Being overweight carries with it a bunch of problems. My self-esteem was in danger as much as my health was. After about two years of rigorous training and dieting I finally managed to lose enough weight and get to the level of fitness I was comfortable with.
When all was said and done I had lost about 40 pounds and was feeling pretty comfortable in my own skin. I never imagined I would have visible abs and muscles that would show through my T shirt, and I was happier than ever.
Then I found myself facing a different problem. My weight would keep oscillating, I would gain 10 pounds and then work like crazy to lose them again and get my abs back.
Once you lose weight, the real trouble begins
It proved to be quite a challenge to keep myself fit once I had lost the extra weight. The worst thing was trying to control my urges – I would destroy a well thought out diet by cheating heavily every couple of days and eating tons of chocolate and pizza.
It just seemed fair that I should get a reward for being so diligent in the past couple of years and sticking to the rules. As it turns out no amount of exercise will help keep you thin if you insist on eating tons of chocolate and drinking sugary sodas. The thing about remaining fit and healthy is that it requires:
- Constant meal planning
- Daily exercise
- Good nutrition
- A comprehensive schedule
- Grim determination to stick with the plan
The hardest thing for me was being focused on my goals and keeping that focus long enough for the craving to stop. It seemed that all my willpower vanished in a cloud of smoke every time someone offered me a treat.
I was tired of exercising every day and couldn’t restrain myself from indulging in high calorie food. I realized that the root of my problem was lack of motivation to keep me going and the mental toughness that would enable me to say no.
You need a good training regime
I heard some friends talk about the meditation sessions they would have every night after karate practice and how it calmed their minds and helped them sleep easier and concentrate better during the next day. Their training consisted of the following:
- A short greeting ceremony
- Cardio training
- Form practice
- 10 minutes of meditation
It seemed like a very good, complete workout session. The basic layout seemed very practical and time-efficient. You would cover all the bases – everything from getting ready to resting after training – so you could be done in about an hour and a half.
I realized that I needed some form of activity where I would activate my whole body, stretch my muscles out and reap the benefits of some relaxing meditation. Since I wasn’t very keen on learning martial arts – wearing pajamas and punching hard surfaces with bare knuckles while screaming really isn’t my cup of tea – yoga seemed like a very good alternative. I decided it would be best to call up an old high-school friend who had been studying yoga for years and started training with him on a daily basis.
Yoga helps you get in the mood
One of the main problems I had with most workouts was that after some time I would get sick and tired of doing the exercises. Since I had already lost weight they just felt like a lot of unnecessary work and as soon as I would think about beginning a routine my brain would list a bunch of things I could be doing instead as my muscles trembled in anticipation. I basically tired myself out mentally before I had even begun training.
With yoga it is different. I see it as a chance to relax, to give my body a break and help it regulate its internal workings. A couple of simple breathing exercises can be enough to snap you out of a very dark mood or get your heart pumping when you’re feeling lazy or weak. I could be sitting on the edge of my bed thinking about how I’m in no mood for an exercise and the problems I need to deal with at work in an hour, and the next thing you know I’m on the floor in a bow posture, gently rocking back and forth.
It’s really easy to just “fall into” a yoga posture naturally when you feel some light back or joint pain from sitting too long and you get up to stretch. Doing yoga regularly isn’t very difficult because:
- It doesn’t feel like work
- No special preparation is required, you just start
- You can do it at home with no equipment
- You don’t have to follow a strict regime
- It’s not about competition
- You can progress gradually
- It gets your body warmed up
- Your mind gets laser-focused on the task at hand
- It’s very easy to transition into other activities
- You get the confidence to face challenges
You have to do it on an empty stomach
Whether it you do it first thing in the morning (personal preference) or before you go to sleep it helps you regulate your meals. If I know I’m about to be doing a half-spinal twist or cobra posture I will be sure to watch what I eat beforehand. Because you avoid eating for at least an hour before and after the yoga exercises you will space your meals accordingly and avoid unhealthy snacks between meals.
Yoga helps you view yourself in a different light
It’s not just about being proud of yourself and what your body can do (although it is a part of the whole picture) but also the way you perceive yourself and others and the relationships between you. You will find that after a while you are beginning to see things from a different perspective – there will be a noticeable change in your priorities. Making changes for the better will be easier and you will want to live up to the expectations of the people close to you.
Meditation will help cement your determination
Once you get used to meditation and you start sitting in meditation regularly and for extended periods you will feel the pressure being lifted from your chest. You will be able to regulate your sleep patterns, which means more energy throughout the day. Being able to empty one’s mind and focus certain goals will help your willpower tremendously. Once you feel a craving you can let it pass over you and weather the storm.
A study conducted on yogic mantras has shown that controlled breath in meditation can regulate the frequency of cardio-vascular oscillations, so it has physiological as well as psychological effects. Ending a hard-workout session with some yoga meditation can help reduce recovery time, and a carefully chosen set of asanas (postures) can help stretch and relax the muscles that have been worked hard so that we no longer have to associate exercise with pain and discomfort.
All in all, losing weight is the first step to leading a healthy life, but to be able to reap the benefits in the long run you need daily exercise and the ability to control your urges. By doing yoga on a daily base I have kept I slender figure, and thanks to switching to more body-weight exercises and endurance training my muscles are much better defined. Sometimes it was the only thing that got me out of the house when I felt down and exhausted both physically and mentally by the challenges life threw my way.
There is a helpful community of individuals leading healthy lives that you will become part of through yoga, they will help you by giving you all sorts of advice and some very good diet suggestions, this in itself is a good enough reason to start this journey of self-improvement. If you devote yourself to it completely and put real effort into it, the practice of yoga will make you a better person and help you remain healthy, fit and strong throughout your whole life.
Ivan Dimitrijevic is a blogger who writes on various topics. He enjoys to blog about health related topics such as nutrition and Medifast meal replacement diet program. He has contributed to many health & wellness related blogs.
Ivan thinks that the healthy way of life is highly important, which is the foundation for his passion. He is married, with a daughter, and likes to spend time with his family.