Sunday, September 25, 2016

3 Fall Shifting Tips Ayurvedic Style

If you are like me (a pitta/vata type), you are dreading the move into fall,  Warm, sunny days give me joy, comfort and energy.  Fall brings increasing darkness, damp, cold and wind which tends to leave me feeling ungrounded.

While I know the gift of fall brings clarity, focus and hearth building (look at the squirrels moving with unstoppable determination to put away food for winter), the external weather factors are hard on my body.  This means I need to put in a little time to give myself warmth and brightness to balance my physical being so my mental/emotional being can enjoy the gifts of fall.

Transition should be done gently with ease to bring closure to the summer season and learn from the upcoming fall/winter.  While I could list many tips for shifting into fall, starting with three will bring more success.

One, start eating warm, lubricated and heavier foods.  As the leaves are drying up, withering and being blown away with the wind, this type of energy can be happening to your digestion.  Soups, cooked root vegetables or raw vegetables dressed with good oils like ghee, coconut, avocado and extra virgin olive oil will combat this effect and help your digestion.

Two, start to finish your day earlier and go to bed by 10 or 11 PM (the latest).  Nature is showing us to do this as sunset becomes earlier and earlier.  Use this quiet time to reformulate goals, connect with loved ones and slow down.  Then, wake up early to catch the rising sun.  Watching the sunrise is healing and infuses us with more light.  It is preferable to be outside during sunrise.

Three, get grounded by walking outside. Take in the change around you. Feel the earth becoming layered with fallen leaves, smell the crisp in the air and see the color changes.  This acclimates the body to the change.  Be sure to dress appropriately so you do not feel cold or uncomfortable in any way.  Some people can still wear flip flops in 50 degree weather, but I can't.  Some people use huge bulky coats and sweaters and others like many lighter, thinner layers. Know your body and get comfortable.

Instead of dreading fall, I can try to look forward to the new energy of fall and the empowerment of making a few changes for my well being.  I do admit to dreaming of moving to Florida or another warmer location but at least I feel more positive until I can get that second home :)

Stay healthy & well,

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Does Cramming in More Make You The King Of Efficiency?

Things have never been quicker but yet we feel we never have enough time. Technological advances allow us to travel from New York to Italy in hours instead of  months. Information on any given topic is available any time of the day or night at the click of a button.  This means life should be easier and less complicated, but it is not.

For most people life has multiple things going on simultaneously.  We are taking care of people, making sure the bills get paid, rushing to an appointment/meeting, finding a place to park while at the same time thinking about what is for dinner, whether the cell phone is charged, remembering a social engagement and to change the light bulb that just went out.  Our minds are swirling and we are constantly in motion. It is a game of survival of the fittest.

Yet, even when we are able to get it all done, the victory feels hollow.  We are looking for the next bunch of tasks to complete.  A moment of idleness is painful.  The smallest hold ups aggravate us. We rush through our life by speeding through time with our family/friends, shove meals into our mouths and answer every incoming text.

It isn't like the things we try to fit in aren't important but the urgency has become intense and uncomfortable.  Essentially, the things that make life worth living, like community, family and friendship need the one thing we never have enough of, which is time.

So what are we to do?  Carl HonorĂ©, the author of In Praise of Slowness, offers a good prescription, "Slowing down is really another way of giving your complete and sincere attention to the current moment. Focus on the now to the point that you enjoy every bit of time. Life is incredibly short, and some want to rush through it, thinking it allows them to accomplish more and more. But they have it backwards: when life is limited, take the time to slow down and enjoy what you’re doing. After all, this is all the time that you get."

Being a king isn't about how much you have.  It is about knowing what is worth keeping in your kingdom.

Stay healthy & well,

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

One Of The Biggest Barriers To Weight Loss

As a health coach, I try to help people take control of their health. The biggest complaint is weight loss. And the biggest problem people face is night time snacking (there are others but this is most popular).  Hard working, good people tell me how they are very 'good' during the day.  They eat nutritious food in the proper quantities all day long....and then night time comes.  They are in the mood for a little snack and then they can't seem to stop.  Sweet, salty and creamy foods are the favorites.

Ayurveda recommends eating the biggest meal during the day, as that is the time for the body's strongest ability to digest food.  Evening is a time to wind down from activity and try to head to sleep.  In our modern world of 24/7, bright lights and internet, people try to keep going, avoiding the need for the body to rest.  The body needs energy to continue doing, so it looks for ways to feed it. The best ways to get energy are sleep and food.  Sleep does not come until way later in our modern life, so food becomes the next choice.  Late night snacking is really just the body trying to get energy to stay awake and accomplish more things.

