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The first time I heard that I could “think myself thin” my inner voice answered, “DEFINITELY NOT! My weight is determined by what I eat, how much I exercise and the way my body metabolizes food. It has nothing to do with THINKING!”

 

I kept wondering, though, if my thoughts really did influence my weight and began to research. I soon found several interesting studies that prove there is a clear connection between our mind and our health, including our weight.

Meditation and mindfulness can actually help us to lose weight.

 

Below you will find a collection of the most interesting and relevant information that I found regarding our ability to think ourselves thin. It clearly establishes that there is a connection between our minds and our bodies.

 

I hope this information helps you discover exactly how:

 

  • Meditation slashes cortisol levels and facilitates weight loss

  • Meditation shatters insulin resistance

  • Mindfulness trims away obesity and belly fat

  • Mindfulness influences our food choices

  • The brain can squash cravings

 

And if you read all the way to the end, you will find a bonus section with practical ways to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your life.

 

Note: When I use the word meditation, it refers to spending a specific amount of time with our minds focused on mental exercises, contemplation or reflection.

The word mindfulness has a slightly different meaning. It refers to an inherent or learned behavior of constantly being aware of our thoughts and feelings and does not usually involve setting aside time to focus on our current state and emotions.

Although meditation and mindfulness have slightly different meanings, they are closely related. As a general rule, people who meditate regularly are naturally more mindful.

 

Meditation slashes cortisol levels and facilitates weight loss

 

In 2013, researchers from the University of California-Davis did a study to determine how meditation influenced the production and circulation of cortisol. They found that meditation slashes cortisol levels by more than half!

 

The adrenal gland produces cortisol during times of physical or emotional stress. This hormone helps us to keep going through many of life’s difficulties, but when we have too much cortisol in our system or it is released for too long of a time the cortisol causes a wide range of adverse effects. These adverse effects include digestive problems, insomnia, headaches, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and weight gain.

 

Meditation calms our mind and body and encourages the adrenal gland to drastically decrease its production of cortisol. This resulting decrease in cortisol triggers other changes in our bodies which usually include:

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Decreased irritability and depression

  • Improvement in type 2 diabetes

  • Relief from chronic fatigue

  • Increased energy and strength

  • Easier weight loss

 

Cutting cortisol levels makes it easier to lose weight because cortisol causes many of our cravings and it encourages our bodies to store larger amounts of fat, especially abdominal fat.

 

In a nutshell: Meditation decreases the production of cortisol and this automatically helps us eat less and store less fat.

 

Meditation shatters insulin resistance

 

Meditation can also shatter insulin resistance markers.

 

Scientists from Cedars-Sinai Research Institute wanted to know more about how stress impacts metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a medical term that encompasses abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and other factors that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

 

These scientists organized a controlled study to observe the effects of meditation on 47 coronary heart patients. The study lasted for 16 weeks and had some amazing results.

 

The heart patients who meditated regularly improved their overall health. Their three key metabolic syndrome markers, including their insulin resistance, glucose, and HOMA scores (homeostasis model assessment) plummeted.

 

In comparison, the health of the non-meditating control group deteriorated. These coronary heart patients only received basic health education and their key metabolic syndrome markers steadily increased during the duration of the study.

 

By the conclusion of the study, the patients who meditated had metabolic syndrome stats that were 200% better than those that did not meditate!

 

In a nutshell: Meditation decreases insulin resistance, glucose, triglycerides, and blood pressure. This decreases our risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

 

Mindfulness trims away obesity and belly fat

 

In 2015, Brown University researchers asked 400 people to fill out a short questionnaire that measured their dispositional mindfulness level on the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS Scale). Dispositional mindfulness is defined as a person’s awareness and attention to their thoughts and feelings at the present moment.

 

After establishing each participant’s dispositional mindfulness, the researchers ran a number of exams on each participant to gather data about their health.

