Although the traditional approach to weight loss focuses on calories in vs. calories burned, we are starting to become more and more aware about how our environment actually impacts our weight. There are many contributing factors, well beyond diet and exercise, that cause significant issues in our metabolism.
In fact, the environment has such an impact on our weight that there is an entire category of environmental chemicals that are now considered obesogens — chemicals directly responsible for contributing to obesity. Obesogens increase fat has, modify our basal metabolic rate, alter our gut microbiota, promote chronic inflammation, interfere with glucose metabolism, and cause epigenetic changes that impact our health, including our weight.
The good news about this is that means there are other things you can do, well beyond focusing on what food you eat and what exercises you do, that can make a measurable impact on your health and on your weight, and I’m here to help outline them for you today. If you are sick of focusing on calorie restriction to lose weight, if you are sick of focusing on exercising to lose weight, this article is for you.
Here is a round up of 7 things you can do to make losing weight, or maintaining your healthiest metabolic set point, that have nothing to do with calories in vs. calories out.
Here we go:
10 Ways To Make Weight Loss Easier:
1. Stop eating or drinking from plastic.
Phthalates are found in plastics, found in your water bottles, even found in the coating on pills we ingest (what??? These are medications we are taking to try to improve our health, and they are putting phthalates into our bodies — yuck) and they disrupt our hormones and contribute to weight gain. 12 different medical studies found that the concentrations of phthalates in our bodies was linked to weight gain and central abdominal obesity. Other obesogens include BPA, PCBs, DDT, PAHs and more — a good review of these studies can be found in this medical article, published in Feb 2022.
What to do about it?
Skip plastics food containers as much as possible. And definitely do not microwave your food in a plastic container or plastic wrap — transfer to a glass container first. In addition, filter your own water instead of drinking plastic bottled water (here is the one I use myself and recommend most to patients.)
2. Get More Sleep
Shift work disrupts our circadian rhythms and has been found to contribute to weight gain. Shorter sleep duration as well as inconsistent sleep patterns are associated with obesity. We have know this for over a decade now, and you can review studies like this one, published in 2011, and this one, published in 2014.
I always ask patients who are having trouble loosing weight about their sleep. That’s because a medical study (that I shared with you back in August of 2013) showed that poor sleep caused study participants to gain weight 9 times faster than participants who slept well. Nine times faster weight gain! Many of us live and function daily in a state of catching only a few hours of sleep a night… for weeks, months, even years at a time. This has a huge impact on your weight.
What to do about it?
If you are watching your weight or struggling to understand why your best efforts are not good enough to prevent you from gaining weight, examine your sleep. Give yourself the next month to focus on getting high quality sleep instead of focusing on dieting for the next month. Hop over here for some tips on deepening your sleep at night, naturally. An easy place to start? Don’t leave any lights on when you sleep, not even the glow from the TV, which is enough light to interfere with deep restorative sleep.
3. Eat outside
Grounding has a profound impact on your digestion, boosting your vagal tone (which supports the function of your entire digestive tract, from your esophagus to your colon and everything in between!) while meanwhile directly impacting your ability to feel full and satiated, even enhancing absorption by decreasing inflammation, which also helps with recovery after a meal.
Because of the scientific evidence that grounding supports our digestion, I ran a study of my own patients because I wondered if, by boosting our digestion and metabolism through touching the earth, we would see a change in weight over time. So I personally enrolled a dozen overweight patients into an informal private study on grounding and weight loss. I followed them for 10 weeks, measuring weight, energy, mood, sleep, and pain, with weekly weigh-ins and assessments. Their instructions were to touch the earth outside directly for 15 minutes a day, and that was it. I told them not to change their diet at all. I wanted them to eat everything they had eaten before in the same quantities and in the same fashion. I told them not to start new activities or to change their exercise or activity level at all.
What happened? Most of the patients lost a clinically significant amount of weight: 60% of them losing between 4 and 15 pounds in the 10 week study period, doing nothing more then adding in daily grounding for just 15 minutes a day.
