Weight Loss Secrets
What is the key to successful and sustainable weight loss? Most of my clients who want to work with me to lose weight, to change their eating habits, or to resolve a relationship with food which feels completely out of control, ask for more willpower. That is what they believe they truly need, and a good dose of extra willpower will sort out all their food, eating and therefore weight issues. So is that it? Is weight gain, over-eating and bingeing all a simple matter of being weak willed? Well, there is more to it than that. Willpower – or resisting that which is it hard to say NO to – is NOT the only focus during therapy courses to help with weight loss, or to remedy poor eating habits. Willpower is only ever a temporary strategy which fatigues like a muscle…
Let’s look at the bigger picture when it comes to really working successfully with clients who want to lose weight, and keep it off. Enlisting the help of a hypnotherapist can be the difference that really makes the difference for many clients, after years of weight gain, and very limited success at losing weight which then just seems to pile back on faster than ever. If you are reading because this resonates with you, it’s likely that some of the below will be familiar:
- A sense of ongoing struggle to lose weight and keep it off.
- Food cravings, constant thoughts of food, diet, figure.
- Overeating, not controlling portions, not knowing when you are full, or eating when you know you are full.
- Eating to feel better in times of stress or emotional strain, using food as a treat or reward.
- No energy or motivation to exercise.
- Poor body image – feeling unattractive, withdrawn, depressed about your weight.
- Feeling stressed and managing a stressful life, juggling and keeping people happy.
The effect of stress
Firstly let’s look at the role of stress and negative emotion in weight gain. The talk of stress has become part of everyday life for many of us. There are many ways to work on managing stress, and resolving negative emotions, but this is particularly important in relation to clients who struggle to lose weight and keep it off, because stress effects the physiology of our whole body and plays havoc with our metabolism and appetite. The effect of stress on our systems creates all the wrong conditions for weight loss and emotional well-being. In fact instead it leads us to hold on to calories or gain weight. The more stressed you are about your life, relationships or your work, the more difficult it will be to lose weight, and the more negative emotion you will need to ‘soothe and comfort’ with food. Ironically the more stressed and upset you are about your weight and your body, the more you are likely to hold on to weight and slow your metabolism down.
The stress hormone cortisol causes fatigue in the adrenal glands, which is likely to lead to
- Increased appetite.
- Irregular appetite.
- Fatigue and poor sleep.
- Slow metabolism.
- Weight gain around the middle and abdomen.
When working with my clients who want to lose weight and change a dysfunctional relationship with food, we always work on resolving the stress and the negative emotion FIRST. The first port of call for all clieats is to help them feel OK, positive and resourceful, just as they are. The more a client depends and ‘needs’ weight loss or any change in their body or their lives, as their ONLY way to feel good – the more they get locked into patterns of downward spiralling emotion and despair, which is painful and fuels the very problems they are trying to fix.
Some people choose to comfort or soothe pain with alcohol, some choose exercise, some gambling, some sex or sexual attention, some spend lots of money, some book facials, treatments or spa weekends. We all tend to have our own range of go-to strategies to pick us up when we feel down – with clients who binge or overeat, food has become their strategy.
The science of weight loss therapy
Neural-plasticity is the term we use to explain the brain’s natural ability to change and make new connections and pathways. It explains how people are able to make extraordinary changes in the way they think, feel and behave after therapy.
If we allow the brain to be in a different, specific state, it learns that state, and finds it much easier to get back to it again through the pathways which have already been created.
Hypnosis, NLP and EFT collapse any old neural pathways in the brain which are behind the old thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns towards food, eating and health. In turn through specific techniques and skilful language patterns, the skilled therapist will guide each client to form new pathways and patterns in the brain which are in line with all the changes they want, the changes that are going to make a sustainable difference to their weight, health and emotional comfort.
Willpower and the brain
During client sessions I focus on the three components of willpower, which correspond with three different areas of the brain within the pre-frontal cortex, which is found just behind the forehead.
- Right side – “I WON’T” – This area is responsible for our ability to stop doing something, which is not useful or in line with our goals. You can fill in the gaps here with your own story!
