My Story: Losing 30kg with Ayurveda & Without Dieting
Date Posted:10 January 2011
A few years ago now, almost 3 actually, I was ready for a change. Working in a high-pressure sales environment, with long hours, irregular meals, and sporadic exercise, I had packed on a lot more weight than I ever had before. It didn't happen all at once, it just crept up on me, till I was 105kg and not so happy about my silhouette in the mirror or an excursion to the beach.
It was time for a change - everything hit at once - my relationship ended, I quit my job to pursue a more socially fulfilling path (Maharishi Ayurveda Products), and I moved back to the UK to live there for the first time since I was a kid.
Out of all this, without dieting and without really driving towards a weight-loss goal I lost 30kg, re-found my happiness and re-gained my energy, all through simple Ayurvedic principles.
The simple things I did:
- Ate fresh cooked food every meal
- Ate breakfast
- Had my main meal at lunch
- Exercised every day (walking counts)
- Went to sleep when I felt tired
- Woke up early
1: Eating fresh food
Ayurveda recognises that "we are what we eat". Our bodies are constantly replacing cells, generating new muscles, and essentially renewing from the inside all the time. The building blocks it uses to do this are the foods we eat. The texts that describe Ayurveda explain that our fresh foods contain intelligence, and what we are really imbibing is natures infinite organising intelligence in every morsel.
When we have re-heated, canned and non-fresh food, some (or all) of the engergising, nourishing and healing property of the food is lost. This can lead to the body creating Ama, or toxins in our system instead of life-promoting "Ojas". This accumulation of Ama can lead to dullness, tiredness, reduced immune functioning, and due to the combination of these can leave us feeling "down".
In my sales role I would have a lot of takeaway foods, quick and easy when I could grab it, often on the run. Cutting this habit out was easier than I imagined. How?
I bought only a weeks worth of groceries at a time, and including a decent supply of fresh vegetables. We think cooking is time consuming, but there are so many dishes that take only moments, I got good at preparing a meal in 10mins or less, leaving more time to sit and enjoy eating it!
Recipe - (my favourite meal):
- Chop 2-3 vegetables that I liked (for me: mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, carrots, courgettes(zuccihni), spring onion, sprouts, pumpkin)
- Cut small slices of a protein (half a chicken breast, or equivalent tofu strips)
- Get a wok. (tall sides mean it can handle heaps of different kinds of dishes)
- Have noodles or rice on standby.
- Boil some water, if you're having rice put it in a pot with twice as much water as rice. Half a cup of rice is plenty for one. Put a lid on and turn the heat low. Noodles come later if they're your fancy.
- Pour a small amount of oil in the wok/pan, toss the chicken/tofu in.
- Cook a few minutes, adding salt, pepper, soy sauce, garlic, onion, or your favourite spices to taste. Tasting while cooking means you're sure to enjoy when you eat, cause you won't miss any key touches..
- Throw in your chosen veges, mix up with your protein. Keep folding together for a couple of minutes.
- Add some boiling water, just a little, and put a lid on. This keeps it moist and keeps the flavours in, whilst steam-cooking the vege. Taste and add more spices to your preference.
- Throw noodles in boiling water (if you're not having rice).
- 2 mins later, drain the noodles and stir through the vege.
- It's ready to eat. (rice will be ready around this time too).
- 10-15mins total. Even less if you pre-chopped your vege in the morning.
Before anyone tells me off for including chicken or garlic or onions in any article on Ayurveda, I would remind people that enjoying your food is an important part of a sattvic, nourishing Ayurvedic meal, and we have a broad spectrum of individual likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Use what is comfortable to you.
Having the main meal at lunch was really important, it's when our digestive fire is strongest, best able to gain nourishment from our food, and better able to deal with potentially heavier foods than at night when our body is getting ready to shut down sleep. This means that it is processed more efficiently and less waste to potentially turn into excess weight. Having a lighter meal in the evenings allows us to sleep better and again produces less "ama" for the system to deal with.
I made it a point to walk where I could, and generally aim for at least 30mins of exercise every day. I started out with small things such as walking to a local store for shopping, parking in the far corner of a car park to squeeze in those extra moments.
The biggest point was going for a walk in the morning. I would wake up early, and go for a long, brisk walk, for about 30mins. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but aimed for at least 30mins. I would then come home, hungry for breakfast, have some sort of cereal or eggs and toast, meditate, then start work.
