It’s that time of the year again – the holiday season. Perhaps nothing is more challenging than getting through from Rosh Hashanah to Simchas Torah with your health and weight intact. As daunting and challenging as this may seem, a few little tricks and bit of self-discipline can get you through virtually unscathed.
There are essentially three areas where we all tend to get into trouble. One – the amounts of food we consume sitting at our tables for our festive meals, two – the types of food we eat, and three – the general lack of activity and exercise during the Chagim.
Let’s first look at the portion control issue. There is a mitzvah to eat certain foods during the Chagim. There is no mitzvah however, to consume mass quantities of anything. In order to keep a handle on the over-eating problem, try this. Take a reasonable portion on your plate, and if you are truly still hungry after you eat what’s on your plate, take seconds from a cooked or raw vegetable or whole grain dish. Remember that drinking water may also make you feel full. So, drink up before you start your meal.
As far as the second item – the kinds of food we eat… Everyone can make some subtle adjustments in this area as well. Even though meat and chicken dishes are more popular at this time of year, you can trim the fat from your meat and order lean cuts to begin with. Skin the chicken and turkey, preferably before cooking, and keep in mind that the white meat is much less fatty than the dark. Also, keep the emphasis on vegetable and grain dishes. For dessert, go for fresh fruit salads, melons, and sorbets instead of cake and cookies that are laden with sugar and fat. Keep in mind that most pareve ice creams use chemicals and high-fat based whips.
Item number three is lack of activity. No, don’t go out and do an exercise session during on yom tov! But, don’t sit around either. Nice long, brisk walks, particularly after your meals, are a great idea. There is nothing worse than throwing yourself into metabolic rigor mortis by falling asleep immediately after a meal. When you are done with the walk, stretch a little and then you can take your nap.
The Chagim are a time to be especially joyful and happy, and to celebrate together with our families. We need not create more stress in our lives than we already have. So, instead of saying “After the holidays”, resolve to get started with good and healthful habits right now. Watching your serving sizes, eating healthful choices and staying as active as possible over the Chagim are all ways to “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”
Although this space is normally used for my weekly columns on health, fitness, and weight loss, I will allow myself the liberty once a year to use this space for a personal message.
Hashem granted us the gift of a healthy body and expects us to do our best to take care of it. This requires healthful eating, exercise, the proper amount of sleep and an active lifestyle. We all are capable of helping ourselves. When we don’t take care of ourselves and watch over our health, the end result is illness and incapacitation resulting in our inability to perform the will of the Ribono Shel Olam. When we are sick, we can’t do chesed, learn, daven or take care of our own families. Our nefesh, our soul, functions best when our guf, our body, is at its best!
Many years ago, I was not a fitness trainer; I was anything but fit and healthy. I led a sedentary life style, ate whatever I wanted to in whatever amounts I wanted to and was overweight with slightly high blood pressure that became high blood pressure. As a former musician playing the wedding in circuit in the Greater New York area, eating at the smorgasbord at weddings was an activity I greatly looked forward to every evening. A few years after I relocated to Eretz Yisrael, I was fortunate to meet someone who changed my life around. I went from being sedentary with a poor diet to being active and healthy. I began eating right, walking, doing weights and stretching and after a short while, became a runner/jogger. My blood pressure went down, my old clothes fit again and I felt like a new person. THIS IS SOMETHING VERY DOABLE!
As a personal trainer here in Yerushalayim for the past 17 years, I have been privileged to witness many people who have turned their health around. Even people in desperate straits, and with all types of health issues, have been very successful and no longer require medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression. Their weight is normal, and not only has their physical health improved, but they feel better about themselves.
Rosh HaShana is a time for thanking HaKadosh Baruch Hu for giving us life and health over the past year. It is also the time for praying that He will give us good health and long life for the upcoming year. At the same time, we must do our hishtadlus, our effort, in the area of health. Our non-Jewish brothers approach their secular new year with all kinds of resolutions that are never kept. We do T’shuva. We work hard to actualize real change. And if there is ever a time we CAN change, it is now.
A little over four years ago, I began writing this health and lifestyle column for theyeshivaworld.com along with other publications both online and print. I never dreamed I would get the responses I have gotten from all over the world and the amount of inquiries and questions about health topics have been abundant. Baruch Hashem, these columns have been able to help and motivate many people to achieve good health and IY”H will continue to do so for a long time.
It is also three years since I teamed up with my associate, Linda Holtz M. Sc and opened the Lose It! Weight Loss and Stress Reduction Program. Its unique approach of integrating the three disciplines of nutrition, exercise/activity and just as importantly, behavior is a one of a kind. We have seen excellent results across the board in the area of weight loss, stress management and treatment of anxiety and depression. With Hashem’s help, Lose It! will continue to be of key to success for many, many more people both here in Eretz Yisrael and in Chutz La’aretz, helping them to attain good overall health, lose weight permanently and attain a superior quality of life.
A K’siva V’Chasima Tova—a happy and healthy New Year to all of you.
Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 17 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. 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 Lose It! web site – www.loseit.co.il
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