Take a seat in the center of the room and find a comfortable cross-legged position. Now, close your eyes and escape to the most serene place your thoughts can imagine- a deserted beach or an isolated mountaintop – and start to take a few deep breaths. Sounds relaxing, right? While bad eating habits, lack of exercise and genetics are all linked to health issues, the number one cause of weight gain is: stress. Studies show that chronic stress can be tied to an increase in appetite, later resulting in stress-induced weight gain. It starts with a brain-to-body connection in result from conscious or even subconscious thoughts of fear and worry. You have to pay all the bills, pick the kids up from school and finish your last minute work presentation– it’s hard to get a phone call in let alone a healthy meal! So, how can you calm the mind before stress reaches the body? Mediate! Here’s how:
Step one: Get quiet. Go somewhere free from distractions and sit cross-legged, resting your palms face up on each knee. You can either keep your eyes closed or flutter them open. Then, sit quietly. Every time your thoughts start to carry you away to dinner plans or carpool schedules, take a moment to come back to the breath. The trick is to replace thoughts of distress with several deep breaths of presence. This is where you’re working to decrease stress levels in the brain, resulting in a faster metabolism and healthier body.
Step two: Visualize yourself where you want to be lifestyle, body and health-wise. Visualization is a key tool in mediation and the perfect opportunity to focus on the body and lifestyle you want. Hold this picture as you breathe through your mediation. Creating positive images shifts your brain chemistry and quickly diminishes any stress or tension held in the body.
Step three: Practice often. Similar to your workout routines, the brain is a muscle that needs to be trained into stress-free thinking. A daily mediation practice for just 10-20 minutes will help create change. Change may be conscious recognition of reaching for unhealthy foods vs. healthy alternatives or even a healthier shift in eating habits overall. Notice what you’re craving and why. Reaching for chocolate after a job interview? Craving pizza before a test? Becoming more aware of decision-making regarding your health is essential to reaching your weight-loss goals.
Step-four: Have fun with it! Many people tend to take mediation too seriously. Think of it as a few minutes to yourself to check-in with your body. Meditating first thing in the morning or just before bed tends to be most effective, but there are no rules. Start by taking a few minutes to breathe in-between your protein-packed meals, calorie counting and workout routines. Let go of all the stress and begin to transform your mind, body and weight-loss goal.
Author: Ashley Rose Howard Ashley Rose Howard is a New York City based writer, editor, and digital producer. Her work has appeared in various fitness, wellness, and lifestyle magazines and websites. In her spare time, Ashley is often found brainstorming in downward dog or meditating in Central Park. Visit ashleyrosehoward.com or follow her on Twitter @ashleyroseh.