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  1. 1. ARI: Now I’m speaking with Nadya Andreeva, who is the author of Happy Belly and an Ayurvedic practitioner. Nadya, thank you so much for talking to me. NADYA: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me. ARI: I want to get right into it. Let’s talk a little bit about your journey and how you came to Ayurveda and also how Happy Belly came about. NADYA: Sure. I just wanted to make a small correction. I don’t think of myself as an Ayurvedic practitioner. ARI: No problem. NADYA: I have a background in psychology, so my Master’s is in psychology. But Ayurveda for me was a part of my journey to healing, in a similar way that it was for yours. ARI: Fair enough. NADYA: When I graduated from my Master’s program, I found myself slightly stressed out, in a little bit not as healthy and not as vibrant state. I had PCOS, which is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and that’s very much connected with insulin resistance and basically [inaudible 00:01:01] and bloating. That was what got me to start looking for other solutions besides being on hormone therapy which my doctors prescribed. That brought me to an Ayurvedic practitioner, which was very interesting and explained things in such a different way than what I had heard from the Western medicine that it got me [inaudible 00:01:25], and I started doing retreats and going to the workshops, doing courses, basically learning as much as I can, and within two years, probably, completely getting rid of cysts and improving my digestion. ARI: Wow. NADYA: I also started writing a blog, which was kind of my experiments with what I was doing, what I was thinking. ARI: I love the title. NADYA: Thank you. There were more and more women who were emailing me and saying “I’m having the same issues. I’m chronically constipated. I’m chronically bloated.” So I just started giving tips, and then I got wellness coaching certification – which is, again, mostly psychology based, because I think a lot of people know what they should be doing, at least in a general sense. Like they shouldn’t be sitting in their house the whole day, and they shouldn’t be eating hamburgers, but they’re not doing it. So the psychology and the habit change is an essential component of improving health. Whether somebody chooses Ayurveda or any other diet, you need to change habits to implement what you
  2. 2. learn. That was the course that I chose, but Ayurveda is an essential part of what I teach and what I use with my clients. ARI: Great. I want to back up a little, first of all. So PCOS is something that seems to come up a lot, and you hear about – there’s lots of stories now, especially in the health and wellness community, of women who had PCOS and they were having trouble getting pregnant, they were having weight issues, and hormones in general seem to be kind of an issue nowadays, probably brought on by stress and all sorts of things. First of all, why don’t we just talk a little bit more about PCOS and how, in your opinion, that sort of comes about. NADYA: Well, it’s hard to say what exactly leads to PCOS. I think a big part of it is being on birth control pills, and that was the story with me. I was on birth control pills for almost 10 years. It puts your hormones in kind of a lazy state when your body knows that something else will produce hormones for the body, and it’s like “I don’t need to do what I’m meant to do,” and if there is a way for the body not to do one of the functions, it’s going to preserve its energy. It’s not going to do it. So it relies on the artificial replacement. When you take the pills out, your body is at a complete loss, like “What’s going on now? I’m supposed to be doing something again.” It takes time for the body to rebalance, and in a lot of cases, for women, they will end up with a case of PCOS, and it will take years and years to get back to a normal cycle. And the quickest solution the doctors offer is get back on the pill, and that’s what my doctor told me. “Get back on the pill, and once you start thinking about having a kid, then we’ll talk about it then.” That’s what a lot of the women who come to me hear, and that’s not really a long-term solution. There’s no guarantee that later, if you decide to stop taking birth control pills, you will suddenly get pregnant. So most of the women end up exploring other ways to have babies, not necessarily the natural way. But also, PCOS is very much connected to insulin resistance, which again, can be connected to overconsumption of carbs. ARI: Right, which can be driven by hormones. NADYA: Yes. It can be driven by hormones, and it’s very unclear which one is the first, whether it’s overeating carbs over hormones, or hormones over eating carbs. They’re very much interrelated. But overeating carbs, especially if it’s sugars, definitely doesn’t help PCOS. ARI: Right. And then if you don’t mind sharing, did you have any other symptoms? Were you overweight? What else were you experiencing because of the PCOS? NADYA: For me, I just didn’t have my period for nine months. For me, that was actually the opposite; I was underweight. I was about 20 pounds lighter than I am now. Also, I was very frazzled. I’m not sure what other way to describe it. I was all over the place in my head, and that’s a very strong Vata imbalance, according to Ayurveda, which can come from overwork and stress. If someone has had two jobs or tried to study full-time and work full-time, which is my
