February 3, 2016

A Mindful Makeover (for your Mind & Body).

Dyonisius Burton/ Flickr

Do you wonder how some people manage to lose weight and keep it off permanently while others experience an ongoing, lifelong struggle with the scale?

They can’t quite seem to set their minds to the benefits of healthy weight maintenance forever?

Forever weight loss is about more than just a new diet and exercise program. Way more. Many things need to come together (a “perfect storm” if you will) in order for a person to make lasting, healthy changes. Changes that actually transform a person from the inside out. Changes that liberate a person from suffering, ignorance and craving. Changes that bring a person to a place of higher wisdom and discernment. Changes that keep the weight off for good!

To get to that place, diet and exercise are not enough. You must have something more.

My years of yo-yo dieting were the result of thinking that simply dieting and exercising to lose weight was the answer. The only answer. Eat less, exercise more and voila! Weight loss! But, inevitably, the pounds crept back on because I didn’t take care of the other, vital parts of my life that are imperative to weight loss.

Permanent weight loss is of course the result of a consistent eating and exercise program. But it needs to be combined with what can only be called a “mindful makeover.”

A mindful makeover involves reflection, self-awareness, and learning to think differently about your whole life, not just your diet. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you are open to new ideas, you can become awakened to a blissful, new purpose while your body is changing. Awareness, reflection and thinking differently will add some needed fuel to your success—and it will, in time, anchor your new healthy habits.

My Mindful Makeover was about these three things:

1. Committing to a regular yoga practice that encouraged a better understanding of an ancient philosophy.

2. Adhering to a program of morning mantras (however weird that may sound).

3. Keeping a good, old-fashioned food journal.

Initially, I used these activities as exercises to create continuity and discipline in my daily routine. But as I began to really unplug from my distractions and put myself first, I effectively eliminated some of the stress and boredom of trying to lose 90-plus pounds. And this act has helped me sustain a healthy weight loss pattern.

I began by slowly looking for and finding pleasure in people, places and things that did not involve food. When a healthy diet and exercise is just part of your day, and not your whole day, it leads to sustainable weight loss.

I let go of my kids a bit. I stopped hovering and making their lives my only life. They are both adults, and can certainly live and make many decisions without my input. In freeing them from my constant, unsolicited advice and involvement, I essentially freed myself. This gave me the much needed time to explore my yoga practice.

Additionally, I implemented a morning mantra. A recurring theme for my mantras seemed to come in the form of the following question: “You were younger yesterday, what would you tell your younger self today?” If my answer was “be more patient” (for example), then that became my mantra. I focused on changing. I would reflect on situations, and moments during the day and make some candid observations about my behaviors and reactions. Then, I wrote them down. It wasn’t anything lengthy or time-consuming—just some notes here and there. It’s easy to “forget” how you felt once your day has passed. But, when you are trying to understand why and how your triggers for overeating as a coping mechanism reveal themselves, a small journal can be a very powerful tool for authentic progress.

Writing out a daily “plan” was instrumental in my success.

I expanded my intellect by reading more. For example, I read quite a bit about Buddhism, Hinduism and the many facets of yoga. And guess what? It all makes sense. A life philosophy born from finding peace (and striving to just be a more peaceful human being) is something I can stand behind. Finding degrees of tranquility and insight through meditation just makes sense to me. It’s quite okay if this stuff is not for you. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s important to find new and interesting ways of thinking within your own life.

Slowly, I got out of my own head and out of my own way for good.

When you’re in the middle of a mindful makeover, you begin to really feel what’s happening to you and around you in the present moment. That’s what being mindful is about. Instead of pining for a future I dreamed about, or hoping for a way of life I wasn’t willing to work for, I began to make strides in present moments by doing the actual work it takes to make actual changes.

Being mindful means owning your sh*t.

You must own what you decide to haul around, and what you decide to drop from your cart.

I also stopped glorifying busy.

I stopped filling my hours with meaningless activity. I stopped talking about what I had to do all the time. I have never, ever been too busy to take care of myself, and yet that was my common go-to excuse. I used “being busy” over and over again to avoid doing the things I needed to do to really change my quality of life.

A mindful makeover involves continuous reflection, being both ready and open to make changes, and quite possibly adopting alternate ways of thinking about what really makes you tick. Losing weight is never just about diet and exercise. It’s also very much about changing your mind so that your negative behaviors will change. Participating in a mindful makeover could very well be the most important piece of your own weight loss puzzle.

You may indeed be able to change your body with diet and exercise, but your weight loss will not last unless you change your mind.


Author: Kimberly Valzania

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

Image: Flickr

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