Dieting is stressful; I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed I tend to eat more.
Everything seems to cause anxiety when you’re on a diet, like forgetting to pack a healthy lunch and/or snacks for work, those darn donuts at the morning meeting, working lunches that for some reason translate to mandatory pizza days and being too tired after work to make a healthy dinner.
As we reflect on our day’s failures and near misses, we tend to turn to comfort food in the evening to satiate our emotional distress—and the cycle continues.
What if I told you there was something we can all do, that we were born to do, that is so much easier than dieting? Here are 5 ways that simply breathing will help you lose weight and also help you stick to your diet.
1. It’s Science!
It has been proven that we lose weight through the internal oxidation of fat that then leaves our body through our exhalations. So, intentional and focused breathing techniques have been designed to speed up this amazing process. Breathing outdoor air versus indoor air has also been noted to be more effective in the weight loss process—it’s all about the oxygen!
2. Lessons from the Cradle
If you watch a baby breathe, you will see their little belly slowly rise and fall; that is called belly breathing and we all used to do it. At some point, however, we switched to shallow breathing and forgot all about our long peaceful crib breaths.
Practice belly breathing by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put your hand on your belly and begin to fill it up with air on your inhalation, then your lungs until you are ready to exhale. Exhale much more slowly in the same manner, allowing your belly to go flat and then your lungs. This will reset your breathing and get the oxidation process running smoothly.
3. Get into Focus
The time you spend belly breathing is for you. Find a quiet place, put on a sounds of nature track and really get into it. Start with five minutes and work your way up to 20. The key is to focus on each and every breath. If random thoughts start to cloud your mind, picture them inside little fluffy clouds and let them float away, and then get back to focusing on your breath.
Practicing belly breathing will not just increase your weight loss. It will also allow you to flex your self-control muscle by shooing away those silly thoughts that creep up, which in turn will help you to pass on the donuts at the morning meeting tomorrow.
4. Twist and Shout
Yoga is a great way to stimulate your digestive system through specific poses combined with rythmic breathing. With every breath, you are telling your organs to get to work for you by flushing out yucky toxins that make you feel tired and moody and less in control of your body and your choices. Check out this yoga sequence from YogaJournal.com, and remember to breathe!
5. Think Inside the Box
As I mentioned, stress is the number one reason we cheat on our diets. But what if you had a secret weapon with you at all times? Box Breathing is a stress relieving powerhouse that will get you through that little craving or stop you from grabbing a fistful of your co-worker’s birthday cake and shoving it in your gob after a particularly stressful meeting. It will also give you a little boost of energy to get you through the rest of your day.
Find a chair in a quiet space, sit up straight and do the following while you picture a box being drawn in your mind with each four second count.
- Inhale, feeling your belly rise, for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4.
- Exhale, feeling your belly collapse, for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4 and continue the cycle until you feel in control again.
The benefits of breathing go so far beyond just keeping us alive. You can control your mood, temper, appetite, weight, digestive system and impulses just by taking 20 minutes for yourself each day. Make time for yourself and things will only get better.
Will you commit to 20 minutes a day for your health?