  3. 3. case, it’s really easy to get your nervous system out of whack, and once your nervous system’s out of whack, your cortisol level shoots up, and that affects your productive hormones as well. ARI: Sure, okay. And stress is such an important part of the work that I try to do with people, and I think it affects so much of life, and eventually chronic illnesses in many cases. I think that’s really important to recognize that. Okay, you sort of got turned onto Ayurveda, and then what were some of the methodologies that you found were really particularly helpful? I definitely want to talk about ghee, by the way, but go ahead. NADYA: I think that [inaudible 00:07:16] weight in the beginning, I was so [inaudible 00:07:20] many of them because my Ayurvedic practitioner was like “You need to start eating more,” and I was juicing all the time. It’s like, well, you can’t drink juice all the time. You need to start eating food. She was like, “You need to gain some weight.” I was like, “How is somebody telling me that I need to gain weight if I’m being so healthy and doing two hours of workouts every day and having a gallon of green juice every day?” But I started following her advice, even though it took some mental recalibrating. I started working out a little bit less, even though I still kept with high intensity interval training and yoga. ARI: Good combo, in my opinion. NADYA: I think it is the best combo. I think if you do just high interval training, it can be a little bit too stressful for women, but combining it with yoga, it provides you with the necessary stretching and calming down the cortisol levels afterwards. So that was my choice, which I’m still sticking to, so it’s really working for me. But I also started having a lot more herbs and soups, so a lot more turmeric and fennel seeds and rosebuds, which were lots more soothing, feminine energies. I was also having a lot more warming foods, which are grounding in nature. When you eat those foods, they’re very nourishing, and it’s – I don’t want to say you’re not as hungry, but you feel a lot more nourished, not just on a physical level, but on an emotional level as well. I still think it’s really important to get enough raw foods in your diet, but having some cooked foods, especially lighter dinners like soups, was very essential for me, because it allowed me to actually wake up with a lot of energy because my body was not digesting animal protein at night. That might not be the case for everyone. ARI: That leads me to the question, of course, about doshas. Can you just share with everybody really quick the different doshas and how that speaks to different people? NADYA: Yeah. According to Ayurveda, each one of us has a different body constitution, and there are three main energies. There’s Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We all have all three of them present in the body, and usually one or two will be dominating, and that will determine our looks, our likes, our likelihood of getting certain disorders or disease.
  4. 4. There’s Vata type, which is very tall, kind of bony, very lean. They usually have a very active mind. They’re very creative; they can come up with ideas, but they don’t like to finish stuff. They’re just getting an idea and then they need to hand it off to somebody who can manage the project. They have trouble staying grounded. They usually will get [inaudible 00:10:49] or can’t fall asleep. They’re really good at making connections with people and networking and talking to anyone that they meet, but if they’re stressed out, they’ll have fear, anxiety, and very interchangeable appetite. Physically in the body, it can show up as neurological disorders, anything connected with [inaudible 00:11:16] or mind, and dry skin, dry nails, dry hair, bloating, and constipation. So it basically dries, too. Any sort of cracking or dryness, that’s a sign of Vata. Actually, the cracking in the joints like arthritis is one of the Vata disorders. Then there’s Pitta, which is mostly fire and oil. It’s a little bit oily, it’s a little bit heavier. So Pitta people, they’re usually muscular. They’re not as tall. Their muscles are very well-developed. They’re very ambitious and very goal-oriented. They can be very competitive; they like competitive sports, so they have that fire burning in them. They can be very pragmatic in terms of choosing people that they want to build relationships based on the benefit that they will get from them. In terms of the way it shows up in the body, they can overwork. They are more likely to put themselves in a position that will burn them out, so they overdo everything. They overeat, they overwork; if they party, they over-party. So they’re a lot more likely to be people who will have binge disorder or overeating disorders. In the body, it can show up as any sort of inflammation or burning sensation, so psoriasis, any sort of rashes, any burning on the skin, heartburn; those are all signs of high Pitta or acidity or inflammation in the body. Kapha is the slowest and heaviest of all doshas, so people who have dosha Kapha, they are more likely to be a little bit overweight. They love sweets, they like desserts, like ice cream, and they are much slower to make friends, but if you make a Kapha friend, that’s the person that you can then go to when you have a problem, because they can listen. They will make you feel so welcome and so at home and so loved. They’re the people who will give amazing, long hugs. They’re very compassionate, very loving. But when they have a little bit of an imbalance, they can get sluggish, tired, they don’t want to do anything new, they get very depressed, they can become overweight. They can become greedy or create too much clutter at home because they have trouble throwing things out, so they save everything. And in the body, it can show up as spring allergies, lots of mucus, lots of heaviness and any sort of mucus, whether it’s in the stomach mucus or in the nose mucus. Yeah, I guess those are the main things. Kaphas are the most prone to be overweight. ARI: It’s important, I want to reiterate to people, that everyone has a little bit of each of these in us, but there is a dominant one. Like personally for me, I believe I’m Pitta dominant to some extent, and that may have some relationship to Crohn’s. One of the things I wanted to share with everybody, too, is that Ayurveda was a part of my healing process, but more importantly to me, I was seeing an Ayurvedic masseuse for years when I was younger, even when I was running track
