As we approach the New Year of 5779, Haba Aleinu L’tovah, there is always what to reflect upon as we look back at the past year. There is also some trepidation in terms of what awaits us in the coming year. This past year has been one of the most interesting years I’ve had since entering the arena of health and fitness.
Not only has it been a year where I encountered very interesting, and I dare say, extremely difficult cases, but it was also a year in which I was exposed to aspects of health, and in particular preventative health, which were not so clear to me in the past. I want to share some of this with you. I hope it will serve as a source of inspiration to all of you, as it has to me. May these thoughts motivate you to make the coming year one of true HEALTH and happiness.
I have always worked with a variety of people, but this year I think we hit every end of the spectrum. I always try to learn from everyone I work with so that I can improve in helping my clients achieve success. I was truly privileged during the past year to help doctors, psychologists and therapists, Roshei Yeshiva, Mashgichim, bachrim, personalities from the Chassidishe world, naturopaths, mothers and fathers, grandparents, regular working individuals, people involved with the community, and too many people who are having difficult times in their lives.
This was also a year where on the weight loss front, I encountered clients needing to lose massive amounts of weight. Some need to lose 70-80 kilograms (150-175 pounds)! We had more people entering into our 10 Weeks to Health program over the last 12 months than ever before. Each and every person presents his or her own challenge. I personally am in awe of all of them. The work and effort for them to achieve good health is great, and weight loss is only one aspect of the work. Many have fatty livers, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, problems with cholesterol, and for many, normal daily function has ceased.
A few hard-working individuals
The lady with the grit and patience and more
Readers may remember a column I wrote several weeks before Pesach about a lady with an enormous amount of weight to lose. It took one full year for her to change her mindset and thinking around. In fact, I almost gave up. I wrote back then about her patience, grit, and determination. At that point she had lost 12 kilo. Here’s an update for you, as of this week, she has now lost 28 kilo. It is frustrating for her that she is not even half way to her goal, but you should see her move, walk, and function! She is already a different person. She continues to work hard with good eating, daily exercise and weekly coaching sessions.
Young man avoiding weight loss surgery
A bachur learning in Yeshiva in the north of the country comes for an appointment every other week. He needs to lose a massive amount of weight—the most I’ve ever encountered. He has now lost his first 12 kilo, and he can’t believe it! His whole attitude has changed, he can walk for 30 minutes straight, and we are all hoping he will avoid weight loss surgery.
We have helped a lady here in Yerushalayim lose weight and become an intense exerciser. Most importantly, due to some coaching sessions, she also now realized there are good relationships in her life worth pursuing and poor ones to stay away from. She has 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 and feeling better.
These are only three example of what has been a year of helping over a hundred people in all of our different programs.
My eyes have been opened
Anyone involved in health, fitness, or nutrition can tell you that this is an ever-evolving science. More and better research is always becoming available. Science is now showing us our mistakes of the past and at the same time the great promise for the future. (Keep this in mind because I will be writing more about it in the coming year.)
The power of food
Food sustains us, food can prevent and cure disease, and food can also bring our demise. More than ever, we are understanding the importance of not only being at a healthy weight, but of healthy eating and increased activity and exercise. Many of us have concentrated on avoiding unhealthy choices, but it is just as important to include all of the healthy foods in our daily eating. Nuts, seeds, flax, fruits, berries, a wide variety of vegetable and some whole grains are some of the best weapons we have to stay healthy and fight off disease. When I say disease, I mean all of the adult diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.
If you couple balanced diet with an active lifestyle and just enough exercise, you can cut your risk of many very serious diseases by as much as 75%–you read that that correctly, 75%! If you learn what proper eating and correct exercise is, you can live a better quality of life and extend your life, too.
The more I research and investigate what the real scientific research say, the more I am encouraged that we can greatly reduce the pain and suffering that has become entirely too prominent in our community. Medications are big Band-Aids—lifestyle change can be a cure. It’s hard work at the beginning, but I see people improving their lives all the time. Those who used to have severe back pain aren’t running to the chiropractor weekly anymore, and diabetics are no longer seeing their endocrinologists on a regular basis. People who had high blood pressure are now controlling it with proper diet and exercise, not with medications that have multiple undesirable side effects.
Every kilo of weight lost is a kilo of health gained. Every time you add an important healthy food to your diet, you are helping yourself. And if you do consume fast food or junk food, if you cut two scoops of ice cream down to one or two slices of pizza to one slice—that’s already a nice improvement. Adding another serving of vegetable or fruit is an important step to take, as is eating whole grains and cutting down on white flours and refined grains. Start using less processed foods in general and more whole, real food!
Not just physical health
As I wrote in several articles this past year, good nutrition and exercise play a major role in helping to eliminate or reduce stress, depression, anxiety and other conditions. We brought clear research this year about the role healthy eating plays in all facets of mental health. We have known for years that exercise is vital to keeping our “feel good” hormones working well. Exercise has been shown in multiple studies to be as effective as or even MORE effective than antidepressants. And again, without any of the side effects that psychiatric drugs might have. Many of these medications get in the way of weight loss and keeping a normal weight amongst other disturbing side effects.
The coming year—let’s improve!
Klal Yisrael has a vested interest in staying healthy. In order to keep Torah and Mitzvos, we need our health. To be able to raise our families, we need health. Without it, we are limited. So let’s all resolve to make preventative medicine our new priority this year. We can all take on a few more good health habits to prevent illness and disease in the first place. Research tells us beyond a doubt that we can prevent sickness and we can even reverse disease (including heart disease) when we take on a healthy lifestyle. Don’t fall for the gimmicks and tricks. Learn from qualified professionals what real healthy eating entails and start daily brisk walking for 30 minutes for a good start towards better health and fitness.
It is always better to make small, gradual changes. Grand changes all at once won’t work. Making small changes one or two at a time to become healthier and to prevent illness will make this coming year healthy and happy and “add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your life.”