Being a full time yoga teacher has taught me a lot of lessons. One of the first lessons I learned was to take care of my body. When you’re constantly moving around the room, you need to make sure you’re in tip top shape before stepping in to demo a pose or give a lesson. Thus, I started to focus on personal care and well being so I could show up for my students with vibrancy and good energy.
I worked in Marketing for 5 years before switching to teaching Yoga full time. During my years in corporate, I had a good diet with a regular eating routine. I would eat at consistent times throughout the day and eat a very balanced diet. When I shifted to teaching yoga, my work schedule became very unpredictable. My classes were scheduled throughout the day and I was constantly on call for private clients. With this shift, I was challenged to eat well for the first few months because I was constantly drained from my classes and thus I would grab addictive foods such as sugar, coffee and salty snacks to fill back up. When I realized this was not serving me, I decided to make some big shifts; starting with my diet.
Fortunately, I had some time in between classes, where I could learn and experiment with cooking. I started with simple recipes that included eggs, tofu, kale, carrots, hummus, broccoli, and oatmeal. Items that are fairly easy to prepare and could be combined in a number of different ways. Over time, I slowly started to integrate quinoa, fish, yogurt, and squash. And now, I feel confident in my cooking and my body absorbs the nutrients much more efficiently as a result.
Rather than eating three meals a day, I eat throughout the day. This helps me to stay energized and active during my classes. Think cold presses juices, smoothies, avocado, and nuts.
Over the years, I explored many different diets: vegan, vegetarian, and raw. I don’t recommend one particular diet for everyone–we all have our own unique make up and genetics. The diet that works best for me is a whole food, plant based diet with the inclusion of lean proteins and some fruit. I try to minimize my intake of processed sugar and caffeine as I notice my body will crash if I consume too much. I do indulge from time to time with a glass of wine or almond milk cappuccino, but because my life changed so dramatically, so has my relationship with food.
I now see food as fuel for my body. And what happens when you put bad or cheap fuel into your car? It dies faster. It’s the same with your body. If you put high quality (I highly recommend organic) produce into your body, then your body will repay you with a healthy, happy, vital and well-functioning internal system.
Here are my 6 eating tips for those who lead an active lifestyle:
- Eat throughout the day– your body needs fuel and it will function much better when you eat 6-8 small meals rather than 3 large meals that make you feel too full and heavy.
- Eat well– choose organic produce when possible and always check the labels for any processed sugars (high fructose corn syrup) or sweeteners that will give your body a crash rather than a boost.
- Eat the rainbow –color your plate with a variety of foods. This might be eating more green produce (kale, broccoli, spinach, green beans) and incorporating carrots, beets, yellow squash, red peppers, blueberries, etc.
- Choose your protein wisely– if you choose to eat meat you might opt to consume it towards the end of your day as it will ground your energy and make you feel tired (and for some of us even heavy). Other forms of protein that are great for maintaining fullness and vitality are beans, nuts, lentils, quinoa, and tofu.
- Include Probiotics – probiotics are so good for your digestive system and keep your body in optimal health. You’re constantly sweating during classes and are exposed to so many different kinds of bacteria (ew!) during class, so make sure you’re taking probiotics and any other chosen supplement to keep you well (zinc, vitamin c, etc).
Stay hydrated – the one thing I noticed about constantly being on my feet was forgetting to drink water throughout the day. Keep a water bottle handy and constantly fill it up with high quality water to keep your body (and skin) hydrated and healthy. You might feel tired at the end of a class and while your mind might say “caffeine!” you really just need H2O.
One thing I remind myself of every day is that our body is a sacred vessel for this lifetime. If we take good care of our bodies, then we will have more energy, vitality and enthusiasm throughout the day. I hope this article helped you to feel encouraged and empowered to feed your body good food so you can live your life full of positive energy and light.
Learn more about Ali Owens on her webpage at http://www.aliowens.com