What to do about it? Start grounding for 15 minutes a day — ideally eat one meal a day grounded outside. Hop over here to watch a video I created for you to explain why adding grounding to your daily routine is the quickest way to heal your digestion. At the end of this free article I wrote for you, I share tons of ideas on how to eat grounded outside pick one each day and watch your weight self correct effortlessly.
And for more tips on how grounding profoundly supports your health from head to toe, and how to easily incorporate grounding into your daily life to see profound results, grab my book The Earth Prescription, available as a paperback, a digital book, and an audiobook, right here.
4. Allow Yourself To Fidget
This very interesting medical study was sent to me by an awesome reader (thank you Lansing!) which found that study participants who fidgeted while sitting attenuated the risk of death associated with long periods of time spent sedentary. Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2016, researchers followed over 12,000 participants for over three years and found that moderate to high fidgeting levels completely removed the risk of death from prolonged sitting. This is incredible because even exercise is not enough to reverse the mortality risk of prolonged sitting, and this is because exercising once or twice in the day does nothing to break up the long periods of sitting spent in between exercise sessions. But fidgetting allows you to keep moving, even during the time spent seated, completely ameliorating the mortality risk usually associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
So can fidgeting also help not only prolong lifespan but actually help burn calories too? Yep. Fidgetting falls under the “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” type of calorie burn (NEAT) and can burn as much calories as someone who exercise strenuously two or three times a week — about 350 calories a day, or well over 2,000 calories a week, according to this study published in Science in 2005.
What to do about it?
Foot tapping, seat shifting, finger drumming, etc… all count. Keep in mind this tip is just for folks who naturally fidget, as they generally fidget up to 10 hours a day without effort. Those that do not naturally fidget can not train themselves to do it consistently enough to make a difference, and instead must be conscious about breaking up sedentary time with a more intentional activity, like walking or going up and down a flight of steps.
5. Quiet background noise.
Chronic levels of noise found frequently in modern society have been shown to significantly increase your risk of heart attack, heart disease, heart failure, stroke, even atrial fibrillation. It also increases your risk of metabolic diseases and type two diabetes.
Think about your day:
- Do you hear traffic constantly (especially consider if you hear traffic where you sleep at night?)
- Do you work in an area where there is chronic talking (such as a hospital, a hotel, a store or a restaurant?)
- Do you work in an area where there are phones constantly ringing (such as at an office?)
- Do you work in an area that has music playing constantly?
- Do you sleep with music or a television on?
While this will decrease stress for anyone, whether you are sensitive to noises or not, it can be a game changer for those with Hyperacusis, for example those with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, tinnitus, or other hypersensitivity issues. You can wear these during waking and sleeping hours. They help to relieve stress while at home, at work, at school, on commutes, while traveling, at restaurants, concerts, or all night long when you want to deeply relax. They are very discrete and you can still hear normal conversation, music, co-workers, etc… but at much safer volumes that protect your long term health and decrease your immediate stress.
Learn more about how these ingenious, simple ear protective devices work right here.
6. Recognize your emotional eating style
What I’ve noticed as a physician examining health outcomes for the past 20 years, is that most people eat emotionally instead of nutritionally. Because of this, I have developed a list of the top 7 emotional eating patterns I see over and over again.
What to do about it?
If you can develop insight into why you eat the way you do, you can reframe your mind away from eating emotionally and get some tips on working with your eating patterns in a healthier way.
Scan this list and see which emotional eating pattern describes you best:
- FOOD IS SECURITY: For some folks, food represents safety and security. So when they are not eating, deep fears of safety and panic may arise. There may be worries about food scarcity and needing to know when and what your next meal will be. If you notice you overeat, it may be an attempt to feel secure and reassured that all is well. You may crave comfort foods such as casseroles and home cooking and baked goods, or foods that remind you of childhood. One way to provide comfort and a deep contentment to security-type eaters is to include lots and lots and lots of fiber, so that you feel full, satiated, safe and grounded for longer.
- FOOD IS PLEASURE: For some folks, food isn’t about the nutrition, food is about the entire experience… the smell, the feel, the texture, the flavor, the delight in chewing it. Food is pleasurable and even sensual. If this is your style of eating, you may find you are eating because you want the feel of food in your mouth, not because you are hungry. One great idea for pleasure eaters is to enjoy drinking (coffees, teas, water, fresh squeezed juices…) or chewing gum throughout the day to experience that sensual pleasure of having sensations in the mouth without necessarily reaching for food.
