Are you having fun yet? As much as the holidays can be a meaningful time of connection, damn can it be stressful. You might typically associate stress with a tension headache, or difficulty sleeping at night, or being in a bad mood. But did you know stress also causes weight gain? But if you don’t know that stress causes weight gain, you’ll probably wind up blaming your diet and then stress out about every bite of food you eat.
But that’s not necessary. In fact, stressing out about what you are eating actually contributes to more weight gain. That’s because unintentional weight gain is actually a very common response to chronic or acute stress. And stress weight is different from other forms of weight gain — it typically centers in the abdominal area and is the most stubborn type of weight to release.
It’s worth talking about stress weight to help explain why stress weight doesn’t go away with dieting — that’s because dieting doesn’t release stress… in fact, often it increases stress. Which makes any diet you go on to try to lose stress weight almost impossible to work.
That’s because no amount of bullying yourself in an attempt to lose weight will reduce your stress and re-align you with health. Stress weight gain is different from standard weight gain because it is stress-hormone driven. So focusing on rebalancing your adrenals — not dieting — is what works best.
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.
10 Hacks To Lose Weight Without Dieting:
1. Focus on Adrenal Repair Instead of Weight Loss
Stress affects your body from head to toe, and can have a tremendous impact on your weight. Studies show that sress can cause changes in eating patterns and they also suggest that cortisol reactivity is one of the reasons why.
So instead of monitoring your eating, maybe what we should be monitoring is your cortisol and stress levels.
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and by supporting your adrenal health, you can normalize your cortisol levels. Stop the focus on weight and instead focus on reducing your body’s stress hormone output. In fact, releasing your weight struggle and embracing your adrenal repair instead may be the best way to stop unhealthy food consumption that is due to stress, which is what is triggering this change in the first place.
As I wrote about in this article here, feeling stress and shame over your weight is actually harmful… and unnecessary, when what we could be doing instead of stressing is nurturing. Nurturing your body, nurturing your adrenals, and relieving stress to naturally reset your eating patterns.
If you have been focusing on trying to control your food intake, maybe it’s time to stop beating yourself up over something that is being triggered by high levels of stress and high cortisol. I’d like to suggest that weight issues might be actually adrenal issues.
To help you figure out if some of your unwanted weight changes is actually due to adrenal fatigue, I wrote a free book that you can download and read. It has tons of fun things inside like a quiz to help you figure out if you are in adrenal fatigue (and what stage you are in) as well as powerful ways to help you fix it.
If you have been through any kind of stressful situation or big life transition (even fun, positive ones like marriage, a new job, a new baby!) chances are your adrenals could use some TLC. If you start to take care of your adrenal rhythm now, in just a few short months from now you can be fully recovered from Adrenal Fatigue and feel better than you have felt in many many years!
Did you know that you can actually be in adrenal fatigue from birth? It’s true. But did you also know it’s fully reversible, no matter how long you’ve been living on fumes? That’s also true, and I will help you get there. Click the button below to order your free copy of my Adrenal Fatigue eBook… it will be instantly emailed directly to you, to keep forever, and please share it freely:
2. Allow a few pounds of extra weight.
There are survival advantages to being overweight as opposed to underweight… like surviving life threatening infections. Published June 2016 inCritical Care Medicine, the results of this study suggest that heavier weight allows the body to survive overwhelming bacterial infections, even at advanced age, something good to know as this pandemic continues. Researchers looked at the data of over 1,400 elderly people hospitalized with severe sepsis (requiring ICU care) and compared their body mass index (BMI) with clinical outcome 1 year after discharge. The results revealed a 25% improved mortality rate in severely obese, obese and overweight patients compared to normal weight patients.
Another medical study (published July 2017 in Cardiac Interventions) that found that obese and overweight patients actually have better survival rates and less complications after heart surgery (percutaneous cardiac interventions, or PCI) than normal weight and lean patients do. On top of that, the better outcomes persisted even 5 years later, with better outcomes for the overweight and obese patients than for normal or low weight patients.
Another medical study, published in JAMA Oncology on June 21, 2018, found that a higher BMI was associated with lowered breast cancer rates. The highest BMI group had over 4 times lower rates of breast cancer than the lowest BMI group. This inverse relationship between higher BMI resulting in significantly lowered breast cancer rates was particularly strong for hormone receptor positive breast cancers. Young women (ages 18 to 24) who were obese (BMI greater than or equal to 35) developed breast cancer 4.2 times less often than women who were underweight (BMI lower than 17.) This study was very large — almost one million patients — and was a rigorously analyzed. Considering breast cancer is the most common worldwide cancer diagnosis for women, particularly young women, this is very important news indeed.
