If you are trying to incorporate Ayurvedic daily habits into your life, or trying to lose weight, or just want better overall health and energy, summer is a great to to start the habit of eating an earlier, lighter dinner.
Let’s first review why eating an earlier lighter dinner is so essential to optimum health.
- Our digestion is strongest mid-day. Ayurveda has known this for thousands of years, and modern science is finally acknowledging it as well. In the evenings, our digestive system just doesn’t work as well.
- We want our food to be completely digested by the time we go to bed. Sleep is the time we should be metabolizing nutrients, not digesting dinner.
- We get better quality sleep when our bellies are not full, which, in turn, gives us better energy the next day.
If you’re used to eating a later, larger dinner, making the switch can be challenging. You might find yourself resistant to making this change. That’s normal. We’ve been making dinner our biggest meal of the day since the industrial revolution, so we’ve got a few generations of habit to break. My advice would be to give it a try. Make small, incremental changes, and see how you feel. As the quality of your sleep improves, and your weight balances and you feel better overall, you may find that you want to keep doing it.
Summer is a great time to start. When it’s hot, our appetites are naturally smaller and we have an abundance of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables at our disposal. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Melon & prosciutto ( a classic! )
- Steamed artichoke with butter & lemon
- Nectarines & salami
- Salad – any kind
- Corn on the cob
- Kohlrabi lobster. This idea came from my friend Jess. Lightly grill slices of kohlrabi and serve with drawn butter & lemon. Yum!
- Grilled fruit. Yes, it’s a thing. Lightly grill just-ripe peaches, nectarines, melon. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Gazpacho. Those garden tomatoes will be ripening soon!
- Zucchini noodles with pesto
It’s easier in the summer to move away from the protein + starch + vegetable model. You can easily leave out one or two.
If you’re experimenting with intermittent fasting, summer is a great time to go down to two meals a day. Have you first meal between 9-11 am, and your second around 4. Then you’re free to go out an enjoy the summer evenings!
Remember, you don’t have to do this every day. And you don’t have to do it perfectly. Make it fit into your life in a way that seems easy and do-able.
Summer is coming here in the Northern Hemisphere. Depending on where you are, you may already be sweltering, or you may just be happy that the snow has melted. Either way, it’s getting warmer and we need to adjust our habits for that, in order to thrive.
Living in rhythm with the seasons didn’t used to be optional. We ate nature’s bounty and spent more time outdoors in the summer. We ate root vegetables and other stored food in the winter. By the time spring rolled around, we were close to out of food, so we naturally fasted and cleansed before the spicy, bitter greens of spring poked through the ground.
Now we can eat a watermelon in January. We can get blueberries from Chile when there’s a foot of snow outside our door. We’ve got all the food we want all year long. That’s great. Or is it?
Living out of sync with nature is one of the main causes of dis-ease in modern society. The more we line up with what Mother Nature is doing, the better. So, what should we be doing in summer to maintain vibrant health?
Stay Cool. Duh, right? But, many of us unknowingly do the opposite. So, here are some tips to keep you cool and thriving.
- Exercise in the morning if possible. Evening is the next choice. Mid-day is not a good choice. Don’t go for a run in the hot sun on your lunch break, or you’ll find yourself crabby and aggravated all afternoon.
- Eat cooling foods. Juicy fruits and vegetables like melons, cucumbers, mint, peaches. Use spices and herbs like cilantro and fennel seeds. Minimize meat, grains and beans, as all are heating. Love ice cream? You’re in luck. This is the time of year to enjoy it! (not every day, of course).
- Limit alcohol. Many people drink more in the summer. Barbecues, picnics and parties are opportunities to over-consume. Alcohol is very heating. Keep it to a minimum or take a break from it altogether in the summer.
- Chillax. Summer is the time to slow things down and have some fun. Take a vacation, go for a swim, read a good book. Slow your pace as much as you are able.
