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Take the time to be mindful

By GENEVIEVE A. SUZUKI | La Mesa Courier

A mind is a wild thing that sometimes needs to be sedated when it comes to everyday dealings.

I’m not talking about medicating yourself to remove yourself from reality, but I am talking about holistic ways to calm the feral mind.

One of the things I’ve learned through my weight loss program at Kaiser is how important it is to reflect on our choices when it comes to food.

During the early stages of this weight loss journey, I was encouraged to keep a good diary for a week. Among things I needed to chart were what I was eating, how much of it I was eating, what time of the day I was eating it, and how I felt around that time.

I learned soon enough I used food as a reward, a comfort and as entertainment. When I had a good day, I would celebrate by eating 500 calories of chocolate. When I had a bad day, I would make myself feel better by swallowing 500 calories of chocolate. And when I was bored, I munched on — you guessed it — 500 calories of chocolate.

I rarely ate because I was hungry or nourishing myself. Until the journal, I never realized how much food had become a crutch.

In addition to journaling, another suggestion for anyone looking to drop some pounds is to practice “mindful eating.”

Mindfulness is on the rise in all walks of life. Mobile app Headspace, an app that makes meditation accessible to anyone with a smartphone, features an easy-to-understand guide as to mindful eating.

For me, a person who thoroughly enjoyed mindless eating, it’s hard to slow down when it’s time to feed. Mindful eating comprises taking time with each bite. As you chew your food, you notice the flavor and its texture. You’re thinking about how your food makes you feel.

I know it sounds like touchy-feely mumbo jumbo, but it has been surprisingly effective.

Now that I have been given the green light to have one meal a day with my fast, I decided to incorporate mindful eating into my life.

It’s not easy. The velociraptor I once was wants to sometimes swallow bites whole, but the Zen practitioner I want to become calmly reminds my inner hungry beast to relax and eat slowly.

Also, truthfully, there are only so many thoughts one can have about lettuce, cucumbers, chicken or salmon. Usually I’m thinking, “Why does it feel like it’s taking forever to get through this salad?!” Sometimes my thoughts become really dark, like, “Did this chicken realize it was going to be on my plate? Did it live a meaningful life? Did it even know it was a chicken?”

Mindful eating has also taken me into regular meditation. I try to get at least five minutes in to start my day to ensure my mind is right.

It’s helped me at work, when in court for a trial, when my 4-year-old insists we play the same song for the 10th time in a row, and when I need a soft reset at the end of a big day.

Taking deep breaths to calm yourself can go a long way toward maintaining your health, emotionally and physically.

According to healthline.com, deep breathing helps you mitigate the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your body, lower your blood pressure and reduce stress in general.

It’s funny how mindful eating and breathing, two things we’ve taken for granted since birth, can make a big difference on one’s health. While I may not master mindfulness anytime soon, taking a step toward minding my health is surely more important than mindlessly noshing through life.

— Genevieve Suzuki is a local family lawyer and former La Mesa Courier editor.


Source: La Mesa Currier

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