Name: Brad Bloom
Residence: Hilton Head, SC
Job: Rabbi at Congregation Beth Yam
Family status: Married with one daughter and one grandson
Peak weight: 315 pounds
Current weight: 245 pounds
Goal weight: 215 pounds, which he hopes to reach by June
Rabbi Brad Bloom says he’s struggled with his weight all his adult life. “I feel like I’m like a lot of guys. We start to get lazy and the next thing, we’ve gained five pounds or 10 pounds. That adds up over the years and one day you’re 100 pounds overweight. I think that’s what happened to me,” he says.
He says that as a rabbi, he struggles with choosing healthy foods. “When you’re a rabbi you’re on 24/7, going nonstop. It’s a socially oriented occupation. You’re going out to lunch and dinner, eating on the run, eating junk food, and eating at people’s events. And women cook for you and bake for you — they bring you cakes and pies. It’s a whole challenge you have to face,” he says.
A nudge from a friend pushed him to exercise, and the birth of his first grandchild solidified his resolve to take care of his health. “In clergy culture we’re so engaged in the mental aspect of our work, we do not focus on ourselves as vulnerable, living beings,” he says.
He made time for exercise
Bloom’s friend got him started on his weight-loss journey when she took him to CycleBar, an indoor cycling studio, in Hilton Head, SC. “I said, ‘Are you crazy? I’m not going to do this. I’ll have a heart attack.’ But I tried it,” he says.
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“My legs are muscular, so I have a natural ability to get on that bike and click in and ride. The question was, would I have the ability in terms of breathing?” He stuck with it, and slowly saw his fitness improve.
Plus, he enjoyed the competition and the camaraderie. “I love being able to compete with myself and others in a joyful way. I feel like I’m accepted and welcome even though I’m one of the older ones,” he says.
Bloom committed to going to class three times a week. “I’m deadly serious about carving this out in my schedule. I explained to my congregation if you want me to be around to meet your needs — and you have every right to expect that — you have to support me,” he says.
He revamped his eating habits
Bloom knew exercise alone wouldn’t be enough for him to reach his weight-loss goals. “I knew eating and exercise had to go hand in hand, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it right for me,” he says. “I needed to do better with my health and my eating.”
He started by searching for foods he liked that were in line with his goals, and scaling back on the less-healthy options. “I focused on finding foods I could eat with less restriction but still enjoy, so I could put aside other foods and only have them occasionally,” he says.
In were sushi and poke bowls, fish, chicken, salads with protein, fruit, smoothies, oatmeal, high-fiber foods, and yogurt.
Old standbys like burgers, pizza, pasta, bread, beef, and fried foods became occasional treats, not regular fare.
He also now:
- Shops mostly at the outer circle of the grocery store, where he can find fresh, whole foods
- Plans what he is going to eat for the next couple of days
- Watches the sizes of his portions
He’s noticed that as his weight has dropped, his appetite has decreased as well. “One of the biggest fears people like me have is how to stay satiated — how not to feel the sense of hunger,” he says. “I still have a huge appetite, but I notice I’m not eating as much as I used to eat. When I get a meal I won’t finish it, I’ll take it home. That’s a new thing. I’m not trying to do it, I’ve just had enough.”