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  • Poor body image – feeling unattractive, withdrawn, depressed about your weight.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

  • Cravings.
  • 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.

How come some people just seem to stay on the path of healthy choices and actions around food and exercise, yet others find it a struggle to stay on track? Are some of us just hard-wired for ‘Self-Control’ and others for ‘Self Sabotage’?
Well fortunately, whilst ‘yes’, we are wired up in either of those ways……We are only soft-wired, and with the right application we can ‘re-wire’ more usefully. Let’s look at what goes on in the brain…

Neural Pathways

Our brains have thousands of pathways which carry our messages of thought and emotion through the body. These thoughts and emotions can dictate our actions and behaviours. So for instance, with exercise and diet, our thoughts may be either healthy and motivated….or not so….
Either way, those thought patterns and pathways will all have ‘neurological’ activity associated with them in our brains. The key to changing our actions and behaviours relating to exercise and healthy food choices, is in changing our thoughts. This way we can become ‘wired up’ for success. Where some of us used to believe we needed Herculean willpower to change, actually all we need to do is think different thoughts! Willpower is like a muscle, it is only ever a temporary strategy, as it will fatigue eventually. The way to make lasting change is to think, feel and respond differently around that which we used to need willpower to avoid.
The brain is genius at learning ‘neurological’ patters, ie, patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, and it is rather indiscriminate, it does not really care what the outcome of the pattern is, it just goes for the ‘well trodden path’ as it were. This is how the negative patterns take hold – with increased usage they can turn in to superhighways! This is how we get ‘locked in’ to certain patterns and habits, even when we really want to change.
Actually, this is really great news, as the what’s key here, is that the brain is genius at learning. If what it has learnt is no longer useful, it can be un-learnt, and replaced with a new more useful pattern in line with you really want. ‘Neural Plasticity’ is the scientifically documented term we use to describe that the brain can change. Neural connections which are unsupportive can collapse and dissolve when we STOP using them, and NEW neural connections which are supportive can be formed through repeated use. YOU can be in charge of molding your own brain. What a relief!

So, why do some people find it harder to exercise self control than others?

This apparent ‘self control’ is really more about choice. People who appear to have ‘self control’ will most often not see their actions as acts of control. Rather, they will feel as though they are making good choices in line with what they want, and what is important to them.
Usually they have a longer term view ( the goal ) rather than focussing on the pleasure they may get in that moment, they are able to ‘play the song to the end’ ie, they are able to predict how having too much cake, chocolate, pizza or whatever would make them feel, how it would impact their figure, or affect their health further down the line. Instead they choose NOT to, knowing that this free choice supports them feeling good and looking good. These free choices become automated, they become so natural they require no deliberation or willpower.
Anything that has to involve ‘control’ or ‘willpower’ implies to us that it is hard, a struggle or a battle – with that language we are setting ourselves up for an arduous task, and therefore already getting ourselves into a negative state and implying potential defeat.

6 Top Tips to Make NEW Choices and Take Different Actions

1/ Know YOUR Goal

Express it in POSITIVE language – Remove the focus from what you don’t want ( too fat, clothes don’t fit, don’t feel sexy, no-one will fancy me this size etc etc ) and shift it to what you DO want…Health, Vitality, Wardrobe Freedom, Fitness, Muscle Tone, Energy….etc
A motivation TOWARDS something positive is much more powerful and supportive than one that is AWAY from something you don’t want.

2/ Mind YOUR Language

You may think that moaning, complaining and self criticizing is just a harmless reflection of your inner state. IT IS NOT! Each time you do it, whether you do it out loud or to yourself, you are firing off all of those neural pathways involved in your ‘stuck’ pattern and keeping it firmly in place.
Take responsibility for your self-talk, and get in command of it to begin BREAKING those old patterns.
Yes you can acknowledge how you feel ( pushing away feelings and pretending you feel another way is not what I’m suggesting ). Give your current state a voice, state how you feel and why you feel that way. Acknowledge where you are at. BUT then move your attention purposefully towards what you want by reminding yourself of your goal, in positive and supportive language, and of all your positive attributes and strengths – especially those which illustrate all that you have already achieved and succeeded at.
Imagine what the ‘you’ from the future, who has already achieved your goal would say, and use those words of support and encouragement to stay on track.

