When I tell people that I'm a hypnotherapist, they inevitably ask: Does it work? When I assure them it does, they usually have a follow up question along the lines of “could it help me lose weight, quit smoking, feel better about myself or some other personal issue they are dealing with.” In most cases, I am pleased to tell them that yes, hypnotherapy can be an effective tool for creating that change in their life.
Hypnosis predates carbohydrate and calorie counting by a few hundred years yet this well proven attention-focusing technique has yet to be embraced wholeheartedly by the medical community as an effective weight loss tool. This, despite the fact that hypnosis prestigious hospitals in the U.S. now use and teach hypnosis, such as Stanford University School of Medicine in San Francisco, the Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Since the American Medical Association sanctioned the use of hypnosis, many insurance companies cover hypnosis for some medical and dental uses, including major surgeries.
Despite the fact that numerous hypnotic studies have shown that hypnotherapy clients lose weight and keep it off more than people who use diet alone, hypnotherapy has remained a well-kept weight loss secret. This is primarily because most hypnotherapists are in private practice and don't have multi-million dollar advertising budgets to support a line of weight loss products or prepackaged food or long term memberships. As a result, most weight loss hypnotherapy clients are derived from client referrals.
So, unless hypnosis has happily led you or someone you know to shed your “fat clothes” and into buying a new, smaller wardrobe, it may be difficult to believe that this mind-over-body approach could help you get a handle on eating. However…seeing is definitely believing.
So see for yourself. You don't have to be hypnotized to learn some of the important lessons that hypnosis has to teach about weight loss. The concepts that follow contain some of the diet-altering suggestions my weight loss clients receive during our private hypnotherapy sessions.
1. You already possess all the resources you need to reach your goals. You don't need another crash diet or the latest appetite suppressant. Losing weight is about changing your behavior and learning to eat for nutrition, not as an emotional salve or something to chase away boredom. Your body naturally knows what it needs to be happy and healthy. Society and the media, through advertising, have been programming us since childhood to eat the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Only through hypnotherapy can you reprogram your mind to return to the kind of healthy eating patterns that will return your weight to your natural best level and keep it there.
2. If you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. People tend to achieve what they believe they can achieve. Through hypnotherapy, you will imagine yourself at your desired weight and truly believe you can attain that weight. Your unconscious mind is an incredibly powerful ally and, once properly directed will work tirelessly to help you get there.
3. Are you motivated to go to or away from? Most people are motivated to go toward a goal or positive result. Others find their motivation in avoidance or going away from. A skilled hypnotherapist will recognize your personal preference and work with you in creating positive changes using the most appropriate model. After all, it's not about changing you… it's only about helping you be the best you possible. I encourage my weight loss clients to develop a mantra, one that they can repeat often during the day to continue to support the reprogramming of their unconscious mind. Some examples are "Too much food is damaging to my body. I need my body to live a full life. I respect and protect my body" or "Excess food is a burden on my body. I'm shedding what I don't need."
4. If you imagine it, it will come. Professional athletes prepare for competition using visualization techniques similar to hypnotherapy. Using this same technique to Imagine a day of healthy eating helps you maintain the necessary steps to becoming that healthy eater. Having trouble imagining? Then find an old picture of yourself at a desired weight and remember what you were doing differently then; imagine resurrecting those routines.
5. Send food cravings flying. As a Hypnotherapist I routinely harness the power of symbolic imagery to help my clients attain their goals. For example, imagine your food cravings in a hot air balloon and send them up, up, and away.
6. Keep a log of your food intake. When it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, sometimes a client can improve their results through constant feedback. One idea is at the beginning of the process, keep a log and write down everything you eat or drink and the reason for consuming it. You will be surprised at what you learn about yourself. Raising awareness, every good hypnotherapist knows, is key ingredient toward lasting change.
7. Modify, modify, modify. The late hypnosis innovator Milton Erickson, MD, emphasized the importance of using existing patterns. To alter one client's lose-regain, lose-regain pattern, Erickson suggested she first gain weight before losing it. This suggestion totally interrupted her long established pattern and allowed her to reach and sustain her weight loss goals. While this kind of extreme strategy is best left to the professionals (and Erickson is widely regarded as history's best hypnotherapist), you can modify your existing patterns into more healthier behaviors. For example, modify your highest- calorie craving. Instead of a pint of ice cream, how about a cup of frozen yogurt?
8. Practice makes perfect. One exercise class does not produce washboard abs, and one hypnosis session cannot totally shape up your diet. But repeating those positive suggestion daily can transform your eating habits. That's why I give you a CD of your hypnotherapy session to play daily at home to reinforce the changes made during your session.
9. Failure is simple feedback. The road to success is paved with failures. This is a truism throughout both personal and business life. When a client find themselves, despite their healthiest intentions, overindulging, I encourage them to see this as a positive learning moment instead of feeling shame. As a Hypnotherapist I view failure as an opportunity, not a travesty. If you can learn from a real or imagined relapse— why it happened, how to handle it differently—you'll be better prepared for life's inevitable temptations.
To start your journey to a slimmer, healthier you, schedule a session today.