Ready to pack on a few more pounds? It’s as easy as sticking to a few simple habits, and boom–your metabolism will slow down, your hormones will do a crazy dance, and anyone can easily get ample fatigue and that awesome spare-tire feeling in the midsection. Metabolism — or the process of converting food into the energy that your body needs to function — is a complex process that you can easily disrupt with these 8 simple tips. 

1. Load up on simple carbs and sugar. The best way to halt your metabolism is to eat lots of cereal, breads, pastries, waffles, pancakes, doughnuts, or cakes. Really anything made from flours, which are essentially just sugar, will work. Bonus: they’ll help you feel too full to fit in vegetables!

We’re wired to store belly fat in response to eating sugar (and not just sugarcane products), which previously helped us survive the winter when food was scarce. The body stores excess simple carbs as fat. Whole grains like wild rice aren’t evil, but most processed foods that say “whole grains” don’t have a large enough portion of whole grains to make a nutritional difference. Read more about making healthy, hormone-balancing diet changes here.  

2. Increase your fructose with high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is especially abundant in high fructose corn syrup, but there’s also plenty of fructose in dried fruit and fruit juices. Many fruit products can act like a tall glass of water to that metabolism fire! Bonus: simple carbs and high fructose corn syrup are a metabolism killer match made in heaven–think pancakes and syrup! Or toaster waffles and jam!

High fructose corn syrup increases inflammation, creates more belly fat, and overwhelms your liver. (Note–you may be even more prone to other hormonal imbalances like PMS by keeping high-fructose foods in your diet since they’re also processed by the liver.)   

3. Choose the most processed oils you can find–such as corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, or grapeseed oil–and treat yourself to fried foods whenever you can. Tip: make sure not to read the labels on pre-made salad dressings, sauces, and marinades. Restaurants and food companies know what’s best–no need to question.

Highly refined, industrialized, cheap vegetable oils are very pro-inflammatory, and found abundantly in restaurants and in prepared foods. (Note– they’ll likely increase your risk factors for heart disease too.)

4. Don’t exercise or move your body. Moving your body gets the metabolism going, which is not what you want when you’re trying to slow it down. Tips: drive around parking lots looking for the closest spot instead of walking, take the elevator every time it’s an option, and keep paying for your gym membership but don’t go. Bonus option for exercise addicts: if you just can’t stop, then take up intense training with no rest. Extreme running, hours of weight-training, or overdoing it with anaerobic exercise should increase your cortisol levels and move your body into a stress response, which will disrupt hormones and consequently your metabolism.

Regular exercise like walking, running, pilates, strength training, cycling–whatever your thang is–tells the metabolism to kick into gear, helping to burn excess fat. Some people go overboard and exercise too much without rest or with too much intensity–causing their bodies to see the activity as stress, which increases stress hormones and weight gain.

5. Stay up to midnight or later, and try not to get more than 6.5 hours of sleep. If your body has switched to keeping you up at night and making you groggy in the morning, just roll with it. Work at night and load up on stimulants during the day!

Seven to 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep will start to burn visceral fat, and regulate cortisol and insulin (which keep blood sugar in check). Depriving your body of adequate deep rest adds stress without you realizing it, contributing to belly-fat storage. Getting more rest and altering sleep patterns can seem impossible, but slowly changing your sleep routines to nourish your body has a massive impact on your health.

6. Snack constantly, especially on sweet things. As soon as you give your body and your digestive system a break for a few hours, it might actually start burning fat.

Our bodies are not wired for constant snacking, but our culture is built around snack foods. Snacking throughout the day helps mess with your metabolism and slow down your fat-burning. (Note – those with true hypoglycemia are a rare exception to this rule, but it’s important they deal with the cause of their blood sugar issues, and not just continue to snack all the time for years on end.)

7. Eat late at night: Focus on drinking alcohol and eating junk foods high in fats and sugars right before bed. This will allow for maximum confusion in your body clock and metabolic pathways.

Since you’re not physically moving at night, after-dinner snacking will immediately store all those calories in your midsection for a rainy day. Our bodies are wired to crave fats and sugars, and evening snacking becomes a habit that your body reminds you of each night. Instead, make sure to eat a solid dinner centered around fiber, fat, protein, and complex carbs. Try drinking water and herbal tea instead, and staying hydrated throughout the day. Find out more about maintaining your blood sugar and healthy eating habits on the nutrition page.

8. Invite stress into your daily life. Choose a stressful job and resign yourself to it. Say “yes!” to everything. Sign yourself up for as many responsibilities as you can, especially ones that serve others and not you. Avoid stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.

Are you surprised how much stress impacts your body’s ability to maintain a healthy metabolism? We get so used to the manic hum of our daily stresses that we sometimes don’t realize that our bodies are constantly in fight-or-flight mode. Constant stress is our “normal.” Look for ways large and small that you can eliminate stress and add-in stress-reducing activities that help balance hormones. Click here for three simple, relaxing techniques.  

The list above contains some of the best ways to self-sabotage your goals of returning to a comfortable weight and consistent energy throughout the day. Many women are trying to be healthy with habits such as eating breakfast cereals, over-exercising, and drinking wine every night (because it’s “heart healthy”). Then they can’t seem to figure out why they’re exhausted, not at their comfortable weight, and their hormones are all out of whack.

Turn the above suggestions around, and you have the foundational formula for better energy, a healthy weight, and balanced hormones.

Did any of the items on the list surprise you?