Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I recently heard two women discussing dieting and fasting. I joked, "Why diet when you can fast instead?" A few days later it became apparent to me that there is a direct connection between the two.

Every diet plan turns into a struggle to avoid cheating. This is a natural function of the mind, what we resist persists! When our emotional state fluctuates we often rely on our comfort foods to take us over the next hurdle. Dieting often becomes a process of two steps forward and one step back. If and when we finally reach our target, then the battle becomes one of maintaining the weight loss... and the long-term statistical results are not very favorable.

In August of 2005 I returned to the Jewish fold and became a Baal Teshuva (the process of becoming more observant). To make this transition I had to dismantle many preconcieved beliefs about my secular approach to Judaism and religion in general. I have to thank a loving rabbi and rebbetzin, exposure to Kabbalah, Torah study, observing holidays and other Yiddishkeit influences for my spiritual progress. About ten months later I committed to put on tefillin each weekday. I regularly attend services at Chabad of Venice and North Port, here on Florida's Gulf Coast, USA.

I often pray to G-d to support my intention for losing weight, okay it's just the last 15 pounds... about two inches off of my waist! Even though I eat a healthy vegetarian diet, often make fresh vegetable juice and exercise regularly, my inclusion of certain comfort foods has made this goal very illusive. At a recent kiddush (the meal after the Saturday service) I ate three brownies and often search for that extra slice of challah. This leads to unwanted bloating, clothes that are too tight, doing less exercise and finally seeking more comfort foods... which makes any weight goal loss less sustainable. This is the destructive process that we face with virtually every food intake plan.

So here is the crux of the Jersualem Diet:

One: Everyday you should ask G-d for His support for your weight loss goal.

Two: Eat properly by finding a food intake plan that you can live with. Learn about food combining and consult a doctor or nutritionist if need be. Also, do more exercise (start slowly) and drink a few extra glasses of water and healthy fluids each day (coffee and most teas do not count). If you also want to cut down or eliminate liquor and smoking, that's okay too!

Three: When you are faced with a decision about buying, ordering or eating your favorite comfort foods, STOP RESISTING AND GO OFF YOUR DIET! Immediately start a ONE MINUTE FAST and experience your connection to G-d and His support for your overall health and well being. (If I can endure not eating or drinking for 24 hour during Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av, how difficult can it be to complete a ONE MINUTE FAST?) During that one minute ask yourself, "What would G-d... HaShem... want me to do?" Create a larger context for your actions. Put you choice in His hands. Trust me, after the ONE MINUTE FAST you will no longer want your comfort food. If you are still hungry, then have an apple nearby just in case.

Although the Jerusalem Diet has been written from a Traditional Jewish point of view, this shift in context could be adapted for peace loving men, women and children of any faith. But please understand, since I freely offer my experience there is no money back guarantee! I invite you to share the context of this ONE MINUTE FAST with your friends and loved ones around the world. Let me know how you are doing by posting a comment on this blog or by email:

Be well and shalom, Frank