Quarantine may have added more than mental heaviness to our lives. For many of us, 2020 was a time of weight gain as well. January is traditionally a time when many of us diet to lose the holiday weight, and now quarantine weight as well. From a yogic perspective, this won't be the most effective time of year to start that diet. If you wait just a few more weeks, you're likely to be more successful. Here's why:
Ayurveda, the medical life science of yoga, says that if we work with the natural rhythm of the seasonal cycles we can balance our emotions, weight and energy levels more easily.
So when is the best time to cut back on food and calories according to Ayurveda? Some time between mid February to mid March is the best time to be successful at calorie counting. The body will more naturally be ready to shed the debris in our bodies that accumulated in winter.
What's the best strategy to create balance in the meantime? Warmth and comfort with food, relationships and environment. Just as we see animals in the winter sleeping longer and moving less, we can balance ourselves by spending the next few weeks focusing on warmth and comfort. Although this makes us feel guilty when we have a few extra pounds, the best strategy is to just relax and enjoy. According to Ayurveda, it is the best way to replenish. Of course, it doesn’t mean endorsing an unhealthy lifestyle! There are ways to feel grounded and nourished without getting heavier.
Three Things To Focus On Before It's Time For Cutting Back:
1. Healthy Fats
Omega-3 and Omega-6, help us feed our brain, which in fact, is the fattiest organ in our body, consists of up to 60% fat. We need fat to create the coating that protects and insulates our neurons. Fat is essential for proper function of our nervous system. We even use fat for fuel in the form of ketones to create more efficient energy for our mitochondria and our body to function at its best, better than when we use glucose for energy. Fat is essential for a healthy and proper functioning body.
If you've been on a low fat diet, please stop! Fat is important for good health. If you don't consume much fat, start adding good healthy fats to your diet, it will aid you in becoming more grounded, nourished, and help your brain function better.
EXAMPLES; avocados and their oil, nuts, seeds and their oils, fatty fish like wild caught salmon, olives and their oils, grass-fed butter or ghee (clarified butter), whole eggs, grass-fed and pasture raised meats, coconut and it's derivatives, like oil, butter and full fat milk.
2. Cooked Foods, Not Raw
Raw food takes more energy to digest and even the healthiest raw foods can stay in your gut for hours during the winter. Digestion = metabolism. So if you want your metabolism high, you need to be able to digest. What should you do?
EXAMPLES: have your salad but steam it, eat cooked rooted vegetables, warm soups, warm tea can really satisfy your body when you think you need food. Try it between meals to keep your inner body warm.
3. Self Soothing / Self Care I did a blog recently with lots of ideas on self care. Read through and pick a few out. My very best self care tip for Vata (winter) season is use an oil on your skin. When we dry out in the winter it puts our body into imbalance and triggers an anxiety response emotionally. EXAMPLE: create a self care routine with oil in the morning and at night! Add some candles and essential oils and you'll have a beautiful opportunity to decompress.