Alarm clock. Shower. Feed the kids. Pack the lunches. Breakfast. Oh, I forgot to send that email! Better hurry I only have an hour to train before I have to get back to work. Lunch meeting. Conference call. Clean snack? Check! I’ll eat it while I’m picking up the groceries. Honey, of course I’ll get the dry-cleaning, no problem. Mom, can Katie stay for dinner?! Meatless Monday it is! Ok family fed, dishes done. I can finally relax with a little movie and well maybe a few of those chocolate things because I feel like I haven’t eaten all day. Just a few though. Movie is over. Bag is empty. Yikes! What happened?
Now take a deep breath and exhale. Feel better? The practice of mindfulness is as simple as taking one conscious breath.
Through practicing the Eat-Clean Diet lifestyle I’m sure that you have come across the concept of ‘mindfulness.’ I first heard this term several years ago when I was working towards recovery from an eating disorder, and, although I understood the theory, the idea of locating this illusive ‘present moment’ seemed hypocritical. I mean, if I was not present, where was I?
Life in today’s society is incredibly hectic. Between work, family obligations, social obligations, living a Clean, fit lifestyle and focusing on personal goals, constant thoughts about what happened or what is about to happen in an hour, in a day, next week, become our natural state. The issue with this is that we find ourselves in a perpetual state of motion, rather than in stillness, and hence rob ourselves of the precious present moment. In doing so, we find ourselves eating but never quite feeling satisfied or training but not fully experiencing results. Not to mention, this constant motion causes an extreme amount of stress on the body keeping the sympathetic nervous system on autopilot, which leads to cortisol release, weight gain, water retention, hormonal and digestive issues.
Incorporating mindfulness changed my life and was the key to my recovery and weight loss, which you can read more about in Oxygen magazine’s special issue of Off The Couch 2012.
After years of suffering with an eating disorder, I no longer understood where my boundaries were when it came to feeling hungry or full - the lines were completely blurred. I would often find myself zoning out during meals and not fully concentrating on each and every bite or on the experience as a whole. In fact, many times I couldn’t even remember if I had even had a meal! Practicing mindfulness helped me to re-learn these basic and critical bodily impulses.
Prior to engaging in mindful living, when I was eating, I would be thinking of the next thing I had to do. I would be working on the computer, chatting on the phone or watching a movie but never really fully focusing on the sacred act of eating my meal. As a result, I would get to the end of my meals never feeling fully satisfied or satiated. In turn, there was a greater dissonance in my mind/body/spirit connection.
This would also lead to a pattern of snacking, binging and emotional eating. I was never really ‘hungry’ during these binging sessions but simply wanted to feel ‘full’. I later understood that this lack of satiety or fullness was directly connected to a lack of full presence during each moment.
For those of you who follow me on my blog Eve Post Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or on my website, you will know that chilling out is a big part of my fit lifestyle and provides the balance for the intensity necessary to not just manage life’s obligations but to enjoy them.
This video explains some of the ways that I practice mindfulness in my life when it comes to conscious breathing, eating, and grounding myself. I encourage you to try at least one of these tips today when you first wake up, at your next meal or during a stressful moment and just notice how you feel.
I would also encourage you to take the time to write out a list of things that you can do to chillout and try to incorporate at least one of these ‘chillout indulgences’ once a week until they start to feel natural.
Here are some of my favourite ways to chill:
• Baking – Nothing engages my senses more than combining fragrant and delicious ingredients together for a Clean treat to enjoy with loved ones.
• Hiking – A long walk or hike with my partner in one of the beautiful British Columbia forests always takes the edge off.
• Yoga & Meditation – I enjoy a daily practice and have done for many years, it has healed me on so many levels.
• A Long Run – Especially by the sea in the morning. Running allows me to connect with my deeper self, visualize what I am striving for, dream and pray.
• Time With Friends – Whether phone calls, coffee dates, evenings out or special events, time with friends who truly love and accept me is sacred space and I make it a point to schedule this in regularly!
• Massage – A deep tissue massage is just about all I need to unwind some days. With an active lifestyle it’s important to help blood flow to the muscles and relieve tension.
• Bubble Baths – With my favourite essential oils: Jasmine, ylang-ylang, neroli and patchouli.
• Watching Old Movies – Well, not that old, my favourite ones are from the 80’s. Nothing beats an 80’s movie marathon with my girlfriends.
• Gardening – Some days it’s just me, myself and my herbs.
For those of you who are just beginning your journey toward a healthier lifestyle, my advice is to take it slow and be sure to balance your enthusiasm for your active lifestyle with some scheduled and well-deserved chillout time. To read more about my journey, feel free to check out my website www.zainsaraswatijamal.com, blog Eve Post Apple or follow me @evepostapple. I would love to hear about your favourite ways to #chillout!
And while you're doing so, sip on my delicious Chillout Vitamin Water.