Those of you who know me, follow me, or read my previous post about Ayurveda in Motherhood, know that I’ve been on a journey to improved health through the study of the 5000-year-old science of Ayurveda.
In case you don’t know me, follow me, and you haven’t read my previous post… here’s the Cliff-Notes version:
- I was fairly healthy and athletic most of my life
- When I got pregnant with my first son, all hell broke loose. I gained 72 pounds and my blood pressure skyrocketed
- I tried meal planning and various diets but they all made me feel weak, tired, bloated, and crappy
- 7 years later, I was still overweight, suffering from high blood pressure, lethargy, and fatigue
- Enter: Ayurveda. And, majorly improved health for my mind, body, and soul
So what is Ayurveda, anyway?
For starters, it’s not a fad diet. There is no hard and fast set of rules for every person. There are Ayurvedic dietary suggestions but they change for each person based on their dosha (or body energies,) environment, season, and stage of life. In fact, it’s not simply about diet. It’s mainly about digestion, but also self-care, sleep patterns, exercise, breathing, and meditation. It is a whole life science. Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of healthy living.
Since hearing about Ayurveda in March of this year, I’ve dug in deep. I’ve listened to the Simple Ayurveda podcast and the Highest Self podcast. I’ve participated in Sahara Rose’s 12 Week Eat Right for Your Mind-Body Type online course. I’ve consulted with an Ayurvedic Practitioner. I’ve read (and highly recommend) the following books:
Healing Your Life: Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda by Dr. Marc Halpern
Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose Ketabi
Practical Ayurveda by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center
Through all of my listening, reading, learning, and exploring over the past four months, I’ve gathered many valuable principles, but there are two pieces of advice that stand out and they’ve had the biggest impact on my personal improved health.
I’d like to share these influential pieces of advice with each of you. I hope they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped me.
Eat when you’re hungry.
This is a piece of advice that has been constant in almost every Ayurveda resource I’ve come across, so I can’t credit it to one single source. The advice is centered around the idea of listening to your body. But, the underlying mindset shift is what has been life-changing for me.
For my first week practicing Ayurveda, every time I got the urge to eat or snack, I stopped myself and asked, “Am I actually hungry?” If I was, I prepared myself a meal. If I wasn’t, I didn’t eat.
I also considered why I was getting the urge to eat. If I simply wanted my hands to be busy, I found something to keep busy- like fiddling with one of my kids’ toys or a pen. If I was craving the motion of eating, I made myself an herbal tea.
What I found from listening to my body was that my natural window for eating is between 10am and 6pm. I’m naturally not hungry outside of that window. This was interesting to me because I’ve been hearing so much about Intermittent Fasting lately and it seems that I.F. reflects my body’s natural tendency.
The mindset shift that I experienced was remarkably freeing. In the past, when I’d try dieting, I’d become obsessed with eating. What can I eat? When can I eat next? I would spend every moment counting down the seconds until the next time I could eat, and fantasizing about what I would eat. My thoughts were consumed with food, all the time, and I would, inevitably, crack and binge eat.
Practicing Ayurveda completely flipped this mentality. Because I could eat whenever I wanted (as long as I was hungry), I no longer obsess overeating. Eventually, I found that I didn’t think about eating at all until I was actually hungry.
You are 7 years older, now.
In May, I started seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner in South Burlington. She is fabulous and I highly recommend her. At our first consultation, we discussed weight loss. Thinking I was completely “woke” I assured her that I was not concerned with the number on the scale or my pants’ size. I said I wanted to feel my best again and that I wanted to be able to enjoy outdoor activities with my kids. I was pleased with my answer but I had no idea what was coming next.
She absolutely floored me by pointing out the obvious. Even if I improved my health, I was still 7 years older than I was when I got pregnant with my first son. I still was using my 28-year-old body as my reference point for my current body. Age 28 was the size and shape I was missing and wanting to recapture.
My 28-year-old body was very different from my 35-year-old body. Whether or not I’d had a kid at 28, my body would still never have been the same at 35 as it was at 28.
This simple observation has allowed me to offer myself so much more grace and kindness. Now, when I’m at yoga class, I don’t get upset with myself for being less flexible than I once was. When I’m skiing with my kids, I’m okay with the fact that they ski faster and more effortlessly than I do. I’m 35, not 28, and that is okay with me.
For so long, I’d thought if only I lost the weight and improved my health, I’d be the same as I used to be. But, realistically, I’ll never be the same. I’ll never be 28 again and I’ll never again have a body that didn’t carry two children.
All I can do is improve the health of the body I have now, the body of a 35-year-old mother of two.