How I Lost 10 Pounds on the “Buddha Diet.”

Via Francesca Biller
on Nov 12, 2013
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About four years ago, I thought I might be lost forever: spiritual, emotionally and physically.

How could I ever feel peace again, I wondered?

It was the year my marriage ended, my soul-mate grandmother died and I became a single mother. I believed that my future would be filled only with fear, suffering and shame.

Suffering . . .

That was “the” word and feeling that ironically moved me to become a more spiritual person, as well as a better, daughter, friend, lover, writer, and may I also say, a more more beautiful woman, outside and in.

How did this happen?

I hearkened back to my deep roots and teachings of Buddhism that my Japanese mother and grandmother raised their children with, in much tougher times such as The Great Depression, World War II, and with difficult circumstances that pale in comparison to mine.

They did not only survive horrific periods, with infants dying, prejudice, poverty and war; rather, they enjoyed life in spite of these perils, proving that the human spirit is stronger than one can ever imagine.

I began to raise my consciousness and learned to be selfless, even asking for suffering to come into my life more fully so I could be at peace with its sudden appearances and abandonment, willing me to an existence of balance and light.

But in order to face my own peace and suffering, I first had to address my physical health, because the stress and grief I was trying to deny was killing me.

But the first thing I had to face insofar as my own “peace and suffering” was with was my health, because due to the severe stress that I was facing, I felt like I was dying.

I could not think, I could not focus, I could not dance, I could not love—I could not even dream.

When I was less healthy and happy My whole body felt lifeless and yet pinned with constant pain. And when I was not in pain, I felt numb and lifeless, as if my body and my soul were not even mine and I was watching someone else take over my life.

I ate only to survive.

This was a huge sign I was grieving, as I had always been a cook of chef’s caliber as the women from both sides of my family had been for countless generations.

There were no more ‘cook-from-scratch’ meals prepared effortlessly for hours as I hummed in-depth, while lyrically chopping garlic, marinating Hawaiian fish and singing the praises of five-course meals that I once prepared nightly for my family that now felt damaged, severed and torn.

Gone were the trips to my local Farmers’ markets to fetch organic pears, shorn romaine lettuce, robust eggplants, fat tomatoes and exotic garnishes that fed my spirit and every satiation.

It seemed overnight that I knew where all fast food restaurants were, and where every item sat in frozen food sections of my supermarkets. Please don’t tell my mother this, she still does not know.

I was no longer a Japanese Superhero mother, lover, friend, cook and inspiration, least of all for myself. I was becoming self destructive as a way of distraction.

But one day as I glanced at my own reflection, I had an epiphany that shocked me right out of my senses and through to my innermost core.

You know, one of those moments when you aren’t sure that “you are you,” as you shudder at a million memories and visions, even thinking that you can’t carry on one more moment.

This was the day that I started to meditate, because I had nothing more to lose. I even became fearless the moment that I made the decision to do so.

This was the day I recalled my mother when she spoke about her childhood when she was a girl, and how her family not survived but truly lived by accepting suffering and hardship as a blessing for knowing and enlightenment.

I also remembered a story I heard as a child about how we should all feed our inner Buddha.

The story went something like this:

There is a Buddha inside each of us. Think of the Buddha as a loving soul and spirit that you want to nourish in every way. Buddha wants to feel at peace, breathe deeply the breaths that you take, and receive the enlightenment, happiness and serenity that you choose to seek. Anything that you put into your body, anything that you choose to let into your mind and soul, and to love or suffer with . . . all is felt by the Buddha within you.

Because I needed to become more healthy in every way, and did not love myself enough to take care of my own health, I beckoned this childhood story and began to imagine that the Buddha inside me was deserved of all good things, and worthy of what I was not.

And because of this new, albeit strange personal philosophy and plan, I lost 10 pounds and even look about 10 years younger.

Here is How I Did It:

1. Each morning before getting out of bed, I would say out loud the following:

To my dearest Inner Buddha and to the Self I want to become, today I will respect, nourish and only feed you with the purest and most healthy of foods and liquids. I will also love you by loving myself, and surround myself with supportive people, positive miracles, and only experiences that are worthy of serenity and a more truthful spirit. I want you to feel loved and healthy as we go on this journey together.

2. Afterwards, I drank a large glass of water slowly, imagining my Buddha within smiling as the water quenched all thirst. I continued coffee, but only one cup, as I wanted a calm healthy energy to reside for myself and my inner Buddha.

3. Next, I would imagine what my Buddha would want for meals and plan them for my day. No matter how hungry I was for fast food, junk food or high fat, unhealthy and high-calorie food, when I thought of the hungry Buddha within, I then only wanted healthy food.

