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Life in Balance: Nadya Andreeva on 'Happy Belly' (Q&A)

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Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Nadya Andreeva.

Ms. Andreeva is the author of Happy Belly: A Woman’s Guide to Feeling Vibrant, Light, and Balanced (Advantage Media Group, $21.99). Also a certified wellness coach trained in mindful eating and yoga, she has made it her mission to support women in reconnecting to their bodies and creating a trusting mind-body relationship. She earned an MA in Organizational Psychology from New York University and is a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Ms. Andreeva has also completed residential trainings in yoga and Vedanta, Anatomy for Yoga Teachers, and multiple workshops on Ayurveda. She is the host of the YouTube show Ayurveda For Life and leads seasonal detox programs for Yoga Journal Russia. She has been featured in media outlets that have included Huffington Post Live, Daily Candy, Yoga Journal Russia, Glamour Magazine, Veria Living, and TED Talks.

Happy Belly was published earlier this month and has received enthusiastic endorsements from Ms. Andreeva’s contemporaries. Mary O'Malley, empowerment coach and author of The Gift of Our Compulsions, praised, "Happy Belly will help you to understand the language of your body and help you move towards optimal health. Nadya's approachable blend of modern research, with healthy food and lifestyle choices, will help any woman create a vibrant, radiant body from the inside out." Further, Eric Grasser, MD, Cay Integrative Medicine & Ayurveda drgrasser.com, noted, “Nadya has successfully used her own story, combined with the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, to offer practical solutions to women challenged by digestive issues. Through its body, mind, and spirit approach, Happy Belly will allow many women to skillfully handle what life asks them to digest.”

From the publisher:

Happy Belly Guide is your personalized roadmap to rediscover the joy of having a healthy relationship with food while enjoying the benefits of efficient digestion.

Using the wisdom of Ayurveda, mindfulness and psychology, Nadya Andreeva created the Happy Belly guide which is designed to help women heal their digestive issues, find foods that address their body's unique needs and change habits that are destructive to the body.

Happy belly is jam-packed with practical living and eating tips, journaling exercises, and ancient knowledge of Ayurveda that will help you create a personalized approach to food based on combing outer and inner wisdom.

This book is not a diet plan, not a cookbook. It is a manual on how to create a better relationship with your body and your digestion through building awareness, understanding, and an open dialogue.

Using her own experience and knowledge gained from working with hundreds of women in her private wellness coaching practice Nadya Andreeva encourages readers to find their own balanced approach to eating that helps their digestion. This personalized approach stems from an open communication and collaboration of our logical intelligent mind and our wise intuitive body.

You will discover:
· How to reduce and prevent post meal bloating and help your stomach be regular.
· Overcome emotional eating, overeating, and binging that are overloading digestion and create a negative internal dialogue
· Easy to digest foods that help to soothe a sensitive and irritated gut while providing nutrient-rich source of energy and satisfaction
· Tips for treating food with love and being able to treat yourself to any food as long as you know how to balance it out
· How to use your mind and emotions to help your body heal
· How to deal with one of the main enemies of an efficient digestion – stress

You will also get access to multiple materials online available for a free download with the books purchase.

Now, Nadya Andreeva reveals how she achieved her own Happy Belly—and invites readers to do the same …

1) What inspired you to write HAPPY BELLY – and how do you feel that your book compliments others that have been written on the subject?

I personally know how difficult it can be to overcome digestive issues and sort through an overwhelming number of contradicting nutrition theories. For a long time I felt frustrated with my belly because even simple healthy foods made it bloated and puffy.

Since before I can remember, my digestion and I were out of step. My issues gradually led to psoriasis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, constipation, and a protruding tummy…. And with every symptom, I felt more and more like a failure.

I was confused. I read as much as I could, tried every diet, until I finally discovered Ayurveda… and then everything changed.

Ayurveda teaches that our bodies are complex instruments, influenced by a variety of factors (edible and otherwise). I discovered that internal dialogue, emotions and thoughts had an equally powerful effect on my digestion as the food I ate.

While I was on my journey of discovery, other women heard about what I was doing, and began to approach me for advice.

It amazed me how many women were facing the same struggles I was; chronic discomfort, fatigue, and worst of all, frustration.

I loved sharing what I knew so much, I realized I wanted to do it on a grander scale.

That’s why I wrote The Happy Belly.

This book is designed as a streamlined version of my journey. The only difference is, I’ve already made the mistakes - so you don’t have to.

Helping women across the world uncover the strategies that will change everything about the way they eat and nurture their bodies is my life and heart’s work. There is nothing more amazing to me than seeing a woman’s relief when she finally understands that she is unique, and can find her own approach to living and eating.

Using the wisdom of Ayurveda, mindfulness and psychology I created an easy to use guide to help you heal your digestive issues, find foods that address your body’s unique needs and change habits that don’t serve you anymore.

I believe that every woman deserves to feel balanced, vibrant, and light and no longer be afraid of food!

It’s possible to heal the relationship with your body and belly in a holistic way. It goes beyond going on a restrictive diet and popping pills.

The book is unique in a sense that it offers individualized food advice based on Ayurveda, tips for changing bad habits such as bingeing, and getting a bigger perspective on life design. It is not a list of to-do’s or foods to eat and avoid. It is meant to help women address both the emotional, and the physiological aspect of healing digestion.

