Simple Steps to Mindful Weight Loss

Read further to learn how you can play an integral role in the development of my new program: Mindful Body.

You’ve tried all the diets: low carb, low fat, juicing, raw, vegetarian, paleo, whatever.  You ate what the diet dictated, whether you liked it or not.  You ached as you passed up your favorite desserts.

You’ve been to the gym, even paid for a one year membership to make absolutely sure you would go.  You even worked with a personal trainer to motivate you for a while.

You’ve done these things with a friend or two for accountability.  You were all psyched up and super motivated for the first week or two as you pushed each other to keep going.

After two or three weeks (or sooner), the whole new routine seemed a bit too much to maintain.  Even though you might have lost a little weight, the process seemed too hard – too much to keep up for that little bit of weight loss.

So you quit and went back to your old ways and decided that nothing works.  You accepted that you’ll never maintain that ideal weight of yours.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

What if you could get healthy and feel good about it for the rest of your life?

Sounds too good to be true?  It’s simple and as easy as you allow it to be.

Mindful Eating

The next time you reach for something to eat or drink, pause and take three deep, relaxing breaths before putting anything in your mouth.

Take a moment to consider whether you’re hungry, thirsty or feeding some other need.

We need more water than we think

Most people spend their lives dehydrated and never know it.  If you feel thirsty, you’re already extremely dehydrated.  Do you have mild digestive issues or constipation?  Try upping your water intake for a month and see what happens.

How much water should you drink?  A good guideline is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by two.  The result is the minimum ounces of water you should be drinking every day.  For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water each day (2.4 quarts or 2.2 liters).  Drink more if you have strenuous workouts, live in a dry climate or in high altitudes or are pregnant.

If this sounds like a lot of water to you, you’re probably in that dehydrated group.

Many times we read our body’s signals as hunger when it’s actually thirst.  The next time you feel a little hungry, drink at least 12 oz. of water first.  Wait a few minutes and notice if you still feel hungry or if you want more water.

We need less food than we think

If you’re feeling truly hungry, then eat.  But take the time to notice how much is enough before always eating the same quantities you’re accustomed to.

If you always eat a whole sandwich for lunch, try eating only half.  Put away the other half before you start eating so you won’t be tempted to mindlessly finish whatever is in front of you.  Eat the first half and wait an hour before considering whether you want the other half.

Maybe eat the other half as your late afternoon snack instead of the candy you usually have to keep yourself going.  This way you won’t experience the sugar high and energy crash that comes with the candy.  You’ll have a more sustained energy level.

The next time you go to a restaurant, order an appetizer for your main meal.  If you like an entrée better, have them put half of it in a to-go box and serve the other half.  After I started doing this, I was quite surprised by how little food filled me up.

We feed our emotions more than our stomachs

Now that we’ve treated our thirst and understand that we can feel full with less food, let’s look at why we eat what we eat.

You feel kind of hungry so you drink a big glass of water.   That felt great but you’re still hungry.  What do you reach for and why?

Do you reach for a piece of fried chicken because you need some emotional comforting?  Or the flavorless baked chicken because you think that’s what you “should” eat?  Or the baked chicken bathed in a delicious sauce because you simply love that dish?

None of these answers are good or bad.  Being mindful is not about judging.  It’s about simply noticing.

If you need emotional comforting, how else can you take care of that need?  Food will never resolve it.  This is the “simple but not easy” part.  Whether it’s stress, relationship issues, general depression, neediness, not feeling like enough or whatever, we need to break the association between our emotional needs and food.

If you weigh more than you would like because you’re frequently eating or drinking to temporarily placate an emotion or feeling, it’s time to face your fears and address that need productively.

Get to the root of the problem and dig it up.  Talk to friends.  Join a group.  See a therapist.  Do whatever it takes because you’re worth it.

Because if you don’t do something about it now, the issue will seep into other areas of your life (if it hasn’t already) and create more unwanted symptoms.  We want a healthy, happy you from the inside out.

