Journey Beyond Weight Loss

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Why I Recommend Meditation

Hi there!

One of the keys to keeping the weight off is learning to be in touch with your emotions and understanding how they influence your eating habits and food choices. Meditation is a key activity that can help you get in touch with your feelings.

Some of this weeks episode highlights are:
3:48 Research shows that when you add meditation to the standard behavioral weight loss treatments, people lose more weight than they do with the standard treatment alone.
9:10 Over time, meditation helps you stop self critical thoughts that are going on in your head and develop more self compassion.
18:46 It's much easier to make the right choices about how to nourish your body if you are a regular meditator.

--- Full Raw Transcription of Podcast Below ---

Introduction (00:00):
You are listening to the, keep the weight off podcast with Dr. Angela episode number 18.

Welcome to The Keep The Weight Off podcast, where we bust all the dieting myths and discover not just how to lose weight, but more importantly, how to keep it off. We go way beyond the food and we use science and psychology to give you strategies that work. And now your host, Dr. Angela Zechmann.

Dr. Angela (00:27):
Hey everyone. And welcome back to the podcast today. I wanted to talk about a subject that's near and dear to my heart, and I think it's something that almost no one talks about when they teach people how to lose weight, I guess a few people do, but it's not something that's talked about a lot. We certainly don't talk about it very much at my very scientific obesity medicine conferences. So, but it's something that I feel is really important.

Dr. Angela (00:57):
And it's a skill that will help you, not just with weight loss, but in all areas of your life. And that's skill is meditation. Now, why do I think that meditation is so important? I've been meditating nearly every day for almost four years now for actually four years. I started a regular meditation practice on June 1st, 2017. So that's four years ago and my life has shifted in major ways since I started this seemingly innocuous little habit. So for example I have insights during my meditation and because of the insights that I've developed, I've created an online course and membership called Journey Beyond Weight Loss. I've developed a free Facebook group called Sugar and Flour Busters Society that now has I think 2,400 members and I've created this podcast. I've been surrounding myself with amazing people. I've discovered a new relationship. My life is just much, much richer than it was in the past.

Dr. Angela (02:19):
And I credit at least part of it to the insights that I have gained because I'm a regular meditator. But even if none of that had happened, I'd still be encouraging you to meditate. And the reason is that I'm just a lot happier when I meditate regularly, but meditation helps you to be a healthier person too. And the science backs me up here. So for example, a recent study showed that transcendental meditation also called TM. If you've ever heard of that may be helpful in the secondary prevention of coronary artery disease. So that means preventing heart attacks in people who have already had heart attacks, so preventing more heart attacks. Okay. So they did a study and some of the people got usual care or the other people got usual care plus instruction in how to meditate. And they discovered that over the course of the following five years, those people who were meditating regularly had a 48% lower risk of cardiac events than the people who weren't meditating. No, that's remarkable. That's almost a 50% lower risk of more heart attacks. So that's profound. And that really is when you look at the research in weight loss research shows that when you add meditation training to the standard behavioral weight loss treatments, people lose more weight than they do with the standard treatment alone. So why is this? The researchers concluded that when people are practicing meditation, they just have better restraint. Restraint is the ability to not follow through on urges to eat. Okay. So in other words, they have more control over their eating behavior.

Dr. Angela (04:22):
Now, that's the research. Let me explain how I see meditation working to help us in our weight loss journey as human beings, we have about 60,000 thoughts every day, 60,000 thoughts. And we're actually only aware of about 3000 of those thoughts. So all of these other thoughts are just sort of running around in the background of our consciousness. And they're actually running the show. Really. There's a lot of things that you're thinking that you're not even aware that you're thinking. And most of these thoughts that we think all day long are thoughts of worry or warning or judgment. These are the thoughts that actually kept us alive when we were evolving because they kept us on watch for danger. But many of these thoughts are also very self-critical and you know what I just want to say, if you notice that you're having a lot of anxious, judgmental, self critical thoughts, that's actually normal.

Dr. Angela (05:26):
That's your normal brain, right? The thoughts of a normal human being are, are mostly anxious, worrisome thoughts. So it's actually normal to have a lot of negative thoughts running through our minds all the time. So if that's, you don't beat yourself up about it. We also have a lot of negative self-talk it's like we're our own worst critics. So, and I think this tendency is even more pronounced in people who are struggling with obesity. There's already a lot of social bias against people who struggle with their weight and then add to that, the feelings of shame that we all experience when we're struggling with our eating. And it's a lot of negative stuff going through our minds and these thoughts then keep us in states of negative emotion. And that can really sabotage our weight loss efforts. We end up in these sort of thought loops where we're critical of ourselves or others, and we're anxious and we're worrying.

