"Pausing is something I do more often now.. And I pray or meditate --or do both-- everyday." -Oprah Winfrey
While eating my oatmeal this morning, I picked up a book that just happened to be lying around titled The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene. The foreword was written by Oprah Winfrey, describing her personal battle with weight. I think the quote above, about pausing in life, is one of the most essential tools in losing weight or dealing with almost anything in life.
While I'm not overweight or looking to go on a diet, like numerous Americans I do have the problem of eating when I'm bored. I've struggled with this habit since I was in high school, when homework got tedious and less interesting and girls started getting more conscious of their weight. Often times today, whenever I'm sitting and working on a boring project, my mind is triggered and starts repeating distracting thoughts of food. While I used to use food as a distraction, I now much more often used simple breathers/breaks to overcome my straying mind.
I used to snack all the time. I have a high metabolism due to being very active, so it never became too big of a problem when it came to my weight. However, it did pose a personal problem when it came to my appetite at meal times. As my snacking habit became more frequent (and as more boring homework was loaded on), I started to notice that I'd never really have a strong appetite when it came to actually sitting down for a meal. This was something I didn't like. Nothing is better than sitting down to a full meal when you're really hungry. But when you fill up on snacks all throughout the day, it's just not nearly the same. So I began cutting back on my snacking. This was hard considering it had become such a habit.
But when I really started to work on this was also around the time I set off for Yogaville. I went to Yogaville to become certified as a yoga teacher. I left the place after not only receiving a teacher's certification but after learning more about life than I could ever comprehend. During my time spent there this summer, one of the main things that was instilled into me was the importance of taking pauses in everyday life. I have taken this tool home with me and put it to use in almost all aspects of my life.
I used to be a person that was always on the go. Go go go. That was me, never stopping to take time to notice how I was feeling. There was so much in life that I wanted to experience, and still do, that I just didn't make the time to ever take a break. It got to the point where even I realized, I was going too much. I would be frequently worn down and just needed a break. And Yogaville really helped me understand that needing to take breaks is not only natural but essential.
This idea applies to food as well. Along with my always going lifestyle, my mind was almost always going as well. So when I'd sit down to do something boring, such as busywork homework, my mind wouldn't want to think about what I was doing. So instead, it would immediately stray to something I much more enjoyed: Food. My mind was constantly used to thinking, so it had to quickly move on to something else. As I became conscious of what my mind was doing and when I found myself snacking, I began to put to use what I learned at Yogaville about taking breaks in life.
When it comes to food and weight, taking breaks to really stop and ask yourself, "Am I hungry?" "Why am I hungry?" is essential. Compulsive eating, such as eating when you're bored, can be prevented by stopping and determining what's really causing you to want to eat. Now, whenever I'm impuslively reaching for a snack, I stop for a few seconds to determine if my body really wants food or if I'm just bored/emotionally reacting to something.
Every morning, I start out with a 10-15 minute meditation. This morning pause helps to immediately set the scene for the rest of my day. It reminds me to be in the present moment and to take my time, and prevents me from instantly launching into an unhealthy breakfast, or from racing around to get ready. Throughout the day, if my mind starts racing or directing me towards junk- in terms of food/anxiety/gossip/frustration/hate/sadness/etc- I stop, take a few breathes, and determine the root of these thoughts. If all I can determine is boredom, than I'll stop the activity for a few minutes to do something fun, such as read my favorite magazine. And then I'll continue with my work, taking deep breathes whenever I feel the need to do so. Nothing is healthier than oxygenating the body with fresh air. And nothing is better than being in the present moment.
When you can bring yourself entirely to the present moment, you'll see that all of life's worries go away. All of your compulsion will go away, your depression, your need of food, blah blah blah, all gone. Instead, you become completely satifised with what you're doing in each second of the present moment.
So use this lifelong principle and apply it to food if you need to. The next time you feel yourself reaching for an unneeded snack or an unhealthy item, pause and take a breather. Maybe take a moment to simply enjoy your surroundings and absorb the beauty around you. After just a few deep breathes, I guarantee you'll find yourself no longer wanting that item, or at least have an easier time taking your mind off the item and getting back to what you're doing in the present moment. Use this principle for ANYTHING.
Have you ever found yourself upset, only to look back on it and see that getting upset was really worthless? This exact principle can easily be applied to a situation like this. Instead of falling to pieces when something "bad" happens, just accept it, take a breather, and relax yourself. Give it a try, and I guarantee you'll be happier and healthier.