Can meditation help me lose weight?
Do you loathe the idea of lifting heavy weights?
Does lazing on the couch in front of the TV seem more fun than going for a run?
Maybe the idea of getting sweaty and out of breath leaves you feeling a little anxious?
You’re not alone!
Not everyone loves to pump it out at the gym. But if you’re trying to be healthy and lose weight, you might feel like you’re missing out if you’re not exercising.
Of course, while healthy eating habits are very important, it is equally important to be active as part of your holistic health approach.
But you have to work your butt off if you want to get fit and lose weight, right?
In fact, trying vigorous exercise to lose weight is not going to work out if you don’t enjoy it. Or maybe you enjoy cardiovascular activities, but you have an injury and need a gentler way to get moving that doesn’t put a strain on your body.
What if I told you there’s a way to get the weight loss and mood-boosting benefits of exercise—without exercising?
That’s right, you can actually meditate your way to weight loss.
Recent studies have shown that meditation is a proven way to lose weight, and can be as effective as intense exercise.
I’m going to show you how meditation works to help you lose weight AND how to incorporate it into your everyday routine, so you can start seeing the benefits for yourself!
Are you ready?
YES!! – Let’s do this!
Why over-exercising can be bad for weight loss
I used to be an exercise fanatic. Sounds good, right?
To be honest with you, this was not a healthy lifestyle.
From the ages of 20-22, I twice experienced binge eating disorders and was trying to lose all the weight I gained from binging. This led to over-exercising, which caused me to badly injure my knee, requiring painful surgery and rehabilitation.
Gym junkies keep in mind: too much strenuous exercise puts a lot of stress on your joints and muscles and can lead to serious and permanent injuries.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying working out at a gym is bad for you.
If you love working at a gym, that’s fantastic! I’m just telling you from my experience because I had to go through knee surgery three years ago from the excessive workouts.
In fact, becoming obsessed with exercise can lead to a health disorder known as Compulsive Exercise.
This is when someone exercises to the point where it significantly interferes with their life, such as taking place of, or interrupting, other important activities or exercising to the point of extreme discomfort and injury.
So instead of making you feel better, the consequences of overexercising can lead to anxiety and depression.
I’m telling you, it’s important to realize that even light movement can be just as beneficial for your physical and mental health as strenuous exercise.
Changing my lifestyle from overexercising, and focusing on a more holistic health approach, was the only way I could reduce my weight and keep it off for good.
So, how did I do that?
Let’s take a look together!
How did I overcome Compulsive Exercise
It was a long way to come along.
I started seeing a therapist to help overcome my eating disorder, started eating intuitively instead of dieting, and was kinder to myself
I have now maintained a healthy weight for 3 years, without any intense exercise, and continue my love of intuitive eating and self-care.
On top of this, living a more balanced and holistic life led me towards meditation and its benefits.
I learned that meditation went a long way towards looking after my physical and mental health.
But how does this help with weight loss?
You might already know that meditation can indirectly help with weight loss because it can help you manage stress and lead you towards making better lifestyle choices.
Well, throughout my research, I found scientific studies that directly linked losing weight with meditation.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with the entire scientific analysis.
What I will do is share some key facts so you understand how and why this works, and I’ll show you HOW you can do it, too!
Your nervous system affects your weight
Ever heard of the phrase ‘fight-or-flight’? How about ‘rest-and-digest?’
These terms are used to describe your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which work together to maintain your normal body function. These systems are the Yin and Yang of your body’s nervous system, which controls your heart rate, body temperature, digestion, and breathing rate.
So, let’s take a look at how these systems work!
Do you think of ‘fight-or-flight, and picture cave people acting fast to either battle it out or quickly flee from a hungry saber-toothed tiger, otherwise risk becoming its dinner?
Well, you’d be right.
The sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) sends signals to your body, causing you to react to what’s happening around you.
When your body is in ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, you can respond quickly to a dangerous or stressful situation, as your nervous system releases a rush of hormones to boost your alertness and send more blood to your muscles.
Being in such a heightened sense of stress is useful, but not good for us long-term.
Especially seeing as our bodies cannot tell the difference between a genuine threat (that tiger trying to eat us) or everyday life stresses that we can’t stop thinking about (an upcoming exam or work deadline)
There is also evidence that too much activation of the sympathetic nervous system may lead to the development of hypertension and end-organ damage. This leads to metabolic abnormalities such as insulin resistance, which contributes to weight gain.
We need balance.
So, this is an easy one to imagine too.
Think of Homer Simpson after stuffing himself full of pork chops. Lazing back on the couch, pants unbuckled, peeking over his belly at the TV.
He’s in rest-and-digest mode!
