Ayurveda, Blood Type, and Eat Fat, oh my.

Peacock Made From Avocado Palta And Avocado Tree Leaves On Gray

This food odyssey I’ve been on for decades is wearing me out. I started a health coaching business over 10 years ago because I had become fed up with food being my enemy and was bound and determined to make it my friend. I schlepped to New York City for over a year on various weekends to attend trainings (don’t let the tone fool you, I LOVE NYC and loved the training) to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach. And to learn more about food and me.

I came home, set up a website, hung out my shingle and commenced to help people navigate the treacherous food jungle. A few years into it I got frustrated with clients that seemed determined to stay stuck in their stories. Mostly I felt like I had to be someone I wasn’t. I had to be all nicey-nicey and compassionate and supportive and say all the positive things.

But guess what? I can be firm and bold and STILL compassionate and supportive. Maybe even nice sometimes.

This, I have learned through teaching and training others these intervening years. Authenticity is king, or queen in this case.

About that same time I fell back into those comfy TV watching pajamas we know as habits. I had lost weight, gained energy and embarked on what I believed to be the lifestyle and career to keep me healthy and fit, so I slacked. I stopped paying attention. I wore yoga pants – the enemy of weight management.

Then menopause.

Now, here I am again – on the other side of that hormonal high-wire act –  revisiting all the old ways that helped me in the first place and floundering about for purchase. Add to that, all the “new” ideas. Kinda. Whole30, Eat Fat Get Thin, Paleo, Keto. The sea has become deeper and more turbulent as each new author has found the cure for obesity, fatigue and generalized ennui.

So really, not much has changed.

Here’s my dilemma. Dr. Hyman (who actually taught at the health coach dealio in NYC and whom I have a not-so-secret crush on) says “Eat FAT lady! Lots of it, especially coconut everything. It’s sooooo good for you.” I seek out the approval of Dr. D’Adamo (Blood Type hero) who is moving his head oh-so-slightly back and forth with the ‘I’m sorry’ face on. Coconut everything, except oil, is on the naughty list. Ayurveda says “you must eat legumes for protein so you do not need meat” (I kinda just typed that in an Indian accent) and the blood type diet says, “Girl have you looked at the size of your ass already?”

Gah!

Yet, I continue to fall back on these very stand-bys, and when I do, I feel better and my weight begins to behave. I love using the combination of the principles and science of Ayurveda – a 5,000 year old system of health from India, that must be doing something right if it’s still here –  and the newer, more suspicious Blood Type Diet that tells people what is excellent, mezza-mezza or muy mal to eat for their blood type, and has done wonders for me and my clients. Add in a dash of fat from avocados – 100% approved by all – and I’ve got myself something to work with. If I decide to work it.

All of this to say, I hear you. I get it. We’re all just tryna figure it out.

In the meantime, the advice-o-sphere is pulling me back toward health coaching. Ok, it has dislocated my shoulder while yanking me into the ring. But this time, things will be different. This time I will not hold back my heart-felt desire to unstick you from your personal flypaper. And this time, there will be yoga involved. Not headstand or any flying anything upside down, but the philosophy. In particular, the Yamas and Niyamas – the 10 tenets of the yoga philosophy. You know, innovative ideas like kindness, moderation and discipline. Doesn’t that sound sexy?!

But seriously. Here’s a glimpse at how the path is unfolding before me:

12 weeks, 1 session per week. Beginning with what your intention is for your LIFE. We’re starting off all light and breezy. Then we’ll move into the 10 tenets, one each week and tie it all up in a recap bow that looks a lot like a newly minted, very best version of you!

Perhaps there will be some podcasts or live videos; definitely some one-on-one coaching; and, of course, some classes and group work. My fave.

Stay tuned. More to come…

In the meantime, if I can impart any advice on behalf of the 739 health books I’ve read, seminars I’ve attended or certifications I thought were necessary to love people back to health, let me know.

I’m here for ya!

PS: Give up processed food. That one’s on me. Oh, and, avocados are magic.

Homeward Bound

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Day Seven, Last Day.

We choose to end our time here on the beach as the sun rises again. I am convinced there is no better way to start the day. We are all together, including the therapists. It feels like a special group. We’re told we were a low maintenance group and we hear, “You are our favorite group.” There is an ease among us now. We have been through a transformation together and it has bonded us. At least while we’re still in one place. Once we get in our cars and onto our planes and back into our lives, who knows.

