The #1 Reason Why You Can’t Lose Weight & What to Do About It (Part 1 of 4)

Here’s a formula I want you to remember:

Chronic stress = Non-caloric weight gain and/or inability to lose weight

Despite your best efforts at eating a healthy diet and exercising, you can stop your body’s ability to lose weight and even end up gaining weight, solely because you are in a state of low-level, day-in and day-out stress–chronic stress (it does not matter where it is coming from or what it’s about–to the brain and body, stress is stress). Don’t freak out just yet though, stress itself is not bad at all.  Stress is a natural and necessary part of life and built into our physiology for a very good reason.  However, when stress becomes chronic it’s problematic.

Stress is defined as a real or perceived threat to your body or your ego.* There doesn’t have to be a lion chasing you or a building burning down to cause a physiological stress response in your body–you might be worried about your relationship with your honey, about a sick family member, about being overweight or having a health issue or about an upcoming presentation you’re giving at work. These are the types of stressors that are often chronic.

Knowledge is power, right? So here’s the science behind the stress response:

The stress response (“fight or flight”) is a powerful physiological response in the body that occurs in response to stress. Here’s a more detailed explanation of what happens:

  • Excess insulin and cortisol (hormones) are produced signaling the body to store fat.
  • Digestion shuts down
  • Increased inflammation (associated with weight gain)
  • Decreased ability to burn calories
  • Decreased blood flow to the gut (associated with decreased metabolism)
  • Excreted vitamins and minerals
  • Decreased oxygen uptake (associated with decreased metabolism)

The stress response is designed to last 4 minutes or less (i.e. if a lion is chasing you…). All of the above physiological responses are beneficial and life preserving if you’re in a short-term situation (i.e. if you’re running from danger, digesting your food and burning fat are not a priority).

When I first learned about the relationship between stress and weight I actually got extremely stressed out because I had been living in a chronic state of stress for years and I didn’t know how to get out of it. I was also a skeptic, meaning I didn’t quite believe that stress was so strongly linked to my inability to change my body and heal from other health issues. I didn’t want to hear it, but eventually I took a leap of faith and adopted a beginner’s mind and gave this whole relaxation thing a try and within 1 month, I lost weight, felt better (happier, more energized), and slept better. I have seen the same thing happen with my private coaching clients.  It’s truly amazing.

I don’t want this article to leave you feeling more stressed, so let’s talk about something you can do about it!

  • Take a stress inventory: Get out a piece of paper and make a list of all of the things that are stressing you out. Really go deep. You don’t have to show the list to anyone. Here are some examples: job, a relationship, finances, low self-esteem, unresolved issues, anxiety, depression, an illness, being overweight, fears, etc.. Start general and then get more specific.
  • Next to each issue, write an action step you can take to decrease your stress around the issue.  Know that there may be some areas where it is not realistic to take action around (at least for right now…).  Next week, I’ll share with you some lifestyle strategies to decrease stress overall.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll reveal the #1 thing that will help you to lose weight and exactly how to do it. Stick around!  Want more?  Sign up for my newsletter here:

In the meantime, if you’re ready to lose weight, wake up energized, and reignite your body and life now, but don’t know where the heck to start, consider signing up for The Total Reset—A Mind-Body Nutrition Program that uses Dynamic Eating Psychology and Holistic Nutrition Strategies to reset your body and your life. Danielle and I will guide you every step of the way and you also get to talk with one of us personally over the phone for some extra support! We’re here for you 100%.

Check out the program here:


The Slow Down Diet by Marc David, founder for the Institute for the Psychology of Eating

Ultra-Metabolism by Mark Hyman.

Institute for the Psychology of Eating

Lauren's headshotHi! I’m Lauren Noreen. I’m a Certified Eating Psychology & Holistic Health Coach. Fitness Magazine Online recently named me Boston’s Health Coach for 2013. I also proudly teach Core Fusion in town at Exhale Spa. I’m all about the mind-body connection and my approach is cutting-edge. Not only do I help my clients achieve and exceed their own physical expectations, but I infuse my entire practice with love and compassion. Learning to love yourself, your body, and your life is the key to healing unwanted health symptoms and getting to your ideal weight. Self-love isn’t just *possible* but also your birthright! To take your first step toward wellness, download my 10 Minute Miracle Morning Routine by clicking here.