 

The results revealed that people who had a higher level of mindfulness weighed less, had a lower BMI and a significantly smaller amount of abdominal fat than other participants who had lower levels of mindfulness.

 

In the written results for this study, the Brown University researchers mentioned other studies that have shown how mindfulness is important for dealing with cravings and establishing a healthy lifestyle.

 

It takes being aware and attentive to our thoughts and feelings to say “no” to a craving or to satisfy it in a healthy way. It also takes purposeful thought to faithfully maintain a well-rounded diet and exercise program.

 

In a nutshell: Mindfulness and weight are inversely related. Increased mindfulness equals decreased weight and vice versa.

 

Mindfulness influences our food choices

 

We are surrounded by distractions and most of them are unimportant. Mindfulness helps us to tune out these insignificant distractions and focus on those things that are truly important.

 

Paying attention to the important things in life gives us some wonderful benefits, including:

 

  • Enhanced self-awareness

  • Improved emotional health

  • Increased satisfaction

  • More self-compassion

  • A deeper understanding of our body’s needs

  • The desire and power to make decisions for our own wellbeing

 

Each of these benefits encourages us to eat for our health. We will say good-bye to our old habits of eating according to our emotions or to satisfy cravings, and instead, choose to eat foods that nourish and strengthen our bodies.

 

This drastic change in our mindset will naturally help us to lose weight and take control of our health.

 

Kimberly Carrière is a PhD student at McGill University. She specializes in Clinical Psychology and has done extensive research on weight loss. One time when speaking about how mindfulness and meditation positively impact eating behaviors and can aid weight loss, she said, “When we have processed foods and we eat them mindfully, they’re actually really gross”.

 

It’s true. Increased mindfulness about how our bodies work and how food affects every part of our body will make us want to avoid everything that harms us, including artificial flavorings and dyes, chemicals, unhealthy fats and empty calories.

 

In a nutshell: Increased mindfulness will increase our self-compassion and self-care. This will encourage us to make healthy food choices.

 

The brain can squash cravings

 

The following two studies didn’t involve meditation or mindfulness, but they prove that our brains can’t always tell the difference between what is real and what is imaginary. This little quirk in our brains can be an effective weapon against cravings.

 

In the first study, researchers from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland asked one group of people to play a simple five-finger exercise on the piano every day for five days. As these people were playing the piano, the researchers carefully mapped activity in their brains and identified the specific areas that triggered the muscles in their fingers to extend and contract so that they could hit the piano keys.

 

Next, the researchers asked a separate group of people to imagine that they were playing the same five-finger exercise on a piano without actually playing it. The researchers mapped the brain activity of this second group and found that the areas in their brain that controlled the muscles in their fingers were just as active as if they had literally played the piano!

 

The second study proves that the difficulty that our brains have in distinguishing between real and imaginary also applies to eating. This study was conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.

 

The researchers had three groups of volunteers. They asked one group to eat 3 M&Ms and also imagine putting 30 coins into a laundry machine. The second group ate 30 M&Ms and imagined putting only 3 coins into a laundry machine. The third group of volunteers imagined putting 33 coins into a laundry machine and didn’t eat any M&Ms.

 

The researchers asked the volunteers in this study to imagine putting coins into a laundry machine because the muscles that were triggered during this imaginary task were they same muscles that they would have used to pick up M&Ms and put them in their mouths. Between putting imaginary coins into a laundry machine and eating M&Ms, each volunteer completed 33 hand movements.

 

After the volunteers finished their assigned tasks, the researchers gave each of them a bowl of M&Ms and invited them to eat as many as they wanted to. The researchers then discretely counted how many M&Ms each volunteer ate.

 

This study concluded that the first group of volunteers that had eaten only 3 M&Ms and also imagine putting 30 coins into a laundry machine ate the smallest number of M&Ms from their dishes. Their brains had gone through the motions of eating to the point that they felt satisfied and their appetite wasn’t stimulated by the dish of M&Ms.

