Photo courtesy of Ms. PhoenixEvery year around this time it’s very common to hear people getting down on themselves about not being in better shape. In fact, New Year’s resolutions have already begun in earnest, or at least the planning of them, giving everyone a chance to promise to do better in January. “Just two more over-indulgent weeks!”
Unfortunately, along with healthy eating habits, exercise routines often slow down or even come to an abrupt halt around the holidays. Once the diet goes out the window, the motivation to stay fit goes right along with it. As with many things in life these days, the common approach to living a “healthy lifestyle” means restrictive dieting that is impossible to maintain. Several small slip ups can lead to a feeling of failure, and with a shrug of the shoulders, pure gluttony ensues.
In order to keep your diet and exercise routine from slipping away from you, make it part of your ever-increasing healthy lifestyle. As Savor author Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”
Every moment presents us with the opportunity to make a good decision or one that might lead us away from the life we want to live. The foundations of living mindfully include paying attention to ourselves and living consciously in order to improve our satisfaction with life. If we are living by the ideals of mindfulness, we should try to be present and aware of our food and fitness choices and how they will help us or harm us.
By choosing to be mindfully aware of your body, you become more in tune with yourself. You’ll find that you crave foods that nourish your body and that physical exercise feels good. It feels good to be so connected to yourself! Not only will you be more self-aware and balanced, but your physical being will display the results of your mindful approach to eating and moving. You’ll look healthier. Excess weight will come off. Skin conditions often disappear. Insomnia usually improves dramatically.
I’ve adopted a mindful approach to life. In fact, you might say I’ve embraced it with a zealous fervor. I was highly motivated to change my lifestyle because I was not physically healthy. My decision to switch to eating mindfully and following a regular exercise regime has vastly improved my body’s ability to keep excess weight off. I also sleep better and feel less pain than I have in over twenty years.
However, the most surprising benefit of becoming more aware of what the body needs actually has nothing to do with the physical being at all! Adopting a mindful fitness plan has been proven to make impressive physical changes…to the brain. The brains of people practicing regular, mindful fitness plans (and eating healthy foods) have higher levels of tryptophan hydroxylase, which is the rate-limiting enzyme of serotonin biosynthesis. Essentially, that’s our brain’s self-made anti-depressant.
In short: if weight gain, and more importantly your overall physical health are bringing you down this year (or at any time, for that matter) – put the concept of mindfulness to the test. Tune in to your body and learn what it needs. It’s highly likely that you’ll watch the numbers on the scale get smaller and smaller, while your grin grows exponentially.