Jess Wheeler - Ayurvedic Lifestyle Plan
Ayurveda = the science of life
Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga, and developed over 5000 years ago in the Indus River Valley in modern day India. It helps us understand our bodies, minds, and spirits in terms of elements, qualities, and energies. The principles of Ayurveda help us live a more balanced life so you can feel like the best "you" possible in all facets.
- Increase energy/improve fatigue
- Improve sleep and reduce anxiety
- Manage weight
- Keep hypothyroidism and hypertension in check (with a long-term goal of no longer needing blood pressure medication)
As I mentioned, we always start with making a few, manageable changes at once. The following is a list of all recommendations that I have. I've colored the changes I want you to start with in red.
- Eat mindfully, without screens or distractions. At dinner time eat at the table with your husband. At lunch time, put your computer to sleep while you eat and try to minimize how often you eat at your desk.
- No more iced beverages. If it's below 75 outside, focus on room temp or hot beverages. Once we really hit into spring and summer, you can opt for chilled - but not iced - drinks. This will keep your digestion (and your energy) running smoothly.
- Eat breakfast. Even if all you eat is a piece of fruit, give yourself something to eat to start your day. Follow the guidelines below for what to emphasize vs. minimize.
- Focus on warm, grounding foods with warming spices.
- Warm, grounding foods = oatmeal, soups (watch for salt content), cooked vegetables, proteins.
- Warming spices = ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, most herbs, black pepper, red pepper, cinnamon.
- Cook for yourself more. Doesn't need to be fancy - keep it simple! Start with moderate portions of lean protein, large portion of cooked vegetables, and a small portion of a starch like rice or quinoa.
- Minimize added sugar, heavy foods, cold foods, raw foods, dairy products, and energy drinks.
- As a Kapha person I know that minimizing added sugar is going to be a challenge (this includes "sugar free" substitutes, too). Slowing down to eat intentionally should help you from mindlessly snacking and choosing foods for comfort rather than nourishment.
- Heavy foods are things like pizza and burgers - if it's something that would be on the menu at a Friday's, it's likely a heavy food that you should minimize.
- Cold and raw foods like salads and smoothies are conventionally considered "healthy options" but they're much harder to digest.
- Dairy will increase the Kapha in your body so we want to keep that to a minimum.
- Energy drinks will deplete you over time and will make your anxiety worse. Allow yourself up to 2 cups of coffee in the morning and see how that goes! Just remember, caffeine is anxiety provoking.
- Add Triphala Tea as a daily supplement. This is a classic Ayurvedic herbal remedy to regulate digestion which will improve a number of your health concerns. Start by dissolving 1/2 tsp in warm water and take before bed. You can buy Triphala here.
- No screens 1 hour before bed. This will help your brain wind down. Try not to check your phone if you wake in the middle of the night.
- Extended exhale diaphragmatic breathing. This technique should help you fall asleep + fall back asleep if you wake in the night. Lay on your back (you can bend your knees and have your feet flat if your lower back is tender) and take a full, deep inhale through the nose while the belly is soft - you should feel your belly rise with the breath. Work on evening out your belly breathing so it's smooth and fluid. Once both the inhales and exhales smooth, gradually increase the length of your exhales. You can always count in your head to keep your mind focused. You don't want to feel breathless at the end of your exhale, you just want to release the breath more slowly. Repeat as many cycles as necessary to calm the nervous system.
- Incorporate more movement into your routine. Start simple and informal - go on 4X weekly 10-15 minute walks with your family. Once that doesn't feel like a chore we will add in a few yoga poses.
- Prioritize intimacy with your man. If you don't have the energy for sex, focus on some form of physical intimacy - cuddling counts.
- Reframe improving your own health as part of how you care for your daughter. Having more energy and less anxiety is going to make you an even better mom than you already are!
- Therapy. If you can afford it and you're not already going, I highly recommend therapy to help give you more tools in your toolbox to minimize anxiety.
- Make time for stillness each day. Give yourself at least 5 minutes a day to just sit/lay down, relax, and be quiet - not doing or thinking anything else, just breathing. I know this is hard with a little one, so maybe this is a good nighttime routine and can also improve your sleep.
This section describes your innate constitution or type (Prakruti), your digestive type (Agni), and your imbalance (Vikruti). This information helped me make my individualized recommendations to bring you into balance.
You have a Kapha-Pitta constitution. You can read much more detail about this type here. Based on our conversation, here are some of the qualities you mentioned that help me identify Kapha-Pitta as your type...
- run cold
- prefers sweet taste
- rarely do you not have an appetite
- "chillest anxious person I know"
- struggles with excess weight
- regular but slower bowel movements
Digestive Type (Agni)
You have a combination of both Pitta-type (tikshna) and Kapha-type (manda) digestion. You can read more about Ayurvedic digestive types here. For you specifically, this combination type manifests as:
- Softer stools once daily, maybe every other day
- More prone to diarrhea
- Cravings for sweets
- Loves to eat, usually hungry
Although you are mostly a person with Kapha and Pitta qualities, the majority of your imbalances involve Vata. Once Vata is in balance I think that the other imbalances will lessen in severity.
- Fatigue - Vata
- Weight gain - caused by depletion/fatigue (Vata)
- Hypothyroidism - Vata-Kapha
- Hypertension - Pitta