And this is not limited to breast cancer. Published Oct 2016 in the Journal Of Clinical Oncology, researchers examined body mass (BMI) and metastatic renal (kidney) cancer survival rates. They found that obesity actually predicted improved survival in metastatic cancer… improving both the progression free survival rate and the over-all survival rate. The fact that obese patients have better outcomes in metastatic renal cancer is a real thing — this study had large patient numbers, was reproducible in different cohorts, and is statistically significant. The numbers are actually so significant that now physicians are encouraged to take the patient’s weight into account before sharing information on prognosis with their patients.
Of course, anything that shows there is a wide diversity to what is considered a “healthy weight” totally hidden by the media. That makes sense, as the weight loss industry is a 20 BILLION dollar industry IN THE UNITED STATES ALONE!!! So, of course the media wouldn’t want you to actually feel good about your current weight or feel there was any advantage in the slightest to having a higher BMI. But in fact, as I blogged about here,only when a person’s BMI exceeds 35 is there an increase in mortality rates.
So… if losing those last 10 pounds isn’t actually going to help you live longer… what defines your “ideal weight”? What defines your ideal weight is how you *feel* wearing the body you wear each day: your energy level, your flexibility, your capacity to get around, to get outside, and to enjoy the things you want to enjoy each day.
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.
And even if you are at 35 BMI or higher? Focusing on energy levels, bone mass, restorative sleep, endurance and such will create a path of natural weight loss anyway.
3. Still want to diet? Don’t. Fast instead.
You’ve probably heard of fasting for weight loss, but most people are not aware of the decades of medical research that show just how profoundly intermittent fasting can boost health in ways that go way beyond weight management. From reducing diabetes risk to reducing dementia to reducing cancer rates, fasting has head-to-toe benefits… and doesn’t have to be difficult.
It can be intimidating to think about trying fasting, as images of going without food for days on end run through our minds and hunger pangs set in quickly. But fasting can be as simple as increasing the amount of time you are not eating at night by just 2 hours. Medical research shows that simply not eating after 8 PM can actually be measurably beneficial to your health.
Fasting has been shown to:
- Decrease inflammation: Published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2007, researchers found that fasting for 12 hours daily decreased all measured markers of inflammation by a statistically significant amount, including interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, and homocysteine levels.
- Decrease heart disease: A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 2009, showed that fasting just one day a month (one day a month!) was enough to significantly decrease risk of heart attack risk by reducing coronary artery disease. In addition to that, a study published in Nutritional Research in 2012 showed that fasting for 12 hours a day decreased blood pressure, and when fasting was increased to every other day for just four weeks, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were reduced by more than 25%.
- Decrease asthma attacks: Published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine in 2007, reducing calorie intake every other day by just 20% allowed asthma suffers to lose 8% of their body weight in only two months, decrease their blood markers of stress and inflammation, and decrease asthma symptoms while improving quality of life.
- Protect your brain: Improved memory, improved mood, decreased Alzheimer rates, and decreased Parkinson’s rates… all from fasting? Yep. Published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research in 1999, the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience in 2000, the Neurobiology of Disease in 2007 (as well as many other studies) researchers have found that intermittent fasting can improve neuronal connections, increase the proliferation of neurons, and even protect against amyloid plaques.
- Decrease cancer recurrence rates: Prolonging the amount of time spent fasting â€” skipping evening snacks all together and fasting for 13+ hours each night — significantly reduced the risk of breast cancer, according to a study that spanned thousands of patients followed for over a decade. Published on March 31, 2016 in JAMA Oncology, researchers found that fasting at night for 13 hours or more was found to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence by one-third, as well as drop HbA1C levels and increase sleep length at night. Another study (published in Teteratgenesis, Carcinogenesis and Mutagenesis in 2002) found that alternate day fasting helped decrease tumor formation, while yet another study (published in Science Translational Medicine in 2012) found that a wide range of cancer cells exposed to fasting showed increased responsiveness and sensitivity to chemotherapy treatments as well as directly decreased tumor growth. So fasting for 13+ hours each night is an effective, drug free, holistic, all natural way to decrease cancer recurrence and help boost cancer treatment.
- Boost longevity: One study (published in the Journals of Gerontology in 1983) showed that fasting had a greater impact in improving longevity than even exercise did! And a more recent study, published in 2000 in the Mechanisms of Aging and Development, showed short term repeated fasting throughout life resulted in a lifespan that was 75% longer. In fact, a study published in Nature in 2009 stated that intermittent fasting is “the most effective and reproducible intervention to extend lifespan” that we know of… capable of significantly extending lifespan by reducing age-related disorders.
- Encourage long-term weight loss: Published in Nutrition Reviews in 2015, researchers looked at all forms of fasting… including alternate day fasting, whole day fasting, and even simply time restricted fasting (like a 13 hour nightly fast) and all of these techniques resulted in significantly reduced body fat, significantly reduced body weight, and reduced blood lipid levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
If you want to try fasting I’ve got the two best ways to do it and I’ll walk you through it right here:
4. Sleep more.
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. So I always ask patients who are having trouble loosing weight about their sleep.
