The smarter, not harder weight loss program you’ve been missing

by | May 12, 2022

The other day I was on the phone with a patient while on their lunch break. I asked what was on the menu for today and she replied, “a chicken breast.” Full stop. She was eating a plain chicken breast for lunch.

“Do you like that?” I asked. She laughed, and proceeded to tell me that no, she didn’t particularly enjoy eating a plain chicken breast for lunch.

I wish I could say that this shocked me, but I regularly hear from my patients that they are attempting to lose weight by eating bland, tasteless meals that they hate.

The weight loss industry has fooled you into believing that it must be hard if it’s going to work.

A quick google search will quickly tell you just how much you have to suffer in order to lose weight and feel great.

I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to suffer to feel good in your body. You can eat food you like, that is nourishing and satiating.

You can get the results you crave, without all the cravings.

No more plain chicken breasts, my friends.

You can count on motivation fading over time, so the trick to sustainable weight loss lies in finding a full body approach that is both sustainable and enjoyable to you.

The weight loss program that works is the one that doesn’t feel like a weight loss program.

It’s about building a life that you love that is in alignment with your goals.

Find Your Why

This step may be the most important in beginning your weight loss journey.

WHY do you want to lose the weight? What does the promise of weight loss mean to you?

Will you be happier, earn more money, finally be comfortable in your clothes? Or has your partner made a comment about your weight and you now feel the need to correct your body to get more love, more connection?

What if I told you all of these things are possible in the body you are ALREADY in? That no amount of weight loss will earn you more money, love, or happiness? Would you believe me?

There is no truth in these promises and therefore they could never support you or motivate you long enough to make actionable, measurable changes in your life that would lead to a change in body composition.

So, let’s reframe your mindset in order to set you up to win.

  • I DESERVE to nourish my body.
  • I am WORTHY of movement and fresh air.
  • I LOVE myself enough to stop the negative self-talk.
  • I FEEL so much better when I take care of myself.

Very few people ever jump from negative body image to positive body image without first experiencing body neutrality.

Your body is just a body. It doesn’t inherently mean anything about you, good or bad. And therefore, how it changes (or not) doesn’t mean anything about you. All of life’s struggles will be there regardless if you lose the weight or not.

What I mean by all of this is that weight loss shouldn’t be the GOAL, it should be a BYPRODUCT of adopting healthy habits and choices that best nourish and take care of the body you live in.

Your WHY has to be bigger than what you LOOK like. It has to be about how you FEEL.

Heal Your Relationship to Food

When it comes to health, your relationship to food is just as important as the food itself.

I’ll say that again for the people in the back: your relationship to food is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the food itself.

If I had a dollar for all of the negative comments I’ve heard people make about food and their bodies I probably wouldn’t be writing this article right now.

Diet culture is everywhere. You can’t open a magazine, watch a commercial, or talk with a friend without being exposed to messaging about what you should or shouldn’t eat and what your body should or shouldn’t look like.

It’s exhausting. And it bleeds over into how we engage with food and our beliefs about food.

I could list a thousand diet tropes that have been paraded around as the cure to weight struggle, and the truth is that none of them work because they create fear and obsession over food.

What does this look like in real life?

  • Diet starts Monday
  • I’ll just have one turns into eating half (or all) of the cookies
  • Not having a piece of birthday cake at your son’s party for fear of making you fat
  • Resenting the fact that you have to have yet another salad at girl’s night out when everyone else can order the nachos you really want
  • Cutting out entire food groups

I don’t know about you, but that sounds REALLY stressful.

How do you change it?

  • Relearn your hunger-fullness cues by showing up to meals in a regulated way, slowly you will be able to check in with your body and trust it to tell you when you are hungry and when you’ve had enough
  • Identify trigger foods and have corrective experiences with them so that they lose their power
  • Stop the restriction, binge cycle
  • Remember that food is many things: connection, nourishment, celebration, enjoyment, healing
  • Be present with your food: eat at the table, eat with your family, chew your food, taste each bite

When you can show up to food in a regulated way your body will also regulate. The changes you’ve diligently tried to force over the years will happen naturally. It will just look a little differently than what you imagine and feel a whole lot better along the way. This is what it means to make a LIFESTYLE shift rather than to go on (yet another) diet.

Strike Out Stress

Stress and the digestive tract are intricately woven together.

There are two arms to the nervous system. One is called the sympathetic nervous system; the other is the parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system is the nervous system that turns on when you are threatened. It increases the heart rate, quickens the breath, and shunts the blood away from the trunk and organs to the limbs to prepare to either fight or flee. The priority is to stay alive.

