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.

Just Do You. That is the Work.

 

17 Camel IMG_4050Daily Prompt: If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, why would you do with your free time?

I was asked this question a million years ago. And I have since turned this question on others. It’s a good one.

About 8 years ago I decided to put it to the test. I quit my job – one in a succession of failed career starts – and decided to become a holistic health coach. That lasted just a few years. But what it did for me was show me that I could do what I wanted and the money would come in. Or as Joseph Campbell said, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Sounds magical and all together impractical.

At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I now allow myself to be guided by – dare I say it? – the Universe. I have come to see all situations as teachable moments and guidance in one direction or another. I have never lacked food, housing, or transportation. In fact, I own my home, shop at Whole Foods (not every time, let’s be realistic) and drive a nice little Honda.

When I was younger I wanted certain things, specific markers of success: To live in New York City. Or maybe California. To travel the world, especially Paris. And have several homes. One definitely on the beach. All these things required a healthy salary, a particular status. I had to WORK for them, EARN them.

Then 8 years ago I decided to take my passion for natural health to the next level. I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York. I went just for me, but came away with an optional new career and possibly a whole new life.

I became a holistic health coach. As a health coach many of my clients inquired if I taught yoga when I suggested they try it. I did not. But that changed. I now saw the next step on my path.

When I began to study yoga, the philosophy in particular, I felt I had finally found the belief system that contained within it all that I had cobbled together for myself from various religions and philosophies. Now it had a name. And I was home.

In its teachings I learned to  lean back. I have learned to trust the process of life. I have cultivated compassion and I am free to look at the world through the lens of enchantment and wonder.

Now, when I reframe all those markers of success, I see that I have achieved them all.

– While attending IIN in New York City I had to be there 12 weekends over 16 months. I rented an apartment with a friend for just those weekends. We shopped for food, ate in the apartment, went out to dinner, wandered the streets. I lived in New York City.

– My brother has lived in southern California for over 10 years. I visit him a few times each year. I drive his car. I pick up groceries. I take my niece to the park. We go to the beach. I have made friends there. I have lived in California.

– During all this yoga stuff, the guru I was studying with (and still am) was taking a group of people to India. It was never on my list of places to go, but suddenly I had to go. He was 80 and I didn’t know if I’d have another chance. I went for 3 weeks. Then I went back the year after with a different swami, and on the way played in London for three days. Then this past July a friend flew me on a private jet to the Bahamas where we played on the beach. I have begun to travel the world.

– I have several friends with houses on the beach and I am free to stay in them whenever they’re not occupied. I have a friend with a cabin in the mountains, same thing. I have several homes.

When I let go of the need to work for these things and just leaned back, everything that was to be materialized. Everything I had asked for showed up. Just not as I expected it. I could have missed it completely.

Today I own a yoga studio – another gift – and I write and I take pictures and when I have free time, you know, between 3:15 – 4:45 AM, I make some jewelry. My life is truly enchanted.

I haven’t worked a day in the past 8 years. I do what I love – all of it – and I am taken care of.