April 11, 2008

Ayurveda Q&A with Dr. John Douillard: Fight Holiday Indigestion and Keep Off Winter Lbs.

How can we stay fit and not suffer indigestion from overeating during the Winter? I find it difficult to exercise as regularly when it’s cold out, especially running a business and being a single mom. ~ Debra Caplin, owner of The T Bar

It’s natural to gain a few pounds in the winter. Squirrels are eating nuts and doing their best to store insulating fats and nourishing proteins in the colder months. So don’t be alarmed if you naturally put on a few pounds of insulation.

That said, there are things to do to keep those pounds off. One of the nice things about Thanksgiving and other holiday meals is that the meal is traditionally eaten in the middle of the day, when the digestion is stronger. Often by suppertime you are still too full for another meal and will settle for something light, or maybe skip eating altogether. Late night eating is the nemesis of weight loss-the body’s metabolism slows down in the evening, preparing for sleep and digestive strength is at its lowest. One strategy: enjoy those big midday meals and have a lighter, supplemental or soup-like meal for supper.

Do your best to eat three—not six—meals and day and avoid those deadly snacks. Have your sweets, but only as a dessert after a nice relaxing meal. Eating heavy food on the run late at night is the quickest way to weightgain and indigestion. So relax, dine and make each meal count-and give your tummy a break between meals.

When it comes to exercise, it is understood that we have to push ourselves hard for an hour, three to four times a week to burn fat and lose weight. The good news is that this is not true. There are numerous studies that tell us the best way to burn fat is to exercise moderately rather than vigorously. One of the best ways to measure your moderate exertion level or fat burning zone is to breathe through your nose while you exercise. If you start having to huff and puff through your mouth you are exercising too hard. When that happens, slow down, reset the comfortable breathing rhythm through the nose and begin to exercise harder once again. Nasal breathing will force the air into the lower lobes of the lungs where the majority of the fat-burning parasympathetic nerves are located, while mouth breathing opens the upper chest where the lungs are loaded with fight or flight (fat storing receptors). In my book, Body, Mind and Sport I go into greater detail into the benefits of nasal breathing exercise.

Dr. John Douillard is an author and practitioner of Ayurveda and Chiropractic wisdom at the LifeSpa in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives with his wife and six children.

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