As a very busy professional in my 20s, I cared about staying healthy, but I also didn’t want to spend any real effort in doing so. Did I mention I was busy?!!
So I outsourced. My diet, my exercise, and yes, even my thoughts.
By my late 20s, I started having minor health issues. But although they were minor on the outside, they were big enough to me that I knew I needed change.
I tried different things, but it is only when I found Ayurveda, an ancient Indian lifestyle system, that I was able to reclaim my health.
A big part of Ayurveda is to connect your mind with your body and your activities. It makes so much sense now, but looking back, I was proud of the efficiency of my outsourcing.
Here is how I outsourced every aspect of my health and how it backfired in a bad way each time:
I hated to cook. So that was the first thing I outsourced as soon as I could.
I outsourced food in several ways throughout the years – by going to restaurants / getting take-out, by working at a job that provided food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!), by ordering a daily door-delivery meal service (paleo breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!) and at one point I even had a boyfriend who would cook meals.
I’m sure that all sounds great. But as I’m now learning through my Ayurveda diet, food is medicine and I was taking the wrong medicine. No wonder it was making me sick!
The thing is, even if you go to a “healthy” restaurant, you don’t actually know what they put in their food. Many restaurants put too much salt or sugar to make their food taste better. You just don’t know!
In America, there is that additional issue of portion sizes being HUGE! So it’s super easy to over-eat, even if you the food is somewhat healthy.
And what is “healthy for everyone”, might not be healthy for you. If you don’t know what healthy is, which I didn’t until studying Ayurveda, then even if the restaurant is really healthy, it’s not necessarily what your body needs personally. For example, eating salads is not good for everyone even though it’s the most prevalent idea of what healthy food is!
The only way to know what is healthy for you is to start paying attention to your body. You have to be careful in what you put inside your body and observe how you feel as you’re consuming the food.
I was shocked when I learned through Ayurveda that food is supposed to make you feel good and energized. The food I was eating was making me way too full and tired and unable to concentrate. Kind of how you feel after a big Thanksgiving dinner, but every single day!
To change that, I started cooking and eating mindfully. You can view some tips on how to do that here. The results are invigorating and highly healing.
I knew the importance of exercise, but yet again, I didn’t want to put any effort into it. So I outsourced it by going to many group fitness classes. I just had to show up for an hour, mindlessly follow instructions, and become fit.
My experience was a bit like Amy Schumer’s video about the sleep gym! I’ve probably done around 10 years of yoga classes, but it’s hard for me to recall many of the positions I tried. I was basically sleeping through my workouts – my mind was shut off.
The good news is that I did lose weight… but the exercising made me feel extremely tired and fatigued. It also aggravated my skin issues. I kept exercising more, going to more group fitness classes, waiting for those positive effects of exercise to set in, but besides losing weight, I could only feel the negatives.
Funny enough, just following most of Ayurveda daily guidelines I was able to drop down to my best constant exercise weight and go even lower without any exercise! It just happened. The weight disappeared effortlessly.
I’m now adding exercise to my morning routine but in a much more mindful way. I’m no longer outsourcing it! Did you know that each person needs a different amount of exercise?
According to Ayurveda, some need lighter exercise like yoga while others need the heavy sweaty type of exercise like running. What’s more – the amount of exercise you need can vary by the season. Summer is best for lighter exercise and winter is when you really want to go at it.
I was aggravating my skin issues because I was doing intense exercise in the summer, the fiery time of year, increasing the fire from my already fiery body type which is prone to skin issues when out of balance.
I also learned that yoga is not supposed to be an intense gymnastics “let’s do all the positions in 60 minutes” class that I’ve done so many times in San Francisco. But of course, I wasn’t paying attention.
Just like with food, the best way to know if the exercise you’re doing is right for you is to once again, pay attention! Exercise is supposed to make you feel energized and refreshed. I never felt that way after exercising until I started exercising more mindfully, slowly and paying attention to my body the way Ayurveda recommends.
I highly recommend reading Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom if you want to learn more about what exercise might be better for your body type.
Outsourcing My Mind
As a busy professional, I quickly learned that doing nothing was a big waste of time. So I outsourced my boredom.
With the emergence of technology and smartphones, whenever I got bored, I would check the Internet. I would consider this productive – read about my industry, tweet important articles, exchange messages with industry connections etc.
I even considered eating unproductive. So at dinner, I would enjoy this “unproductive time” by making it even more unproductive by watching Netflix.
But soon it got worse. Whenever I got stuck on a problem at work, I would start browsing the Internet. I soon got addicted, needing to check whats going on every few minutes. Any free moment of the mind was spent online, listening to other’s opinions, absorbing their emotions. Forgetting my own in the process. I had fully outsourced my mind to the Internet!
Being alone with my mind became terrifying. I don’t even have horrible negative thoughts or anything! But even knowing that, I still had to get my mind occupied, focused on anything else but itself!
I no longer knew what my thoughts were or how to be alone with them. I couldn’t think. I developed mental fog.
I started off my technology detox the hard way – by doing a 10-day completely technology free Vipassana meditation course in December 2017. To be honest, I really didn’t miss it. Giving away my phone and computer was the best part of the course. I was super sad and reluctant on day 10 when they gave these back to us. I wanted them to keep it!
I then proceeded to delete Twitter from my phone. Only installing an app that focused on the messaging part of Twitter, since I do talk to a few people on there. I deleted the Instagram app. I re-installed Self-Control on my computer to block websites like Facebook and Netflix. I disabled notifications for Gmail. And I even mostly stopped listening to Music that much – that was one of the ways I drowned out the world on a daily basis.
Meditation, in combination with the mindfulness required from Ayurveda in all daily actions, allowed my mind to focus on the present, on what I’m doing. It was hard at first, and I didn’t give up Netflix right away, but slowly it happened.
My mind started to become free! To soar! I started knowing what I want, what I need. I started to get creative again. I figured out my next step in life. The mental fog has cleared.
Living on a daily basis is HARD and a lot of work. The only way I knew how to deal with this before Ayurveda is to focus on efficiency, on outsourcing the things that required my time and mind – including food, exercise, and even the mind itself!
But through Ayurveda, I learned that it is exactly those things that are the most important for me to focus my time and energy on. More important than my work. Because if I am giving the reins to someone else, I lose my health and with it, everything else.
By being in control of my own health, I am able to take my body and mind to the next level. To achieve my life’s true path.