How to Lose Weight by Sitting on a Yoga Mat

One of my sensational self-care clients recently confessed a secret: despite her progess and our work together creating a nourishing diet based on healthy, whole foods, sometimes she still found herself caught up in cravings for the unhealthy options on the menu or at the dinner table.

Here’s how the story went:

“When that big plate of [insert your nutrition nemisis here] is right in
front of me,” she said, “I don’t think about antioxidants, omega-3/omega-6
ratios or why fiber is fabulous.  It’s just soooo tempting, I really have a
hard time remembering why I should say no, especially just this once.”

Ah, “just this once.”

Has this ever happened to you?

Of course.  It’s happened to all of us.  The other day I had to relocate my stash of unsweetened dried cherries to the tip-top shelf in my kitchen because it was tough to stop noshing on them, even though I know inside and out that dried fruit is a “moderation snack.”

You see, that’s the thing.  I know it.  Intellectually.

But intellect and logic and remembering all of the facts isn’t always going to help you choose the quinoa, kale and currant salad over the bacon cheeseburger with curly fries.  In the face of temptation, especially if we’re under stress, our brains simply don’t work as efficiently.

It doesn’t help that nutrition is a controversial and confusing topic these days, either.  Some people are pumped about Paleo; others swear that raw is the way to go.  And, for the love of all that is holy, what is the deal with wheatgrass?  Is it really worth it?  Really?

I don’t know all of the answers, but I do know this:  our body gives us a lot of information.  It’s really, really smart.  It tells us what it needs.  Fatigue, unusual weight gain or loss, upset digestion, heartburn, colds — they’re all signs that something is way out of whack.  Once we start actively listening to those messages, we can respond with intelligence and mindfulness.

Working with a knowledgeable professional, like a nutritionist or wellness consultant, is an outstanding way to get super support, but in the end, you’re the one who decides what goes on your fork.

Here’s a simple trick I suggest for all yogis (and, no, you don’t have to be a mat-toting, legging-wearing, meditating, bendy tea drinker to be a “yogi” — you just need intention, movement and breath):

Eat what you would eat if you were sitting on your yoga mat.

It may not be freshly-squeezed green goddess juice, but chances are it’s not gonna’ be a funnel cake, either.

The idea, of course, is that most of the time you already know what you should (or shouldn’t) be eating.  Your mat simply helps you remember.  After all, it:

* represents that sacred corner of the planet that’s reserved just for you
* allows you to express, receive, give, build up and let down
* encourages recognition of your divine and virtuous self
* commands that the rest of the world’s responsibilities wait for a while

In other words, your yoga mat offers a space where you honor yourself.

After a while, your body gets this, matches the mat to the delicious feelings gleaned from it.  Psychology refers to it as associative learning, but the simple math is this:  yoga mat = self-care.  And when we make decisions with the intention of taking extraordinary self-care, we make much, much better decisions.

You are your own greatest teacher, cupcake sugarplum sweet pea, but you’re also the student.  Listen carefully.  Learn a lot.  Don’t cheat [yourself].  Eat your vegetables.


This post also featured on DC Metro Mom, a free online guide to the best shops, services, activities, and everyday essentials for raising a family in the DC area.  Visit for more.

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