Bringing Balance Back Series: How To Begin a Meditation Practice
Bringing Balance Back will be a monthly series on Diehard Foodie, by Kat Beck. Kat is my sister, best friend, role model and go-to expert for all healthy living outside of nutrition. We work together to support and better each other. I give her advice on healthy eating, and she gives me so much advice on other aspects of healthy living (that I sometimes neglect!) My hope is she will become your guru on these aspects, and bring more balance in your life as well. Hey there foodies! My name is Kat and I was lucky enough to be born 3 1/2 years before Victoria. I am a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher and a meditation enthusiast. You might be wondering why a blog for foodies is featuring a post about meditation (other than the fact that I am the blogger's sister). I'll tell ya why- because your relationship with food is related to your level of stress and self-awareness.
Stress. Oh it makes us do crazy things at times. Like eat a bowl (or 2) of cereal after dinner.... grab a stale donut in the office kitchen...drive to sonic for cheese tots...the list goes on and on. When we allow the stress hormone, cortisol, to accumulate within our bodies, we easily gain weight and make poor health decisions.
Self-awareness is key to developing intuitive eating habits. Understanding a mental food craving vs. a true hunger craving comes when you've tuned into how our mind and body function. When we increase our self-awareness of our emotional states, we understand our habitual tendencies. Understanding leads to the creation of healthier habits.
To put it quite simply, meditation increases self-awareness and decreases stress (among a plethora of other fantastic benefits). This study at Harvard proved this and you can read all about it here.
Since I started meditating, my relationship with food has gotten dramatically better. I used to be an emotional eater. I used to stuff white starchy foods in my face when I was stressed out. I counted calories; I restricted myself to 1200 calorie days 3 times a week and the other 4 days I would binge secretly (as if it didn't count if no one saw me). I thought my self-worth was equivalent to my weight. I was completely malnourished- just living off of microwavable meals. I took phentermine to suppress my appetite which also caused me to barely sleep at night. I was a mess. Sadly, this was what most of the women I knew around me were doing as well.
Meditation helped me to turn all of this around. I no longer look to food to make me feel better- I see food as energy and I understand that whole foods are what I need to improve my mood. I eat indulgent food without guilt. I haven't taken any diet pills or fallen prey to any fad diet or calorie counting since my meditation habit was established. I now understand that my body intuitively knows what I need and all I have to do is tune into what it's saying. I haven't weighed myself in a year and I feel more confident than I ever have. I attribute my improved relationship with food to the reduced level of stress in my life (even though I have moved twice and changed jobs 3 times in the past 4 years) and the increased level of awareness of my thoughts and habits thanks to MEDITATION.
Meditation may seem daunting. I want to help break that perception and help you make it a daily habit. I started my meditation practice 4 years ago by listening to guided meditations; it is a great way to introduce yourself to techniques you may choose to use when you sit silently. Meditation is best experienced instead of explained.
The guided meditation featured here is a simple meditation for following your breath. I encourage you to find 15 minutes in a quiet space (even if its your car or a closet), put your headphones on, and press play.
Your turn: Do you have a meditation practice? As you can see if my post from Monday, I am working on making this a daily habit.
If you do not have a meditation practice, have you ever tried? I almost exclusively use my sister's guides to help. As a beginner, I find following a guided meditation very helpful. I also have the Insight Timer app on my phone, which has guided meditations and timers.