When I first heard about mindfulness, I associated the practice with Buddhist monks. As a typical busy New Yorker, I didn’t think I had time for it. However, wherever I went, I kept hearing about this thing called “mindfulness” and curiosity got the best of me.
As I explored further, I realized, that there are so many misconceptions about mindfulness. It simply means being present, aware, and purposeful in a non-judgmental way. I'd been running away from this concept, which turns out to be so simple, so affordable (it's free!), accessible, and, most importantly: so effective for many of the issues people struggle with on a daily basis.
How does mindfulness apply to our body and weight loss?
Shifting your awareness and centering yourself during mealtime can lead to real weight loss! When someone is trying to lose weight, the emphasis tends to be placed on what to eat (good versus bad food), and sometimes we neglect how we eat (while watching television, in the car, standing in front of the refrigerator, etc.).
For example, I spend many hours in my car during my work week, and I realized that when I am eating on the run, or “dashboard dining,” I am disconnected from my body can easily lose track of the moment.
How can we begin to incorporate mindfulness into our lives? Here are 5 tips to get started:
1. Let go of your food stories and challenge the food police.
These stories sound like: I can eat only foods with zero grams of fat! Carbohydrates are bad. I blew it and had a piece of cake for dessert. I feel like such a loser! Now I’m off my diet. I might as well eat the whole box and start over again tomorrow!
In order to move forward, slowly begin to reject the diet mentality. These are rules and regulations that overcomplicate matters and they are someone else’s plan. Take time to invest in your health, research foods you enjoy, and be mindful of how these foods affect your body, not just how they satisfy your taste buds.
2. Use all your senses.
Breathe deeply before eating. Take five long, slow breaths at the start of each meal to center and focus. Notice and experience the appearance, texture, and aroma of food before you even put it in your mouth. Then taste it, feel it on your tongue and against your teeth as you chew, and pay attention to every nuance. Good food feels good.
3. Build an at-home “drive-thru.”
Whenever your body is craving that evening burger or stuffed burrito, pass by your kitchen and start cooking healthier versions of your favorite restaurant food, boosting your veggie intake and cutting down on unnecessary condiments, giving in to your body’s cravings without the guilt.
4. Let go of the “Finish Your Plate" mentality.
Eat the amount your body tells you it needs. Don’t overindulge because it’s on your plate; simply take note of how you FEEL. Remember, you can always have more food later. Stop saving up calories and skipping meals. Deprivation inevitably leads to overeating!
5. Get enough sleep!
You should sleep 6 to 8 hours per day. This will help your body to replenish itself and give your body time to rebuild its cells. Lack of sleep makes you feel tired and affects your eating habits. If you are tired, you are more likely to crave sugar the next day as you try to stay awake. Adequate sleep is essential for your overall health and well-being.