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Counting Blessings, Not Calories: How Practicing Gratitude Can Help you Shed Pounds

We know being grateful can help us relieve stress, adopt an abundance mindset and be happier, but did you know practicing gratitude can also help you lose weight?

Recent studies tell us that gratitude isn't just good for your mental health; it does wonders for your physical well-being too. One study, conducted by Mills and colleagues in 2015, found that gratitude helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, and even improves your sleep. It can also be a powerful tool in the battle against symptoms of depression and anxiety, which can boost your weight loss motivation.

Grateful people tend to steer clear of resentment and envy, and the more we experience this positive emotion, the higher our overall positive vibes. It's like a chain reaction - positivity breeds more positivity.

Not all people who experience stress see weight gain, but there are several ways these two are interconnected.

1. Stress has a hormonal impact: Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with the body's "fight or flight" response. Elevated cortisol levels over an extended period can lead to increased appetite, particularly for high-calorie and sugary foods. Excess circulating cortisol levels also promotes that 'stubborn', hormonally-driven belly fat.

2. Stress and emotional eating go hand in had: Many individuals turn to food as a coping mechanism during times of stress. This emotional eating often involves consuming comfort foods that are typically high in calories, sugars, and fats.

3. Sleep causes disrupted sleep patterns: Stress can negatively impact sleep quality and duration and sleep has been linked to weight gain and obesity. Sleep deprivation can affect the body's hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin, leading to an increased appetite and a preference for energy-dense foods. Additionally, fatigue from lack of sleep can decrease motivation for physical activity, further contributing to weight gain.

Gratitude can be a powerful tool in reducing stress in several ways:

1. Shifts Focus:

Gratitude encourages you to focus on the positive aspects of your life, shifting your attention away from stressors and negative thoughts. This mental shift can help reduce stress by promoting a more positive outlook.

2. Perspective:

Practicing gratitude helps you gain perspective on your problems. When you reflect on the things you're thankful for, it becomes easier to see that your stressors may not be as overwhelming as they initially seemed.

3. Stress Reduction Hormones:

Gratitude has been linked to the release of "feel-good" hormones, such as dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones can counteract the effects of stress hormones like cortisol, helping you feel more relaxed and less stressed.

4. Resilience:

Regularly practicing gratitude can enhance your emotional resilience. It equips you with the tools to better cope with challenging situations, making you less likely to perceive them as stressful.

5. Social Connections:

Expressing gratitude often involves acknowledging the support and kindness of others. Building and maintaining social connections through gratitude can provide a strong support system, which can help mitigate stress.

6. Improved Sleep:

Gratitude can improve the quality of your sleep. When you focus on positive aspects of your life before bedtime, it can help calm your mind and reduce the anxiety that can interfere with sleep.

7. Mindfulness:

Practicing gratitude often involves being mindful and present in the moment. Mindfulness can reduce stress by grounding you in the here and now, helping to reduce rumination and worry.

8. Positive Feedback Loop:

As you experience the benefits of gratitude, it can create a positive feedback loop, reinforcing the practice and its stress-reducing effects.

To harness the stress-reducing power of gratitude, you can start by keeping a gratitude journal, where you regularly write down things you're thankful for. You can also express your gratitude to others through words, actions, or small gestures, which can strengthen your social connections and further reduce stress. Incorporating gratitude into your daily routine can be an effective way to help manage stress and improve your overall well-being.

Kickstart your gratitude by joining my 15-day Gratitude Challenge in my Facebook group starting November 24th! Just join the group and you'll be alerted to the daily prompts. All you need is a journal and an open mind. :)

How can gratitude help with weight loss?

Gratitude can indirectly help with weight loss by positively impacting your mindset, emotional well-being, and behavior. While gratitude itself won't directly cause weight loss, it can play a supportive role in the following ways:

1. Reducing Stress:

Expressing gratitude and focusing on positive aspects of your life can help reduce stress. High stress levels can lead to overeating and poor food choices, which can contribute to weight gain. Lowering stress through gratitude can help you make better choices when it comes to your diet.

2. Improving Emotional Well-being:

Gratitude can enhance your emotional well-being and overall mood. When you're in a better emotional state, you're less likely to turn to food for emotional comfort, reducing emotional eating.

3. Promoting Mindful Eating:

Gratitude encourages mindfulness by making you more aware of the foods you have, their quality, and the pleasure they bring. Mindful eating can help you enjoy your meals more and reduce overeating.

4. Building Healthy Habits:

Expressing gratitude can be a part of a broader self-care routine, which may include regular exercise and a balanced diet. Maintaining these habits is crucial for weight loss and overall well-being.

5. Enhancing Motivation:

Gratitude can motivate you to take better care of your body and health. When you appreciate your body and its capabilities, you may be more inclined to engage in physical activities and make healthier food choices.

6. Strengthening Social Support:

Gratitude can strengthen social bonds and relationships. Having a supportive network can make it easier to stick to a weight loss plan and maintain healthy habits.

7. Shifting Focus:

Instead of focusing on what you lack or what you can't eat, gratitude encourages you to focus on what you have and the nourishing foods available to you. This shift in perspective can make it easier to make healthier choices, say no to the unhealthy ones, and follow your WHY.

Combined with a diet balanced in nutrients for your blood sugar, exercise that compliments your hormones, and creation of sustainable healthy habits using my EAT framework, you will absolutely achieve and maintain a healthy weight!

Kickstart your gratitude by joining my 15-day Gratitude Challenge in my Facebook group starting November 24th! Just join the group and you'll be alerted to the daily prompts. All you need is a journal and an open mind. :)

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