The answer to all of these questions is simple: You would feel like your true self – vital, joyous and content.
According to Ayurveda, every person is born with a constitution that is made up of a unique combination of the five elements (ethers, air, fire, water and earth). Some people are born with large bones, some with small bones. Some people build muscle easily while others do not. And there are many degrees in between. No matter how you feel about it at this moment, your body is a divine vessel for your spirit, and it was made perfectly for your needs in this lifetime.
Just as unique as your constitution is your ideal weight. Too much over your ideal weight indicates accumulation of fat and strains your vital organs. Too much under and you lose the protection that fat and muscle provide for the organs against illness and for mental stability.
Ayurveda allows you to tune into the messages from your body so you can let go and allow your body to find that place of health and comfort that is uniquely your own. Your whole being can naturally move toward balance – you simply need to step out of the way. Applying time-proven Ayurvedic principles to eating and living on a consistent basis will align you with nature, resulting in a healthier body, a clear mind and a better sense of who you really are.
How to get out of the way of finding your ideal weight
- Stop comparing yourself. Popular culture is filled with images of bodies that are not yours – so why compare yourself to them? Advertisers go to extreme lengths to find a specific look to sell products, but these are sales techniques, not a critique on your figure nor a standard to strive for. When you compare yourself to the images around you, you are allowing your ego to lead. Instead, find a space each day to connect with your true self, the one that lives in your heart, and let that divine guide get in the driver’s seat. Once you connect with who you really are, you can begin to replace thoughts about comparison with thoughts of affirmation about your body. Do you love your eyes, or the shape of your hands? Do you like the sound of your laugh or the crookedness of your teeth? Take time each day to cultivate acceptance and appreciation for your true self and the divine vessel you live in.
- Learn what your body needs to feel well. At the beginning and end of every meal and at the beginning and end of every day, take a moment to tune in to your body. How do you feel? Do you feel heavy or tired? This could be a sign of kapha imbalance. Do you feel edgy or overheated? Pitta is in excess. Feeling spacey or cold? It’s time to calm vata. When you tune in to how you feel, you can work backward to understand how the foods you ate – or the way in which you ate them – affected you. This is what we mean in Ayurveda when we say “listen to your body.” It is filled with cues every single day that can help you look and feel your best.
- Eat only what your body needs. If you are struggling with weight above your body’s ideal, overeating in one sitting can be a significant factor. When you overeat, the excess food cannot be properly digested. It sits in the small intestine where it ferments until it is finally broken down, creating toxins that force the liver to work harder to remove. Eventually it won’t be able to keep up and the toxins it can’t process are stored in various cells of the body, where they lead to discomfort, illness and disease. Luckily, your body has a built-in mechanism to tell you when it has had enough to eat – the first burp. Let it become an ally in understanding your body’s needs, and know you have a reliable tool to eat just the right amount at each meal.
- Eat food with life force. Food, at its purest essence, is prana. When we eat fresh, prana-filled foods that are aligned with our body’s needs, we get the most life force and the most out of life. Processed foods, canned foods, boxed foods, foods with chemical preservatives, frozen foods, leftovers – all of these lack prana. Just like eating too much or too often, prana-deficient foods make your digestive organs work harder, resulting in accumulation of weight and toxins in the body. Instead of reaching for convenience, reach instead for the simple tools in your kitchen – a good knife, cutting board and fresh vegetables, high-quality fats, legumes and grains (take a look at the free Ayurvedic recipes on our blog for inspiration). Cooking fresh food daily is the best way to give your body the energy it needs to stay healthy and well.
- Move your body every day. Your body is meant to move. Daily movement stimulates the growth of healthy tissue, provides flexibility and supports mental clarity. A sustainable practice of Yoga asana meets most of these needs in a way that is supportive and gentle on your body. When practiced with appropriate holds, focus on the breath, consciousness and smooth movement, asanas are sattvic in nature. A balanced asana practice actually balances your joints and muscles as you practice, a far cry from modern fitness trends, such as crossfit and marathon running that often cause injury. But there are other sattvic ways to move – walking, hiking, tai chi or swimming, when practiced with consciousness, are just a few ways of movement to explore so you can find out what your body responds to best.
- Develop a healthy relationship with food. The emotions you take in with each bite can influence your choices about food and your health. Did you lack food as a child? Did your family have sweets as a reward? Did you learn to hide your eating from others out of shame? Did you learn to manage your weight by jumping from one diet fad to the next? In your quest to find your ideal weight, take the time to explore your emotional responses to food so you can release what no longer serves you. Three great tools to help are Myra Lewin’s book, Freedom in Your Relationship with Food, the free download of the basic tools of our Intuitive Energy Practice and our August podcast on sacred eating. You’ll be surprised at how much can be attached to the simple act of eating, and how much better you’ll feel when you begin the process of release. When you can develop a better relationship with food and eating, it will enhance your life in many other ways.
Just remember – your body actually wants to come to a place of balance and find its ideal weight. That ideal weight is yours and no one else’s, based on who you are, your stage of life and the time of year. When you tune in, relax into alignment with what is natural and get out of the way, your body will respond to settle in a place of health, joy and comfort.