I was always overweight as a kid. I didn’t eat much, but that didn’t matter. Whatever I did eat made me fat.
In grammar school, I played sports and ran around with the other kids during recess, but I wasn’t full of energy. When we played tag, I was the fastest to get tagged and the slowest to tag someone else. After a couple rounds, I was exhausted.
I never wanted to get out of bed to go to school so early in the morning. If someone had told me homeschool was a possibility, I would have begged my parents for it. I always wanted to be able to run around like I was lighter than air. To jump rope or catch up with the other kids when they ran. I didn’t understand how people bigger than me were running marathons, while I could barely make it halfway around the track.
Searching for Balance
Several years ago, I did some marketing work for a client who was really into Ayurveda. She knew I was struggling with my weight and told me how to balance myself with an Ayurvedic diet.
She explained to me that in Ayurveda, universal life force manifests as three different energies, referred to as “doshas.” These doshas are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Though each person carries a combination of all three, one is usually dominant. The proportions of a person’s doshas change over time, and the energy fluctuates, based on environment, diet, climate, and even the seasons.
It sounded cool, but I wasn’t much interested. It was too much information to remember, and there were too many rules to follow. I thought it was just information that classified what I already knew: I was slow and heavy. At the time, I didn’t realize it was an ancient science of health and healing.
When I did an Ayurvedic self-assessment, my dosha turned out to be “Kapha,” which basically said I was slow and steady, much like a tortoise. I thought there was something wrong with those qualities being dominant. Wasn’t everyone supposed to zip around like a hummingbird? Since I associated being slow with being overweight, I expected my dosha to change when I lost the weight.
It didn’t. What happened was my Kapha energy became balanced. I remained slow and steady, but my metabolism sped up, and I had more vitality. Despite remaining the same, life was a completely different experience from the inside out.
Balancing my Body with Nourishing Foods
Ayurvedic foods are a staple for me these days. Sure, they taste great, but they also keep my body balanced, especially during the dry seasons. Since my dosha is primarily kapha, the winter tends to be a bit harsher on me than on others.
Of all the foods I enjoy during winter, butternut squash soup is at the top of my list. It’s tasty and warm, and it balances the dryness of vata brought by winter. You don’t have to be a kapha to benefit, either. The dry seasons can take a toll on everyone, regardless of dosha. Although your grandmother’s recipe for butternut squash soup is probably fine, to get the full benefit you need an Ayurvedic recipe – such as Art of Living’s recipe for vata-calming butternut squash soup. You’ll notice ghee is used instead of butter, as well as turmeric, cumin, ginger, and cloves.
The other ingredients might seem minor, but the differences are what make Ayurveda effective. (If you’re on a Sattvik diet, you’ll want to avoid the garlic and onions.)
Ghee is one of the most important ingredients in Ayurvedic recipes. Although it’s made from butter, it’s not interchangeable with it. Ghee is essentially clarified butter. It’s made by boiling butter until all the water evaporates and the milk solids dry out, and all that remains is refined butter-fat. Traditionally, ghee is made not with store-bought butter, but from milking your cow in order to make your own butter to turn into ghee. Ancient Ayurvedic texts state that ghee should be consumed daily to “strengthen the mind, memory, intelligence, and decision making.” Ghee also stimulates digestion and is good for the throat, voice, and complexion.
In my experience, experimenting with Ayurveda has helped me to stay balanced, healthy, and full of energy, even if all I want to do is curl up on the couch and read a good book.
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