By Melissa Howell
A few weeks ago, I talked about diets and basic foundations that you need to know that they don’t tell you when you start a new diet plan. I want to help you start to build a basic foundation around eating, losing weight (if that’s your goal), changing from old destructive habits to improved habits, slowing down, chewing, making better food choices, managing stress, and more.
In that article I also shared two of nine basic foundations you need to know when it comes to eating better, losing weight, and improving your habits. They were chewing and identifying high energy foods. This week I want to continue to build on those basic foundations, so we are setting you up for inevitable success moving forward.
With that said, let’s build on those foundations today. The next basic foundation that I want to share is the power of breathing and slowing down. Since breathing before each meal and after each bite is so important, we are only focusing on adding this step with the two previous steps.
First, I want to share with you a little bite about why breathing before and during your meals is so important. Believe it or not, when you are relaxed, your actually burn more fat. And when you are stressed, you accumulate more fat. That’s an interesting fact, don’t you think? I know the first time I read this, I was like, ‘what, really”. Stay with me here, I’m going to explain it in a little more detail….
Digestive stress—meaning when you feel bloated or undigested after you eat, is about 25% what you eat and 75% who you are being when you eat. We also touch on this in the last article. Ask yourself this, “who are am I being when I eat or when I am healing?” Are you moving at a warp speed, constantly eating on the go, multitasking during meals, engaging in negative gossip? These are all ways in which we feed the stress response. And we all know that stress is the opposite of relaxation. In turn, we want to feed relaxation!
Now, if you are working for a stronger metabolism or you’ve been trying to heal some challenge but have not achieved success, there’s one basic reason, and that is you are moving too fast! When moving through life too fast, we unavoidably eat fast which destroys our metabolism and creates digestive upset. This results in meals eaten under a physiologic stress response and diminishes our calorie-burning power. The slower you eat, the faster you metabolize. The more relaxed you are throughout your day, then the more energy you will have.
Some of you may be wondering how does that work from a scientific perspective? Salivary enzyme content in the mouth is reduced. The breakdown of protein, fat, and carbs in the stomach is impaired. Blood flow to the small intestines decreases as much as four times, which translates into decreased assimilation of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Have you ever had the experience of eating a full meal and still being hungry? Like you just can’t get satiated no matter how much you eat? This is a good sign that the stress response is on and your body is not assimilating nutrients.
In short, the good news is that it takes less than two minutes to de-stress the body and move it into a maximum nutritional metabolism, metabolic state. So, you can become stress-free anywhere, anytime and tap into your metabolic/inner power instantly. So, how do you do this? We’re going to trick your central nervous system. The shortcut to turn off stress and activate a psychological relaxation response is conscious breathing. When we are in a stressful state, if we consciously adopt the deep and rhythmic breathing pattern characteristic of the relaxed state, we fool the central nervous system. The brain says something like, ‘Hey, I thought I was a nervous wreck, but I’m breathing like a relaxed person. I must be relaxed.’ The result is a shift from a state of low digestive activity to full digestive force. Ten long breaths is about two minutes, maybe even a little more.
This is what I called the 5-5-7 breath (or the 3-3-5 breath). You’ll inhale for five, hold for five and exhale for seven, so the exhale is a little bit longer than the inhale. If you are unable to start out with 5-5-7, you can always bump down to 3-3-5 until you are able to build up to the 5-5-7 breath. This is two minutes to relaxation. You can do this anywhere, anytime, and I love it because it’s free. Breathing before and during meals is a great way to help you become a relaxed eater and boost your metabolic power. You can also do this in your car, at work, before bed.
Metabolism is about heating the body. That’s what burning calories is. When we eat the right foods, we feed the furnace, right? The breath helps with the burn because it warms the body. Breathe in more oxygen and you burn food more fully and can take yourself out of a stressed state into a more relaxed state. So, this week, we are going to focus on our breath.
- Practicing breathing before each meal. Take two minutes and do some deep breathing (about 10 deep breathes).
- Practicing taking one or two deep breathe after each bite. Take a bite, practicing your chewing, put your fork down, and take one or two breathes. This will help with digestive upset because you are allowing more oxygen into your stomach to burn food more fully.
I would love to hear from you about your thoughts and insights. Follow me on Facebook at Lissa Fitz Coaching and Networking.
Follow me on Facebook at Lissa Fitz Coaching and Networking.
Melissa Howell is a health, life and motivational coach. You can connect with her online at www.lissafitz.com or www.facebook.com/lissafitzcoaching.