Or: how to stop being consumed by the number on the scale and start enjoying the process!
Over the years I have had many people coming to see me after years of seeing the number on the scale going up...then maybe down for a few months...and then up again. By the time they knock on the door of the clinic they are ready for something different. They often tell me that they feel completely stuck: they know what they need to do but they simply cannot seem to be able to do it. And that is actually a very common way to feel when your deep unconscious mind is not aligned with the desires of your conscious mind. Unfortunately, the unconscious mind always wins( Lipton, 2005, p.128). In order words, the only thing stopping you from achieving your goal is your mind. Inversely, the only thing that can get you out is also your mind!
Most people know that the right mindset is essential when it comes to weight loss: it turns an everyday struggle into an enjoyable lifestyle. It motivates you to eat less, healthier, and exercise more. And yet, people wanting to lose weight typically bypass working on their mindset. Instead, you often see them waking up one day and throwing themselves into a very intense nutrition and exercise program, hoping that the right mindset will magically appear and that a resilient motivation will kick in. They struggle with it for a few weeks and, when they realise it is not getting easier, they give up.
With hypnotherapy, you switch things around: you START with the mindset. You do not wait for it to magically appear, you go out there and create it by:
1. Going at the root
I have talked about hypnosis and explained how hypnotherapy works in other articles and videos, but let’s do a little summary.
It all starts with an iceberg. The surface above the water is the conscious mind. The conscious mind is the active mind that thinks different thoughts. It holds our current and immediate experience and awareness. The hidden part of the iceberg, the unconscious mind, holds our automatic behaviours. Those habitual sets of stimulus-response programmes are derived from our instincts and learned experiences (Hugo, 2009, p. 11). In a way, the unconscious mind can be described as the code behind a computer program.
Sometimes the thoughts of the conscious mind (e.g.:“I want to lose weight”) conflict with the code of the unconscious mind (e.g.: “eating biscuits and chocolates and sweets is a way of treating myself after a long day”). As aforementioned, the unconscious mind always wins. Which is why you find yourself eating junk food after a long day at work despite desperately wanting to lose weight.
How can you change the codes of the unconscious mind to create a healthier program and change your automatic responses? Actually, how can you even access the unconscious mind? Let alone change it? This is where hypnotherapy comes into play.
Hypnotherapy is like baking a pie: you need the dough and on top of it you add the ingredients. The dough is what we call the hypnotic state, often defined as an altered state of consciousness. A state in-between full awareness and sleep which, handily, is also a gateway to the unconscious mind! In that state, the hypnotherapist sprinkles individually-tailored hypnotherapeutic suggestions on top of the dough to alter the code of the unconscious mind and, ultimately, change the stimulus-response programme. And BOOM! When you come back to full awareness, you may feel like going for a walk is actually a nicer way to treat yourself!
2. Expanding your motivation
Motivation is a term that encompasses the internal and/or external forces that produce the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of a behavior (Vallerand and Thill (1993). It is the key behind everything we do in life. Without motivation you would stay at home and look at the ceiling all day long, each and every day.
How do you increase motivation? Amongst other things, we use a goal image. A goal image is a very precise picture of what you will look like, how you will feel like, think like and behave when you have achieved your goal. When practiced under trance, the goal image becomes so vivid you actually get to experience the person you will be when you reach your goals. You get to think, feel and behave the way you would like to think, feel and behave in your life. What better way to increase your motivation than getting a little taster of what awaits you? Ultimately, we make that image so strong, so overwhelmingly part of your life there is nowhere you can escape it. So the next time you experience a craving, or hesitate about eating that second portio, or struggle to get out of the door for your walk, that image comes effortlessly to mind and it feels easier to make the healthy decision.
3. Deconditioning unhealthy behaviors
Weight Loss is down to a simple subtraction: the amount of calories that comes into your body - amount of calories that comes out = a calorie deficit. You need a deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1 pound (or 500 calories a day if you aim to lose 1 pound a week). This can be done by either decreasing calorie intake (the average scone hits a tuff 400 calories) through adjustments in the diet, or increasing calorie outtake through exercise ( depending on your body weight, between 1 and 1. 5 hours of walking amounts to 500 calories) or a bit of both.
In the first session we have together, I ask a lot of questions about your relationship to food and exercise so that I can adapt the hypnotherapeutic suggestions to one of the variables. Some people have been exercising consistently for years without seeing a change on the scale, and my suggestions will focus on diet. Inversely, other people would be really good when it comes to diet but will need exercise-related suggestions.
Then, it is about deconditioning the negative habits (e.g. indulging in cravings, spending too much time sitting) and creating new automatic behaviors and responses (e.g.: going for a walk twice a week, saying no to biscuits with a cup of tea, knowing when you feel healthily full). Those can be done through a variety of techniques that range from recalling past experiences, accessing your inner wisdom and tapping into personal resources.
4. Focusing on the process
One of my clients told me after her fifth session: “ I have actually come to realise that if I have to eat to live why not eat healthily”. That is what I call a real lifestyle change. A vision of weight loss over the long term. Miles away from our initial consultation, when she was telling me that she couldn’t seem to sustain any diet.
When it comes to weight loss, getting into the mindset that “this will take time but it’s okay” is key. When you look at the equation above, along with the amount of calories you need to burn in order to lose 1 pound a week (an average of 1 stone every 3-4 months) you understand why! But maybe your unconscious does not yet! Which is why an important part of my weightloss program focuses on making the unconscious mind fully accepts and enjoy the process of becoming healthier.
Hugo, S. (2009) The Fertile Body Method. Crown House Publishing.
Lipton, D.B. (2005) The Biology of Belief. Santa Rosa: Mountain of Love/Elite books.