The Jewish and cinematic musings of the Rabbi of The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
#BlogElul 26: Hope - Towards a Healthier Me
For those of you who follow this blog, you know I tend to focus on world events and how we should view them through a Jewish lens. I, for the most part, stay away from the personal and the private. However, every now and then, I feel compelled to share a little more about what is going on with me.
Not to go into a long narrative, I'll just summarize it with the statement that I have always struggled with my weight. When I graduated High School, I was 150 lbs. By the time I met my wife I was 210 lbs, which by any standard would be considered dangerously obese. I was heading down a dangerous road, and I decided to make drastic changes to my life and lifestyle. I began exercising regularly and dieting, without really having any clue as to what I was doing. By the time I was married, I was down to 166 and by the time I was ordained, I was down to 150.
And then it started creeping back. I began working with a trainer, and even though I was getting stronger, I was also getting heavier. Three summers ago I committed to running a half-marathon. Before I got injured, I was able to run up to 8 miles at about a 10 minute/mile clip. However, I will admit, depression set it at not being able to run, and the weight began to increase. Two summers ago, I recommitted to Weight Watchers. But as I discovered, Weight Watchers is not really meant for those who exercise seriously regularly, and I found myself bingeing. I thought it was an emotional-psychological problem, all of that compulsive eating.
Then this past summer, I realized, I had no idea what I was doing. Despite all the exercise, my weight was creeping up, and I was at a total loss. For me it is all about being healthy. And I had no idea how to get back to being healthy.
So finally I reached out to a nutritionist, desperate for advice and guidance. It was a total fiasco. This person was committed to the philosophy of healthy eating. I found I needed concrete numbers and guidance, not the theology of healthy eating. But, unlike my previous failed attempts, I did not give up. I took a shot in the dark and went to a place called Fitness Together. They are a place that specializes in personal training and personalized nutritional plans. I was not looking for a trainer, as I have been extremely happy with mine Harold Harris, but I desperately wanted, dare say, I needed all the nutritional guidance I could get.
To this end, I met with Dave at Fitness Together, and he measured me, listened to me, and help me set up a doable nutritional plan based on my exercise routine and goals. For the first time in my life, I am building muscle and losing body fat. I am much less obsessed with the scale, and much more obsessed with making sure I eat in a healthy fashion that works with my lifestyle.
What I realized by this experience is that nutrition is extremely complex, and that I needed help. I was over my head. What I am doing may not work for some, or may not work for most, but I feel for the first time, it is truly working for me. It is based on a formula of high protein, low carbs, and some fats. What I have found is I really do not miss the carbs all that much. I eat a lot of lean protein and my fair share of eggs. Greek Yogurt is also a big part of my diet as well as almonds, avocados, and Quest Protein Bars. All of this protein, while avoiding processed carbs, has helped me to regain my strength, my energy, and my stamina. At 40, I feel healthier and stronger than I have been in a long time, if ever.
And in case you are wondering I am now down 9.6 lbs. But more importantly, I am down in terms of body fat and my waist size is down. I like what I see in the mirror, and my clothes feel so much better. It is a life change that I am committed to, and I feel like for the first time, I am not fighting to be healthy. I feel like I am incorporating my approach into my life in ways that can be life long.
I will admit, I in the back of my mind, I am scared that I will slip back into old habits. But, with this new approach, so far, every time that I have stumbled, I have been able to get right back on the program the next day. I have never been able to do that before probably because it is no longer about self control and is instead about simply eating what I know my body needs.
So if I turn down your delicious looking kugel, pizza, beer, cookies, and the like, it is not because I do not appreciate the offer. I am just so happy to be on the right path.
Rabbi Sharff is the Senior Rabbi for The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York. He was raised in Houston, Texas where he discovered the acoustic and electric guitar while sitting in his dorm room one day. Rabbi Sharff graduated from the University of Texas and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Sharff is the rhythm guitarist for RTR's in House Band, and he also served as the editor for Howard Salmon's z"l Comic Book Siddur.