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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Weight Loss - it's a mind game

Every year there's a new diet. People try it and maybe lose weight. But, more often than not, when they come off the diet they put the weight back on. A lot of the time, they put more on than they lost in the first place. Why is this?

It's because diets are short term solutions. They can't attack the fundamental reasons for why we overeat. Those reasons are all in your head.

If you want to lose weight permanently, you need to work on your mind.Losing weight is not rocket science. Eat the right types of food, in sensible amounts, and add some exercise. So why is it so hard to do?

Let's go back to your childhood. As a child you were probably given food as a reward. Maybe you got good grades at school and your mother gave you cake. Or you stopped crying and you were given an ice cream. So from an early age we think of food as a reward. As adults, therefore, it's not unreasonable to carry that on. Even if we're on a diet. Because no diet has as strong a hold on us as childhood memories.

It's a pesky little critter 'the mind'. There are so many emotional reasons for eating more than we need. There's a great scene in the sitcom, 'Friends', where a psychologist is dating Phoebe. Monica doesn't get on with the guy at all and reverts to her childhood habit of overeating. The psychologist turns to Monica and says, “Remember Monica, it's only chocolate. It's not love.”

You'll probably recognize that as 'comfort eating', which is eating to block out emotion.

Your partner dumps you, what do you do? Sprint to the nearest gym? Maybe, but unlikely. What you really feel like doing is finding the biggest box of chocolates and your favourite tipple. But then you feel fat. Feeling fat makes you unhappy. And what do you do when you're unhappy? You tend to eat more. It's a vicious circle. You fill up with food because you feel emotionally empty.

As a hypnotherapist, what I do that diets can't, is make people feel good about themselves. Hypnotherapy can raise a person's self-esteem. And if you feel good about yourself you don't need to 'comfort eat'. One of the techniques I use is to get people to visualize the healthy, slim version of themselves. It gives them a long term view and motivates them to change. And because they've visualized it under hypnosis, it becomes real to their mind.

Hypnotherapy also re-educates your mind so that eating is no longer linked to your emotions. The next time a relationship comes to an end, with hypnotherapy your mind won't feel the need to stuff itself with chocolates to feel better. You'll already be loaded up on self-esteem.

There are many reasons why we overeat and I've only touched on a few here. But the next time you need to lose a few pounds, remember: eat the right types of food, in sensible amounts, and add some exercise. But don't forget to work on the mind. It could be your most powerful ally.