  5. 5. in high school, and she told me five years before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s that I was going to probably get Crohn’s if I didn’t do some changes that I totally blew off, because I thought that she didn’t know what she was talking about. NADYA: That’s amazing. ARI: Yeah, she was like “You really need to start having some more yogurt in your diet” and some things. She would touch my stomach and basically be like “You’re going to have some digestive problems. You really need to start taking action here.” I totally ignored it, because at the time, I didn’t have any reason to think otherwise. So it’s a very – some people may look at Ayurveda and think that it’s just some sort of alternative medicine, but I’ll tell you that there’s records of Ayurvedic practitioners performing cataract surgery thousands of years ago, so it’s a fairly advanced way of looking at the human body, I have to say. NADYA: It’s a very holistic way of looking at the body, because as you mentioned, your practitioner was looking at your stomach, and sometimes an Ayurvedic stomach massage can be very painful. But they’re also looking at your eyes, at your tongue, at your pulse, at your skin, at your nails. They’re basically including all of the body’s symptoms, all of the communications that the body provides, before they recommend something. ARI: It was funny, because she was the only masseuse I’ve ever had who the very first thing she’d do when she’d walk in the room was grab my wrist and take my pulse. I just, you know, “Okay, fine.” but it’s really pretty fascinating. So how did Happy Belly come out of this? And, for that matter, Spinach and Yoga, which, as I said before, is an awesome name for a website. I want to talk about a couple of things you’ve posted actually recently. But how did Happy Belly come about? NADYA: I was working with a lot of women, and that was the manual that I provided them. It was just a PDF file that I would give to people. Before we would start working, they were required to read it. So then everyone would print the same thing over and over a million times. Then my boyfriend, now fiancé, we were traveling, and he’s like “What are you carrying with yourself? Why are you dragging so much paper with yourself?” He had a friend in a publishing company, and we just sent him the manual, he looked over it, said that some things needed to be added, some things needed to be subtracted. That is when the whole long process of the writing began, which took a little over a year, and I had no idea that it was going to be so long and so much work would go into it. ARI: And you say that Happy Belly, it’s A Woman’s Guide to Being Vibrant, Light, and Balanced, but I think that a lot of these practices apply almost equally well to men. Of course, the hormone balancing issue is different and whatnot, but what made you focus on women? Other than having had your own experience. NADYA: Women have a slight difference in their physiology in terms of digestion. Our digestive tract, for example, is a little bit longer. We do have lots of reproductive organs that are
  6. 6. right around the colon and intestine, so we have a lot more [inaudible 00:18:18], and that just makes digestion more complicated, so women are more prone to gas and bloating than men are. And then women’s hormones, they’re somewhat a little bit more volatile, I would say, so the perception of stress in women is not necessarily – because we live all a similar life. It’s not that men have less stress in life; they don’t. But women’s perception of stress is a lot more acute, so they’ll react to it like everything is a brain surgery. ARI: Right. NADYA: And that just makes their nervous system a lot more likely to go into that high cortisol mode that will affect the rest of their body as well. Because I was working mostly with women, I didn’t feel that I would be the person to tell men how to treat their bodies, because for women, any sort of healing or habit change, is has to go first through the emotional aspects and then through the “Eat this, don’t eat that.” Men, I feel, are a lot more goal-oriented, and they’re really good at making up rules, making up their own mind, and just doing it. Women are all over the place. We’re like “Well, I feel this way, I feel that way. Maybe I should try this, maybe I should try that,” and we change our mind 10 times a day. So there has to be a very strong emotional commitment before there is an actual commitment in the habits or actions. ARI: So how do you work on that? How do you work on that habit change? Because that’s something that I’m always interested in as well. But how do you begin to enforce a habit? NADYA: One of the most – and the book covers that in a lot more detail, but one of the most important things that the book begins with is helping somebody really crystallize their ideal version of themselves. Because now there’s a lot more research that shows that we need to really use neural plasticity to change our behaviors. Basically, creating that image of yourself and then identifying with it to the point that you can use it as inspiration to help you cultivate actions that will support you getting closer and closer to that ideal vision of yourself. To give you an example, if a woman imagines that she wants to be light and graceful and lean and always happy, she has that image of herself, and then we can use it in meditation or in a daily little mental exercise where we use that image and think, “What does that version of myself do on a day-to-day basis to feel that way? What can I do today to cultivate those feelings? What kind of foods would I eat to feel right? What kind of clothes would I put on to feel graceful? What would I do physically to feel lean?” And that goes away from “Well, somebody tells me I should be doing this type of exercise to feel lean” and more into “What would make me feel lean?” That makes it a lot more internal. The resolution comes from within you, not as an outside advice. Because a lot of people have a really hard time following advice that’s given to them by someone.