4. A typical day’s food and meals may look like this:

Breakfast: 1 serving (size of your palm) lean chicken or salmon or 1 egg, 1 cup rice and 2 cups vegetables like broccoli or sautéed Kale.

Snack: 1 banana and 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, or 20 almonds or walnuts, or 2 cups vegetables and 1 cup tea with lemon and honey

Lunch: 2 cups pasta with olive oil and fresh sautéed tomatoes in garlic, salad with vinegar and 1 teaspoon olive oil and half an avocado

Snack: 1 orange, 1 apple or other fruit of choice and 10 pistachios

Dinner: 1 serving lean beef, chicken or fresh fish, or 2 cups homemade soup like vegetable or chicken, half a yam or sweet potato, a hearty salad with little dressing, and some steamed kale.

Other favorites snacks : lima beans, black beans, beets, toast with olive oil, baked eggplant, half a tuna sandwich, turkey breast deli slices, 2 tablespoons feta or goat cheese, 1 glass tomato juice, 1 cup oatmeal, 2 cups cooked spinach, 4 small slices of lox and 1 tomato

With all meals: I first drink a glass of cold water. Afterwards, I rub my own tummy as if I am rubbing the Buddha’s tummy and say out loud that i want us booth to be nourished and happy. Then I wait ten minutes before eating each meal.

Happier & Healthy in HawaiiI lost ten real pounds in four months, which might seem slow, but they are real pounds and I have not gained them back. Always check with a doctor before beginning any plan.

If you are a Vegan, you can substitute meats, and eggs and fish with tofu, beans and the other non-animal forms of protein. You know the drill.

5. Each day I meditated and remembered to breathe. I wrote many chants and prayers about how I wanted to be a better person in every way.

6. I stretched a half hour each day, no matter what. For exercise, I did not push myself because I knew if I did, I would quit. So I managed to walk quickly on some days, and on others I strolled and just breathed slowly. I imagined my inner Buddha getting oxygen and feeling healthier.

7. I took care of my skin as if it were a religion and a job. I invested in great soaps, scrubs, sunscreen and moisturizers that I wore day and night. Drinking up to ten full glasses of water also improved my skin, as well as multivitamins and Fish Oil tablets. Feeling more attractive made me want to eat even healthier. I could feel my Buddha Skin looking younger.

8. But the most important thing that helped me to lose weight and look younger was to get eight hours of sleep every night, even on weekends. And if that didn’t happen, I tried to take cat naps throughout the day for even five minutes, or simply close my eyes whenever I could. Not only does sleep help anyone look younger, it has also been proven to raise one’s metabolism significantly.

Yes, I know that it is difficult for many people to get sleep, as was the real problem for me. But my lack of sleep was a huge reason for my failing health.

Sleep Tips:

* Take a steamy bath an hour before bed to relax you.
* Drink herbal sleepy time tea, a half of glass of warm milk, or a half of glass of wine if permissible.
* Turn off all electronics before bedtime, including your computer and television and even your phone.

I hope that this article has helped you, as my only goal for this piece was to help others who might be suffering as I have. Throughout this process, what you will discover is that you are lovable, vulnerable, worthwhile, and wonderfully human.

And as humans, we can overcome great tragedies of love, sorrow, death and obstacles that seem undefinable by nature. But greater still, we can grow from these seemingly horrendous experiences and even learn to be grateful for them.

It is only through the pain and suffering of one’s life that we often discover what we believe and who we are, down deep inside in the core. And as human beings who must co exist with suffering, pain and the greatest glimpses of love that we feel instantly and passionately, that we will feel deeply and often do not even understand.

Embrace this confusion.

Feel the pain and the joy that is your life because it means that you are alive. If you were to feel numb and never to care again about your loved ones, to shun your own feelings and escape into the void that is depression and cynicism, then you cannot partake in the wonder that is you.

Feeling emotional is to be alive. Feeling healthy and looking your most beautiful self is to give yourself the gift of serenity, peace and the glory of an adventurous and lived life.

If you are not going to feel all that you are, then who else?

Your complicated and wonderful life is awaiting you.


How to be happy and genuine, with the inevitable challenges of loneliness and neurosis that come with relationships:

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photos: Flickr & Francesca Biller.}


About Francesca Biller

Francesca Biller is an award-winning investigative journalist and has reported for print, radio and television for nearly twenty years. As a reporter, she has widely covered the issues of politics, the economy, women’s issues, families, race, the media, popular culture, children and a variety of other topical and timely issues. Awards include The Edward R. Murrow award, two Golden Mike awards and four Society of Professional Journalists First Place awards. Currently, she primarily writes political satire, op eds and essays with a focus on women, children, politics and pop culture for various blogs, websites and other media outlets. You can connect with Francesca on twitter


21 Responses to “How I Lost 10 Pounds on the “Buddha Diet.””

  1. Bree says:

    Oh don't drink cold water ever! It is such a bad shock to your digestive system. Always drink it warm or room temperature.

  2. Erin says:

    What a beautiful story. This makes me happy as I am undergoing a similar transformation.

  3. Francesca Biller says:

    Thank you for reading my article, I only hope that it helps each person if in a very small way. Life is indeed a journey and I believe we are all here to experience and share it together, in whatever form it takes.

  4. Megan says:

    This was a beautifully written post. I'm incredibly thankful I came across it! I'm going through what I feel to be a pivotal transformation. I'm faced with the option to let this temporary confusion and misfortune either suck out my joy or evolve my optimism. Your vulnerability and beautiful spirit (which shows through this article) helps encourage the side I've chosen: the side of embracing suffering to grow as an enlightened person.

    Thank you!

  5. heidi says:

    this is beautiful, Francesca….. thank you & Namaste 😉

  6. joanne says:

    i have read this article numerous time, every time i read i feel a sense of peace and want to take care of myself more … to our inner buddha, cheers 🙂

  7. Josephine says:

    When one is going through difficulties, it seems so natural to fall into destructive habits/behavior. We all need to nurture ourselves – indeed, the Buddha within us, to make right our paths, to evolve into a more amazing, beautiful versions of ourselves. Thank you for such a beautiful and inspiring article.

  8. Dave says:

    This is truly one of the best articles that I have read on Elephant Journal. Thank you. I have book marked it for the days that I will need it… and there will def be those days ahead. Beautifully written and honest. I really, really loved it. Thank you so much.

  9. Marissa says:

    Thank you, for sharing this <3

  10. Wendy says:

    A wonderful article. Feeding the Buddha within is a great way to nurture ourselves. I would just add that the focus should always be to be healthy and not just to lose weight. We are beautiful at every size.

  11. Victoria says:

    I love this!! I have been going through a hard time this year and I have gained 12 pounds that are making me even more upset than I already was. I'm an emotional eater. I'm going to try your technique of nourishing my inner Buddha! Hopefully mine won't want chocolate chip cookies.

  12. Evelyn Laing says:

    Thank you for this post ,today this is what I needed to read ,I seemed to have checked out of myself for a while and really needed to read this ,much love and light xoxo

  13. Sjm says:

    Your term "checked out of myself" has put my floundering in perfect perspective, thank you for this post. It helps me see where I have gotten to and where I want to be and Francesca's wisdom is the perfect insight to help guide my path. Many thanks.

  14. Georgie says:

    chicken/salmon for breakfast? ew

  15. karen docherty says:

    somethings i agree with & living a Buddhist way of life ie meditation & looking after your body is the way forward…. but eating meat whilst trying to do this is contradicting.

  16. Audrey says:

    What a great article – what a journey to being healthier – btw warm water is best – cold water shocks the kidneys and is not good for your digestion.

    Your article has helped me with making a decision about developing some healthy habits.

  17. Dyan says:

    Fabulous article and very motivating in many directions.

  18. Chica says:

    beautiful story, and great advice 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  19. chica says:

    FYI – for those of you saying not to drink cold water…it's not that big of a deal. There are MANY more things that are harmful to your kidneys, cold water is not one of them. That is an urban legend. For people like me who HATE drinking water, it's either cold water with lemon….or no water at all.

    I'll take the cold water with lemon. Water is better than no water, and drinking cold water is not harmful. While room temp. water may be easier to digest, cold water is not "hard" to digest at all. It's a small thing to worry about. If you like cold water, keep drinking it and don't listen to the nay sayers. There are bigger health concerns to worry about than cold vs warm water. Just the fact that you're drinking any water at all is awesome. I have gone months without drinking any water at all. Just coffee/ tea with milk.

  20. arthurmayfield says:

    The breakfast you describe is a QUART of food. Even your morning snack is almost double what I eat for breakfast (raw cider vinegar/raw honey/hot water before exercise, then banana or berries and 5oz Greek yoghurt, mid-morning snack of about 10 almonds). I'm a healthy male who gets 1-2hrs aerobic exercise every day, in addition to yoga. I would be way overweight eating so much food (especially so much starch) unless I was swimming 4 miles a day as I used to do. Whatever works for you, though!

  21. @marmasana says:

    I loved this article. Thank you very much. I felt truly inspired.