Ain’t That a Shame

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02 Sep 2014

A few weeks ago, Hashem bestowed his abundant blessings on our family— we had four grandchildren within five days—from three of our daughters, one of whom had twins. What a time of Simcha! 923d6a81-5876-4a30-8597-7c785b2e6ddeOtherImage

As one of the twins was a boy, we were hosting the shalom zachor at our home on the 6th floor of our building. When shul was over on Friday night, it was announced that the Shalom Zachor would be in our apartment. One Rabbi came over to me and said, “Let me wish you Mazel Tov now, because with all this weight I am carrying, I don’t think I will be able to make it up to your apartment.” So, as much as he wanted to participate in our simcha, he physically couldn’t get up to our apartment. I am not speaking of someone 75 or 80 years old.

A young woman came to me many years ago for training. She was in her mid forties and lived in a floor apartment. It had gotten to the point that it took all of her energy to get up the stairs and it wiped her out. When she got home it took a while for her to get back to herself.

One client, only about 60, loved to play with her grandchildren, but was frustrated that she didn’t have the strength and stamina to pick them up and hold them. She gained the strength and stamina after going through one of my programs, but isn’t that a shame that she couldn’t hold them for more than a few seconds at a time?

There are too many people who have told me that they don’t attend weddings in certain halls because there isn’t close parking and it is a flight of stairs up or down. It’s not about how much muscle you build or how far you run and how often you walk. It is about being minimally functional to be able to participate in your neighbor’s simcha.

In the Sefer Derech Hashem, in the fourth Perek, it says that a person needs to take care of the health of their body (and to do so for the right reasons) “to make the body prepared and ready so the Neshoma can use it to serve its creator.”

How can I possibly do acts of kindness for my neighbors and relatives if I am not healthy? If I can’t work, I can’t give tzedaka in abundance. If I can’t learn, I will be lacking knowledge to serve Hashem and missing out on a most important mitzvah.

If you are currently like the guy who couldn’t come to my shalom zachor, then here is a guide of how to get functional and somewhat fit again.

First and foremost, see your doctor and get a general physical. Make sure there is nothing in the way of starting a very basic exercise program. Step two, get moving. Start walking every single day. Start with 10-12 minutes of moderate walking. At first, your goal is to be able to do more time, not to increase your intensity—that will come with time. And if you can only start with 5-7 minutes, that’s okay too, but start! EVERY SINGLE DAY! Each week, you will be able to add 4-5 minutes to your walk. Work up to 35 minute walks daily. (If you have great difficulty walking, either swimming or purchasing a recumbent bike would be a great alternative) Once you have done that, check your distance and try to walk just a little bit faster and cover more ground in the same amount of time.

Now, go see a dietitian and set a good food plan. It is best for that extra weight to come off. But again, not all at one time. Even losing half a kilo (a pound) a week on average and improving your dietary habits will start to make a huge difference in how you feel and just think—in one year’s time, you will have lost 26 kilo (57 pounds). And now the third thing you should do is to start doing a few minutes of muscle building exercises each week. Simple modified pushups and a few abs is a great way to start. Of course, don’t forget to get enough sleep, drink water and work on your stress level.

It won’t take that long for you to fully enjoy improved function. As a matter of fact, in 6-8 weeks, you might even feel like a different person. Considering the benefits you will reap, this is a very small investment. You will be able to play with your children and grandchildren. When your neighbor needs something, you will be able to assist. After you come up the stairs, you might not be so winded and when late night hits, you might even have a little left-over energy to finish some tasks around the house. Most of all, when I make my next simcha, you’ll be able to attend, with Hashem’s help.

Many years ago, I was training two men who were both class 3 obese. We had a long road ahead of us. They started training in Elul of that year. After Yom Kippur, both of them told me just how much easier bowing down and getting back up during davening was far easier than it had been. They were, for the first time in years, able to get all the way down and all the way up. Now that’s function!

Staying fit for the sake of function will “add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your lives.”


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 Check out the his web site – 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.