Thursday, August 8, 2013

Changing the Way We Act: A #BlogElul Post

Several months ago, I joined Weight Watchers (for the first time ever) and in the last 12 weeks or so, I’ve lost approximately half the amount I need to, on my way to attaining a healthy goal weight.  It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve been diligent—lots of fruits and veggies (zero points), lots of water, lots of tracking, not enough treadmill, and lots of planning, portion control, and asking myself if something is “worth the points” before I dig in.

As much of an eye-opener and a challenge as losing weight has been, I know it will be even harder to keep it off.  Most of all, though, I’ve learned that weight loss and weight management are all about behavior modification—changing the way we act toward food.

In that way, I think the High Holidays are a lot like Weight Watchers.  They’re all about heightened awareness of our behavior coupled with willingness and determination to change, when necessary, the way we act toward others.  And, just as we can experience weight loss when we act differently toward food, so, too, when we act differently toward each other can we experience richer, deeper and more meaningful relationships.

And, just as Weight Watchers knows that there will be weeks in which the needle on the scale moves in the wrong direction, so does our tradition know that teshuvah is hard work and that we likely will falter and miss the mark from time to time.  Nonetheless, in the same way that I return to Weight Watchers week after week to keep my actions with food on track, Judaism allows us to continue our work to act more kindly toward others even once the High Holidays are over--letting us weigh in throughout the year to make sure the needle on the scale is moving in the right direction.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.