Secret #1 was all about what and how to eat. Secret # 2 supplements and Secret#3 is last but certainly not least in importance. In fact it may be the most important and possibly the first step in taking charge of your goals and shaping up so you can strip down for the summer.
Rule of Thumb: Meditation and relaxation exercises.
Master your mental strength and meditate. This is not a quick fix but practicing relaxation techniques can help harness brainpower and help maintain fat storing hormones. It can be a valuable asset in weight management and overall well being.
Daily stress and lack of sleep has a domino effect on your hormones starting with adrenaline. As stress causes adrenaline to mount it creates a cascade of 3 weight loss resistant hormones:
- Growth hormone (GH): less GH negatively shifts the fat to lean body mass ratio
- Cortisol: more cortisol increases blood sugar (by breaking down muscle and using it to create fat) and insulin levels.
- Leptin and Ghrelin: Leptin is a satiety signal. Stress and little sleep lowers leptin and raises ghrelin which increases appetite and facilitates belly fat storage. The University of Chicago in Illinois and Stanford University in California completed a study showing participants actually “increased their desire for high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods by 45%”, http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-while-sleeping?page=2 when leptin was lower.
These stress hormones take a direct toll on the physical aspect of weight but body stress also wears you down emotionally and mentally, especially if food (the lack of or excess use) is used as an emotional weapon. Food appeases physical hunger. If you have used it in any other capacity, you may have noticed it never works but it does start a vicious cycle of bad habits (for example, using food to “provide energy” instead of sleeping or placate feelings of sadness or anxiety). Eating for emotional support is a lose lose situation.
Lowering stress, increasing relaxation and maximizing sleep (Dr. Kirk Parsley , http://sigmanutrition.com/episode61/?utm_content=buffer98823&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer ) are powerful tools that are not always obvious when considering weight loss.
While there are no randomized control trials to support a direct relation between meditation and weight loss to date, researchers at Harvard conducted an 8 week study with participants using meditation on average 30 minutes a day, http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/. The results showed that meditation is not just an emotional tool to lower stress but it actually changes the brain. There was a correlation between “reported reductions in stress and decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala (a region of the brain), which is known to play an important role in lessening anxiety and stress”.
If you are interested in meditation for weight loss specifically, you may want to watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIeirj4UFxI or dig a little deeper with Kathleen Spadero’s book entitled, Weight Loss: Exploring Self-Regulation Through Mindfulness Meditation. https://books.google.com/books?id=Rb9TahT0I9wC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:%22Kathleen+C.+Spadaro%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=l3AoVbeEAcKYyASShYHYDw&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
A little meditation can go a long way. If you are a stress eater, knowing what to eat is not good enough, think about what this means: stress control =controlled eating. You can control the mindless urge to eat when you operate on a different level of awareness. Teach yourself to make choices rather than eat frivolously.
Practicing mental techniques is like building muscles. The more you use meditation the more powerful it becomes.
With a little more than 2 months until summer, try gearing up with these 3 secrets. You will shape up and be able to strip down for summer and the rest of your life in no time.