Carly Banks of ‘The Habit Ayurveda’: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing
Finding quiet. Notice the moments of your day when you have opportunities for silence. Many of my students and clients feel too busy to adopt a meditation routine. A practice that feels much more accessible is allowing for silence during mundane activities. For example, putting away laundry is a task requiring little thought. Rather than engaging in all kinds of inner dialogue while doing your laundry, allow yourself to let go of thoughts as they enter your mind. Focus on the task and your breath.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ayurveda Health Counselor Carly Banks.
In 2017 Carly launched The Habit Ayurveda, a collection of courses and products aimed at simple everyday wellbeing for the overwhelmed, overworked & exhausted woman.
As a holistic health practitioner, her superpower lies in translating ancient philosophy into simple, actionable steps for the modern woman, that take just a few minutes a day. To date Carly has worked alongside over 1,000 women in creating healthy habits that last a lifetime.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
After our second child arrived, I was so depleted. Exhausted all the time, emotionally overwhelmed, 30lbs overweight, my body in pain. Generally feeling like a loser.
I was one of many women who had “tried everything”. Yoga class, gym membership, all the supplements, all the fad diets, all the get-fixed-quick schemes.
I’d go all in on something… for about three weeks before throwing in the towel because “I just couldn’t do the thing” one day, which led to not doing it that week, which led to not doing it at all.
Then I found Ayurveda. A system of everyday self-care that is SO MUCH EASIER to implement then the all or nothing approach that had kept me feeling like a failure. I found a few 2-minute daily habits that improved my sleep and increased my energy, which actually made me want to move my body every day. I dialed in easy, repeatable routines that didn’t involve me finding a babysitter or getting my butt to the gym.
Three months later I had lost 35lbs, had all the energy in the world and felt naturally happy every day. And it all felt so easy! It would’ve been a disservice not to create a course showing others how to do the same.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most incredible thing I see again and again is women starting or growing their own businesses as a result of this work. The default belief is to run a successful business you need to take business courses. But Ayurveda teaches you how to manage yourself, giving you the energy, creativity and motivation to effectively manage a business.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
A huge mistake I made early on was creating content and only using it once. I’d put so much work into a video or blog or tip sheet, send it out to my subscribers (of which there were few), and then start fresh with a new piece of content. If you have value to provide — you need to put it in all the places your client will see it! And my goodness, if it’s valuable, repeat it!
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I’m not a diet coach or a personal trainer. I’m not a “keto specialist”. I’m not a cognitive behavioral therapist. I don’t focus on just your body, or just your food, or just your thoughts. As an Ayurvedic Health Counselor I teach you to look at your body as a whole. There is no get-healthy-quick scheme here. I teach you daily tools for health long term, that actually feel doable long term. No supplements, no equipment, no memberships.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
He’s never read my blog, and has likely never seen my website. In a lot of ways, he doesn’t understand what I do, but his trust in me meant he didn’t need to. My husband saw the changes I went through when I found Ayurveda. He trusts that my work matters. We went through many years of him paying the bills while I grew The Habit Ayurveda. This was the greatest gift he could have given me, my clients, and our future.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Biting off more than you can chew is a huge one. Starting a keto/raw/paleo/vegan diet when up to now you’ve been eating McDonalds and Doritos on the regular. It’s too much of a jump, and you’re bound to run out of motivation, feel stressed, and look for comfort in the drive-thru.
Trying to do too many things at once is also a recipe for disaster. Like you said, we all know we need to eat right, get better sleep, drink more water, exercise… but my goodness you can’t plan to wake up tomorrow suddenly doing all of those things. Choose one habit at a time.
It’s common to know what you want to do, but not make a plan around when & how. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery famously said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. So, you want to work out every day; will this happen immediately upon waking, while you’re still in your pajamas? Will you drink water first? Brush your teeth first? Will you do it at lunch time? What do you need to bring to work with you to make sure it happens? With a little planning we remove obstacles to our success.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Closing your kitchen early. Eating late puts excess stress on the body, and interferes with natural cleansing processes that occur while you sleep, leading to groggy mornings and negative moods. By moving their largest meal of the day to lunchtime (complete with whatever treats they enjoy), and lightening up their evening meal, my clients not only sleep better and experience more energy, but also drop excess pounds thanks to giving their body time to digest properly.
- Swapping late nights for early mornings. Instead of dragging yourself through the evening routine, then hitting the couch for 2–4 hours of scrolling or watching tv through squinted eyes, let yourself go to sleep, and wake 2 hours earlier. You might balk at the idea, but studies show this is the time of day when the brain is most able to focus and “think big picture”, with less tendency toward stress and worry. Imagine having time to yourself, every day, where you had the energy and mental clarity to go after your goals!
- Dry brushing. Before your morning shower, add in the habit of dry brushing your body. Called “garshana” in Ayurveda, this simple and invigorating practice increases circulation and lymphatic flow, boosting your energy and immunity. This is the perfect daily detox practice for people who are feeling tired in the body and stuck in the mind.
- Simplify your exercise plan. Ditch the idea that going to the gym or yoga class for an hour 3x a week (which you don’t do right now anyways because you don’t have time), for a 10-minute workout every morning. Taking just a few minutes in the morning to increase the heart rate brings fresh blood and oxygen to your brain, and leads to better decision-making all day long. You probably don’t even have to wake up earlier to get this done — most of my clients find more than enough time for it when they stop picking up their smart phones when they wake up.
- Finding quiet. Notice the moments of your day when you have opportunities for silence. Many of my students and clients feel too busy to adopt a meditation routine. A practice that feels much more accessible is allowing for silence during mundane activities. For example, putting away laundry is a task requiring little thought. Rather than engaging in all kinds of inner dialogue while doing your laundry, allow yourself to let go of thoughts as they enter your mind. Focus on the task and your breath.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
When you exercise, you bring fresh blood and oxygen to the brain, which helps you make better decisions. Regular exercise increases serotonin levels in the brain, leaving you feeling happier, naturally. And perhaps most importantly, developing a consistent habit of exercise has been shown to increase a person’s sense of self-worth. Any habit of putting yourself first is an empowering one.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
For clients that are just getting started in their consistent movement practice, we always start with 50 jumping jacks and 5 sun salutations. As soon as you can upon waking (you can toss your sports bra over your pajamas), bust out 50 jumping jacks to raise the heartrate and boost circulation going into the day ahead, and then 5 sun salutations, grounding the body and quieting the mind for a responsive vs. reactive nervous system.
From there we seek to add movement intermittently though the day. Where can you fit in 60 seconds of movement? Doing squats while you wash your hands? High-knees in the bank line? Get the body used to moving again. Then we work from there.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Ayurveda is a beautiful science to learn, but without understanding how we create habits it can feel hard to implement. A lot of my work stems from the writing of James Clear (Atomic Habits), Benjamin Hardy (Willpower Doesn’t Work) and Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit). Habit change science has given myself and my clients traction in turning Ayurvedic philosophy into self-care routines that last a lifetime.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Absolutely my movement would be to turn off technology in the evening, putting our screens to bed at least two hours before bedtime. I cannot speak enough to the freedom my clients have experienced by doing this.
As a culture we say we’re too busy, yet the average North American spends over three hours a day looking at their smartphone. What could you accomplish with an extra three hours a day? Our addiction to social media and junk entertainment is stealing our creativity, and our quality time with the people we love. And the junk light from our screens is stealing our ability to get restful sleep. Cutting ourselves off in the evening opens the doors to connection and restoration.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
A quote that always sticks with me came on the front of a journal I was given when I started my business: “Today sounds so much better than someday”. I spent so many of my adult years saying “someday I’ll do xyz”, always using the excuse of not having time or energy now.
I now understand that I only get this life once. And I have the tools to give myself the time and the energy to live that life to the fullest.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Tim Ferriss has been a long-time inspiration. Since reading “The 4-Hour Workweek”, I’ve studied so many cultural norms that are unsustainable at best, and potentially harming us at their worst. Tim is incredible at shining light on the people in our world who think outside of the box, create new norms, and in doing so, achieve far more with less effort.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
At my website www.thehabit.net
On instagram at @thehabitayurveda
On pinterest: www.pinterest.ca/thehabitayurveda
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Carly Banks of ‘The Habit Ayurveda’: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.