“There is a path to freedom. But you need to do the travelling.”

I read this sentence in a book the other day and it spoke to me because since I started my Ayurvedic Practitioner Training a world has opened up to me.

I thought I knew quite a lot about Ayurveda, and it turns out – I hardly knew a thing. The Science of Life is so vast, that in my lifetime I will never catch up. I’ve spent the last few months feeling quite overwhelmed about how much I have to read and learn and do – and I’ve just started! I was never the best student in terms of discipline (and that’s an understatement) I love learning, I crave it, but I hate the bit where you have to do tests and exams to prove what you know. It’s sobering to discover I’m the same now as I was at 15; I start a project and do not finish it (a Vata trait) I take things in and forget them immediately (a Kapha trait) and I procrastinate (a Kapha trait) then at the last-minute I stay up all night writing my essays terrified I’ll fail. I’ll be a nervous wreck and then get great grades. Nothing has changed!

Well when I say nothing, my age has of course. So the staying up all night doesn’t quite work anymore 😬 therefore … I need a new strategy.

Which brings me on to the subject of this post and what I have discovered about Ayurveda.

Learning about Ayurveda is a paradigm shift. It requires you to put aside all the information you’ve internalised about nutrition, about life, about what is the right thing to do for your health. It’s about observing and listening to your body and not your mind and witnessing your experience.

As one of my teachers said, we have collectively outsourced our health to the media, advertising industry, food industry and ultimately the medical and pharmaceutical industry.  Ayurveda teaches you that actually, YOU are responsible for your health. YOU have been given the knowledge you need to improve your health and to sustain it and prevent dis-ease. But YOU have to Do It. What you do every day is what you will bring about later. The amazing thing is this wisdom, these tools, are ancient, more than 5000 years old, and yet, when you know more about them and more importantly, experience what changes they can bring to your health, it can cause discomfort.

Because changing patterns relating to food and lifestyle can make you uncomfortable. After all, we’ve been programmed. We’ve been told what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. We now live in a world of superfoods and raw veganism where we are bombarded with Instagram images of raw vegans but hardly anyone tells you being a raw vegan messed their digestion up. We have over complicated food and made it into a religion, whilst falling for every new food trend.

Instead, Ayurveda teaches you to maintain the connection between how you feel and what you eat, and what you eat and how you feel. It says ‘this is better’ and to me it makes sense – it’s not dogmatic. It says for example some people would benefit from eating meat occasionally. There is no calorie counting or leaving out entire food groups. No doing Power yoga when your mind feels all over the place anyway. It teaches you to be still and observe time, your physical body, your mental body and your way of living.

As I have incorporated more of the tools into my life, I am losing weight effortlessly and slowly. I feel energised most of the time and my digestion is strong when I cook and eat well and at the right time. I know there is a lot of room for improvement but now I also know better why I feel a certain way and what I did or did not do, to make myself feel like that. I hope to post more regularly as it is also a great way for me to digest (pun intended) all the new information I’m learning.

Ayurveda points you in the right direction but you have to walk the path. There are signposts all along the way to help you to reach the last sign in good health. You know, the sign that reads The End.

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Letting Go of…. Negative Self-Talk

It’s September!

I love September. It’s the month I was born in, and since I’ve lived in the Northern Hemisphere, it signals the meteorological start of my favourite season. I love the subtle change in the light and how the tree outside my window slowly starts to change the colour of it’s leaves. I love the slight chill in the air and my mind turns to cozying the home and making it ‘winter ready’.

September always signifies a new start. For so many years it meant the start of school, then college, then university. September is the month I usually go on holiday. However, this September I turn 50 and this September I will be made redundant. Both these things I am not sad about. The first I am amused by, the second relieved.

So this year, September is a new start in new ways. One new way is the subject matter of this post and it is that I am going to practice letting go of negative self talk. Like your mind possibly, probably, when left to its own devices, my mind constantly reminds me that I am too old too fat too short, not smart enough not quick enough not brave enough not kind enough not. enough. Just Not. Enough. These thoughts have held me back. They have made me worry about what other people think rather than what I want to get out of life. As I complete another orbit around the sun I have to think about how I want the next years to be. More of the same? Or different?

This September I’m going to be aware of the usual phrases my mind tells me. Like how it is now going crazy about the fact I signed up for a running course for beginners starting Thursday. My mind is telling me ‘YOU MUST BE CRAZY!!! YOU? Running? 🤣 The last time you ran was in 2011 remember? You’ll be the fattest and the slowest there… You are going to go out in public in leggings?! People will faint when they see your thighs.’

