I’m not one to buy into quick fixes and weight loss cures, but I am always open to finding real, healthy solutions to issues surrounding weight and fitness. Particularly after long, dry spells that include a lot of stress and, not only the development of , but more accurately, the reliance on, bad habits. If meditation can influence how I manage stress and, even better, losing weight, I’m in!
I am absolutely the picture of the effects of stress on weight gain. Stress effects how much I eat, and unfortunately, how much- or really, how little- I exercise. Under times of increased duress, tension and frustration, good, healthy choices regarding food and fitness hit the road.
I’ve flirted and tried to motivate myself towards regular meditation several times before. I’ve even written about it here and here and elsewhere on MommyOm. It’s tough. But the fact is, unless I do something to handle the way I’m dealing with my stress I’m going to be welcoming another 30 lbs and then some. Bottom line… I’m going to harness the power of meditation to lose weight.
A little about the effects of stress….
As a matter of survival, your brain and body are designed to work in concert to prepare you to handle any threat by making you feel alert, ready for action and able to withstand an injury. In the immediate, as you’re facing down that sabre tooth tiger or rattle snake, the adrenaline helps you forget about basic needs such as food, as your blood flows away from the internal organs and to your large muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” Once the effects of adrenaline wear off, however, cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” lingers so as to signal the body to replenish your food supply- after bravely strangling that deadly rattler, it’s time to fire up the barby! Our ancestral battles for survival used up a lot of energy and our bodies needed more stores of fat and glucose. Today’s human, however, with our 21st Century battles, fights them glued to a screen, working long sedentary hours or worrying about how to pay the bills, and doesn’t employ much energy dealing with the stressor!
Unfortunately a looming deadline doesn’t require the same amount of calorie burn as out-running a hyena and we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the update, so your brain is still going to demand you replenish so you’ll reach for that bag of Doritos all the same.
There was a time that our belly fat was a necessity. We were grateful for it, in fact. A nice roll around the middle meant, 1. We were fed, and; 2. We had something to get us through the inevitable tough times that we knew were right around the corner. In modern times, however, that well-fed, ever-expanding tire that circles your middle doesn’t enjoy the same esteem and lack of permanence of our ancestors. It’s packed on due to stress, lack of activity and poor food choices and tends not only to stay, but to grow. Ugh.
Belly fat is REALLY unhealthy. It packs around and strangles our organs… not to mention lops over our belts. Double “Ugh”.
Anxieties exacerbate so many physiological symptoms. Weight gain being at the top of the list along with heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancers. While anxiety once provided us with an unconscious sign of imminent danger- fight or flight!- it now just sends us jittering and fidgeting our way to the fridge or cabinet in search of some type of relief, no matter how momentary, inhaling a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips for much needed support and comfort.
So… the question for so many is, how to manage the stress, if not the stress-ors? How to manage our weight when time is so limited and demands so very great?
These are questions I’ve been grappling with, managing the seemingly constant demands of work, kids, relationships, schedules… you all know the routine. I’ve been meditating for at least 15 mins, I aim for 30, for the better part of two weeks. I plan to prove that, in fact, meditation can be a tool for managing stress and, ultimately, losing weight.
Meditation is proven to:
- Improve concentration – A clear mind makes you more productive, better able to handle the demands of your day.
- Alleviate irritation – Do you sometimes allow yourself to get upset by little things? It is the nature of the mind to magnify small things into serious problems. Meditation helps us detach. We learn to live in the here and now, rather than worrying about the past or future. We do not worry about meaningless things, but see the bigger picture.
- Promote Improved Health – There have been numerous studies pointing to the health benefits of meditation. The reason is that meditation reduces stress levels and alleviates anxiety. If we can reduce stress, many health benefits follow.
- Inspire Knowledge of Self – Meditation enables us to have a deeper understanding of our inner self. Through meditation we can gain a better understanding of our life’s purpose.
Getting started in meditation can be SO VERY HARD. For a little extra support, I came across this little resource. If you’re familiar with Food Matters, then this guy will be pretty familiar. Free guided meditations geared to weight loss. Check out the Gabriel Method if you need a kick start! I will incorporate it for sure.
I’ll check in here as I go. If meditation can help with how I’m dealing with stress AND help me lose weight, I’m all over it!