So, the next time the snacking urge hits, you have to be perceptive and honest.  Ask yourself some questions: Are you really hungry after a good dinner? Are you feeling distracted, tired or negative? Are you dehydrated? Did you drink enough today? Take time to ask yourself some questions and answer them.  Make yourself answer them out loud, even in front of a mirror.  Usually listening to yourself trying to communicate your hunger can cut down on the snacking urge.  The most important tool is to delay yourself.  Ask the questions. Go brush your teeth as a minty clean mouth doesn't go with eating. Look in the mirror and even get undressed.  Will this snack help your body weight and shape? Finally, even set a timer for ten minutes to delay the immediate gratification of food.  During the timer time out, go read something, tidy up your living space, take a shower, do some personal grooming, get ready to go to sleep or smell some essential oils like rosemary, lavender or rose.

Any time you delay the urge to eat you are building self control muscles.  At first it seems difficult or even phony but it doesn't matter.  It is the action that counts, and the more you do it, the more you will build a good habit.  I like to tell myself, "I don't eat at night."  Try saying that out loud, and you feel stronger. Chances are you are not hungry but looking for energy and distraction.  Focus on yourself and what your urge to snack is trying to do and you will build your will power.

Stay healthy & well,

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Can You Read Yourself Out Of Stress?

You can read yourself out of stress and live longer too. Stress is your body's way of responding to any kind of demand. The demand can be caused by both good and bad experiences or things.  Any physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension is stress. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness).

Stress is a part of life, and in many situations it can be good.  It pushes us forward and motivates us get things done.  A little tension creates situations for things to happen.  Too much tension or chronic stress can create a negative environment and harm the health of the body and mind.

Ideally, the tension of stress needs to be taken in small doses.  If the flow of stress is hard to control, a person needs to take measures to release stress periodically.  This helps deflate the constant tension and lets the body come to balance.  There are many stress reducing techniques like meditation, exercise, deep breathing, listening to music and more.  Reading a book for 3 1/2 hours a week provides the fabulous benefit of stress reduction and living longer.  Reading news and periodicals helps but does not seem to confer the same benefit.  The ability to lose oneself in a narrative distracts the mind from everyday worries and anxiety, while allowing muscles to relax as well.

Stress reduction doesn't have to be difficult.  It simply requires us to choose an activity (that isn't harmful in and of itself like drugs or binge eating) that distracts us from our every day concerns.  We can then come back refreshed and with a better perspective.

Stay healthy & well,

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Craving Sugar? You Can Blame It On Your Gene

Some people have a harder time saying no to sweets, while others can take it or leave it. Why is it people react so differently to the very same sugary snacks?  It seems that it's not just our taste buds but it is in our genes.  People with certain gene variants of GLUT2 seem to prefer sweet foods and drinks which puts them at risk for becoming overweight and developing cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders like diabetes.

People might be thinking what is a person to do?  After all, my genes made me do it is the perfect excuse.  It may initially feel that way until someone becomes overweight, imbalanced and manifesting illness.  Ayurveda offers a solution based on how it treats individuals not people with a general guideline and one size fits all suggestion.

Kapha is one of the three main body types (doshas) in Ayurveda.  It is sourced from the elements of water and earth, manifesting with its principle of stabilizing energy, structure and immunity.  Ayurveda counsels kapha to eat of the tastes of bitter, pungent and astringent to remain balanced and very small amounts of the tastes of sweet, salty and sour are recommended as those tastes tend to be heavier, grounding and building.  Kapha being the energy of stabilization and structure does not need to become more of that.  Rather, it needs to be balanced in its function without becoming heavy and/or too big.

Eating foods that are better for its type will help kapha remain balanced and not become addicted or excessive to the sweet taste.  Add other balancing lifestyle recommendations for kapha like movement and change will further strengthen the ability of the kapha type to make lifestyle choices that positively maximize their special, unique gifts rather than becoming too heavy or solid.

The desire for the thing that will harm us means we are out of balance. A balanced, happy person is usually able to make the right choices for health, energy and happiness.  If you are craving sugar or anything else that makes you feel out of control, talk to an Ayurvedic health practitioner to take the small steps that will add up to big changes, freedom and balance.

Stay healthy & well,