Joyous Blog

Yoga for Weight Loss? You Betcha.

Jun 20, 2011 BY Joy McCarthy

I posed this as a question, because most people find it hard to believe. And I'm here to set the record straight - the answer is an astounding absolutely, si, oui, YES! I see many clients every single week and I have noticed a commonality within all my type A, highly driven, ambitious over-achieving clients who are trying to lose 5, 10, 20, 30, 40lbs - you are all stuck in a rut with your bootcamps, obsessive running or biking or training for your next dualathon/triathalon and can't lose weight. You might weigh yourself everyday and glare at the scale in disbelief because your heart rate monitor tells you that you just burned 500 calories and yet week after week you see no change on that darn scale.

Now, you might get a little irritated from me telling you this, but that's precisely what you need to hear right now. Wanna know the secret to reaching your goals (provided they are reasonable and you are not being overly-critical of your perfectly healthy body), you need to CHILL OUT. Yes, it's that simple. And how do you do this? Get yourself on a yoga mat and get yourself to a class.

I know what you are thinking right now. No I'm not a mind reader but over the past few years I've heard the Type A personalities tell me countless times "Yoga is not for me, I don't feel like I get a workout at all and I can't relax, I find myself bored". Sound familiar? I'm not poking fun at you. That used to be my opinion too. I thought yoga was for tree-hugging hippies (different than "hipsters" and there's nothing wrong with tree-hugging - you get my point though).

I thought it wasn't for me because I loved (and still do) the running high, always moving at 150% in everything I did. Until about 2.5 years ago I booked myself in for a half marathon in Miami, completed it, loved every second of it but that was also one of the fattest most "inflamed" (inflammation in my body or "heat" was too high) times of my life. I came home and was completely burnt out for about 4 months. No joke, I had no energy, felt like a blob and couldn't run. My body was in sympathetic nervous system mode for too long, and my body decided it had enough.

Here's the deal:

Over-achievers tend to be in constant sympathetic nervous mode, just like I was, and it makes it nearly impossible to lose weight.

Sure you might have an initial weight loss of a few pounds, especially if you are working long hours and barely eating, but that will eventually catch up to you. Your body will start to get used to the famine-mode and go into starvation-mode holding on to every calorie your consume because it's fears it will need to go into survival mode again.

Now you naysayers might be reading this thinking that cortisol, the main stress hormone is catabolic (break-down), while this might be true, the effect in the long-term of high stress promotes weight gain. Why? Various reasons for this to happen. Cortisol, if constantly elevated, can wreak havoc on all your other hormones like insulin and your appetite control hormones. Or worse, you burn out your adrenals which can negatively impact your thyroid. The thyroid is an extremely important organ for managing your metabolic rate.

If your cortisol is high all day from your demanding job, the best thing to do is chill out with a yoga class to LOWER stress. More often then not though, you end your day with a stress-inducing long run further elevating your cortisol, then guess what happens? You crave comfort-carbs. Cortisol does a mighty fine job at lowering serotonin which is a neurotransmitter responsible for appetite control, keeping you calm, satisfied and joyous. So because the body is so incredibly brilliant, it will crave carbs to get that artificial feeling of calmness from carbs. Of all my sugar-addicted clients, the ones who seem to struggle with this addiction the most (sugar cravings = alcohol abuse, excessive eating of refined carbs, or carbs of any nature really, candy, baked goods etc) are often the ones beating up their bodies on the treadmill or going to five bootcamps a week.

Tracy is one such client, who lost weight when she took a break from high impact exercise and found herself regenerating her engines on a mat at 889 Yonge.  You can read all about her 28lb weight loss success story here.

It's all about balance, which is precisely what Tracy found on the yoga mat. You become so incredibly reconnected and acquainted with your body when you slow down that it helps your body lose that excess weight it's hold on to. Learning to let go is one of the hardest things to do. But when you do, when you slooooooooooow down, you learn to love yourself more, honour how you are truly feeling and CHILL OUT!

What are your best tips for keeping stress to a minimum in your life?

Jun 20, 2011 BY Joy McCarthy
19 Comments
Rambling Heather   •   June 20, 2011

This post is super encouraging! I'm a mom of three and LOVE doing yoga. I am unable to join a class at the moment but have been doing a video called Yogalosophy. I am loving it and starting to see some surprising results. I'm sold! Would love to know if you have any other video suggestions to try next.

