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Reflections on a New Year

Oct 3

Posted by: ACHA
10/3/2011 11:35 AM  RssIcon

By Alissa Butterfass

This past week I celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The holiday service includes many beautiful prayers and many harrowing liturgies, and reciting them makes me think about the year that has passed—my accomplishments, my missed opportunities, my goals—as well as my hopes for the upcoming year. Whether or not you are Jewish, it’s never a bad idea to reflect on the past year and think about the year ahead. Here are some of the thoughts that went through my mind this week.

First off—it was a pretty good year. I celebrated the holiday with my husband and my two sons and that alone makes me a pretty lucky woman. All four of us are relatively healthy, my husband and I are both gainfully employed, and our boys each started attending new schools and they both love their classes—phew! We’ve seen friends and family go through some real challenges this year and we truly appreciate what we have.

Second, since according to custom this is when it is decided who will live and who will die, who will be in peace and who will suffer, and because I’ve been more focused on my heart condition since blogging for ACHA, I started to think about whether I am doing my best to live a healthy life.

I decided that when it comes to my mental health I did pretty well. Four years after moving to the suburbs I finally feel like I have an established close circle of girlfriends, and we’ve even made a concerted effort to have our husbands get to know each other better through monthly couples dinners. I’ve read some amazing books, thanks in part to my great book club. In November I co-chaired a fundraiser for a charity, raising several thousand dollars, and in June I was installed as a co-president of my chapter of that charity. It sometimes feels like the equivalent of another full-time job but one that is much more gratifying. The women I lead in this group make a real difference in our local community and abroad. Finally, I have become a contributor to the ACHA Blog, fulfilling a personal goal of writing regularly and also connecting me with a unique community from which to learn and grow.

Third, admittedly, I let myself down when it came to my physical health. On the positive side, I did go for my annual check-up with my cardiologist, which was especially important this year as my former cardiologist, whom I loved, retired in 2010. This was my first time seeing her partner. So kudos for me for getting over the sadness and—I’m not proud to say—the resentment (how dare she retire to spend time with her kids when I still want to see her as my doctor!), and initiating this new relationship.

But, on the negative side, I let myself down when it come to two of the most important things I can do for my own health—better eating and increased exercise. As it says right in my bio, I’m a self-proclaimed chocoholic, born with a sweet tooth that never seems sated. My weight isn’t where it should be or where I’d like it to be. I signed up for the Weight Watchers online program, but apparently just paying the monthly fees doesn’t make you automatically lose weight! As for exercise, thanks to a healthy living program at work, for several weeks I tracked how much I was walking with a pedometer, striving to hit at least 5,000 steps a day. But then the pedometer broke, and with it my motivation. Terrible!

Now, I don’t believe in making public New Year’s resolutions. I think you have to do something for yourself, and not because you made a promise in front of others. That said, by taking a few moments during the past few days to think about the past few months, I have a better idea of what I’d like to do in the year ahead.

The traditional greeting you wish to family and friends at Rosh Hashanah is “Have a happy, healthy and sweet new year,” and so I bid that to all of you.

* * *

I would love to hear from all of you: What are your tips for healthy living, be it mental or physical health? What gets you going and keeps you motivated?

Alissa Butterfass was born with transposition of the great vessel, which was corrected with a Mustard procedure at age 2. In addition to being a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, wannabe author and chocoholic, she works part time as a senior marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company and volunteers as the Co-President of her local chapter of a nonprofit organization.

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4 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Reflections on a New Year

As another Mustard struggling with her weight, you do NOT know how much I needed to see this post today! Sometimes I feel like the world's most ungrateful person for picking up 50 pounds during my 20s and not successfully losing it despite many attempts. This round, I've been doing pilates and spinning for about the past 2 months, it's been a wonderful experience and both are things that can be done at one's own pace. Pedometer's are great, I also suggest investing in a nice HRM--Polars and Garmins can be downloaded to computers and often display on gym equipment. Having my zones programmed in the watch and knowing that I'm in MY aerobic range and getting a good workout is very useful biofeedback. I need to bite the bullet and get another stress test though--something tells me my max HR might be a bit different than those wall charts at the gym...

My diet plan is essentially to emphasize lean protein and avoid white carbs (potatoes, grains, sugar, etc.) 6 days a week, and to eat whatever on Saturday. it's been pretty easy to adhere to so far. WW didn't do it for me, but a lot of people need the accountability. Then again, maybe if there's other chubby folks hanging around out here in ACHA land, maybe we could gang up on each other and stay motivated...

By Sarah on   10/3/2011 12:59 PM
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Re: Reflections on a New Year

As another Mustard struggling with her weight, you do NOT know how much I needed to see this post today! Sometimes I feel like the world's most ungrateful person for picking up 50 pounds during my 20s and not successfully losing it despite many attempts. This round, I've been doing pilates and spinning for about the past 2 months, it's been a wonderful experience and both are things that can be done at one's own pace. Pedometer's are great, I also suggest investing in a nice HRM--Polars and Garmins can be downloaded to computers and often display on gym equipment. Having my zones programmed in the watch and knowing that I'm in MY aerobic range and getting a good workout is very useful biofeedback. I need to bite the bullet and get another stress test though--something tells me my max HR might be a bit different than those wall charts at the gym...

My diet plan is essentially to emphasize lean protein and avoid white carbs (potatoes, grains, sugar, etc.) 6 days a week, and to eat whatever on Saturday. it's been pretty easy to adhere to so far. WW didn't do it for me, but a lot of people need the accountability. Then again, maybe if there's other chubby folks hanging around out here in ACHA land, maybe we could gang up on each other and stay motivated...

By Sarah on   10/3/2011 2:08 PM
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Re: Reflections on a New Year

Lately, I've been missing the atmosphere of the busy streets of New York City and Manhattan around this time of year with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Although I'm not Jewish, I have a lot of friends and doctors who are who also made me appreciate Jewish customs and holidays. So, I take this time of year, also, as a reflection to think of my life, my friends and family, and the new year ahead.

As far as diet, I'm trying to go vegan, except for the Quarter Pounder with Cheese I had yesterday :) It's hard, isn't it?

By Stephie on   10/4/2011 10:00 AM
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Re: Reflections on a New Year

First - thanks for the tips and ideas! Here's an update - I actually went on the elliptical today.... woo-hoo!

By Alissa on   10/10/2011 3:11 PM

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