Weight Loss & The Fight-or-Flight Effect

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Listen to Jon Gabriel Teach About:

  • The ‘Get Thin or Get Eaten’ phenomenon
  • The concept of the FAT programs
  • How to avoid stressors that stimulate your FAT programs


Read The Lecture Transcripts Here

I wanted to talk a little bit right now about how to get your body to want to be thin by activating what I call the Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation. We talk a lot about the FAT programs, and when the FAT programs are activated, your body goes into fat storage mode. In essence, the FAT programs are the programs that get activated when you\'re in a famine to protect you against famines and to keep extra weight on, and to slow down the fat-burning process and slow your metabolism when you\'re in a famine. But those are programs that can get activated by all types of stresses in your life, and we\'ve talked about that a lot on the show and in the book.

We\'ve talked about how dieting can activate the FAT programs, nutritional famine can activate the FAT programs, sleep apnea, toxins, mental and emotional stress, what I call emotional obesity, the need to have extra weight in order to feel safe. All these things are stresses that cause chemistry to activate these FAT programs, and we talk a lot about how to turn off these FAT programs by addressing those stresses: nourishing your body, going off of dieting and instead nourishing your body, reducing toxins, dealing with sleep apnea and dealing with the mental and emotional stresses in your life.

And so we talk a lot about that, and by turning off the FAT programs your body naturally wants to be thinner, but you can go further than that. You can activate another program in your body that I call the Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation which makes your body want to be thinner, even much more than just simply turning off the FAT programs.

The analogy I always use is this. Let\'s say it\'s thousands of years ago, and if you were living in a famine — maybe thousands of years ago, let\'s say it\'s a cold winter and there\'s not enough to eat. So your FAT programs are being activated, because you\'re having a stress, the stress of not having enough to eat and the stress of being chronically cold all the time. That\'s causing a certain type of chemistry that\'s activating your FAT programs.

Now, when the winter goes away and the sun comes out and things start growing and it\'s warm and there\'s lots of food, you\'re not in that stress anymore because there\'s plenty to eat and it\'s warm out. So your FAT programs aren\'t being activated anymore, so your body\'s naturally going to let go of excess weight and not be as hungry. But let\'s take it a step further. Let\'s imagine now — now you\'re in this warm climate, there\'s plenty of food, there\'s fruit growing, there\'s nuts, there\'s birds, there\'s seeds, there\'s games. There\'s all kinds of food you can eat.

But let\'s imagine that in this climate there\'s also wild predators, tigers, and every once in a while they can just come out and just chase you. And if you\'re not lightning fast, you\'re dead. Now that is a different type of stress. The stress of having a tiger surprise you, jump out, your heart starts pounding, and you sprint as fast as you can in order to survive. That\'s a different type of stress than famine, right? Very different type of stress, and naturally it causes a very different type of chemistry in your body.

That chemistry activates a different program, it activates your Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation. Now, that is a message to your body that you need to be as thin as possible in order to survive. And when your body gets the message that you need to be as thin as possible in order to survive, believe me you lose weight. All kinds of things happen. Your metabolism naturally speeds up. So many people tell me, \”Oh, I went to my doctor, he says my metabolism is slow,\” or, \”my thyroid is slow\”, or all these things. And that\'s just a natural response to the FAT programs.

But when the FAT programs are turned off and the Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation gets activated, your metabolism speeds up. You all the sudden of the metabolism of a greyhound, and you become very efficient at burning fat, and you\'re just not that hungry anymore. And so it\'s going a step further than simply turning off the FAT programs, it\'s activating a whole other program: the Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation.

Now, today we don\'t have tigers, the same way we don\'t have famines, we still have stress. And sometimes for some people, the stresses in their life cause the same chemistry as running away from a tiger, and for those people, their bodies are getting tricked into activating this Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation and they\'re just naturally getting thinner and thinner. And these are the people that we all know that lose weight when they\'re under stress.

Those people go, \”Oh, I\'m stressed out and I can\'t eat anything,\” and they just get thinner and thinner and thinner, all these people that we love and hate because they can just lose weight without even thinking about it. It\'s simply — it\'s not because they\'re more disciplined or have more willpower, it\'s simply because a different adaptation, a different program is being activated. So how do we activate that Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation?

