Every year we are subject to a plethora of weight loss books, articles, programs and products each promising the magic formula to weight loss. While some are obviously gimmicky, and others are recycled ideas, in fairness many do offer valuable pieces to the puzzle of the American dilemma with weight.

The weakness of most of these programs is that they do not consider the fact that permanent weight loss is a complex issue. For most people a simple solution does not exist. The truth is that weight loss and freedom from weight-related issues are by-products of getting healthy with all aspects of yourself – body, mind and spirit. This statement suggests a multidisciplinary journey, not a diet. A fusion of yoga, meditation and strength training offer the essential combination needed to practice weight management.

Any spiritual and physical practice requires discipline, patience and detachment. Weight management is no different. Do it because you trust that it points you in the right direction, even though it may seem frustrating at times and there are no guarantees.

The purifying power of yoga goes beyond the physical to help transform mental, emotional and spiritual health. The practice of meditation, yoga philosophy and yoga postures not only open you up to healing energy, but they encourage the actions needed for better self care.

Yoga teaches conscious weight management by teaching present living and building awareness. During yoga and meditation, we practice being completely present and grounded to source. In daily life, we are better able to act from a present and grounded position, not from "old tapes" or a "scattered" place.

Mindfulness
Learning to keep your energy in present time is crucial to connecting with your power and to practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of noticing thoughts and behavior patterns without judgment. Learning to identify negative patterns we perpetuate allows the opportunity to replace them with more healthy patterns. Self-judgment is an example of a response pattern often used to belittle and sabotage ourselves. If one consciously continues to replace self-judging reactions with compassionate and loving responses, one becomes a more loving and compassionate person.

Conscious exercise – yoga or strength training – performed mindfully enhances the mind/body connection, building the awareness and sensitivity needed to be more in tune with hunger, satiety and how food, exercise and all your actions are affecting you. Living from a place of conscious awareness increases the likelihood that decisions will be made that promote your health. It’s still important to stay out of rigidity and in the flow of your life. Sometimes the right decision is to have another glass of wine or dessert. I don’t think being a puritan is as much the point as committing to honor your whole being. Yoga teaches balance. With time, your decisions will automatically reflect your good intentions.

Because the physical reasons for doing yoga, strength training and eating right are more obvious than the spiritual/psychological ones, their collective benefits can help with motivation. A full body yoga workout, even a gentle one, improves general health, increases energy and promotes fat loss. Yoga postures are powerful tools enabling you to get into the various body systems to heal and balance them. Toned organs, improved circulation and a stronger cardiovascular system work together to strengthen and cleanse the body and improve metabolism.

Strength training and yoga decrease stress, a known cause of weight gain. Stress elevates cortisol levels that stimulate eating and convert extra calories to fat, usually abdominal fat. Strength training improves body composition, because it builds muscle, increasing metabolism. Muscle is more biologically active than fat and requires significantly more calories simply to be maintained. Strength training, when paired with good nutrition, results in a more fit and sculpted body and a reduced risk to the common diseases of aging.

A diet that ensures a proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals is essential to your overall health and ability to lose body fat. To encourage healthy weight loss, it is sometimes helpful to cleanse, heal and balance the body systems that have been compromised by stress, poor eating and lack of exercise. Detoxification programs and other nutrition protocols help provide the therapeutic support needed to improve the functioning of the body. Fat loss, muscle building, immunity, energy and outlook all improve with the health of the body.

Simple changes
Most research proves that diets are futile. Eventually, most people end up fatter and even more frustrated. If you’re tired of the diet merry-go round, try making just a few simple changes:

  • Change your mind-set from a weight-loss diet to a weight-management practice.
  • Practice yoga, strength training and meditation consistently, with the intention of honoring the higher self in you.
  • Trust your process and detach from the outcome.

Relax and trust that the practice of honoring your body, mind and spirit will lead you to a healthier and happier place with your weight.

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Shannon Leavitt is the founder of YogaLift's Center for Inner and Outer Strength, a studio for fitness and well-being in Minneapolis. She is also the creator of YogaLift, a unique fusion workout combining yoga, meditation and strength training. She is a NASM certified personal trainer and certified Hatha yoga instructor who holds a Masters in Nutrition Science and is a registered dietitian. Visit Shannon at the Center on 48th and Grand in South Minneapolis. Check www.yogalift.com for upcoming lectures on conscious weight management at the Yogalift Center for Inner and Outer Strength. Copyright © 2006 Shannon Leavitt. All rights reserved.

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