- Hang out with the moon. The moon has a naturally cooling energy. Sit outside in the evening and moon-bathe to cool off after a hot day.
- Use cooling oils and rosewater. Spritz rosewater all over yourself. Use coconut oil for your moisturizer. Cooling essential oils include rose, lavender and jasmine; put a few drops of any of these into some coconut oil and rub on your feet before bed. Or, a put few drops in a cool foot bath and soak.
Follow these tips from the science of Ayurveda, and you won’t get all hot and bothered this summer.
I’m excited to announce that I am now a podcaster! I’m a contributing host for the Yoga Health Coaching Podcast and my first episode has just been published. I hope you enjoy it!
Listen to it here.
In this episode, Alex Biondo and Rachel Peters talk about the ways in which Yoga Health Coaches are becoming community leaders. Alex and Rachel rap about how leadership is a natural evolution of a Yoga Health Coach’s journey. Rachel shares how she became comfortable with stepping into the role of leader by recognizing and aligning with her natural strengths. As someone who’s been known for years as a successful yoga teacher, her identity is evolving into someone who supports others on their wellness journeys and as a coach and collaborator.
What you’ll get out of tuning in:
- How Yoga Health Coaches become wellness leaders in their communities
- How recognizing and utilizing our natural talents makes us better leaders
- How mesh networking and collaborating are the new leadership models
Links Mentioned in Episode:
- 2:30 – What is the difference between community building and community leading? Rachel has been building a yoga community for years, and she talks about how she made a mindset shift and got comfortable stepping into the role of leader.
- 5:00 – Rachel recently felt sparked to step into leadership and is now making an impact both locally and with her online national (soon to be global!) community.
- 8:00 – When we recognize our natural strengths, we lead others with more ease. Rachel talks about showing up as her authentic self and focusing on her strengths and desires, which, in turn, leads the right people to find her.
- 11:00 – For many of us, leadership starts at home. When we live in integrity, the first to notice are those closest to us. They often pick up the reins and take the lead, as Rachel’s husband Dan likes to do. He’s now an avid forager!
- 16:00 – What Yoga Health Coaches do has a ripple effect. We touch others in many ways. As people learn what we do, we become a face of holistic wellness in our communities and often end up helping people who aren’t even our clients.
- 19:30 – What does the next step of leadership look like? Collaboration and mesh networking. Rachel talks about how she works with other wellness leaders in her community.
- “I lead from my strengths, rather than having to cultivate new ones” ~Rachel Peters
- “A sometimes unintended consequence of becoming a Yoga Health Coach is that we are becoming community leaders.” ~Alex Biondo
Rachel’s – As a Certified Yoga Health Coach and the Founder of Embody Ease and the Easeful Living Community, Rachel leads women on a yearlong journey to dissolve perfectionism and embody daily habits that promote clarity, ease, and inner connection. She is a wife, mom, and lover of wild places and contributes to her local community as a yoga teacher and teacher trainer in Prescott, AZ she also serves as the leader of the Coaching Team at Yogahealer. Check her website and facebook page.
I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend on social media lately. In what appears to be an attempt at self-deprecating humor, I’m seeing women post some very disempowering memes. Jokes about living with hot flashes, elastic waistbands, weight gain, poor eating habits, staying in jammies all day and the need for wine or weed to deal with the day/job/spouse/kids etc., are everywhere.
Then there are the ones that point out bitchyness, mood swings, craziness, and forgetfulness. Ones that use PMS as both the scapegoat and the excuse for all sorts of detrimental behaviors.
Why do women do this to themselves? In this age of #metoo and #womanup, we have more opportunity than ever to empower women and girls. Where does this need to put ourselves down come from?
We don’t see men doing it. Men don’t post memes about their receding hairlines, man-boobs and erectile dysfunction. So, why do women?
