Lose Weight Without Dieting Tip #3: Take Control of Your Sleep, Sugar Cravings, and Stress post image

Lose Weight Without Dieting Tip #3: Take Control of Your Sleep, Sugar Cravings, and Stress

The last time I checked in, I emphasized the importance of making small, conscious lifestyle changes. Continue to think about how these efforts can really impact the big picture—whether you set an intention to go on a walk twice a week, drink more water daily, increase the intensity of your workouts or add more veggies to your meals.

Now, I’m going to hit ya with a little tough love and ask you to take it a step further. I know this might not be very much fun, but you really need to start taking control of—and owning up to—your actions. What do I mean? Well, I’ll put it in language we all can understand these days: Facebook.

Status Update #1 @ 4pm: Third Starbucks trip of the day! #grandesoylattePLEASE
Status Update #2 @ 1:30am: Omgggg Why am I still awake??? #fml
Status Update #3 @ 9am: Need…coffee…now #ughhhh

Ok, so I’m exaggerating a bit to make a point, but I HAVE seen similar updates on Facebook. The thing is, when it comes to your body, everything is connected. Don’t drink multiple cups of caffeine a day—particularly late in the afternoon—and then wonder why in the world you can’t get to sleep at night! Sure, there may be other contributing factors, but trust me, your Starbucks habit is not helping.

People in general tend to make excuses that have them believing there’s just nothing they can do to change. I know, I used to be one of them. But it’s time to get a grip and think about three of the biggest hindrances to weight loss:

Stress: Financial stress, work stress, family stress, relationship stress—I get it, we’re all super-stressed. But what are you doing to minimize it? Have you just succumbed to it? Guess what my friends, reducing stress is essential to weight loss. When you are stressed out, your body hits the panic button and releases the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol negatively affects everything from your metabolism, mood, energy levels and the way your body stores fat.

Sleep: So if your mental and emotional health is out of whack, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough quality shut eye. Can you make a conscious effort to start winding down 30 minutes earlier for bed? Is there something you can do to help quiet your thoughts when your mind starts racing at night?  Think about it, or else you could continue to wake up groggy in the mornings craving….

Sugar! I’ll skip the scientific explanation here, and just say that when you’re running on empty, you eat more. It’s more difficult to make good, clear decisions when you’re tired, and your body has a harder time recognizing when it’s full. Have you ever noticed that you reach for carbs when you’re feeling sluggish? When you eat sugary, processed foods, your blood sugar levels spike, only leaving you to crash (and crave another bagel) soon after.

See how everything is connected? Which of these three areas do you need to work on and how will you do it?


Ellen Collis is a blogger at Wannabe Health Nut and Health Coach in NYC, who is currently enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Email her at ellen.collis@gmail.com for a free health consultation to discuss how she can assist you with your nutrition and lifestyle goals. She would love nothing more than to help you have more energy, feel fabulous in your own skin and live a healthy life that doesn’t require giving up your favorite foods.

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Wow, I love this post! For me, sleep and stress have been the two biggest difficulties. I installed a cool app for my phone, MySleepBot, that serves as my alarm clock and tracks the time in between when I set it and hit “going to sleep” and when I turn it off in the morning. Just tracking the amount of sleep I get and seeing how big my deficit has made me more aware of it AND more likely to fix it!

As far as stress, I’ve tried lots of new methods of productivity, but the best for me has been keeping a running to-do list in Excel that has absolutely everything, divided into four tabs: today, this week, this month, long term. That set up enables me to jot something down once and then never lose track of it – even if it’s a ways off from being done. I find that helps my stress levels to be able to write it down and know that it WILL get taken care of and I won’t forget about it – even if I’m not going to actually do it for a while.

Reply September 19, 2012, 2:48 pm


I read this article, and I think where you say “reducing stress is detrimental to weight loss”, don’t you mean “not” reducing stress?

Reply August 21, 2012, 12:06 pm

Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut

Hey Sharon! Yep, good catch! :)

Reply August 22, 2012, 10:13 am


Congrats on your weight loss success, Kyle! And keep it up Karyn—the less sugar you have, the less you will crave it. :) And increase your water intake if it’s lacking, that should help. And Marni, you are exactly right. Make the conscious effort to break the habit and when you get on a roll with that, it will be easier to keep it going. Just remind yourself how much better you feel when you’re consuming less sugar. And when you DO have a treat, try dark chocolate with 70% or more cacao. It’s rich and satiating and you don’t feel like you need to eat more and more. And if you do need to add sugar to your coffee or something you’re eating, try Sweet Leaf Stevia. It’s the only one I know of that’s 100% natural without any kind of additives. Thanks for reading and commenting, girls!

Reply August 15, 2012, 7:41 am


Sugar is still my weakness…..and artificial sugar gives me bad headaches. I don’t eat it all the time, but when I get on a roll, I have to have it everyday. It’s just breaking the habit and replacing it with something more healthy!

Reply August 13, 2012, 5:53 pm


Great post! I’ve been trying to stay away from the sugar, it makes a big diff!

Reply August 13, 2012, 5:41 pm


They say that it’s okay to indulge to your craving sometimes just make sure that you don’t overdo it. People who have sugar cravings have to make sure that they eat within their means. Going beyond that borderline might mean addiction and no one wants that.

Reply August 11, 2012, 6:23 am

Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut

I agree, Ysabella! You definitely should indulge cravings, while also being mindful of your choices. :)

Reply August 20, 2012, 2:46 pm

Kyle Olson

Yes, stress, sleep and sugar have a lot to do with your weight. But if anything of this isn’t totally right, I think you can fix it with jogging or some excercise. This is always the best and the most promising way of losing weight. Check out how I am losing weight! (Click on my name)

Reply August 10, 2012, 8:00 am

Gershman smith

which type of dieting is the best for the Loss weight ?

Reply August 10, 2012, 5:56 am

Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut

Hi Gershman, I really don’t like the word “diet” because I help people make lifestyle changes that are realistic and sustainable. I’m not in favor of “quick fixes” because they tend to only provide short-term results. Although, there are parts of certain diets that teach good lessons, like Weight Watchers=portion control. If you do want to go on a specific diet, I’d definitely consult your doctor first to discuss what’s best for you!

Reply August 20, 2012, 2:54 pm

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