- FOOD IS POWER: For some folks, eating food is an issue of control or power. For people who see food as power, diets are particularly offensive because restricting food intake feels like a loss of power or a loss of control… two things these types of eaters hate! One great idea for control-based eaters is to drop the diets and instead focus on choosing easily digestible foods like soups and pureed foods that are easier on your digestive organs (liver, pancreas, stomach) and eating frequent, smaller meals, grazing all throughout the day instead of a few large meals. Focusing on high quality foods and eating them more often, instead of restricting quantity, tends to be kinder than dieting and allows your body to feel healthier.
- FOOD IS LOVE: Some folks enjoy food that releases endorphins and provides a rush, similar to falling in love. Any of my blog readers who know how often I blog about eating chocolate will recognize… yep, I’m this type of eater. Romantic foods like oysters, red wine, chocolate… it’s not so much that these eaters care about food, they care about the way the food makes them feel. Dieting feels atrocious for love-seeking eaters and restricting food is equivalent to being dumped by a lover. One great idea for love-seeking eaters is to focus on enjoying the people you are eating with more than the food. If possible, avoid eating alone (which may lead to over-eating) and instead really focus on making eye contact with the people you are enjoying a meal with, the conversation. Or, focus just as much on creating a lovely place to eat as you do what foods you are eating. Add a fresh flower to your kitchen table, bring your lunch outside to eat in sunshine the middle of a work day, or browse thrift stores for beautiful, vintage glasses and plates to mix and match, or use beautiful cloth napkins as a treat.
- FOOD IS JOY: Some people just love to enjoy a wide variety of foods and this is one of their wonderful strengths with eating. Because joyful eaters are so open to food, dieting or any type of food restriction at all feels like a huge loss and may even bring deep sorrow. My favorite recommendation for joy-based eaters is to focus on trying new, unusual or exotic foods to satisfy their cravings, instead of over-eating a large quantity of boring foods. Keep a stash of different spices, hot sauces and healthy seasonings to make each bite taste exciting and invigorating instead of needing larger portions to bring joy. Joy eaters also tend to actually enjoy preparing food, so if you are a joy eater build time into your day to focus on trying new recipes, browsing new cookbooks, and preparing healthy meals from scratch.
- FOOD IS ENERGY: High energy people have so much energy output that each bite needs to be calorie dense and their body knows this. Although they get the message to feel bad about eating fats and eating dense protein (after all, eating a light salad seems so much more social acceptable) this leaves them feeling depleted and desperate for a pick-me-up later. People who are energy eaters need to feel good about their intuitive food choices that make them crave protein. Energy eaters need to honor their bodies by feeding their brain lots of healthy fats (organic whole fat dairy/butter/yogurt or coconut, avocado, fish oil…) and protein (organic, ethically produced meats, organic eggs, organic nuts and nut butters.)
- FOOD IS OPTIONAL: Does this sounds familiar: forgetting to eat, not making the time to eat, feeling dizzy because you skipped lunch, reaching for a quick snack and then getting right back to work, forgetting to hydrate? Some folks find it easy to ignore their bodies needs or lose track of time. While sporadic eaters are usually not so bothered by going on a diet, the danger here is that they often don’t take the time to eat healthily so that when they do eat, they are ravenous and don’t make smart food choices, or they don’t even get the needed nutritional building blocks at all. The best thing these eaters can do is to schedule in their eating so that they eat at regular intervals, stay hydrated, and make nutrient dense food choices… instead of not eating all day long and then binging in a drive through on the way home. Another great tip is to carry water with you at all times, so that even if you are not taking the time to properly eat, you stay well hydrated.
7. Stop negative self talk:
This is something no one talks about in medicine but it is crucial: absolutely eliminate any negative self talk you might be having with your food choices. Medical studies suggest that fat shaming alone — not the weight itself — can directly increase a person’s risk for metabolic syndrome and subsequent health issues. Letting go of the internalized stress associated with weight will decrease diabetes risk, heart disease risk and the rate of metabolic disease in general, as shown in this study published Jan 26, 2017 in Obesity.