Mindful Exercise

Do you feel like you have to go to the gym or get on a treadmill to say that you’ve exercised?  If so, you’ll be surprised to know that you probably exercise much more than you think. Exercise is anything that gets your body moving.

On a whim I picked up a couple books on yoga about eleven years ago.  I started small with no expectations.  I was simply giving it a shot to see what it’s all about.  I was hooked.  Whenever my body or mind isn’t quite right, I practice my yoga.  Yes, it’s my yoga.  It’s a part of me.

Some people feel this way about running.  My body hates running.  There are many bodies that can’t get into the groove of yoga.

Walking, gardening, cleaning, playing sports, rowing, hoola hooping (it’s bigger than you think), playing with your kids or grandkids, swimming, biking, whatever.

Every body is different, unique and beautiful.

Find something you love, something you can’t wait to do every day, something you crave.  If you go a day without it, your day wasn’t complete.  Find that thing for you and do it every day.

Can You Do This?

Can you take a moment to think about what you’re eating and why you’re eating it?

Can you get up and move for five or ten minutes throughout your day?

Can you have fun and feel good doing all this in your own unique ways?

Welcome to the mindful way of getting and staying healthy.  Our bodies and minds change all the time.  Mindfulness allows us to tune into and adapt to those changes and their related needs in ways that feel good for us in the short and long term.

Now It’s Your Turn

I’m creating the Mindful Body program for you so I need your input.  Where do you struggle the most with your body?  Weight, exercise, sleep, aches & pains…  What about those things do you struggle with the most?  The more you tell me in the comments below, the more I can help you.  I want this program to be incredibly valuable for you.  I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

 


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The Mindful Body program includes many ideas that you can use every day to avoid gaining extra weight while keeping your energy and spirits high.  It’s also a great gift to share with the special people in your life.  

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20 Responses to Simple Steps to Mindful Weight Loss

    Janet
    Commented:  07/13/2012 at 6:57 pm

    I struggle with mindless eating mostly in the format of finishing everything on my plate just because it is there, for example, or having ice cream at night when I am so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open because…hmmm…not sure why I do that! I do know that it would make much more sense to go to bed though! I think that is what I need help with, if I know that I am full or exhausted and more food isn’t needed, why am I eating?

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/14/2012 at 11:27 am

      Ah, the old “eat everything on your plate” curse. I’ve dealt with that one most of my life. Mine came from childhood programming where my father wouldn’t let us leave the table unless we cleaned our plate, regardless of how hungry we weren’t. I’m just getting over that one myself.

      Eating more slowly and mindfully and asking ourselves if we want and/or need the next bite is one way to curb these practices. Knowing that you’re not wasting food if you don’t eat it is another way. Eating what you don’t need is wasting food.

      As for those freezer raids at night, consider putting a little sign on the ice cream that says, “Do you really want this?” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t but the sign will at least prompt you to think.

      Thanks so much for your comment Janet! I’ll be sure to include these ideas.
      Paige Burkes recently posted..5 Steps to Creating Your Awesome LifeMy Profile

      Reply
    Vidya Sury
    Commented:  07/13/2012 at 9:40 pm

    Paige, you really should quit reading my mind. Really. It is embarrassing for me, to say the least. :D:D But then, excellent advice,particularly when it is timely, can be so ………embarrassing! Sigh. This post hit my current weak spot. The last three weeks have gone by in a daze for me. No exercise, well, hardly any. Overload of work. Sleeping very late and waking very early. And food habits? Best left unsaid. I FEEL the mess my body has become. Okay, so it really doesn’t show a great deal – but it is feeling that counts, yes? I am desperate to return to my usual decent routine and am disgusted it can’t happen for another two days because that’s how long it will take me to be up to date with what am doing.

    However, to appease my conscience – I made a fresh time management list that includes yoga. I plan to practice along with a couple of DVDs by someone I really like. Must also return to my meditation practice. I tried doing it last week and found that I simply fell asleep which was gross.

    I cheat my eating habits by skipping meals – so overeating is never an issue. The good part is I drink lots of water, which is probably what kept me sane. Ok – sane enough to realize I must pull myself in.