3/ Conscious Eating

Before each meal or snack, get yourself into the right state of mind in order to stay on track with your choices.
Firstly, take a minute or two to just breathe slowly and deeply. This gets your body into a relaxation response which counteracts stress and enables you to make clearer choices.
You want to get yourself OUT of automatic eating, and INTO eating mindfully and consciously. Be aware of the present moment, what you can see, hear and feel. Now get yourself back in touch with your goal, with what you want, big picture.
Begin eating deliberately and slowly, seeing, smelling and tasting to food, noticing the texture of each mouthful. Keep returning to your deep slow breathing every so often, take a break from your food and put your knife and
fork down. ENJOY the experience of the food.

4/ Planning & Organising

Ensure you plan and organise yourself, looking ahead each week so you shop, and prepare food which you’re happy to eat, which you enjoy, and which fills you up, at the same time as being healthy. Don’t go too long without food so you get too hungry, this is where mistakes happen and the dreaded internal saboteur kicks in. Take responsibility for doing what you need to do, and don’t expect the perfect circumstances to just fall into your lap.

5/ Shrink YOUR Plate

Begin using smaller plates, allow your eyes and your stomach to adjust to smaller portions.

6/ Ditch Perfectionism!

If you make a few bad choices or life gets in the way – BE KIND TO YOURSELF – this is not failure.
Decide what you can learn from it and move forwards reconnecting with your goal. Progress not perfection is a useful mantra!
In fact perfectionist thinking patterns actually lead to negative emotions, to setting off the stress response within the brain, and to feelings of failure.
They are the NUMBER 1 cause of people falling ‘off the wagon’ or coming off track from any kind of plan.
I use a bespoke and highly effective blend of Hypnosis, NLP, EFT and Coaching for all weight and eating related issues, to resolve them at the emotional root cause. If you  are interested in my professional support to reach your goal and stay on track you can look at my website pages and make contact from there.

What is your idea of good nutrition?

Somewhere along the line, most of us have been taught to believe that good nutrition is simply a matter of eating the right food and taking the right supplements. Of course, this is true to a degree, but there’s more to this equation.
What we eat is only part of the story of good nutrition.
Who we are as eaters plays a role in our health across all bodily systems, and in turn in our weight.
Some examples:

  • What we think
  • How we feel
  • What we believe
  • Our levels of stress
  • How deeply and how easily we relax
  • How much time and space we create for pleasure
  • What inner stories we are living out

These all have a real, powerful, and scientific effect on nutritional metabolism.
Recent advances in mind-body science have been proving what ancient wisdom traditions have known for centuries – that the mind and body exist on an exquisite continuum, and profoundly impact one another.
This is actually good news……YOU can powerfully change your health and your nutritional status without changing anything you eat, but by changing you the eater.
Allow these tips and insights to guide you on along your path to health, happiness and emotional freedom ( AND of course….Weight Loss or Fat Loss! )

1.  Stress can pile on the pounds – Relaxation can let them GO

It’s fascinating how stress, fear, anxiety, anger, judgment and even negative self-talk can literally create a physiological stress response in the body. This means that we generate more cortisol and insulin, two hormones that have the unwanted effect of signaling the body to store weight, store fat, and stop building muscle. Strange as it may sound, we quite literally change our calorie burning capacity when we’re stressed. What’s more incredible though, is that as we learn to smile more, ease into life and breathe more deeply, the body enters a physiological relaxation response. In this state, we actually create our optimal day-in, day-out calorie-burning metabolism. So, you could be following the best weight loss diet in the world, but if you’re an anxious mess, the power of your mind is limiting the weight loss of your body. Far too many people adopt stressful weight loss strategies – impossible to follow diets, overly intense exercise programs, tasteless food, extremely low calorie meal plans – all of which can create the kind of stress chemistry that ensures our weight will stay put. It’s time to relax into weight loss. Yeahy!

2.  Happiness is the best digestive aid.

Can you recall what happens when you eat during anxiety or stress? Many people report such symptoms as heartburn, cramping, gas, and digestive upset. During stress, the body automatically shifts into the classic fight-or-flight response. This feature of the nervous system evolved over millions of years as a brilliant safety mechanism to support us during life-threatening events. In the moment the stress response is activated, something very interesting happens – the digestive system shuts down. It makes perfect sense that when you’re fending off an angry tiger, you don’t need to waste energy digesting your breakfast. All the body’s metabolic energy is directed towards survival. So, you could be eating the healthiest food in the universe, but if you aren’t eating under the optimum state of digestion and assimilation – which happens to be relaxation – you literally and metabolically are not receiving the full nutritional value of your meal.