Dr. Angela (06:31):
And to our brains, this actually feels very productive. I believe it or not because our brains think that these thoughts are going to keep us out of danger, but really worry and anxiety are anything but productive. So what does meditation do? Well when you meditate, you focus on something very small, like a sound in the room, just listen right now for the sound of the air conditioner in the room you're in. Or maybe if you're driving and you're in your car, just listen to the car engine and just focus on that just for a minute.

Dr. Angela (07:06):
So do you hear that now? Just notice this feeling of calm that just comes over you when you're focused on that, it's like, ah, there's a sense of relief there, right? So when you do this purposefully every day, even for just 10 or 15 minutes a day, you stop all those background, anxious thoughts, you stop all that negative chatter in your brain, and you're giving yourself a chance to feel peaceful. The feeling of peace is the feeling of you being in alignment with your highest self, the part of you that knows wellbeing, right? It's really remarkable. After some practice, you begin to sense a broader perspective. And this is going to sound a little woo woo. Right? But you begin to see that what's going on in the world around you is only a small part of a much bigger picture. It's as if you're looking at your life from a jet airplane at 30,000 feet up, and you start to notice that the things that you think are a big deal just don't really matter all that much.

Dr. Angela (08:26):
You just have a larger perspective when you are a regular meditator, as time goes on, you find yourself less reactive to the world around you. Things just don't stress you out as much. And you also notice much more quickly when you're in a state of negative emotion, you notice that you're feeling anxious before you start stuffing the chips or the cookies into your mouth. Usually it's the other way around, right? Like we're automatically grabbing for some chips or candy or cookies. And we don't even realize that we're anxious about something. We like to grab food, right? So it just brings more awareness. The other thing that meditation does over time is that it helps you to stop these negative self-critical thoughts that are going on in your head and develop more self compassion. Because you have a broader perspective. You begin to see yourself as part of a larger whole, and you begin to have more respect and compassion for yourself as a part of this larger whole, you become less willing to beat yourself up all the time.

Dr. Angela (09:40):
You see your value, you have more positive thoughts about yourself. You develop a sense of self-love and you give yourself a break for being a human being. That's another piece of meditation that's really, really remarkable. So meditation is going to help bring awareness to your emotional life. As a matter of fact, for my students in journey beyond weight loss, this is one of the things, one of the first things that I teach in module one, get a meditation practice going start. Now don't wait, just start with five minutes a day and work up. This is what I tell my students. Now, many people think, well, I can't do this. So here are some of the common objections to starting a meditation practice. People will say, things will like, I can't sit still for that long, or I get fidgety or I get anxious, or it just makes me uncomfortable.

Dr. Angela (10:42):
And basically what they're saying is that it just brings up feelings that they just don't want to face. Right? But I want to encourage you to just get started anyway, because your brain is always going to throw roadblocks in your way, and you want to not be listening to that primitive part of your brain. You want to be listening to the part of your brain that is in touch with your long-term goals. And you just want to see what this is all about. So what I want to do right now is to just give you an experience of what it's like to meditate, just a real quick experience. So you can see what it's like. So unless you're driving a car or operating machinery, if you're able to, I would invite you to just go and sit down in a chair, keep listening to this podcast because I'm going to lead you through this, but just go sit in a chair and put your feet on the floor, okay.

Dr. Angela (11:38):
And close your eyes and sit so that you can really feel your feet grounded into the floor and put your hands in your lap and set your spine up really nice and straight and tall, and feel your seat on the cushion of the chair. Feel what that feels like. Feel yourself really nicely grounded in the chair that you're sitting in and the floor under your feet, and just sort of scan your body and notice the sensations in your body. Notice what's going on around your eyes. Notice what's going on in your neck. Notice if there's any tightness in your shoulders. And as you're noticing these things just gradually relax. Notice if there's anything going on in your chest or your abdomen, notice your legs.