    I am full of gratitude to read your post today – I used to proudly say I am a health freak but thanks to the recent work snowball, that has become a bit of a distant echo.

    One thing though – I am never low on the happiness quotient, thank God! :D

    Have a beautiful weekend, Soul Sis! You know I love you!
    Vidya Sury recently posted..From Flatulence to FlatMy Profile

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/14/2012 at 12:08 pm

      You can still call yourself a health freak as we all have our not-so-wonderful phases that we go through.

      I know exactly what you’re going through, my dear Vidya. Sometimes things improve when the work load lightens and other times they improve when I ask myself what the big deal is and simply allow myself to stop stressing so much about everything. At those times it’s like someone waved a magic wand over my head, I take a deep breath and release the craziness in my head and everything is OK again.

      When I have tons to do, I’ve discovered that I expend large amounts of energy simply stressing about what I have to do. When I let go of the stress and know that I can only do one thing at a time (as much as I like to think otherwise) and simply focus on that one thing in the moment, things seem to flow much better and I seem to accomplish more with greater ease.

      The stress comes from imagining a negative future (“I’ll never get it all done”) and trying to bunch together many future moments into one. Thinking about the future doesn’t help us to act in the present moment.

      I love how you remain happy through all the craziness! That’s the angel that you are shining through.

      Know that this time, like everything in life, shall pass and things will be wonderfully peaceful again very soon.

      Huge Hugs!!
      Paige Burkes recently posted..Can’t Get Past That Stuck Place In Your Life? Here’s What to DoMy Profile

      Reply
    Fran Sorin
    Commented:  07/14/2012 at 3:12 am

    Paige…..Vidya and you must be on the same wave length. I just finished reading her post.

    1. First, I do get a lot of exercise naturally…rowing, walking, weight lifting. Rowing has been the biggest surprise for me…started 2 years ago and it has become a passion.

    2. I can’t believe that you mentioned the hoola hoop. I was actually thinking about it a few weeks ago but don’t think have in Israel.

    3. My shoulders have become a problem. I notice that they’re beginning to slump in. Although I no longer take formal yoga, I do some of the exercises at home. Not enough impact. I would guess that the constant rowing has something to do with it. I’m going to try Pilates. I’ve heard that you can get tremendous results from it.

    4. My lack of control with sweets. I DO NOT keep sweets in the house. Let’s just say that I have little control over them. I’ve tried a lot of different strategies over the years….and they just don’t work. Last night was a good example. I bought a variety of cookies for dessert for a family dinner. Dessert is usually not a problem. I have a portion and then my daughter takes leftovers home. It just so happen last night she wasn’t at dinner. 5 soft medium sized chocolate chocolate cookies. I put them in the freezer.Guess what? By midnight, they were gone.

    I don’t feel bad or remorseful about it. I loved eating them….absolutely delicious. Today I’m having salad and quinoa which are a mainstay of my diet.

    Lots of water? A must in this climate. Skipping meals? When I do, I feel lousy. Sometimes I have a late breakfast/early lunch at 11am. But that’s the latest I’ll eat. Otherwise, I’m drained of energy.

    Thanks for an insightful, chock full of information post. It’s always good to have common sense ideas that too few of us follow. xxoo-Fran

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/14/2012 at 12:25 pm

      Fran,

      Kuddos to you! Sounds like you know your body well and you’ve learned how to work with it effectively.

      I’ve tried Pilates but it’s a bit too intense for me. It can definitely deliver some amazing results and would likely greatly enhance your rowing.

      You’ve got the right attitude on the sweets. Don’t have them readily available when you know you have no self-restraint but don’t beat yourself up if you eat some every once in a while. It’s beautiful that you enjoyed those cookies so much!

      When I’ve coached people about how to eat to achieve their goals, this is one of the keys I convey. Guilt doesn’t help anything. The idea is to feel good about all that we do. No plan is sustainable if it excludes things we love. Everything in moderation. If you love chocolate cake, have a little every once in a while and savor every bite. Tomorrow is a new day. Get back on the plan that’s working for you and don’t worry about “making up the calories.”

