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June - July 2009


Health

LOSE WEIGHT NATURALLY WITH AYURVEDA

by Neeraj Arora


Ayurveda does not promote typical ‘starve to near death’ approach to lose weight. Instead Ayurveda recommends managing diet intelligently to achieve overall wellbeing including ‘be healthy, look good and stay fit’.

In fact, diet and exercise are not the only aspects of holistic Ayurvedic approach to maintain adequate body weight, fat to muscle ratio, attractive shape, energetic body, pleasing radiance, charming personality and overall sound physical as well as mental health. If you listen to Ayurvedic wisdom, anyone of the above does not have to be compromised to achieve the perceptible objective of looking slim and slender.

The following tips will help you harness your inner-intelligence and develop holistic strategy to lose weight naturally with Ayurveda:

Improve your Metabolism

Happy & Intelligent foods

Regular Elimination

Water Balance

Yoga: Asanas, Pranayama & Meditation

Cardiovascular Balance

Balanced daily Regime

Improve your Metabolism: Modern weight loss techniques often fail to deliver since they fail to stimulate metabolism to an optimum level. Nutritionists would ask you to cut down on fats if you are accumulating fats on stomach, thighs, hips or anywhere else in the body. This may be justified as a temporary measure but Ayurveda cannot ignore the fact that the body needs certain amounts of fats everyday to stay fit and healthy. Instead of forcing you to eat less than your recommended amount of daily fats, Ayurveda will recommend you to improve your fat metabolism.

Firstly, not all fats are the same; favour unsaturated fats in recommended quantities but avoid trans fats, which are technically a type of unsaturated fats. You could have saturated fats in small quantities as recommended. In addition, you could check with your Vaidya (Ayurvedic Physician) if Ayurvedic herbal preparations made from Kokum (Garchinia Indica), Guggul (Commiphora Mukkul) or Triphala are suitable for you to stimulate metabolism and get rid of excess fats. You could also try ‘Udvartana’ at a Panchkarma clinic, which is a type of herbal massage treatment where a specially prepared herbal paste is applied all over the body. The treatment is also helpful to remove cellulite, improve complexion and sense of touch. You could add Abyanga and Shiro-abyanga treatments for better results.

Happy & Intelligent foods: Favour fresh, organic and natural foods that are rich in nature’s intelligence and better suit your body needs. Ayurveda emphasises ‘tripti’ from foods to nurture your body and mind. Tripti is the Ayurvedic narrative for physical and emotional satisfaction from nourishing and satisfying foods that bring fulfilment without harming your physiology. This greatly helps in eliminating false hunger, habits of overeating and comfort eating.

Dumb foods are difficult to process and absorb for your body. They result in accumulation Ama (sticky toxic waste), blockage of shrotas (internal channels of micro and macro communication within the body), putting down Agni (metabolic fire) and hence resulting in weight gain, slowness, dullness and lethargy. Typically avoid eating processed foods, old and stale foods, junk foods, carbonated drinks and foods with excess chemical ingredients, preservatives or stabilising agents.

Ayurveda also recommends favouring foods that help balance your doshas (imbalances) of Vata (movement), Pitta (metabolism) ans Kapha (structure). This is a vast topic. You could consult with an Ayurvedic dietician or find Ayurvedic food and cooking guides at bookshops or online to help you add depth to the quality of the food you intake.

Regular Elimination: Happy and intelligent foods help aid healthy digestion and regular elimination. Triphala, Rose petal jam, Haritiki powder with cardamom and Psyllium Husk (taken with hot milk) are some of the Ayurvedic preparations that could help with digestion and elimination. Natural set yogurts and lassi (one part yogurt and three parts water mixed and stirred) taken preferably after lunch also help with digestion and elimination. You should avoid white bread and favour whole grains as much as possible. Improved metabolism as discussed above, regular exercise, Yoga and sufficient water intake are other vital aspects of an integrated Ayurveda regime that help maintain clean digestive and elimination tracks.

Water Balance: It is vital to maintain adequate water balance. Water is crucial for metabolic processes and maintaining daily intake of water helps with digestion and elimination processes. You should consider drinking roughly between 1.25 to 2.5 litres of plain water, distributed over regular intervals on an average every day. You need to adjust it to your body type, lifestyle, activity levels and climatic conditions. A healthy water balance helps maintain optimum body weight, feel good factor and to keep unhealthy urges for food down.

Yoga: Asanas, Pranayama & Meditation: Yoga is more than just a mind-body exercise. It not only tones up your body and mind it will also help avoid unhealthy food traps by developing a positive physiology. It will help bring back a state of balance where you don’t have to rely on false comfort of junk foods to feel good temporarily. Yoga goes hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle since it promotes wellbeing, inner happiness and state of restful alertness. No doubt it will help in improving body shape as well.

Cardiovascular Balance: Regular cardiovascular exercise regime is indeed important to stay fit and burn excess calories. When practiced in conjunction with the rest of the basics mentioned in this article, you will find efforts you put in exercise regime will be far more rewarding and sustainable compared to many popular ‘calorie-burn and/or low calorie diet’ based weight-loss techniques.

Balanced Daily Regime: Last but not the least, all the above should fit into a balanced daily regime that should also include sufficient sleep (not oversleep, not under sleep), set your body clock in tune with nature’s clock i.e. observe sunrise and sunset, eat heavy meals when sun is strong, light meals during the evening, not sleep right after the meal, getting fresh air regularly (minimum 45 minutes a day) and observing suitable cleansing routines.

Finally Ayurveda would like to you to be slim, slender and fit. It would not want this to happen at the cost of your wellbeing by using quick fix methods for short-term gains. Tendencies towards anorexia and bulimia are discouraged and tranquilised by following a balanced approach. Ayurveda strives to promote healthy body, sound mind and overall wellness simultaneously and provide a long-lasting solution to the weight loss predicament.

About the writer: Neeraj Arora is a power writer on Ayurveda, general wellbeing and a range of social, cultural and political issues. He works on a number of projects in pubic interest including mental health charity for Asians called ‘Manasi’. He is also the author of the widely acclaimed book on mental health called ‘Depression Undercover’, which is a non-clinical guide to beat depression, based on principles of Ayurveda.

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