Weight loss is not something we generally associate with slowing down; at least, I didn’t until quite recently. While I disagree with many that weight loss and weight maintenance needs to be difficult, I’ve always thought about it as being dependent on movement and effort. I knew that it doesn’t have to be challenging, but I hadn’t quite wrapped my head around the idea that it could be accomplished by slowing down.
Then I read Tiffany Cruickshank’s Meditate Your Weight.
Oh boy. Was I wrong.
Let me preface this by saying that I’m a huge neuroscience geek: I find brain and biopsychology and the physical mechanisms by which we feel, experience and act to be entirely fascinating. Combine these with holistic wellness and practical lifestyle suggestions for feeling your best? Where has this book been all my life?? I write about it here to share with you an awesome, interesting resource, whether you’re looking to change your weight, feel better in your body, calm the hell down or anything in between.
Meditate Your Weight might sound a little froo-froo for many: really, you can think your way to a healthier body? It’s a tad more complicated than that, but the book does a beautiful job of explaining the science behind meditation and why it helps to balance the body to a place where it can release extra things it’s holding onto… stress, weight, tension and negative thinking included.
(It might be helpful to explain that meditation doesn’t have to be strict, sitting-on-a-mountain, purist experience: it can involve simply taking intentional breaths for a few minutes or sitting and observing your thoughts come and go. You don’t need to be a professional yoga practitioner or have weeks of silence to reap the benefits. For the purposes of this post, and of exploring this book, consider meditation to be any time you can afford yourself a few minutes of sitting in restful quiet, breathing and focusing on being present.)
When it comes to weight loss, so much of what we’ve been taught to believe revolves around the process being difficult (and that we’re big, fat failures for not being able to make it happen). The repetition of these [false] narratives, and the perpetuation of our own negative self-talk actually hinders the process of finding our best health, whether or not we’re intentionally sabotaging ourselves. Meditation, as the book explains, can provide us with awareness of our thought patterns: we can learn to observe our thoughts without judgment, and learn to adjust automatic responses of negative thinking before they begin.
Meditation can change the chemical processes in the body that contribute to weight retention (and to thoughts and behaviors that cause overeating, negative self assessment and lack of motivation). Funny: they’re all a bit connected, aren’t they?
Meditate Your Weight sheds light on the function of the parasympathetic nervous system; that is, the one that is triggered when we’re not running away from a predator or inundated with work stress. This set of rest-and-digest processes regulate metabolism and the production of stress hormones. When it’s functioning well and we give it time to work its magic, metabolism and stress hormone production are bolstered.
Some of the keys to help this system function its best? Slowing down. Making room for stillness. Being present. Meditating.
As Tiffany Cruickshank explains,
“By creating a framework [of meditation] that triggers these physiological changes, the program escorts your body into rest-and-digest mode, where it can begin to release excess weight. This ease, this relaxed approach to health, is something our bodies can more easily and joyfully sustain over time, unlike… doing extreme exercise, radically cutting calories, or any other extreme measures we may be tempted to try.
We don’t really need to push. What we need to do is give our bodies a break.” p77
Those last two sentences floored me and I’ve had them running in a loop in my brain since I read them. We need to give our bodies a break.
I love the idea that spaciousness and calmness can be as nourishing to the body as exercise, eating well and sleep, and at such a low investment. Three minutes daily is more effective than one twenty-minute session once a week (or none at all). The 21-day program outlined in the book is super easy to follow: if you’re a seasoned meditator or brand new to the practice, this book will have something good to offer you. It’s a beaituflly written how-to guide with interesting journaling and health-focused mantras assigned to each day. You’ll explore what it means to integrate your mind and your body and – from my own experience I can say – be able to more easily identify negative self-talk when it comes up and observe it without judgment. It’s easier to let it go and not let it impact your day and your choices when you can identify it is as simply a habitual, but untrue, pattern of thinking.
If you’re stuck in a place where weight loss feels like an excessive struggle – or all of your hard work to eat well and workout just isn’t yielding the results you want – you may discover that the key to seeing positive change is in your own thinking. You may be putting up barriers you’re not aware of. There may be something neurochemical that needs to be rebalanced that a bit of introspective time might help.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. At the very least, you’ll get a fascinating look at the science behind meditation and at the very best, you’ll notice a change in your thinking, your behavior and your health from a few minutes of being present every day.
Hey there - I don't make any money off this post but I did receive a free copy from the publisher. I would have bought it anyways. ;)