I followed wellness guru Luke Coutinho's advice for a week
And it nearly changed my life
Wellness warriors love Luke Coutinho. You might wonder why the 30-something, tattooed, one-time raver, and now an integrative and holistic medicine practitioner, is such a hit with middle-aged, urban women? Luke C.’s radical simplicity and razor sharp ghar ke nuske knowledge has amassed an astonishing 3 lakh fans on Facebook, a majority of them fawning women who hang on to every word of the affable social media star.
My introduction to the world of Luke Coutinho was rather late. On the topic of intestinal permeation, a lady gutted our ensuing conversation by saying, “well that’s what Luke said.” That mic drop moment sent me scurrying to the interweb to discover the wondrous world of the Luke Coutinho. Before I knew it, I was one of them. Every day at 1.30pm IST, I lurched towards the computer to watch his live videos. I bought his books. I competed in his weekly challenges. There was no going back.
But did all of this actually work? I spent one week implementing what Luke C had been recommending over the years. Or at least, some of it. And this is what happened.
The best laxative for the brain, a constipated mind and constipated thoughts: Sleep and meditation
The two tonics to keep the brain healthy and clean are sleep and meditation, says Luke C. The science behind sleep is the hottest thing new age pundits are harping about, even though the early bird has been catching the errant worm for centuries. Sleep is a sacrosanct neo-ritual, and jumping into bed at a decent hour is the hardest lifestyle change for me. It’s easier to meditate, and the effects of meditation have been well documented to calm your mind and soothe your worries away. While I have just learnt Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation, and have been practicing it off and on, my sleep schedules mimic those of millennials: late nights and groggy mornings.
Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep. So, I decide to sleep the latest by midnight, even though I start to wilt much earlier. By 11.30 pm I’m fluffing my pillows, placing the crystals in their appropriate places and pulling the blinds shut, ready to jump in at the witching hour. A week into this, I feel much sharper and more rested. Waking up naturally without an alarm, I get an hour or so to myself to meditate and read. Luke C stresses that sleep deprivation is the easiest way to lose touch with your intuition and disconnect from your energy source. I agree. But have my racoon eyes subsided? Not yet.
The social media fast
Humans globally spend at least 2.5 hours glued to their screens watching cat videos and the latest Kardashian exploits. Luke Coutinho tells us to nix our social media addiction by switching off our phones by 7.30pm and only turning them back on two hours after we wake up. This is easier preached than practised, since my phone is the sixth digit on my arm. While I can’t adhere to this draconian rule (all my coffee plans with the gang are made post 9.00 pm) I switch my phone off and keep it away an hour before I go to bed, and switch it on only before breakfast. It’s a liberating feeling, not to while away time scrolling through feeds that lead to FOMO. In this purge, I delete Facebook and Twitter from my phone too, automatically cutting down the time spent on dog adoption videos and people spying.
No dairy and no wheat
Wowza! For a Punjabi, no dairy and no wheat means that I will probably die of starvation miles away from my homeland. While dairy has never formed a large part of my diet — except for paneer and cheese — I live, breathe and inhale gluten. The chapati is a staple meal item and I eat at least three per day. While dairy got an easy heave ho, I had to substitute my gluten fix. In came rice and other iterations of a belly-filling meal — moong dal soup, besan chillas, double helpings of sabjis and katoris full of dal.
Am I hungry? Not really. I have doubled the quantity of healthy stuff I consume, and I still knock back carbs happily, and occasionally eat wheat (Here’s looking at you, dill bhaji roti) I’ve learnt that I can muster sufficient will power to stay away from those kachoris. For now, at least. The upside is less bloating, I can fit into my old jeans again and I might have lost a few grams of weight. The only downside is I feel grumpy when I see people scarfing down gluten around me.
No sugar, processed food or packaged junk
This is a breeze since none of the aforementioned are my vices. Too much sugar has never agreed with me and I’ve traditionally been suspicious of packaging that contained more air than food. Except, I took on Luke C’s challenge smack in the middle of Ganesh Chaturthi, and of course, I could not say no to prasad. So, those three pedas and one sattu ki barfi were blessings from a benevolent God, without perjury for any mortal sin. I score my self A+ on this challenge. With a little help from Ganeshji.
Forgive yourself and others
One of the commonalities underlying inflammatory diseases is deeply rooted emotions, says Luke C., and it’s something I agree with. There are many emotions to tackle, but the deepest being the inability to forgive yourself or others. How many times in a day do we beat ourselves up and wallow in guilt? The mind-body connection is real, according to experts, and many diseases have psycho-emotional roots. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to yourself, but how hard is it to follow through? Before I sleep, I yodel out the Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono practice of reconciliation and forgiveness for healing, repeating the words “I love you, I’m sorry, Forgive me, Thank you.”
Thank you, Luke Coutinho. May your tribe grow.
Models: Riddhima Sharma, Divya Gursahani. On Riddhima: Top, Ankita. On Divya: Top, Bodements. Hat, Lack of Colour