As I scan the New York Times Bestseller’s list week after week, it kills me to notice how many bestselling books are about yet another diet or exercise regimen guaranteed to help you lose weight so you will finally be thin enough/ pretty enough/ good enough/ [insert your deepest insecurity] enough. Blech! No wonder so many people struggle with weight control when the weight loss and beauty industries focus on teaching you to hate yourself thin.

As much as I resent the weight loss industry for pressuring people into eating disorders, triggering their self-loathing, and leading to unhealthy yo yo diet habits that don’t benefit the health of the body, mind, or spirit, when I read Jessica Ortner’s The Tapping Solution For Weight Loss & Body Confidence, my soul let out a resounding, “Hell yeah!”  As a physician fully aware of the many health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, I’ve long been on the lookout for a book I could recommend to patients who were ready to get off the dieting treadmill and really do the internal work necessary in order to achieve an optimally healthy weight. Look no further. The Tapping Solution For Weight Loss is exactly that book.

Mind Over Weight Loss

As the author of Mind Over Medicine, I’ve joked that I might one day write a book called Mind Over Weight Loss, because the research I’ve done has led me to believe that our minds play a much greater role in our weight than what we eat or how much we exercise. Now I don’t need to write that book. Jessica Ortner already has. I know it’s radical to suggest that the solution to weight loss might lie more in the realm of the mind than in the mouth, the stomach, or the gym. How could that be? I’ll give you one hint- the stress hormone cortisol.

I’m not saying that diet and exercise don’t matter. Of course they do. But I’ve cared for morbidly obese women who eat nothing but celery and work out twice a day. I’ve also cared for women with healthy weights who regularly consume pasta, pizza, and red wine while lounging on the sofa. We like to blame hormones, metabolic rates, or genetics, but many of these women who struggle with their weight have perfectly functioning thyroids and skinny parents, and many of the thin women have heavy parents and underactive thyroids. There is clearly a piece of the weight loss puzzle that diet, exercise, and even hormone books have been missing.

The Science of Weight Gain

The essential missing link is the relationship between what Walter Cannon at Harvard called the “stress response” and it’s link to the “fight-or-flight” hormone cortisol. As a culture, we’ve normalized stress. We wear it like a badge of honor and have come to believe that it’s something unavoidable, like death or taxes. Yet, this is a limiting belief you might try “tapping” on! While research shows that most of us experience over fifty stress responses per day, EFT, or “tapping,” offers a powerfully effective, potent tool for counteracting stress responses, not just when we’re in the middle of them, but permanently. By getting the nervous system out of the sympathetic nervous system of the stress response and into its opposite, the parasympathetic nervous system, or what Herbert Benson at Harvard termed “the relaxation response,” EFT prepares the hormonal milieu that allows weight loss to occur, even without changing your diet or exercise patterns. Obviously, this works best if you do both, but even if you only add tapping to your daily regimen without changing other lifestyle habits, you’re likely to lose weight, simply because your cortisol levels will drop and your body doesn’t feel compelled to hold onto the fat it assumes you’ll need to get you out of danger when your nervous system is in stress response.

How Tapping Can Help

In addition to teaching you practical tools that will help you abort and reduce stress responses, Jessica’s book guides you through learning to love and accept your body just the way it is, adorable pudge and all. You’ll be instructed how to use tapping to deal with the panic that tends to show up when you’re obsessing about weight loss. You’ll also learn tools to help you deal with how you may be using food or alcohol as a way to numb your feelings and how the shame you may feel around this only makes you eat or drink more. You’ll be instructed on how your past experiences, especially limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors you learned in childhood, may be keeping you from having the body you desire, and you’ll be guided through how to heal those beliefs and behaviors once and for all. You’ll be taught to deal with any issues you have around exercise and your relationship with food, so that by healing the root of what’s holding you back, you can focus on pleasure instead of deprivation and body confidence instead of body loathing. (Yum!)

Love Yourself Skinny

Mostly what I love about this book is that it is a book about extreme self-compassion. Hating yourself skinny simply doesn’t work. The only way you will lose weight and keep it off is if you learn to accept and approve of yourself, even with love handles. Then from this place of radical self love, you will naturally want to nurture your body with things like nourishing foods and movement that lights up your spirit. If you’ve struggled with loving and accepting yourself as you are, this book is the North Star that will guide you home to the beautiful, glorious, whole being I know you to be.

