Meditation has been used for centuries for various purposes. Its use, however, has now expanded into new areas especially where weight loss is concerned. The art of meditation is the practice of finding calm and clarity through focused attention.
Since food often serves to provide comfort during stressful times, it makes sense that using meditation for weight loss would work so well when it comes to controlling cravings. Here’s how it functions and how you can practice this form of meditation to shed the extra fat.
How Does Meditation for Weight Loss Work?
There are several styles of meditation to choose from and what works for one person won’t work for everyone. They do have certain things in common, however.
- Location – A quiet space is required. The place selected should be determined by whatever works for each individual whether it’s a chair, in the forest or even in the bathroom.
- Posture – Just as with the place selected, you don’t have to tie yourself into a knot to achieve the desired end. You might prefer walking, sitting, lying down or just standing in a quiet place.
- Focus – The goal is to focus your attention in such a way that calm and clarity can be achieved. That can be accomplished by focusing on your breath, a word, a phrase, an object or something else.
- Attitude – It’s not uncommon to have thoughts flood your consciousness while trying to focus your attention. The trick is to ignore unimportant things while focusing only on what is important.
Studies and Benefits of Meditation for Weight Loss
Perhaps the greatest benefit of meditation is that it can align the conscious and unconscious mind to agree on the changes you want to make in your behavior. The unconscious mind must be involved because that’s where bad habits are ingrained and stored. Meditation not only allows you to become aware of your bad habits but also helps you find ways to override them. Just remember that a bad habit can’t just be eliminated but must be replaced by a healthier choice.
Meditation also reduces the levels of stress hormones that signal the body to store calories as fat. Even if you’re making healthy choices, an overabundance of cortisol in the body will make it difficult to lose weight. In fact, a study at Carnegie Mellon University found that meditation for three days in a row in 25-minute sessions significantly reduced stress and lowered cortisol levels.
In another study conducted at the University of California San Francisco, researchers found that meditation could be the key to unlocking habits directly linked to dietary control. They discovered that when combined with “mindful eating training” where a moment-by-moment sensory experience of eating is recalled, meditation accelerated the weight loss efforts of the subjects in the study. The mindful eating training helped subjects control cravings and reduce overeating whereas meditation was used to prevent comfort eating while reducing stress.
Meditation for weight loss is a new field of study so there have been few reproductions of original research. However, obesity in America fueled by eating disorders has generated new interest in the field. A systematic review of existing studies published in NCBI in 2014 noted that mindfulness meditation reduces emotional eating, binge eating and weight change. It was noted that although meditation was shown effective in controlling binge and emotional eating, its causal relationship to weight loss was mixed. It was recommended that further research be conducted to determine the long-term effects.
Outcomes of Meditation for Weight Loss
Studies have supported the fact there are some very specific outcomes when it comes to using meditation for weight loss:
- Meditation helps you see things as they really are.
- The relaxation techniques affect how food is used emotionally.
- It makes you aware of hunger and satiety cues.
- It helps you focus only on the experience when you eat and nothing else.
- It reduces episodes of binge eating or thinking of the act of eating as consuming comfort food.
- It reduces stress, anxiety and depression especially as it relates to self-image.
- It increases self-acceptance and self-control.
- It helps strengthen your dedication to losing weight which reinforces your commitment to regular exercise, following a reasonable food plan and other healthy practices.
- It increases your awareness so you become more watchful of your food habits which reduces cravings.
- You feel more satisfied with less food.
How to Apply Meditation for Weight Loss
As mentioned previously, there are various forms of meditation and which will work best for you is a matter of personal choice. The one selected needs to resonate with your personal beliefs. It also need to allow you to increase practice until you feel you can achieve your Nirvana as desired.
You can try the following until you find the form of meditation that works best for you:
1. Select a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed by extraneous noise or visitors.
2. Find a position that will allow you to completely relax.
3. Relax all your muscles. The best way to do that is to begin with one part of the body and concentrate until you feel like it’s floating. For example, you can begin with your feet and work your way up.
4. Focus on your breathing. Slow it down and relax.
5. Distracting thoughts will occur such as the fact you need to pick up butter when you go to the store or thoughts about what you might say in that upcoming meeting. You can’t help but notice them but once acknowledged you can return your attention to your breathing and relaxing. You’ll probably have to do this quite a bit at first.
6. Focus for 10 to 20 minutes and repeat the exercise twice daily until you come out of your sessions feeling a sense of relaxation and peace. It is believed that when in a peaceful state, individuals make better choices and that includes choices about their eating habits.
