Why The Focused Girl Burns More Calories At The Gym

by Niki McGloster

It's hard for me to stay in the moment. Like, generally in life, but also at the gym.

In my first Bikram hot yoga class, the instructor urged us to focus on our breathing, not on our mental to-do lists.

Though it took me several minutes, I completely detached from the guy who'd cheated on me with his ex and my third overdraft fee of the month.

Stripping everything away, I fully focused on the purpose of each pose.

By the time I'd sweated out my edges and stepped out into the Brooklyn summer air, I felt like I was floating.

Not only had I completed most of the strenuous postures (without farting, might I add), but I'd also spent two hours doing my body good.

Usually, mentally checking in is not my forte. It's not unlike me to check Twitter while on the treadmill or pause my cardio to snap a selfie.

Because, duh, I'm adorable in a sports bra and yoga pants.

However, my experience in Bikram made me wonder if applying basic yoga principles to all my workouts would maximize their benefits.

As it turns out, there is scientific basis for the idea that mental focus can lead to a better workout.

By connecting fully to every arm curl without distraction, you can burn off those late night Seamless deliveries so much easier.

Cutting out distractions leads to less stress.

In a recent study, researchers found women torch fewer calories when worries clutter their headspace. All that stress also leads to more weight gain over time.

Before you work out, take a minute to lock out day-to-day stressors. Try not to mentally check your emails, either.

Instead, center your attention solely on spin class and, in turn, burn off last night's chicken wings.

I like to turn on my Future playlist, which I never want to skip through. Then, I spend 10 minutes stretching and breathing.

If quieting the chaos of your day is too difficult, taking your stress out on a boxing class works wonders.

Picturing your cheating ex's face on a bag and throw your all into it.

Setting goals maximizes the effect of each exercise.

Spending over $150 on your Equinox membership is a great incentive not to f*ck around. It's also much easier to peel yourself off the couch when you're not aimlessly exerting energy.

Instead, plan your workout. It'll keep you motivated and stop you from comparing yourself to others.

Don't lie, I know you always peek to see what mile the skinny girl is on.

Choose a regimen that'll help you stop falling asleep in morning meetings or get you closer to Gigi Hadid's abs.

Even if you are just looking to achieve your best body by summer, recognize what you want and go for it.

Focusing attention on your intention makes you work out longer.

I barely have the time to shave, let alone spend 90 minutes swiping sweat from my brow.

Thankfully, a tactic called "attentional narrowing" makes workouts seem shorter by breaking two-hour HIIT sessions into shorter goals instead of overwhelming routines.

For instance, you may run longer outside than on a treadmill because you can use landmarks and scenery as progress markers.

Don't look at your yoga class as an hour of back-bending. Train your brain to zero in on one pose at a time.  It's like the Wunderlist of workouts, allowing you to check off sections of your sweat session, one by one.

I say I'm ever overjoyed to sweat it out three times a week. But, seriously, what a waste of time to leaf through US Weekly gossip on a stationary bike.

Though I haven't reached every fitness goal yet, at least I'm not half-assing my workouts on the way there.