While recently in a phone conference with Elizabeth Todd and Megan Brown, it became clear to me that coaching Elizabeth is going to be a riot. The first thing she said to me is that she is ready to “irrigate.” I didn’t get it until I realized that she was (somewhat intentionally) mispronouncing the Sanskrit word Ayurveda which is pronounced “irriveda.” I had to LOL.
Ayurveda refers to an ancient yogic system of medicine. Ayurveda literally means the “science of life,” and uses nutrition, herbal treatments, yoga, and lifestyle choices to balance the body’s systems.
In our conversation, Elizabeth expressed her goals: to get right with her nutrition, take off a few pounds, feel less stressed, and stay fit and toned. Megan and I honed right in on her nutrition because we know that she can exercise until the cows come home, but unless she’s eating right, accomplishing her goals will be excessively challenging. Not understanding and accepting this truth leads to massive frustration for many people.
Together Elizabeth, Megan, and I decided that for Elizabeth’s purposes, approaching a Ketogenic Diet in an Ayurvedic way would be the best course of action.
According to Ayurveda, the Ketogenic Diet occurred naturally in most ancient cultures at the end of winter and during spring time when the food storages were low and the new summer harvest hadn’t come in yet. The ketogenisis (fat burning) that occurred naturally was not due to a high-fat diet, as is the case with the modern Ketogenic Diet (80-90 percent good fats with lower protein levels), but rather due to a “low carb diet.”
With Elizabeth we decided not to lower protein but to boost good fats and cut carbohydrates to less than 50 grams daily. In real terms, this means that she’ll be eating lots of clean meats and eggs for protein, an ample amount of vegetables (minus root vegetables), and healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and nut butters, as well as high quality oils for cooking like coconut, olive, sesame, ghee, and butter.
In addition, she’ll add herbs and spices to food for taste. Ayurveda hails the benefits of spices such as turmeric, cardamon, cumin, coriander, fennel, sea salt, and pepper for good digestion. Elizabeth can also incorporate berries as a treat, teas and coffees, and a tad bit of cheese, yogurt, and milk or half & half. Foods she’ll cut out are all fruits (other than berries), grains, root vegetables, sugar, juices, and other high-carb drinks.
A perfect meal for Elizabeth would be an omelette with spinach, peppers, onions, garlic, and healthy dose of avocado. She could even add some bacon on the side or a little cheese on top. The caveat is that all her food will be organic since pesticides and hormones, plus the antibiotics in conventional meat, mimic hormones in our bodies and can cause weight gain.
During our conversation Elizabeth asked a few burning questions:
I told her she can drink lots of water, and….drum roll….red wine. No white wine. No mixed drinks. She seemed okay with that.
What will happen on this Ketogenic Diet is that Elizabeth will reset her body to burn fat, rather than carbohydrates, for energy. As such, she’ll naturally lose weight, feel more full instead of hungry all the time, have more energy, sleep better, and feel less moody.
According to Ayurveda, the Ketogenic Diet is a “medicinal diet.” This means it should be used short term to reset Elizabeth’s body to burn fats for energy, but not long term because her body and brain (like everyone’s) need carbohydrates for energy, and long-term ketosis can be hard on the liver and kidneys.
Elizabeth is going to stay on the Ketogenic Diet for one month. A good, balanced approach for her after that will be to choose one day each week to incorporate some healthy carbohydrates, like apples or quinoa or an occasional slice of pizza back into her diet, but for the rest of the week continue eating as the Ketogenic Diet prescribes. This way her body will continue to burn fat, but will not go into permanent ketosis. Ayurveda gives this method a thumbs up because it is a balanced method and won’t push Elizabeth’s body to extremes. It’s also sustainable long term. In fact, Elizabeth can return to a month of the Ketogenic Diet at each change of season to reset her metabolism again and again.
Other Ayurvedic practices Elizabeth will incorporate this month include drinking a 12-ounce cup of room temperature water every morning before eating anything else, exfoliating her body and doing self-massage (Abhyanga in Sanskrit) every morning in the shower, eating her largest meal before 2pm and her last meal before 6pm, doing yoga regularly, getting as much sleep as possible, and fasting intermittently at times. In this case, intermittent fasting means cutting out one of three meals daily to allow her digestive system to rest.
All the above practices will stimulate and support Elizabeth’s lymphatic system to cleanse her body, rid her body of toxins and inflammation, and stoke her digestive fires so she absorbs, assimilates, and eliminates her food intake optimally.
In addition to regular yoga, Elizabeth is going to do regular Pilates at Mind the Mat. Here’s where Megan’s approach is helpful. Megan says plan to exercise every day and you will end up exercising five times weekly. Mind the Mat has more than 100 classes weekly, at all hours of the day and is open seven days per week, so it is convenient and easy to access for a busy woman like Elizabeth. Pilates and yoga are complimentary practices. Pilates works the core, strengthens, and tones. Yoga adds in the flexibility and the strength and toning, along with the mindfulness component.
Megan and I are “over the moon” that Madelyn assigned us to be Elizabeth’s guides through her September Reset journey. We are so excited to track her progress and confident that Elizabeth will be “over the moon” about her results.
Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.
Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.