|Sure I hear you say – whatever. That’s not going to help me shed a few pounds. |
You’d be surprised if you give it a chance. There are many routes to weight loss and they are all about the individual. No one size fits all technique is going to help you lose weight. However – if you are able to tap into the power of breath then this will set your body up for a better environment encouraging weight loss.
Dr Libby swears by it she stated that her body shed weight when she stopped running and took up Tai Chi – how can that be? Surely less calories burnt means less weight loss – NOT NECESSARILY.
Understand your body
How does this magic work I hear you ask!
The reason breath works so well is that it signals the body about our current state. Whether we are stressed or relaxed, in real simple terms. The speed and depth of our breath is also information for our brains to interpret so that the correct mix of hormones are circulating in our body at the right time.
Fight/Flight or Rest/Digest
Our bodies and brains are designed to survive. With that in mind we have evolved to cope with challenges mostly physical. The fight flight response does the following for us:
- Delivers blood and glucose to our extremities so we have fuel for muscles to use at speed or with strength
- Asks more of the ancient part of our brain that just deals with quick reactions and less creativity
- Reduces blood flow to our gut as we really don’t need to be digesting food while we are in survival mode
To deliver the glucose we need in this state our body has a clever mechanism to release more blood glucose into our system from the liver and muscles where it is stored but with that can come consequences, if it is happening regularly, or for sustained periods of time – our control of that mechanism can become poor. Poor blood sugar control can lead us down the path of being pre-diabetic or worse.
Watch the sweet treats/watch the stress!
|The way in which the body deals with the excess glucose in our system is the same whether it came from a sweet treat or a stress response.|
THAT is; insulin is delivered by our pancreas into the blood stream and off it goes enabling the mopping up the excess glucose so it doesn’t damage our nerve cells to name but one side effect.
Our muscles can store some but once they are ‘FULL’ the next storage place is our BELLY!! That’s the safest place our bodies can find to store the excess fuel.
Back to breathing
So mindful breathing can help us manage the stress response by signalling the nervous system that we are safe. The in breath if done quickly (think how you breath if you are running, not doing Tai Chi) tells the body to gear up for something. The out breath if done slowly is the opposite. The in breath can also be slow. I like to give clients the 4-7-8 drill. In for 4, hold for 7 and out for 8. Notice that the out breath is double the length of the in breath. There are lots of other breathing techniques but this is my favourite.
This breathing technique will send the signal to your body that you are not being chased by a sabre toothed tiger, you are happy relaxed and not in a state of readiness for action. Therefore your body doesn’t need to send glucose racing around your body and therefore you don’t need that insulin response that follows behind to mop up the leftovers. Thus it keeps your body in a low to zero insulin state, it can let go of the excess weight you are trying to shed – or at least get the signal to do that.
There are other factors at play as I said – you will still need a slight negative energy balance – meaning less fuel in than out but if this is in place and you get the relaxation mode right you will be setting yourself up for successful weight loss. If these things are in place and you are still struggling then there may be other issues in play like thyroid or sex hormones out of balance. Feel free to make contact today for deeper help.
Good luck and happy breathing…..