The final week of every Jewish year is a time for reflection over the year that was and an attempt to see how we can better ourselves in the coming year. This past year will always be one everyone will remember.
On the plus side
This year included the largest and grandest completions of Shas (the Talmud) in its 7.5 year cycle. The world-wide celebrations and joy were unparalleled! 80 years since our people were devastated in the holocaust – now look where we have come!
During this year I got to witness, first-hand, the healing of clients who had suffered from health concerns such as: high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. There is nothing more rewarding than this for me!
As Purim approached everything changed. It changed for the entire world. A pandemic from a virus we have never known the likes of. And it just won’t go away!
What are we learning from all of this that will help each of us to deal with our future?
Scientists and infectious disease experts have had enough time to observe the Covid-19 virus and begin drawing conclusions. The purpose of this article has nothing to do with how the authorities handle this disease. The focus here is on how each and every one of us handles our own health. With a new year coming up, maybe this time, we will pay a little closer attention to the things that really matter.
TRUE—wash your hands often with warm water and soap; maintain social distance, especially in an indoor setting; and yes, masks help! But I want to share two conclusions which we now know from this Coronavirus:
- If you are obese, meaning your body mass index (BMI) is over 30, the likelihood of mortality increases 50% if you have the disease.
- Only 6% of deaths so far were from the virus itself. The other 94% of deaths were all from underlying causes, what we call comorbidities. These range from diabetes, compromised immune systems to very old age.
Step back for a moment and realize that most of these deaths were probably preventable. Not preventable from a politician or government policy, but preventable by individuals taking responsibility for their own health and welfare! Hashem gave us something that we have to take care of.
A good study
For those of you who have been reading my columns for years, you know how much I appreciate a good study. A good study means that you have a meaningfully large group of humans (as opposed to laboratory animals), observed over a long period of time, and with what we call good controls.
One such study that I love to refer to is the Adventist study from Loma Linda, California. Adventists have as part of their religion, something which makes studying them pretty easy to do: they eat some version of a vegetarian diet. But where there is no divergence is that they don’t smoke and they don’t drink very much alcohol, if any. They are all very socially active within their community as well. Their average age of death is well into their 90’s, and they have great quality of life until the end. They don’t die in the ICU or in pain and discomfort.
What do we believe in?
When looking closer at this, I stumbled upon the fact that they live this way because part of their belief system. Adventists believe that the body is a holy vessel given by G-d and it needs to be treated as such.
What a wonderful concept—it’s so wonderful that we thought of it first. We are supposed to treat our bodies like Klei Kodesh, holy vessels, and not abuse them. But we do abuse our bodies—every single day. Personally, I am sad and tired of seeing too many people I know getting sick, being disabled, and worse, when none of this has to be. We have spouses, children, grandchildren, and others who care about us. Shouldn’t we be responsible enough to care about ourselves?
All the difference
It’s no longer a big secret. What we eat makes the biggest difference. And most people in the West eat wrong – just wrong. It is NOT a given that as we get older we must get sick! It doesn’t have to be at all. And no one has to spend hours and hours and hours at the doctor’s office and going for diagnostic tests.
Besides the food, activity and mild exercise do wonders for our physical and mental health. You don’t have time? I’ll show you that you do and how to fit it into your day.
Are you managing your stress properly? This aspect has been severely tested this year, but one can learn stress management techniques. And just as important – learn to strengthen belief and trust (Emunah and Bitachon) in Hashem.
Its in our hands
Finally, how are our social interactions and relationships? Are you looking for the next chesed opportunity and doing every mitzvah B’Simcha—with a smile? Yes, this is all very much related to our health, well-being and quality of life. Getting sick is not inevitable and staying well is largely in our hands.
Don’t run out and do things that require a lot of effort but will backfire. Dieting and rapid weight loss programs are out!
Of all the investments to make in order to be successful, learn what healthy eating really is. Learn how a small exercise routine can make a big difference. Most of all, let’s all get rid of the mistaken paradigms of the past about health and weight loss, and trade them in for a new mindset based on the real research. Let’s use this new mindset to bring success in reaching our goals with a new happiness that will enable us to serve Hashem as we must and should.
Our Wellness Clinic has remained open throughout most of the pandemic. We are doing many sessions over Zoom and Skype. Let’s all work together to make the year 5781, a year of health, happiness, and prosperity. Doing the right things will truly “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”