Think about it: When you’re hurrying through a busy day, wracking your brain of all the tasks you left unsettled at work and the endless to-do list around the house, rushing through the drive-thru or indulging in a calorie-laden dinner seems deserved. But when you remove yourself from these stresses, if only for a few moments, they seem more manageable and you’re able to head home with a clear mind, likely to prepare a thoughtful dinner for your family.
While breathing in and out each day won’t make all the fat fall off your body, meditation could assist you in maintaining your weight or losing a few pounds.
The main practice of meditation is being present and self-aware. While breathing may be the only outward action you notice, the mind is fully engaged during a meditative session, helping you concentrate on relaxing your muscles, clearing your head of distracting thoughts, and bringing yourself to a state of peace.
The key to using meditation as a weight loss tool is to couple it with smart fueling foods, regular exercise and knowledge of mindful eating. Gain this knowledge by joining a program like I Quit Overeating by Smart Nutrition and learn to read your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
>> Read more: A Beginner's Guide to Meditation
Use the stress-relieving practices of meditation while you’re eating meals. After each small bite, focus on chewing the food — What does it taste like? How is it fueling your body? — and breathe between bites. Placing your attention on studying your food as nourishment for your body allows you to slow down, take smaller bites and feel comfortably full faster. You won’t over-eat, therefore you won’t be consuming unnecessary calories that cause weight gain.
This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but meditation may also help you shake your thoughts of negative body image by addressing them! Sure, the goal of meditation is to clear your mind but, especially at first, distracting thoughts will cloud your focus.
Yoga instructor and body image lecturer DeDe Lahman says, “When you meditate, all the junk comes up, all the clutter… The negative body images come up, the desires for certain foods come up, and the emotions that are attached to those desires come up. The more they surface, the more you can put them in your mental recycle bin and start with a clean slate.” (via Weight Watchers)
>> Read more: How Daily Meditation Will Improve Your Life
So does this practice actually work for weight maintenance or even loss? A study by researchers at UC San Francisco found that meditation could play a role in helping people control their eating habits and result in weight loss. Of the 47 overweight women who participated, the group that receiving “mindful eating” training and meditative sessions maintained their current weight while those in the control group consistently gained it.
So, instead of rushing home in a frenzy after a long day's work, spend a few precious moments reconnecting with your calming spirit. It may help your stress levels, outlook and your waistline.