The High Priest’s Grandson and Your Workout

Jewish-calendar-plate

Thought for Shabbat

The end of this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, outlines the offerings to brought to the Tabernacle and later to the Temple.  It begins with the daily offerings, the weekly Shabbat offerings, and is then followed by the various festivals.

It is noteworthy that there was an offering presented by the priests every morning and every afternoon.  Sacrifices were seen by the ancients as a way to connect with God; during a sacrifice, the boundary between life and death was crossed and that mysterious and powerful act was thought to bring God’s presence nearer.  The Torah legislates that this does not happen only at special occasions or even just weekly, but rather every single day.

As a personal trainer, I can relate to this.  In ancient times, the goal of sacrifice was to draw near to God.  This could not be done in a haphazard way; it had to be done on a regular basis if there was any hope of achieving this aim.  The same is true for almost any goal we set for ourselves.  Whether in business, education or physical fitness, we need a regular program to help us get where we want to be.

I tell my clients that it is good that they see me on a (mostly) regular basis, but once or twice weekly may not be enough to lose the weight, tone up, build strength and endurance, etc.  The effort needs to be daily, lest we miss a day…and another…and another.  

Parashat Pinchas reminds us that this approach is valid not just in our earthly pursuits, but in our quest for the Divine as well.

Shabbat Shalom!

Start your Spiritual Warm-Up Now…

Shana Tova

Thought for Shabbat

It is well known that going to the gym and starting to work out without some kind of warm-up is not the best idea.  The same is true with relationships; when you meet someone, it is best not to propose marriage on the first date!  

Now that Shavuot is in the rear-view mirror, I am feeling the same way about the high holidays that are just a few months away.  (I know!?!?)  While it is true that the month of Elul is really the time to gear up for the Ten Days of Repentance, summer gives us a bit of a longer runway.

If we think about it, when we are listening to your GPS and get off course, it is best to try to make a correction as soon as possible.  The further we keep driving on the wrong path, the more difficult it will be to get back on track and to our final destination.  Think back to the High Holidays last year.  Do we remember the goals we set and the changes we wanted to make?

We should not wait until Elul to take this walk down memory lane.  If we set our hearts, minds and souls to it, we can arrive at Elul already well back on track.

We often think of summer as a relaxing time.  (It should be that too!)  From a Jewish standpoint, however, it is time to orient ourselves to the task of meeting our goals and making the necessary changes.  

So…enjoy the weather, let’s not forget what lies ahead as the days begin to shorten.

Shabbat Shalom!

Getting back to the Gym after Surgery

The cast finally comes off!

Surgery was just over three weeks ago. I have one more week of non-weight-bearing, and three more weeks wearing the boot.

This means that next week I can get back to training others at the JCC. Last night I taught a small group class, but could not participate–it was a weird feeling.

Since I began my fitness journey I have had a few surgeries: Bunionectomy, double-hernia correction, emergency appendectomy (this past January) and now the surgery on my foot.

What I have learned from my past experiences:

  1. Listen to your doctor…but also listen to your body. Doctors set guidelines for how we should “ease” back into our fitness routine, but that does not work for everyone. I have seen people have the same surgery performed by the same doctor for the same condition; one was back to work in 2 days, the other was out for 3 weeks. We all respond differently; some have surgery that is 100% successful, while others experience less success. So while a doctor may tell us that we should be able to do something (run, lift weights, etc.) we must listen to our body too. If we feel that we are nowhere near the progress we and/or the doctor expected, we must be sure to communicate with him/her.
  2. Go slow. I do not expect to be running long distances for a while (even a mile). I will start with walking on the track, then little by little adding a couple of laps on the track (1/12 of a mile) each time. When I had my hernia surgery, I had completed a half-marathon 10 days earlier; I was in tip-top shape. I tried to hop back into running with both feet and it was big mistake. I actually pushed myself too hard and too quickly, setting me back further and causing greater pain. It was about a year until I felt full recovered. This does not mean that we shouldn’t push ourselves (see point 1), but caution is our ally.
  3. Try to have some goals and a plan about how to get there. This is true with any kind of fitness plan, but all the more so after an enforced break. Before heading back to the gym, have a plan of how frequently and for what duration it makes sense to be doing which exercises (what weight, how many reps, how many sets, cardio or resistance). Putting it on paper gives perspective; does it look like too much, or not enough?
  4. Don’t get impatient or give up hope. I remember after my hernia surgery thinking that I was washed up and would never recover. The reality is that I did my best work after that surgery; easily beat my half-marathon time, ran obstacle course races, won to 5ks, and became a personal trainer. Keeping a positive outlook and knowing that we are on a journey (that isn’t necessarily linear) helps our sense of progress.
  5. Do some research. I’ve been poking around the internet and found several good articles on recovery after surgery. They all contain several common themes. Best of all, they help to set appropriate expectations. The more we set appropriate expectations, the less likely we are to be disappointed. The less we are disappointed, the more positive we are. The more positive we are, the more progress we make.

I will keep you posted on my recovery with insights I develop through the process. Let’s see how the 5 points above really play out.

In the meantime, glad the cast is off!

When a Trainer needs a Trainer

Last week I went to Columbus and signed up for a training session with my long-time personal trainer. It had been 8 months since my move, and frankly I was a little nervous. I’ve had some health setbacks and was worried that I had atrophied while I was gone.

It was a tough workout but I made it through. What it made me realize–which is kind of like a “duh”–is that there really is a benefit to working with a trainer. Of course, as a personal trainer myself, I see the results in my clients. So many of them are reaching their fitness goals, have greater stamina, improved balance, and have taken control of their health. Sometimes it takes a trainer–not a doctor or family member or friend–to push you beyond what you think is your capability. As I said in a recent blog post: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

I left Columbus knowing that I may not need to hire a personal trainer, but that it makes sense for me to ask one of my fellow trainers (which I did) if we could work out together. We had a short 20 minute session today. He told me that he pushed himself because I was there, and I certainly went beyond my usual. It felt great!

I know this sounds self-serving, but if you feel like you are in a rut, not getting the results you want, and that you are continually playing out the same fitness drama…seek professional help. I did. You can too! 🙂 Personal Trainers make a difference.