By reminding our physiology that a " store blubber now or soon perish " zombie apocalypse was but a self-generated mental hoax , meditation lets our body's built in fat burning furnace do its job. We swing by Jack in the Box to blow off steam. The problem is, while binging on carrot cake might make us feel better for an hour or two, it does nothing to address the deeply ingrained emotional issues which bulldozed us into gorging in the first place. Making matters worse, every time we use calories to snuff out our feelings — another guilt, shame, and remorse wad gets crammed into our ready to burst emotional baggage.
While rewarding ourselves with a tasty treat every now and then is perfectly fine, when our first impulse reaction to anger, stress, boredom, and sadness is to Usain Bolt into the kitchen, then we know our inner world needs a gut renovation. If your food cravings have you on the ropes , if you keep sabotaging your diet , then there is a solution. If you have ever, in an unconscious trance-like state, binged a whole box of Miss Debbie oatmeal cream pies, then you have used food to extinguish your emotions. While emotional hunger can have us eating until we are blue in the face , natural hunger needs just the right amount of food.
While emotional hunger hits us like a ton of bricks , natural hunger comes on gradually, taking hours to build. While emotional hunger usually craves comfort foods loaded with sugar, fat, and salt, natural hunger craves whole, nutritious foods like fruit, lean protein, and vegetables.
As the two-headed monster behind why we humans eat emotionally, both stress and anxiety need to be sacked or the dirty cycle won't stop. We have listed a few plays here:. First, meditation raises our emotional break point. When our mindful armor becomes impenetrable to the things that usually get us hot and bothered, then our unconscious grab to self-medicate with food gets dropped like a bad habit.
Second, through the power of neuroplasticity , meditation fortifies our brain's "command and control center" prefrontal cortex. By dramatically upgrading the wattage needed to make our systems go haywire , meditation ensures a balanced state of consciousness all the livelong day. Staying equalized helps us crave food when our cells need it, not our emotions. Herbert Benson in the 's, this "opposite of stress" response is the highest healing state for the human body. Cranking up our relaxation response purges poisonous stress hormones like cortisol from our body, purifying "us" from the inside out.
By cleansing our cellular toxic stress residue, meditation rolls out the red carpet for our natural hunger's grand entrance. Fourth, by dramatically reducing the 70, thoughts per day that the human mind thinks, meditation anchors our awareness firmly into the present moment. Quieting down our impulsive " must raid the fridge right now " monkey mind chatter reveals a treasure buried under years of emotional eating — our natural hunger.
In the end, meditation helps us become our own inner Mozart , where all we need to orchestrate our next cell-nourishing meal is the deeply resonant symphony of our growling belly. While most of our body fat subcutaneous is the wiggly , jiggly kind that we can see and pinch — there exists an unseen, deeper, more sinister kind of fat which goes beyond simply making our favorite sweater a bit too snug.
Wake Forest University assistant professor of endocrinology, Dr. What kind of harm can it do? So destructive, this stuff sticks to our organs , cranks up our stress hormones, sets our body ablaze with inflammation — while also being linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and even brain disorders like dementia. I have nothing to worry about. Think again. If you have resigned yourself to a life of being " skinny-fat " then you might be at risk. Have you tried every belly fat melting diet and exercise routine to no avail?
Can you lose fat everywhere on your body except your stubborn midsection? Well, it might not be your fault.
Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body
When our insulin receptors don't open up properly, our liver and muscle cells can't store the energy glucose we need from food. This sends our blood sugar to the moon.
All of this extra energy's gotta' go somewhere. And it does… it gets converted to fat.
Sticking like crazy-glue to our midsection and vital organs, the best solution for visceral fat might very well be a stick of dynamite. Compounding the problem, with starving , nutritionally deficient cells — insulin resistant people often have an insatiable appetite. In lab tests at her practice, weight loss bariatric physician, Dr. While the tried and true methods of targeting ultra-stubborn belly fat are a low-sugar diet Paleo, Mediterranean, etc and certain types of exercise High Intensity Interval Training HIIT , there exists an under the radar dark horse.
While meditation is the last thing most people think of when it comes to burning belly fat , the studies prove otherwise. How can a practice that largely targets the brain be so effective at incinerating stubborn belly fat? Because meditation arrests the secret evil agent responsible for insulin resistance: stress. With the thesis that stress greatly impacts "metabolic syndrome" i. What did they find? Amazingly, the meditating heart patients plummeted three key metabolic syndrome markers, including their insulin resistance , glucose, and HOMA scores homeostasis model assessment.
