Supercharge your results with Mindfulness

In this fast-paced society, it’s more important than ever to take a step back and focus on mindfulness. When you’re mindful, you’re more in control of your thoughts and emotions, which can have a positive impact on both your nutrition and exercise habits. 

Keep reading to learn the benefits of mindfulness and how you can start incorporating it into your own routine!

While mindfulness has been used in Eastern cultures for centuries, it has only recently become a popular concept in the Western world. Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”. This can be applied to your nutrition and exercise habits in many ways.

Table of Contents

What is Mindfulness?

You probably aren’t actually aware of the several times each day that you are practicing mindfulness. This could be when you get lost in a task, behaviour or experience; you are practising mindfulness intuitively. Some recognise it as a ‘flow state’. You might get swept away in the activity and feel joy. 

In order to really explain mindfulness (the non-intuitive kind), its easier to think of your body and your mind as two separate entities. When your mind is stressed, your body does the best it can to offset the stress using avoidance strategies such as reducing exposure to that activity (e.g. walking away) or through avoiding the feeling (e.g. eating food you enjoy to make you feel good, or going to the gym to work out your frustration).

Most women aren’t aware, but their bodies are doing a pretty good job at avoiding stress. This happens through intuition and a bit of cultural programming like conversations around rewarding themsevles with food. While this does help to avoid stress, it continues to build up (and up and up) mentally. 

This means it doesn’t help you ‘let go’ of stresses, and you therefore hold onto them. The other aspect is that this continually reinforces the idea that food is your outlet or that you must train to be able to manage the stress. 

But what happens when you don’t have food around you or the ability to go to the gym to let out these stresses?

You store them and eventually when that store of experiences and stresses add up you start to see spillage. Just like a dam. When the floodgates work (stress avoidance strategies) then all is fine. But when they don’t, that spillage results in behaviours that you are trying to change. Emotional eating, overeating at night-time, uncontrollable snacking, the inability to stop… you know what I’m talking about. The times when you feel out of control of your own body and instead you’re reacting repeatedly. 

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By learning how to apply mindfulness techniques, skills or strategies in your life, you can lower the number of experiences that add up and contribute to the dam spilling. Mindfulness helps your body’s ability to rest and digest. During experiences of mindfulness, there are several indicators that your body is using food better – recovering from training and building muscle.

The parasympathetic tone is when the body’s “rest and digest” mode is turned on. This helps the body to relax and restores energy. It is the opposite of the stress response or the sympathetic tone.

Some examples of our body responding to more rest and digesting are:

  • improved blood sugar regulation,
  • better at digesting foods,
  • increase in daily energy,
  • better sleep,
  • better handling negative experiences,
  • increased fat burning for fuel, and
  • decreased inflammation.

How to apply Mindfulness to Exercise and Nutrition

When you try to change your eating or training habits, mindfulness is an extremely powerful ally. It allows you to work with your stressors in a more direct way and start to let go of the experiences that don’t serve you or your goals.

The first step is always awareness. Once you become aware of how often you reach for food when you’re stressed or how often you train to manage your stress, you can start to explore other options.

One mindfulness technique that can be extremely helpful is breath work. This can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths when you feel the urge to snack or overeat. It sounds so simple but it’s actually very effective. By focusing on your breath, you’re bringing your attention to the present moment and away from the thoughts or emotions that are triggering the urge to eat.

Another mindfulness technique that can be helpful is simply observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This means allowing yourself to feel the emotion you’re feeling without trying to push it away or make it go away. It may sound counterintuitive but it’s actually a very powerful way to deal with difficult emotions.

Exercise habits can be used with mindfulness in a similar way. If you find yourself constantly trying to fit in a workout or feeling like you must punish yourself with a tough workout, mindfulness can help. Simply being aware of these thoughts and emotions is the first step. Once you’re aware of them, you can start to explore other options:

  • One option is to focus on the enjoyment of exercise. This means finding ways to enjoy the exercise you’re doing. This could be anything from listening to music or podcasts while you work out, to choosing an activity that you enjoy.
  • Another option is to focus on the benefits of exercise. This means thinking about how the exercise you’re doing is improving your health and well-being. For example, increase in energy you’ll have after a workout to the endorphins that are released during the exercise.

Finally, mindfulness can also be helpful in dealing with cravings. When you have a craving for something, observe it without judgment and then ask yourself if you really need it or if you’re just trying to satisfy an emotional need. If you decide that you don’t really need it, then let the craving go.

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5 Easy Ways to add Mindfulness to your Routine

If you’re interested in incorporating mindfulness into your own routine, there are a few things you can do to get started.

  1. Pay more attention to your thoughts and emotions throughout the day. This means taking a few moments to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling.
  2. Practice some mindfulness techniques. This could be anything from breath work to observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment.
  3. Find ways to incorporate mindfulness into your eating and exercise habits. Examples include choosing to eat mindfully, or finding ways to enjoy your workouts.
  4. Make a commitment to yourself to practice mindfulness on a regular basis. This means setting aside some time each day to focus on your breath or simply observe your thoughts and emotions. Do this at times when you are the least stressed. Trying to establish a new behaviour when you’re overwhelmed is much harder. Chunk these practices into small times of 1 – 5 minutes to make the task feel more achievable.
  5. Be patient with yourself. Mindfulness takes time and practice to master. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep practicing and eventually, you’ll start to see the benefits.

My Own Personal Mindfulness Experience

I have personally found mindfulness to be extremely helpful in my own journey with food and exercise. I was never someone that struggled with anxiety, stress or overwhelm. It seemed to all come crashing down on me as I finished my 20s and moved toward my 30th birthday.

Apparently having a life full of trauma, no coping mechanisms, and no emotional comprehension meant I was a ticking timebomb (who would’ve thought).

When it went off, I was experiencing somewhere in the range of 5 – 10 anxiety attacks each day. Everything went to crap.

I have always read and logically understood that we need balance and that holding stress is extremely unhealthy. What I failed to see was HOW I was meant to put together some stress-lowering activities or skills. That is until mindfulness became a big part of my life.

Mindfulness has helped me to understand my triggers, work through my stressors, and find ways to cope that don’t involve food or exercise. It’s been a game-changer for me and I’m so grateful to have found it. Actually, scratch that, I am truly a different person today because of it.

Mindfulness can be extremely beneficial for both nutrition and exercise. It allows you to work with your stressors in a more direct way and start to let go of the experiences that don’t serve you or your goals. Additionally, mindfulness can help you to find ways to enjoy exercise and make it a more positive experience. 

Finally, mindfulness can also help you to deal with cravings in a more effective way.

If you’re struggling with your relationship to food or exercise, I urge you to give mindfulness a try. It just might be the thing that finally helps you to find some peace and balance in your life. If you’d like some more help, hit the button below or Contact me directly via the menu above.

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