I got Perfect Weight yesterday, by Deepak Chopra, and had to jump right in.
The book is an approach to weight loss through Ayurvedic principles. More accurately, it explains how to restore your body to its natural balance, which will help it to achieve its proper weight.
There’s a lot I like about it. I like that the watchword is moderation in all things – that’s sort of my philosophy to begin with. I like that it is based in an understanding of the interconnection of all things. I like that it is not one-size-fits-all, but rather emphasizes the need to understand your individual body and tailor your lifestyle to suit you, not some generic ideal. I like that it incorporates more than just eating and exercise – there is discussion of ayurvedic massages, one form of which is essentially body-brushing, which I already love; and of course meditation is recommended. So it is very much a total body/mind/soul approach, which is the guiding principle of Ayurveda to begin with. That is completely in keeping with my needs and my philosophies.
There are some things about which I am doubtful, though. For one thing, a basic recommendation is not to eat breakfast. That flies in the face not only of “conventional wisdom” (which doesn’t hold that much water with me) and what I’ve discovered works for me (which does). But an alternative is to just eat a very light breakfast, so it’s not like I couldn’t do it.
Exercise is not supposed to be super-strenuous, and you’re supposed to tailor it to your body type, which is great. I’ve already discovered that I do best with very moderate exercise, and I can very easily become overtrained. So I like that. However, I’m a Pitta-Vata type, with Pitta slightly more dominant, and the recommended exercises for Pitta types are walking, running, mountain climbing, hiking and swimming. I hate running. I do like walking and hiking though. Vata exercises are yoga, dance aerobics, short hikes, and light bicycling. I can completely get behind that. 🙂 I love yoga, and light bicycling is about all I’m capable of.
But my very favorite form of exercise is weight training, which is a Kapha exercise. I have very little Kapha according to the questionnaire. Which doesn’t mean I can’t do it, of course, but it surprises me that I love it so much if it’s not really what fits my type. So that raises a bit of doubt.
He recommends going meatless two or three days a week, which doesn’t sit well with me; I’m a total carnivore. But I’m willing to give it a try; I won’t do vegan but I can definitely limit myself to nuts and dairy for my protein on a day or two. Then you’re supposed to, one day a week, take in nothing but liquids. You can have anything you want, you just have to liquefy it. This is supposed to eliminate ama (a product of improper digestion, a negative energy), strengthen digestion, and restore balance. So…that will involve definite restructuring for me but it’s not a bad thought as I’d already considered doing a juice fast once a week or so anyway.
You’re supposed to eliminate red meat as much as possible. Again, I can do this, but I don’t want to. But then, as I am so fond of quoting, “If we want what we have never had, we must do what we have never done.” Which means change. Duh. So.
You’re supposed to avoid cold foods and drinks. Meals should be freshly cooked. Even vegetables are supposed to be cooked; he doesn’t really encourage a lot of raw produce. Some, but not a lot. Very contrary to what I’ve learned, and I’m unsure about this as well.
He wants you to sip hot water throughout the day. Can I just say how repellent this sounds to me? I know people do it but I don’t like drinking water if it’s even room temperature. Another big adjustment.
There are some basic tips that really are in keeping with what we all have learned to be smart, but I like the way he states them:
- Eat in a settled and quiet atmosphere
- Always sit down to eat
- Never eat when you’re upset
- Eat to the point of comfort, not fullness, and never beyond 3/4 of your capacity
- Focus completely on your food
- Eat slowly
- Sit quietly and relax for a few minutes after you finish eating.
But he also says not to eat for at least three hours and more like six, after a meal. Since I eat six small meals a day, this is very, very different. It’s more like the way I used to eat, which scares me. But then, I won’t be eating the same things I used to eat. So I’m not sure about this one. He does say if you must snack, make it something light like a piece of fruit.
Breakfast is supposed to be a very small meal if you eat it at all, lunch the big, main meal, and dinner light. I’m not sure how I feel about this, either; the six small, nearly equal meals has been so good for my blood sugar and my weight. So I’m debating it.
There’s much more to the book but the only other main thing I want to talk about is the daily cycle. You have to understand the doshas for it to make complete sense, but the gist of it is that there are certain times of the day when certain aspects of your physiology are more dominant. Therefore, you should always get out of bed before 6 a.m., to avoid sluggishness. You should never eat anything heavy except between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Exercise is best between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. You should always be in bed by 10 p.m.
This actually fits my day pretty well. I’d have to get up a bit earlier, but not that much. I exercise in the evening, so that works out well. And I have always, always tried to be in bed by 10, because frankly I needs me my sleep. 🙂 The eating thing is hard though. As I said before, spacing my small meals evenly through the day has really worked well for me. I will have to consider this. Although really I guess that’s not contrary to this, because none of those meals would be considered heavy…
Enough for now. More later.