Every January the gym is crowded. There are no spots in the parking lot. All of the classes are full. And you have to wait to use the equipment. But by April, that’s not true any more. The thrill of New Year’s resolutions is over. You never really liked to exercise anyway. And summer’s still a season away. Why bother? Here’s why.

When you are active, you feel more alive. It may sound counter-intuitive but the more you move, the more energy you have. That’s why I don’t advise working out at night. It may keep you up. With that logic, wouldn’t it make sense to start your day off with a brisk walk, 15 minutes of exercise or a yoga practice? Yes!

You don’t need a new year’s resolution to inspire you. Just look in the mirror, and tell me what you see. More importantly, don’t look in the mirror and tell me how you feel. Often, one effects the other.

I think your body is beautiful. Do you?

Now I’m not about diets. Trust me. I’ve been on them all. From macrobiotic (that’s only eating raw vegetables and fruits) to gluten free, dairy free, count your calories… the list goes on. Here’s what I’ve found. Nothing works. No matter how much I watched my diet, sacrificed my favs. No matter how much weight I lost, it all came right back, and sometimes more.

While exercise is really really important, (do not underestimate the importance of movement) it is of equal value to pay attention to your relationship with food. What? Yes. You have a relationship with food. After all, you spend enough time with it!

How do you manage this relationship? First by understanding it. That requires bringing awareness into your daily eating habits, otherwise known as ‘Mindful Eating’.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What time do you eat breakfast?
  • What do you eat?
  • Where are you eating?
  • Is anyone with you?
  • Are you in a rush? Are you sitting? Driving? Talking?
  • How hungry are you prior to your meal?
  • Are you satisfied after? Or are you still hungry?
  • Do you feel energized? Or full, tired and groggy?
  • Do you find yourself criticizing or guilting yourself? Or did you enjoy your meal?

Do this exercise with every meal, and you’ll begin to notice a pattern. Not only of your relationship with food, but your relationship with yourself.

Don’t you want to look in the mirror and blow a kiss at your reflection? There’s no need to wait. Start with blowing kisses your way now. The food can wait! And the movement, well, that’s every step you take.

The mindfulness of eating continues with the senses.

How better to eat than to taste the bounty of your food?  Let’s begin with the sense of sight. That’s where your digestion begins. It’s true. All you really have to do to start the digestive process is to simply think about food. The saliva begins to form. You can sometimes even smell the meal!

Let’s imagine that your meal is front of you.  NOTICE what it looks like. When you really see your food, you are more aware of its nutrients. You are more aware of its caloric content. And you can see whether it is all that appealing to you or not.

Some of the greatest chefs in the world are famous for plating. It’s the perfect picture of food on a plate. The colors complement one another. The sauce is drizzled on like a design. It actually makes you stop and admire the amazing gift that nature has brought for you.

Take in comparison, a fast food meal you are eating out of the bag while driving between appointments.  Yikes!

When we see our food, we start paying attention. Then, breathe in the aroma of the food. That’s right, smell your meal. Is it sweet? Sour? Pungent? Gamey? Fresh? Spicy? This also begins to aide in the digestive process, which is needed, by the way to begin the process of your metabolism.

Now your taste buds are activated and you are more than ready and eager to take your first bite.

Mmmm. Take your time here. You don’t want to waste any precious moment of this first taste. This is where you get to be the critic. Notice its texture in the crunch or lack thereof. Experience the sensation of flavors exploding in your mouth. Trust that this food that you have chosen for yourself will nurture you and replenish you, giving  you the strength and health to move about your day with ease and grace.

Pay attention to your belly. Stop when you are full. Even beforehand. Take a breather. Allow your meal to digest and settle. If you are still truly hungry, allow your self to eat more. But avoid feeling bloated. There is nothing worse!  You will feel so much better.

Now that you’ve experienced the art of mindful eating, take it on the road! Observe your eating patterns – how, what, why, where and with whom you are eating –  and enjoy the experience of your meals using all of your senses – sight, smell, taste, touch.  And when you’re done, get up, get moving, and walk it off!

I think you’re beautiful.

Alana Cahoon is the Creative Coach & Founder of Grow 2 B U. Her Signature Program, ‘Getting the Body I Want!’ is a holistic approach to weight loss & body image. She can be reached at www.grow2bu.com.