This is the last in the series of looking at the nutritional and emotional side in the logistics of losing weight.
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a planner. I was not a shining example of someone who lived in the moment. But to be perfectly honest, I was not aware of the concept of mindfulness when I was in the thick of kids, work, husband and home. There were many years where my thoughts were consumed with the future moment, or the past with regrets and not enough in the joy of the present. I wish I had known back then about mindfulness. But see, there I go again, looking at the past with regrets.
What Is Mindfulness
Jon Kabit-Zinn is the father of mindfulness. Through his Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction program of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, he taught people new constructs in thinking to better manage their pain, anxiety, health, work and relationships. When people can better manage these aspects of their lives, they gain confidence. And confidence is what helps us to achieve greater goals, like living a healthier life and losing weight.
Being mindful makes us the cue ball in our life instead of the billiard ball. Being in the moment means separating judgment from past experience. It means coming to the same situations as if for the first time, with gentle eyes and new data points. It means approaching difficult events in search of new perspectives instead of anticipatory concern. It means observing yourself as if you are separate from your body, detached from from your emotions. Mindfulness is the pause before action.
Mindfulness and Eating
Being mindful around food allows you to detach yourself from your hunger, your food loves, your self talk around your food choices and just observe them before you act on them. So much of our lives is lived reflexively, by the clock, and by association and not really done with deliberation and intention. How often do you check in with your hunger throughout the day? Do you notice how it changes after you eat, depending on what you eat? Do you notice that the presence of certain foods like cookies, cakes, donuts or candy make you salivate like Pavlov’s dog and just consume your thoughts until you have one, and then maybe another one if no one is looking?
Knowing Your Desires
In her book, The Zen of Eating. Ronna Kabatznick discusses three types of desire: sense desire, avoidance desire and becoming desire. Sense desire demands satisfying the 5 senses. This person might struggle with overeating or food cravings. Avoidance desire demands avoidance of anything painful or unpleasant. This person might not deal well with confrontation or sadness. Becoming desire demands satisfying a feeling of emptiness. This person might struggle with shopping or spending on unneeded things.
Once you know the type of desire you are experiencing, the next step is to understand your attachment to that desire. Seeing a cookie for some people might not be a big deal. A person with a strong attachment to the sense desire will struggle walking by a plate of cookies and not grabbing a few and then think about them until the plate is empty. For that person the plate full of cookies creates an explosive frenzy as the eyes see them, the nose smells them, the fingers touch them and the mouth tastes them.
The Breath Is The Pause
This strong attachment to the desire to eat the plate full of cookies can be interrupted… by just taking a breath. The kind of breath where you close your eyes, breath in through your nose and fill your lungs slowly….then slowly let the air out. This slow deep breath is the pause that will allow you to detach from your desire. That person who struggles with a strong attachment to the sense desire might notice what triggered the desire and even be able to find a more satisfactory solution that won’t lead to regret or weight gain. Now that can boost confidence.
Mindfulness Creates Gratitude
Mindfulness isn’t just about conquering desire. When it comes to food, it’s also about pausing and thinking about the food in front of you. It’s thinking about how your food got from the land, to the store, to your table. It’s observing the colors, the textures, the tastes. It’s chewing each bite being fully present to enjoy it, savor it and not being distracted. When we can be grateful for what we have, we have less room for what we may desire. Mindfulness will help you reach your goal and keep it!