2017 Resolution – Love Myself Healthy!

Image Source: The Balanced Blonde

Another year is just beginning and I absolutely LOVE the idea of giving up all desires to be skinny.  Honestly, it is completely overrated, even if you’re overweight.  American culture has trained us to think that any excess body weight means you are overweight, which if not true at all! From this day forward, I suggest telling yourself that you are making changes to become the healthiest you for you.  Forget what society expects!  You DESERVE the gift of health.

You all know that I am a firm believer in the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. Following this ancient medicinal system, we are taught to treat our body with reverence. Your body’s are a reflection of our current health. All of your past decisions have made you who you are today. Embrace the lessons you’ve learned from them and use them to move into a healthier lifestyle.

Remember that even if you aren’t in perfect health, you are just as worthy of self-love as a body builder!

My story

Before my enlightenment

Throughout my teens, I followed so many diets in an attempt to look like my best friend who was much skinnier than me. I never took into account that my bones were thicker than hers, which meant I SHOULD NOT look the same as her. Fast forward to my twenties. I became friends with many “overweight” people who were doing things I couldn’t; my best friend from college played on our school’s rugby team. She ate junk food on occasion, but more often than  not she would eat mostly healthy foods. This is where I picked up my theory on how to eat to mold your ideal body!

Life preparing me for my enlightenment

This idea stayed with me long after we left college, but it didn’t click completely until I was living on my own in Philadelphia, PA. One sunny April day in 2013, I decided to walk to my local library. On my way there, my sneaker got caught in a crack in the sidewalk and I fell hard on my knees. While my knee injury wasn’t too bad, there was another lesson in store for me. About two weeks after my knees got better, I started having uncontrollable back spasms. They were so intense that when I went to my mother’s orthopedic surgeon to try to figure out what was wrong, that he couldn’t even touch me without extreme pain!

He ordered a number of different tests to decipher what was wrong but every test came back with negative results. His only conclusion was that my body had locked up from the intensity of the fall to protect me from something, and he was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! He then told me to go home and get as much rest as possible.

Enlightenment realized

After seeing this doctor, I made it my mission to take as much time to rest as I possibly could. Not only that, I realized that I should use this down time to make healthier food choices. Before my accident, I ate fast food multiple times a day. Since I could barely move around my apartment, let alone go downstairs to pick up food from a local restaurant, I brought into my home yogurt, instant oatmeal, protein shakes, et cetera – anything that was easy to make so I didn’t aggravate my injury.

After a few weeks of following this meal plan, my family started asking me questions about my workout regimen. They were concerned that I had been ignoring my doctor and working out. When I told them that the only thing I was doing was making better food choices, they were shocked. My sister even came over one day to check up on me. When she saw that my refrigerator was full of everything I had told her, she went home and left me to recover.

By the end of my recovery, I had lost 30 pounds, with NO EXERCISE!! To date, I’ve lost about 85 in total and I NEVER diet.

What’s the lesson for you in all this?

I’m telling you my story to reinforce the idea that with this new year, you should make a resolution to become a healthier you in small steps. You have developed your current eating habits over the previous months and years of your life – you can’t expect lasting results to come from drastic changes. Food is our first and best medicine for creating a healthier body.

I began this blog as a reminder that you have to love your body, regardless of what shape it’s in. When you love your body exactly for how it is, the easier it will be to make small, positive changes. My story is a testament to that fact. Millions of people start popular diets every day, have success in the beginning and then gain it all back… Why? If a diet is so great, why can’t people stay on them for life, or at the very least maintain the weight they’ve lost?

The truth is: consistency is the biggest piece of the puzzle. I’ve been way off track with this – my mother’s death took me by surprise and I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted because of the depression that set in after losing her. From this day forward, I vow to do better for myself…. Especially because my mom believed wholeheartedly in what I do!

In order to achieve this goal, I must remember that small, yet constant improvement and upgrades to my current preferences is my keystone to finishing the health journey I started back in 2013.

Neither you or I can do intermittent health care.  Healthy eating must happen daily.  Aside from occasional “free meals,” we have to eat to nourish and maintain our bodies.  It is an odd thing that has happened in our society where food intake is such a social and pleasure thing instead of a way to fuel our bodies.

So the conclusion is there is nothing wrong with always being aware of what we do to stay slim and strong and healthy.  We should love ourselves for who we are on the inside but also love the potential we have; both inner and outer and always strive to live up to it.


The 8 Limbs of Yoga Part One: Yama

Many people in America think that yoga is all about being able to get your body into specific positions, but it is so much more than that! Yoga incorporates the mind, body and spirit to create the healthiest versions of those who adhere to the practice. We call this the 8-limb path. The path starts with Yama, or your principles/moral code.  

What is Yama? 

Yama is the set of attitudes, beliefs and actions we use in our lives, especially when practicing yoga. It is known by different names in other religions – The 10 Commandments in Judaism and Christianity, the Five Pillars in Islam – but there’s common threads running through them all. These are the themes in yoga:

  1. Ahimsa: non-violence and reverence for life. This is one of the greatest lessons anybody can learn because it takes away most of the stressors we encounter in life. Ever had a bad day at work where a coworker criticizes everything you do in front of your boss? It is very easy to get annoyed with them and complain to others about what they’ve done, but in the long run, it hurts you much more than them. You increase your stress levels every time you recall what they’ve done to others and if they’ll do it again. That endless worry leads to health problems like weight gain, heart disease and anxiety if left uncontrolled. When practicing ahimsa, you are much slower to react to what people are doing and that allows the people who are causing problems to expose themselves while you are becoming your best self. 
  2. Satya: truthfulness in yourself and the world. Self-awareness and knowing the world you live in is an incredible tool for your wellbeing. Intertwined with ahimsa, satya is about recognizing the personality traits in yourself and others and knowing how to use them to your advantage, WITHOUT exploitation! Acknowledging the things people do and say is crucial to maintaining a sense of peace. Most people conflate acknowledgement with criticism, but they are very different, once you learn how to harness the power of satya. If a loved one, for example, is making bad decisions that are negatively affecting you, you can practice satya by explaining to them how their actions are hurting you and setting up boundaries for yourself. The key is being honest with them and giving them the chance to change. 
  3. Asteya: no stealing – taking physical property, but also not stealing emotionally from ourselves and others. When we worry or let someone else put us in a bad mood, we are guilty of asteya. Asteya also relates to the attitude we have towards life and the events connected those attitudes. Have you noticed that when you are constantly worried about how you’ll be able to pay for the bills, you never seem to make enough money? Or have you ever wanted to talk to someone and suddenly you get a call or text message from them?  These are examples of asteya manifesting itself in your life.
  4. Aparigraha: non-posessiveness. The best way to fully understand this Yama is to break the word down – “a” means cnot” or “none,” “pari” translates to “all sides,” and “graha” means “grab.” Taking all of this into account, you’ll realize that aparigraha doesn’t just relate to having too many material possessions – it also provides a look into how you should treat your relationship with the other people in your life. It is OK to ask for help every once in a while, but you must not be so dependent upon them that they cannot fulfill the requirements of their lives.  
  5. Brahmacarya: moderation. This goes hand-in-hand with aparigraha. If you come to the realization that you don’t need much to be happy, you are able to realize if and when you’re giving into the materialistic side of American culture. A personal example is when I have a little bit more money from my paycheck and I see my friends and colleagues buzzing about whatever new things they’ve bought or done – if I’m not in tune with aparigraha, I definitely start buying more things that I don’t need. 

    Now that you are aware of the first limb of yoga, the yamas, which ones do you feel you need to work on?