If you’ve tried all sorts of diets and nothing works, it might not be your “slow metabolism” getting in the way. It could be your inability to forgive.

Remember that gym teacher who called you lazy? How about the “ex” who called you fat and not worthy? A boss who fired you? Or perhaps you can’t forgive yourself. As we live our lives, hurtful memories are inevitable. But the act of forgiving can be a powerful technique for decreasing stress and improving your overall health and well-being.

Personally, I’ve been though an extensive forgiveness process, and the relief I felt was unexpected. I honestly felt as if someone lifted a huge burden off of my shoulders. The stress we experience by holding on to feelings of anger, resentment, hatred and negativity can weigh us down in many ways, and in some cases, can lead to self-destructive behaviors, such as overeating, excessive drinking and other not-so-good-for-you activities.

Decreasing stress might help you lose weight, no doubt about that. Carrying the burden of not forgiving for past hurts has been shown to cause chronic stress, the type that nags at our very core without our even realizing it is happening. And researchers in various studies, including this one, show that chronic stress is related to obesity.

Dr. Fred Luskin, forgiveness researcher and author of “Forgive for Good” and star of the PBS program of the same name, shares his “9 Steps of Forgiveness” and has found that individuals who forgive experience significant stress reduction levels and health benefits. Luskin tells That’s Fit, “In my work I have seen practicing forgiveness help people make all sorts of positive lifestyle changes. That means that when people are angry and carrying grudges, they tend to eat more, they make poorer food choices and they usually get less exercise. When they let the grudge go they have more energy to give to their health and less obsession with the person who hurt them.”

Forgiving yourself and others might just be the key to unlocking your ability to lose weight. Are you ready to forgive? Try these strategies.

  1. Write a forgiveness letter to the person who hurt you. You don’t need to mail it, just write it. Elaborate on what happened and how it makes you feel. Then express what you will gain by letting go and forgiving.

  2. Write a forgiveness letter to yourself using a similar template as this one.
    Read your letter aloud to someone you trust. If you don’t want to read the letter, at least share your intention to forgive. Verbalizing helps to make the action real.

  3. Practice stress management techniques when your mind begins to return to the moments of hurt. Realize you are reacting to something in the past and not the present.

Mahatma Gandhi once said “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

In the next few days, think about who you need to forgive. And then forgive. Living your life now in the best possible way, including forgiving others, can cause changes in your life you could never have imagined, including losing what may be pounds of “unforgiveness.”