Dr. Angela (12:46):
Notice if there's any tension in your legs at all. And anytime that you notice any sort of tension at all, just gradually release it and relax it. And the next thing I want you to do is to pay attention to your breathing. Just notice that you've just been breathing automatically all this time and that there's air going in through your nose and it's filling up your chest and then you're breathing out. And what I'd like to invite you to do is to just begin counting your breaths. So what you're going to do is breathe in for a count of three, one, two, three, and then breathe out for a count of five one, two, four, five, breathe in for a count of three, one, two, three, and breathe out one, four, five, and one, two, three out and two, four, five. Okay. Now I would just invite you to go back to your normal breathing pace and open your eyes and see how you feel.

Dr. Angela (14:25):
Hopefully you're feeling a little bit more peaceful and relaxed. Sometimes people actually even fall asleep during meditation and that's perfectly normal. No problem with that. So I would just recommend that you set a timer for five minutes to start, and you could do that meditation, or you could an app on your smartphone. There are several good ones out there. There are many good ones out there. I like the InsightTimer app ( There's also one called Calm ( and there's one called Headspace (

Dr. Angela (15:05):
These will give you some guided meditations to start with what you're going to notice as you meditate is that your mind is going to go off into other places. And that's perfectly normal. That's a normal mind. You'll start thinking about the things that you have to do or whatever it might be. Just bring your attention back to your breath or to your mantra or to the guided meditation that you're listening to just bring it back.

Dr. Angela (15:31):
Every time you bring your mind back, you're letting your brain know that you're actually in charge of your thoughts, right? Cause that's what you want to do. You want to learn to become more in control of the thoughts that you're thinking so that you can make wise choices about what thoughts you want to think you can't do well in this weight loss journey. If all of your thoughts are thoughts of anxiety and self-criticism and self-hatred and self-loathing and all of that stuff that goes through our minds all the time, we have to learn how to take more control over the thoughts that we think. And the best way to do that is to learn how to meditate. The best time to meditate is first thing in the morning. And why would I say that? Well, because you haven't gotten your day going yet. There's less distraction to overcome less things to think about.

Dr. Angela (16:26):
And if you meditate first thing in the morning and you get your day started off with this wonderful sense of peace and calm your day is going to go much, much better. You'll be living your life from this grounded, happy, peaceful place instead of from an anxious place. Okay? So I recommend that you make meditation a part of your morning routine, and this way, if you make it a part of your morning ritual, you're going to train the neural pathways in your brain to just expect meditation as a part of your wake-up ritual and make sure that you're going to the same place every day to meditate. So your brain knows when we're sitting in this chair or on this cushion or whatever it is that this is where we meditate and then your brain is going to know, okay, this is where it's our time to just relax and focus on our breathing, okay.

Dr. Angela (17:24):
Or the mantra or whatever it is that you've decided to focus on. Okay. So your brain will be like, okay, here I am. And I'm not going to be thinking about the specifics of my particular life experience. I'm just going to be focusing on the breath or the mantra and you'll end up remembering the bigger picture, right? So what happens gradually over time is that you start to observe your thoughts and you start realizing that you are not your thoughts, that you have thoughts that they're sort of like clouds floating, but you're not your thoughts. So you put some distance between you who you are and your thoughts. And you begin to start making more choices about the thoughts that you want to think. And you start making choices automatically that are much better for you. So there's this space that kind of opens up between our automatic reactions and our responses to our thoughts.

Dr. Angela (18:28):
Okay? You gradually develop more control over your thoughts and more control over your emotions. And you're not at the mercy of your primitive, anxious brain anymore. You don't judge yourself so much. You don't judge other people so much, it's much, much easier to make the right choices when it comes to how you nourish your body. If you are a regular meditator. So I'd encourage you to try it. Try just five minutes of meditation every morning for the next 60 days. Just see if you can make this a regular habit. See if you like it. If you don't, there's no harm done, right? But if you do what you're going to discover is that a whole new world is going to open itself up to you. So that's my encouragement for you this week, and I will see you all back next week. Take care. Bye-Bye.

Closing (19:50):
Hey, if you really want to lose weight and keep it off for good, your next step is to sign up for Dr. Angela's free weight loss course, where you're going to learn everything you need to get started on your weight loss journey, the right way, just head over to to sign up. Also, it would be awesome if you could take a few moments and write a review on iTunes. Thanks. And we'll see you in Journey Beyond Weight Loss.

Meditation apps mentioned in this podcast:

- Dr. Angela


This episode was produced and marketing by the Get Known Podcast Service


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