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As March approaches, I expect the magazine stands to be filled with articles around weight loss and getting to work on that Summer body. While we at Black Zen think it's great to be active and intentional about taking care of ourselves physically, we wonder if there's too much emphasis placed on the outside perception of what it means to be healthy over the harder, more nuanced work that it takes to be inwardly in good shape. With all the talk of dieting and getting fit, what would happen if we focused our efforts on the inside rather than the out?

A diet is defined as habitual nourishment - a regimen of eating and drinking (basically, consuming) sparingly so as to reduce one's weight. You'll notice that what's not here is the often mentioned calorie counting and juice cleanses that seem to be dominating the current conversation around dieting. This definition instead focuses on what we take in as nourishment and decreasing the amount of what we normally consume. We've already talked about how to reduce what we negatively consume (not just stopping at food but clearing out negative influences and conversations as well). And we can all agree that what it takes to nourish us is far more complex than just food, so why then is what we eat the only thing we focus on when dieting?

We propose a few new ideas. Let's begin focusing on what nourishes us rather than restricting ourselves to certain foods. Let's understand that the mental baggage we carry around very often translates into the physical weight we put on our bodies. Let's get rid of the outdated concept of health being strictly about our physical frame, and start focusing on creating health and wellness in every aspect of our lives. Most importantly, let’s come up with our own definition of what wellness looks like.

Once we operate from our personal understanding of wellness and uncover what nourishes us, we can focus less on dieting and more on incorporating what keeps us at our healthiest and helps us feel energized and fulfilled. It's from this place that we can naturally start to change the habits that no longer serve us - from food choices to who we interact with, to what we tell ourselves while we're working to improve. A perfect example of this can be found in Is a fit mind better than a fit body?. It's a great account of what happens when we start to question what we tell ourselves in the midst of our progress, and how changing up our mental dialogue can actually start to create physical changes. Speaking of our mental affecting our physical, as any meditator can attest, there's a surprising amount of physical benefits that happen when we get our minds in shape first.
When we stop compartmentalizing our physical health like it's not affected by our mental state, then we can start to see real (and permanent!) progress in our weight loss goals. At the end of the day, if our mindset is still unhealthy, then the weight is never really off.


" weight loss transformation was a side effect of my lifestyle choices.

It was never my intention to lose weight, it happened because I was caring for myself properly for the first time." - Ariana Ray