This is the answer we’re most excited about – and one that has lots of scientific evidence backing it up:
- Quieting the “monkey mind” -- A study done by Yale University found that mindfulness-based meditation actually reduces activity in a part of the brain called the default mode network (DMN). This is the network responsible for self-referential thoughts and mind wandering, also colloquially called “monkey-mind” activity. What does this mean for your weight loss journey? Mindfulness actually helps quiet the nonstop chatter in your brain, the voice that takes your attention away from the present moment. For many, this helps pull us out of the vicious cycle of preoccupation with food – that awful cycle in which we can’t stop thinking about food (even when we’re not hungry), which sometimes leads to under- or over-eating, then to feeling shame, then to further preoccupation. We’re better able to just focus on the present moment.
- Help with addiction/cravings – mindfulness has been shown to have a significant effect on self-control regions of the brain. This, in turn, has been helpful with addiction and cravings, according to numerous studies. The key factor is that mindfulness helps us separate out the cravings in our minds from taking action on them. We’re able to observe our cravings, notice them, and let them pass. This is particularly helpful with food cravings, especially with powerful ones like sugar!
- Emotional regulation -- Harvard University researchers have shown that mindfulness literally changes the volume of your brain. One example is that mindfulness actually increases the thickness in our prefrontal cortex, which affects vision, planning, emotional regulation, and more. Similarly, mindfulness also decreases our brain volume in the amygdala which is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. Many of us struggle with emotional eating, whether we realize it or not; improvement in emotional regulation is an incredible asset in any weight loss journey.
If you could experience these major, scientifically observable, positive changes – wouldn’t you want to get started with more mindfulness in your life right away?
That brings us to the final question we get from patients, especially once they hear these details: How do I get started with more mindfulness in my life?
- Meditation – this is the best, and quickest, way to begin integrating mindfulness into your life. Many people envision meditation as too “out there” for their liking, or too time-consuming to fit into their schedule, but we promise – no matter who you are or what you do, it’s neither. Given all the scientific studies about the physical changes meditation is proven to make to your brain, I hope we’ve convinced you that it’s not “woo-woo” at all. As for time-consuming, just 5-minutes a day will do it (though consistency – daily – is key)! Some of our favorite, and free, apps are Insight Timer and SimpleHabit. Download one or both and search for meditations that fit your mood. Over time, you’ll find teachers you love and types of meditations that suit you. For absolute beginners, begin by searching for “body scan meditations.”
- Book recommendations – there are a number of mindfulness books we love and recommend. Check out The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer; A New Earth and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle; and Mindful Work by David Gelles. A Sound Medical Weight Loss book club is also in the works; stay tuned!
- Courses – we recommend checking out MBSR, a formal 8-week-long Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course taught around the world (and online). You can search for a course being taught in your area, or for an online version, we highly recommend Inseus Mindfulness.
- Medical Programs – finally, we are proud to integrate mindfulness so wholly in our medical programs at Sound Medical Weight Loss. As a patient, you get medical supervision, one-on-one nutritional counseling, behavioral coaching, a robust maintenance program, as well as easy-to-access online and mobile tools that help you stay on track.
Ready to learn more? Give us a call or book an appointment online to get started with one of our mindfulness-based programs. We are looking forward to hearing from you!
Sarah Eno is passionate about supporting healthy lifestyle and mindset change. She graduated with a degree in Functional Nutrition in 2016. She has supported hundreds of individuals to a health-promoting lifestyle and believes that everyone has the opportunity to experience health. Sarah is a wife and mom of 3 boys. She loves cross-country skiing, yoga, her Peloton, and does fashion runway part-time.