But as well as recognising the thoughts happening, I’m trying to remember ‘I want to feel good.’ I want to lose weight and be healthy again. I feel very vulnerable but I can do this. It’ll be tough mentally but I can do this. And each time my mind starts again with the ‘I can’t, I won’t, I’m too …, I say ‘I see what you’re doing, but this time I choose me’ not the negative self-talk.

Given the cards I was dealt, the past 50 years have not been a failure 😊 but I do think about what dreams I might have achieved and experiences I might have had, if I had not paid as much attention to the negative self-talk in my head!

I for one am going to enjoy the heck out of September 2017 and try and give myself some new stories. ~CM4d610cb7c6ace51d1d08dec5ba40cdcb--seeds-spiritual-inspiration

24 February 2017 – Day 3 of 3 Preparation phase – The Hot Belly Diet

DAY 3 breakfast: superfood smoothie

This smoothie is very light, maybe I’m not using the right protein powder as I’m just using what I have at home. Not filling at all because I forgot to add the berries as well. 

DAY 3 lunch: afternoon khichadi one fruit as dessert

DAY 3 dinner: I had dinner out at an Italian restaurant.

Plus I had one small chocolate. I was actually quite hungry because the breakfast was nothing. After some research I found out what I was using is not a protein powder so that explains it.

23 February 2017 – Day 2 of 3 Preparation phase – The Hot Belly Diet

This is the menu for Day 2 of the prep phase, I skipped a day as I didn’t have all the stuff I needed yesterday. In bold my selection. -CM

DAY 2 breakfast: 240 ml of low-fat yoghurt (I used Greek Yoghurt) sprinkled with roasted walnuts, fresh berries, strawberries, raspberries, or other berries and a little bit of honey if so desired

DAY 2 lunch: 115 g poached salmon with salad and an olive oil vinaigrette dressing and one piece of fruit as dessert

I had a double portion of salmon and no salad as there is a storm out and I wasn’t going to go out to get salad! Forgot to eat the fruit. 

DAY 2 dinner: one bowl of soup such as lentil soup, broccoli soup or tomato soup. I also had one lebanese flatbread with the soup as I was a little peckish.

I made one of my favourite dal soups which is simple and delicious and filling. 

I worked from home so I was able to prepare breakfast and lunch for tomorrow already, and I drank the tea all day. I had a good bm today and I feel lighter than yesterday. I am a little bit hungry now (21:11) but it’s because I only had a very small bowl of dal this evening.

Also had a kitkat and I blame PMS

 

21 February 2017 – Day 1 of 3 Preparation phase – The Hot Belly Diet

Last month I started this Hot Belly Diet plan. Unfortunately, I also managed to get a neck hernia which left me unable to use my neck and the right arm (i.e. For food preparation) for about two weeks. It’s much better now but not 100%. So…. here I go again, I am starting again today and will keep on the programme for the next 30 days

This is the menu for Day 1 of the prep phase. In bold what I chose to eat. -CM

DAY 1 breakfast: scrambled eggs with two eggs and any two cleaning vegetables such as: cauliflower, other cabbage varieties, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery, pak choi, garlic, green beans, green peas, okra, spring onions, kale, fennel, radish or watercress OR a bowl of roasted oat flakes with linseed with a handful of walnuts and 60g fresh berries.

I bought roasted oat flakes for the first time in my life and I must say I like them a lot and they’re so cheap! As this is made with water it’s nice to have a bit of flavour. I don’t like berries, but I did add them and the walnuts were lovely which is funny as I don’t usually like nuts in my food. I could not taste the linseed at all. 

DAY 1 lunch: 85 to 115 g grilled tofu  with various steamed vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage varieties, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery, pak choi, garlic, green beans, green peas, okra, spring onions, kale, fennel, radish or watercress with 120 grams of rice and a piece of fruit as dessert. Choose from the following (low sugar) fruits: apples, berries, strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, grapefruit, oranges, clementines, peaches, nectarines, prunes, kiwis and grapes.

I marinated tofu on Sunday night and cooked it in the oven on Monday night. The steamed veggies and rice were bland but ok. I had an apple as dessert. 

DAY 1 dinner: a green salad with 85 g of chicken, turkey, tofu or tempeh

I ate the rest of the tofu from lunch with the green salad. A nice clean dinner. 

The author says to drink the tea between 8AM and 4PM but I started at 11AM and did finish by 4PM as last time the green tea kept me awake all night 😵

 

Preparation Castor Oil Cleanse Hot Belly Diet

I decided to do a prep day before starting the HBD to clear everything out. Well I can tell you if you ever need clearing out… castor oil will do it!

