The circle of Torah…and healthy living

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. Read her weekly ‘Lighten Up’ fitness blog online at 

By Cathleen Kronemer

This year, September seems to have been a month filled with celebration. As we move past the more somber Holy Day of Yom Kippur, we are now embracing Simchat Torah. While observances may vary from household to household, most synagogues agree on one key concept. On Simchat Torah, we read the last Torah portion, and then proceed once again to the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that the Torah is a circle which never ends.

Endings and beginnings figure prominently in the cycles of wellness, too. Often we set goals for ourselves – fitness goals, desires to change our physiques, goals to improve our flexibility or strength – and as soon as we achieve what we set out to obtain, we stop.  Feeling satisfied with our work, and the progress we have made, we rest on our laurels…only to find ourselves back where we started within a few short months.  What happened to our goals, our progress?  Did we overly “reward” ourselves once we hit our predetermined goals?  Or did we cease paying attention to lessons learned?

If we chose instead to view our lives like the scholars view the Torah — a circle without an end, a continuous path from which to learn each and every day —- we might find our fitness and wellness goals becoming more like lifestyle changes, and those are much easier to sustain over the long haul than random, temporary and likely esoteric deviations.  Our bodies are changing every moment of every day; we can alter the course of our sails, and yet cannot change the wind beneath them.  By paying close attention to how we feel every day, and charting a new course to meet the demands of those feelings, we are honoring our bodies and their continuous cycles of change, much like the everlasting pages of Torah.

This week the scholars may have reached the end of the Torah scrolls; and yet the learning repeats itself, with new messages to be gleaned from the same ancient words.  So, too, must we honor our physical space: what we failed to improve upon/change/make healthier in the last 12 months is still present, waiting to be learned from and improved upon in the days and weeks ahead.  Life is wondrous in this fashion, if we only can pay close enough attention.  This year, I hope you choose to dedicate yourself to emotional and physical renewal as we embrace this Simchat Torah.