The Observant Jew
By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz
Lose Weight and Feel Great
Anyone who’s ever struggled with their weight knows how hard it is to find something that works and to stick with it. You may have tried all sorts of things from eating gallons of cabbage soup to chewing your food forty times. Maybe you wore a magnetic headband with tinfoil antennas or a rubber suit with a vibrating belt. You lost, you gained, you laughed, you cried. Overall, it was not a very pretty picture.
In most cases, experts say, you’re not going to be successful unless you make a lifestyle change. That means you’re not just doing a certain thing for a certain amount of time, but changing your habits forever, which can be a daunting task. If you succeed, though, the benefits will be long-lasting.
Of course, the nutritionist, diet coach or doctor will tell you to focus on the benefits of the weight loss: How you’ll feel better, look better, have more energy. You’ll feel accomplished and proud. The idea is that your future happiness will be immeasurably enhanced by succeeding. This will give you the drive to see it through to your goal.
What if I told you that you could have instantaneous results? What if I told you that you could feel better, lighter, and happier in moments instead of months? What if I told you that what I have in mind has nothing to do with calories?
Let’s say someone did something very hurtful to you. They said or did something that made you feel bad, disrespected, and maybe even betrayed. You probably feel like you’ve got a fifty pound weight around your neck.
You walk hunched over and in pain. You feel sluggish and weak. The other person doesn’t seem to be bothered though. Do you know what that means? You’re carrying the burden of the pain all by yourself.
What can you do? You can decide to drop the weight. Bearing a grudge is a fitting term because when you hold onto pain it’s a weight you have to bear. But how do you lose the weight so you can feel better?
Like any other weight loss plan there are numerous ways. You can tell yourself that the other person wasn’t malicious but thoughtless. Or, if you can’t help feeling it was malicious, remember that HaShem is behind everything that happens to you and they wouldn’t have been allowed to hurt you if He didn’t decree that you go through it.
Sometimes telling yourself the other person is immature or just having a bad day will help you deal with it. It doesn’t matter what the truth is. What matters is that you can drop the weight and feel better.
At first, it seems counterintuitive. If I’m hurt, they will feel bad (eventually) or other people will stick up for me, and I can feel vindicated. I’ll get the satisfaction I crave when they suffer. But it doesn’t work that way. When people are callous they don’t often change and suddenly feel apologetic. Other people don’t like complainers. They won’t want to listen. It’s up to you to make the difference.
When you can refuse to fall into the trap of depression and pain which can do more harm than a pan of brownies to your waistline, you’ll feel better right away. You can’t change the other people, but you can change your reaction by deciding to be happy anyway.
Chazal say that people who are ‘makpid,’ meaning they harp on things and take offense at the tiniest infraction, get stomach pains. Maybe they mean ulcers, and maybe they mean plain feeling miserable. Carrying a grudge can feel like a permanent pit in your stomach.
By changing how you react to insults and hurts you can avoid those dangers and score some real health benefits too. People who let things go tend to live longer, happier lives.
One day my daughter asked me, “Do you want to be proud of me?” I responded, “I always am, but let’s hear why I should be proud today.”
She said, “Someone at school messed up my project. I wanted to scream at her but I didn’t. Instead I just fixed it without saying anything.” Then she added, “It was really hard!” Yes it was hard, but she realized the benefits immediately and felt good about herself plus got praise from others.
The more you practice the easier it will be. The better at it you become, the more you’ll be able to avoid pain in the future. Even if you’re insulted, you can deflect it by remembering that you want to feel good and that if you choose to hold onto the pain it will wreck your goal.
If you can make this change and become a person who refuses to carry the weight of a grudge or the burden of someone else’s meanness, you’ll be able to walk through life with your head high, a spring in your step, and a happy, healthy song in your heart.
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