We’ve been living in a patriarchal society for thousands of years. Women have been oppressed blatantly and subtly for millennia. This is evidenced nowhere better than in the #metoo movement and the Women’s Marches. Women are finally standing up and stepping into their power. But, we’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve been told for so long, that menstruation and menopause are disorders, that we’ve begun to believe it. We’re emotional, fragile and can’t get through the day or even deal with our own children without self-medicating. Every joke we make about ourselves keeps us from our power.
We must stop believing that aging sentences us to a less-than ideal existence, doomed to hot flashes and elastic waistbands. I know that nobody who posts these things is deliberately trying to put themselves or other women down, but that is what is happening. We’ve got to be careful about what we say about ourselves, because our words become our reality. I want to age vibrantly. I want to be a strong, healthy example to my teenage daughter. I want to keep skiing, running, biking and doing handstands for decades to come.
I’m very fortunate to be in multiple communities of strong, supportive women. My friend group, many of whom I’ve known since childhood, rocks. My yoga community both in Colorado and Wisconsin, is filled with amazing women. The global Yogahealer Community, where I received my Yoga Health Coaching Certification, constantly supports and encourages me to step into the next evolution of myself. In my work as a Yoga Health Coach, I guide women (and men!) into stepping into their own heath and their own power.
As we all (men & women) step into the next evolution of ourselves, lets continue to be mindful of our words, especially those we say about ourselves.
When women empower women, amazing things happen!
When I first started doing seasonal detoxes, about eight years ago, it was still a relatively fringe thing to do. A good portion of my yoga friends were doing it, but my more mainstream friends would ask, “Why on earth would you want to do that to yourself?” When I joined my first group detox, I recall my husband asking, “You mean, you’re paying someone to torture you?”
These days, detoxing is more mainstream, but it’s still not well understood. It’s still looked at as deprivation, even by most people who do it. Many go into a detox with the attitude of, “This is going to suck, but it’s good for me, so I’ll do it. And I can’t wait until it’s over!”
Then, there is the I don’t feel toxic, so why should I detox? camp. Fair enough question.
I’ll try to explain why detoxing is awesome and why everyone should do it.
My two detox mantras are as follows:
Rejuvenation, not Deprivation
It’s not All About the Food
A detox is an opportunity to fully rejuvenate yourself. To wind down and dial back all aspects of your life, for a short period of time. When you detox, you give your digestion a break, by feeding yourself easy-to-digest, non-irritating foods and often (but not always) reduced calorie intake.
Aligning with seasonal rhythms, is something that for millennia, we didn’t have a choice about. We were essentially forced to detox in the spring, because we ran out of food. Whatever was saved from last harvest was dwindling, and the first harvests of Summer were still a long way off. Maybe this is why so many religions, both ancient and modern have fasting, or giving up something during the spring season.
In Ayurveda, the term for this seasonal alignment is ritucharya. If you’re into yoga or have studied Ayurveda at all, you are probably familiar with the term dinacharya, which translates to daily habits. We also need to align and shift our habits with the seasons.
As we emerge from winter, there is often an urge to lighten up both our bodies and our spaces. A detox is like a spring cleaning for our bodies and emotions. It’s about deep self-nurturance and deep self care. It’s about releasing the heavy qualities of winter and allowing yourself to lighten up, both physically and emotionally for summer. This may or may not involve weight-loss. If you want to lose some weight, a detox will definitely help you with that. If you don’t need or want to drop any weight, don’t let that stop you from detoxing. You can clear out the gunk without dropping a pound.
A spring detox can involve detoxing your space, your emotions, your relationships. Take time for yourself, get out in nature, take a break (or limit) screen time and social media. We all can’t take time off work and go on retreat, but we can slow down just a little bit, practice mindfulness and be good to ourselves. Take some time to reflect on what is working in your life and what is not. How can you shift into more ease?
I’m involved with two detoxes this spring. We’ve got a local one here in Kohler, at Yoga on the Lake. And, of course, I’m down with Yogahealer’s Yogidetox for the ninth time (I think). I encourage you to check out and jump into either of these, or play with detoxing on your own.
You’ll come out of it glad that you did.