Elevating your Weight Loss Success through Meditation

The Reality…
Yoga International describes the real meaning of meditation as follows:  
“Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified.
In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens.”
The Challenge…
There are many different ways to bring oneself into a “meditative” state.  There are walking meditations.  There are meditations sitting cross-legged with erect spine and focusing on the inhale and exhale.  There are movement meditations such as Qigong or Tai Chi, which incorporate a sequence of body posture and movement and breathing.  And there are mantra meditations, where a certain mantra is the focal point of the meditation.  In each variation, the common theme is a clear and relaxed mind which focuses inward and away from the external world – and in so doing, being fully present in the NOW and detached from thoughts of the past or anticipation.  The stillness that results from a regular meditation practice has countless health and lifestyle benefits.  So, the question then becomes whether meditation can help with weight loss? 
The Solution…  
Any method of meditation can help with weight loss. 
First, meditation brings about a calmness and clarity in the mind which has been linked in studies to decreased emotional eating, increased awareness of their bodily sensations, and reduced food cravings.  Oftentimes dietary choices are made from our unruly primitive brain, which is the “toddler” of our brain structure.  The primitive brain wants immediate gratification and directs us to indulge every food urge that arises as quickly and unhealthily as possible.  A stillness of the mind results from a regular meditation practice, and the effects can be to quiet the primitive brain in favor of our more rational prefrontal cortex, who is the “elder wise man” of our brain.  The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that remembers the “big picture” and your long-term goal of living with a healthy weight and body.  Meditation can bring about the calmness and clarity that allows your prefrontal cortex to remain in charge of food choices and allows an urge for unhealthy options to pass unsatisfied in favor of the long-term goal.  Sitting quietly in a meditative state also gives a person the space to process their thoughts, challenge their limiting beliefs about what is possible for their health, and raise their standards of what they want for their mind and body. 

Meditation can also reduce excessive amounts of cortisol produced in the body from chronic stress.  Chronic stress is associated with a greater concentration of fats in the abdomen, which is also linked not only weight gain but also higher mortality. One study revealed that meditation literally reduces the density of brain tissue associated with anxiety and worrying, and by effectively reducing stress, can help with weight loss.

The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  


Spending Time in Nature – A Big Sigh of Stress Relief

The Reality…
In a recent blog I offered ten tips to reduce stress, stress being one of the three components of the Weight Loss Triangle I advocate.  One of those tips, a personal favorite of mine, was to spend time in nature.  I don’t know about you, but I feel a little more at peace just looking at the picture above.  I imagine myself sitting just where the woman in the picture is seated.  She must feel the pleasure of rest after exerting herself to reach where she is seated and now enjoying the beauty of nature.  I imagine how much more incredible it would be to witness that view in person.  I imagine the sounds of nature she must be hearing.  I can’t see any birds in the picture, but perhaps they are there, and chirping away with a variety of beautiful sounds.  Or maybe there is complete stillness and silence, equally as beautiful and even more peaceful.  I imagine the smell of the fresh air and the outdoors and nature.  I imagine how the air must feel filling up her lungs.  I imagine the feel of the sun beating down upon her skin.  Perhaps there is a nice breeze that causes her hair to lay to the left side of her back and neck.  Ahhhh.
The Challenge…
If you’re trying to lose weight and living a high stress lifestyle, not only should you be paying attention to the food and drink you consume and the frequency and intensity of your exercise, but you should also be mindful of managing your stress.  Stress produces the hormone cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”), and can most definitely interfere with your ability to lose weight.  Spending time in nature is a great way to relieve stress, and I personally indulge is this form of stress relief every single day.
The Solution… 
Nature offers a delight for each of our senses, and it is no wonder that spending time in nature can help relieve stress and elevate mood.  Each morning when I walk in nature at a local park, I tune into each of my senses to not only be fully present in that moment but also to fully detach from the things that cause stress in my life.  I notice the trees and wildlife and body of water I see.  I smell the mossy smells of the lake and the flowers and the air.  I listen to the crickets and the birds.  I feel the breeze against my skin and the moistness of the morning air.  It’s my single favorite practice for reducing stress and spending time alone with myself in preparation for the day ahead, and I highly recommend it.
Aside from potentially boosting your activity level and getting your body in motion, spending time in nature by taking a walk in a park, garden, beach or amongst many trees is great for your mental well-being and feeling of happiness.  
Have you heard of “forest bathing”?  I had not.  “Forest bathing”, also known as Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, is the practice of simply being in the forest or wooded area, and it is said to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” and it was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
According to http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/, among the scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku are:
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep
Maybe you’re not close to a forest or heavily wooded area to regularly indulge “forest bathing,” but any time you can be outside in nature and away from your electronics, traffic and the other noisy demands of your lifestyle, take full advantage and breathe in nature’s big sigh of stress relief.
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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Could Salsa be the Secret Sauce to your Weight Loss?