How do I know this about you? Because within you lies a little spark of divinity, and it is that spark of you that already has all that you need to have all that you want- including a healthy body. This is not yet another self-help or diet book that will leave you feeling crappy about yourself. I don’t mean to get all “woo woo” spiritual on you, but I feel strongly that if you’re ready to stop forcing your weight loss and start fully surrendering to letting the Divine take the lead in your life, and if it’s in the highest good that you lose the extra weight you’re carrying, you will be supported by the Universe in your attempt to get healthier. Why would you think the Divine would abandon you when it comes to weight loss?

What Works For YOU?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about weight loss. Have you lost weight and kept it off? What works for you? What doesn’t? Share your thoughts in the comments.

With love,

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  1. Susan Donoho

    Thank you for this outstanding article. I am looking forward to reading this book. Stress and cortisol are issues we need to learn to deal with – as well as the issue that are creating the stress. I am looking for ways to create healthy changes that heal.

  2. Gabriela A. Montoya

    I too am so looking forward to reading this book. Being in my 50s, I tend to completely blame my extra inches/pounds on hormone fluctuations, menopause, and prescription drugs for blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides… but why not look at the mind, soul, and how we perceive ourselves?

    Also, I suggest that we all stop saying “lose weight”. My mom tells my sisters and I to use “eliminate” instead. If the body thinks we “lost” something, it will continue to look for it.

    Thank you Dr. Rankin!

    • Sophie

      I love that idea of replacing ‘lost’ with ‘eliminate’ – well done to your mom!! NLP/thinking about the words we use seems to have a lot of power I have found. I acquired a severe spinal injury (paralysis) as a result of three accidents (two further accidents [industrial and RTA] made first injury worse) and I felt I coped and felt better when I stopped saying I had a ‘bad back’ and replaced with ‘spinal disability’ or that ‘I’m missing some vertebrae/discs/function in my spine and associated functions’. Good wishes to you obtaining the body you are happy with 🙂

  3. Ellen M. Gregg

    I’m so intrigued. As of August, 2013, I released 100 pounds. Since then, I’ve been “stuck,” which includes gaining up to 13 pounds back (over the holidays), and then losing them right after the new year, and then shimmying around the +6 mark.
    I’m frustrated, because it seems as though no matter how closely I stick to my plant-based diet (a lifestyle choice, to be clear; long-term, not short-term), I can’t break through that 100-pound barrier – and I still have about 100 pounds to lose. That I’m menopausal might have something to do with it, but instinct tells me otherwise. It’s something deeper than the physiological aspect of menopause.
    I’m understanding (via intuition, and a rather vocal spirit guide) that EFT will help me. While I trust those two sources, there’s a part of me that thinks, “Wonder if it’s just another vain attempt to circumvent the conventional system?”
    As a dear friend would say, “Blick!”

  4. Meredith White

    I was about 10-15 lbs overweight throughout most of high school, but my weight spiraled out of control during college. I went from 185 lbs to 225 lbs (or more, I avoided the scale for a while) in my first 2 years of college. Food was one of the several ways I used to fill voids and handle stress. I ate to deal with social anxiety and feeling a lack of genuine connections. I used it to deal with stress from poor grades in my classes and feeling uninspired with what I was learning. I think my life was just so out of sync that I got to the point where enough was enough and I flipped the switch.

    Getting into my major and taking classes I was interested in as well as improving my social life helped set the stage for taking control of my weight. I think the internal aspect is very overlooked in the weight loss industry. I think it is a key ingredient in long term success. I had to accept myself fully and love myself regardless of circumstance. I think a lot of weight loss these days revolves around shame, which may prevent people from doing the internal work that is needed. I think another issue is that people don’t eat enough when losing weight which triggers a “starvation mode” response that throughout evolutionary history was usually reserved for famines. There are a lot of people that advocate eating as low as 1200 calories per day, which simply is not enough especially for long term weight loss plans. I lost 75 lbs in 18 months eating close to 2,000 calories of real natural foods per day with moderate exercise and plenty of dieting vacations.

