Tag Archive: Shabbat

Getting Back On Track After The Yomim Tovim

You’ve Worked On Your Neshamah, Now It’s Time To Work On Your Guf


So how did you fare? Did you take my suggestions on board over the yom tov period? Ate fewer starchy carbs and heavy desserts? Went out for a power walk to work off all those heavy meals? If you did, well done; your body and I thank you! If not, don’t fret; what’s done is done. Now it’s time to get back on track; it’s a great time to assess what your goals are physically, and to take some time to figure out how you’re going to attain them. It’s a new year, a new beginning, full of opportunity.


But getting back on track is hard if your belts seem to have shrunk, or your dresses don’t quite fit like they used to before the chagim. When the person you see in the mirror looks a little less healthy than you recall, that reflection can be so discouraging, and the journey ahead may seem so overwhelming. Where do you start?


How do Jews improve, year to year? We wipe the slate clean. On Kol Nidrei night, when we negate every vow, we dismiss every excuse we ever told ourselves why we couldn’t reach our goals. Those promises you made, those affirmations that held you back, no longer exist. “I could never go running”; “exercising just isn’t for me”; “I can’t stop eating that” – each of these “vows” is now moot. You’ve wiped the slate clean and are a different person to who you were last year.  


Don’t plan on making huge life-altering changes from today to tomorrow; it’ll never last. Instead, ask yourself why you were never able to keep your previous resolutions to keep fit and eat right: Didn’t have time? Surrounded by nosh at home and at work? Little support from friends or family? Dislike exercising? Like eating junk food too much? Last year, these excuses were walls that stopped you from achieving your goals; now, however, they’re challenges to overcome and opportunities to embrace. I’d like you to write down each of these excuses on the left-hand side of a single sheet of paper. Face them.  Contemplate them. Know thy enemy. In future articles we’ll examine each of these excuses in more detail, and I’ll offer helpful suggestions to eliminate each and every one from your repertoire of defenses, but for now, I’m only requesting that you list them.


Now, on the right-hand side of the paper, write down every reason why you have those physical goals in the first place. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to be healthier? Why do you want to be stronger, more agile, or more flexible? Perhaps you’re fed up of being out of breath when you play with your kids or grandkids? Perhaps you want to know you’ll be there for your spouse for many years to come? Perhaps you want the stamina to learn more, study more, and do more mitzvot


Scrutinize your barriers, but focus on your goals; our strength to persevere will come from the right-hand side of the page. 


Only you can change you, so know why you want to change, and make it happen. After 120 years, we’ll all be asked if we did the best each of us could do, each of us standing alone, totally culpable for our actions. You are not judged against your siblings, your friends, or your coworkers; you are only judged against yourself. Did YOU do the best that YOU could do? 


Never let your excuses define who you are. Let’s work together to make each of us better.

Do Shabbat & Yom Tov Calories Really Count?

Finding the Balance: Nourish Your Neshamah AND Satiate Your Guf


What would you like the answer to be? I wish I could tell you “no, don’t worry about them, calories only count on days we say Magdil”, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. 


During any normal Shabbat, doing the right thing for your body is tough enough: eating 2-3 large meals, including one late at night, and often with guests; compounded by the fact that you can’t exercise to any large extent, and instead spend the majority of the day sitting at home/shul (getting called up for an aliyah doesn’t count as exercise). This year, of course, with 3-day yomim tovim, we have three times the challenge… and three times over four weeks, no less.


So how can we ensure we don’t leave the festival period with, in addition to an elevated neshamah, an extra inch or two around our waists/hips? 


Here are my seven suggestions to carry us through the chaggim (and any regular Shabbat too):


  1. Start the day with some food in your stomach before shul (e.g. a piece of fruit or a glass of milk); it’ll kick-start your metabolism. 
  2. Limit your intake of starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, rice and bread throughout the day, but particularly during the evening meals. Instead, fill up on salads; and in particular, vegetables with a low glycemic index such as spaghetti squash, broccoli, spinach, cucumber, and other fibrous greens. These foods are less likely to spike your blood insulin level.
  3. Try substituting high caloric desserts (such as cake, cookies, and ice cream) with healthier options (like fruit – what I like to call “God’s dessert”).
  4. Limit your alcohol consumption – at around seven ‘empty’ calories per gram, alcohol contains nearly twice the amount of energy as carbohydrate and protein (around four calories per gram). Fat contains around nine calories per gram.
  5. Weather permitting, take a 30- to 60-minute walk after lunch; and I mean ‘walk’, not ‘amble’ – both your heart rate and mood should be elevated. Hippocrates once said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.” Take your family and friends with you too.
  6. Keep your evening meal portions small, and try to finish your meal at least 2 hours before going to sleep.
  7. Keep hydrated throughout the day – it’ll help with digestion.


Yom Tov and Shabbat shouldn’t be times you dread, always worried about what you’re going to eat, and the weight you may gain. Food should be something we utilize to delight in the chag, to elevate the chag, and to instill spirituality in the chag. Rather than letting calories dictate your enjoyment of these special days, try to focus on what the chag is really about – appreciation for what we have; appreciation with a healthy outlook and an elevated perspective; appreciation for what Hashem has graciously given us. 


We can’t control the weather (as Hashem often reminds us this time of year), but we can control what goes in our mouths, and how we look after our bodies. Just because we can’t exercise as much as we’d like, doesn’t mean everything about our health should fall by the wayside. For example, if you know your wife’s made your favorite chocolate cake for dessert (mmmm….), go for a run before yom tov, and plan the rest of your meals during yom tov accordingly.


As we sit in the succah – our temporary home for a brief few days – let us also be cognizant of the temporary home in which our neshamot reside. Let’s appreciate them, look after them, and use them the way Hashem intended – as well as possible, for as long as possible. May we all have an enjoyable and meaningful yom tov and chag sameach.

Frum and Fit: Are We Fulfilling Our Torah Obligation to Take Care of Our Body?

“If a person cared for himself the way he cares for his horse, he would avoid many serious illnesses.  You won’t find a person who gives his horse too much fodder; but he himself eats to excess.  He makes sure his animal gets proper exercise to keep it healthy; but when it comes to himself, he neglects exercise even though this is a fundamental principle in health maintenance and in the prevention of most illnesses.” Maimonides, Hanhagot Habriyot (The Regimen of Healthcare)

As a frum Jew, what are your priorities?  Read this article to get a fresh perspective.

Click here for full article.

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.

Bible Guy Gets Physical

Fun book review of A.J. Jacobs’ new book “Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection” (A.J. Jacobs is also the author of “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible”).

Click here for full article.

A Nutritionist’s Guide to Healthy Shabbat Eating

One of Shabbat’s directives is to eat three festive meals.  Aside from these obligatory meals, we know that food itself is a part of Oneg Shabbat (delighting in the day) (see Rambam Hilchot Shabbat 30:10 and Mishna Brura 242:1:6.).  But how can you celebrate the day while also keeping your caloric intake under control?  This article offers some useful tips. 


Click here for full article.