How To Lose Weight Without Dieting
Happy New Year! Are you still dieting?
We‘re 10 days into January and I already see so many people struggling with their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get healthy. I have a great amount of sympathy for every one of you who is struggling right now because I did the same thing for so many years…and failed. Every. Time.
The best thing I ever did was STOP dieting.
I spent the month of December detailing 31 reasons that you shouldn’t diet in 2019. You can go back and read through all of my reasons not to diet on the blog.
A good summary of my findings on diets and weight loss programs is this: they don’t work because they go against human biology and physiology. Basically your body will do everything possible to protect you from a “famine” – or, as in the case of modern humans, self-induced starvation.
I turned away from diet programs and cleanses because I simply got tired of floundering on them, losing and regaining weight, and then gaining even more weight than I previously lost because the diets reduced my metabolism…and seeing my clients go through the same disheartening experience.
But I need to lose weight! How do I lose weight without dieting?
Despite the fact that I’m anti-diet, please don’t confuse my message with eat-whatever-you-want-whenever-you-want-it-and-screw-exercise. I absolutely believe that eating healthy and exercising are essential to health, happiness, and stabilized weight…but it doesn’t take an extreme approach to diet or fitness to get there. Nor do diet and exercise alone address all the reasons that 70% of Americans are overweight and sick.
How to lose weight without dieting
The following blog post is a synopsis of small, but manageable actions that will – given some time – dramatically change your health for the better and may help you achieve your most natural and healthy weight. They will not help you achieve a “bikini body” or “ripped abs”. If that’s what you’re going for, you’re in the wrong place.
These tips will help anyone increase their health and longevity, but won’t necessarily help everyone lose weight. If your body is carrying excess weight, it is very likely that making some of these changes will help you lose weight as a natural result of making your body healthy.
Before I get into the simple tips that will change your health in 2019, we need to cover a few important bases concerning weight loss…
Stop trying to fix what isn’t broken! Determine if you actually need to lose weight. It saddens me that I know so many healthy women who don’t need to lose weight, but who keep ruining their metabolisms by going on crash diets. Believe me…trying to lose an extra 10 or 20 lbs. to attain the perfect body isn’t worth the sacrifice! And keep in mind that some people are genetically destined to be heavier, and if that’s the case for you, you’ll be far happier and healthier if you simply accept it and stop fighting a battle that can’t be won. And, as I mentioned here, being heavy does not automatically make you unhealthy.
Know your numbers. I’m not talking about weight. I’m talking about knowing the numbers that really matter to your health: blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. If these numbers are within healthy ranges, you are healthy, no matter the number on the scale. On the other hand, if your numbers are outside normal limits, it may be time to get serious about your health. Knowledge is power, so stop putting off that appointment with your doc!
Stop trying to lose weight fast. What’s the rush?!? You didn’t suddenly wake up one day with 40, 50, or 60 extra pounds on your body (unless you have a serious hormone imbalance). It likely took years of poor habits and overeating to get there…and now your body is accustomed to your current weight and food intake…and wants to maintain the status quo! I understand the desperation to “get the weight off”, but your brain is highly sensitive to food intake and weight fluctuation. If you suddenly switch from eating 3000 calories per day to 1200, you’re going to cause problems with your brain chemistry and hormones. Basically your brain is going to start sending out hunger cues in a mad effort to get you to eat. Relax and ditch the diets that promise fast weight loss…because the rebound weight gain happens just as quickly…and will ultimately lead to a body that burns fewer calories!
How to lose weight without dieting: Don’t forget about the non-food and non-exercise factors that affect your health!
Reduce chemical and toxin load. Most people come into contact with over 700 chemicals every day. We breathe them, eat them, and put them on our skin. As I noted in this article about “obesogens”, many of these chemicals are known hormone disruptors that can make you fat and sick.
Here are five simple things you can do to reduce chemical and toxin load:
Get an under-sink mount reverse osmosis filter for your drinking water.
Start cooking with cast iron or enamel coated pans.
Switch from plastic to glass containers like these for all things that touch your food and drink.
Switch from harsh kitchen cleaners to vinegar and water for most of your surface cleaning.
Try to switch to more natural skin care products such as coconut oil to moisturize skin, antibiotic-free soaps, homemade sugar scrubs, and mineral makeups.
Reduce stress and improve sleep habits. Stress and sleep loss are toxic, and both are epidemic in modern society. The majority of my female clients who can’t lose weight – even when they do everything else right – are stress cases.
Here are five things you can start doing today to address stress and sleep:
Set aside 10 minutes of quiet time every day. Read a book, try to meditate, or just sit and look out a window with a cup of tea.
Stop using your devices 30 minutes before bedtime and lower the lights in your home. Blue light negatively affects circadian rhythms and tricks your brain into thinking it’s high noon.
Get outside for at least 10 minutes every day, preferably in the morning. Natural light will help to reset your biological clock.
Don’t eat heavy meals within 3 hours of going to sleep. If your body is digesting it can’t do the necessary cellular “cleanup” that takes place while we sleep.
