Weight loss is a tricky business and although you may think you’re doing all the right things there may be some areas that you are overlooking….
Ayurveda looks at all conditions in a comprehensive manner and weight loss is no different. For weight loss we look beyond caloric intake and exercise and delve a bit deeper. We also examine the digestive system, fluid balance, hormonal balance, food energetics, body type, the mind body connection and much more.
The following are a series of 10 questions to contemplate if you feel your weight management is not where it should be.
- Do you know your body type? The mainstream diet industry churns out new diets every few years but never takes account of different body types (Doshas) or the season that the diet is done. In Ayurveda, we always start with assessing the body type and then plan a personalised weight loss program with achievable long term results. Knowing & understanding your body type helps you to figure out your strengths & weaknesses for long term weight management (Take a Dosha quiz)
- How’s your digestion? The digestive system is hugely important to weight management. If your digestive system is not working correctly it is almost impossible to manage your weight effectively. In Ayurveda, we gain an insight into the digestive system by assessing 3 things (appetite, digestion and elimination).
- Are you hungry? A healthy appetite is a very good thing and an absolute necessity for proper digestion! It is a sign that your digestive juices are flowing and capable of digesting the food you consume. In Ayurveda, we refer to this as your digestive fire or Agni. Eating without an appetite is akin to putting a log on an unlit fire or a wet log on a low flame. Before each meal, ask yourself if you are really hungry or are you eating just because…?
- How do you feel after you eat? If you notice that whenever you eat you experience digestive problems such as heartburn, bloating, tiredness, flatulence, pain, etc. make sure you address this as soon as possible. Many digestive problems can start with over eating, eating before the previous meal has been digested or eating the wrong combination of foods. Long term digestive problems can easily lead to weight gain and other chronic health problems.
- How’s your elimination? What goes in must come out. Monitoring elimination is extremely important to assess how your body is digesting food, assimilating nutrients and getting rid of wastes. People should pass painless, soft, formed, non sticky stool 1-2 times daily. If you suffer from constipation or loose motions this must to addressed to establish a healthy weight and metabolism. Observe your stool daily and take note of the frequency, consistency, smell, etc. to see if you are passing healthy bowel movements. (number 4 on the Bristol stool chart is considered a healthy stool – see chart below).
- Are your meals hot or cold? In Ayurveda we recommend warm easy to digest meals to assist with digestion and weight loss. Cold & raw food are harder to digest and will increase wind and bloating. (Juice fasts or raw food diets are definitely not recommended during Late Winter but can be tolerated more in Spring/Summer).
- Is it fat or fluid? What may appear as just weight gain can actually be fluid retention. Many people do not have their fluid systems balanced and can be either drinking too much or too little or not the right types of fluids. Be mindful of your thirst levels, what/how much you are eliminating and if you are retaining fluid. (I’ll be following this article up with an in depth article about fluid balance…)
- Do you sweat? According to Ayurveda, sweating is mandatory for burning fat and regulating body fluids. Ayurveda sees sweat as a waste product from fat metabolism. In fact when fat is broken down and eliminated it is in the form of H2O and CO2. You can huff and puff and exercise all you want but if you do not sweat it is going to be a long, long road to weight loss.
- Are you monitoring yourself honestly? A diary for weight loss is like a scaffold for house renovations. It provides a great framework and support to get the job done. Monitoring is essential to see progress, increase awareness and weed out negative patterns (keep track of the following: appetite, digestion, diet, stress, exercise, elimination, your weight, etc.).
- Where is your mind at? Your mind is a powerful tool in losing weight effectively. If you are chronically stressed & emotional (from angry to sad and everything in-between) it is more difficult to manage your weight. Stress can effect many bodily functions such as metabolism, reproduction, digestion, sleep, immunity and ultimately weight management. If you are overly stressed take some action to reduce or manage your stress. If your mind is calm, strong & disciplined your body will follow suit. Balance your exercise regime with gentle activities like meditation, restorative Yoga and/or other relaxing activities.
Ayurveda has many tools to help you lose weight, this list is designed to bring your awareness further than just diet & exercise. If you are looking for a personalised weight management plan start with an Ayurvedic consultation.
About the author – Doug Hyde
Doug is an Ayurvedic practitioner, therapist & teacher and the co-owner of Satmya. He was first introduced to Ayurveda in 1998 and has pursued his passion for this ancient science ever since. Read more here