  7. 7. ARI: Sure. I always like to say that I think there’s a big difference between “I can’t” and “I don’t.” “I can’t” is a restriction, whereas “I don’t” is a choice, and it’s the same goal in some cases, but frames it very differently. NADYA: Exactly. If you say “I can’t eat ice cream,” you’re going to want ice cream. But if you say that “I’m choosing not to have ice cream because that’s not making me feel the way I want to feel,” that’s a very different way to look at things. ARI: Yeah, and I also think that there’s this tendency for people to reward good behavior with bad rewards, basically, you know? You spent the day doing yoga and being really good, so now you can have that ice cream at the end of the day or whatever it might be. It doesn’t really make sense, but we sort of make it make sense. Breaking that chain, I find, is really important. NADYA: Again, that’s going to happen only if doing yoga in this case was, in the mind, a restriction that “I need to do yoga.” It’s not a choice that “I want to do yoga.” Because then it’s going to be a reward on its own. ARI: Absolutely. There’s a recent blog post on your site, which was the “3 Easy Recipes to Heal Your Gut,” which I love. One of them was tea, and one was a soup, and then one – sorry, two were soups, actually. I want to talk about the two soup recipes, actually, because they both begin with a fat, they begin with ghee or olive oil. So let’s talk about the role of fat in helping with hormones, helping with healing, or in general. And ghee, too. For people who don’t know what ghee is, it’s clarified butter. You’re basically getting pretty much all the animal protein out of it and you’re just ending up with the pure, pure, pure fat, and it’s delicious. NADYA: I don’t know if your listeners know, but “oil” or “fat” in Ayurveda is the same word as “love.” ARI: I didn’t know that. That’s great. NADYA: Yeah, so when you have fat or when you put oil in your body, you provide love. ARI: That’s awesome. What’s the word? NADYA: I think the word is sneha. I’d have to look it up, but I believe it’s sneha. ARI: Okay, that’s incredible in itself. I didn’t even know that. But okay, go ahead, sorry. NADYA: The practices in Ayurveda especially, you do panchakarma, which is an Ayurvedic detox. You basically put oil and fat everywhere. To give you an example, you eat ghee by tablespoons, up to like 12 tablespoons per day on an empty stomach. It’s not something you should be trying; you have to be under the surveillance of a practitioner. Don’t start eating ghee by the tablespoon.