Reply
Joy McCarthy   •   June 20, 2011

Wow, congrats on being a mama of 3 Heather! Glad to hear you are doing yoga in your home :)


Suzanne Williams   •   June 20, 2011

Nice post and perfect timing. I keep thinking the same thing. I am an on again, off again yoga/pilates person. I love the high from running, Jillian DVD's, etc. Been thinking about Eoin Finn's yoga DVD. Now, I will get it b/c of this post. I need it, but....well you already said all my "butts" in your post. Have you tried Eoin Finn? Like it? Thanks and great post. Suzanne

Reply
Joy McCarthy   •   June 21, 2011

Yes, I have Eoin Finn's "Happy Hips" DVD. thanks for your comment!


Pure2raw Twins   •   June 21, 2011

Perfect timing with this post. I have been debating on going back to yoga and now I shall. I was really at it at the beginning of the year but these past few months I stopped going. I need to change that because I really do enjoy yoga!

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Michelle Vogiatzis   •   June 21, 2011

Great article Joy! I tell this to nay-sayers all the time! Once they try it they are pleasantly surprised when they see that Yoga can still be a workout...just of a different kind! And once they hit their mat they never go back! :)

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Joy McCarthy   •   June 21, 2011

Thanks Michelle!


Ashley   •   June 21, 2011

Joy, this is one of your best posts ever. I don't really enjoy strenuous exercise or going to the gym, even though over the years I've tried to force myself to like it. Recently I've started to enjoy yoga but feared it was a waste of time since I don't always get out of breath and don't feel like I'm dying as I do it. I feel so relieved to read what you wrote.

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Tracy Griffin   •   June 21, 2011

Your suggestion has changed my life..yoga is the best solution in order to find balance throughout your life. Weight loss is one of the many benefits to yoga... Great article joy!

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Gagan   •   June 22, 2011

Hi Joy: I am a huge Yoga-follower. I used to do it for health. But after I had my first one 7 years ago by C-section, I had put on mor ethan 30 lb with a lot of health issues. I think I started doing Yoga 6 months after his birth. Within one month, I lost 6 lb, had more energy and got over my PPD in 2 weeks. Mor ethan anything else, I had a very peaceful and serene feeling all day with me. I strogly recommend Yoga. Please do it with an instructor.

Reply

Gagan   •   June 22, 2011

Hi Joy: I am a huge Yoga-follower. I used to do it for health. But after I had my first one 7 years ago by C-section, I had put on mor ethan 30 lb with a lot of health issues. I think I started doing Yoga 6 months after his birth. Within one month, I lost 6 lb, had more energy and got over my PPD in 2 weeks. Mor ethan anything else, I had a very peaceful and serene feeling all day with me. I strogly recommend Yoga. Please do it with an instructor.

Reply

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Preen Maddox   •   November 29, 2013

No doubt on Loss weight when you do Yoga. If you do 30 minutes every day. See the difference after 15 days

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Angie in NS   •   January 23, 2014

Love this post! Is there a particular type of yoga you would recommend for weight loss? I'm a yoga newbie. Thanks. :)

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Melanie Bocock   •   January 20, 2016

Just found this site and just started yoga a week ago. This post read my mind. Long story short I've been in a slump/crisis for 2 years after an ironman. Did not stop training but I'm unable to run even a 12 minute mile trying my hardest which is 3-4 mins per mike slower than my best. Even with speed work, more training you name it. I also changed careers and so have a lot of stress. Suspect adrenal fatigue which by continuing to train has not worked itself out. Have hormone issues, peri menopausal and have gained weight. Waiting on blood work right now but stopped training last week and experimented with just doing yoga DAILY for as long as it takes to reboot my body. I am in love with the way it makes me feel.

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Selma   •   May 20, 2017

I absolutely love this article. I am currently embarking on a 30 yoga challenge. I do at least 1 hour of yoga a day. I LOVE it! I try to incorporate walking, running, jump rope and other things but ny main focus is yoga. I am feeling far more connected and aware of my body. I am sure that I will continue with yoga after the 30 days.

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Rachel Molenda   •   May 23, 2017

Hey Selma! That's amazing - good for you! I'm sure you're feeling super awesome doing that :) Good luck with the 30 days! Rachel - Joyous Health Team


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