How NOT to Gain Weight

As those who read my articles on any regular basis know, I have a very tall son (6′ 5 1/2″) who is trying valiantly to gain weight. In order to help him with this I basically just tell him to do the opposite of what I advise my clients and class members to do. And it works. For a time. He gains weight, but then loses it again to return to his “normal” weight once his regular eating pattern returns. (This in itself is a takeaway).

So I have been noting all of the things that he does that prevent him from gaining weight in order to help you maintain or lose some weight, if that is your goal. Here are the (tongue-in-cheek) “Cole-isms” that you may be able to adapt to your own life.


  •  Zone out while you eat: OK, typically I would tell you to be mindful of your eating, to notice every bite and savor it. So don’t really zone out. But if you eat very s-l-o-w-l-y (like you keep forgetting there is food on your plate), you will soon be too full to eat any more. Don’t rush through your meal before your brain can tell you that your stomach is full. Enjoy conversation with those around you.
  • Get very busy at night with all of the things you forgot to do during the day: Then you won’t have a bit of time to snack because you are frantically trying to finish up things that are due in the morning.
  • Lift Weights: This is not a shocker. Any consistent weight training will build enough muscle to increase your metabolic rate, burning more calories even while you sleep. The calories taken in are just burned right off. So even though Cole is lifting very heavy weights to incur large muscle growth, his muscle tissue only serves to keep his metabolism humming.
  • Choose water and high water volume foods: I always tell people not to waste calories by drinking them. When Cole can’t eat enough calories into his day, we make super-smoothies with everything we can think of added in to help him drink them in (think trail mix and full cups of peanut butter). But for those trying not to gain weight, stick with water. Fruits and veggies such as apples, cucumbers, and pineapple are much more filling than the dry and crunchy Cheetos and pretzels.

  • Exercise on an empty stomach: There is a good body of research that indicates this will tap into fat-burning more readily than eating before a workout. Of course, if you are training for an athletic event, or are diabetic or hypoglycemic, it is best to eat something first so that you will have the energy to increase speed, strength, etc. Otherwise, start moving before breakfast.
  • Don’t waste your calories: He has actually turned down food because it didn’t have enough calories. His thought process is this: “If my goal is to gain weight, why would I bother eating food that won’t help me achieve that goal?” So on the flip-side, why would you eat something that doesn’t agree with your health goals? Hmmm.Simple strategies that you can maintain over the long term are extremely effective for changing weight and metabolism, whether you want to gain weight or lose it. But if you want to lose weight, think like Cole, and just forget to eat.


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