Castor oil is often used at the beginning of a fast as it is a purgative. It has been used for centuries and according to the book, it stimulates your body to burn fat and the action of castor oil starts in the small intestine unlike other laxatives that act in the colon. I did some research and found that “When someone swallows castor oil, ricinoleic acid latches onto EP3­ molecules in smooth muscle cells on the walls of the small intestine and causes contractions, explaining castor oil’s effectiveness as a laxative”.

The book suggests you wake up early on a Sunday morning between 6 and 7 AM and drink the castor oil drink. There is no way I am going to wake up at 6 AM on a Sunday as it’s the only day I can have a lie in. So I woke up at 8 and took the drink at 8:30.

Recipe for the castor oil drink: take 2 tablespoons 30 ml of castor oil and mix it with 120 ml of orange juice or grapefruit juice. Make sure that the oil is fresh and if you feel like throwing up it should help if you mix everything very carefully so it only taste of citrus.

Castor oil (I used an Ayurvedic brand) is thick and I had to stir very well to mix everything up and then I just gulped it back.

An hour later I had to run to the loo, and after that I went at 11:30, 12:30 and 15:30. So exactly as the book says it took about 7 hours from start to finish (in the book he says take around 6-7 and should be finished by 2 PM). The BMs were very loose and you need to be home and close to a toilet. I think enough said about that.

I was however absolutely starving by 4 PM and succumbed to two tbsp of rice and Thai food because I was too lazy to make more soup. At 7 PM I succumbed again to one biscuit because I noticed my tummy was settled again. Apart from that I only had soup, tea and juice all day and did not do anything except read and cook.

-C-

 

When you reach Rock.Bottom.

Last year was one of the worst years I’ve had health-wise. I was basically sick with one thing or another all year, and things all came to a head when I was diagnosed with critical hypertension in July and put on blood pressure meds. Inside I was screaming THIS IS NOT ME!!! I am not the person on blood pressure meds in their 40’s!! It was very depressing but… the medication did make me feel better. Nonetheless,  I am determined to not take meds even though I have a pre-existing heart condition. I was very concerned about the extreme side-effects I experienced, even after I was put on different meds, and the fact my Dr. was very blasé about the fact he could “give me another medication to counteract the side-effects if necessary”. So my tactic has been to wait until my blood pressure stabilised over a longer period, then to wean myself off the meds and step up my yoga and exercise game, reduce my stress, and change my food game all whilst checking my blood pressure consistently (so no need to worry Mandytje 😉). On top of everything, I appear to have become more allergic to my fluffy bundle of joy, Roosje the Cat. But that situation is easily resolved by taking an allergy tab every day. Obviously, she’s not going anywhere ha!

I decided 2017, the year of my 50th birthday, I am going to commit completely to my health because the future looks short and depressing if I carry on like this. Last week I did a two-day Ayurveda course to refresh my knowledge and learned so much, I loved every minute of it! I am inconsistent about my Ayurvedic diet even though it’s the only thing that works for me.

Along with my course last week, I stumbled across a book called The Hot Belly Diet by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar which appealed to me because it’s based on Ayurveda, and it’s about reigniting your digestive fire by following this diet for 30 days. So the ‘hot’ in the title is not the sexualised use of the word hot which is common now. The basic idea is to rekindle and maintain a balanced digestive fire (‘agni’) beginning with 3-day preparation phase to detoxify and give your digestive system a rest.

In Ayurveda we believe that the digestive system is the most important system in our bodies because it provides our body with the energy we need from birth to death. How well your agni functions determines the quality of your life. I will write more about agni in another post. But for the next 30 days I will be on this program to start feeling better because I do believe food is a medicine.

Here is a short summary of the plan:

  • A 24 hour castor oil cleanse before starting is optional. Do the oil cleanse the Sunday before you begin. Have your last meal on the Saturday night and don’t make it a heavy one.
  • Preparation days 1-3 are about breaking old patterns and not eating or drinking the things that lower your digestive fire. The goal is to lighten the burden on your digestive system.
  • Start day 1 on a Monday because the author thinks it’s easier to have your regular routine, rather than potential social distractions at the weekend (which is the case for me this week)
  • For the next 23-days, you mainly eat kitchari, a nourishing, easy to digest rice/dal  combination which I love anyway and always makes me feel great. Kitchari is the main dish for lunch (and dinner if you want), plus a non-creamy soup and steamed vegetables. Breakfast is a superfood smoothie, or oatmeal, or an egg-veggie scramble.
  • On the final 4-days you can start to reintroduce the other foods suitable for your dosha.

So this is what I’m going to be logging on here and am very interested to see what changes not only in weight, but in energy it will bring me. Will I still have energy to do yoga and go to the gym? Will I sleep well/better, will I stop getting skin rashes and bloating? Will my blood pressure be stable? I am positive I will answer yes to all the above!