Tips and Tricks for Meditation for Weight Loss
The are many tips and tricks you can use with meditation for weight loss. Here are just a few to get you started:
1. Patience is a virtue. Healthy ways of losing weight takes time but will often stay off longer. Don’t worry about it. The body’s natural tendency is to prevent weight loss but it will come off. Just be patient.
2. Avoid stress and use meditation to reduce the stress you feel during the course of your day. Stress makes it harder to lose weight and increases cravings and binge eating.
3. Create a routine. Success in any weight loss program requires routines when it comes to menus, exercise and meditation times.
4. Listen to your body. Your body is well aware of when you’re not eating enough, you’re pushing yourself too hard and you’re not eating the right kind of food. Listen to it. It knows what it’s talking about.
5. Break the cycle of excuses. Coming up with excuses to justify our behavior is a human trait but it won’t help you lose weight. Be accountable for what you eat, how often you eat and how often you work out. Force yourself to accept your failures and limitations and then work to improve them.
6. Change your brain’s programming. You do not have to be overweight and unhealthy. Believing it’s just something you have to live with creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. By changing that belief system you’ll be able to lose more weight than imagined. You can train your mind to reduce the number of unhealthy thoughts.
7. Reward yourself. Motivation is super important to any weight loss program so if you’ve reached a difficult goal, reward yourself with something you’ve been wanting. Just avoid food-related rewards.
8. Look at the bright side. All weight loss programs will have setbacks. Mostly they’re related to when you reach a plateau in your weight loss program. Instead, think of them as a way to prove you’re committed to reaching your goals and then just work a little harder.
9. Change your relationship with food. Acknowledge your bad eating habits and make a plan to change that mindset. You have to look at food as a fuel you put in your body much like the gas you put in your car. It’s not your friend nor is it your enemy. Above all, don’t use it as a reward or a way to deal with emotional struggles.
10. Don’t label certain foods off limit. When you say, “I’m never eating that again,” it’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Of course you’re going to crave it, after all it’s taboo. You can still have the foods you crave. Just consume them in moderation and always be aware of what you’re eating.
11. When you meditate, imagine yourself eating like you should and being satisfied. Don’t let negative thoughts ruin the experience or interfere with your efforts.
12. Breathe deeply and calm yourself. Once you’re relaxed, calm and in control of your mind and body you’ll be able to think more clearly about what you want as well as who you are.
The Disadvantages of Meditation for Weight Loss
Makes You Confront Limitations and Inner Conflicts
Meditation is designed to help you experience clarity. In other words, to see things as they really are. That can be frustrating at times because you will be forced to confront your limitations and inner conflicts especially where food is concerned. It can also generate feelings of fear as you get in touch with your inner self. You need to learn to deal with your inner demons before you start to meditate.
It Is Physically Demanding
The act of meditation can also be physically demanding. The goal is to stay in one position without moving for up to 30 minutes. If you’re sitting on the floor with your legs crossed and you have limited flexibility or arthritis you may find that the pain ruins your ability to focus. Unfortunately, an agitated body will lead to an experience you would rather not repeat which negates the benefits of using the art of meditation for weight loss. It is recommended that you try several positions first to find which one causes the least discomfort.
May Disrupt Family Life
Meditation is time you spend on yourself which can lead to you feeling guilty about your time off and resentment in others. The family will have to struggle without your one-on-one attention and you may soon feel like you’re not doing your job every time you find you need to sneak away for alone time. If you get the family involved and let them know what you’re doing and why, however, you may soon find you have a powerful support group.
It Is Not for Everyone
Finally, meditation does not come in a one-size-fits-all form. It will take experimentation and practice. If you’re a person that can’t sit still then you may have to do your meditation while doing yoga or walking through the woods. Regardless of how it’s done, you need to learn to reduce your rate of breathing through a repetitive activity that allows you to focus. As you gain experience, you may find that one of the greatest benefits of meditation is that you’ve learned how to adapt.
Summing Things Up
Research has shown that combining meditation with a weight loss program will increase the odds of a positive outcome. However, it is not without disadvantages. You must confront your own fears, conflicts and demons but by going in with a positive attitude the outcome could be exactly as you hope.
As with any weight loss program, you should consult a physician prior to beginning especially if you suffer from any medical conditions. By combining diet, exercise and meditation for weight loss in your program, you could see a lifestyle change that can continue long into the future.
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