We’re talking that vital minute of mindfulness that you take before you make your next meal choice. Learn to master it, and it could save you hours on the treadmill.

Mindfulness is the on-brand weight-loss buzzword for just about everything because it is stupid-simple, costs diddly-squat and is incredibly gratifying. Not only that, it can pretty much be practiced anywhere by simply deciding you are going to be mindful. You don’t need a special book, app, or any equipment to coach you along. Some people do prefer to use these aids, but others, with practice, will find that mindfulness is just about observing and feeling what is going on inside you before you settle on a meal choice or begin your workout. It’s a mental state where you are just you and you can just be.

This process opens up an entire new world of possibilities. The world of you. You can choose to be whoever you want to be, be aware of your thoughts and feelings and quietly choose your next move. Thing is, it truly is an art, one that helps you take time out and observe what is going on inside you. It does take a bit of practice though. This kind of mindfulness will increase your mental capacity by enabling you to quieten your inner voice. By quietening your inner voice, you can create an empty space inside you that is incredibly valuable. To achieve using it, you will need a fair bit of rare silence, so you can sit quietly and observe what is going on in your body.

An Internal Babble

Sadly, the practice of being mindful is never a given for anyone. You might take the 60 seconds to consciously feel quiet inside to observe your thoughts, only to find it is near impossible – particularly at lunch time. Your inner dialogue might go a little like this, “Right, I’ve got to be mindful now – it’s incredibly good for you. Oh damn, I’m so hungry. Shh, I need to be mindful here. How am I truly feeling? Well, I’m so hungry I could snack on a low flying crow. I need to do my weekly shop. Oh, Whole Food is doing an offer on bananas. I love bananas. Argh, I need to be mindful.” Some of us do struggle to be mindful, but it is worth every ounce of effort you spend on it. It lowers your stress levels, allows you to start thinking outside of your day-to-day hassles and will generally make you feel happier. So how do you get there? Try these super simple one-minute mindfulness exercises before your next meal and you’ll soon change your choices to healthier ones.

Just Think

It’s rather easy to get frustrated with ourselves when attempting to create this empty space inside. So instead of beating yourself up because your thoughts wander to curved yellow food, simply acknowledge the fact that you are just thinking and give yourself a bit of slack whilst you are learning the process. You will find that you’ll use that phrase less and less as your practice goes on.

Become Hyperaware

Mindfulness is the practice of being present. It is not about ignoring your thoughts or avoiding the past or the future. It’s about being in the now. To begin, take a moment to understand that life, in the now. This is about how you perceive it through your senses. Think about your current taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight. To help with this, it’s wise to start with the sense of touch. Sit or lie comfortably (you can even practice this while in a business meeting) and become aware of your body sitting or lying on the floor, or a chair or other soft furnishings. Feel the connection of your body to the ground or the furniture it is on. Sense the touch of your clothes on your body. Observe how your clothes gently move as you breathe and so on. Take just one minute to run through all your senses before you make food choices and you’ll quickly stick to the goals you’ve set.

Body Scan Yourself

This is particularly great for releasing tension. Observe the areas of stress and tension within your body and use your breathing to release it. You may find that you need to use several breaths to let the tension go completely, but it always works in the end.

Again, sit or lie in a comfortable space. Start from the top of your head and as you breathe, relax any tension in your face, your neck, your upper back, then take a deep breath and focus on relaxing your shoulders. Be mindful of any tension that you find there and spend time in releasing it as you breathe out. Then focus on your rib cage, your arms, releasing all tension in your hands and fingers. Then, taking another deep breath, focus on relaxing your pelvis, your thighs and upper knees, releasing tension, and finally your calves, ankles and feet, and where you are finally aware of all tension being released, just stay there, and breathe, noticing how calm and peaceful you can be.

Only once you’re completely calm should you consider food choices and then throw your mind to how they’ll gel with your goals. While it might seem like a nuisance, it’s just one minute that will very often change how you choose to fuel your body. Making the right choices will save you time because just one additional healthy choice could prevent you from an hour spent on the ‘mill to offset a bad meal. Even if you do it with one meal per day, you’ll soon see results that become replicable across every meal as you become more skilled at developing the strength of self control.

EXPERT: Julie Provino is a mindfulness and NLP coach. She is also the author of new book How to Get What You Want in 7 Weeks www.julieprovino.com