3 ways to lose weight without dieting
Dieting normally feels miserable. Particularly after the first few days, when the shine wears off and you start to feel hungry. And the reason it gets harder is not a lack of self-discipline or willpower, it’s a biological response.
For weight loss to really work, the approach has to be less restrictive so that it can genuinely become a new way of eating for good - not just a temporary measure. It’s why you’ll hear the term ‘lifestyle change’ so much. However, you should be wary of diet companies telling you that counting calories or 'syns' is a lifestyle change. Anything that you can’t see yourself doing forever isn’t a lifestyle change, meaning it won’t offer you long-term effects.
The other importance of a lifestyle change is considering other really influential factors that can determine how successful your weight loss is. I’m not saying nutrition isn’t important, in fact, I would argue it’s the most important factor. It’s just that many people don’t realise how sleep affects their weight, or how your mood can affect what you eat. For the best results that last long-term, you need to consider your lifestyle as a whole - making changes that form part of a holistic nutrition and wellbeing plan.
3 non-food factors to consider when trying to lose weight
You will know this already, but I’m not talking about hitting the gym here. I’m talking about movement in general, rather than exercise. General movement can include absolutely anything that you enjoy that gets you moving! Dancing, walking your dog, gardening - they all count as movement. Exercise, on the other hand, would be more vigorous, like swimming, cycling, or running, and for many people, harder to find the motivation for sometimes.
By increasing a) how much you move each day, and b) how regularly you move, you will improve your overall health, as well as increase your energy expenditure in a way that doesn't leave you feeling hungrier, which can often happen after exercise.
Also, sitting down for long periods is a leading cause of disease and disability: sedentary lifestyles can double your risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression, and anxiety. If that’s not enough reason to move, there’s also the fact it makes you feel good and can energise you, even when you felt tired to begin with.
Top tips for moving more:
- Convert your commute by walking as much as possible, e.g. getting off a stop early.
- Get up regularly from your desk to stretch, walk around or even do a few squats!
- Plan a time for a walk around the block and never miss it.
I know Netflix feels addictive, but the benefits of sleeping more beat any top-rated series - plus, they’re always available to continue watching tomorrow. The importance of sleep is underrated. It allows your body a chance to rest and recover, and a lack of sleep is connected to a wide range of negative health outcomes, including a higher risk of overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and poor mental health.
In terms of weight management, not getting enough sleep makes you more likely to eat more the next day and less likely to want to move more to compensate for that extra energy because you’ll be tired. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to a higher likelihood of wanting more high-calorie foods - think biscuits or pizza. In addition to this, hormones that control appetite and hunger have also been shown to be disturbed even after short periods of poor sleep.
Getting enough quality sleep is therefore vital for managing your weight. It will help you make healthier decisions about what to eat and can reduce episodes of overeating. You’ll also have more energy to move and exercise more the next day.
Top tips for sleeping more
- Make your bedroom a comfortable environment with the best bedding you can afford, a slightly cool temperature, and as little light as possible.
- Turn off screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Prioritise sleep over all non-urgent matters - it will make everything better.
Manage stress more effectively
As with inactivity and poor sleep, feeling stress over a long period of time can increase your risk of a whole range of health concerns. It can also lead to weight gain: chronic stress can elevate cortisol levels, a hormone that stimulates appetite. It’s also easy to reach for comfort foods when you’re feeling stressed, or want to rest more.
It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to rid yourself of all stress in your life. However, you can learn to manage it better. To do so, think of little me-time activities you can do each day, as well as making time to just do nothing every week.
Top tips for managing stress
- Daily focus on movement and breathing, for example with yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or Tai Chi.
- Tie this into your morning or evening routine to make it easier to incorporate into your day and feel more energised in the morning or relaxed in the evening.
- Do a time and stress audit of your life - what could you delegate? What can wait? What do you need to start saying no to? Preserve your time and energy as best you can for the activities and people that matter most.
My main advice is to take the time to get these basics right. You’d be surprised how effective they can be in making you feel healthier and happier. You won’t lose weight without a focus on nutrition, but that shouldn’t mean restrictive dieting, and you will always need to consider your lifestyle as a whole to make sure the changes you make are positive and sustainable.
If you’d like more help with weight loss, why don’t you check out my weight management programs? They’re designed to work in a structured and evidence-based way to provide you with a personalised nutrition and wellbeing plan tailored specifically to you. To learn more, please visit my website or book a free discovery call.