    I think the problem with weight loss is often getting tunnel visioned on being skinny rather than focusing on overall wellness. I think obesity is a symptom rather than a cause. I think eating a lot of food but not enough nutrients (therefore not feeling satisfied) is also part of the issue. Another major barrier is socioeconomic disparities since healthy living is becoming more and more of a luxury in our society. I think that small local efforts in communities to grow natural foods that are provided at little to know cost can help. I think increasing park space and designing environments that encourage wellness is also important. I think there are going to have to be a lot of major systemic changes before the obesity epidemic ends. I think as long as the central banks are allowed to have the power they do and government policies prioritize profit over the wellbeing of humanity and the planet as a whole, the problems in our society with likely remain prevalent.

  5. K. G. Dillard

    At age 59 I have achieved the weight I want to be and have kept it there for four plus years. My recommendation is simple: DO NOT EAT SUGAR! This has worked for me. My husband says that refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup is the same as the sugar found naturally in fruit but I know that my body disagrees. If I eat any processed sugar, my body craves it, especially in the afternoon when I need a boost. It takes at least 3 or 4 days before the craving ceases. But I eat a lot of fruit, drink naturally sweetened fruit juice, and even have honey in my coffee every morning. It does not effect me the same. As long as I stay away from sugar I’m fine.

    I was always the one with a weight problem in a family of thin people. By the time I went to college I had gotten down to 125 but then all hell broke loose and I gained 50 pounds during my freshman year! After that I tried for a couple of years to get it off, riding my bicycle to class, and eating much more healthy food. But I could never get off the last 15 to 20 pounds. Finally I went to the doctor with other symptoms to find out that I have a slow thyroid. Once I started on thyroid medication I had much more energy and lost most of the weight.

    During this time I spent several months traveling with a friend (it was the 1970s) who was a vegetarian and I learned how to get a balanced diet without eating meat. I’ve now been a vegetarian for 40 years and will never eat meat or seafood again. But I don’t think this has necessarily been the reason for my success. My weight has varied over the years, especially after my second child when I was up to 180 for a year or more. Again I worked hard to get it off but didn’t loose it all until I went through a painful divorce and the pounds fell off.

    Even in the last 10 years I have been as high as 170, until we decided to sell our house and I spent months physically working very hard in the evenings and weekends and was down to 140. Somehow after that I figured out the sugar thing during that time and now, I don’t have cravings, eat when I feel like it, stop when I’m full whether I’m finished or not, and feel great at 140 to 145.

    After dinner, I usually have a glass of fruit juice, sometimes with alcohol and sometimes not, and this seems to satisfy me during those difficult hours between dinner and bed.

    I don’t know if this works for everyone but I hope that it can help someone out there!

    • Sophie

      Hi, not to dismiss your post at all, as I’ve been a (mainly organic) veggie for 35 years and in Feb 2014 decided to give up refined sugar, wheat, cereals, grains and opt for mainly low GI/GL food, and come off the contraceptive pill after approx 33 years, to aid a more ‘natural’ body state and hopefully help heal a virus badly affecting my chest and energy levels since autumn 2013; is there not sugar in the alcohol you mention consuming in an evening? Maybe you are referring to home-brewed elderflower and fruit wines without sugar added during fermentation? Just a thought – there are so many hidden sugars eg in tomato soup, baked beans, even organic products 🙁 I’ve been shocked! I wouldn’t add sugar if making my own soup so it’s a shame companies do. I’ve used EFT/tapping in the past and can be very helpful, especially if combined with NLP/listening to language we use about ourself and choosing positive attitudes. All the best with your health 🙂

  6. Jacqueline M. Langworthy Smith

    Lissa – I know tapping works, I’ve used it for other situations in my life. I know that staying on the low-calorie, low-salt, low-fat, no-red-meat diet and 5 days at the gym exercise program didn’t. Yes, I had some weight loss. 60 pounds. Then my Mom died, and I gained back 40. Deciding not to speak to my siblings over my Mom’s death, and I lost 35. Then I don’t “meet expectations” at my job and up the pounds go again. No change in food, less exercise as I come to work early and stay late to “prove my worth”, less sleep as i lie awake trying to understand why I don’t understand, and the inches balloon out and the weight creeps up again. Add in the death of two of my cats within 4 days of each other from unrelated heath circumstances and I’m brittle and crying and I’ve gained another 6 pounds and two inches around the middle. Yes. In my body, weight gain and obesity are definitely “brain” directed and not “activity” or even “food” directed. I believe that Jessica Ortner’s book would be very worthwhile. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Lydia Littlefield

    No doubt about it: when I’m happy i lose weight, and when I’m unhappy I gain it back. Luckily, I am happier and happier these days. Still, I plan to check out Jessica Ortner’s book.
    Thanks, Lissa!

