In a world of preservative-laden processed foods, unhealthy eating habits, and sedentary lifestyles brought about by of the rise of office desk jobs, it is no surprise that weight loss is one of the most pervasive talking points in modern society.
Concerns about weight, fitness, and looking good are also behind the constant surge and decline of fad diets, exercise programs, and weight loss “magic pills”—so-called one-size-fits-all solutions that magically make you lose X many pounds in X many days.
In any case, there is no denying the fact that trying to lose weight successfully can be a long and arduous process. If you have ever tried to go on a diet and sign up for a gym membership, only to give up a few months—or worse, a few weeks—into your personal weight loss journey, then you probably know just how frustrating things can be.
With factors like stress, body image, and boredom coming in, it’s easy to fall off track and give up on your weight loss mission.
By far the most common behavior people trying to lose weight fall victim to, is the ‘yo-yo diet,’ a damaging cycle that includes:
- Going on an aggressive diet
- Failing to meet the diet and binge eating
- Feeling guilty
- Attempting to diet once more
This unhealthy and demoralizing cycle is akin to going around in circles. But more importantly, the frustration of not losing any weight at all can damage your motivation and confidence, planting the idea in your mind that diets and exercise just do not work for you.
Motivation and Weight Loss
Regardless of what kind of diet or fitness program you are on, one thing is certain: it takes motivation and discipline to get things started, change your lifestyle, and see your weight loss goals to the end.
And this is where hypnotherapy comes in—to enter your mind and unlock your inner source of motivation and willpower.
Whereas diet and nutrition plans address your eating habits and nutrient intake, and exercise programs aim to solve your lack (or absence) of fitness, hypnotherapy designed for weight loss looks at your thoughts, feelings, and motivations about your diet and lifestyle.
Why Do Diets and Fitness Programs Fail?
The reason why going on a diet leads to failure for so many people is due to how they approach it with a “temporary” mindset. That is, going on a diet means making a temporary change in your eating habits, until such a time that you hit a weight loss goal or finally look good in front of the mirror.
But there’s a difference between going on a diet and changing your diet.
The latter is a long-term adjustment that redefines how you feel and think of your food for the rest of your life. Yes, it can be a terrifying commitment, but one that pays dividends for your health and fitness. In fact, you are better off making small incremental changes to your diet, hitting progressive calorie deficits instead of going all out with a low-carbohydrate crash diet.
The same thing applies to fitness programs and routines. Many people sign up for a one-month membership at their local gym or yoga studio, thinking that one month should be enough to gauge their interest in the exercise program. Again, this temporary approach ignores the fact that fitness should be a fixture of your life, not just a passing interest.
So, where and how does hypnotherapy come in? Let’s assume that you’ve decided to change your diet, which requires you to cut back your sugar and carbohydrate consumption. On your new diet, you know that eating a carrot is healthier than say, eating a sweet carrot cake, but you can’t help yourself and still crave for the latter.
With hypnotherapy, you can change the way you view that carrot, seeing it in a new light instead of giving in to your cravings. With hypnosis techniques, you can change the way you think and feel about food and exercise, allowing you to view your weight loss mission in a more positive light, instead of a restrictive one.
Does all this sound too good to be true? It may help to understand how hypnosis works to understand why hypnotherapy can be a powerful way to supplement your diet and fitness regimen.
What is Hypnosis and How Does it Work?
Contrary to popular belief and its portrayal by the media, there is nothing mystical about hypnosis. It is not some kind of magic trick or spell that puts a person to sleep and under the control of the hypnotizer, only to wake up with no recollection of what happened while they were “under hypnosis.”
Rather, it is as gentle and harmless as closing your eyes and meditating on positive visual imagery. In many ways, hypnotherapy uses the same techniques of traditional meditation, from deep relaxation and mindful breathing to letting the mind wander freely and being receptive to positive suggestion.
