Ding…my eyes dart from the computer screen to read the third text in last 15 minutes. I pick up my phone to respond. Bing…my iPad notifies me that our Facebook page has a new message. Ring, ring…my boss is calling…better pick it up. Thirty minutes later, I return to computer screen, scan the five open windows and wonder, “What the heck was I doing?” I shuffle through the papers scattered on my desk to uncover the mystery. Eureka! I was writing this article. My momentary feeling of puffed-up victory deflates into a sad, sagging defeat. At this rate, I should average about 20 words an hour and be done next week…when the magazine is already at the printer. Sigh.
Can you relate to this scene? Our multitasking, time-starved culture creates stressed scatterbrains out of the most well-intentioned people. While we are all conditioned to accept and participate in the pace of modern living, our actions are often a feeble attempt at getting ahead. Researchers have found that multitasking leads to lower overall productivity, lower quality work and more mistakes. Tasks take longer and feel more challenging. The result? You have more stress and even less time causing you to miss the gym…again.
So what’s a busy gal to do when the frantic pace has become your normal? You must turn your circus-like mindset into a graceful ballet. The key to doing so is to train your self to have a more present, single-minded focus. One powerful step toward doing so is Mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply focusing on the present moment without judgment or evaluation. It’s about fully experiencing the now. I call it high-definition living, as when you are being mindful you see and experience the moment in a level of detail you would otherwise miss when your attention is fragmented by the dings, rings and bings of modern life.
Mindfulness isn’t just some airy-fairy ramblings of self-help gurus either. This concept has been rigorously studied and applied in medicine, universities and Fortune 500 companies—and for good reason. Consistent application of mindfulness can lower cortisol and blood pressure, increase immune response, alleviate stress and depression and improve focus and working memory.
The concept of mindfulness can help with your weight loss goals. The hustle and bustle of life often has us thoughtlessly shoving in food without consideration for quantity and quality. Mindful eating is about experiencing food more intensely—especially the pleasure of it. If you slow down and savor your meals, you might enjoy them more reducing the need for additional goodies to “satisfy you.” You might also find that, halfway through a meal, your body has had enough. Or, you might more accurately assess your hunger and avoid partaking in emotional eating.
Savor The Flavor
To practice mindful eating, begin by unplugging from technology and competing tasks. Take a bite of food. Then, put the fork down while you chew. Slow down and try to chew 25 to 30 times per mouthful. Tune into the texture, flavor, aroma, etc. Once complete, take another bite.
When you are really hungry, this is an exceptionally difficult task, as you just want to mow down your meal. However, speed eating is usually a recipe for gorged gut, indigestion and a calorie surplus. While it may not always be practical to approach each meal with such grace and restraint, set aside a few meals a week to do so.
To learn more about MINDFULNESS, check out my “Perfect Health” column in the June 2014 issue of FitnessRx For Women Magazine – on newsstands now!
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Pickert, Kate. “Being Mindful.” Time Magazine. 03 02 2014: 41-45.