The days of awe are behind us and we have moved out of the sukkah and back into our homes. Our schedules are getting back to normal. The kids are back in school and we are back at work or learning. We have finished a period of three weeks of an over-abundance of food and an under-abundance of exercise and activity. But now, it is after the holidays and our clothes don’t fit as they did just a few days ago. But what can we do? And more importantly, how can we bring some permanence to our health and fitness and not go through this process every single year?
In the secular world, every January 1st, we hear about the New Years resolutions. And taking care of our health is usually one of them. Gym memberships soar at the beginning of the New Year, yet by March, the drop out rate at gyms is astonishing. People who have purchased half-year and full-year memberships are no longer attending. The initial excitement slowly evaporates and we are all back into our mundane rut. So, how can we be different? .
First of all, let’s not beat ourselves up for the over indulgence, it’s time to move on and get our health back in check. The first concrete step in this process, is to concentrate on three main areas—exercise, proper eating, and stress reduction. Exercise should consist of a balanced program of aerobics 4-5 times per week, resistance training 2-3 times per week and stretching on a daily basis. A good nutritious food plan must include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins and just as importantly, portion control. Manage your stress levels with a combination of practical problem-solving, together with relaxation techniques. Your exercise routine might be the key ingredient in reducing stress.
How can we make the necessary changes and keep our resolutions?
1) Make health a priority—make time for getting healthy!
2) Get yourself a Chavrusah—a partner. Sometimes these are called diet buddies or exercise buddies. You need to be accountable to someone other than yourself. Find a friend. A spouse in not a good idea.
3) Work on your environment. Don’t bring things into your home that aren’t good for you or that you tend to eat a lot of, like salty or sugary snacks.
4) Keep your exercise gear handy. Keep it in a place that you just can slip into your clothes and shoes easily. Sometimes, it is just a matter of getting on the gear—and you are ready to go!
5) Set goals for yourself—not necessarily weight loss. See how long you can walk and how fast. Set weekly and monthly goals to increase your distance and your pace. Set a goal of a smaller dress size or pants size.
6) Reward yourself. What are you going to do for yourself when you reach your goals? Try to avoid food as a reward.
7) Give yourself credit! When you have done something that was difficult for you, when you are able to change an unhealthy behavior, write it down and give yourself a much deserved pat on the back
8) WRITE IT ALL DOWN! Make an accounting of your health. Whether it is your food intake or your exercise, keep a log of everything. Make a diary and also write down your feelings at the end of the day or after an exercise session.
9) Remember, it is never all or nothing—if you can’t get a full workout in, take several short walks and find a few minutes here and there for your muscle building exercises. And remember that even slight changes in food intake can lead to gradual and steady progress.
Now that the holidays are behind us and we have beseeched the Almighty to watch over our health, we need to do our part and make an effort to succeed. The best protection that we can give ourselves is to eat right, exercise, reduce stress and keep davening!