Top 3 Reasons You NEED To Meditate for Fat Loss
You probably read that title and said "how the hell does crossing my legs and saying OHM all day make me lose fat?"
Well, maybe not that exact quote but you get the gist. It's a bit odd.
But wait, there's a point to this post and you'll learn EXACTLY why meditation is SO key for fat loss.
Before we dive into our top 3 reasons, let's define meditation. Merriam-Webster defines meditation as: "[engaging] in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness."
When you meditate, you're trying to create space and give your brain a break. Your brain needs recovery just as much, if not MORE at times, than your muscles. We constantly are processing so much information daily and this constant intake of data to your brain can be quite stressful. Stress is of course inevitable because life throws us curve balls all the time, but we can work to combat it. Let's take a look at some common stressors:
- Family/Relationship Issues
- Exercise & Weight Lifting
- Financial Issues
- Work Related Issues
- Injury/ Chronic Illness
- Emotional Issues (anxiety, depression, perception of self issues)
So as you can see, there's a TON of ways that life can stress us out. If we're constantly stressed out due to inadequate physical or mental recovery, it makes it very difficult for our bodies to burn fat. As I said in my previous post on Stress Management and Fat Loss, your body will most likely gain fat to compensate.
So jeeze, all this stress, how do I deal? MEDITATE.
Let's dive into these 3 reasons:
Improves Your Recovery Potential
We talked about how important recovery is for not just our bodies, but our brains as well. When we meditate we're aiding our bodies in getting out of this "fight or flight" mode where we're constantly on edge. This mode is the Sympathetic Nervous System hard at work to keep the body alive. I say alive because WAY back in the day we weren't worried about running for a train to get to work. Instead our worry was running AWAY from things that were trying to kill us. Unfortunately, our body takes this mode a little too far when we don't need it to. It pumps cortisol throughout the body to aid in this survival. Our heart rate goes through the roof, we tense up and sweat. The body can't recover if it is in this state around the clock. Chronically elevated cortisol, heart rate and heightened sense of awareness will literally stress the body into weight/ fat gain.
When we meditate, we're allowing the body to switch on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), lowering the circulating cortisol levels, lowering heart rate and allowing muscle to relax. Meditation through slow, controlled breathing allows us to just calm the hell down! With so much going on around us and in our lives, it's really important to take time to just chill out and breathe. With the PNS being activated more often, the physical and mental potential for recovery increases! If we can recover, we burn more fat, simple as that.
Reduction of Cortisol
Again, elevated cortisol levels increases the chance that we'll gain visceral fat (fat around the stomach) and make it harder to lose fat in general. With elevated cortisol levels in the body, we're in survival mode and the body doesn't want to let go of fat because fat is essential for survival. The body will literally fight against us.
If we can lower cortisol, we have a WAY higher chance of losing fat because we also SLEEP BETTER. Sleep will be the #1 variable for fat loss that most of us overlook or neglect. When we sleep, we recover. If we can't sleep, we can't recover, simple as that. Chronically elevated cortisol = shitty sleep. Another issue with poor sleep is that the body can't perform in the gym as well. A sleep deficit DRAMATICALLY decreases performance in the gym. Ever sleep poorly then try to hit the gym?
Poor recovery is seriously a viscous cycle.
Elevated cortisol levels => don't sleep well => don't recover => gym performance goes down => decrease fat loss potential and it just repeats.
If we can prevent this cycle with some breathing and relaxation for 10-15 minutes a day, why not give it a shot?
Why not increase our recovery potential?
Why not reduce cortisol and get out of that on edge "fight or fight" mode?
Even if you don't know how to meditate, just sitting there and slowing your breathing down, and relaxing helps.
Emotional and Mental Health Improvements
Besides the physical side of recovery, meditation has also shown to improve emotional and mental health. Fat loss is a long and hard journey that can certainly take its toll on people. Especially for people that are very overweight and maybe even obese, weight/fat loss is tough. The emotional rollercoaster is real and has serious implications. Meditation has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression and actually improve mood.
Mindset is a huge factor to fat loss because if you're down on yourself and negative, you're more likely to quit and give up on yourself when things aren't working out. If we can shape that mindset to live in the moment, being present for the change we want to see and be resilient, it makes all the difference.
Also, guess what a negative mindset and perception adds to?
Yup, MORE stress.
More stress = more cortisol. We already know why that's not a good thing by now, right?
Emotions aren't just things our body feels, our brain is heavily impacted by them as well from a physiological perspective. Mood and emotional state makes all the difference in long-term fat loss folks.
Meditation is a KEY tool we can use to reduce stress, increase recovery and improve our daily mood. We can literally breathe and think ourself to more fat loss.
You meditating yet?
I'll be honest though, the first time I meditated it looked a lot like this . I researched a lot of different methods to begin meditating and tried a lot of different things. If you're trying to get meditating today and want to skip all the leg work I did, let's talk. I can help you figure an appropriate method, amount of time and breathing technique that works for you!
Start slow. Just sit there - relax, breathe, and say something you are or want to be over and over and over again.
"I am in control of my life"
"I am centered"
"I am strong"
Whatever your mantra is, say it in your head and REALLY believe it.