Harmonising your mind & body for permanent weight loss
Most over 50s with an interest in health and fitness will have heard about mindfulness, but can ‘living in the moment’ really help you to lose weight? In this bite-sized blog post, we bring you some of the latest tips and techniques that can help you to achieve longlasting weight loss.
“A happy mind is a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is good for the body.” — Dalai Lama
The secret? Psychologists may baffle us with fancy jargon like ACT, CBT and Somatic Psychology, but mindful dieting is basically just harmonising your mind and body to achieve permanent weight loss.
What’s wrong with a traditional calorie controlled diet?
Many dieters start-out with high hopes that the latest dieting trend is going to help them lose weight after the Christmas binge. For others, the motivation may be to slip into attractive swimwear or a favourite outfit.
With enough effort, traditional dieters are often rewarded with a short-term fix. The fact is, that while most calorie control dieters do enjoy temporary weight reduction, very few achieve long-lasting, sustainable weight loss.
Dieters taking a mindful approach recognise that our relationship with food has deep roots. They appreciate that our emotional attachment to comfort foods is likely to have been formed in our early upbringing. Add addictive adult soothers like alcohol, and it’s plain to see that our mental well-being has a vital role to play in sustainable weight loss.
Experience mindfulness right now!
If you don’t know the first thing about mindfulness, how about trying it right now? A ‘mindful’ state is incredibly easy to achieve. Simply set aside about 2 minutes to do absolutely nothing. Instead of spending the time lost in internal chatter, focus all of your attention on each breath as it enters and leaves your body.
To help you relax, you may prefer to close your eyes for a while. Notice how the incoming breath is cooler than the outgoing breath. Notice that it doesn’t take any effort to breathe.
During each breath, your heart beats continuously without any effort. It automatically adjusts its natural rhythm to provide every cell in your body with the oxygen, fuel and nutrients needed to keep you alive and vibrant.
If you become distracted, just notice how easy it is to gently return your focus to each inout breath. Basically, mindfulness is about fully experiencing the present moment. With a little practice, staying ‘in the moment’ becomes effortless and very relaxing.
After around 2 minutes, open your eyes and take a few moments to enjoy the feeling of rejuvenation!
Setting achievable goals for a mindful weight loss diet
Before setting achievable goals for your 2020 mindful diet, why not take some time to think about your current eating habits. Do you depend on processed foods to save time on meal preparation? Do you turn to chocolate or a few glasses of wine to ease boredom or loneliness? Are you continually comparing your body to the photoshopped celebrities pictured in news clips and magazines?
It’s these little habits, dependencies and worries that can turn a weight loss victory into an endless roundabout ride of on-off dieting. Before committing to a mindful diet, you’ll need to accept that, on some level, you’re gaining a reward from your consumption of convenience foods, alcohol or chocolate.
Our top tips for dieting mindfully
Do you have enough spare time to cook meals from scratch? What are your favourite treats and snacks, and how would you reward yourself without them?
To help clarify your thoughts, we recommend that you start a journal, notebook, or even a spreadsheet to record your goals, strengths, weaknesses and progress.
Before choosing a new diet (and maybe an exercise programme) that matches your lifestyle, use these mindful dieting tips to set out your goals and schedule.
1 List the foods & snacks that you like to eat
Against each item on your list, add a few notes about the item’s negative qualities (e.g. high fat or high calorie) and positive qualities (e.g. comfort food, stress relief).
2 Record your mealtime & snacking routines
Who prepares your meals? Is it a rushed or relaxed process? Do you have a partner who will support your new mindful dieting lifestyle? How about online support or a lifestyle coach?
3 Picture the ‘new you’
Don’t hold-back on this activity! Try to form a clear mental picture of your new self. Some folks use an old photo, or a picture of someone that they admire. If you want to lose weight for a holiday or a wedding, find and save inspirational pictures to inspire you. In your journal, list the fun activities that you expect to be doing.
4 What kind of foods will the new you be eating?
This is your opportunity to harmonise mind and body. List meal plans in your journal or spreadsheet that will provide the energy and nutrients that your body needs to keep you vibrant and healthy. Plan your weight loss goals. Think about strategies that you can use to reward yourself and give you the motivation to continue with your mindful diet.
5 Practice mindful breathing
Throughout your day, use the mindful breathing exercise that we described earlier. This will help to stop your mind going over past events that you can’t do anything to change. It will also help you to stop worrying about future events that you can’t control. Mindful breathing is also a brilliant distraction technique for taking your mind off a craving for chocolate, biscuits or alcohol!
6 Challenge unhelpful TV & social media habits
Though the various forms of media can be informative and entertaining, their underlying purpose is to either encourage you to buy something or gather marketing information about your lifestyle. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your looks, values or lifestyle with those of fictional media characters or celebrities.
7 Enjoy your new positivity!
From the mindful point of view, every single moment of positivity is a treasure to be enjoyed. Even if you miss a weight loss target, the feeling of disappointment is fleeting and quickly replaced by a new sensation or experience!
Choose the best diet for your lifestyle
If you follow just a few of our mindful dieting tips, you’ll be much better prepared to benefit from a diet that will match your unique lifestyle. Hopefully, you’ll now appreciate that whatever its shape or weight, your body is a miraculous life support system that deserves a little TLC.
Whichever diet you choose, we encourage you to come back to Fit Fab 50 Plus for support, encouragement, or just a darned good read! Come and join our supportive and positive group on Facebook too!
Look out for our inspirational Wellness eBook, Essentials of Goal Setting guide, and Life Coaching Workshops.