Strala Yoga founder and global fitness icon Tara Stiles has become a symbol of healthy living.
Her straightforward approach to yoga translates into a no-nonsense approach to healthy cooking and living – as she explains in her latest book, Make Your Own Rules Diet.
Check out this exclusive excerpt from her book, and learn more about how Tara thrives.
When it comes to getting healthy, not only do we have to worry about the punishment-and-reward cycle desensitizing us; we also have to deal with problems in our food supply, societal pressures, and events that lead us away from ourselves.
Natural foods are often modified from their original forms and presented to us with the intent to exploit our feelings of failure and disappointment. Fake sugars, salts, processed chemicals, colors, and smells trick our minds into believing that our problems will be solved if we down a bag of Doritos, clean out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or hit the drive-through on the way home from a stressful day.
Teams of highly paid consultants decide how best to deceive us into consuming the most junk food in the largest quantities to keep us addicted. It’s comforting and scary to know that much of the food nonsense isn’t our fault; it’s what is put in the food and marketed to us. Knowing what kinds of junk items are available and knowing what they do to us when we consume them regularly is valuable information and fuel for us to eat more naturally so we can feel better.
We all know by now to some degree or another, depending on how much Googling you do and how many local farmers and food industry insiders are in your inner circle, that the food industry has evolved to make us fat, get us sick, and give us life-ending diseases. “Obesity is such that this generation of children could be the first basically in the history of the United States to live less healthful and shorter lives than their parents,” said Dr. David S. Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Boston Children’s Hospital in a New York Times article. Shorter lives are not the only risk. Quality of life is affected, as well. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, and cancer are likely to affect people at younger and younger ages.
Aside from the messed up stuff happening with our actual food supply, we deal with insane amounts of pressure from advertisements and the media. Photoshopped images we see in magazines are a super-distorted version of reality that try to fool us into believing we need to change everything about ourselves in an attempt to fit into an unreal image. We lose sight of the fact that we actually are beautiful and perfectly unique. We lose sight of the fact that we are born to be individually awesome, not to fit into an artificially generated mold that actually looks like no human alive. Our digital age can warp our body image easily if we let it. We have to actively work to stay true and centered to who we are and constantly build our self-esteem.
Events in our lives occur that pull us off balance and away from our intuition. Traumatic experiences and social pressures of all sorts swing us way off course. We all go through tough times in our lives. It’s how we survive and thrive that makes the difference. Not-so-fun things are going to happen. We have to build the strength to remember that when we come back to center, we come back to the path of feeling happy and grounded, and back to the path of sustainable health and happiness. You are worth so much in this life. Don’t ever forget it.
And let’s not forget one of the biggest intuition killers . . .
Time for a Breakup
Diets are the worst thing you can do if you’re looking to get back to a healthy life. They are fundamentally designed to be cheated on, broken up with, and crawled back to with desperation. They tell us that we aren’t good enough, don’t know enough, and aren’t equipped with the skills we need to be healthy and happy and to feel great in our ideal bodies. Diets tell us we are broken. Diets lure us in with deceptive promises of external results while attempting to control our every move. Diets teach us to hold our breath, to grin and bear it. Diets tell us, “If it was easy to be healthy and have a great body, everyone would.” Diets tell us we have to go through them to get to ourselves. Diets teach us to hate ourselves, and they show us many ways to practice aggression and tension toward ourselves.
Diets are no good for us. They don’t work, and they waste our time while leading us further away from our ideal selves. If a diet were a person that we were involved with, hopefully our close friends would stage an intervention and tell us to break up and end the cycles of abuse for good.
We all know that diets don’t work. Diet fads are so popular because we try, we fail, we get desperate, and we jump on the next one. We don’t stop to consider that the failure might not be our own. And there is always a next one. Our dependence on diets could be the reason 70 percent of the population is set to be obese by 2022. Whoa . . . now that’s heavy!
Looking outward for fear-based motivation and diet rules might at best help you temporarily drop a few pounds. But in no way will looking outward for satisfaction or direction ever get you lasting health, sustainable happiness, and the body shape and mental clarity you’ve been looking for. You might have been searching a long time for the answers, and maybe you forgot to dive into the source, where the answers are waiting for you to discover them: right within you!
Whether too heavy or too thin, the external result is hardly the root of the problem. An unhealthy relationship with food takes on many forms: eating disorders, emotional eating and restricting, overly healthy control behaviors, exercise addiction, and diet obsession—the list is endless. Every person is unique and every relationship is unique. Our only hope for lifelong health begins in understanding that it’s not about the food and it’s not about the diet. It’s about you and how you feel. It’s about getting connected.
Excerpted with permission from Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles.