Mindfulness – it’s a word that gets tossed around a bunch in the health and wellness community, particularly when it comes to nutrition. How can I eat better and lose weight? Practice mindfulness. Great, thanks, oh nutrition guru, for another buzzword that doesn’t mean squat to me.
So, what is mindfulness? It is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” In other words, it means completely focusing on the present, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When you’re eating, focus on the meal at hand. Pay attention to the taste and texture of your food. Enjoy your company and surroundings during the meal. Stop when you are sated.
We can practice mindfulness during our exercise as well. When you perform a lift, pay attention to the muscles you’re engaging. Is it a heavy day? Great! Can you feel your core engage so that you can maintain proper posture? Is it a speed day? Excellent! Are you controlled during the descent? Do you feel explosive during the ascent? Are you focused on your sets and reps, or is your mind wandering to the next task, your job, or your weekend plans?
In this blog, we’ve covered ad nauseum that forming good habits is fundamental to success in all your health and fitness goals. Habit forming takes practice. Mindfulness is the first step towards being able to practice. Practice means approaching an endeavor deliberately, with care, and with the intention to continually grow. It requires close attention to the feedback you receive, both internal, and external from your coaches, so that you can adjust accordingly.
Mindfulness requires focus and intent. Can you sit through a movie without scrolling through Instagram? Can you complete your lifts for the day without getting lost on TikTok between sets? Are you skipping your workout for the right reason, or do you simply “not feel like it?” When you attend class for the day, do you have a goal in mind for that session, or are you just randomly exercising? Exercising without mindfulness is just going through the motions, and it won’t help you on the path to your goals.
Chances are, if you can’t exercise with mindfulness, you also have trouble sticking to an eating plan. Are you aware of what you’re putting in your mouth, or is it convenience and boredom eating? “I was watching TV and…” is the antithesis of being mindful. Mindfulness won’t solve everything, but it’s a tremendous help. Most people aren’t aware of their faults and shortcomings. But, when you try to be mindful of your actions, consequences, and feelings, you will start to see clarity with your decisions and what you want for you goals. Practice this in the gym, and it will translate into other areas of your life as well. Slow down, take it in, pause, and focus. See you in the gym.