 

It is possible to harness this sensitivity that our brains have to the imaginary and use it to squash cravings. Simply use your imagination to go through the motions of eating sugar, carbohydrates or anything else that you are craving until your brain registers that your appetite is satisfied.

 

In a nutshell: It is possible to use our imagination to satisfy our appetite without actually eating the foods that we crave.

 

I hope reading about these studies has helped you to understand how meditation and mindfulness can bring many important benefits to your life (and helping us lose weight and keep it off is one of these benefits!). Most importantly I hope this new understanding of how we can think ourselves thin will transform your life in a positive way – just as it has mine.

 

A great way to begin this transformation is to contact us and schedule a breakthrough session with our Mindset Master here at Cambiati Wellness. She will help you create the right mindset so that YOU CAN BEGIN THINKING YOURSELF THIN!!

 

Bonus: Practical ways to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into our lives.

 

You and I now know that meditation and mindfulness play an important role in our weight, as well as our overall health and wellbeing. It isn’t enough to just know these facts, we have to apply them to our lives if we want to reap the benefits. So how do we include meditation and mindfulness in our lives?

 

Here are 5 practical ways that we can do it:

 

1. Start your day with a few moments of meditation.

 

You don’t have to meditate for an hour to enjoy its benefits. Meditating for just 10-15 minutes soon after you wake up in the morning is often enough to calm and organize your mind for the day.

 

As you meditate:

 

  • Reflect on what you are thinking and feeling at the moment.

  • Step back and look at the big picture of your day to avoid getting bogged down in the little stuff.

  • Consider the challenges that you are facing and how to defeat them.

  • Finish up with a few moments of thankfulness.

 

2. Re-focus your mind throughout the day.

 

Whenever our thoughts run in a million different directions, we end up exhausted and unproductive. To prevent this from happening, we need to take a few moments throughout the day and re-focus our minds.

 

Use this time to:

 

  • Re-focus on the task at hand

  • Be thankful for what you have accomplished

  • Remind yourself of how to overcome your challenges

  • Enjoy the beauties of life, perhaps the sunshine coming in your window or the flavor of your coffee.

 

3. Plan to exercise – even if it is just a little.

 

We usually think of exercise as benefiting our physical bodies (and it does!), but it also works wonders for the mind.

 

Exercise takes us away from our ever-demanding list to do and gives our brain the opportunity to rest and refresh. Exercise also boosts cognition, increases awareness and calms our stress by burning cortisol.

 

Plan to exercise several times in the day even if it is just to do a few stretches at your desk or simply walk outside for a few minutes.

 

4. Eat healthy meals and enjoy them.

 

We all feel better physically and emotionally if we eat healthy meals that include lots of non-starchy veggies, healthy fat, great quality protein, and high fiber carbs.

 

As you eat your healthy meals, take time to slow down and enjoy them. Think about the flavors and nutrients in each different food and learn to appreciate the benefits and enjoyment that they give you.

 

5. Be compassionate to others.

Believe it or not, showing compassion to the people around us boosts our own happiness and wellbeing. Make it a point every day to notice the needs of others, relieve their suffering, encourage them and give them a few moments of joy. You will find that the compassion you show will be reciprocated abundantly.

 

How are you going to begin practicing meditation and mindfulness in your life?

 

Sources:

Mindfulness from meditation associated with lower stress hormone
https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/mindfulness-meditation-associated-lower-stress-hormone/

Effects of a randomized controlled trial of transcendental meditation on components of the metabolic syndrome in subjects with coronary heart disease.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16772250

Mindfulness linked to lower obesity risk, belly fat
https://news.brown.edu/articles/2015/10/mindfulness

Can You Meditate Your Way to Weight Loss?
https://health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2018-07-05/can-you-meditate-your-way-to-weight-loss

Modulation of muscle responses evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation during the acquisition of new fine motor skills.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7500130

Thought for food: imagined consumption reduces actual consumption.
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/330/6010/1530