In effect, by pulling the rug out from under two of the most important reasons many of us put on pounds in the first place stress and cellular insulin resistance , meditation lets our stubborn visceral belly fat burning furnace do its job. Amazingly, the study found that those who were highly aware of their thoughts and feelings as measured by MAAS actually weighed much less overall BMI , and more amazingly , when put under a high powered x-ray scanner — also had signficantly less abdominal fat than the control group!
Becoming a master mind mechanic through meditation does much more than simply make you calm, smart, and focused — it can seriously upgrade your body. Honorable Mention: The stress hormone " cortisol " is another a huge contributor to our big fat bellies. Luckily, meditation fixes that too. Why do we raid the junk food cabinet at midnight? Is it our "forever curious" taste buds? What is it? By stimulating our physiological reward center, food can affect our brain in the same way that cigarettes, caffeine, alcohol, and even hard drugs do. According to a University of Michigan study, the most addictive foods of all tend to be full of calories, sugar, and saturated fat — with french fries, pizza, ice cream, cake, and cookies topping the list.
Specifically, certain types of food especially in large quantities pump us full of the neurotransmitter " dopamine ," the chemical embodiment of addiction. The blood sugar and dopamine rush we get after wiping out that warm, delicious pan of Betty Crocker fudge brownies makes us feel like we are walking on cloud nine. No better feeling in the world… for awhile. Hours after that big meal, when we are no longer swimming in the dopamine deep end, our body becomes desperate to fill our pleasure pool right back up.
But this time, because food can be a drug and tolerance comes with the territory — we need to fill up our troughs even more to stabilize our crashed dopamine levels.
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Because withdrawal ain't easy, our next binge session needs even more calories or our body will freak out like a crazy straightjacket wearing dude locked in a padded room. How do we break this nasty cycle? A landmark study at the John F. Perhaps more importantly, the meditators' dopamine levels remained high and tight , day and night. In other words, no crashing; no more biochemical potholes which need to be filled by a Quarter Pounder, extra large french fries, and McFlurry. When meditation naturally makes us feel incredible all the time, then we put down the fork to enjoy the present moment.
Meditation — Blog — Faustina
This transformation puts us on the fat loss superhighway. Add one more notch to the list of reasons new meditators so often, without any real effort, shed pounds and inches so quickly after beginning a regimen. For many of us, our dead end jobs, unhealthy relationships, and never-ending responsibilities make us feel like prisoners.
With not much to look forward to, we fill our emptiness , unhappiness, and loneliness with food. The chicken or the egg , whether our depression caused our weight gain or vice versa, there is a very powerful solution.
See a Problem?
For those of us who fill up when feeling down , serotonin and norepinephrine are the two most important pick-me-up neurotransmitters. Moreover, as many as 25 percent of folks taking antidepressants gain weight. And sometimes, lots of weight, up to pounds , according to Dr. Andrew Weil. While the reasons for this phenomenon vary from carb cravings to slowed metabolism, what's crystal clear is that finding a NATURAL way to boost these two pleasure chemicals carries zero side effects.
A slew of studies have shown that the ancient mind practice boosts our serotonin and norepinephrine to levels that punch depression right in the mouth. By naturally flooding our brain with these two wonderful pleasure chemicals, meditation keeps us feeling great all the time without needing food as a pick-me-up.
While depression's bluesy effect on mood is well known, it actually does way worse stuff to our noggin.
TAKE YOUR MINDFULNESS JOURNEY TO THE NEXT STEP
Specifically, this debilitating disease can shrink certain parts of the brain, with our "memory center" hippocampus taking a great deal of the brunt. When a basketball player wants to improve his vertical leap, he does calf raises, squats, and box jumps to strengthen his legs. When we want to make our brain impenetrable to depression , we need to strengthen our hippocampus. Among many studies showing the same result, University of Geissen Germany neuroscientists found that meditation builds up a big and strong hippocampus, with the effect magnified by experience.
What does this mean? The more we meditate, the more bulletproof we make our brain to depression. For calm, happy, and focused brains, the thought of using food to numb how we feel doesn't compute. While an in-person social network not Facebook and a loving family is the best cure for loneliness , very few of us these days are so lucky. In , Dr. Andrew Newburg, a University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist, took brain images of Tibetan monks during meditation.