My New Year’s resolution is to do something about myself. I need to lose almost 60 lbs., and it’s gotten to the point where besides being extremely unhappy about my appearance, my excess weight is affecting my health and the quality of my life. I have tried a slew of different diets over the years, and I won’t bore you by listing them. But I’ve been feeling so discouraged about my failure to master this weakness that I mentioned my desperation to my endocrinologist as well as my GP, hoping they’d have some suggestions for me.
Endocrinologist: “You think you’re fat? You may be overweight, but 60 lbs is nothing, believe me. Most of my patients are 100 – 200lbs bigger than you. I wish all of my patients would only be as heavy as you. So by comparison, you’re doing great!”
General Practitioner: “Ha! Welcome to the club! You and the rest of America! There are plenty of diets out there; you don’t need me for that!”
Look, I know there is no magic bullet. That said, I found both responses highly unprofessional.
I’m not really looking for a diet, but for a food plan that I can use for the rest of my life. I did sign up with a nutritionist who has some interesting ideas. She offered some nutritional advice that was highly personalized and appears helpful, but so far, her main thing is something called “mindful eating.” Basically it forces you to be aware of your hunger level, at what level of hunger you eat, and at what point of satiety do you stop eating. It forces you to think not only of what particular food you are eating at that moment, but why you made that particular choice.
After reading a book called “Eating Mindfully” by Susan Albers, I realized that “mindful eating” has always been a tenet of Judaism (though that may not be so obvious when you see people stuffing themselves at a kiddush). If we really take the concept of blessings seriously, we are eating mindfully and spiritually. We don’t just bite into an apple; we first say a blessing praising G-d for creating the fruits of the tree. When we make “hamotzi” over challah, it makes us think of the miraculous process that went into making a simple loaf of bread. When we say blessings after the meal, we not only show appreciation and gratitude for sustenance but also recognize the centrality of G-d to our very existence. There is nothing wrong with enjoying our food, but ultimately, we should not live to eat. Rather, we should eat to live (easier said than done!).
I have no idea if I will eventually triumph over my weaknesses, but even if I do not, what can I do? Try, try, and try again . . .and again. The beauty of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur is that our efforts to better ourselves – – if sincere – – are recognized by G-d even if we are unsuccessful. So if He is not ready to give up on us, how can we give up on ourselves?
I wish everyone a year of peace, good health, sustenance, nachas and success.
Gmar chatima tova.