Keeping weight off doesn't always mean eating less. Let this practice change how you think about food.
Lasting weight loss doesn't begin with deprivation or counting calories, says Brandt Passalacqua, an Integral Yoga therapist and the author of the book and DVD series Peaceful Weight Loss Through Yoga. Nine years ago, Passalacqua says, yoga helped him shed 100 pounds by teaching him to care for himself both physically and emotionally. The experience led him to create a weight-loss program that uses gentle asana, breathwork, and meditation to help you de-stress and tune in to what your body really needs. "People put the diet part first," he says. "It doesn't work that way."
Before you can embrace the lifestyle changes that result in lost pounds, Passalacqua says, you must first learn to take care of yourself. Perhaps counterintuitively, this includes making a conscious practice of feeding yourself regular, healthful meals. When eating becomes a self-care practice instead of a reason for guilt, you're more likely to make healthful food choices and to heed your body's cues about how much is enough. "When we are nourished, like a plant, we can grow and thrive," he says.
But if you're used to depriving yourself of food, you may need to teach yourself to eat well and regularly, Passalacqua says. For most people, he says, this means eating at least four times a day at even intervals, which keeps your blood sugar from crashing and helps you avoid unhealthy snacking. With practice, learning to view eating as an act of self-love rather than a source of anxiety or harm can transform your relationship with food.
Food for Thought Meditation
Make eating an act of self-care by starting your day with this practice from Brandt Passalacqua:
- Sit comfortably. Take a few quiet moments to find your breath, sensing your belly expanding with each in-breath.
- Now imagine yourself eating a beautiful, delicious, wholesome meal in your favorite place. If anxiety or other uncomfortable feelings arise, let go of them by refocusing on your breath.
- Say to yourself, "Today I will nourish myself in the best way I know how. In this moment I am nourished. I have all that I need." Take six smooth breaths, inhaling with the thought "nourished" and exhaling with the thought "I am."
- Now say to yourself, "By nourishing myself, I choose to be healthy, centered, calm." Take six smooth breaths, inhaling with the thought "I choose" and exhaling with the thought "nourishment."
- When you are finished, sit quietly for as long as you like. To seal your intention to nourish yourself, place your hands in front of your heart and bow.
See also Lose Weight From the Inside Out