      As for the hoola hoops, there are plenty of places where you can buy the hoops online and lots of YouTube videos for instruction. I’ve experimented with my kids’ hoops but they don’t weigh enough to keep going. I’ll be checking out those adult hoops and see what I can do with them.

      Fran – Keep doing what you’re doing since you look great and seem to feel great and feeling great is what really counts.

      Big Big Hugs!!
      Paige Burkes recently posted..What Does Success Look Like To You?My Profile

      Reply
    Elle
    Commented:  07/14/2012 at 3:33 pm

    Been there, seen it, done it Paige. Chocolate used to be my food of choice for feeding emotions. They didn’t have to be negative either. If something great happened, I’d reach for a piece of chocolate – more than one truth be told. And if something upsetting occurred I’d reach for the very same thing.

    Love the questions you ask…thankfully I no longer eat unless I’m hungry. And the thing I love the best are my early morning walks. My meditation walks…where I affirm wonderful things, listen to the birds and enjoy the beauty around me. Aaah just writing about it feels good.

    Wonderful post Paige.

    Elle
    xoxo
    Elle recently posted..How To Go Dancing With The Universe And Live In Abundance.My Profile

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/14/2012 at 5:58 pm

      Elle,

      You’ve come a long way, baby! Chocolate has some wonderful natural chemicals that set off the ‘feel good’ chemicals in our bodies so it makes perfect sense that you reached for it in any situation. And it tastes so lusciously good too!

      Your walks sound heavenly! I do the same when I walk through the woods around our house. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by nature.

      Love your latest post!

      Big Hugs!!
      Paige Burkes recently posted..Powerful Ways To Create Your Own FutureMy Profile

      Reply
    Betsy at Zen Mama
    Commented:  07/14/2012 at 4:07 pm

    Paige,
    You have such great advice here and so many good reminders of things I know but don’t always practice. So happy to read this! I felt like Vidya does at the beginning of summer. As a teacher, I was too tired at the end of the day to exercise. So, I was determined after my school year teaching that I would follow my own advice. I don’t believe in diets but I do believe in mindful eating. I cut way back on snacks (I have two snacks a day at preschool :) ) I have not deprived myself and have found a great website that’s all about taste (skinnytaste.com). You’ve inspired me to start my yoga again, too. That is my favorite exercise. But I’ve also been swimming a lot because of the hot weather, gardening and walking early morning. I’m finally starting to feel better and have more energy, too. And I’m determined to have better habits when school starts again.

    A really wonderful post!! Thank you!!
    Hugs!
    Betsy
    Betsy at Zen Mama recently posted..How To Find Happiness For A LifetimeMy Profile

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/14/2012 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks so much Betsy!

      Mindful eating has many different aspects. When I originally wrote this post, it was twice as long so I had to cut. I’ll have all the other essential pieces of mindful eating in my new program. Sounds like you totally understand it though.

      If any kind of eating is to be sustainable, we can’t ever feel like we’re deprived. With mindful eating, you can eat as much as you want. By being mindful you simply want healthier foods and only what your body needs.

      I’m glad I inspired you back to your yoga. I love that you called it “your” yoga. That says a lot! I wish we had a place to swim near us. I miss the ocean but absolutely love the mountains where we live.

      Starting now, see yourself taking great care of yourself when school starts so that it will happen in a couple months. We all have our crazy busy times but our lives can’t be like that. We all deserve to be pampered.

      Thanks for all the links & shares! And I love the quote graphic you created on Facebook today!