One medical study (that I shared with you back in August of 2013) even showed that poor sleep for only a few nights caused study participants to gain weight 9 times faster than participants who slept well. Nine times faster weight gain after just a few nights! 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. If you are feeling exhausted from not sleeping well, than your body is going to urge you to reach for food as a way to sustain your energy. This is your body’s way of ensuring your survival!
So 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. 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. Then hop over here for some fantastic additional tips on deepening your sleep at night, naturally:
5. Ground your body while you eat.
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.
From every single angle, eating grounded helps: putting you more deeply in touch with your hunger and satiation, helping you digest and absorb your nutrients better, boosting your metabolism and keeping weight gain at bay, even decreasing discomfort after eating.
Even if you eat completely organic, fresh, dairy-free, gluten-free, best-diet-in-the-world you can easily still have irritable bowel issues, or indigestion, or bloating, or pain.
That’s because you can’t fully resolve bowel inflammation without being grounded.
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.
How to do it? Start grounding for 15 minutes a day — ideally while eating one meal a day.
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. In this post I also share tons of ideas on how to eat grounded outside — just pick one each day and watch your weight self correct effortlessly:
- Grounding While You Eat, A Game Changer For Your Digestion (+ Freebies)
If it’s unrealistic that you can head outside to eat one of your meals each day, you can easily eat grounded indoors by simply sitting on an organic grounding mat — keep it on your kitchen chair to sit on, stand on the mat if you are stand to eat, or keep it under foot at your sofa or computer desk if you eat while you multitask. Find your organic grounding mat here.
6. 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. Foot tapping, seat shifting, finger drumming, etc… all count.
Researchers suggest that this benefit only works for those that 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 must be conscious about breaking up sedentary time with a more intentional activity, like walking or going up and down a flight of steps.
7. 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. These chemicals are so strongly assocaited with weight gain that they are now called “obseogens”. 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.)
8. Quiet background noise.
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?
Learn more about how these ingenious, simple ear protective devices work right here.
9. Stop the negative self talk:
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 and instead choose one of the positive things you can do from the list below to care for your body better. This is about supporting your body, not tearing it down.
So it is crucial to absolutely eliminate any negative self talk you might be having with your food choices. Your body functions on the basis of resiliency. It resets again and again and again and again. Adapting, recalibrating, adjusting, and realigning to health over and over again.
The human body is incredibly resilient, and the basis of our existence is that your body is adaptable. Your health is forgiving and intuitive.
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!!!!
And seek professional support by a counselor experienced with body shame issues if you find yourself unable to stop the negative self talk.
10. Focus on your health instead of your weight:
Medical studies suggest that older people in excellent physical health — called the “well-derly” — actually have higher smoking rates and higher BMI’s than expected. Presented March 3, 2017 at the 10th Future of Genomic Medicine Conference, a study on people 80 years old and older (who are free of all common chronic diseases and are in excellent health) found that they smoked more than the general public and that many had higher BMIs as well!
Hallelujah — finally a medical study trying to figure out what people do *right* to preserve excellent health for a lifetime, instead of looking at what they are doing wrong.
When you turn it around to look at survival and why some folks are disease free well into their ninth decade of life and beyond, you get some very interesting and important answers. Part of an ongoing study called the Healthspan Project (which I will absolutely keep you updated on because I am all about positive, uplifting health guidance!) researchers looked at healthy elders and analyzed them for genetic markers of disease.
What they found is that the elderly who were supremely healthy had the exact same rates of genetic markers that would predict disease as the rest of the population. In other words, it’s not that the well-derly didn’t have BRCA mutations and other genetic markers of disease, but in fact, they have the same genetic mutations at the same rate as the general population and are just not actually manifesting disease expression.
This study showed that healthy elderly participants had the same rates of genetic risk factors for diabetes, cancers and stroke as the general population, yet remained disease free. And when looking at why, the results were just as surprising, because when compared with the general population, the smoking rates were actually higher for men (61% smokers as opposed to 54% in general population) and equivalent for women (42% vs 43%.). The well-derly did exercise more (67% exercised compared to 44% of the general population) but their BMI was not uniformly lower — there were many wellderly with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher.
Studies like these are so important, because it’s not just longevity but actually healthspan — how long someone lives in optimal health — that give us the most important clues on how to support our innate health potential. This study tells us that even if we have higher BMI’s than we want, or have made unhealthy lifestyle choices in the past (like smoking) we can still find that our health is resilient for an entire lifetime.
Want More Support? I’ve Got You
If you want even more support to safely, easily, and effectively lose weight in a way that supports your innate health, I’ve got you.
We can work together to directly support your weight loss goals in my upcoming online health class. Save your spot right here.
I’ve based this course directly off of the medical literature and my 25 years of experience helping to support 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. There are several other things that are even more important than what you eat that dictate what you weight… 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 Jan 8th and I’m excited to get started with you. Hop over here to sign up and reserve your spot today: