Here’s a smart weight loss tip that has nothing to do with what or how much to eat. However, it can change the way you feel and think, the next time you face the refrigerator, a menu, or a calorie-rich temptation. Many smart, busy women wish they could take the power back from food. When it comes to this area of their life, they don’t feel as effective and in control as they feel everywhere else. Today I want to share a favorite weight loss tip from some fascinating research by Amy Cuddy, associate professor at Harvard Business School.
Get the upper hand on overeating and stress with this 2-minute trick.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy is probably best known for her TED talk on how body language affects how others see us – but also, how we see and experience ourselves. It’s the second most-watched TED talk ever (you can watch it below). Recently, I referred a client in one of my emotional eating coaching programs to Amy’s talk, because the information can be a game-changer. Anyone can (and should) incorporate this information to beat stress and overeating. If you’ve been stuck on either of these hamster wheels, you should know that her power pose recommendation is actually an incredibly smart weight loss tip.
In Cuddy’s research, she explored how our body language affects how we feel. Her thinking was that, if nonverbal expressions of power are so hardwired that we instinctively throw our arms up in a V when we win a race (even blind athletes strike an instinctive ‘victory pose’ when they win)—and if psychological theories are correct that emotions are as much a result as a cause of our physical expressions, then what happens if we adopt expansive postures even when we are feeling powerless? Can our body language change how we feel?
Take a moment to think about where you are right now when it comes to overwhelm, overload, and overeating. How are you feeling about the path that you are on and the results you are achieving. What’s your biggest challenge? Now – notice your posture. How are you sitting, or standing, or holding your body? If you are reading this on a screen – chances are you are already somewhat hunched, regardless of your emotions. If you are thinking about a topic that has some heaviness for you, you might also be holding your body in a constricted, slumping, or “less than elegant” posture. Most of us, either because of how we are feeling, or because of what we are doing (technology), spend lots of time in restricted, “small” postures.
How your posture might be affecting your weight loss confidence:
Feelings and behavior are bidirectional. When you feel powerful, you expand your body (think about how you stand or sit when you feel fantastic vs. when you feel tired or defeated). Here’s the really exciting part – it works the other way too. When you expand your body and take on powerful postures, you feel more powerful. Changing the way you carry yourself, sit, or stand, can make you feel more powerful.
This insight isn’t just theory. It’s been tested and confirmed. In one study, individuals were split into two groups. Each group was asked to assume a certain posture for two minutes.
Group one assumed “low power” poses – poses that took up less space. If they were sitting, their hands were clasped and rested in close to their bodies. If they were standing, they stood with their legs closer together, arms close to their body, and heads in a downward position.
Group two took on “higher power” poses. For sitting positions, they expanded their bodies, taking up more space – legs stretched out and hands clasped behind the head. For standing positions, they expanded into what’s been called the “Wonder Woman pose,” standing with their hands on their hips, chin tilted upwards, and feet planted wide.
After two minutes of posing (two minutes!), the high power posers showed a 19% increase in testosterone, and a 25% decrease in cortisol. Low power posers showed the opposite pattern – a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 17% increase in cortisol. Testosterone, the “assertiveness hormone” tracks with dominance behavior, and reflects changes in an individual’s status and power. Cortisol, commonly referred to as the “stress hormone,” increases our sense of threat and the likelihood that we will avoid challenging situations.
Weight loss tip: Next time you’re facing a challenging situation or choice, try power posing.
You know what it feels like to be confident and effective, but there may be places in your life when that isn’t the way you show up anymore. And you also know that the attitude and the confidence you show up with matters – and has a big impact on the results you are able to create.
What could you shift in the challenging places in your life if you felt even a tad more powerful, confident, in control, and up to the challenge? What could two minutes of Wonder Woman power posing shift for you?
Take two minutes and test it out. What have you got to lose (besides maybe some weight)?
Take good care,