      Big Big Hugs!!
      Paige Burkes recently posted..5 Steps to Creating Your Awesome LifeMy Profile

      Reply
    Angela Artemis|Powered by Intuition
    Commented:  07/17/2012 at 8:37 am

    Paige,
    OMG! Just what I needed to read today.
    First – we had hoola hoops growing up and it was fun! I got so good I could let it go to my thighs and knees and bring it back up to my waist without a hitch! No wonder I was so in shape back then! lol
    I think emotional eating is my downfall. I eat to not have to “think” about things….it’s a form of self-medication. Better than drugs and alcohol but, not without it’s negative consequences.
    Mindfulness is the answer though.
    Thanks for sharing this great article with us.
    xoxo,
    Angela
    Angela Artemis|Powered by Intuition recently posted..The Gift of TragedyMy Profile

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/17/2012 at 1:51 pm

      Angela,

      I love the vision of you and your hoola hoop!

      Emotional eating is so common. Unlike drugs and alcohol, the side effects aren’t as evident but they’re there, as you know. Maybe you could trade emotional eating with emotional hooping! :) You already know that listening to your heart is always the best thing to do.

      Big Hugs to you!!

      Reply
    Angela Artemis|Powered by Intuition
    Commented:  07/17/2012 at 6:11 pm

    xoxo
    Angela Artemis|Powered by Intuition recently posted..The Gift of TragedyMy Profile

    Reply
    Reuben
    Commented:  07/18/2012 at 4:04 am

    I am guilty on feeding something else. In my case, it is stress. I tend to eat a lot during and after stressful situations.

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  07/18/2012 at 11:11 am

      I know what you mean Reuben. Stress affects everyone a little differently and can do a number on our health. While we can’t escape stress, we can learn more productive ways to recognize it when we initially feel it and do something about it (besides eat).

      Stress is usually caused by imagining and feeling a negative future. By taking a few deep breaths and staying in the present, we can focus on what’s in front of us right now instead of thinking and stressing about the future.

      Thanks for being here!

      Reply
    Barb Suiter
    Commented:  08/24/2012 at 11:22 am

    Hi Paige,
    Just stumbled across this and I love the topic! You may no longer need input, but in case you do, here’s where I’m struggling:
    I’ve been “counting calories” for about a year now. I lost about 14 lbs. the first 5 months (slow, healthy loss), then put most of it back on due to a medication change. Now I’m at 1/3 of that dosage and struggling to lose again. I usually eat 1400-1600 calories a day and do at least some exercise almost every day. I eat almost no “prepared” foods, cook from scratch most of the time, snack on fruit and nuts, allow myself an occasional glass of wine or some dark chocolate (anti-oxidants!) and most days, one small dessert from an organic bakery which uses minimal sugar and fats. All of these are tracked and included in my calorie count.
    On the other hand, I probably do need to drink more water and will start working on that today! (Do tea and coffee count?)
    From my research, I should be losing weight easily at this intake level! A couple of my doctors have commented that perhaps I’m not eating enough? Do you have any suggestions as to how do I determine the right level of intake for a healthy weight loss? My body is very uncomfortable at this weight – it doesn’t feel good or right or health – but it seems very reluctant to change! And after my doctors’ comments, I’m not comfortable with dropping my intake much more.
    Thank you – again – for all you do!
    Barb

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  08/24/2012 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks Barb! One of the biggest messages I have for you is that every person’s body is different. You can’t compare yourself to averages and studies because there are too many variables. Medication is a huge one.

      Instead of focusing on what you “should” be eating and doing, slow down and consider how you feel about everything. Meditate and ask your inner voice or intuition for guidance. Your intuition knows you much better than any doctor could. Focusing on calories keeps you focused on the problem. What you focus on grows.

      If you’re not eating enough for your body, that can hold up the process of losing weight because you’re perpetually in a “starvation mode” where your body tries to hold onto everything that goes in your mouth instead of realizing that it has enough and letting things pass through.

      Drinking more water will always help to improve your health. No, coffee and tea don’t count because they’re diuretics which cause you to expel as much, if not more, liquid than you’re taking in. Water is water. Definitely not carbonated water. Carbonation leaches calcium from our bones. Juices contain lots of sugars. Just drink plain water.

      It’s great that you’re exercising every day and allowing yourself the little indulgences. Everything in moderation.

