Deciding to live a full, healthy life isn’t easy. For me, it took almost seven years. I love to eat and I’m lazy. But, I haven’t always been lazy.
In the recent past, I’ve been on a path to heal myself- mind, body, and soul with Ayurveda- but I didn’t just wake up and make the decision to start overnight.
The truth is, I have not always loved food and I have not always been lazy. I was quite a picky eater for most of my life and I used to have tons of energy. In my teen years, I often skipped meals and spent the majority of my time at athletic practices. I will admit, that when I slowed down and realized I was hungry, I ate ravenously. Even into early adulthood, I coached and was quite particular about what I ate. I’m one of the few people I know who did not diet before my wedding. I didn’t have to. Sure, I have always liked to relax once a certain time of night hits, but I would not have ever classified myself as lazy.
So, what happened seven years ago that set my entire mind and body out of whack? I got pregnant for the first time.
In my first pregnancy, I gained 72 pounds. 72 pounds on my petite (5’3”, size 4) frame was extremely dangerous. My blood pressure became elevated, I had severe headaches, and my body hurt everywhere. But, I couldn’t stop eating. I ate everything, whether I liked it or not. If I was not actively eating, I felt nauseous. After I delivered my beautiful baby boy and four months passed, some of the weight started to dissipate. But, then I got pregnant again. My body had the same reaction. If I was not actively putting food into my body, I felt nauseous. This time, I gained 46 pounds. I was almost 90 pounds overweight when my second son was born. In the subsequent months following his birth, I did manage to lose 50 pounds. But, my weight loss plateaued at around 40 pounds above my original pre-pregnancy weight. Over the five years since my second son was born, I’ve slowly put back on 15 pounds on top of the 40 I had previously gained.
The thing is, after my second pregnancy- I never actually stopped eating like I was pregnant. My blood pressure never came down. I remained constantly tired and lethargic. I was overweight and lazy.
Then grief came to visit, and along with it came more neglecting my body and stress eating. Just a year after my second son was born, my 33 year-old brother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. After only 6 months, he lost his battle. Just two years later, my family suffered two miscarriages.
Over the past seven years, I made a few lame attempts to get my weight down and become more active. At my doctor’s request, to control my blood pressure, I was instructed to completely eliminate caffeine and salt. This lead to meteoric headaches. I was basically incapacitated. I attempted meal planning and a few fad diets. They always indicated I should be eating more foods like sweet potatoes and bananas. But these foods made me feel bloated and lethargic. I gave up quickly.
Now I realize I was looking at my health entirely wrong. I was looking for a quick fix to lose weight. Instead, I’ve found I needed to get my head and my heart right, too. I needed to get my whole life together- mind, body, and soul.
Just a few weeks ago, on the recommendation of a friend, I tuned in to the Simple Ayurveda podcast on iTunes. The day when the recommendation came is significant. I had been out shopping for clothing. I found myself trying on pants. When I found pants that fit, they were 2 sizes bigger than any size I had ever bought (when not actually pregnant). Out of pity for myself, I stopped at Taco Bell and ordered a combo meal #6. I drove home and ate it alone. The funny thing is, it didn’t taste great. In fact, it was almost as if it had no taste at all.
As I cleaned up my lunch, I skimmed through Instagram. This is where I saw the Simple Ayurveda podcast recommended. I downloaded it and started listening. Things started clicking. I dove deeper. By the next day, I was ordering books and signing up for mailing lists.
I truly believe that to make a positive change, you have to have the right inspiration at the exact right moment. Ayurveda came to me at the right moment and I was ready.
As I sat and ate my Taco Bell that afternoon, thinking about the size of pants I had just bought, how tired I was, and how badly I wanted a nap; I also thought about why I didn’t care about how I looked. I was happy and fulfilled in my personal life, loved and adored by my husband and kids. I was confused. How had I watched my incredibly healthy brother get diagnosed with and succumb to colon cancer and still not care at all about my own health?
What I believe now is that pregnancy had put my body into a severe Kapha imbalance. If you study Ayurveda, you know that within each of us are three doshas. The three doshas are the energies that make up the body and mind. When one dosha is imbalanced or elevated, it can cause you to suffer serious side effects and make you seriously ill. My Kapha imbalance was leading to my inability to lose weight, lethargy, fluid retention, allergies, and high blood pressure.
Here is the thing, though, the solution is not simply dietary changes. Dietary changes don’t always address the actual problem. This is why most diets fail. The solution is lifestyle change. Knowing that I am dealing with a severe excess in Kapha energy helps me to know what time is best for me to wake in the morning, what exercises are best for me, what forms of meditation will relieve my stress, what spices will aid in my digestion, and of course, what foods will lead to weight loss.
I am just a few months into my journey with the ancient science of Ayurveda. I’ve begun attending yoga classes twice a week to stretch and meditate. I’ve begun walking in nature at least three days a week to breathe fresh air and be alone with my thoughts. I’ve started to limit Kapha elevating foods from my diet. I’ve started listening to what my body is telling me each moment.
The results of these simple changes are massive. I have more energy, I sleep better through the night, my stress is down, I am happier, and I am losing weight. My ultimate goal is to heal myself of high blood pressure, eliminating my need for medication to regulate it.
I’ve never been a proponent of fad diets or quick fixes. They seem to be a one-size-fits-all solution to incredibly individual problems. I am enjoying learning about Ayurveda and about my own body and its specific needs. I also know myself, and I am certain that for this to stick, I needed to learn about this science at the exact right time.