Tag Archive: discipline

No More Excuses – How to Circumvent Your Yetzer Hara

The Art of Discipline


By now, Rosh Hashana and Succot may seem like a distant memory. Alas, however, as you look down, perhaps some added girth may remind you otherwise; perhaps your frame feels weak and unhealthy?  It’s now time to do something about it. Last post we started thinking about what we’d like to achieve physically; we listed the reasons we’ve been unable to get there thus far, and the motivations for setting our goals.


We’d all like to live longer and live better; after all, the healthier we are, the better we can serve Hashem. So what’s stopping us? Simply put… our attitudes. Our attitudes dictate our priorities, and out of our priorities flow our excuses. Excuses plague our lives; they stop us from doing what we really want to do, what we should be doing, what we must be doing. 


Changing one’s attitude, however, is harder than you’d think. There’s a reason 70% of people who begin a workout regimen quit soon after starting. Their attitudes are built on flimsy foundations. Instead, then, we’re going to reverse engineer the solution. We’re going to target our excuses, and rearrange our priorities. Once we’ve done that, our attitudes will follow.


How do we crush our excuses? We must learn to outsmart ourselves, which, ironically, is increasingly harder the more intelligent you are. Just like the concept of muktza, though, once we learn to plan ahead and put up fences around our demons, self-control and self-mastery follow. If we prevent our excuses from ever showing up, they’ll be unable to stop the party.


Let’s take a look at two of the more common excuses, with some of my suggestions to thwart them:


DON’T HAVE TIME: Try getting up half an hour earlier and workout before the day even begins; it’ll start your whole day on a positive note, and working out on an empty stomach burns more calories from fat. Don’t have half an hour to spare? Do 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Try going for a brisk walk during your lunch break. If you have half an hour to surf the web, watch TV, talk with friends, or any of the other myriad “very important” activities we all do to relax and ‘unwind’, consider, for a moment, the reasons you’d like to be healthier in the first place; then revisit just how important that ‘relaxation’ really is …


NO SUPPORT FROM FRIENDS/FAMILY: Insert yourself into a healthy environment by surrounding yourself with a support system; search for a pre-existing group, or make yourself the center of your inspiration. Try an on-line group. Get together with friends and start your own group. I recently heard of a family (including parents, children, grandparents, and siblings) who’ve started their own “Biggest Loser” competition, each putting in $100 to the ‘pot’, with gift cards every week for the person who loses the most weight that week, followed by a grand weigh-in just before Chanuka for the remainder of the money. Sometimes, your inspiration must come from within. Always ask yourself why you want to be healthier; at the end of the day, with all the support in the world, the battle is always your own.


In future articles, we’ll discuss other familiar hurdles we all encounter, and offer ideas to not leap over them, but to find ways to avoid them all together. We’ll talk about what to do if you continually find yourself surrounded by nosh at home or work; finding ways to enjoy exercise when just the thought of getting off the couch makes you cringe; and learning that it’s ok to continue enjoying the foods you love to eat.  If you have any other suggested topics or questions you’d like discussed, feel free to e-mail me.


We all have obstacles that often appear overwhelming. You’re not alone. I can almost guarantee others have shared your pain. Together, and with Hashem’s good grace, we can pierce the barriers that hold us back, preventing us from reaching our true potential, and flourish to be the best we can be. You CAN succeed. You CAN accomplish your goals. Is the choice anyone else’s?

Michael S


Michael’s Story



Michael S

Contact Info






Geographic Location

Bergen County, New Jersey, USA


Lose weight and the flab around my midriff, become more muscular.

What made you decide it was time for change?

My pants needed to be lengthened – the same pants that fit me just fine a few years prior – and my mother-in-law happened to mention that a man’s pants typically ride higher if he’s put on weight. Initially, I was incredulous, and couldn’t believe I had put on any weight… then I weighed myself – nearly 210lb (I weighed 185lb when I first got married 5 years before) ! I decided enough was enough. My father had a triple bypass operation for his heart before he turned 50 years old, and I was determined that I’d do everything in my power to avoid a similar fate, and become the husband my wife deserved and the father my children needed – I needed to be around for them for as long as possible.

Starting weight (lb)


Current weight (lb)


Were there any medical/health issues that improved because of your transformation and, if so, please describe?

I’ve been working out and eating right for two and a half years now. I have more energy all the time; I hardly go to the doctor; and I’m generally happier – probably due to my better health, but also because I’m more disciplined now and more in control of my body and my life. Being able to fit into nice clothes is also a plus 🙂

Were there any emotional/psychological issues that changed because of your transformation and, if so, please describe?

See above

How long did your transformation take?

2.5 years

What [special] foods did you eat, if any?

Whole grain carbohydrates; more vegetables, particularly green vegetables; healthy fats, including nuts and flaxseed oil. I also eat smaller quantities of food more regularly, being careful to eat every 2-3 hours to keep by metabolism up.

What foods did you avoid or only eat in moderation, if any?

Processed carbohydrates; simple sugars; and saturated fats and fried foods.

What exercise(s) did you do, if any, and how often did you do them?

I started off doing P90X (a 6-day/week exercise regimen that includes weights, cardio, and yoga), then I moved on to P90X Plus, and then Insanity (a 6-day/week exercise regimen that’s mostly cardio). Now I do a mixture of everything, including weights 4 times a week, cardio 6 days a week, and yoga once a week. I keep busy, but have fun. I even started taking dance classes (hip hop) – great exercise and very enjoyable.

Did you use a specific weight loss program such as Weight Watchers ®, Atkins™, etc. and, if so, what? Was it helpful?


What were your biggest challenges and how did you manage them?

Shabbat and Yom Tov were, and continue to be, the hardest part of keeping healthy – it’s a dangerous combination of good food and little exercise. My family has been great and has really curbed the amount of junk food we have in the house, but it’s still there in moderation, and it’s there whenever we go to friends’ houses as well. I’m addicted to cake and cookies, and other junk food too, so having enough discipline and self control in these situations is very hard, and I’ve slipped up on many occasions, but you have to forget about what’s done, move on, and take each day meal by meal. Finding a healthy balance can be difficult, and is different for everybody.

Did you encounter any particularly difficult challenges on Shabbat/Yom Tov or during smachot and, if so, how did you manage them?

For me, it’s easier to not have any dessert than to only have a little – it’s tough to maintain that self control once the first taste hits my lips. Still, I try to enjoy Yom Tov and have dessert in moderation. I also try to fill up on salad before I consider eating starchy carbohydrates and junk food.

Did you encounter any particularly difficult challenges due to religious/familial obligations (e.g. minyanim; studying/learning; caring for children; maintenance of the home; communal responsibilities; etc.) and, if so, how did you manage them?

Not really. My wife’s been very supportive and understanding, and has been there for me every step of the way while I’ve adjusted my diet with healthier food and my schedule to fit in more exercise. I also started exercising early in the morning so that I still had time for my family.

What other advice, if any, would you like to impart to the Frum & Fit.com community to help them become and continue to be the best they can be?

The hardest part to becoming healthier is realizing you need to and then summoning up the courage to make the change in your life. Once you’ve made the decision to change, finding a good support system and a knowledge base is crucial to success. At the end of the day though, it’ll be you who makes every decision – the choice is yours and yours alone.