      Instead of tracking calories, make sure you’re not doing anything else when you eat. No reading, TV, talking, etc. Sit down and focus completely on every bite of food. Before eating, think about how that food and that quantity will make you feel immediately after you eat it and a day or two later. Consider how your food smells, looks and tastes. Savor and chew each bite thoroughly. When you’re about half-way done, ask yourself if your body still needs the rest of the food or if it would better serve you to put it away and eat it later.

      Bring the same mindfulness to your exercise. Are you doing what feels good for your body? Could you add more action to the activities to burn more energy and tone your muscles more?

      If your body doesn’t feel good where it is, ask it what it needs. Don’t follow research and diets. Get quiet enough to hear the answers and follow them, even if they seem counter to what the rules would tell you. Listen closely to your body for a month and see what happens.

      Also consider how your emotions play into all this. Are there beliefs from your upbringing or your past that you’re subconsciously holding onto that manifest themselves in your body? They may have nothing to do with your body or health. For example, many people who have been abused or abandoned in their pasts will hold onto extra weight to protect them from getting close to others and potentially being abused or abandoned again. I’ve seen many cases where women who were sexually abused manifest cancer in their sexual organs and clear the cancer after completely clearing the emotional issues.

      I’ve seen people’s bodies hold onto weight even when they eat very little. This is usually caused by emotions and beliefs that haven’t been uncovered or dealt with. If you need to see a coach or therapist to work on this, I would highly recommend it.

      Hopefully something here has helped. It’s hard to get into lots of detail in a comment. I’d love to help more if I can!

      Big Hugs!!
      Paige Burkes recently posted..How Losing Your Job Can Get Your Life Back On TrackMy Profile

      Reply
    Charley Sin
    Commented:  04/05/2013 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you are a great author. I want to encourage you to continue your great work, have a nice evening!

    Reply
    Laurence
    Commented:  04/23/2013 at 8:35 am

    Hey Paige, I like this simple yet very helpful post, thank you!!

    My biggest issues with weight loss is exercise I guess, I can’t seem to find anything pleasurable to do consistently. Most of the time I feel too tired or in pain to do anything. I can hardly even get around to doing house chores, I can’t picture myself doing exercise.

    As for food I’ve made a lot of improvements, choosing better foods, eating less, refusing my boyfriend who is constantly offering to take me out for dinner (this is very hard), drinking a lot of water and green tea, cooking at home, avoiding processed foods, not having sweets at home…

    The discouraging thing is, I haven’t lost a pound, since I started making the changes 4 months ago, and I don’t look slimmer either.

    Reply
      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  04/24/2013 at 9:59 pm

      Exercise is so important but I hate to call it “exercise.” Try “moving your body.” Getting started with anything is difficult when it hurts. Start slow and try different things. Walking is the best exercise around.

      Saying that you can’t picture yourself exercising is a guarantee that you’ll never find a way to do it, much less enjoy it.

      Plug in some headphones and crank up your favorite tunes while you get up and move to the grooves.

      Stand up and move your arms from down, against your sides to up over your head while you take in a deep breath. Let out that breath slowly as you gently let your arms down. This felt so good when I first did it that it started my yoga practice over ten years ago (I started very slowly).

      Flex your muscles and hold the flex for five or ten seconds while you’re sitting down. Do this with different parts of your body until you’ve covered your whole body. Then do it again.

      The ways of moving your body are infinite.

      While it sounds like you’re making some good food choices, are you drinking diet sodas or living in an environment with higher levels of toxins? Both of these things dump tons of toxins into your body. Your body’s defense mechanism is to wrap the toxins in fat cells and store them. Get rid of the toxins and you drop the fat. A gentle, regular cleansing or juicing regime are great at releasing those toxins.

      I hope these ideas help! If what you’re doing isn’t working, keep experimenting until you find your personal formula. Even then, you’ll probably plateau at some point. Change it up again and keep moving forward. Progress is never a straight line. Each day you may lurch forward, fall back or go nowhere. Look at the long term.

      I know you can do it!!
      Paige Burkes recently posted..Misadventures of a Garden State YogiMy Profile

      Reply

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