Well there\'s a couple of ways, and I want to talk about that. One of them you can do through exercise. Now, as soon as I say exercise, everybody\'s going to go, oh, ok, exercise. Yeah, I know you can lose weight with exercise. But the thing is, people have a misunderstanding of what the benefit of exercise is, and how to really use it and apply it in order to be thin.

See, most people think the benefit of exercise is burning calories. I remember when I used to live in New York, I used to go the gym and I\'d ride the stationary bike for an hour, and I\'d burn maybe 300 calories or 1,000 kilojoules. I think to myself, \”300 calories or 1,000 kilojoules, that\'s like a bagel,\” you know? \”What\'s the purpose of exercising for burning up the calories of a bagel? I\'ll just simply not have a bagel,\” right, if that\'s all your burning.

But the truth is, the benefit of exercise is not the calorie burning aspect of it. The benefit of exercise is when it\'s done right, it activates this Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation. And the way you do it right is this. Let\'s say you\'re riding a stationary bike or you\'re just going for a walk. Just walk leisurely, or just spin on the stationary bike leisurely. But every once in a while, for just 10 seconds, stand up on the bike and sprint as fast as you can. Or if you\'re walking, move as fast as you can, and get your doctor\'s approval for this first, please, and for any suggestions that you take based on my show. But get up and sprint for as fast as you can for just 10 seconds, and imagine that you\'re being chased by a predator, because your body doesn\'t know the difference between a real and imagined experience. You know, they\'ve done all types of studies. They\'ve done studies of Olympic athletes where they visualize their ideal sport, and their body really thinks that they\'re doing their ideal sport. Their muscles and their nerves are all being activated in the same coordinated method.

So visualization is something that you can do to sort of trick your body into thinking something\'s happening that\'s not really happening. So if you get up and sprint and imagine you\'re being chased by a predator, you\'ve just tricked your body into thinking that you need to be thin in order to survive, that if you\'re not thin, you\'re dead. And believe me, if your body thinks that you need to be thin or you\'re dead, you lose weight no questions asked. All the other FAT programs get overwritten, your body turns on the Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation, you lose weight.

And interestingly they\'ve done a lot of studies recently with exercise. I think they had one group of women on stationary bikes, they were riding stationary bikes every day for 40 minutes. And then there was another group that was riding it I think — riding the bike every other day for 20 minutes, but this group would sprint for 11 seconds every once in a while. And that group lost three times as much weight. And there\'s been a lot of studies like that.

And if you look at, for example, you look at the difference between like a marathon runner and an Olympic sprinter, Olympic sprinters have less body fat on them than marathon runners. And I\'m not saying a marathon runner\'s fat by any stretch of the imagination, but sprinters have a lower body fat percentage. And think about that. Why should that be when their exercise is just running for 10 seconds every now and then, whereas a marathon runner is going to run for 10 miles or 20 kilometers every single day, and yet the sprinter\'s got less body fat?

It\'s because they\'re activated the Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation. And if you think about it in nature, if you\'re walking in the woods and a bear jumps out of nowhere and starts chasing you, you\'re not going to go for a 40 minute stroll, right? You\'re going to go for a 10 second sprint, and you\'re going to move fast. And so when you do that, when you use visualization in that way to activate this Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation, you\'re basically tapping into a very powerful way to get your body to want to be thin. Another way to do it if you don\'t want to imagine a predator\'s chasing you, another way to do it is while you\'re doing the sprint, imagine your body in perfect shape as you\'re sprinting.

You know, your stomach muscles are there and everything\'s — you\'re firm and you\'re fast, and you just imagine yourself in perfect shape. That\'s another way to do it, because that\'s sort of a way to communicate to your body that whatever the stress is that you\'re experiencing, you need to be thin in order to survive it. And you\'re body\'s always wanting to adapt to make the stress less stressful.

So in this way it\'s going to say — your body\'s going to say, okay, whatever the stress is we\'re experiencing, we need to be thin, and it\'s going to activate this Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation. I remember when and how I first discovered this. This was back when I was losing weight years ago. I was riding my bike, I used to have this route that I\'d ride, and I was riding up a hill and I was thinking to myself, \”You know, I\'m kind of getting bored with my ride. It\'s kind of getting flat. I really need something to sort of give my ride a boost.\”

And the second I had that thought, this dog just came out of nowhere and started chasing me. And I stand up and I\'m sprinting as fast as I can, and this dog is just millimeters away from taking out my Achilles tendon, and he\'s going, \”Rar, rar, rar, rar\”, and his teeth are glaring and he\'s got these canines. It was a little dog, he was a little collie, and his big canines were just snapping and snapping and snapping and snapping, and this went on for about a mile or two kilometers he was chasing me.