The Reality…
Weight loss results are impacted by three factors:  how you manage your stress levels, your food and drink intake, and your level of exercise.  Regular exercise not only helps you burn calories for weight loss, but it also reduces stress, which is an added benefit since increased stress levels result in the production of cortisol and can wreak havoc with your weight loss.
The Challenge…
Some people LOVE to exercise, and those people usually aren’t the ones concerned with losing weight.  People committed to regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle have already found the exercise or exercises that work for them and keep them healthy and fit, and hopefully its exercise that they love.  If you don’t LOVE to exercise and are still looking for the perfect exercise for you that will keep you interested and burning calories, keep reading. 
The Solution…
For me, the key to regular exercise was finding an exercise I loved and wanted to do again and again.   Salsa turned out to be the “secret sauce” of my weight loss formula.  Learning to salsa dance was something I had planned to do for a very long time, but had only considered it as a potential hobby that I would finally get to when I found the extra time, at some undefined point in the future.  When I first signed up for lessons, I didn’t do it for weight loss, even though I still needed to lose weight at the time.  Not only did I end up loving everything about salsa, but it also ended up being a key part of maintaining a healthy body weight since I learned to love the movement of my body.  Salsa is now a regular part of my weekly exercise routine, as I have a standing appointment for a private lesson every Tuesday night at 6:30.  And it’s almost like therapy.  I have to completely surrender to it, and give my control over to my lead.  My salsa instructor can easily tell what kind of day I have had by the way I hold my body, especially my shoulders and hands.  I am more in tune with my body than ever before, and I have a greater love and appreciation for my body and I want to take care of it more than ever before.  My body is now also a vehicle for creative expression and not a tensed up ball of stress!
I have to admit that I don’t always feel like going after a long day of work, but I ALWAYS go and I am ALWAYS am glad I did.  Since I love it so much, it’s easy to remind myself how I will feel when the music starts and my body starts moving, so I never miss it, even when I’m feeling tired after work.  I always feel like I’m putting my heart and soul into it, and I leave the dance studio physically fatigued but also somehow feeling more energetic and joyful at the same time.  What more could you ask for from exercise??  This never, ever happened to me when I was trying to motivate myself to go run on the treadmill after a long day at work, which was one of the reasons it was always so easy for me to find an excuse to skip it.
I strongly recommend you incorporate dance classes into your exercise protocol.  Dance is not only great for burning calories, but also is a great creative release that you likely won’t get from other forms of exercise such as running outdoors or using a treadmill or elliptical machine.  Dance also allows you to break free from the daily routine of work and other personal responsibilities in a way that just seems to feel different than other forms of exercise, or at least that was the case for me. 
Salsa (or some other kind of dance class) may not be for you, but the key is to find something that keeps you coming back again and again.  Below are a few ideas for you to consider so you can find your “salsa” solution to loving and staying committed to exercise: 

  • If you’re a dog lover, take your best friend out for a walk/run. 
  • Exercising for a cause, such as Team in Training through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which incorporates fundraising while you train for running, cycling, triathlon and hiking events. For additional information, visit https://www.teamintraining.org/ 
  • Team sports or enlisting a workout partner– transform your exercise time into social time
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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Five Intermittent Fasting Methods to Kickstart Your Weight Loss

The Reality…  
In a prior blog, I addressed the basics of intermittent fasting and why you might want to give it a try to achieve your weight loss goals.  As mentioned, intermittent fasting is essentially a pattern of eating that defines a specific period of time during your waking hours in which you will eat, and then you fast for the remaining hours.   
The Challenge…
If you research intermittent fasting, you will find that there are variety of different methods from which you can choose.  It can be a challenge to find the right method for you with all the available options, but as is the case with finding the right formula for diet, exercise and stress management, you must investigate and test the options and find the perfect fit for your body and lifestyle.  Below are the top five popular variations of intermittent fasting, with a brief description:
  1. 16:8 Method: Using the 16:8 method, you would eat during an eight-hour period you select, and then fast for the remaining sixteen hours.  There are no limitations or calories restrictions on what you are allowed to eat during your eight-hour eating window.  
  2. Eat Stop Eat: This method features a full 24- hour fast either one or two days per week, with normal eating the remaining days of the week.  
  3. The 5:2 Diet:  This method features a modified fast two days of the week (only 500 to 600 calories), with normal eating the remaining five days of the week. 
  4. The Warrior Diet: This method permits a four-hour eating window in the evening, and “fasting” the remaining 20 hours of the day by only eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables.  
  5. Alternate-day Fasting: Using this method, you would fast every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.
The Solution…
Assuming any sort of intermittent fasting is something you would like to try, it makes sense to give each of these methods a try and see which one works best for you.  I personally use a five-hour eating window (generally between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm), and fast for the remainder of the day.  I adjust my eating window on a weekly basis depending upon what my schedule holds for the upcoming week. 
The Invitation…. 
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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