Increase stress resilience by working on the mind. We all face stress. Some simply handle it better than others. You can teach yourself to handle stress better by monitoring how you feel and by frequently asking yourself this question: Can I control what’s happening right now? If the answer is yes, then you shouldn’t be stressed because you can fix it! If your answer is no, then you shouldn’t be stressed because there’s nothing you can do about it!
How to lose weight without dieting – let’s talk about food
Food clearly plays an important role in health and weight. But unless you are allergic to certain foods or have a condition like Celiac disease, there’s no reason to be ultra-restrictive! The research on diets proves that the more restrictive the diet, the less likely you are to be successful long term. And further evidence shows that yo-yo weight fluctuation caused by dieting is worse than staying at a heavier weight!
Here are five simple things you can start doing today to address food and eating behavior:
Add rather than subtract. Add a serving of brightly colored fruits and veggies to every meal…without taking anything else away. This could be as simple as adding a grapefruit or blueberries at breakfast, a side spinach salad to lunch, and oven-roasted veggies with dinner. The nourishment your cells receive from these foods will help regulate your appetite over time. You may soon find yourself eating less and craving healthier options.
Think of food in terms of upgrades. Go through your cabinets and mentally make note of what you and your family eat most often. Now ask yourself this question: How can I make the things we normally eat just a little more healthy? Examples of simple food upgrades might include: swapping wheat bread for white, eating a sweet potato instead of a white potato, mixing whole fruit into plain Greek yogurt instead of eating the high-sugar varieties, or trying a less sugary cereal like Multigrain Cheerios in place of Captain Crunch.
Add protein. If you find yourself constantly hungry it’s probably because your blood sugar is out of whack all day. Protein is hard to overeat and is well-known for its ability to curb appetite. Every meal and snack should contain some sort of protein. Chicken, beef, fish, pork, eggs, tempeh, tofu, and Greek yogurt are all high in protein.
Hydrate like a pro. Drink 16 oz. of water upon waking, and 16 oz. one hour before each meal. Try not to drink too much fluid with meals because it dilutes digestive acids which can lead to digestive disorders.
Only eat when seated at a table. This one’s tough, but eating when distracted – while driving, working, reading, talking on the phone, standing in front of the fridge, etc. – causes overeating. Pay attention to your food and you’ll eat less of it!
How to lose weight without dieting – let’s talk about exercise
Like food, exercise plays an integral role in health and weight management. From a structural standpoint the human body is built for near-constant movement. Most of us do the exact opposite of that. But fixing this cultural and societal problem isn’t as complex as it seems, and doesn’t have to be as miserable as it’s made out to be! You can be fit, healthy, and reach a natural and healthy weight for you body — sans throwing up during a CrossFit WOD.
Here are five simple ways to incorporate “exercise” into your life:
Start with walking, preferably outdoors. It’s free, requires no equipment, is the most natural and basic form of human movement, and isn’t complete torture (I’ve never met anyone who needed a barf bag for a walk). So queue up a few good songs and get moving!
Break it up. To derive health benefits from exercise you should do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise (i.e. walking), 5 or 6 days per week. If you can’t fathom doing any kind of exercise for 30 whole minutes, break it up into 10 minute segments! This is how I make treadmill walking bearable during the winter months. Studies show shorter workouts broken up throughout the day are just as effective as, and possible even better than a single longer session.
Find an activity that you like. Or at least one you can tolerate. To make anything a habit, your brain needs to pump out a small amount of dopamine every time you engage in that activity. If your exercise sessions are so miserable that you can’t feel good in the moment, you’ll quickly stop doing it because you don’t get a “hit” of those feel-good hormones. The best exercise you can do is anything that causes you to move your body and makes you happy. Non-formal exercise like hiking, kayaking, bowling, golfing, and swimming with your kids are fun and count as exercise!
Train with weights twice a week. Okay, so I’m all for doing exercise that you like…but the benefits of weightlifting are undeniable and I think everyone should be doing it at least twice per week. In addition to increasing the strength of muscles, tendons, and bones, increasing joint range of motion, and improving balance, lifting weights preserves precious muscle which can boost metabolism! Not sure how to get started? Visit your friendly local personal trainer! A knowledgeable trainer can help you get started, keep you safe, and build your confidence with weights!
Rig exercise with an “easy button”. My most typical excuse for skipping an exercise session: I can’t find socks. To be truly successful at anything, you need to “fix” your environment to make it more likely you’ll engage in a habit. This might mean exercising earlier in the day to get it out of the way, writing workouts into your planner, having clothes, shoes, and water bottle ready, and/or having a standing appointment with a trainer or friend. Make the right decision easy.
Is it possible to lose weight without dieting?
I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know is that the diets don’t work. We have more access to food information, diet plans, and exercise programs than ever before…and it’s not solving the problem. Diets do nothing but suck the joy out of life and make us fatter in the long run.
Health and happiness must happen before weight loss. The best thing you can do is focus on the health of your body instead of your weight, and separate aesthetic goals from health goals. Aesthetic goals require inhuman amounts of willpower, effort, and force. Health goals do not.
Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer
Learn more about the author here.
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