Of the Fourteen people involved in this whole process from the therapists and cooks to the doctor and the participants I knew five coming in. And I’ll continue to stay in touch with them. But this whole experience is unique because we each had such inward experiences. We were tiny little islands of processes. Our take-away and evolution, or involution, were extremely personal. While we shared the same big house and amazing therapists and helpers, our transformations were ours alone.

We came together in this experience in much the same way we get to know our neighbors right after a hurricane or other natural calamity and vow – at least privately – that we’ll all become best friends and this will become THAT neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else. But it’s not sustainable. I’m not sad or wistful about this, just observing it.

People come into and leave our lives all the time. It’s by design.

Today, I meet with Dr. Jain for the last official time. The news is all positive. My agni is up, my ama is down, but there’s still a ways to go. My Pitta/Kapha constitution has been restored but my Vata is still elevated, but not nearly to the degree it was, there are still some stress management practices I will need to continue.

Oh, and, I should be a vegan.

He actually told me this back in August when I brought my husband here for some mini-panchakarma. I nodded and said okay and committed for about 45 minutes. I didn’t totally agree with him. Here’s why:

About 12 years ago I got fed up with food being the enemy and decided to make it my friend by learning as much as I could about it. I found an amazing program in NYC called the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It continues to be one of the most profound and life-enhancing experiences I’ve ever had. During the study of  my own self with regards to food I came to the now-educated conclusion that the Blood Type diet held the most positive answers for me. I was also quite taken with the whole concept of Ayurveda, so as a newly minted Certified Holistic Health Coach I used those two philosophies together to heal my own food issues as well as the digestive, weight and stress concerns of others.

All of this to say, my blood type tells me that I should basically eat beef and broccoli. And when I do eat mostly paleo my weight normalizes, my energy is sustained and I feel good. But it’s been a long time since I held to a strict diet of any kind.

So I do what I should have done in August, and ask him why.

Does it have something to do with agni? Does eating meat put the fire out per se? I mean, I’m open to try almost anything that will boost my energy and make me feel shiny again.

“No,” said he, “eating meat has nothing to do with agni. You do not have enough agni right now to digest meat.”

Of course! That makes total sense.

In truth, if I thought I could be a healthy vegan I would completely embrace it. I don’t like the smell of cooking meat. I don’t like touching raw meat. I do love a beautifully seasoned filet made by a Cordon Bleu chef. But I am committed to my own health. I have promised myself, and Dr. Jain, that I will do the vegan thing for three months. My hope is to be balanced enough to add eggs back in. That’s all, I don’t need meat. Maybe a few times of year. Some happy grass-fed, free range animal protein. Or not.

If I had one recommendation about all this food misinformation and conflicting theories – for anyone who is looking for one – that came out of all this experience it would be this: find a way to cleanse so that you can begin to understand the language of your body again. Learn to listen to its needs, not the desires of your tired, worn out ego looking for a sugar bump. Reset in some way and listen.

Really listen.

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Our amazing healers: Casey, Roslyn, Jenny (therapists), Dr. Jain and Michele Jain.

21 Day Challenge – Day 14 – The Cheese Stands Alone

Goat cheese with fresh thyme

If I were to start this challenge over again I might do it a little differently. I might devote the whole three weeks to just movement, then spend another three weeks on food.

There’s so much to explore in both and to throw down the gauntlet on all of it can be overwhelming.

But I’m in the middle – past the middle – so I shall persevere.

Formulas don’t work the way they used to. Eat this, not that, lose weight. Add in a healthy dose of  exercise and watch the clothes start to fall off. Sleep better, wake up energized.

I have been at this for two weeks now and while I have gained a ton of energy I have not lost one pound. And I am frustrated.

This tells me two things, or maybe three:

  1. I care more about losing weight than maybe I want to admit, and
  2. It’s probably the food, oh and
  3. I’m older. Which changes everything.

Way back in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) days I had experimented with my food like a mad scientist. I identified a few foods that I needed to eliminate all together: dairy and wheat rising to the top of the list. I’ve done pretty good with the wheat for the past 8 years or so, but occasionally a cupcake sneaks in.

Dairy. It was so easy to give up. I rarely used milk, yogurt and sour cream showed up only occasionally and I wasn’t a huge cheese person. Then a few years ago someone accidentally put feta cheese on my salad. Then, at an Ayurveda training there was goat’s milk yogurt for breakfast. I fell in love with chai tea in India and couldn’t possibly use anything but whole milk in it when I came home. Which was just the gateway to half and half. Then I stumbled upon just three little words that would seal my dairy fate: goat’s milk cheese.

