Picture of By Diana Bellofatto

By Diana Bellofatto

Recommendations for weight loss often come in the form of advice for calorie restriction, staving off entire food groups, and various forms of vigorous exercise that leave us depleted.


The strategies that require the willpower necessary to restrict ourselves from foods and endure very strenuous forms of exercise aren’t meant to be used for extended periods of time. The body senses that extreme measures are being used against it to deprive it of nourishment. It recognizes this as a significant threat and screams, “Emergency!” triggering the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to initiate a subsequent cortisol release.


In a state of emergency, cortisol, secreted by the adrenal glands, deals with the situation and helps you fight off the enemy—which in this case is YOU—depriving it of what it needs!

For instance, drinking coffee and skipping breakfast to drop a few pounds works against you. This is because the body senses that you are drinking coffee and gears up its energy to digest it, but coffee offers no nutrient value in exchange for the energy that the body has to expend to digest it. So the body registers this deficit (a withdrawal and no deposit in the body’s bank account) and acts to protect itself by holding on to its energy reserves for fear that it will not be provided with nutrient reinforcement anytime soon.

The result is a body that thinks it’s starving, so it holds onto its fat for dear life and leaves you exhausted.


Shifting your mindset from lack (i.e., calorie restriction) to abundance  (i.e., more sleep, more water) is a recipe for weight loss.

  1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Water aids in flushing toxins from the body, moving the lymph, elevating mood, digesting and metabolizing, and alleviating feelings of hunger (thirst can mimic hunger!).
  2. Sync your sleep. The body performs many functions while we sleep, including fat-burning and detoxification. Hormonal disturbances and digestive dis-ease occur as a result of sleep deprivation. Aim for eight hours of sleep and follow circadian rhythms with lights out by 10:00 PM and rising by 6:00 am.
  3. Savor seasonal eating. Simply put, the body does a better job digesting, assimilating nutrients, and discarding waste when we eat seasonally.
  4. Exercise in “fat-burning mode.” The body only burns fat when it’s not in a state of emergency. So, favor moderate aerobic activity over strenuous anaerobic activity. *If you breathe only through your nose while exercising, your body will stay in an aerobic state and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (think calming, letting go, releasing excess).
  1. Relax. Yoga nidra, a deep state of relaxation, is a de-stressing savior.


  1. Clear your mind with meditation. Meditation can help you remain focused on your goals.
  2. Ponder positivity. Keep yourself on track by coming back to a positive affirmation throughout the day.
  3. Bolster yourself with buddies. Surround yourself with like-minded people who lift you up. If your lifestyle doesn’t support meeting with others in person (meet-ups, team sports, conversation groups), there are groups online where you can chat and receive inspiration from others.
  4. Favor whole foods and pass on processed packages. Set aside time each week to prep fresh foods that you can cook quickly when you get home after a long day.
  5. Have recipes at the ready! Fast, easy recipes cultivate confidence for those who are not used to navigating the kitchen. Keep it simple. The Art of Living blog has many recipes from which to choose—select the category “Recipes & Food” to find over one hundred ways to eat and drink right.

“If cauliflower can become pizza…then, you my friend can do anything!”

  1. BONUS TIP! Set an intention to focus on wellness, not weight loss. Instead of suffering with the forbidden fruit or guilty pleasure mentality, your experience will be much more empowering, and weight loss will be a byproduct of your wellness intentions and actions.

Share this post