3.  Overeating – It’s simpler than you think.

Most people think they overeat because they have a willpower problem. “If only I had the willpower to control my appetite, then I would get to my goal weight.” Well, here’s the good news – willpower id not the problem. The problem for most overeaters is that they don’t actually “eat” when they eat. We need to be fully present to the meal, and often we are not! Eat CONSCIOUSLY  – be aware of the taste, eating slowly, or feel nourished by the food. When this happens, your brain, which requires taste and satisfaction, misses out on a key phase of the nutritional experience. Your brain literally thinks it didn’t eat, or didn’t eat enough. And it sends out the message that you are still hungry. So, you can dramatically decrease your overeating by increasing your awareness and presence at every meal.

4.  Slower eating means faster metabolism.

One of the most useful nutritional questions to ask a client or student is “Are you a fast eater, moderate eater, or slow eater?” If the answer is “fast”, then it’s time for an overhaul. That’s because the act of eating quickly is considered a stressor by the body. Humans are simply not biologically wired for high speed eating. So when we do eat fast, the body once again enters the physiological stress response, which results in decreased digestion, decreased nutrient assimilation, increased nutrient excretion, lowered calorie burning rate, and a bigger appetite. The bottom line is that you can literally empower your nutritional metabolism simply by slowing down. What’s fascinating is that for many fast eaters, slowing down is quite a challenge. But try it today! – eat slowly and feel nourished by your food, and take in all the sensations of your meal.

5.  Make pleasure a priority!

Far too many people are taught to believe that pleasure is something frivolous. Well, it’s actually required by our biology. All animals are programmed at the most primitive level of the nervous system to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Well, if you’re eating and not paying attention, the brain will drive you to seek more pleasure via overeating. What’s worse, if you’re stressed while eating, the excess cortisol in your system actually de-sensitizes us to pleasure – so you’ll need to eat more food in order to get the pleasure we are seeking.  If you want more pleasure from food, you don’t need to eat more. Simply breathe, relax, de-stress, enjoy, pay attention, and the body will naturally experience the pleasure it seeks. And the great news is, since pleasure catalyzes a relaxation response, it actually fuels digestion and assimilation

6.  Emotional eating is not the enemy.

At our core, we are emotional beings – complex, unpredictable creatures with a nervous system which allows us ‘feelings’ and emotions. We love, we celebrate, we laugh, cry, we break down, we rise up… So how could we NOT be emotional eaters? We love food. We love our favorite restaurant. We love how food makes us feel. Some of us love cooking for others. Some of us are passionate about nutrition. It’s time to get over it – if you’re human, you will bring your emotions to the table. Once we embrace the reality that we’re genetically hard-wired for emotional expression, we can begin to relax.  Underneath the quest to eradicate emotional eating from one’s life is often found a hidden desire to eliminate uncomfortable feelings. We strive for an impossible to attain goal that constantly leaves us frustrated and in failure. Emotional eating can be very painful. But it’s not the actual problem – it’s a symptom that’s pointing to something deeper. It’s an alert mechanism from body wisdom that’s calling us to check in, with more awareness and insight.

7.  De-tox your toxic beliefs.

Finally, many of us have absorbed toxic nutritional beliefs that are as harmful and debilitating as any of the toxins in our food. It’s surprisingly common for people to believe that “food is the enemy”, or “food makes me fat”, or “fat in food will become fat on my body” or “my appetite is the enemy” or “as soon as I have the perfect body, then I’ll finally be happy.” Such beliefs may seem harmless, yet they can create a relationship with food and self that’s filled with tremendous suffering and pain. Think about it – if “food is the enemy”, then we are constantly in a fight or flight stress response whenever we eat, or even think about food. Such a powerful stressor can cause all the problems of stress-induced digestive shutdown, decreased calorie burning capacity, and an inner life that’s seldom at peace. The question is: Is your relationship with food nourishing, or punishing?
I use a bespoke blend of Hypnosis, NLP, EFT and Coaching for all weight and eating related issues to resolve them at the emotional root, If you would like some help with anything you have read here, you can reach me on the website contact page where I’m available for One to Ones in London or Cheshire, or over skype.
I would also encourage you to look at my Mind Calm Workshops all over the UK, and save a date for one close to you and book via the Eventbrite link.
Mind Calm is the perfect way to become present, and to find your own permanently available ‘switch’ into the relaxation response. It can also help to create a sense of stillness and space in your life, even when all around might be chaotic and out of your control.

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