7 July 2022
The unexpected tip for weight loss: Relax!
Here’s a secret to weight loss you probably haven’t heard of. Or, if you have, you might not have believed it. Losing weight by relaxing, for real? Yes!
All you need to know is what kind of relaxation to choose. Lying on a couch won’t do the trick but another type of “lying around” will. So what is the right type of relaxation and how this all works?
What does it mean to really relax?
When you hear “relaxation,” what image does that evoke? What is a good way to relax after work?
Spreading out on the couch in front of the TV after work may come to many minds. Some food, snacks, and beer or soda. That’s what we’ve been taught relaxation looks like. Or maybe it means chatting with a girlfriend in a cozy café, meeting colleagues for a drink at the pub, going for a jog…
While all of these can have positive effects on you, the question is, is this the true relaxation for your body?
True relaxation means that contracted muscles loosen, and emotions that have been shut down and shoveled off are released. Right, at first, this may not sound like great fun. But eventually, it is! With this kind of release, the body and mind don’t have to hold onto any redundant stuff. Kilograms including.
This type of relaxation is found on a yoga mat, in a slow, restorative yin yoga class. There are some other greatly relaxing practices such as meditation, yoga nidra with a body scan, or reiki, however, these won’t give you the deep tissue release.
Why would relaxation help to lose weight?
The short answer is stress reduction. True relaxation changes the chemistry of your body. This can be felt like a change in one’s subjective experience but also tested in a lab, by measuring one of the stress hormones, cortisol.
Cortisol is a molecule produced in the adrenals, glands that sit on top of your kidneys. This hormone on its own isn’t bad, it is helping us regulate the stress response.
The trouble comes when cortisol levels are high often and for a while. It causes fat to be stored around the waist, not only making for a “muffin top”, but also interfering with appetite control and increasing blood pressure.
Another unpleasant effect of constant and lasting stress is that to meet the life challenges, the body starts saving energy and so it slows down the metabolic rate. It means under pressure you crave unhealthy foods but your body is burning them even slower. You understand the problem.
“Lying around” and losing weight. Sound like a dream?
It does. However, in this year-long study, it’s been found that restorative yoga practitioners lost significantly more (almost twice as much) subcutaneous fat (under the skin) over the initial six months compared to more active stretching exercises. They also kept losing weight in the subsequent period. The dream came through.
What looks like lying on the floor, i.e. yin yoga works greatly on weight loss. This is good news especially for those struggling with extra weight that doesn’t allow more intense exercise.
The benefits of relaxation go beyond bodily chemistry. When truly relaxed, we have the headspace to realize we can make other changes in life to look fit and feel good.
Learning mindfulness for healthier choices, as a bonus
A stressed person often eats in a hurry, in front of a laptop, barely realizing what they’re eating, and mostly, not chewing properly. They’re also likely to eat more food than they need and pick meals that aren’t ideal.
In stress, cravings speak loud but this call for energy, a fuel from nutritious food, is often erroneously decoded as a call for a chocolate bar, cake, or creamy pasta, and caffeine.
On the contrary, a person that is relaxed, and connected to sensations in the body, is less likely to overeat. They would eat slower and stop at the first signals of the stomach being full.
Gentle practices that bring attention to the body, emotions, and thoughts help create awareness of our daily choices. When better attuned to our inner world, we can easily understand how a certain type of food, exercise, or situation makes us feel. From this place, we can make a different choice next time.
Choose true relaxation so that you can release unnecessary stresses and kilograms. Book a relaxing stay at REVĪVŌ.