And the whole time he\'s just behind my Achilles tendon, I\'m sprinting and sprinting. And then he gives up, and then over the next couple weeks I started losing all this weight. I just dumped weight, I couldn\'t figure out what happened. I wasn\'t hungry, and just effortlessly the weight was just piling off. And then I put it together and I realized that the reason why I lost all this weight was because of this experience I had.

So then any time I got to the same place in the ride, the dog wasn\'t there anymore, but I just imagined that the dog was there, and I imagined that he\'d be chasing me. And he\'d go, \”Rar, rar, rar, rar,\”, and then I\'d still get the same benefit. And after a while I got a little bit lazy and what I did instead was I just imagined — I didn\'t even do the exercise, just at night as I was going to sleep I\'d imagine that I was sprinting as fast as I can and something was chasing me and I was in perfect shape.

Because I figured, hey, if your body really doesn\'t know the difference between a real and imagined experience, you can just trick this Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation automatically without even any exercise. So I used to do that for a while. But the thing is you can do this, and it\'s not about burning calories. It\'s not about exercising two hours a day every day to burn 1,000 calories or whatever you\'re trying to do.

The way to do this is exercise every once in a while, maybe three times a week, and exercise leisurely but have that 10 second total sprint and visualization a couple of times during it. And that\'s your workout, because that\'s triggering the adaptation. That\'s getting your body to want to be thin. It\'s not about burning calories; it\'s not about calories in and calories out. If your body legitimately wants to be thin, if your body legitimately feels that you need to be thin or you\'re dead, then over time your metabolism\'s going to speed up. Your body will do the calculations of the calories in and calories out. Over time you\'re just not going to be as hungry. You\'re not going to finish the pizza all the sudden, or you\'re going to pass on a meal every once in a while, and you\'re going to have a little bit more energy so you\'re going to go out and play a little bit more. It\'s going to happen organically if you get your body to want to be thin.

So you don\'t want to exercise every day, because if you do that you\'re going to over-train, and you\'re not going to have the intensity that you need to trigger this adaptation. So it\'s better to be fresh and rested for your workouts, and then really, really hit it just for that 10 seconds. That\'s it, just for that 10 seconds, hit and hit it hard. And that\'s going to trigger the adaptation.

If you exercise too much, then something happens called over-training. And over-training actually elevates your cortisol levels, and believe it or not activates your FAT programs because elevated cortisol levels is what happens when your body goes into fat storage mode. When you\'re in a famine, your cortisol level\'s elevated and your body activates its FAT programs.

When you over-train, your cortisol levels elevate too, and that activates your FAT programs. And they did studies at The University of Colorado with cross-country skiers where they worked out, they worked out, they worked out. The more they worked out, the more weight they lost, until they got to a certain point and they over-trained, and they actually started to gain weight.

So you don\'t want to over-train. You want to exercise a few times a week, and you want to hit it hard. You want to be fresh for it. And remember that the benefit of the exercise is not necessarily to burn calories, but it\'s to trigger the adaptation.

Now, there\'s a couple other ways to trigger that adaptation that don\'t involve exercise. Imagine you\'re — here\'s one way to do it. Imagine you\'re sitting at your desk, and you\'re at work and you have some sort of stress. The stock market goes down or you get a call from a client or a boss, or somebody does something to really stress you out. Now, when that happens, rather than sitting at your desk, get up, find a flight of stairs or something like that, and just run up the flight of stairs for 10 seconds and imagine that you\'re being chased by a predator.

What you\'re doing in that instance is you\'re turning a stress, that is the stress from work, that could otherwise be a bad stress, that is your body could interpret it and cause chemistry to activate your FAT programs, and you\'re communicating to your body that no, this is not a stress that should activate my FAT programs. This is a stress that should activate my Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation. And so you\'re turning a bad stress into a good stress.

Another way to do this, another way to activate the Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation is to become a thrill-seeker. Balloon rides, Ferris wheels, skydiving, get your spouse\'s approval. Get someone\'s approval before you do it. Don\'t skydive just based on my recommendation. But bungee cord jumping, doing thrills like this causes an adrenaline rush that activate your Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation.

