Epidemic of Obesity in the United States
Over-nourishment is a symptom of living in a society with an abundance of resources and entertainment. Yes, with the good, also comes the bad. But, not just any foods, great tasting foods! However, it is more than that. Eating and drinking are encouraged. They are reveled in. Consumption is at the forefront of many holidays and celebrations.
College kids high-five each other because they were able to down a beer in only a few seconds. They lose all inhibition downing multiple cheeseburgers after a night of drinking only to feel hungover and guilty in the morning. But, hey, your buddy actually tells the story the next day in a positive tone, “You killed in man, you slammed like 5 beers in 10 mins.” Consumption is celebrated.
This way of thinking originates from the primordial days of human evolution. Those with access to an abundance of resources were regarded as leaders sometimes as even royalty. Thus, the mechanism of social positive re-enforcement for the display of gluttony was born. People wanted to be aligned with those with resources, thus ensuring their own survival.
Unfortunately, whether we realize this behavior is unacceptable or not, it is ingrained in our genes. We have also been inundated with loads of social programming from a young age that we may not realize why we have certain impulses.
Yes, the Obesity epidemic in The United States is largely psychological and influenced by society itself. With that said it is possible to “deprogram” ourselves and return to balance with nature. This is where Ayurveda comes in.
About these Methods
With all of this said, any kind of transformation begins not with blame, but with self-responsibility. Yes, it is possible that you picked up programming as a child and it largely shaped your behavior. Or you could be sold that your genes are the primary cause of you weight problem.
Either way, the solution is not blame, but rather the attitude of “Ok, so what can I do?” Being proactive is really the best, and only solution to long term good health. Returning to balance is the ultimate goal of Ayurveda. Not by taking drugs or swinging the pendulum over to the opposite side through unnatural diet plans.
Ayurveda is about discovering what the root cause of the problem is. It introduces you to yourself. In this article I will discuss the Doshas of Ayurveda which are the causes of bodily manifestations. Each person is made up of a combination of these Doshas which is called a person’s Prakriti.
It is helpful to know your Prakriti so you know what diet and practices are right for you. If you are unsure what your make-up is search for a Prakriti test, there are many online ones. I also have one you can take in my Well-Being Through Ayurveda course.
The intention here is to provide some tips that you can implement yourself, or with proper guidance, to be able to make lasting changes.
Vicious Cycle of Weight Gain
Being over-weight can be a difficult condition to shake because as a person begins to gain weight the channels may become blocked or stagnant. This can happen because of accumulation of toxins (know as Ama) in the channels or it can be because of excess intercellular fat which pinches off the flow of the channels.
When this happens, the nutrients have difficulty reaching their target destination. The body will still feel hungry and therefore a person may eat more and more but not feel satiated.
Not only can the channels that deliver the food become clogged or pinched off, but also the removal system. The cleansing system, or lymph system can become disrupted preventing proper flow and thus more and more accumulation.
Kapha Dosha & Diet
In Ayurveda weight gain comes from an aggravation of the Kapha Dosha.
The Kapha dosha is composed of water and earth elements. Its qualities are heavy and slow moving. It is a stagnant dosha.
The tastes that build this dosha are sweet, salty, and sour. The taste “Sweet” per Ayurveda not only includes things like sugar but also dairy products.
In order to lose weight a person must limit these tastes from their diet and instead take in opposite qualities of the Kapha Dosha. These would be light, mobile and warm. This diet may include pungent tastes. Spices stimulate the digestive enzymes and acid which is called Agni in Ayurveda, digestive fire.
Well-cooked meals which adequate spices are pass easily through the system but also are well-absorbed.
Types of Fasting
Fasting can be a great way to not only lose weight, but to cleanse the body and begin feeling your very best. Be sure to seek professional guidance specific to your needs if you are unsure about the proper procedures.
It can be good to do a seasonal fast if one has blocked channels. Indications of toxins in the body may manifest as tiredness, malaise, depression and even anxiety.
There are three types of fasting in Ayurveda Vata Fasting, Pitta Fasting and Kapha Fasting.
Vata Fasting, which is for Vata-Predominant individuals means that a person will eat “on time” every day. The meal will be healthy. Vata individuals should not go completely without meals or they may faint. They have less nutrient reserves than the other two Dosha-Predominant people (Prakritis).
There will be a set schedule for a meal such as 7:30am for breakfast, 12:30 for lunch and 6:30 for Dinner. It is OK to allow up to an hour variation in this meal time each day, but no more.
Pitta Fasting, which is for Pitta-Predominant individuals. During this type of fast a person can skip certain meals. But the meal will be replaced with a piece of fruit and/or fruit juice. Pitta individuals tend to have very strong digestive capacities and can get irritable if they do not eat. If their channels are blocked, however, they may not feel this hungry as usual. In this case, skipping meals such as breakfast or lunch can help the body clear out excess toxin (Ama). And, instead a piece of fruit can be taken.
Kapha Fasting, which is for Kapha-Predominant individuals. This is the type of fasting that you probably know as fasting. A person can go an entire day, or even multiple days without eating on this type of fast. Sometimes liquid diets are substituted as to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals for basic functioning. But, full-meals are not taken.
The object here is to return to a state of feeling stomach hunger again. When the digestion becomes sluggish and more food is piled on top of it the fire is put out and starts running only on coals. Fasting clears the blockages so air can be blown on the fire thus re-kindling it.
As you probably know exercise is integral in weight loss. It increases circulation which therefore increases the rate at which excess body weight is removed from the system. It also increases the temperature of digestive fire (agni) which is not only occurring in the stomach but also the inter-cellular level.
Frequency is valued over length of exercise time for weight loss. Instead of 2 hours twice a week. Split up your sessions to do 30-45 minutes 4-5 times a week. This will re-invigorate the metabolic system to be working more efficiently every day instead of only sometimes.
You can also work out multiple times a day. 20 minutes twice a day, 4-5 times a week is an excellent schedule to begin seeing rapid weight loss. Here is a course I have developed that will to get you on your way to doing just that.
Believe it or not Meditation is one of the key weight-loss remedies in Ayurveda. Here is why:
Meditation helps a person control their mind and impulses. Weight
-gain usually comes from making poor choices. This can be with diet, with excessive sitting, drinking, or drugs. Meditation allows one to really tune into their breath and begin to watch how their mind is reacting to these impulses from the body. It is here that the meditator seizes control and re-diverts their attention onto something more beneficial for the body.
Meditation encourages deep breathing. Oxygen has benefits that go beyond just feeling magnificent. When you take in oxygen you are also stoking your agni (digestive fire). Just like when you blow on a fire the flames get hotter oxygen is necessary for every vital function in the body. It increases energy production. This is why after a great meditation session, yoga session or workout people tend to feel amazing. Everything is now firing on all cylinders!
The key in Ayurveda is to arrive and live in a state of balance with nature. So, first discover why you are out of balance then make the necessary changes to return to it.
There are many weight-loss gimmicks out there that promise to create fast results. That is the not the way in Ayurveda. It is better to make small lasting changes than big changes that are only short lived.
Becoming your ideal weight is realizing your ideal Dinacharya (daily routine). Remember, balance is key. Too much of anything is not good. When you return to balance you feel amazing.