In reality, holding on to weight and looking older (and feeling it) are two expressions of the same root cause -‘depletion’. The habits we cultivate over our lives, which result in depletion (vata imbalance), are the same that result in unhealthy eating and exercise patterns, and poor self care.
I am describing a primary vata imbalance with a secondary kapha accumulation of weight. For those that do not speak ayurveda, that is akin to saying the body holds on to everything when it knows it is running “in the red”, i.e. the energy deficit mode. While addressing lifelong patterns may take a while (and a long term supportive environment), there are a few things we can do to see some quick changes in our vitality and our figures as we begin the new year.
Essentially, we need to address both vata and kapha, but more so, the primary vata imbalance.
Here are my top 10 tips to looking, and more importantly, feeling younger and less heavy:
1. Drop The Salad And The Dried Nuts
All diet foods are vata. Overweight people are drawn to these foods because they believe they will help them lose weight. When that does not happen, it is confusing for some, but evidence of the fact that gaining weight is not a simple situation due to just eating fatty foods. Avoiding vata foods is a good way to get your body out of the sense of depletion.
Favor warm, and moist foods that are also low-fat.
2. Oil Your Body
I recommend using an organic oil for body massage, everyday after your shower. This is a modification from traditional abhyanga for our vata culture. Again, we are reducing depletion by feeding the tissues through the skin, and reducing vata.
In addition, massage stimulates micro-circulation, which helps to increase fat metabolism (this is why some spas claim to have slimming treatments).
3. Go To Bed On Time
I am hoping this one is self-explanatory on reducing depletion and, vata. You get bonus points if you go to bed around the same time and, develop a stronger circadian rhythm to support healthy metabolism.
4. Even Out Your Meals
The theory on having 5 small meals/day works because it is based on supporting thyroid function.
If you are getting a nice steady stream of fuel to your main engine, it will work more efficiently than if you starve it for long periods of time and then flood it.
This may not be the best approach for people who have low appetite in the morning. Do not force yourself to eat if you are not hungry. Just make sure you have food available when your body is ready for it. When you are hungry eat; when you are full, stop.
5. Wake And Walk
This is the best way to melt kapha, and gets your metabolism up in the beginning of the day.
Just get up and move before you have time to think about not doing it. You will have to force it the first few days and then it will feel so great, you will feel off if you do not do it.
6. Spice Your Food
This is important for reducing both vata and kapha. Supporting the digestion of what you eat, prevents accumulation. Also, spices help to decrease fat in the body as well.
7. Avoid Any Cold Dairy
Ice-cream is not your friend, nor is cold yogurt or cottage cheese or a tall glass of milk, when you are in secondary kapha imbalance.
If you bring in dairy, make sure it is cooked and spiced (e.g. spiced warm milk, or cheese in lasagna).
8. Personalized Portion Control
Cup your two hands together to form the shape of a bowl. This is your personal portion size (level, not heaping).
It is nice to find a bowl in your kitchen that is that size and use it to monitor your portions. Of course, stop eating if you feel full before finishing this amount. Try to avoid eating more than this personal portion.
9. Eat Healthy Sweets In Moderation
Again, avoid extremes where we deprive ourselves and then swing the other way and binge. Healthy sweets, like dates, and all sorts of goodies at health food stores are good to consume in moderation.
Give yourself a daily allowance that you feel good about and stick to it.
10. Process Your Emotions
I laugh that this is on a “top 10′′ list because it can be a lot of work or it can also be as simple as journaling. The more you digest your emotions, the less you feel you need to hold on to on a subconscious level.
The strong relationship between emotions and eating patterns and weight has been well established in Western medicine. In ayurveda, the fat tissues are proportional to the amount of love we need. So, by loving yourself, nurturing your emotional needs, you can actually decrease your need for extra padding against the ups and downs of life.