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Do you want to lose weight? Would you like to feel better and have more energy? 

Who wouldn’t?

Some friends just went to a convention in Florida which drew over 12,000 participants. These people supplement their incomes by acting as health coaches for a diet program. They offer support groups, books, files, videos, and other resources to help people stay on the plan and shed unwanted pounds.

The very first question posed to a new client is, “Why are you doing this?”  There are many different answers, including losing weight, looking better, feeling better, and living longer. People have tried every sort of fad diet and exercise routine, but they often fail. What makes this one special? This program constantly reminds people why they got started and why they should stick to it.  At the convention, a new app was introduced. One of the unique features is a “panic button,” which reminds users WHY they are doing this.  The temptation to go off-plan may feel overwhelming. If they can just find a way to get them through the challenges, they will do very well. The cravings do subside after the first few days. However, if something off the plan is eaten, the cravings will return for another few days.

I have been on this program for over eight months. Had I followed the rules, I would likely have achieved my goal weight by now.  I was able to lose over 20 pounds, but I could have lost 50 or 70 by now and would have achieved my goal. As I write this, I have redoubled my commitment to stay on the regimen bli neder (no promises!) and not veer off even a little bit. Perhaps committing to do that here in writing will give me the extra push that I need to make it happen by Chanukah, with the will of Hashem.

Diet and exercise goals are similar to observing the commandments and refraining from committing sins. If we believe that living as observant Jews is the ideal path, then why would we sin? Let’s be realistic.  No matter how “good” we strive to be, we do fail. Yes, there is teshuvah, repentance, but why do we keep making poor choices? Knowing what we know intellectually and believing what we believe deep within our core, how can we ever dare to go against the wishes of our Creator?  Temptation can torpedo even the best of us sometimes. Knowing that, how might we prepare ourselves in advance against being tempted in the moment?

Perhaps we can take a cue from the diet system I mentioned.  The initial question they ask everyone is, “Why are you dieting?”  Keeping long-term goals in mind is an excellent strategy to refrain from eating what we shouldn’t. The plan offers special cakes. Just don’t eat regular cake.  The truth is that there is an acceptable way to satisfy every craving we may ever have.  

Have you ever thought about why you want to live as an observant Jew?  Is it for the reward? Is it because that is how you were raised? Is it because you fear what your neighbors and community will think of you?  Are we possibly going through the motions because that is what we were taught, and that is what is familiar and comfortable?

Imagine for a moment that you knew the “why” very well. You desire to have a close, personal connection with Hashem. You’d love to rely on Him for your every need, to calm your fear and anxiety in every situation. You wish to express to Him in the most meaningful way possible how glad you are to be alive and to serve Him. Picture knowing with perfect faith that He is actively helping us, and that living according to the original manufacturer’s instructions, the Torah, is the perfect and ideal way to live happily and to earn your place with Him for eternity.  Picture that “why” the very next time you feel challenged by temptation, and believe in yourself that you can make the choice that you know in your heart is right, even just this one time, here in this moment.

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