As Rosh Hashana and the Aseret Y’mei Tshuva and Yom Kippur approach, it is the time of year for reflection on the past and a look to the future. We will now be davening as best we can for both forgiveness and for achieving our potential for the year to come. Just as we can’t repent without looking back at the past and realizing and recalling mistakes, we can’t make the changes necessary for a healthier, and in turn, happier year if we can’t look back and find the various points to fix.
Over the past years, I have had the privilege of helping people who have decided they wanted to change their lives. I share this with you so you can see that it can be done. Keep in mind, not one of these people turned their lives around over night. It began with small but consistent steps that eventually turned into a new existence. Everyone can make a small change here and there in order to change their quality of life and overall health for the better. Read about a few of these people and be inspired:
Y. is a 48 year old mother who has to travel quite a distance to see me. She started her journey to good health with our Lose It! program. Although she lost an amazing 20 kilo, there was more work to be done in order to reach the range of healthy weight. Now she has become a daily exerciser. Her husband got a one-time bonus from his job and offered to buy her a gift. She asked for the only thing that she really wanted—to go to Personal Training. She has now lost 48 kilo (105 pounds). Y. was an insulin dependent type 2 diabetic and Baruch Hashem, she is now completely off insulin and any other medications. She is also coping with some of her life’s stresses much better.
S. is a 24 year old currently learning at a Baal Tshuva yeshiva. He has a past history of obesity as well as addictions. He did the Lose It! program originally and lost over 30 kilos. But he too still had a long way to go. He began a combined program where he was seeing our therapist for an hour a week and began Personal Training as well to up his intensity in exercise. At one point, he had to return home for a week to attend a wedding of an old friend. He exercised on his own, was polite to his old friends without engaging in dangerous and destructive behaviors, seemed to have enjoyed himself and has really “passed the test”.
A. is 20 years old. She has always wanted to be a normal weight but getting there caused disordered eating. She hasn’t finished Lose It! yet, but she is eating healthfully and ordered, and she is exercising on her own. But that isn’t all. We recently spoke about career planning. She is so turned on to her new-found health and wellbeing that she is considering this as a career…to be continued.
B. is a Rav who is very involved with the needs of the community, particularly with our youth. He needs to be in good health and to have the energy it takes to do his job. He was a type 2 diabetic, on the verge of getting medicated. It isn’t just the 25 kilo he lost. He exercises, drinks far more water everyday than he used to, eats well and most of all, he can stay up late nights to deal with all of his cases and handle his phone calls from times zones abroad 10 hours away. That enables him to save precious Neshomas in Klal Yisrael.
M. is a Yeshiva Bachur, who’s eating was truly out of control. That was coupled with almost no activity or exercise. His parents got him to come to Lose It! when his weight was approaching 150 kilo (330 pounds). He has lost over 35 kilo (77 pounds). More than that; he is learning better than he has ever learned before and he has control over his life in general.
A divorced mother of 2 takes medication for mental health problems as a result of a bad marriage. Now that she has completed our intense 3 month program combining Exercise, Behavioral Therapy and Dietetics, her new Psychiatrist (whom we recommended) has cut her medication in half twice. She is coping with life much better and continues to improve.
5 Years ago, a 37 year old man came to me totally unfit, with blood sugar almost twice the acceptable level and his triglycerides were “through the roof”. He has an impossible schedule, learning a full seder every morning, running a high pressured business in the afternoon and evening, and spending his evenings tending to Chesed cases. He started slowly but was determined to get his health back, especially at such a young age. After 12 months, there was a drop of 205 points in his triglycerides and 98 points in his blood sugar. He lost more than 30 kilo of weight. He hasn’t been with me for a couple of years now, but continues to exercise and has given himself a whole new lease on life.
In most aspects of life, taking giant steps in any direction generally is not a long-lasting way to achieve any goal. On the other hand, using baby steps, as did the people you just read about, and doing things incrementally usually brings a better long-term and permanent result. When it comes to weight loss, exercise and eating a healthy diet, this is always true. We need to look back and isolate the causes of bad health, and one at a time, start making changes, that over time will bring us to improved health and ultimately, good health.
Look back at your health habits and choose one or two aspects that need improvement. Start slowly. Perhaps you can get an additional ½ hour of sleep at night. Cut out late night eating. Substitute water for sugary or diet drinks. Increase vegetables and fruits and in your diet and cut back on cakes and junk food. And perhaps most of all, leave that car at home and start walking from place to place and even schedule a walk daily, because that will help you as much as anything else. Eventually, step by step, you can make all of these changes over time.
This is the season where we strive to change ourselves for the better. Don’t leave your health out of the equation. And start now—that way you can manage the coming weeks and not make the mistake of waiting until after all of the holidays are over in order to get started. Avoid further damage by making the changes now.
Taking small steps, one at a time, to improve your health and well-being over the long term will “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”
Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a BEHAVIORAL CHANGE and WELLNESS COACH with over 19 years of professional experience. Alan is the creator and director of the “10 Weeks to Health” program for weight loss. He is available for private coaching sessions, consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs both in his office and by telephone and skype. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Check out the his web site –www.alanfitness.com US Line: 516-568-5027.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.