About two months ago, I was twenty pounds heavier than I am now. It showed. I had fallen into the gym rat trap of building muscle mass by packing in calories and skipping on the cardio. I was beefy, for sure, yet because I’m mostly German, genetically (but Italian forever!), I looked several boxes of pastries away from Augustus Gloop status. In my head, anyway. My fat builds up on my ass (great!) and on my belly (not so great!). Because of that extra weight, my yoga practice was suffering. There was too much of me to move around on my mat. Even a brisk walk up Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles – which is really a walk in the park – got me winded.

I knew that intermittent fasting had worked for me in the past, so I’ve gone back to only eating between 12pm and 8pm. I don’t count calories and I don’t focus on protein intake. I just give my body sustenance within that timeframe. Sometimes I’m not even hungry despite not having eaten much so I’ll have something small to eat just because I don’t want it to become a complex.

I also decided that, out of respect for my body and out of respect for the yogic principle of non-violence, I was going to go vegan. I’d been vegan before, way back when I lived in Seattle because that’s just what you do there, so I knew what it would entail. Cooking at home, I didn’t usually prepare meat anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal to skip the rotisserie chicken at the grocery store.

I’ve also built cardio back into my workout regimen. Whether it’s running two miles on the treadmill, cycling, rowing, or a fun combination of all three (because yes, cardio IS boring – deal with it), I spend at least 20 to 30 minutes working up a huge sweat, which also powers me through the next hour of my resistance training. My body is warmed up and ready to go. I even started walking to the gym as a pre-warmup.

Two months in, I’ve got abs again. We all have abs, really, it’s just a matter of how much fat is hiding them. I also feel lithe and flexible again when I practice yoga. I can run at a fast pace on the treadmill and not be out of breath. And I feel good again about the way that I look – though I’m working on getting my ass back.

Here’s what’s worked for me. Each person’s experience is unique, so start slow and go safely through a process of trial and error until you can figure out what works best for you.

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1. INTERMITTENT FASTING

You can fast anywhere between 12 and 16 hours at a time, if you’re doing a daily fast. At 12 hours, the body has used up all your food intake for energy and switches to the glucose stored in your body. At about 14 hours, you start to metabolize fat for energy. At 16, the body will switch to denser material – lean muscle – so that’s when you want to start eating again. Drink A LOT of water, and don’t get upset if you cheat with a slice of pizza at 2am. The body is going to work with you and you’ll be shocked at how quickly it changes.

2. VEGAN FOOD

I love a PETA video. Did anyone else see Okja? Look – I’m not here to take away your rights to bacon. I’m just going to suggest that you wouldn’t be missing out on anything by skipping meat for your meals. Plants provide all of the nutrition you need and, because it’s the future, you can supplement anything else. What’s more, you can avoid participating in a filthy industry where living beings are bred and kept in cages just so you can have a burger. There’s a lot to say about the energetics of food, but I think you get the picture. You’re big boys and girls – make your own choices.

3. EXERCISE

This one is non-negotiable, unless your doctor says you can’t. Lifting weights is the best way to lose weight, when paired with a healthy diet. Cardiovascular activity is guaranteed to improve your well-being. I don’t need to cite scientific journals – You know. Turn your fucking TV off and take a walk.

4. MIND-BODY CONNECTION

A lot of us are just walking bobbleheads with more potential than we care to consider because who needs to participate creatively in society when the Kardashians do it for us. Seriously? You are a child of the universe, equipped with the divine powers of awareness and love. Take more than just a moment to focus on your breath and stretch your limbs. Make it an essential part of your lifestyle. Don’t be jealous of that bendy bitch across the room – BE THAT BENDY BITCH. You can do it. You just need to a) believe in yourself, and b) work for it. We’ve all got God within us, but releasing the full potential of that energy takes time and effort.

That all sounds easy enough, right? Great. Go for it. Me and millions of others have got your back. ✌️

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