As we approach the end of the year, many of us start getting concerned about our weight. Here in New Zealand, we want to look good for the Summer, but end-of-year work parties, Christmas meals, New Year events, family reunions, take their toll on our waistlines!
Well, here are five great tips from the ayurvedic classics, and from modern research, that will help us stay trim, feeling great, and looking awesome on the beach!
1 – Manage your digestion
In Ayurveda, digestive energy is called Agni (meaning fire). When agni is strong, you digest food effortlessly and you get the most nutrition from your food without gaining weight.
Follow these tips for maintaining strong agni:
- Eat less: Consciously cut down on food portions, e.g. one helping instead of two.
- Eat only when hungry: Stop snacking unnecessarily, and eat only when really hungry.
- Light dinner: Have your main meal at lunch, and a light meal at dinner to sleep well.
- Cut down on carbo and sugar, esp. at night. Carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, and sugar, are now thought to be major causes of weight gain and diabetes. Avoid them.
- Take digestive spices before meals: Take a teaspoon of Trikatu (black pepper, pippali, ginger powders) in hot water 20 minutes before meals. Or a teapoon of crushed ginger-root with a pinch of salt.
- Don’t drink too much during and after meals. Fluids are thought to “dampen” the agni. Just a small glassful is enough for mealtimes.
2 – Manage your metabolism
Another meaning of the word agni is metabolism, that is how your body processes nutrients and produces energy. By keeping your metabolism high, you burn calories and feel good as a bonus.
- Exercise regularly, especially in the morning. Vigorous exercise in the morning has been found to maintain high metabolic rate through the day.
- Keep moving if you are in sedentary work. It is so easy to become caught up in computer work and sit all the time. Take periodic breaks to move and stretch.
- Go dancing! Dancing is one of the best forms of exercise, because it is joyful, it can be vigorous and moves the hips and belly, and one doesn’t notice how much activity one has done!
- Go for walks on the beach and in the bush. Walking is great exercise because, again it is rhythmic and coordinates the brain hemispheres, and you get to connect with nature.
3 – Manage stress
Stress is one of the major unrecognised causes of weight gain. When one is stressed, we make poor diet and lifestyle choices, our agni is affected, and our health suffers.
- Practise yoga. Yoga is one of the best activities to relax the body by stretching and strengthening movements.
- Meditation and breathing. By practising meditation, you gain clarity and start reacting less to life situations, and your stress levels naturally go down. Rhythmic controlled breathing, called Pranayama, is also very useful and effective for reducing stress.
- Massage: By getting regular massage, you learn to let go and completely destress during the massage sessions. Massage also stimulates blood and lymph circulation, releases emotional knots, and mobilises fat.
- Plan your life. By becoming more organised and planned, you avoid getting into stressful situations, and also create strategies for defusing situations such as work parties and family get-togethers so they are less stressful.
4 – Manage emotions
How many people reach for biscuits and chocolate bars when they feel emotional? Yes, they think they are “hungry” but really they often eat to fill an emotional hole.
- Avoid emotional eating. Before reaching for the bickies or chockies, drink a big glass of water. Often your hunger is not for food – but water! Eat more fruits and fresh foods; after a while you will start avoiding processed sweet or salty foods.
- Resolve your relationships. Mix with people who support you rather than run you down. Find ways to fill your emotional well, that do not involve reaching for emotional foods.
- Look after yourself. Nourish your emotional body by taking care of your self, treating yourself, nourishing your senses.
5 – Enjoy life!
Enjoying life, for most people, is a conscious decision we have to make. Every moment in life is an opportunity to enjoy the awesomeness of life.
One of the most effective methods to enjoy life is – Be Grateful.
After all, more than anything else, the festive season, whether it is Christmas, Divali, New Year or any other occasion, is a time for giving thanks and acknowledging the blessings of life. When we live in gratitude and enjoyment, our body naturally becomes balanced in weight and in health.
If you need any further help in managing this time of the year, come and see Dr Priya, who can offer you a healthy diet, lifestyle and herbal plan to manage your weight.