For many of us, the number on the scale doesn’t hold the power it once did. Just look at the popularity of anti-diets (which food companies have totally noticed) and that fact that even Weight Watchers wants to change the conversation from weight to wellness.
“When I walk into a studio, I see people with beautiful bodies but they feel overweight. And I have clients who are heavier who seem like they’re light as a feather,” Mehta says, who just wrote The Nalini Method: 7 Workouts for 7 Moods. “I wanted to explore how you can gain and lose weight through the weight of the words you use throughout life.”
According to Mehta, the emotional weight you carry, and the resulting mood—anxiety, anger, and doubt, for example—can impact your health as much as the number on the scale. Just like your body becomes heavy when you eat less than wholesome foods, your mind becomes emotionally unhealthy when you consume negative words and thoughts, she says.
“In our society, we’ve done a good job developing tools to measure physical weight with scales and BMI,” Mehta says. “But we haven’t done a good job measuring emotional weight.”
So in her new book, she’s created mood-based workouts that help you learn to use your inner life in a productive (not destructive) way.
“You have to own up to your moods and be okay with both the negative and positive emotions,” says Mehta. “It alleviates some emotional weight when you don’t see emotions as just good or bad.” (We’re writing that one down in our journal, stat.)
What does a mood workout look like?
Before you even break a sweat, you choose your workout based on your state of mind—anger, energy, stress, chill, happiness, doubt, or anxiety—and use Mehta’s pre-sweat checklist to pin down how you feel physically and mentally. Each 20-25 minute workout requires zero equipment, and fuses Pilates, yoga, barre, and strength training.
Mehta’s Stress Workout, for example, flows through the 13 easy moves “designed to lighten the emotional weight of stress.” The workout makes you feel supported, literally—you use the wall to hold you up through the workout. And her Anxiety Workout grounds you (think lots of balancing postures and warrior poses), with constant motion that distracts you from your current worries.
“Losing emotional weight allows you to be more present and more effective in your [workout] routine and you’ll see the effects faster,” says Mehta. “With that added confidence you have from losing the emotional weight, you then have the space in your mind to do the things that make your heart happy.” —Christine Yu
Speaking of which, here are three science-backed ways to be happy, so you can have more of it in your life…