By Erica Moe | Get Fit
Daily life is full of to-do lists for the future, along with some nagging regret about the past. I challenge you to let go of the future and the past. Focus on the present and practice mindfulness.
The YMCA Weight Loss Program describes mindfulness as an act of being completely present in the moment and having a greater connection with ourselves, our senses and our environment. Typically, I would tell you to move more! But this time, instead of spinning your wheels, take some time to be still.
One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to be present or “in the moment” is to breathe deeply. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. If your breathing is too shallow, you will feel only the hand on the chest rise and fall. Breathe deeply into your stomach until you can feel the bottom hand rise and fall. Here are some tricks to help you get the job done:
- Use a pinwheel.
- Get crafty by creating a breathing stick. Attach a picture of a candle on one end of a Popsicle stick and a flower at the opposite end. Pretend they are real – inhale the scent of the flower and exhale to blow out the candle.
- Download a free app called Breathe, which features a breathing timer.
When you get stressed or frustrated (hello, holiday season!), use the acronym S-T-O-P.
- Stop and pause, no matter what you are doing.
- Take a breath. Feel it enter and exit your body, bringing you back to the present.
- Observe. Acknowledge what is going on, whether it is good or bad, or happening internally or externally.
- Proceed. Continue with what you are doing and keep the present moment in mind.
- Try movement-based mindfulness, such as yoga or a walking meditation outside. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be still.
- Eat dinner without the television in the background.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Learn to forgive. Allow an issue to have a beginning and an end, so it doesn’t continue to bother you.
- Speak honestly and engage. Make eye contact, actively listen and put down the phone.
- Be aware of triggers and cues.
- Make mindfulness part of your daily routine.
Mindfulness and food
Log your daily food intake and document how each food item or meal makes you feel. After a meal, are you energized or depleted? Which foods make you feel your best?
Fresh fruits and veggies or less processed foods are usually the best choice, so try incorporating more of these into your diet.
Try this mindfulness eating technique:
- Begin with a breath or two slowly from the diaphragm.
- Take one piece or one bite of food.
- Chew slowly and explore the connection.
- What is the taste and texture?
- Do you have any other reactions?
- Is this food connected to happy memories?
If weight loss is your goal, look for the Y Weight Loss Program in January 2018. The 12-week sessions provide tools and support in a group setting.
Note: This December, the YMCA is free to the community 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
—Erica Moe, M.S., is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA where she is fitness director.