Hypnosis is a deep state of concentration and absorption. By falling into a relaxed, trance-like state, your hypnotherapist can better access the subconscious part of your mind through mental visualization and verbal repetition. Under this state, your attention is both relaxed yet focused, making you more responsive to positive changes, including ideas and reassurances that can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
By targeting the subconscious, the same part where habits and urges originate, your hypnotherapist can help you develop a positive view and relationship with healthy eating habits and exercise. If you find yourself constantly facing feelings of self-defeat and frustration over trying to lose weight, hypnotherapy can be a way to help you feel confident about your body image, and change your negative perceptions of nutrition foods—both of which can help you lose weight in a responsible and sustainable manner.
In other words, your change of diet and fitness habits has a higher chance of working because you know you are making a change for the better. When your mind and emotions are in harmony, the body can better perform what it is told to do.
But what exactly is it about hypnosis that can work wonders for your weight loss efforts? We look at 4 factors that your hypnotherapist will target in your hypnotherapy session.
- Your Motivation and Willpower
At its core, hypnosis and weight loss are tied together by motivation and willpower.
Do not let the ‘mind over matter’ approach of hypnosis fool you. Hypnotherapy is powerful, and by conditioning your mind to push beyond its limits and change, you will find yourself taking a hyper-focused approach to your weight loss efforts.
In fact, this approach is something professional athletes have been doing for years. By visualizing winning games or matches, athletes can push themselves to bring out their A game.
You can learn these same principles through a hypnotherapy session, which will allow you to visualize changing your diet and exercise habits. If you are struggling to imagine seeing these things turn into reality, your problem may be a lack of focus—an issue your hypnotherapist can also address through confidence-building messages
The science also backs the ability of hypnosis to improve your odds of losing weight successfully.
A 1998 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, sought to understand potential benefits of hypnotherapy for weight loss. The study saw the participation of 60 obese patients, who were into two groups:
- One receiving two types of hypnotherapy “directed at stress reduction or energy intake reduction”
- The other receiving “dietary advice alone”
The researchers found that, “Analysed over the whole time period the hypnotherapy group with stress reduction achieved significantly more weight loss than the other two treatment arms which were not significantly different from each other.”
The researchers thus concluded, “Controlled trial on the use of hypnotherapy, as an adjunct to dietary advice in producing weight loss, has produced a statistically significant result in favour of hypnotherapy.”
- Cravings and Binge Eating Habits
If you ask any hypnotherapist, he or she will tell you that you have all the weapons at your disposal needed to lose weight safely. It really is a mind over matter problem, especially since most, if not all, unhealthy eating habits ultimately stem from cravings and stress-coping mechanisms.
Many people tend to eat more than they should because their mind tells them to seek the dopamine rush triggered by tasty treats. So the next time you have a bad day and wonder why you seem to be craving for donuts or pizza, it’s your mind telling you to literally swallow your negative emotions with “good food.”
Again, this is all happening in your mind. “Good food” is a relative concept. For some people, this could come in the form of low-calorie and fiber-rich overnight oatmeal. For others, it could be a bowl of French fries.
What hypnotherapy does is help change your perception of food. With repeated sessions, you can ultimately condition your mind to see food for what it is: fuel for the body. Sure, there is no harm in wanting an ice cream cone or a burger every now and then, but with hypnosis, you can avoid problems like binge eating and stress eating.
One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis found that the researchers’ test subject, a 16-year-old boy, was “able to reduce his anxiety by gaining an understanding that it originated as a result of fear of failure.” Besides binge eating, the boy also suffered from “anxiety, insomnia, migraine headaches, nausea, and stomachaches.”
- Your Positive Mindset, or Lack Thereof
Fear-inducing messages such as “Fatty foods will kill you,” or “Sweets will lead to diabetes,” can certainly work in changing some people for the better, but what usually happens is these behaviors only last for a few weeks at most. This strategy is what governments around the world have taken in their effort to stop people from smoking, yet millions of people continue to light up, right?
In contrast, taking a more positive approach tends to have a more lasting effect, for the simple fact that people respond better to positive messages than they do negative ones. And this is exactly what hypnotherapy does.