- Left side – “I WILL” – This area is responsible for our ability to find motivation to do something, stick at it, stay on track even when it gets a bit tough, boring or inconvenient. I will leave these examples to your imagination…( who mentioned ‘treadmill’?)
- Underneath – “I WANT” – This area is responsible for our ability to have a really clear idea of what we want, what the point is, the bigger picture, why our goals are so important to us. This area keeps us in touch with remembering what we care about most…Health. Comfort. Vitality. Longevity. Wardrobe options. Feeling great about ourselves and our bodies! This is a very important area to work on.
With all of these lines of communication in the brain strengthened both inside and between each specific area, can you already see how that old idea of needing strong willpower becomes less of an issue?
With these brain changes in place, it naturally becomes easier to make good intentional choices.
Willpower implies that there is a constant and challenging struggle, that staying on track is going to be hard, a battle we must be strong to win. Is this what it’s all about? Thankfully not! Once the root cause issues are fully resolved, the old patterns and dependancies ( whatever they are ) just fall away, like a layer of skin ready to shed – like something which is no longer needed, which no longer fits.
Success and sustainable change is simply a matter of therapeutically re-wiring our unconscious patterns and neural pathways in a new and more useful way. A way that is aligned with the “I want”. That is what Hypnosis, NLP and EFT are so brilliant at helping with – getting into those deeper layers of the unconscious or subconscious programming, and influencing change where it is needed.
If you are undecided whether to invest in the help of an expert practitioner to tackle your goals, here are some great tips for you tackling it alone:
Before you begin taking action to lose weight, apply yourself to this exercise in full in preparation to do it more easily
- Really identify what you want in detail, get in touch with it – The “I WANT”
- Express that in positives, so it really is about what you want e.g., health, freedom to make healthy choices, fitness, comfort in my clothes, wardrobe and style choices, energy, focuS.
- AVOID negative language, even if it is internal chatter, is activating the most unhelpful neural pathways in your brain for the job in hand. The power of words and language is immense, so choose it wisely to activate helpful neurology!
- What will achieving your goals give you – in positives.
- How will it feel – How will you look – What will people say to you – What will you be saying to yourself?
- Have reminders of your goal around if that helps – photos, outfits, holidays, wedding dates – whatever makes it real and keeps it in your awareness
- Buddy up and have support from others – but keep the talk positive!
- Plan and organize – shopping, schedules, recipes, Tupperware…think ahead so you create healthy choices for yourself and avoid getting hungry – that’s when the internal saboteur kicks in.
- How do you need to be feeling, what states are most useful? Confident, focussed, motivated, calm, positive?
- Choose a couple of useful emotional states and IMMERSE yourself in them, by remembering times when you felt like that before. See, hear, feel – get fully in touch with the emotion, and allow your brain to just naturally make these connections.
- The brain doesn’t know the difference between imagining yourself in to a positive emotional state, or whether it arrived organically – YOUR BRAIN DOES NOT CARE!! It fires together all the confident, calm, positive neurons, and they then wire together – just like re-wiring your brain for success. Clever eh?
Some practical tips
- Practice simple paced breathing before eating (or any time you want to relax) or during cravings – If you focus your attention on taking deep slow breaths, and allow your out-breath to be longer than your in-breath ( in for the count of 5/6 out for the count of 7/8 ) The vagus nerve responds by putting the body into the ‘relaxation response’ which allows you better digestion, faster metabolic rate, better decision making to have your actions around food fully aligned with your goals.
- Mindful eating – Enjoy the sight and the smell of your food. Enjoy each mouthful slowly, savouring the taste and texture. Eat slowly, taking breaks to put your cutlery down, stay in touch with the signals from your gut which tell your brain you are full and satisfied.
- Allow you brain and body time and space to ENJOY and take PLEASURE from food.
If you would like to read more about me, or my Specialist Weight Loss & Disordered Eating Therapy, the link below might be of interest. I work one to one from my private clinics in Cheshire and London, or over Skype.