U-turns are allowed

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Certified Health Coach and a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

The Day of Atonement will soon be upon us.  The holiest of our Jewish holidays, we are preparing ourselves to ask forgiveness – from G-d as well as family and friends — for any indiscretions or wrongdoings in which we may have participated throughout the past 12 months.

It has been said that G-d doesn’t ask that we live perfect lives; we are but mere mortals, are we not?  However, what is incumbent upon us at this time of year is that we recognize our imperfections, realize we may have inadvertently hurt another, and that we turn in a more favorable direction.  This not only requires quiet introspection and a good deal of emotional fortitude; it also means we must find a way to forgive ourselves as well as others. 

How often have we set goals for ourselves throughout the year, only to end up chastising ourselves for having fallen short of our personal expectations?  To accept responsibility for actions is one thing; to beat ourselves up about it is quite another.  How often do we pave our fitness paths with the best of intentions, only to sabotage any success we may have made if we neglected to see the whole plan through to fruition? Again, all G-d asks is that we turn: change course, alter our sails, and carry on.  Why can we not see that for ourselves?

Life is busy and full for most of us.  If an agenda has been set for fitting workouts in 4 times a week, congratulate yourself on a solid plan towards health and wellbeing.  However, if an illness, unscheduled business trip, or a family commitment forces you to interrupt your gym schedule, there is no need to turn such circumstances against yourself in a dramatically negative manner.  Recognize the situation for what it is (out of your locus of control), get through the necessary hiatus, and simply turn and resume your journey.  Yes, it’s really that simple; yet for some reason, it is just not easy for many of us.

Similarly to “cheating” after a month of clean eating with one piece of birthday cake, and then beating yourself up by engaging in a week of nachos and French fries, try a different tactic this year. Recognize that it is human nature to occasionally enjoy a culinary treat; remind yourself that you didn’t hurt or injure yourself or anyone about whom you care deeply.  Take a deep breath, and turn back to the stepping stones that will lead to your desired path.

We speak of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world around us.  Yet rarely do we engage in the act of repairing ourselves, and to optimally serve others we must first begin with shoring up our personal space. This holiday season, take a moment to determine the best ways in which you can repair any damage you have inflicted upon yourself, without letting it take a negative toll on your psyche.  Try your best to turn…back to healthy eating, back to the gym, back to being a supportive spouse/parent/friend.  Forgive yourself for any lapses in your fitness or meal plans, and resume your journey toward wellness.  Imagine the feeling of joy you’ll experience when you start to embrace yourself,  imperfections and all! G-d has taught us well; all we need to do now is learn…and turn.