  8. 8. And then you put oil in a massage form all over your body with medicated herbs, and oil, if it has herbs in it, it absorbs everything. So if you put chemicals, it absorbs chemicals. If you put in herbs, it will absorb herbs. So there are lots of grounding, healing oils that you can use on your skin every day. And then you have enemas with oil as well. So you kind of oil the body inside out, everywhere, and that’s a very healing, grounding way to soothe your nervous system and to soothe your digestive system. In terms of day-to-day use of fats, I think a lot of people are very confused about fats, and they will equal, for example, nuts to good fats, and like ice cream to bad fat. People are either really scared of fats or they think that all fats are good, and then that opens the door to eating garbage. In reality, not all fats are the same, and I’m sure, as you mentioned – for example, ghee or coconut oil or good quality olive oil, those are healing fats. Nuts in that case are actually really hard to digest, and they’re not that good a source of a healing fat, because most people will have quite a hard time digesting nuts. That’s why there’s so many nut allergies. But having a good oil, whether it comes from coconut oil or good quality olive oil or ghee or even maybe a raw cultured butter, if you don’t have dairy sensitivity, those are incredible fats to add to your daily menu. ARI: Great. Also, in the recipe, you mentioned to add in curry powder or a dosha-specific spice mix. For instance, for me, for Pitta, what would be a dosha-specific spice mix? NADYA: Pitta, because they’re more prone to information and activity, you would have something cooling and alkalizing. Here, you can add – for example, now it’s spring, or if it’s summer, you can find so many amazing herbs. You would use cilantro and dill, because those are very cooling. If it’s colder months and there’s no fresh herbs, you would use coriander, which is basically dried up cilantro, and you may use a little bit of cumin. You can use rosemary because of that slightly bitter, detoxifying taste, and it’s also very cooling. In terms of herbs, you can also use aloe vera. You wouldn’t necessarily put aloe vera in the soup, but you could add it a little bit to your water. So those herbs would be cooling. ARI: By the way, that was one of the recommendations that this practitioner had given me, was to have aloe in water, and I tried it once, and at the time, I didn’t have a very varied palate, I think. Because the texture is a little – it’s something you have to kind of get used to, to drink aloe vera. NADYA: Yeah. It tastes kind of like lime or lemon. ARI: Oh, it tastes fine, but it’s just a little gooey. NADYA: Yeah. ARI: But now, I would probably eat that by the gallon if I wanted to. It’s interesting, having gone through this whole process, now I’ll eat fermented foods that I never ate before, and chia
  9. 9. seeds, which also get kind of that gooey quality to them. Yeah, it’s just interesting about the aloe vera. Okay, we’re just about out of time here, and there’s a question that I always like to ask people at the end, and I really would love to hear what your answers are to this. Basically, what are your top three tips for being more effective in everything you do? It can be from anything you’ve learned ever, but what are those top three things that you live by to be more productive, more efficient, more healthy? NADYA: I would say get very clear on your priorities. The way you do it is – I don’t know if you’re familiar with Danielle LaPorte? ARI: Yes, of course. NADYA: I absolutely love her idea of core desired feelings. [Inaudible 00:29:25] what is it that’s really, really important in your life in terms of your values, and it helps to look at if family is your value, if you’re spending your whole time at work, then your value is not supported. If your value is self-development, but you are not doing anything in your day-to-day life to actually self-develop, then you’re not supporting that value. So get clear on the values and see what you do day-to-day or week by week to support those values in your life. Because that’s going to, in a big chunk, determine your level of happiness. Then identify how you want to feel and what you can do on those day-to-day things to bring forth those feelings. I personally, for me, it’s really important to feel balanced and to feel grounded. I spent three hours today on my practice. ARI: Wow. NADYA: I’m not saying that anyone should be doing it, but that’s a very high value thing for me. I will prioritize that no matter what. I think that helps for other people as well; as soon as you’re clear on your priorities, make sure that it shows in your day-to-day actions. And then get rid of the clutter. One thing that’s super helpful is don’t read your emails; process your emails. ARI: Ooh. Okay, go ahead, sorry. NADYA: In your inbox, don’t read and then put “Unread” and close it, and read the next one, put “Unread,” close it. If you open it, answer the email. If you’re not going to be processing them, don’t open them. Just do it twice a day. That’s it. ARI: That was two, right? NADYA: Yes.
  10. 10. ARI: One more. But I have to say, that’s what I say too. I say I don’t read my email; I process it. I love that you said that. But go ahead. NADYA: The other is [inaudible 00:31:29]. Another thing is, something that really helps me be productive – and that might, again, work for somebody but not for everyone – is make sure that I eat with a closed computer and without the phone. Because usually, if I don’t – and again, that’s something that a lot of women are prone to – food is a source of nourishment, satisfaction, and pleasure to a certain degree. If you are not giving yourself that source of pleasure and you’re trying to multitask, you’re much more likely to feel that you’re missing something or craving something throughout the day. For a lot of women, for myself and a lot of my clients, it kind of gets into that mind cycle where I want something, and I know what I want; I’m going to go eat a cookie, I’m going to go eat some [inaudible 00:32:27], I’m going to have some chocolate, and I’m still craving that thing because I’m eating at the computer. But if you give yourself that rest time of half an hour to eat the meal, then you’re fully able to be present with your work after you’re done with your email. that’s kind of a simplified version of “be present with what you’re doing.” ARI: I absolutely love all of those. They really resonate with me, and I’m pretty sure they resonate with the people listening to the show because of the content that we tend to put out. Those are great tips. All of the information that you’ve given is so wonderful, and Nadya, thank you again for your time. For people to find out more, what’s the best place to find you? NADYA: It’s ARI: I love it. Nadya, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. NADYA: Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me.