From a first glance the book is about digestion (eliminating bloating, getting regular and all that fun stuff) but if you look deeper this book is about relationship with yourself.

I believe that our relationship with ourselves is of utmost importance. It is the only life-long relationship we have. Relationship with self is reflected in all areas of our life, digestion is no exception.

The state of your digestion is often a score card of your relationship with self. The book is a guide to improve the degree of understanding and trust between the 2 life-long partners: body and mind.

Another reason that I wrote the book is because I want to be surrounded with women who know how to support themselves and their body. When a woman knows what she needs to feel grounded yet light, nourished and balanced, she is kinder, happier and can create beautiful things around her.

Unfortunately, what I keep seeing is the opposite. Most women are struggling with their body and don't feel at home in it. They are in a state of internal war that is based on confusion and mistrust. I was feeling the same way just a few years ago and now my goal is to help more women find balance in their relationship with food and their body. I hope Happy Belly will be a stepping stone for women to finally find what nourishes them and how to make peace with food.

2) How have your experiences as both a wellness coach and mindful living specialist influenced your perspective on achieving optimal digestive health? Also, what do you see as the relationship between physical and emotional health?

Healthy digestion takes more than eating clean. It takes integrity and trust between your body and your mind. It takes respect and appreciation for the amazing tool that you got to use for this lifetime.

Once there is more respect and trust in the relationship with self, it is easier to create habits that support a healthy digestion. One of the main things that people have to do is to create healthy habits that support them on a daily basis. This is where my wellness coaching background helps. In the book I guide people through journaling exercises that will help create clarity and a strong emotional charge to create change.

Mindfulness on the other hand helps to be present and to create a pause between urges to get back to old habits and choosing a new healthier habit. It helps to work through emotional eating issues and stress induced eating.

I believe mindfulness and core coaching concepts are the foundation of long-term change. Most people know what they should be doing but they fail to do it. In my book I focus a lot on the internal change process that has to take place before new behaviors become a part of daily living.

3) Though credited as a teacher, you view yourself as a guide. What do you see as being the difference between the two – and how does offering guidance help to instill the necessary tools for a lifelong journey (as opposed to a “quick fix”)?

One of the main things that I learned on my journey and that I teach to my clients is that you are very unique. Your body needs a unique approach. And you have to take responsibility for finding it. You are responsible for taking care of your body.

What is a nectar for one person, can be poisonous for another. There are very few general rules that apply to every body. You need to know what your body needs to be healthy and happy. To help my clients create an individualized approach to wellness, I use Ayurveda – an ancient science of health and nutrition that highlights individualized approach.

As a guide I can point the direction, provide support, but at the end the responsibility for creating change is on the person. It is your responsibility to take care of your amazing body. Nobody else will do it for you. I can support, inspire, guide but you have to learn from your body just as much as you learn from the books. Your body is wise and deserves a voice when making all health and diet-related decisions.

4) In your opinion, the idea that “You are what you eat” is a common misconception. Can you expound on this?

According to Ayurveda, an ancient science of health, we are what we digest, the nutrients we assimilate and the waste we eliminate. The strength of digestion will determine how well you are absorbing nutrients and how well you are eliminating the waste. You can eat the healthiest, pure, organic food but if you are not breaking it down and assimilating it, then your body can’t make healthy cells. A lot of people suffer from malabsorption, poor elimination of toxins, and as a result less than ideal state of health. In my book I help people understand the strength of their digestion and provide helpful tips for improving nutrient absorption and elimination of toxins.

5) Your books lends itself to reader personalization. What is the importance of this approach?

I believe that we are all unique and need a unique approach to diet.
We tend to fall into extremes and don't want to take responsibility for figuring out what works for our body, we want someone to tell us.

This approach is not effective because even if a certain diet works for you now, it might stop working in a few months or years and you will have to start searching again.

This is why I think people need to be taught how to listen and understand to their body, how to interpret and meet its needs. Our body is always changing; it is in a continuous flow. Only if attuned to the body you can tell what will support you best in any given moment. This is why Ayurveda and mindfulness are such important points that I spend a lot of time discussing in the book.

Season, age, stress level, physical movement – all effect your body’s needs. Nobody besides you knows what is best for you. So my goal is not to give you a plan to follow but to give you tools to create your own plan.

This approach is based on creating a trusting and committed relationship between your body and you. Your body is your life-long partner and as in any relationship, it thrives only with open communication, respect and love.

6) Lastly, if asked to define what “happy belly” means to you, how would you respond?

Happy Belly is a belly that feels nourished, light, quiet, and easy. It functions seamlessly without drawing too much attention to its work. There is a healthy appetite but no cravings. Happy belly creates lots of energy to work and play, a clear mind, and a balanced emotional state.

From my personal experience I know how much an unhappy belly can effect woman’s perception of her body, her mood, and her interaction with the world. There is really no happy life in a sick body. When digestion is not working properly and leaves a woman feeling bloated, gassy, and irregular, it affects her entire life.

***

With thanks to Nadya Andreeva for her generosity of time and thought and to Karen Ammond, President, KBC Media, for facilitating this interview.

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