When Less is More: What Chanukah Taught Me About Good Health

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Just a week ago on Chanukah, a strange feeling overcame me. With five of our children married and out of the house, a sixth engaged and our youngest son studying in a yeshiva out of town, when we lit our menorah on the first night of Chanukah, it stood there all alone. I quickly remembered times when we needed a large table for all of the menorahs, how candle-lighting took a long time as each child recited the brachot and we sang Haneiros Hallalu and Ma’oz Tzur afterwards.

I realized that even though there was less light being generated from Chanukah menorahs in my home these days, it was because less was now more. There was only one menorah burning in our home because in the homes of my married children, there were many more menorahs burning – those of my children and grandchildren.

A rabbi who was a personal training client of mine years ago once said to me that when he travels back to the United States from Israel (he has been in Israel for more than 40 years now), he notices that the word “better” in America seems to go hand and hand with the words “bigger” and “more.” Success is translated as more money, more cars, bigger homes, bigger weddings, and longer vacations. We strive to build bigger airliners and larger sports stadiums. Yet, it hit me this past Chanukah, that bigger and more are not necessarily really better. Many times, less is indeed more. And then I realized that my entire profession is based on that concept.

When it comes to weight, less – to a point – is more. Everyone knows this. Less translates into good health and a happy life. As the co-director of the Lose It! Weight Loss Center and Lose It! Online, I spend my days working with people who want more out of life, and need to learn how to do with less in order to achieve those goals.

Carrying too much weight causes a host of life-threatening health problems: heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, to name a few. Problems that affect our quality of life such as osteoarthritis, digestive issues, depression and issues of self-esteem, depression and self-confidence are also prevalent in the overweight and obese.

I watch week after week as people come in with new blood tests showing better sugar numbers and lower cholesterol. They ask me to check their blood pressure just to make sure they heard their doctor right; they are shocked that for the first time in years they are not hypertensive. Just as important are the attitude and stress changes people undergo. The same techniques used to lose weight – a proper food program, proper exercise and behavioral changes – make these profound impacts in other areas of life.

So less is indeed more, but it can’t happen in one day or one week. The learning process takes time – months for most people. But the rewards you gain (and the weight you lose!), both in terms of physical health and mental well-being, are the “more” here.  Those who succeed find it hard to believe that they were ever in the “more is better” mode.

Here are a few tips for you to consider to get started on your weight loss journey to good health:

  1. Diets are not good. They initiate a fleeting process at best, only to ultimately be abandoned. The better option is to learn how to eat healthfully, control your portion sizes and don’t let yourself get too hungry. Also, maintain good hydration; it helps your metabolism function optimally and reduces the possibility that you will confuse thirst with hunger.
  2. Learn the difference between real hunger and desiring food for other reasons.
  3. Exercise must be part of your life, and a priority. Learn what a balanced exercise program is and fit it into your day.
  4. Learn how to prioritize. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first when you must. It is a great mitzvah to help others, but helping yourself is crucial too.
  5. Write it all down! Track your food and your exercise and even your sabotaging thoughts. And when you do something great, write that down too! Giving yourself credit for your accomplishments is important.

Remember that in spite of what we see around us, less is indeed more, just like the menorah burning in your home or your scale trending down. And when it comes to your health, losing weight in a careful and healthy manner is without a doubt much, much more.


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 at02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at alan@alanfitness.com 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.