The Science on Mindfulness and Weight Loss

by Caitlin H,

Jan 8, 2024

mindfulness with weight loss

So, you’re starting on a weight loss journey. If you’ve read up on how to do it successfully, chances are you’re setting SMART goals and creating a comprehensive plan to succeed.

You’ve probably chosen or signed up for a healthy meal plan like Diet-to-Go. You may have registered for a gym membership or joined group fitness classes. You likely have a food journal or app and may have shared your plan with loved ones to foster accountability.

And yes, these things are undoubtedly essential to meeting your goals.

But one overlooked thing that you may not have even considered that can play a vital role in ensuring your success lasts for life is the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness involves addressing more than just what you eat and how much you work out. It means exploring, understanding, and controlling the emotional and mental reasons behind your unhealthy eating habits — and it’s pretty darn important. In fact, a systematic review of how mindfulness impacts weight found that people who practice mindfulness have a much greater chance of maintaining a healthy weight.

Another study found that mindfulness training directly impacts a person’s ability to continue making healthy choices once they start a weight loss plan. Another systematic review of 19 studies found that “significant weight loss was documented among participants in mindfulness interventions for 13 of the 19 studies.”

But how do you incorporate mindfulness into your daily life — and how do you leverage the skill to stay on track with your weight loss efforts? Below are six simple first steps to help you incorporate mindfulness into your weight loss journey.

 

Practice Calming Your Mind Through Meditation


Before you can use mindfulness for weight loss, you need to learn the basics. Apps like Headspace, Calm, and The Tapping Solution provide an excellent starting point to teach you meditation techniques and how to calm your mind. This skill is essential because it helps you see things more clearly, enabling you to make better choices and gain a deeper understanding of yourself.

 

Engage in Body Scanning


Body scanning is when you take a moment, close your eyes, and mentally scan your body from top to bottom. As you do this, you should note any physical sensations, whether comfortable or irritating. It may seem silly at first, but body scanning gives you a deeper connection with your body and shows you physical areas where stress manifests, which may contribute to emotional eating.

 

Identify Your Triggers


Calming your mind and scanning your body are the first steps to incorporating mindfulness into your weight loss journey. Another critical element is taking time to learn about what triggers emotional eating, defined as using food to deal with feelings instead of to satisfy hunger — and a common culprit of weight gain. One way to do this is by keeping a food journal to identify the emotions you felt while eating a meal or snack. From there, analyze your entries and look for patterns. Knowing those patterns means you can look for ways to break them.

 

Practice Mindful Eating


How often have you found yourself mindlessly snacking on a bag of chips or grabbing a handful of cereal while walking around the kitchen in the past? You don’t have any way to keep track of how many calories you ate, and worse still, you may not even remember eating them! Mindless eating can truly wreck your ability to lose weight. Commit to mindful eating by only eating when sitting down with the plate in front of you. Eliminate distractions while eating, focusing instead on the food itself — how it looks, its smell, texture, and taste. Pay close attention to how your body feels as you eat it, which will allow your brain to trigger your body when it’s full so you don’t overeat and enjoy your food.

 

Try Mindful Movement


On the flip side of mindful eating is mindful movement, defined as only engaging in physical activities you enjoy. As you exercise, whether walking, playing a sport, cycling, etc., be hyperaware of the physical sensations. Remind yourself how blessed you are to be able to move like that, and find joy in what you’re doing.

 

Accept Yourself


Take these steps for even a week, and you’ll quickly notice just how much you learn about yourself. Journaling about it along the way can help you gain even more understanding. Ultimately, mindfulness is about getting in touch with yourself, identifying your triggers, and reshaping your approach to food and fitness. Learning to accept yourself through mindfulness plays a significant role in adjusting the behavior that will make your success a permanent part of your life.

 

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Author: Caitlin H

Diet-to-Go Community Manager

Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.

 


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