Mindfulness has become a buzzword, but what does it really mean? And why should you, Mr. Liftheavyshit, care about it? Well, for one thing, it can help you get ripped.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to what you're doing, whatever you're doing, and nothing else. It's the opposite of ADD. "Don't just sit there, do nothing" is an old saying about mindfulness. The hokey definition is "...awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally."
Mindfulness chills you out. It also helps you get "in the zone." So whether you want to relax at night or maximize your workout by engaging the power of your nervous system, mindfulness helps. Mindfulness has also been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease stress and is now being studied as a way to lower blood sugar.
A recent study wanted to see if Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) could lower blood glucose in overweight women. Eighty-six overweight women were divided in to two groups:
- Group 1 received nutrition counseling for 8 weeks
- Group 2 practiced mindfulness for 8 weeks
- Both groups were followed for 16 weeks.
- Three markers were taken: stress level, fasting glucose, and blood pressure.
The MBSR group not only had significant reductions in stress levels, but also lowered their fasting glucose by an average of 8.9 mg/dL at 8 weeks and 9.3 mg/dL at 16 weeks.
To put that in perspective, healthy fasting glucose should be between 70-99 mg/dL. With the above kind of reductions, this could mean the difference between having impaired levels of fasting glucose vs. healthy levels. Fasting glucose is one of the most important biomarkers for overall health and long-term leanness.
Try This Simple Mindfulness Exercise
You don't have to sit on a lotus flower and say "Om" to practice mindfulness. One easy technique is mindful listening.
- Sit, stand, or lie down. Close your eyes or gaze at one point. Set a timer for 1-10 minutes.
- Start to notice all the sounds around you, from obvious noises like voices and music, to other ambient sounds like the humming of the fridge or AC, or birds chirping in the distance.
- Any time you start to feel the itch to check out or your mind starts to wander, bring your attention back to the noises around you. If the asshole voice in your head gets loud, just bring awareness back to the sounds.
- Stay with it until your timer goes off.
It's that simple, but also that hard. Make mindfulness part of your daily routine. You'll feel less stressed and improve your overall health.
Related: Meditation for Muscle
- Nazia Raja-Khan, "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Women with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial", Obesity 2017, doi:10.1002/oby.21910.
- Honor Whiteman, "Biomarkers could predict which diets are best for weight loss", Medical News Today, July 10, 2017