ENROLL WITH JOY
Many of us have issues with our weight, too much, too little, fluctuating, rapid gain or rapid loss, and it is a big elephant in the room that we can hardly talk about. Depending on who you are, some of these issues may not affect your health and some may lead to serious medical conditions if left unattended.
We will focus on weight gain in this article to keep it short and sweet 🙂
Reasons Behind Weight Gain
The obvious ones
We all know how to eat healthy organic food, no processed or junk food, sugar is bad, moderate to no carbohydrate depending on what you believe in.
Yes. We want to exercise to burn the extra calories off.
We will not delve into what to eat and what workout to do because we have already bitten off more information than we can chew (no pun intended) to a point we become analysis paralysis!
Unintentional weight gain
You are still eating the same healthy food, exercising the same and you never gained weight with that before. But now you start to see the weight going up and up.
Medication that may cause weight gain: Anti-depressant, steroids, anti-psychotic drugs (to treat disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), drugs to treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure and diabetes. Check with your doctor for alternative treatments with less side effects. Some weight gain might be harmless or the benefit of the drugs outweighs the side effect of weight gain.
There is an emerging practice of integrative approach between Ayurveda and allopathic (modern) medicine. For instance, aspirin can be a wonderful drug because it is anti-coagulant, anti-inflammatory and used for many other conditions. According to Dr. Vasant Lad (A world renowned American author, Ayurvedic physician, professor and director of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico), aspirin will induce Pitta (fire element in Ayurveda) and may cause side effects like coughing up blood, severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, swelling or hearing problem.
Another example of modern treatments that are amazing is chemotherapy on the earlier stage of cancer because it burns and destroys the malignant cells but at the same time destroying the healthy cells. Chemotherapy induces pitta causing side effects like hair loss, fatigue, diarrhea, anemia, weight changes, dry skin and constipation.
By integrating cooling substance like aloe vera juice or Tikta Ghrita (“bitter ghee” which is cooling, cleansing, reducing, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory) with aspirin and post-chemotherapy in the above mentioned examples, it will be a wonderful marriage between the modern medicine and the ancient wisdom!
We can use the medicine to heal the person for the desired effect while using Ayurveda wisdom and herbs to control its side effects that are hazardous to human body.
What medication you are taking now that is causing unwelcome side effects? How can you expand your health horizon of wisdom to reap the benefits of both modern science and ancient knowledge?
Other physiological conditions
People with an underactive thyroid tend to have a very low basal metabolic rate, one of the most noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain and difficulty losing extra weight. It is commonly caused by iodine deficiency and Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease (You may listen to my coach, Cate Stillman’s podcast on how to heal Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease from Ayurvedic perspective).
Many women struggle with menopausal weight gain. Our hormones and our fat cells are part of a complex and comprehensive network responsible for metabolism, appetite, digestion, heat regulation, and detoxification. Any breakdown in communication will result in symptoms like hot flashes, food cravings, and yes, weight gain.
The change of levels in estrogen is not the direct cause of unwanted symptoms including weight gain. Rather, it is a variety of imbalances like the primary hormones (insulin, adrenaline and cortisol) due to our lifestyle and unhealthy habits which then make it impossible for these primary hormones to have the resources and ability to produce optimal secondary hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
In order to transition into an easeful menopause, we need to address issues on eliminating ama (undigested unmetabolized waste) from our body, strengthening our digestive agni (fire), understanding what, how and when to eat according to our dosha, doing workouts that include hardening, softening and cardio, managing stress and having deep rest.
Menopause is the reckoning day. Our body needs to live in sync with the rhythms of nature, just like the menstrual cycle. What are the areas in your life that you need to make adjustment so that you can skate through your menopause or to minimize the undesired feeling of it?
Menopause is the vata stage of life according to Ayurveda. We become more intuitive and we tend to explore more into consciousness and awareness. Women approaching and going through menopause often report remarkably positive feeling of sudden insight, clarity of vision, sense of freedom of thought and action.
How do we harness this ultra special creative energy to empower ourselves and step into our next evolution?
The feelings behind how we feed yourself. It is normal to eat emotionally sometimes, as a form of celebration or an expression of joy. But if we find ourselves seeking food whenever we feel sad, depressed, uneasy or stressed, gently bring the awareness to our emotional eating habit without judging or beating ourselves up.
These feelings become the trigger to eat instead of the real hunger we feel in the stomach. Check our belly hunger and our emotional hunger the next time we feed ourselves.
According to Ayurveda, the type of food we crave when we eat emotionally will uncover our internal (vata, pitta and kapha) imbalances. So do honour our craving but be mindful of why we eat. Emotional eating goes deeper than just the weight gain and the food, there could be many other underlying reasons that we may want to address if we really want to shed those extra pounds.
It’s not just about the weight, it’s about what’s weighing us down. Perhaps we need to resolve internal conflict, speaking the truth and align our speech with our action and desire. Or our internal reality doesn’t match with external reality, disconnect of heart and head. Yoga is great because we can heal through chakra meditation, doing the asanas and practice mindfulness.
We live in an exciting time where so much is going on. Work, family, children and social activities are constantly pushing ourselves to over-performing and under-fueling, we want to please everyone until we start to run on empty tank. Understanding the 5 koshas in yoga philosophy: food, energy, mental, emotional and intuitive bodies, if our energy (prana) is depleted and no longer lively, it blocks the inter-connectivity with all the other bodies. We reach out for food when we are not hungry, we don’t know what food is good for us, we make wrong decision because our mind is unclear, we don’t feel good emotionally and our intuition is all confused!
We will blow up the thyroid if this trend continues which may eventually lead to weight gain.
Beyond Weight Gain
Hunger is a very vulnerable place to be. If our weight is out of control and no one can tell us what to do about it, we feel vulnerable.
Looking beyond the weight gain is self-acceptance, accepting the reality and be truthful to ourselves. Self-love is the starting point, it is not the end-game. We have the power to change (physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual) if it is important to us. If we are ready for our identity evolution, ask ourselves: “Who do I want to become next?”
The weight issue could be a very powerful transformation if we approach it mindfully and honestly. “What is really behind this?” If it’s not just about food, figure out how we can fix it so that we can move on with our lives.
Weight loss is the side effect of healing the physiology and transforming our emotional patterns of why we turn to food.
By knowing what is behind and beyond our weight issues, we are aware of how we should deal with it – leave it as it is or make a change to honour our self-respect?
I am glad I did make a change for myself a few months ago instead of blaming it on my travel and perimenopause. You may read more about my experience and how it has transformed me completely (throughout all five koshas).