When it comes to successfully losing weight, it is important to adopt strategies that encourage you to make healthy choices that will support your goals. Stress and other negative emotions can definitely derail your efforts to lose weight. Since we cannot completely eliminate stress from our lives, it is vital to find ways to deal with it more successfully so we can minimize the negative impact it can have in trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Meditation may be one such avenue for successfully managing stress, anxiety and the myriad unpleasant feelings that can sabotage dropping those extra pounds.
Stress and Weight Gain
One of the reasons stress is so harmful to our health is because it can actually produce changes in the body that can lead to disease and other health issues. When it comes to our weight, high stress levels can trigger production of chemicals that can cause us to overeat. Long ago, our ancestors dealt with very different types of stress-like running from large animals that would kill and eat them; these situations would cause the release of hormones that would help them either fight or flee.
One hormone in particular, cortisol is designed to help replenish energy after facing the threat; it can remain elevated for a long time after the actual trigger and increases appetite. In modern times, our sources of stress are things like our job and unpaid bills, not situations that literally called for running for our lives, yet we experience the same bodily changes that may prompt us to eat; but this time, we do not need to replenish our energy because we are not engaging in strenuous activity that is depleting our nutritional stores.
Even more problematic is the fact that this response tends to make us crave sugary carbohydrates since they act as a fast source of energy for our muscles. High stress levels are also a problem because it can increase the amount of visceral fat that accumulates in the body-this fat that lies deep within the abdomen has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other serious health problems.
We have all seen the effects stress can have on our intentions to eat better; how many times have you reached for the cookies or a piece of cake because you were having a bad day and you thought that would make you feel better. Eating to relieve stress is a dangerous pattern that can sabotage our health.
Meditation and Stress Relief
So, if reducing stress is an important part of the weight loss puzzle, it becomes imperative to find ways to accomplish this. Meditation has been well-established as a means of stress reduction, which suggests it may be a powerful weapon in your weight loss arsenal. Moreover, studies have found that meditation led to a reduction in cortisol levels specifically.
Much of our stress in life comes, not from what is happening, but, from our perception of the situation, how we view things. While we may not be able to master our emotions completely, we can make significant strides in handling them better and how we respond to the issues in our life. Meditation helps strengthen this space where we can observe what is going on and choose our response, rather than just automatically reacting in habitual ways that are not good for us. We may still feel stress, but we will be better equipped to handle it because we will have an increased awareness of what is actually happening in the moment.
Meditation may also help with your weight loss goals because this increased ability to observe your thoughts and feelings will help you become more aware of one vital point in handling negative emotions more effectively...that they are fleeting and in constant flux. This is something we know but have a hard time processing experientially and when things happen that do not make us feel good, we look for an immediate way to quell the bad feelings.
For many of us, that quelling takes the form of emotional eating, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to lasting weight loss. When you develop a greater awareness of the impermanence of your bad feelings, you will be able to sit with them with less discomfort, and feel less inclined to turn to food to feel better. You know it will pass and you will feel less temptation to chase after that immediate boost that comes from eating, which is soon followed by guilt, self-criticism and judgment.
You may not see how sitting quietly can do anything to help improve your life, but meditating is probably one of the most effective tools for enhancing mental and emotional well-being; when we are feeling good internally, it is much easier to take care of our physical health because we are less likely to engage in choices that compromise it. We are feeling good and we will naturally want to make choices that keep us feeling good.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle that promotes a sound mind, body and soul. If you are interested in using a commercial weight loss program for the built-in support and structure they offer, you might be interested to buy BistroMD diet plan at a discount.