Were your lungs helping you breath today? Were you able to walk yourself to the bathroom and brush your teeth? Did your fingers help you deftly button up those favorite jeans of yours?
If the answer to all three questions is yes, then you are one lucky duck. I hope you realize how truly blessed you are to have working organs, limbs, and fingers.
Now close your eyes, take (and release) three big breaths, thank the universe for such good luck, smile big, and give your body a big, virtual hug for always having your back, and then go about your day as usual.
Why do this? Well science tells us that the effects of gratitude on the brain are long lasting. Practicing gratitude everyday—or even just once a week—can help:
- increase energy levels
- improve exercise patterns
- get better sleep
- decrease anxiety and depression
- lower stress levels
- increase self-love and empathy
- show reductions in physical ailments and pain
- improve optimism
A 2004 study by Emmons and McCullough even showed that keeping a gratitude journal increased determination, enthusiasm, alertness, and energy.
In effect, by practicing gratitude you could have more energy in your day to exercise. You can reduce the stress in your life to curb stress eating and emotional attachments to food. Better sleep as a result of gratitude journaling can also help you with muscle synthesis and increase energy levels to get you the best results from your workouts. All of these would work together to help you move more and eat less—the two proven ways you can shed those unwanted pounds without constant dieting.
How to Practice Gratitude
It only takes a few minutes a day to recognize, acknowledge, and practice gratitude everyday. Start with taking just a moment to jot down some notes on a notepad or on your phone. Try doing this once a week at the minimum. Keep it up for at least three months to see best results.
If you need some prompts on how to keep a gratitude journal, try choosing one topic a day from these journal prompts listed below:
Just remember, acknowledging gratitude is not about comparing yourself to how other people may be worse off than you are. Take time to really appreciate the smallest aspects of your current situation. This is where a gratitude journal can come in handy as it is something tangible that you can go back to and reflect on.
I always tell my clients that losing weight is not complex, but it is definitely complicated. Losing weight is about getting adequate exercise while eating just the right amount of calories from nutrient dense foods. The complicated part comes from daily stress, lack of sleep, lack of self-love and motivation, and physical, economical and psychological barriers. Gratitude journaling is a great tool to help you make sense of some of the complicated stuff that makes weight loss so difficult for many.