Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Two British hypnotherapists tell us how to lose weight using the most powerful tool available to us – our mind!
This approach is very appealing to many as people tend to think that you don’t have to do anything - Paul McKenna will do it all! Well it’s true that the hypnotic approach won’t have you doing push ups at 8am on a Saturday morning in the park and you won’t have to exist on nothing but fresh air and cabbage soup for a week but the hypnotherapy approach shouldn’t be thought of as easy either. To succeed you have to be willing to push yourself out of a comfort zone that is even more alluring than your bed on a Saturday morning and work to change your mind set and thought patterns.
There is an air of mystique when it comes to hypnotherapy, we’re so used to seeing hypnotic techniques played out on stage for our entertainment and there is a sense of magic or wizardry that accompanies the ‘look into my eyes’ approach but modern day hypnotherapy is different to the old school stage days. Its more conversational and systematic and involves other psychological techniques as well as hypnosis. The two books (and techniques) I’m talking about in this post are Paul McKenna’s ‘I Can Make you Thin’ and Marisa Peer’s ‘You Can Be Thin’. Both books take you through what seem like very practical and straight forward steps but both also claim to be written in what they call ‘hypnotic language’ There is that mystique again! Both come with a hypnosis CD, which for best results should be listened to regularly.
First up, here is what Paul McKenna sets out as his ‘I Can Make You Thin’ guidelines:
1. Eat when you are hungry
Starving yourself can actually make you fat. Not eating slows down your metabolism, which makes you feel tired. It can also lead to false hunger signals and subsequently, binge-eating. You need to train yourself to eat only when you're hungry
2. Eat what you want - not what you think you should
As soon as you tell yourself to avoid certain foods, you upset the balance of your relationship with them. By eating what you want, you establish a balanced diet. Your tastes change and you may find yourself craving the very foods you're "supposed" to be eating. If you want it, eat it. Resistance is futile.
3. Eat consciously - enjoy every mouthful
People who are overweight often eat too quickly in order to get a serotonin high. Eating "subconsciously" can expand your stomach and cause weight gain.
Eat what you want, whenever you want, so long as you enjoy every bite. Chew every mouthful, slowing your eating speed down to a quarter of what it used to be, and you'll automatically eat less and feel better.
4. When you think you are full, stop eating
When you've eaten enough, your body should receive a signal in your solar plexus, which says it's satisfied. The more you pay attention to this, the more satisfied you will feel and you'll know when to stop eating. You need to re-sensitise yourself to your 'inner thermostat' so you stop eating food when you're full.
Marisa Peer adds in some other little tricks which I found really interesting, focusing a lot on NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques:
1. Change your language.
Changing the way you speak to yourself and the words you use everyday will make you change the pictures in your mind. This is important as the pictures we have in our mind can quite easily become our reality. Whatever we tell ourselves the mind absorbs and accepts. I have experienced this with my clients too. I remember a few years ago a client telling me that she changed the password she used to access her computer several times a day from ‘fat pig’ to ‘slim and happy’ and she believes this had a profound effect on how she saw herself and helped her to lose weight.
Taking ownership of things is also a powerful mind tool. When we use ‘my’ and ‘mine’ our minds form an attachment to those things, believing them to be something valuable and important to us. Most things we call mine are important to us, like ‘my baby’, ‘my career’, ‘my home’ but what about ‘I hate my fat thighs’ and ‘I wish my fat belly would disappear’ We’re also taking ownership of the things we don’t want my saying ‘my’. Marisa advises that anything you want to be free of you should prefix with ‘the’ rather than ‘my’.
Overeating can stem from a general feeling of lack. Tell yourself you are enough with positive affirmations several times a day.
Choose to be thinner by replacing ‘I can’t’ with ‘I choose not to have that’. This assertion is stronger than willpower as your brain believes you to be making a choice. Make your brain believe that you want this and it will ultimately give you power. This moves you away from denial and resistance.
2. Change your mindset:
Accept certain restrictions. You don’t stay at home when you should be working or go out when taking care of children, or go on dates with people you’re attracted to when you’re married – life is full of restrictions that we naturally accept without difficulty so you can also accept that this is reality when it comes to deciding what to eat too.
Think about how much it costs you to eat cheap food. Not the amount of money it costs to buy but the real cost of eating unhealthy food. What are you missing out on by continuing to eat food that makes you unhealthy and overweight? Quality of life, self esteem, love life, career? Many of us also have a weakness for free food when it offered, despite it being healthy or not. One way to convince yourself not to eat it is to say to yourself, ‘I have my whole life to eat, its not free, it will cost me a lot to eat it.’
3. Positive Visualization.
Thinking positively about weight reduction can activate neurons that secrete endogenous opiates, which make us feel good and allow us to stop comfort eating. The opposite is also true – thinking negatively activates the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which encourages over-eating and weight gain. Spend some time visualizing yourself as the person you want to be, feel how happy it would make you and make it as vivid and real as you can. As well as forming the right picture in your mind, tell yourself the right words. Don’t use negative words like ‘I’m not’ and ‘I can’t’. Instead use ‘I am’, ‘I can’, ‘I always’, ‘I do’.
I believe all of these techniques work if they are practiced over and over again until they become habitual. Changing the way your mind works and undoing negative thought patterns can take a lot of time and effort but if it gives you back the power of control over your eating habits, weight and ultimately health then surely it’s worth the effort? I’d be interested to get your feedback on this one. Have you read either of these books yourself, or any other hypnotherapy weight loss books? Have you had a hypnotherapy session? Please share!