I remember Jack Osborne, you know, Ozzy Osborne\'s son, Ozzy Osborne the famous rocker. So his son, Jack, he used to be heavy, and then he became a thrill-seeker and he lost 50 pounds just over-night. I think he even started a reality show about thrill-seeking. I don\'t know, this is a long time ago. But thrill-seeking or getting up and doing performances, anything that causes an adrenaline rush is going to activate your Get Thin or Get Eaten Adaptation. So I would encourage you also to do things that cause adrenaline rushes.

So that\'s an example of how to use visualization also to activate this program, and there\'s so many different ways that you can use visualization. One thing that I don\'t think we\'ve ever talked about on the show is how to use visualization to kill junk food cravings. And this is a little bit different than my normal approach, because my normal approach just focuses on how fat or thin your body wants to be, and then once you address the real issues and your body wants to be thin, everything happens organically.

But you can sort of speed the process up a little bit if you want by targeting specific foods that you\'re addicted to, and that\'s what happens. We become addicted to certain junk food for several reasons. There\'s actually chemical addictions that take place, it causes chemicals like endorphins and kind of a morphine type of chemicals that takes place in our body when we eat certain foods. And there\'s a whole host of reasons why we become addicted to junk food.

So you can actually use visualization to eliminate junk food cravings, and that\'s something I don\'t think we\'ve ever talked about. But I talk about it a little bit in the book, I think it\'s at the end of the book, how to use visualization to kill junk food cravings. And I just mentioned that because if you\'re interested in speeding the process up along the way, this is a really effective way to do it.

The way you can do it is let\'s say you wanted to stop eating wheat, for example, because wheat causes a lot of problems and there\'s nothing nutritious in wheat, there\'s lots of toxins. And our bodies become addicted to the wheat, and the gluten in the wheat screws up our digestion and inhibits our ability to digest and assimilate other nutrients. It also activates the FAT programs. Wheat activates the FAT programs because it elevates our insulin levels so much of the time, because it elevates our blood sugar too much. As a matter of fact, I read somewhere that wheat has like a three times higher level of insulin secretion when you eat wheat versus just natural fruit sugars. So what happens when you eat wheat all the time is your insulin levels keep getting higher and higher, and that causes your body to stop listening to insulin. It causes this insulin resistance, which we\'ve talked so much about.

And when that happens, your insulin levels stay perpetually elevated, and insulin\'s the fat storage hormone and causes your body to stay perpetually in fat storage mode. It actually turns off all of the enzymes and hormones that burn fat, so you actually lose the ability to burn fat and you go into this perpetual fat storage mode and you can\'t regulate your blood sugar anymore, because your blood sugar goes down, you can\'t retrieve it up.

And we\'ve talked a lot about this, and it eventually leads to Type 2 Diabetes. And we\'ve talked a lot about insulin resistance and how to reverse it. Well, wheat actually causes this whole scenario. So wheat products can actually activate your fat programs. So you can use this if you\'re addicted to wheat. You can use this if you\'re addicted to wheat, you can use visualization to help eliminate your addiction to wheat. And I did this, because I was so addicted to wheat I remember. I had to have wheat all the time.

So what I used to do is I would imagine that — I\'d do these visualizations as I was going to sleep at night where I imagined that I was taking a bite of a sandwich with wheat bread, and all the sudden I look into the sandwich, and there were maggots. And I was just so repulsed that I threw the sandwich down, I got an upset stomach and I couldn\'t look at it anymore. And I did this a couple of times, and after a while I just couldn\'t even look at wheat anymore because it was so gross to me.

And I just stopped eating wheat. And I learned this from — I remember one time when I was living — when I first moved to Australia, I had a friend who used to come over. He was a nice guy, I used to always make him food to eat, and he\'d never eat anything that I made. And I finally asked him one day, I said, \”Why don\'t you ever eat the food that I make you?\” And he would make jokes about it, but he finally told me that one time when he was a kid, a friend of his made a sandwich for him and he ate the sandwich, and then his friend told him afterwards that he actually spit in the sandwich. He was so grossed out by that, that for 40 years he\'s never been able to eat anything that a friend has prepared for him. So you can actually have that visualization, and it has the same effect. And so for me I did it with that, but you can do it with sugar or chocolate, whatever it is that you\'re addicted to, you can use visualization to help you.

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