Why was this important?
Ayurveda tells us that different times of day have different qualities, just as seasons differ, and people differ. Early morning is Kapha time, and the best time for the physiology to be exercising.
Performing activity early in the morning:
- Kick-starts the bodies metabolism, and continues to burn more calories all day.
- Gets you hungry for breakfast
- Gives you more energy throughout the day
- Is a natural detoxing aid - assists with clearing toxins from the system.
- Gets rid of that sluggish feeling, and boosts our feeling of self-worth, that I found was a key to more smiles for the rest of the day.
I started out walking, and after about a month of that I progressed to running, something I had never done outside of sport.
Some alternatives to running:
- Swimming - cheap/often subsidised by your local council. Swimming is also easier on the knees than running, and works the whole body.
- Yoga - plenty of yoga centres all over, and a great full-body exercise. Perfect for any body size and shape.
- Sport - social and fun, you can often forget your exercising.
- Keep with the walking, and keep it brisk. Plan out some areas around you that you'd like to explore, and use the exercise as an opportunity to enjoy your environment.
- Steal spare moments - 3x10 minute blocks will add to 30 mins of exercise. - stand up from the desk and walk up and down some stairs, go for a walk on your break instead of sitting and chatting.
- If you're at home, look around you for little opportunities to "steal" some burnt calories - as silly as it sounds there are weights and ways to use our everyday objects, lift the iron, up and down, do some star jumps twice a day, set a walking alarm to remind you to get up and move (vacuuming counts!).
A great motivator is a pedometer, a tiny device you can clip onto your clothes/wrist that will show you how many steps you make in a day. Now you have a target to beat! For tech-minded people an ipod, iphone and many smartphones have lots of motivating apps, take a look online..
A few Months in.
So I was eating healthy, now running regularly and feeling a lot better! I wasn't thinking about my weight, or even weighing myself at all, I was just doing these things because I knew a change was needed. Neither was I dieting - just trying to have fresh food three times a day, and stopping when I was full, even if this sometimes left food on the plate.
I really started to pay attention to the signals my body sent me, and as a bonus the more I looked after myself, the clearer these signals became - eating when hungry, stopping when full, sleeping when tired, waking without an alarm. I was happier, had more energy, rediscovered my appetite, and generally on the up.
Three months after starting these changes I came across a scale in a friends bathroom, and hopped on. I was 85kg.
Thats 20kg lighter than three months ago.
20kg was the size of my bag with all my earthly possessions that I took with me to the UK, and now I'd shed that much weight, almost without thinking about it. This was amazing. I knew I felt lighter, but in the same way that I'd gained all the weight without really realising, I lost it all.
A helping hand - Maharishi Ayurveda herbals
I'd been taking two herbal products through all this - Digest Tone, because I knew something needed to be sorted out in this area, and Be-Trim tablets, to help balance this larger appetite I'd developed. Be-Trim also boosted my metabolism and helped out with the way my body handled the fats it was given.
Over the next three months I continued my eating and exercise habits, but took only the Digest Tone, the Be-Trim had accomplished it's job of giving me a kick-start, and now my digestion and metabolism were back in order, I didn't need the extra boost. I kept on with Digest Tone because it has amazing properties for maintaining overall bowel health and nourishing the whole digestive tract, & I figured that's a good thing to stick with!
Within the next 2 months I dropped another 10kg, getting to the lightest I've been since I was 16 - 75kg (I'm six foot one, so for me this is skinny!).
- 30KG gone - Check
- Happy - Check
- Healthy - Check
- Dieting - Nope
The Side Benefits Without the Side-effects
The biggest factors in weight gain can often be our environment, such as stress, and lack of sleep. When we focus on nourishing ourselves we may find these get balanced. The more I exercised, the happier I felt, the more tired I was in the evening, and more ready to sleep. Waking early and exercising gave me more energy and made me more productive during the day, and having that additional energy gave me an increased ability to roll with stress and strain of modern-day working life.
I'm happy, healthy, active and listening to my body as much as I can, and I wish everyone the joy that comes from understanding your body with Ayurveda's rich perspective.
Some Related Articles:
- Weight Balancing Tips for Vata Mind-Body Types By Maharishi Ayurveda
- Weight Balancing Tips for Pitta Mind-Body Types By Maharishi Ayurveda
- Weight Balancing Tips for Kapha Mind-Body Types By Maharishi Ayurveda