Battery at 69/100, I have no faith in that this morning, just based on the fatigue (both mental and physical) that I feel. It was a most wonderful weekend, but it was a stressful and exhausting one. My body may be in much better shape than it was in several months ago, but it is still nearly fifty-one years old and cannot get by on four hours of sleep like I did in the Army. No, I did not only sleep four hours last night… according to my watch it was 6.5 hours. It could have been ten hours, I still feel drained and I doubt there is anyone who watched me go these last two weeks who would question why that is. Tomorrow I shall jog. Today is one last day of decompression.

Have a great day folks!

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