building awareness about what we put into our bodies and why
I am the queen of mindless eating (I say as I open a bag of sunchips). I eat when I’m bored, when I’m stressed, when I’m sad. And then, after mindlessly inhaling a bag of chips, I get frustrated with myself and my body, so an hour later I’m back again, stress eating some more. For someone who likes to say that they are in-tune with their body, yoga practice and such, why is it so hard for me to turn down a pint of ice cream once the clock hits 11 pm? In yoga, every time we step on our mat, we have to make decisions about what will be best for our bodies in that moment. For me, I often like to deepen my practice by adding more vinyasas and more strenuous exercises to make my practice a little more difficult. For others, you may like to skip vinyasas and add more stretching poses for a yin variation. No matter what you route you decide to take, it is okay as long as it is MINDFUL! With mindful eating, the decision lies in keeping discipline, such as meal preps, planned meals, and/or choosing the healthier option. It also lies in compassionate acceptance, such as being okay to eat the cookie or go through a drive-thru. Allow yourself what you need to take care of yourself in that moment.
When I am often struggling with my weight, not being able to fit in a practice or not having time to cook a healthy meal and resorting to a quick and easy, yet junky meal, I find myself very hard and down on myself for not being better or doing better. One of my mom’s greatest advice to me is being able to find balance. In yoga, we learn that when trying to accomplish balance poses and inversions, that it may seem like we are perfectly balanced, however there is actually constant adjustments happening within our body – wavering finger pressure or wobbly ankles, core engagement, drifting gaze, and so on. It is all the same with mindful eating! We adjust our meals, weeks and diets to whatever life is throwing at us. So, like my mother says, keep it balanced. If I can’t make it to the gym or yoga studio in that day, maybe skip the ice cream after dinner. But what if I had a kick-ass workout? Go out to drinks with your friends! Do not ever limit what you can and can’t eat for the sake of your sanity, enjoy your life and that cookie! As long as it’s balanced.
Recently, I have been focusing more on how to eat to lose weight. There is only so much yoga I can do in a day, but even so if I come home and emotionally eat five pieces of pizza, it doesn’t matter how much exercise I really did. What I also really struggle with, is social eating. I’m incredibly social person, and the easiest way for me to catch up with a friend is to share a meal! Easy, efficient, but mindful? Not so much. So how can we use mindful eating to our weight-loss benefit? Again, what do I mean by mindful eating? It means putting the phone down and turning the TV off. No more multitasking while eating! Enjoy what you eat, nurture what you eat, and importantly enough, BREATHE while you eat. When you are focused on what you are eating, as opposed to scrolling or swiping in one hand with a fork in the other, you are more than likely to consume about a third of what you normally eat. If you are listening to your body, rather than the television, you will notice a lot sooner that you are full, therefore able to control the amount of food you eat. When you eat in silence, you will have the ability to find yourself at much more ease, not having to worry about what else is coming next, but really enjoy the moment with yourself and with that silence.
It is important to ask yourself if you are physically hungry for food or something else, like comfort. Make an effort to not eat when you are distracted and be able to differentiate the two, and become more away of the healthier choices you can make.