Giving From the Overflow: From Reese's Puffs to Holistic Health

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By: Aliza Hendon, CHC

If you had asked me five years ago if I ever thought I would become a health coach, I would have laughed at you! I was the LAST person on the planet to emulate health, let alone coach other people on it!

So how did I end up as a health coach?

Like many of you reading this, I am a busy person. I'm a wife, a mother of three daughters (born in three years!) and a business owner. I was burnt out, overwhelmed, stressed to the max, I didn't know how to tell people "no", and I didn't take care of myself. I used to skip meals, eat quick, convenient garbage like Coke, Reese’s Puffs and pastries, while drinking zero water and living off of iced coffees instead. In addition, the words "self-care" or “me-time” didn’t exist anywhere in my dictionary. I only knew how to operate on one setting: stressed out and overwhelmed, while chugging through life, because I had to, and I didn't have a choice...or so I thought.

What changed?

I came to the realization that I DID have a choice, and that life is all about choices. I could choose depleted and stressed out, or I could choose to get my health and life under control, and stop living as a victim of my life circumstances.

Given that you're reading an article written by a health coach, you can imagine which choice I made.

Being almost 40 lb overweight, I lost weight by following one of these popular, quick-fix weight loss programs. The weight quickly came off, but after spending hundreds of dollars and depriving myself for months, I was stuck figuring out how I was supposed to maintain this weight loss on my own. I knew that counting calories or living off of protein bars couldn’t be the answer, and therefore, I started researching. I was quickly introduced to the concept of holistic health. While I used to roll my eyes at this “hippy-dippy” way of life, I was open-minded enough (and desperate enough!) to explore it, and I found that many of its concepts were actually valuable and applicable to my life. Not only have I learned how to live a more balanced life, I have also learned how to maintain my weight in a natural and healthy way, with no counting or measuring involved.

Since completing my Health Coach Certification, I have had the privilege to coach and change the lives of many women around the world. I've taught them how to take care of their bodies, how to reach their health goals, (such as losing weight, gaining energy or just feeling better,) and how to implement self-care by making themselves a priority. 

A lot of you may be wondering— what exactly is a health coach?

As a health coach, I take a holistic approach to health. I believe that in order to change and improve your health, knowing what foods are right or wrong to eat alone is not always enough to make a real change in your health.

When I work with clients to reach their health goals, WHAT they eat is only a small part of the picture. In addition to providing basic nutritional knowledge, my role as a health coach is primarily to help a person make habit changes, since habits are what shape and structure a person’s life. I help women transform many areas of their life; I help them learn how to manage their stress, work on healing their emotional relationship with food, as well as adjust HOW they eat, which includes bringing awareness to their level of hunger and fullness when eating, just to name an example. I work with clients on any level, and meet them no matter where they are in their health so they can make small, consistent changes that are realistic for their life. “Small hinges swing big doors.” It’s the slow, steady changes that make the biggest impact on a person’s health.

I've seen women double their energy and decrease snacking and sugar cravings by making small changes, like drinking more water or adding more protein into their diet. I’ve also heard women say things like, “Food doesn’t scare me anymore—I don’t feel controlled by it,” or “I look at myself as more than just a number on a scale.” The biggest compliment I can get is when a client tells me not only about how amazing she feels, but how natural these new changes feel.

There is no doubt that physical changes need to be made in order for someone to improve their health. However, I believe that more importantly, health requires an attitude change. A mentor of mine taught me a life-altering idea that I hope will impact you as well. We’ve all heard of the concept that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” in regards to self-care and giving to others. I always took this to mean that there just has to be something (even a little bit) in your cup in order to pour from it—but it’s even more than that. Your cup always has to be COMPLETELY full, and others can only receive from the excess that overflows.

This is a drastic difference from having just a little bit in your cup. This means that getting your nails done once in a blue moon, or occasionally taking a walk by yourself, isn't enough. In order for a woman to be the best possible version of herself, and to be able to give to others, she has to first take care of herself and make sure that her tank is completely full! If it’s not, then she's not only depriving and hurting herself, she’s also depriving others’ access to the most amazing version of herself that she could be.

I’m sure that some of the moms out there reading this might be rolling their eyes right now, but I want you to ask yourself: which mother do you think your family would benefit from most—a C- mom or an A+ mom?

As a mother of three, I have seen firsthand the effects and ramifications of not taking care of yourself. It not only robs you of the best life possible, it's a disservice to your family to only offer the C-, burnt out version of yourself when you are capable of so much more. We only get one life, and one chance, so we need to make it the best one ever.

Unfortunately, this is a pretty foreign concept within our culture, and working as a sheitel macher in the Baltimore community, I have seen many women struggle with this. When I think of the typical Orthodox Jewish woman, I see a woman who is busy in the kitchen, cooking for Shabbos, or taking care of her children, with self-care way on the back burner—it’s just a far off, “cute” concept to her. On top of always doing and accomplishing so much, she still doesn’t feel like she does enough!

In the frum world, there is a lot of emphasis on giving and doing for others, whether through acts of chessed, hosting guests for Shabbos, making meals for a new mother, or volunteering in our kids’ schools. I strongly believe that these are all wonderful, invaluable things that really make us shine from all the other nations of the world. Unfortunately, I believe that many of us are missing the first step, which is making sure that we first take care of ourselves by ensuring that our cup is full.

The Torah says, “V’Ahavta L’Reiecha Kamocha,” that we should love our friend as we love ourself. Since giving is considered the ultimate act of love, this can also mean that we should give to our friend like we give to ourselves. But I wonder—how can we expect to be able to love and give to others if we can’t love or give to ourselves properly?

I used to feel guilty and selfish (even embarrassed!) if I turned down someone who needed a Shabbos meal because I was too overwhelmed and exhausted from the week, or if I said no to making a meal for a friend who gave birth because I was struggling to get dinner on the table for my own family... Isn’t that what being a good Jewish woman is all about? Now, I see that I can’t expect myself to do it all. I can't accomplish all that I do—being a good person, wife, mother and business owner—until I first take care of myself. And most importantly, realizing that it's NOT selfish to think and act this way.

I believe that this is what living a healthy lifestyle is all about. Health is a mindset. Yes, that may include healthy eating, exercising, managing stress, or getting enough sleep, but above all, it means making the decision and taking the steps to make yourself a priority. Without this step, healthy eating or joining a gym will only get you so far, as excuses will get in the way.

A healthy lifestyle begins with the decision to choose YOU, because when you choose to make YOURSELF a priority of your life, you, and everyone around you, will benefit.

 
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Aliza Hendon

is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and an Emotional Eating Expert who works with women in person in Baltimore, MD and virtually via phone or Skype. She specializes in helping busy, frum women to transform their health in an easy and natural way. Aliza assists women with different health struggles, including weight loss, weight maintenance, low energy, digestive issues, as well as emotional or stress eating. She can be reached at 757-573-6098 or via email at alizahendon@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram @gethealthywithAliza.

Rochel Lazar