This doesn’t just happen after a meal, our rest-and-digest (parasympathetic nervous) system comes into play when we are more relaxed. No longer worrying about that saber-toothed tiger or upcoming exam.
In the parasympathetic state, your body calms down.
Your blood pressure and hormones return to normal levels and your digestive enzymes are activated.
This is also sometimes referred to as our “business as usual” system because it allows our bodies to carry out their everyday functions so we can eat and digest our foods—getting much-needed nutrients to our bodies. It also allows us to relax and rest, so our bodies can grow, heal, and sleep.
(If you want to know more about how this all works, check out YouTube’s Crash Course for a much more in depth—but also very fun and easy to understand—explanation of the nervous systems. I love how these guys explain science.)
Too much fight-or-flight can cause weight gain
Did you know that too much fight-or-flight can cause you to gain weight?
Studies conducted on overweight people showed that those who had more success with their weight loss had significantly higher parasympathetic nervous system activity than those that didn’t.
While these studies are new, there are a few possible reasons for this.
One is that when your body is stressed, your cortisol hormone is released.
While this is essential for those fight-or-flight situations, it can cause other problems. This state can increase your appetite, and may also lead to a reduction in testosterone production. Which can then decrease muscle mass and slow down your metabolism.
Problems associated with too much stress hormone include weight gain, fatigue, high blood pressure, and reduced immune system.
It sounds like a lot! But can we control this?
This is when meditation can come into play.
If your body is go-go-go all the time and you feel like you might be in a constant state of ‘fight-or-flight’, meditation can help you!
Meditation activates your parasympathetic system
What happens to your body when you relax?
And how can this help you lose weight?
When your body returns to the parasympathetic state, your hormones adjust, your appetite normalizes, and you’re able to spend more time in a relaxed state.
In fact, when you spend time in a deeply relaxed state, you’re more likely to build a better relationship between you and your thoughts. This can also improve obesity-related eating behaviors.
This is where meditation comes in.
Meditation, which focuses on deep breathing, is a simple and effective way to calm your body and relax. There’s evidence that activities such as meditation and yoga can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol in the body.
The best part: you don’t have to be a meditation guru to see the benefits.
Simply practicing meditation activities for as little as 1 to 10 minutes per day is enough to see these benefits. So long as you make this a regular habit.
You may think that meditation is difficult, but I’m going to show you that it’s easy to get started and make meditation a part of your everyday life.
Are you ready to find out HOW you can lose weight with meditation?
How to get meditation into your daily routine
Now that you know WHY you can achieve weight loss without strenuous exercise, it’s time to find out HOW to meditate to lose weight!
I felt tremendous benefits once I started meditating daily.
How did I change? I started to be more aware of what’s going on in my life and the emotions around it!
Maybe you will realize what might cause you stress and start realizing you need to change something (relationships, jobs, etc.) or cope with your stress in a healthy way, rather than with bad eating or drinking.
Are you ready to get started?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never tried it before, or if you’ve given it a go but struggled to pick it up.
You can do this!
Just follow my 3 easy steps to getting started and you’ll find working meditation into your daily routine a lot easier than you think.
1. Meditate daily (plus, anytime you need when you are angry, anxious, and worried)
Pick a time of the day when you know you won’t be interrupted.
When is the best time to meditate?
Well, it’s up to you but I especially love doing an intention meditation in the morning to set a tone for the day! You may have tons of things to do, and by setting a clear intention for the day, you can change how you approach your tasks or how you are going to show up at work!
You can meditate in the morning, or at lunchtime, or before sleep, or anytime you get stressed, anxious, and worried! – No time to meditate? Try this 1-minute meditation!
Remember, meditating for 3 minutes every day is way better than meditating for 15 minutes once every 3 days!
2. Try diaphragmatic (deep) breathing whenever you can
Deep breathing is a great way to calm down and center yourself.
But did you know it has the bonus of increasing your oxygen intake and uses up quite a bit of energy in the process?
This not only helps with your meditation routine, studies have shown this specific breathing technique directly helps with weight loss.
Not sure if you’re doing it the right way?
This Youtube video is a great example of diaphragmatic breathing.
3. Try mindful eating meditation when you have an urge to eat.
Mindful eating meditation is a great way to help change the relationship you have with food.
Instead of telling yourself, “I can’t eat this!”, meditate and explore where the urge is coming from or why you want to eat.
Check out this video on the benefits of mindful eating.
Want some more in-depth tips on how to get started with meditation?
Check out my beginner’s guide to meditation for more tips on how to get meditation working for your weight loss journey.
If you’re like me and learn by watching examples, YouTube is a fantastic resource for beginners.
So, what are you waiting for? Give it a go!
Have you got a favorite meditation technique?