Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Year, New You- Eating, Part 1

“I don’t live to eat, I eat to live,” Martin Payne in “Martin”.

Who could forget the hilarious episode of “Martin” when he got serious about his health and fitness. He transformed into the “black Jack Lalanne” according to Pam, and took on his fitness and health in true Martin fashion, only to be foiled by none other than his mama’s honey butter biscuits.

As a yoga instructor, the most frequent questions I get are about dieting and proper eating habits.
It seems that there is so much mystery and confusion around the proper way to nourish our bodies. Since, I am currently working with folks on yoga and weight loss, I thought this would be a great time to talk about eating.

We cannot just concentrate on ways to improve our physical body and not give thought to what we put inside. Just like our body evolves over time so have our eating habits. However, our diet tends to be the area that causes the most confusion. We try to squeeze meals into our busy schedules. There is very little connection with the food we eat unless we gain weight, or feel a strong cravings like Martin for his mama’s biscuits, or if our food choices have an adverse affect or illness (heartburn, gas, bloating, high blood pressure or diabetes). And then you have tons of fad diets with crazy rules that promise huge results only add to the confusion but deliver nothing in return.

My suggestion is to spend some time and really focus on what your body not just your mind is saying about your diet. One way to do this is to take some time to focus on how you feel not just what you think after your meals. Are you tired, sluggish, nausea, bloated, uncomfortable, etc.? Try not to get caught up in defeat, however, know that you are working on a plan and answer honestly.

The next step is to write it all down. Keep a food journal to help you track your meals and your reaction to them. Write down everything you put into your body, including beverages, even a stick of gum. The important thing here is to be honest with yourself. There is no way to change if you have no idea what you should change, so writing it down gives you a real clear picture of what you are working with. It also gives you a clue to patterns that lead you towards poor food choices.

Then take the emotions out of the equation. I know that it is easy to feel angry, guilty, and so on about your choices but really it gets you no where. Awareness is the start of change and that change won’t happen if you only focus on your feelings and not your plan. You are not going to make a change if you are too embarrassed or feel too guilty to find the true path towards your health.

Once you have a your food journal for a week or two share it with your doctor, wellness provider, nutritionist, or personal trainer you are relying on for your health and wellness plan.

The key thing to remember is that each of us has a unique body with its own set of needs. If you have issues with disease it is important to consult with your doctor or wellness provider for the proper way to go about getting on track to healthy eating habits.

Try this.
Yogis typically suggest a vegetarian diet, however, I know that really extreme for a lot of people. So start with something simple. In class I suggested introducing or reintroducing one new fruit or vegetable into your diet over the next week or two daily. (Add a fresh or organic fruit and/or vegetable because the nutrition is higher.) This fruit or vegetable should be a substitute for just one of your poor food choices like donuts, potato chips, etc. This can be the start of your transition to better eating habits.

If you have a long term plan such as becoming a vegetarian, I suggest cleansing the body first with a fast or detox. A fast will give you a great foundation and help you rebuild your food habits. Again, consult with your health or wellness provider before you begin. For more info on fasting see my previous blog.

Nourishing your body no longer has to be a mystery. Creating your good health is well within your power. Namaste.

I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you are planning to fast or to introduce a new fruit and/or vegetable.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Year, New You –Fasting

Spring is upon us now. This is a wonderful time to transition from winter by cleansing not just your home but also your body through fasting. Fasting will help you get rid of the old (that includes pounds), increase your energy level, and balance the body’s systems.

Everything needs a rest, and that includes your digestive system. When you fast you allow the body to focus energy that is used for digestion (15-30 percent for moderate eaters 90-95 for heavy eaters) on refreshing other areas of the body. There are several types of fasts that include water only, water and juice, fresh juices, and fruit. However, before you choose to fast review these tips on how to start and finish so the body can have a smooth transition.

Preparing to Fast

It is good to fast one day a week. Try to pick a day and stick with it. Choose a day when you can nurture yourself and rest. Don’t schedule anything that you don’t like. Read, watch a movie, go for a relaxing walk, or listen to some music.

Take a bath. Use a rough towel or soft brush to get rid of dead skin cells, clean the pores and encourage the release of toxins. Don’t clog the pores with heavy oils and creams.

Prepare yourself mentally and physically for the fast. Mark the date in your diary and give yourself time to get used to the idea.

Don’t binge the day before. This puts tremendous strain on the system and will interfere with the positive effects of the fast. You won’t be fasting, you’ll simply be purging from the day before. Make your last meal something light (soup, fruit).

If you have to cook for your family, prepare their meals the day before so you won’t have to spend too much time around food. There is no point in fasting if all you are going to think about is food.

Drinks lots of water. This will help you eliminate toxins and prevent light-headedness. A tablespoon of honey can also help if you start to feel spaced out.

Try some gentle yoga postures, deep relaxation, and breathing practices to help increase your energy and assist with the elimination process.

Wear natural fibers to absorb sweat and toxins. Artificial fabrics won’t let the skin breath and will cause the toxins to reabsorb into the skin.

Breaking the Fast
This is just as important as the fast itself. It will be a waste if you finish by stuffing yourself with high fat high sugar foods.

Prepare in advance. Plan and have ready what you are going to eat and drink to break fast when you start.

If you fast one day, take a whole day to get back to normal eating. If you fast for two days, then take two days to break fast and so on.

Break the fast with something very light that will readily digest. If you were on a water fast drink some fruit juice first. Drink it slowly don’t gulp it down. If you had fruit juice try some vegetable broth to break your fast. Gradually increase your food intake and combinations.

You might break a water fast with herb tea for breakfast, fruit juice mid morning, an apple for lunch, a banana mid afternoon and vegetable soup for dinner.

There is no point in fasting if you are going to be miserable. Fasting for a half day will give the digestive system a good rest and ensure effective assimilation and elimination. However, do still ease back into eating with the tips above.

Types of Fast

Water is the most effective way and the simplest way to cleanse the body of toxins. However, this may be too drastic if you are not used to it.

Fruit juice gives the body something more substantial. Make sure to use fresh juice preferably organic. You don’t want to add anything artificial to the body when you are cleaning it out.

Fruit is a good way to fast if you find it hard to go without food and have to keep working. Try to stick to one fruit at a time to make it easier for the body to digest and get the benefits from the cleansing properties of fruit. Melons and grapes are great to use as well as pineapples, which have great enzymes for cleansing the digestive system.

Arden’s Garden Two-Day Detox
This is a wonderful product that I have used. I love it because I am not hungry and feel wonderful while drinking it. You can purchase the Two-Day Detox already premixed at Arden’s Garden or make it yourself. The info is below. Visit them online at

The Two-Day Detox
For two days enjoy fresh citrus juices which provide the body with over 100% of the U.S. RDI essential vitamins and minerals. Specially formulated, this tested two-day juice program cleanses, detoxifies and rejuvenates the body while allowing you to perhaps also lose a few pounds.

Perfect for slimming down before or after the holidays or just prior to a special event.

What You Will Need For The Two Days:

48 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
32 oz. fresh orange juice
16 oz. fresh lemon juice
160 oz. quality steam-distilled water
Empty 1 gal. jug for mixing
Funnel (optional)

What To Do:

Mix together for each gallon:

24 oz. fresh grapefruit juice,
16 oz. fresh orange juice,
8 oz. fresh lemon juice and
80 oz. distilled water
- the detox mixture -
Drink 8 oz. every hour -til the total 128 oz. have been consumed- and that's it! No food.

Finney, Sumukhi (2003). The Yoga Handbook, A Guide to Enhancing Physical, Mental & Spiritual Well-Being, Barnes & Nobles Books