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By Lisa Shaker-Knopp (

I attended my first ever yoga retreat weekend. I had only done one class of yoga in my life, but my dearest friend just got certified and decided to do a weekend retreat at her lake house. Of course I wanted to support her, but had no idea what a treat I was in for! 

If anyone else feels like me, running around like a chicken with my head cut off, or like a hamster on a wheel that never stops, just the mere fact that I took TWO days off work was my first step! 

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. The two biggest realizations that I came to is that I don’t breathe enough and that I am not as “mindful’ as I should be.  
First, let’s define mindful. It is a noun.  It means to be “in a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” WOW! That was a mouthful. But, how can you use this on your journey towards better health and your weight loss goals?? 

Well, imagine that you have been put in a room with your favorite foods, all fresh, and smelling with those aromas you have grown to love! Your mouth is watering and your mind is telling you to “go for it”!  But, in that moment, you are mindful of your bigger goals. You don’t judge the others that are participating. You don’t feel guilty for not eating those foods you think you want right that moment; instead you embrace how to handle the cravings for these foods without caving in or falling apart. That is what I call powerful.

On this weekend, there were healthy food choices for sure; however, there were some pleasure foods and situations that came up that challenged my desire to stay on my mission. I really had to dig deep a few times to stay in the moment, and remain calm. How I was able to handle these situations was to have something else to put in my mouth and be happy with my choices.  

I ask you this question, “why are we so influenced by external factors?” I think it’s because we go into situations without being aware, and it’s hard to listen to the body’s wisdom or make conscious choices in those moments. I also believe that mindless eating leads to weight gain and sabotage our weight loss goals. It is when we allow our stress, anxiety, sadness or frustrations take over that we get into trouble. But, if you practice (and it takes practice) being mindful you can learn to control those urges and stay on track. 

A lesson that I teach my clients is the importance of journaling their food and drinks. In fact my mantra is, “if you bite it, lick it, taste it or sip it, you write it.” This really keeps people accountable, but also gives them a clear sense of their eating habits. It really does bring mindfulness to the client. 

One other point is the self-talk. How do you talk to yourself about food? Beware of those voices in your head.  We tend to talk ourselves into the choices we make based on common self-defeating beliefs. Change your thinking. Be aware. Be in the moment. 

Understanding where our triggers are coming from is half the battle, and becoming mindful is the other lesson. 

I learned to breathe this weekend, and I learned to be more mindful. I am thankful. 


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