Okay, let’s be realistic here. Mediation is never going to completely do away with all of the stress in your life.
If only it were so easy.
But the point it that it can help to greatly reduce stress.
Let’s talk about stress for a moment…
There have been a number of studies over the last several decades that make it clear that..
Stress—whether it’s caused by financial problems, unemployment, employment, relationships, or anything else—contributes to a state that encourages and promotes fat storage.
In turn, fat storage and weight gain increase the chance of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more (1).
There are some people, and maybe you’re one of those people yourself, who are unable to lose weight no matter what they do.
You can watch your diet and exercise but never seem to lose weight.
If this is you, there is likely something else involved, and stress could be the root of the problem as it can cause many other health issues.
Why Meditation for Weight Loss is Necessary
Stress is at pandemic proportions in our 21st century, and recent numbers show that the number of people who are overweight and obese are at that level too.
Here are some scary stats from the American Psychological Association (2):
- Many adults are reporting high stress and they also report that their stress increases year over year.
- 75% of adults polled said that in the prior month they had experienced moderate to high stress and as above, their stress has increased in the last year.
- For teens in the US between the 9th and 12th grade, stress is the top health concern, and if they don’t learn how to manage stress now, they are looking at serious, long-term health implications.
Does reading this stress you out?
Honestly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we’re all becoming more and more stressed in our lives.
We live our lives connected to the entire world (via our electronic devices) ALL the time. It’s no wonder we’re always stressed.
And this increasingly connected life has caused us to become increasingly sedentary as well.
Less movement and more stress lead to more convenience food and all of these together will only take you down one road: Weight gain.
How Stress Causes Weight Gain
Chronic stress wreaks complete havoc with our bodies. Most significantly, it disrupts the natural rhythm of cortisol in our systems.
Cortisol is the primary hormone that regulates stress in the body.
In a healthy, stress-free body, cortisol is high in the morning but dwindles during the day.
In a stressed body, that rhythm is completely broken, and this leads to a host of problems which include, but are not limited to:
- A rise in blood sugar
- An increase in hunger and sugar cravings
- A reduction in your bodies ability to burn fat
- Increases belly fat and creates a fatty liver
- Increases the rate you store fat at
- Increases fatty acids and triglycerides in your blood
With all of the problems that stress causes, it’s no WONDER people have such a hard time losing weight these days — or even just maintaining a healthy weight.
Even losing sleep because of stress can impact your weight in huge ways!
So what can you do about all the above?
Using Meditation to Lose Weight
I know that some of you are going to be rolling your eyes at this.
Just hear me out. I can tell you right now that I’m not a big fan of meditation.
I know the importance of it, but it’s a very difficult thing for me to do — even as big of a fan as I am of yoga.
But just as there is hard science behind the fact that stress can cause health issues, and thereby issues with your weight…
There is also an abundance of science, research and plain old wisdom that shows getting rid of stress can get rid of some of your health issues (4).
And that also means getting rid of some of your weight issues too.
So if you’re one of those very unfortunate people who have done all you can to lose weight—diet, exercise, lifestyle changes—and those pounds aren’t going away, listen up.
It’s sad and a bit ironic that if you’re in the position above, it’s likely stressful.
And as you push to do all you can to lose weight and it doesn’t work, the higher your stress, and the less chance of shedding pounds and fat.
It’s actually cruel, not ironic.
But here’s where you need to take a deep breath and then release it along with some of your built-up tension. Because there are things you can do, and in a lot of ways they are much easier than cutting food groups and doing exercise.
By the way, I’m not saying there aren’t foods you probably should be cutting or minimizing like sugar and carbs, because that is also something you should do if you can’t lose weight.
I’m just saying that there are easier things that you can implement to at least combat the stress side of the problem.
How Can Meditation Help You Lose Weight?
First of all, what does meditation really actually mean?
To meditate simply means to take the time to focus your mind. Contrary to popular belief, this can be done in silence OR with music.
And it doesn’t have to necessarily be soft music, either. If listening to heavy metal rock helps you focus your mind, more power to you!
I personally think you might be nutzo, but hey, to each his own!
Everyone’s meditative state is going to look a little different, and it’s about finding YOUR place of quietness.
Finding the quietness in your mind can help you find clarity on an issue or can help calm you down. Reaching this state can also help lower your blood pressure and help take control of your stress.
The stress that can often impel you to eat or even worse, overeat.
Emotional eating, is a HUGE and terrible side effect of stress.
Comfort food may seem to be necessary (or able to be justified) on a psychological level but it is rarely necessary on a physiological level.
Being mindful and aware, which meditation should help you to be, should help you be more cognizant of your relationship with food.
The CDC recently reported that the use of both yoga and meditation has increased in use by children aged 4 to 17 and adults aged 18 and over.
So how can you make use of meditation for stress?
There are some common themes for successful meditation:
- A spot that is conducive to help quiet your mind. See: Building a meditation room.
- Find a comfortable position. This can be seated or with some motion — as long as it helps you find stillness in your mind.
- Focus on something. This can be your breathing, a specific issue, or something else. Just focus.
Don’t stress yourself out over the setup; find what works for you. For some, doing yoga at home may be all you need.
In line with that, I’ve put together a short list of free and paid programs that can help you get started with meditation to relieve stress.
Not all of the following are necessarily marketed as weight loss tools. Most aren’t. But weight loss could still be a byproduct of implementing them!
Stop, Breathe & Think
Designed to help with meditation and mindfulness, Stop, Breathe, & Think could be helpful for anyone struggling to overcome issues with various forms of stress, depression, anxiety or insomnia.
For those using the free version, you have access to 27 meditations—ranging in length from 2 to 20 minutes—plus guidelines on how to successfully mediate. However, note that there are some differences between what’s offered in the web and mobile versions.
For those who pay and subscribe, you naturally have access to much more content.
You have the ability to time the mediation audios for however long you want them, and they’re typically bells ringing or soundscapes. Whichever you prefer, the recommendation is to spend at least a few minutes every day meditating.
Users also have the option of a Check-In feature where they can record their progress physically, mentally and emotionally.
A My Progress feature allows you to keep track of your usage of the program.