The other arm is called the parasympathetic nervous system, and this is what you should be occupying 95% of the time. This is the rest and digest nervous system. In a calm state, when there is no threat of imminent danger or death, the body shunts blood back to the trunk to your organs and can afford to spend energy on things like digesting food, fighting pathogens with the immune system, healing, sleeping, and recuperating.

The problem is that most people do not spend 95% of the time in the parasympathetic state, they spend it in fight or flight because life is super stressful. Jobs, family, trauma, etc., all keep us on high alert meaning you can’t digest your food properly, sleep well, heal, or have an optimally functioning immune system.

When you sit down to a meal stressed the F!@# out about what to eat, you will turn ON fight or flight and digestion will shut down.

Nutrients won’t be absorbed well and in turn you will end up feeling tired, undernourished, bloated, gassy, and generally uncomfortable.

The other contribution stress has in your weight loss journey is that when you are running from the proverbial tiger, you need ENERGY. Lots of ENERGY. Adipose tissue, better known as fat, is the most energy dense molecule in the body. It provides the body with a ton of energy and in times of stress when the body thinks it will need excess energy it will store more fat in order to meet those energy demands.

In a state of chronic stress, it becomes very difficult to change body composition because you are DESIGNED to stay alive, store energy, and prioritize survival over digestion.


  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Journaling
  • Dancing
  • Laughing

Make Movement a Part of Life

It’s important to remember that movement provides us with SO MUCH MORE than weight loss. Movement is the #1 thing associated with longevity. Every single system in your body benefits from regular, consistent movement.

Because this is a lifestyle shift, you need to set goals that are unrelated to the weight you’d like to lose. Changing your body composition takes time. It’s easy to become frustrated and give up when you’re not seeing the changes you’d like to see as quickly as you’d like to see them. By setting exercise goals that focus on building strength, walking further, running faster, or dancing longer you will have objective proof that your body is changing, healing, becoming stronger even if the scale lies to you.

It also ensures that you keep going long after the weight comes off. This is about building routines that keep the body healthy NOT about weight loss. You don’t have permission to stop once you’ve reached your goal pant size.

So, find something you like to do. Set small, achievable goals that are separate from the scale, and keep doing it. Your body will thank you.

Shed Pounds While You Sleep

Sleep is where the magic happens.

Remember all the other things I said would be most important in your weight loss journey? Forget it. Sleep takes the cake because sleeping will help you do everything else on this list better.

You will have more energy, recover faster from your workout, have better digestion, regulate your metabolism and hormones all by getting into bed a little bit earlier. It almost sounds too good to be true, but it’s not.

There are two key hormones that regulate the sensation of hunger and fullness.

Ghrelin is responsible for telling you that you need to eat, and leptin tells you when to stop. There are several reasons why these two hormones can be out of balance, but poor sleep is primary.

Studies show that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night make more ghrelin and less leptin than those who sleep 7-9 hours. This results in you feeling hungrier and you’ll require more food to feel full because leptin is never coming to the party to let you know you’ve had enough. Your biochemistry is literally working against you and making it harder to achieve your health goals.

Another hormone, cortisol, is also tightly regulated by your sleep and wake cycle. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands and it functions on a diurnal cycle, similarly to sleep. Meaning your cortisol levels should be lowest in the evening when you go to bed and it should peak between 7-9am. Having a routine sleep schedule that has you going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, regardless of the day of the week, helps to reset your cortisol clock.

Because cortisol is a stress hormone, you care about regulating its release. When cortisol is dysregulated, it tells the body to store more energy in the form of fat. Again, this is your biochemistry working against you.

Regulating your sleep will help you to regulate your biochemistry so that your goals and your body’s goals are in alignment. Without proper sleep of 7-9 hours per night, your weight loss goals will be incredibly hard to accomplish.

Tips for Good Sleep:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room
  • No screens 2 hours before bedtime
  • Create a night time routine to wind down and primed for sleep
  • Prioritize your sleep, make it a non-negotiable commitment to yourself

Be Gentle With Yourself

Weight loss is often referred to as a journey, because it is. It takes time to learn about your body and to slowly build habits that best support it. And it takes time for the body to change. This is normal, and in fact, a protection mechanism that the body has adopted to protect itself from drastic changes in environment. This is why I’m adamant that you don’t adopt a low-calorie diet to lose weight. It’s too drastic and the body will respond by slowing metabolism to prevent it from experiencing starvation. It’s not sabotaging you, it’s doing its best to keep you alive and well. So, learn to work WITH the body, not against it. When what you are doing and what you want are in alignment, that is when REAL change happens. And this takes time.

Be gentle with yourself and keep showing up.

I promise that your body will begin to feel like home.


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