When I hear the word mindfulness, my eyes roll around a bit and I get that woo woo feeling. What does it really mean and how do we use it to our advantage? I listened to an interview with Stephani Matos, at the Functional Health Summit today. She is an exercise physiologist (who had difficulties maintaining weight loss). It was really interesting!
She was significantly over weight and struggled with yo-yo dieting. As as exercise physiologist she was able to lose 30 pounds. However, she became obsessive about her exercise and calorie counting. She was consumed with negative thoughts about her diet, her exercise, her body. Not good.
She finally realized she was living in a bubble of negative mindset and this was affecting her weight and her health in general. She learned how to change her mindset and change her neurology. She wound up maintaining a 60 pound weight loss and is now helping others.
There is a strong connection between the brain and the body. Mindfulness is being here now with your whole being. It means focusing on the now, not the future, not anxiety from the past.
Eating mindfully involves focusing on the food in front of you and not eating automatically. It means thinking about the food you are eating, chewing the food and enjoying the food.
Mindful Weight Loss Strategies
Many people that are struggling with weight loss tend to have a lot of negative self-talk. This adds a lot of stress to the equation. It is a process of letting go of things you cannot control at that moment. Letting go of things you can’t control in the past or in the future.
- Avoid negative self-talk
- letting go of trying to be perfect
- letting go of the idea that being perfect is the only way to lose weight
- letting go of fitting into a specific mold
Your personal weight-loss-why can be your strongest motivation for why you want to lose weight. Why do you want to lose weight anyway? Is it because you have an event coming up that you want to look good for? Or is it a more pressing reason that you want your health to improve and you want to be around for your kids and your family?
Once you have your weight-loss-why in place, you can stop the negative thought patterns.
Write down all the negative thoughts you think about yourself throughout the day and come up with a rebuttal to defend yourself. After all, you wouldn’t stand for a bully to be saying these things about you.
These negative thoughts can prevent you from doing all the things you love. I know several people that hate how they look in a bathing suit and won’t go to the beach anymore because of this. They are missing out on something they have always loved because they feel too fat to put on a bathing suit. They need to realize that their family and friends are probably not thinking that – only they are and it is causing them to miss out – and it causes their friends and family to miss them at these times.
Once you get those negative thoughts and feelings under control you can get over the road block to weight loss.
Mindfulness Empowers you to Make Better Choices
Each person has a finite amount of willpower that can be used throughout the day. So when the willpower is lacking, the weight-loss-why has got to be there to help when there are things that tempt you.
Mindfulness of the weigh-loss-why will also get you back on track when you go off, which can and will happen at times.
Knowing that using the weight-loss-why works, will also help keep you going.
Strategies to Reduce Stress
Negative emotions induce stress – which induces overeating. These things have to be controlled and can be with the following actions.
- Deep breathing techniques can be employed to help control stress.
- Meditation can be learned and used daily.
- Gratitude is a concept that can be applied by anyone. If things are not going well, there is always something to be grateful for. Really. Think of it.
- Visualization can be used to reduce stress. This involves relaxing for a few minutes and thinking about something pleasant like a vacation, seeing someone you love, doing something you love, etc.
- Short Stress Breaks can be taken throughout the day approximately every two hours. They can last for 2 to 5 minutes and you can use the techniques above, like deep breathing, meditation, visualization or gratitude.
This short stress break concept allows you to manage stress throughout the day much better so that by the end of the day you are not stressed and not apt to lose your self control over eating.
These dietary recommendations are general concepts for better health.
- Avoid processed food – eat real food (find out more here).
- Remove gluten from the diet – many people are sensitive to gluten and will digest food much better. You all know how I feel about gluten.
I found this interview very interesting. It is the most helpful explanation of mindfulness and how to use it for weight loss ever! How about you? Leave a comment and let me know!