Weight Loss: Mindful Success

Are you always chasing a plan to lose a few pounds or maybe even a serious amount of weight? It doesn’t matter how much. Losing weight is one of the most befuddling and challenging health behaviors to confront our willpower.

Of course we know the basic idea is eat less and exercise more. It’s not quite that simple. Weight loss success is elusive and perplexing mostly because we need to eat. No one enjoys following a diet. It implies denial and denial intensifies the desire to have what we shouldn’t. Try denying a chocolate lover of his or her chocolate.  Besides our logical eating and emotional eating get very tangled up. Fruits and vegetables are logical; dessert is emotional. Dessert wins. The prompts to eat, snack or graze are everywhere: in the pantry, at our desk,  enticing food advertisements, restaurants and social gatherings. On top of that, most of us are unaware of how much we eat. Life moves fast. We often eat on autopilot while we multitask, skip meals, eat beyond being full or mindlessly slip into our “grab and go” routine.

Consider tuning into weight loss success using the concept of “mindfulness”, an ancient practice of Buddhism. The goal of mindfulness is to recognize and accept inner thoughts and feelings and maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of those thoughts, feelings and physical sensations while experiencing life around us. New mindfulness research suggests moment-to-moment awareness about what we eat and how we eat is better at helping people control weight than any diet.

Getting to a healthy weight also means mindfully embracing healthy foods with a focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, smaller servings of meat, more servings of fish and cooking with healthy fats.  So how would you mindfully score your nutrition?  On a scale of one to ten (the best), where are you and how would you get to ten?  Not only is weight loss a goal, but so is improving your health with mindful, healthy eating.

If the idea of learning to eat mindfully is appealing, pick up the book, Eating Mindfully, by Susan Albers, PsyD.  She defines it by asking these questions. Are you aware of:

  • how you eat?
  • hunger and fullness cues?
  • savoring food by truly tasting it?
  • emotional triggers that urge you to eat or not to eat?
  • using food to nourish your body?
  • having conscious awareness of your food choices and how much you eat?
  • how you think about food?

Learning mindfulness takes practice and intention.  Actually it takes mindfulness to be mindful.

Mindfulness Tip:
Think of this tip as an awareness assignment.  Mindfully go to the grocery store.  Stop first in the produce section. Look at the abundance while seeing color, texture and shape. Notice the fire engine red of red peppers, the smooth polish of a royal purple eggplant, the green tree shape of a broccoli head, dirt brown mushrooms, the clusters of juicy sweet purple and green grapes.  Even potatoes come in different colors and shapes. Take a moment to imagine the flavors, the sweet, sour, mild and savory.  Some fruits and vegetables are stars and some are supporting actors on our dinner plates.  All of them offer the gift of better health.

Another Recommendation: The Mindful Diet: How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health by Ruth Wolever, Ph.D. and Beth Readon MS, RD. from Duke University Integrative Health.

Written by: Mimi Cunningham, Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Diabetes Educator

Mimi Cunningham is a dietitian-nutritionist living in Eagle, Idaho. Her nutrition specialty is diabetes education and management. She loves writing about embracing healthy eating as fun plus a route to good health. She serves as a member of the Idaho Foodbank board of directors addressing food insecurity as a challenge to good health for Idaho children and adults.

On behalf of Smart Strategies for Successful Living, our sincerest appreciation goes to Mimi Cunningham for her contribution to our community website and commitment to healthy living and aging.