In your therapy session, your hypnotherapist will use positive messages such as, “a healthy, balanced diet will make me genuinely feel and look better,” or “Eating healthy is not just about looking good, it’s also about feeling good,” are not just upbeat, they are also more sustainable goals to aspire to.
You will also find that this positive mindset will help carry you throughout the hard journey towards weight loss.
- Your Views on Exercise
If you feel your problem with exercise has to do with a lack of motivation to get out of bed to go to the gym or on a run, hypnotherapy could be the answer to your problems.
Many people have turned to hypnotherapy as a way to overcome their fears and lack of motivation to start exercising. People like celebrity Olivia Munn swear by the restorative power of hypnosis, finding it to be the key to resolving deep-seated issues in their past and developing a new mindset when making healthier choices.
Hypnotherapy might also be the key to going over your perceived limits and pushing yourself out of your fitness comfort zone. According to a 1985 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, “The hypnotic manipulation of effort sense during dynamic exercise can significantly alter patterns of brain activation and elicit cardiovascular changes.”
This essentially means that through hypnotherapy, your mind can be trained to go over mental hurdles and push the body to work harder and be stronger.
Is Hypnotherapy the Right Approach for My Weight Loss?
“Will it work for me?” is perhaps the most commonly asked question about hypnotherapy. Ultimately, the best way to know is to see and try it yourself. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach with hypnotherapy, not when different people respond differently to different hypnotherapy messages.
But either way, hypnotherapy can be a solid first step in the right direction, helping you open up and talk about the importance of developing good eating and exercise habits, and discarding habits that are only doing you harm.
It should also be said that hypnotherapy, on its own, is definitely not a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet, as well as improved fitness levels. However, hypnotherapy can be an excellent way to complement your new diet and exercise regimen.
If you are looking for advice on how to lose weight, or want to know if you even need to lose weight at all, be sure to ask your physician or healthcare provider first. With the combination of a better diet, a plan to exercise more, and hypnotherapy sessions, you should be able to set yourself up for success.
REMINDER: Seek the Professional Opinion of a Physician Before Trying to Lose Weight
Although hypnotherapy is a gentle and safe approach to supplementing your weight loss efforts, it is imperative that you first seek the opinion of a physician before anything else. Many people mistakenly believe that they are overweight, even if they are not.
There is a difference between having unhealthy body image issues and being actually overweight. When you consider the fact that so many people succumb to peer pressure and media influence over what kind of body looks good and does not, it is easy to see why weight loss is such a pervasive topic.
Your doctor will usually consider the following factors when determining if you are in a healthy weight range:
- You have a body mass index beyond 25 (not accurate at all times as people are built differently)
- For men, your waist circumference is over 37 inches
- For women, your waist circumference is over 32 inches
- You have a high body fat percentage relative to your age and sex
- You have joint pain caused by excess weight
- You suffer from pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes
Again, your healthcare provider will be the best authority to get an accurate measurement of your height, weight, body mass index, and body fat percentage.
What Can I Expect from Hypnotherapy?
While different people respond differently to hypnotherapy and have different reasons for wanting to lose weight, you can still expect some of the following in a hypnotherapy session.
- Visualizing your desired physique and level of fitness
- Imagining the feeling of looking good and being healthy
- Visualizing the process of achieving your weight loss goals
- Nurturing the patience to stick to your weight loss goals
- Appreciating the small incremental achievements you make
- Maintaining your motivation to stick to your weight loss plan
- Finding the motivation to resist the urge to eat anything unhealthy or eat even if you are not hungry
These methods and visualization techniques are just some of the many ways to help empower your mind and body, allowing you to finally take control of your lifestyle. With hypnotherapy for weight loss, you will learn to appreciate the value of eating healthy understand that feel-good sensations of eating fatty and sugary foods are just that—sensations. You should also realize that exercising is not just good for you—it actually feels good.
With consistent sessions, you should be able to enjoy what your body can do, instead of seeing it as just another source of anxiety. By building a solid foundation of healthy eating habits and a positive approach to exercise, your choices should also affect your other life decisions, changing you for the better in more ways than one.