How sitting still can help you lose weight!

When we start our health regime to help us lose those extra pounds we're usually thinking about eating less and exercising more.  But …

Weight loss is often MORE about your managing your stress and emotions than anything else. To be blunt, stress makes us fat.  That’s because stress changes the chemistry in the body and causes weight gain. 

When we're stressed, the hormone balance in our body changes.  Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream.  Our body is are unable to respond in the same way to the fat regulating hormones leptin and insulin so we feel hungrier.  As a result we gain weight.

So, a key factor in losing weight is to get your hormonal balance back to normal.

However, life can be challenging.  We're all faced with daily demands that seem to perpetually increase our stress levels … bills to pay, not enough hours in the day, stresses from certain people and situations around us.  And those things, well, they're not going away.  So how can you learn to manage your emotions and stress within the environment you live in?  

The answer: sit still and breathe.  

Why?!  Initiating the relaxation response counter-acts the stress response.  Your body cannot be in both the stress "mode" and the relaxation "mode" at the same time.  It's either one, or the other.  But this isn't sitting still and watching the TV, this is proper mental relaxation that changes the biochemistry in your body.  The best way to do this, is through meditation.

Meditation is no longer woo woo.  It’s become mainstream.  But it's not always something high on the list of weight loss strategies.

Many studies have researched the effects of meditation and they show that it has many positive benefits.  Among other things, meditation will:

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  • Relieve stress & reduces stress hormones which cause you to hold onto weight.
  • Lower your heart rate.
  • Calms your central nervous system.
  • Help you sleep.

After just 10 minutes a day over 10 days, meditation can change the structure of your brain.  Your amygdala (your brain’s fight or flight centre, which is associated with fear and stress) shrinks, and your pre-fontal cortex (your “higher” brain associated with calm reason, awareness and concentration, and the part of our brain most responsible for making us happy) becomes thicker.  

This a powerful tool ... but it does need to be regularly used to keep your stress levels down.  This means that to get all these benefits, you need to make it a part of your everyday life. 

There are many different ways to meditate.  I now meditate for 15 minutes a day, twice a day, by just sitting quietly, bringing my attention to my breath, and then by silently repeating a mantra in my mind to keep it occupied.  However … there are lots of different ways to do it and the important thing is not to worry too much about how you’re doing it, what matters is that you keep showing up and eliciting that relaxation response within yourself.

Introduce 5 or 10 minutes of meditation to your day.  Eventually you can build up to fifteen or twenty minutes a day if you like, but even just a few minutes will open the door to creating a new habit – and all the many proven benefits it brings. 

So, relaxing to re-balance your hormones just became a great reason to include putting your feet up as part of healthy weight loss.  Enjoy! xx

Bethan Louise