I miss BBYO – Rediscovering a part of my life I’d forgotten

So this post will be slightly less health & fitness related, and more happiness related. After all, this is a health & happiness blog! I believe more than anything that part of living a healthy lifestyle is living a balanced lifestyle.

I understand that religion may be a touchy subject for some, so please – if this blog post upsets or is unappealing to anybody, feel free to kindly navigate away from the page! Thank you 🙂

As the second week of school comes to an end, I’m feeling more comfortable with getting in the groove of my fitness routine, eating habits, as well as study habits – balancing that with blogging and socializing. Okay, it sounds overwhelming when you say it all at once – but really it’s not that bad! My weekly planner is my bible and I write everything in it using different colored pens (fun!). That way, all the things I need to remember for that day and that week are right in front of me. I even have a tab system now for this week, next week, this month, and last month! I’m not OCD or anything..

photo 1

I never would’ve been able to stay on top of all of these things if I hadn’t made the change to live my life the way I am currently. I used to be a night owl and a late sleeper, less organized, sometimes lazy, and ate whatever I wanted without considering its nutritional content. People look at me and say “I don’t know how you do it,” – it being getting up early, having food prepped for the week, doing hw, etc. It seems much easier to me now but I’m learning to realize how hard it seems for other people; I seem to forget how hard it was for me and how much I struggled with it for years. It’s almost like I just don’t want to remember that part of my life, because I am so much more in love with the way my life is now. 

So, school is good – I’m adjusting to the atmosphere and doing what I need to do. I’ve also been thinking lately that I want to become more involved in my religion again. Much of this has been brought on by the fact that today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I’m not going to preach my beliefs to you guys, I promise.

In accordance to Jewish traditions, I had apples & honey in hopes of a sweet new year with my afternoon snack

In accordance to Jewish traditions, I had apples & honey in hopes of a sweet new year with my afternoon snack

I’m Jewish – was raised Jewish, had a Bat Mitzvah, was confirmed, etc. and my father is Catholic, so I also had Christmas – mostly for family purposes. After confirmation at age 16, where I read from the Torah for a second time, I became less and less involved in BBYO – an international jewish youth organization that held themed conventions 5-6 times per school year, each with different themes both fun (like Tournies, a competition between the different chapters) and more serious (like Kallah, where you determine what it means to you to be Jewish.) BBYO is split by gender into two groups – almost like a sorority and a fraternity but without all the hazing, drinking, and cliques. BBG (girls) stands for B’nai B’rith Girls and AZA (guys) stands for Aleph Zadik Aleph.

I had some amazing times in BBYO – lasting memories that did in some way shape who I am today. It’s weird to say, but I almost get butterflies when I think about BBYO. Maybe because I was meeting so many people, and although that can be nerve-wracking, I was instantly put at ease by the people I met. It’s the kind of thing where you basically connect instantly with people.

One of the BBG girls I met was this lovely girl – we joked that she was my ‘mom’ because her and I look fairly similar!!! What do you think?? (mind you these are all pictures of me 3-4 years ago)


Quite honestly, I could talk about BBYO for hours – as could any other BBYO alum.

Things I miss about BBYO:

  • Sunday meetings run by regional board at conventions with spooey, sweatpants, & sisterhood
  • Themed conventions like Kickoff, Kallah, Tournies, Beau-sweetheart, and IT (in-training..for new members)
  • Spirit sessions at the end of conventions, where regional board members (all high school bbyo members of course) who planned the convention
  • Havdallah sessions on saturdays of conventions filled with acoustic guitar music – both secular and religious – followed by a dance & other fun activities
  • Did I mention spooey? I loved having an excuse to eat pretzels with icing :p


I became busier with being involved with theatre productions at the performing arts high school I attended, and also was starting to feel some of the symptoms I would later learn were related to the cancer I had. By junior year of high school, I was hardly involved with BBYO. I deeply regret losing touch with it, and not realizing what a blessing and an amazing thing it is. People form lifelong friendships and relationships from it, gain leadership experience and opportunities, as well as a sense of who they are as young jewish adults and where Judaism will lie in their later adult life.

I loved BBYO, but at the time, I had other priorities at the time and didn’t quite know well enough how to balance my life and use my time wisely.

I did gain a few friends who I still occasionally stay in contact with today, but I see others who are best friends with members from other chapters/regions – connecting with them not only socially but on a religious/moral level as well. I don’t think that I was in the right mindset to be able to connect to people in such a way, but I feel that I’m in a place now that I am able to do that. I really wish I could go back in time, and tell 16 year old Elyse to not stop going to BBYO meetings, programs, and conventions. I think that it might have had an impact with how connected I could’ve been with the Jewish community in my area and the religion in general.

One of the things I’ve always loved about my religion is its morals. I love the fact that they can be applied to anybody, and not just jews. There are many more than are listed here, and they are applied in all sorts of practices – business, health-related, and in day to day life.

Some of the core values are:

  • The ‘golden rule’ – “What is hateful to you, do not do unto your fellow man. This is the entire Torah and the rest is just commentary. Now go learn.” – Hillel the Elder, to a man asking him to teach him the Torah while standing on one foot.
  • Tzedakah – Justice
  • Tikkun Olam – Repairing the world
  • Shalom – Peace
  • Chesed – Loving-kindness and compassion
  • Self respect
  • Truth

I’d really like to focus on Tikkun Olam – Repairing the world. I’ve always enjoyed helping others in any way I can. Now that my life is steered on a path towards a career in health, fitness, & nutrition, I feel that I’m in a position to ‘repair the world’ on a local level. I want to help others achieve their optimal health and get the most out of their lives. Since being active and eating clean, whole foods, I find myself able to get the most out of life and feel able to do anything.

As was discussed in my sociology class today, there is some kind of connection between poverty and obesity – that may have a number of different variables such as income, lack of education, lack of access to nutritional foods, or simply lack of motivation. Personal training and nutrition consultations are often a luxury allotted for those who can afford it – but I believe that everybody should have access to these things regardless of income.

To sum up this rambling session, I don’t exactly know where I’m going to go from here – but I know that a big chunk of me was missing, and I feel like I’ve just found it and am figuring out a way to put it back in my life so that it fits. I’m on a path steered towards a career in health, fitness, & nutrition, and I want to find a way to incorporate the morals of my religion, particularly Tikkun Olam, so that I may be happy, healthy, and successful in more ways than one as an adult.

Questions for you:

How involved are you in your religion?

Does it influence your life choices?

Do you feel that these values are applicable outside of the religion? How so? 

I’d love to hear your responses!!! 🙂


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