The day has arrived: You can now slim down using the power of your mind! Of course, you also need to eat well and move more—but meditation can be a crucial part of reaching your goal, says health and wellness expert Tiffany Cruikshank, author of Meditate Your Weight. Cruikshank began incorporating meditation into her program after some of her patients' weight loss efforts had stalled, no matter how ardent their commitment to kickboxing and kale.

"There was some mental block keeping them from getting to the next step," she says, "and since stress was such a big component in their lives, we started playing around with meditation." After her patients made breath work, mindfulness and visualization part of their routine, the numbers on the scale eventually began going down again. "My hunch was right," she says. "They were putting so much effort into counting calories and exercising in already-packed schedules. Meditation gave them the nourishment they needed because they could finally just sit."

Meditation may lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which affects insulin sensitivity and plays a key role in metabolism; mindfulness can also make us more aware of what we're eating and why, says dietitian Marsha Hudnall, president and co-owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run, a retreat in Ludlow, Vermont, where she counsels women with issues related to weight management and emotional eating. "Mindfulness is a way to connect with yourself and ask, Am I actually hungry? What do I really want right now?"

Hudnall, who has a history of disordered eating, meditates daily. "I grew up a round kid in a thin family, and when Mom says you shouldn't have that cookie, it becomes the most desirable thing in the world," she says. "Mindfulness took away those shoulds and shouldn'ts. When I could focus on what I truly wanted, I realized I didn't actually like sugar as much as I thought."


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