Willpower, Fitness and Religion

(My final night of my 7.5 year journey doing Daf Yomi with my mentor- Dayan Abraham)

What does religion have to do with a health and fitness journey? Allow me to explain.

Last night I completed something called Daf Yomi which is the completion of the Jewish Talmud. Daf Yomi (Hebrew) is translated as ‘page of the day’. If done correctly the cycle takes seven and a half years to complete. This is a 365- day commitment. I started my journey in September of 2010.

The connection with fitness you ask? Willpower! Willpower is a form of self-discipline. The definition of willpower is control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.

Below I will discuss the key factors I used willpower for to keep me going on a seven and a half year journey.

I used willpower to help me create a habit

Imagine starting a healthy eating plan or a fitness journey when you have done nothing in the past. I was in a comparable situation to this with Talmud study before committing to Daf Yomi. Yes, I had done the occasional learning for a couple of years prior but not the 365-day commitment. The first step I had to make was that I had to create a new habit. I had to free up time every night for the lecture (it was done in a group) from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. This meant changing my whole work schedule around. Making sure that I didn’t have clients booked at that time and that I was always near my home base. Once I was clear in my mind that I would commit and start I made the necessary adjustments and created my new routine. Did it mean extra sacrifices? Sure did. It meant going back to work when the lecture was finished and being around on a Saturday and Sunday night! This was extremely difficult.

Recognise your progress

By no means am I now a Torah scholar but I certainly do realise how far I have come in seven and a half years. Not only was it difficult to commit time wise in the beginning but it was also extremely difficult to follow the learning. As I finished each tractate (63 in total) I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and a clearer focus towards the end goal. As I got months and months into it my willpower became stronger than ever. Too many people when on a health and fitness journey don’t celebrate the small victories. They want the end prize straight away and get disheartened when they don’t achieve it immediately.

Look at the long game

When you look at the translation of Daf Yomi (page of the day) it’s a massively long game with over 2500 pages to complete. It was developing my willpower that made me patient and see me over the finish line. And believe me I had a lot changes in the seven and a half years. I was single in 2010. Since starting, my business grew dramatically, I married Shelly in 2014 and now have two beautiful children. Goal posts constantly move. I had to be able to adapt. I also have a very understanding wife which was a huge help on this journey. If you are starting a health journey later in life understand that you may not get the results as quick as a teenager or someone in their twenties may experience. Use patience as a tool to keep you going when you feel like you want to give up. Trust me there were at least 20 occasions when I was ready to throw in the towel. I had a great mentor (my Rabbi) who kept me focused and kept me on track.
My Rabbi would always say the following to me, “don’t you want to reach the top of the mountain by climbing it rather than being dropped at the top via a helicopter”? Fitness is no different. In life there are no short cuts. Just hard work. When you feel despondent acknowledge that feeling. Take a breath and keep going.

And when you reach the top of the mountain…..The journey is definitely worth it!

Success in health and fitness,