  8. Jacqueline Markevitch Paulsen

    I love this. I found Nia, which is a somatic movement practice, and it taught me to treat my body as I would a best friend. I have struggled with body image my entire life, but once I started having gratitude for my body my weight has been stable. Sometimes I just can’t believe it! Nia has taught me how to listen to the intelligence of my body and as a result I have found emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

  9. Kimberly

    Hi Lissa, wonderful post! I recently signed up for the Institute of Eating Psychology coaching certification program this fall. I am excited to read Jessica’s book to gain another perspective for when I’m helping people with their weight issues once I start coaching. Her values (and yours) seem to line up exactly with mine and I am so excited that we are finally having discussions like this in our society!! It is a long time coming. Thanks for all you do to support this mission!

  10. Fern

    Thanks for this terrific article, Lissa – can’t wait to read the book. I’ve yo-yo dieted my entire life, and every time I get where I want to be, I gain it back……why? because of the emotional issues I connect with being thin that I’ve never been able to completely work through. If tapping can help me do that, I’d be so grateful! Thanks for turning me onto the book – will let you know the outcome – and for sharing your heartfelt thoughts on it. Thought you also might appreciate information about this documentary that’s being made at httpss://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/taryn-brumfitt-body-image-180640278.html

  11. Karin

    Other books in the same vein, which are a self-compassion and/or a no diet approach to healing your relationship with food and your body include: The Self-Compassion Diet by Jean Fain, Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD & Elyse Resch, MS, RD, The Diet Survivor’s Handbook and Beyond a Shadow of a Diet by Judith Matz, LCSW & Ellen Frankel, LCSW

  12. Sharon Rose Summers

    This looks great. I did tapping years ago and know first-hand that it’s effective. This book could be helpful! Just discovered your website and I’ll definitely be back!

  13. Rhonda Leistner

    Dr. Lissa…..I cannot believe that I stumbled on your program on PBS and immediately got your book. I have read it and also listened on audible. I am 51 and I am now on disability for an incurable multi factorial central imbalance; component of migraine and migraine associated disequilibrium; underlying central nervous system trauma from severe physical abuse three decades ago; lesions and traumatic brain injury. I live with imbalance 24/7, have severe bedridden episodes every 2-4 weeks that with rescue medication at least can put me to bed for approx 3 days until I can start working on getting my sea legs back and particularly my mind.

    I woke up with BPPV just over 11 years ago and have never been the same since. I have had so many neurological, ENT testing and severe allergic and side effects to medications that in the last few years everything has escalated to the point that my type A 80 hour a week lifestyle has not proven to allow me to bullwhip my life into normal or whatever that is! I had a stroke at the age of 26 and one during a surgery for a broken neck at the age of 34 which put me in a trauma surgery which I was on a respirator with paralysis while I had young children.

    I have gained 80lbs over the last 5 years. I am meditating now and starting to get my mind back so to speak. My comments are too many for this post but I would see this as a miracle if I could find someway to work with you to regain my whole self….I think your passion is spot on. I am educated and I am now my highest priority. It is my prayer that you reach out to me and allow me the opportunity to have you personally on my team of wellness ambassadors.

  14. Diana Wood

    Thanks Lissa, for another excellent article. I know that loving your body is crucial for health as well as maintaining a healthy weight. My weight has been up and down like a yoyo my entire life. And then about 18 years ago my health took a nose dive with a bunch of autoimmune disorders. It was really hard to love my body when I felt it wasn’t serving me well. The thing that really helped me was to study how the body systems worked. I read up on how the circulatory system worked and how the liver and kidneys worked and how the brain controls all the neurochemicals and hormones and I found that I was so impressed with the amazing intelligence of my body that it gave me an immense appreciation and respect for it. And only then could I truly say I love my body. I’m still not the perfect weight but I love it just as it is. And I remind myself that I’m a work in progress.

  15. Dreg navarro

    Good work


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