What a Pleasant Surprise

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12 Feb 2019

While many clients come to me in order to lose weight, there are usually health issues involved that are more important to address than just losing the extra weight. There are the typical problems of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and muscular-skeletal problems including lower back pain. Some have auto-immune issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and the like and others are having issues with their mental health such as depression, anxiety and acute stress.  Although they come here for weight loss or tackling the problems of the adult diseases, we often times are pleasantly surprised when other issues that we didn’t specify are helped or even cured.

Mrs. P. called our office about her 19-year-old yeshiva student.   A true matmid (prodigy) who sits and learns all the time, Chezky was very overweight but that was the least of his problems.  He suffered at this young age from high triglycerides, high cholesterol, and a very fatty liver. To top it off, because he also had a terrible case of psoriatic arthritis together with the amount of weight he was carrying around, it was very difficult for Chezky to walk for more than ten minutes at a time, so exercising was going to be a challenge.   

Chezky was willing to go through our program putting forth the best effort possible.  His obstacles weren’t just the psoriatic arthritis and the obesity, he also had a very intense learning schedule and his Yeshiva was out of town so getting food from home on a steady basis was also going to be difficult.  But each week, he did his exercise assignments to the best of his ability and followed the food plan as best he could considering he wasn’t in charge of preparing his own food.  And week by week, weight came off.  And the more active he pushed himself to become, the longer and faster he could walk pain free.  After six weeks of exercise, good eating and most of all, starting to believe he could improve his lot, Chezky went for a new blood test.  In just six weeks of being compliant which included cutting out almost all processed food, his fatty liver was gone, his cholesterol and triglycerides were all in the normal parameters and his sugar was perfect.  He eliminated the need for medications.  The big surprise? Although it wasn’t really a first-line goal of ours, his psoriatic arthritis was affecting him far less and he was able to walk farther and faster every single week.  Most importantly, his pain was greatly reduced.

Estelle is a lady here in Yerushalayim who we have helped to lose weight and she has become an intense exerciser.  Estelle came to me mostly because of weight loss, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and overall fatigue.  We began to work on a plan for exercise and very different (healthier) eating. As she was in midlife, things moved slowly, but steadily. She was feeling better and better and her weight and cholesterol were both going down. But Estelle also had terrible eczema all over her skin.  In addition she had been mildly depressed for a few years.  She worked very hard with her eating and especially her exercise.  I also referred her to a different dermatologist to deal with her skin condition.  Isn’t it interesting that in addition to other interventions the doctor told her how important exercise is for her eczema?   

Estelle might have come to us to get a better cholesterol and triglyceride reading.  She also certainly wanted to look better by losing weight.  Surprise!  Not only did she accomplish her short term goals in those areas, her skin totally cleared up and she found renewed excitement about life.  After all our training and coaching together, she also came to realize there are good relationships in her life worth pursuing and poor ones to stay away from.  She realized it’s not too late to start over and she is doing just that.  She is looking forward to a life with a lot less stress and a lot more meaning and all that while looking good, feeling better and gaining good health.

Elly was sent to me specifically because he had lower back pain and sciatica for a year and a half.  That is a long time to be carrying pain.  He was scheduled for a complicated back surgery in America but someone told him to see me.  Our immediate goal was obviously to relieve the pain and hopefully to obviate the need for surgery.  We succeeded in reaching both of our goals.  But recently, surprise! Elly starts telling me that now his body has taken a different shape and his muscles are working better.  He also is doing a lot better with hills and stairs and his cardiovascular fitness is improving steadily. 

Natan came to me a few years ago and his wife had done our 10 Week to Health program.  She radically changed the eating in their house.  But Natan was fatigued and felt weak.  He came for personal training.  After 3 weeks he told me that his migraines were gone.  Migraines?  You never told me about migraines.  He then told me sometimes they were so bad he couldn’t give shiur and had to lay down and that his ability to function was almost non-existent when they would happen.   Not only did Natan get strong, gain endurance and into good aerobic shape, but surprise; the migraines that we never even discussed at the beginning of his program went away and they haven’t come back. 

Yaacov came in very overweight with a fatty liver, the beginnings of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.  We worked hard and after about 4 months and a new blood test, we saw that his sugar was down, his fatty liver was gone.  I checked his blood pressure and his numbers were much improved.  Yaacov had been extremely careful to eat only healthy choices and he had practically cut out highly processed foods completely.  Surprise!  He told me this was the first year in a long time that his allergies didn’t bother him.  He didn’t need antihistamines or his steroid nasal spray this time around. 

All of these stories are about pleasant surprises.  Even though we were concentrating on improving other aspects of people’s health, just by making better choices in eating and adding more exercise and activity, we see results well beyond what we were hoping for and in areas we weren’t even focusing on.  If you take care of your health, you may be surprised just how many things change for the good and “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.” 

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.