Weight loss—sometimes we hear, read, and talk about weight loss so much we just don’t even want to think about it anymore! But, of course, there’s a big reason why this issue “weighs” so heavily on people’s minds. Maintaining a healthy body weight not only helps us to look and feel better, it’s also important for reducing risk for a broad range of diseases.
However, many weight loss programs are difficult to follow over the long term and have a poor success rate. That’s why it’s so important to focus on simple changes to your diet and lifestyle that make it easy and enjoyable for you to maintain a healthy body weight. The ancient principles of yoga encompass not only hatha yoga exercises, but also include many helpful suggestions for losing excess weight and keeping it off—without a big struggle. Here are a few of the most important yoga weight loss tips:
Try to emphasize whole, natural foods in your diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc. Simply adding lots of these wonderful foods to your diet will make it that much easier for you to give up the junky stuff. Fruits and veggies fill you up without making you fat, and if you eat them regularly you’ll gradually find yourself reaching for an apple instead of a candy bar when you have the urge to munch. It’s important to realize that taste is a learned thing, and you can train your tongue to crave healthy food.
Focus on the positive—make the effort to eat balanced, nutritious meals. It’s easy when you’re trying to lose weight to become so calorie, carb or fat conscious that you forget about the important stuff—like nutrition! Nutritious meals taste the best and they help you feel satisfied longer. Balanced snacks and meals also ward off the blood sugar swings that can have you running for the nearest soda or snack machine. So instead of thinking about all the foods you “can’t” have, focus on enjoying the delicious, healthy types of meals and snacks that make weight loss almost effortless. (Stay tuned for specific healthy meal and snack ideas in next month’s newsletter…)
A plant-based diet (vegetarian if possible!) is optimal for weight loss. Modern science has proven again and again that the vegetarian diet recommended in the ancient yoga texts really is the best for losing unwanted pounds and staying within your ideal weight range. Why is this the case? Well there are many reasons why a plant-based diet is so conducive for weight loss, but the most important thing is that it works. Unless you eat ice cream and pizza all the time, the vast majority of people find they readily lose weight on a vegetarian diet.
This isn’t exactly an ancient yoga tip, but try weighing yourself every day, at least while you’re actively trying to lose weight. Recent research has shown that daily weigh-ins can help people lose weight and avoid weight gain. Of course, you don’t want to become obsessed with your weight, but as you learn to eat healthfully according to your body’s need for fuel, it’s a good idea to see how your intake matches up with the numbers on the scale. That way you know when you’re on the right track and you can make adjustments as needed if you find you’re going a bit in the wrong direction. One exception to this is if you’re following an unbalanced diet, such as the numerous high-protein diets out there. High-protein diets trigger a substantial amount of water weight loss, so don’t be deceived by the falling numbers on the scale. Slow, steady weight loss is the easiest and healthiest to maintain.
Practice yoga on a regular basis. Yoga has so many weight loss benefits, it’s difficult to list them all. The stretching, toning and breathing exercises of yoga help your body mobilize and burn stored fat. The stress-reduction benefits of yoga help you stay calm and peaceful so that you don’t turn to food in times of stress. Yoga also helps you become more aware of your body, so that you know when and what to eat. Yoga exercises are very important for balancing the hormones and endocrine system, which may be helpful in weight loss and maintenance. The best way to experience all the benefits of yoga is to practice it often! Wai Lana’s yoga videos and DVDs make it easy to make yoga a regular part of your healthy lifestyle.