According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 68% of Americans are overweight and more than a third are obese. That's a lot of people who may be looking for solutions to lose weight and get fitter.
More recently, and especially with the world torn with Covid-19, the CDC notes:
- Obesity increases the risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19. People who are overweight may also be at increased risk.
- Obesity can triple the risk of hospitalization for COVID-19 infection
While the myriad of solutions and options for doing this are mind-boggling, a successful weight loss program is a combination of several facets that must be followed with discipline – optimal nutrition, cardiovascular and strength training, and staying active. Additionally, the invisible factors in the success of such programs are subtle – they deal with motivation, accountability, and perseverance, among other things.
Meditation scores heavily in more subtle areas, as does science-based research that supports its role in the primary facets or levers of weight loss. It can be the central leader who makes a weight loss program successful.
Let's see how.
The key components of a weight loss program
Technically, although it is commonly referred to as "weight loss", fat loss is what we really need. Fat loss refers to the reduction in the percentage of body fat, or adipose tissue, compared to the lean body mass made up of muscles and bones. Athletes generally have less than 5% body fat and lean people less than 10%. The goal is really to maintain lean body mass or increase the percentage in our bodies while significantly lowering body fat percentage.
This makes for healthy weight loss – the loss of fat along with the maintenance or increase in muscle mass.
Almost every program will include some form of nutritional optimization that involves controlling and managing calories, food quality, meal frequency, timing, servings, and the recently interrupted fast that is becoming increasingly important.
How often is it said "you are what you eat". Staying vigilant and avoiding overeating or eating the wrong foods is a crucial factor in maintaining an optimal diet. Meditation can dramatically increase focus, alertness, and attention span. It has been shown that Sahaja meditation enhances the activation of frontoparietal attention networks and "upregulates" them (Aftanas and Golocheikine, 2001, 2002a, b, 2003).
Sahaja meditation practitioners report from years of meditation practice that they tend to become careless about eating when out of balance, as indicated by their subtle energy system. This means that if we have energy imbalances in our left or right energy channels, i.e. if they are overemotional or depressed (imbalance of the left energy channel) or physically and mentally exhausted (imbalance of the right energy channel), they tend to overeat or overeat eating make bad eating decisions. This confirms that through regular meditation, balance will help develop healthy and balanced eating habits.
Avoid stress and stress eating
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is excreted to determine the fight or flight response to any situation. It also causes insulin secretion, which leads to fat storage in our body and weight gain.
Ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone, is eliminated when we are hungry and decreases when we eat. When combined with stress, ghrelin's effects are worse and can lead to overeating, especially at the end of our day.
A study by Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues has shown that stress and depression can not only destroy our efforts to eat healthy, but can also help pave the way for obesity and obesity-related diseases. The study found that stress promotes weight gain in women by altering metabolism and slowing down calorie burning (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2015).
Sahaja meditation acts as a stress buffer and helps you deal with stress, take control of your life and maintain robust health and self-reliance. Regular meditation activates a built-in stress management mechanism that helps you continually deal with stressors and improve long-term resilience.
The effects of good quality sleep
The reduction of stress, anxiety and depression through meditation automatically improves the quality of sleep. Meditation also increases levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, which not only regulates sleep but also interacts with serotonin to stabilize mood, increase positive emotions, and prevent stress.
Leptin is a hormone that signals to our brain the amount of fat in our body. We feel hungrier when leptin levels are lower or when the brain doesn't register high leptin levels. Lack of sleep abnormally lowers leptin and ghrelin levels, and sleep deprivation makes us hungrier.
Meditation and the resulting good quality of sleep avoid this risk, and meditation is therefore a valuable aid in any weight loss program.
In particular, a number of Sahaja practitioners, including those who are relatively new to it, confirm that the foot soaking technique significantly improves the quality of sleep.
The most important component of a weight loss program is staying active through two main methods – cardio training and weight training. Staying active through other means, such as walking or exercising, are other options. Weight training, in particular, has been studied to lower leptin levels, which is why it is so effective in a weight loss program.
Meditation increases our ability to stay active and physically fit.
Meditation has been found to increase dopamine levels (Kjaer et al., 2002) and increase the meditator's ability to focus attention on the present moment. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved in our motivational drives (neural circuits with reward motivation) as well as the control of movement / motor activity, including the fine motor skills and finesse required for physical fitness exercises such as strength training or cardio movements, or staying fit .
Better discipline increases the commitment to regular exercise, which improves skills and of course strengthens muscles and overall fitness. The sharpening of attention achieved through Sahaja meditation creates a heightened awareness of the need to set goals, stick to a schedule, continue to improve tasks and get them done.
Meditation reduces lethargy
The ability to avoid or reduce lethargy is unique to Sahaja meditation, and we wrote about it some time ago. This will definitely help you get up from the cozy couch and get active.
All Together – Why Meditation Must Be the Focus of Your Weight Loss Program
Meditation supports and improves your ability to keep up with several aspects of your program – avoiding stress, improving the quality of sleep, staying active, and having the motivation and discipline to stick to your eating plan.
This is because it works on a deeper level, affecting hormones and neurochemicals in a holistic way on a physical, mental and emotional level. You can use meditation as the force that holds all aspects of your program together and keeps you in balance as a whole. Foreign factors such as competing needs that grab your attention or lack of focus can be addressed through meditation to sustain your weight loss.
And Sahaja meditation has a much deeper impact – it can make you feel satisfied, be honest with yourself, respect your body and what nature has given you, and in many other ways, all of which are valuable in a weight loss program are and are rarely provided by other forms of meditation.
Now, what is the best thing you can do to speed up, improve, or even get started with your physical fitness efforts?
Take our online meditation sessions and make them a part of your lifestyle along with your fitness program and plan.