Weight Loss: Decrease belly fat by being Mindful

“Control your emotions or they will control you”, words from an ancient Chinese proverb.  Have you ever been angry, sad, happy, worried, lonely or (fill in the blank), and found yourself holding an empty bag of chips you just scoffed down, or had another candy bar, or finished your second bowl of ice cream, and realized that you weren’t even paying attention to what you were doing.  We are human because of our ability to show emotion and to think. Feeling and thinking go hand in hand when we are trying to be our best selves and stay in control. To become organized in our brains, to think clearly and stop the ‘frenzy’, takes time and awareness.  The avoidance of doing things that we know are either bad or good for us is mostly up to a dis-organized brain. Neuroscience research is providing us with a lot of information to help us calm the brain to assist us in getting in control of our emotions.

Creating mindfulness in your everyday life, reduces stress, creates an accountability of your behaviors and enables you to emotionally engage in your life.  When working with a new client around improving lifestyle habits, I ask them to complete a food log and write down their mood and energy.  I don’t care about amounts of food, or what the food is. It is important for the client to note when they are angry, tired, worried, fear-full, or other, and how they react to that emotion.  It is insightful to these clients to note that when the emotion is unpleasant or stressful they turn to eating whatever is available (usually sugar), crash in front of the TV  (instead of going on a walk) or abandon good intentions and get down on themselves.   Negative emotions raise cortisol – the stress hormone.  There was a recent study at the University of California, San Francisco examining the link between mindfulness and abdominal fat. ( Journal of Obesity, by Jennifer Daubenmier,PhD).  The study found that after a four-month period those who practiced mindfulness around their eating habits, decreased significant amounts of belly fat, without dieting.  The subjects changed their emotions and thoughts around eating habits.  The subjects had classes in mindfulness practices and learned how to recognize their negative mood states, and even though the study was small, there was significant evidence of success with all participants.  Cortisol triggers the body to store fat when under stress – however it may appear to you, fear, anger, sadness or other.  Where does it store the most stress? The belly- fat in the abdomen has four times as many cortisol receptors then anywhere else in the body. The combination of triggered cortisol receptors and the wrong supply of foods can be harmful, and leads to the dreaded ‘apple shape’. . This is a trouble spot for many people.

As a mindfulness facilitator, I have witnessed many clients ‘flip the switch’ and make better choices due to their mindfulness practices for a healthier and happier lifestyle. Combining nutritional education and awareness is very powerful in creating change.  The next time you go out to eat or have a bad day and head for the nearest indulgence, stop, reflect and react.

Steps to start creating some mindfulness in your day:

  •   Identify the emotion (will you still be anxious after you eat a pint of ice cream? Probably, if not more so.)
  •    Rate your hunger level- you may be thirsty instead.
  •   When craving a certain food, challenge yourself to wait for two minutes, if you still want it,  have it. Develop patience.
  •   Take one bite at a time, smell, and taste, chew 30 times then swallow.  You will experience the full sensation of the food and will ultimately eat less.

For those of you who would like to explore this in a more formal way, go to my web site and look up the Mindful Weighs program.  I have used this program with groups and with individuals, very powerful and non-threatening approach for weight control/loss.

I challenge you to quell the negative emotions and start engaging in changing your negative emotions into mindful experiences.

 

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