February 1, 2010

Make Love, Not War

So many people begin diets and fitness programs because they are unhappy with themselves.  They don't like what they see in the mirror; they don't like how they feel on the inside; perhaps they don't even like how they treat others.

Regardless of what drives you to make healthy changes in your life, consider this: you should never declare war on yourself.  Fitness literature constantly bombards its readers with messages like "pound out a lean physique" or "burn off those extra holiday pounds."  How do we, as fitness professionals, expect images of fighting, struggling, resistance, and pain to inspire someone to make a positive change for themselves?

This is where bene-fit can help.  By working with you as an individual client (and not a mass consumer), you leave your training session, yoga instruction, or boot camp feeling empowered and respected.   We believe in working with your body and ability level - not fighting against it -  to find your best self.

For many of us, the first step in fitness is becoming more aware of our bodies and understanding what our natural tendencies and habits may be based on our body types.  Traditional Ayurvedic healers use a tripod method of sorting out body responses into vata, pitta, and kapha types.  These types (used here only as a guide and by no means meant as medical or scientific advice) can help you figure out what foods are best for your well-being, what types of exercise you might enjoy, and what experiences or emotions can help you overcome roadblocks on your journey toward health and fitness.

"opposites are cures for opposites"

Body type: thin, long and lean; often flexible
Emotional type: quick-minded, creative; tends to get anxious in situations of stress
Best weather: hot, summery, light clouds, drizzly rains
Exercise needs: yoga, meditation, dancing, NIA
Food needs: "slowing" foods like monounsaturated fats, soups and stews, and root vegetables
Red flags: drugs of any kind, loud noises, very cold weather, overstimulation

"good digestion turneth all to health"

Body type: medium-build; often builds muscle easily
Emotional type: determined, excitable; tends to get angry in situations of stress
Best weather: cool, slightly dry climates; breezes 
Exercise needs: swimming, yoga, low-intensity team sports or partner activities like golf
Food needs: "cooling" foods like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and fresh herbs 
Red flags: caffeine, alcohol, heavy meats and fatty foods, highly competitive sports/hobbies

"life is not merely to be alive, but to be well"

Body type: larger-boned; tends toward softness and roundness of form
Emotional type: stable, thoughtful; tends to get depressed in situations of stress
Best weather: bright sunshine, warmth, light winds 
Exercise needs: walking, yoga, circuit and weight training
Food needs: "lighter" foods like vegetables, fruits, and metabolism-boosting spices such as ginger
Red flags: anything too sweet/salty, carbohydrate-heavy, activities that don't boost heart rate

Remember, no matter what your body type and preferences, the message is this: work with your body, never against it.  Be well, bene-fitters!


  1. What is NIA? I sometimes think I am VATA but I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as "long and lean." I can identify with areas of all three so can it be possible to be a mixture?

  2. In general, NIA stands for "Non-Impact Aerobics" - although there is a branded company teaching this format professionally and it's great (check out the newly added hyperlink).

    It is definitely possible to fall into multiple categories - as a textbook Pitta, even I can see a little of myself in Vata (need to slow down) and Kapha (need to stay light on the feet when tempted to weigh myself down).