In that study, researchers found that participants who internalized stress from weight-related stigma were over 40% more likely to have metabolic syndrome than participants who did not internalize stigma. These results were independent of the actual degree of obesity and other confounding issues such as depression. Weight stigma was found to cause a direct physiological stress response in the body, elevating blood pressure and increasing the body’s inflammation. The researchers conclude that weight stigma alone is a form of chronic stress that creates physical disease when internalized.
These results suggest it is not necessarily the weight, but rather the stress that our society places on larger sized individuals and their internalization of that stress, that increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and puts folks at higher cardiovascular risk than they would otherwise have. This is totally unnecessary. If the stress of being overweight was reduced, so would the disease burden. So stop beating yourself up — this is about supporting your body, not tearing it down.
What to do about it?
First of all, never hesitate to seek counseling if you find yourself unable to stop the negative self talk.
Second, understand that weight is not the end-all be-all marker of health. This is according to the results of a huge longitudial study published in the January 2, 2013, issue of JAMA. This study was a meta-analysis of 97 different published studies that included more than 2.88 million participants. In this study, grade 1 obesity was not associated with any higher mortality and overweight was actually associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.
Compared to ideal weight individuals, overweight individuals actually had lower mortality rates than ideal weight participants, and those with Grade 1 obesity had no increased risk (having roughly identical death rates as the ideal weight participants.). Only participants who had a BMI of 35 kg/m2 or higher had significantly higher mortality rates.
So you need to IMMEDIATELY drop the guilt if you feel like you should be losing those last 5 or 10 pounds.
Be thankful and grateful to your magnificent body right this very minute.
Feel good about every inch of your precious soul-containing skin.
The take home message here is that the real focus should ALWAYS BE on feeling as healthy and vibrant as possible.
This means focusing on muscle tone.
On heart strength.
On lung capacity.
On bone mass.
On energy levels.
On restorative sleep at night.
On quality time with loved ones.
On meaningful relationships.
On spiritual strength.
Not on weight.
And certainly not on beating yourself up over weight.
Third, you can find supportive, awesome information regarding the fact that you can be healthy at any size, click right here to read and download the Association for Size Diversity and Health’s Fact Sheet. This is a wonderful organization that is sure to help you expand your definition of what a healthy weight means!!!!
Feel better? Good!
That’s the entire reason I do what I do.
I want every single person who crosses my path to feel better after finding me then they did before they met me. That’s the whole point of seeking health solutions from a medical provider in the first place — after all, healing should feel better and better and better, and fill you with a sense of relief!
Want more support?
I’ve got you. The next thing I recommend you do — for more support on uplifting, natural ways to lose weight — is to join my Weight Release & Reset online class, which starts next week.
“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Weight Reset emails and videos! I looked forward to each and every day. Your class gave me so much hope!” – C.C.
“This was AWESOME!! I loved all the information — the medical studies to back it up and the daily reminders. Plus — I love that you can do this at your own pace. Thank you!” C.W.
“I was surprised at how many different things can affect your weight and when you talked about them in the class… it was like a bell went off. I would definitely recommend the class to others” – S.G.
Together, we go over the 5 pillars of sustainable, feel-good weight loss. One pillar a day for 5 days. Simple and sweet.
I’ve based this course directly off of the medical literature and my 20 years of experience helping to support my patients with their weight loss goals. You’d be surprised that your body naturally knows what weight is the perfect one for you, and it can sustain it at this perfect weight effortlessly once you naturally align your metabolism. I’ll show you how in a very non-threatening, supportive, uplifting way.
It’s not about being rigid or militant or hard on yourself, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. The harder you are on yourself, the harder it is to align with your healthiest version of you. It’s not even about your diet and exercise plan — there are actually several other things that are even more important than what you eat and how you move… and without knowing what those things are, you just can’t lose weight.
Understand the things that sabotage weight loss and the weight releases, naturally.
Class starts May 8th and I’m excited to get started with you. Hop over here to sign up and reserve your spot today:
To your resilient, natural health!