So dairy has inched its way back in and helped put some weight back on.

Before my formal education at IIN I had stumbled across the Blood Type Diet. There are many doubters, but here’s the thing: it’s just food, what would it hurt to just play with it?

I did and it worked. Absolutely, positively worked. It worked for me. It worked for others. When I was health coaching I always recommended it and if it was followed, it helped people lose weight, reduce inflammation, and minimize or eliminate allergies.

So naturally, after great success, I let it go.

Is it laziness? Ego? Somewhere in between I suspect. Habit plays a pretty significant role as well.

As much as I believed I was using the blood type diet and Ayurveda as lifestyle changes, somewhere in the back of my mind I thought of them as diets. Short term solutions. While I was in it, I was completely convinced that I had left all those habits behind, but habits, especially the unhelpful ones, have a way of bullying their way back in.

As I revisit the blood type diet I will do so with a sense of curiosity. I’ll take a new approach, challenge myself somehow. It is in my best interest.

Maybe that’s the problem.

 

21 Day Challenge – Day 11 – Midway Tricks and Treats

Halloween IMG_1876As I reach the halfway point of my challenge I am assessing my progress and looking forward to what I may want to add in.

Thus far my performance has been stellar. I have met all of my daily challenges except for one. Doing yoga ndira twice a day, every day, was perhaps a bit ambitious. I have forgiven myself. What I have learned is there is a best time of the day for me to do yoga nidra and so I am committing to that time each day. The yoga, gym, writing and photography have been a cinch and alcohol hasn’t even registered as a miss.

Once I complete this first 21 days I’m considering adding some new tools to my enchanted life toolbox. The yoga, yoga nidra and gym are keepers. Writing and photography are a passion and part of a much bigger plan so I don’t think I’ll give that up. The wine? We’ll see where that goes. I still have 10 days on my current plan so I won’t be adding anything quite yet, but I am considering what could enhance my magic making even more.

I have decided to look at food. I know, looking at my relationship to food on Halloween is like being at a romance film festival on Valentine’s Day alone. But all this sugar has me thinking – and hyper.

I have a love hate relationship with sugar. I love it. It hates me. Oh, it says it loves me, sweet talking me into believing it will treat me right but I can see right through its foil wrapper. Those are empty calories mister.

But every now and then it’s hard to resist. Sugar doesn’t act alone, he’s just the front man for a much bigger gang of carbohydrates.

I’ve been on this ride before. I got so serious about food that I became a Holistic Health Coach. I know a lot about food, dietary theories, exercise, physiology and the disease process. I studied the Blood Type Diet, Ayurveda, Veganism, Vegetarianism and Raw food. I know food.

I became obsessed and rigid with food, denying myself so much that I naturally swung the opposite direction in reaction – why can’t I have what I want when I want it? The answer to that question, unfortunately, is all over my hips.

So now I seek the middle ground. What will support my ultimate intention and goals?

As food has not been a direct part of this challenge I have not created any restrictions but I have paid attention. I’ve made good choices. But I can do more. And sometimes less.

If I am eating loads of veggies and fruits, very little grain, very little animal product, no dairy and next to no sugar aside from what lives naturally in fruit, I feel fantastic. If on the other hand I shovel candy, coffee with heavy cream, lunch meat and starchy foods in my face on a regular basis – not so fantastic. I believe this is probably true for most people. Why do we go back to the foods that do not serve our magical selves?

It doesn’t happen all at once, things just creep back in. The mind begins to convince us that we deserve a treat. That’s a trick. (See what I did there?) We don’t deserve sugar, potato chips, soda and deep dish pizza, we deserve to feel amazing.

Eating too much of anything, but especially too much sugar, is like putting a wet blanket over the inner fire. It dulls the brightness, causing that perky flame inside to sit on the couch and put its feet up for a while with one hand tucked in its waistband and the remote control in the other.

Food is a huge part of the healthy, enchanted lifestyle I seek. I’ll begin the investigation and self-inquiry into the foods that are the most supportive for my energy level and shininess. Again, not to be a size zero. Who really wants to be a zero anyway? But to stay clear, focused and feel alive and vibrant. To keep the creative juices flowing and the energy level high.

The bottom line, I want to treat my body like the gift it is, like a temple. Not a haunted house.

[Photo: Playing around with some indoor photography. A touch of Halloween.]