Meditate for Fat Loss!
Oct 6, 2015
When it comes to losing excess body fat (and then maintaining) the phrase “diet and exercise” has been etched into our brains. Even though we intuitively accept that we have to conquer both to succeed at our fat loss goals, often times people tackle only one of the two. Even though most structured fat loss programs lifestyle habits related specifically to diet and exercise, lasting fat loss is achieved by the addition of two other pillars: sleep and stress management.
For today I want to address the stress management portion. Let’s be honest: We live in a stress-filled world. Even the chilliest of the chill experience day-to-day stress when you compare our modern society with the majority of the evolutionary period that got us here today. Our bodies were built to withstand stress(ors) with the secretion of certain hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that got us through those moments of distress. The problem arises when we are constantly being inundated with stress(ors) to the extent that our bodies believe that we are constantly running from a lion that would gladly have us for breakfast. In other words, no matter the source of the stress, when it’s as constant as the stress that we are faced with today, we are constantly burning the candle at both ends and pumping out way too much stress-related hormones just to get through the day.
See, cortisol is a great when it’s elevated for short periods of time (hence the running from the lion scenario). When stress is high, cortisol preps us to deal with the stress in the that moment by elevating our blood sugar to give us the energy needed to “get away from” the perceived stress. Enter modern-day-cortisol-raising stress and we have a state of constantly elevated cortisol and blood sugar. Once we are faced with this physiological environment, insulin has to come in to help lower blood sugar. When insulin is involved a whole host of things can happen long-term—for this discussion we will focus on fat loss (or the lack of!). To keep it short and simple, we will just say that when on the cortisolàblood sugaràinsulin roller coaster, one of two things can happen: Difficulty losing unwanted body fat OR gain of more body fat even if “doing all of the right things.”
Since you can’t get rid of the common stressors that plague us in today’s fast-paced world, you can implement some strategies that can help mitigate the hormonal cascade that sets us up for fat gain instead of fat loss. Meditation may seem so farfetched for most of us, BUT it has proven benefits for keeping stress hormones at bay—which leaves us happier, healthier, and more ready to take on the day!
Trust me, you don’t have to be a full-time yoga practitioner or have ever traveled abroad to participate in a regular yoga practice. And if you think you’ll “look dumb,” get over yourself! You’re giving yourself a momentary mental break from life which can benefit your health in the long term, so who cares what you “look like” while you’re doing it? You’re going to be doing it alone more than likely, so that makes that thought even more irrational!
Here’s a few steps to beginning a regular meditation practice…
- Find a quiet room and sit in either a chair or in the floor. Make sure you have good posture while you’re sitting there. You want to make sure you are alert and aware of your body and surroundings.
- Starting off, set a timer for a maximum of 5 minutes. Take a few deep breaths once you begin.
- With your eyes closed, start to focus your mind on the physical point where you can feel your breath. Breath in a natural rhythm, don’t force your breathing. Simply observe your breathing pattern.
- Naturally your mind will wander. When it does, bring your mind back to your breathing. The point is to keep your mind from going towards all of the days stress(ors). It’s this redirecting or your thoughts that IS meditation.
- Once your timer has gone off, CONGRATULATIONS! You have now meditated.
But, so much more. You have calmed your nerves…you have lessened the likelihood of punching your coworker in the throat…you have actually not minded the car that cut you off on the highway on your way home…you have had a much better night’s sleep than you have in a while…you have primed your body to want to rid itself of excess body fat…and so on…
If you need a little more guidance with starting a regular meditation practice, there are a few FREE apps out there you can download to help out. Calm and Headspace are the two that I personally recommend. Each has its own perks so give them both a try.