meditation by a waterfallCould it be that exercising less and increasing meditation can help you lose weight? This morning, I read a fascinating article on Greatist called “Why Running Doesn’t Always Burn Fat” that highlighted the ways to lose weight by running correctly. Turns out, we’ve been doing it wrong. Or at least I have. Steve’s been doing it right and I haven’t been following him.

The most eye-opening part of the article was the difference between sprints and endurance running. Adam Bornstein wrote, “Research at the University of Western Ontario compared short but intense exercise, to longer, less-intense cardio. One group performed four to six 30-second “sprints,” while the other group did cardio for 30 to 60 minutes. The results were nothing short of amazing. Despite exercising for a fraction of the time, those in the sprint category burned more than twice as much body fat.”

For those of us who spend 20-30 minutes on the treadmill, this revelation is a shock. But in a good way, because it’s a relief to know that I could spend way less time exercising and yield better results than trudging away for half an hour.

Another piece of advice that Bornstein gave was that maybe you’re running too much. When you run, your body releases cortisol,  a stress hormone that makes you store fat in your belly. But this isn’t the only action that makes your body release cortisol.

Two of the major culprits are coffee and stress at work. While cutting down on coffee to one or two cups a week with lower levels of coffee-related cortisol, what’s the solution to work-related stress? As alluring as the fantasy might be, we can’t quit our jobs and spend the rest of our days sunbathing in Fiji.

That’s where meditation comes into play–and it’s not what you think. To reap the benefits of meditation, you don’t need to carve out 40 minutes a day to empty your mind, still your body and deepen your breath (although this practice has loads of benefits, as well). It’s as simple as breathing mindfully when you feel yourself becoming stressed. That’s the way meditation can help you lose weight.

If you feel like you are on the brink of a nervous breakdown at work, take a moment to count your breath, 6 seconds in, hold, 6 seconds out and hold. This will take your mind off whatever it is that is stressing you out and bring mindfulness to your moment.

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