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No fad diets. No forbidden foods. No gym regime.
It’s easy to lose unnecessary weight and feel great in the process.
Make friends with food.
People put on weight for all manner of reasons. We often eat to change our mood when we aren’t even hungry. Or over the years, a little here and a little there, weight builds up through consistent over-eating. And sometimes, we have a poor perception of our body image, affecting our entire attitude toward food.
Hypnosis can help you to attain and maintain a healthy weight. It can help you to eat healthily. And it can help you to understand and rectify any tendency to comfort eat. It can help you reset your food and body image attitudes and improve your inner well-being. It can help you to get back on your side, look after yourself and make permanent changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
But actually, you don’t need hypnosis. Getting back in shape can be easy: you just need the right tools, mindset, and willingness to listen to your body. You can enjoy the act of getting back to a healthy weight.
Read on for my approach, or click below to arrange a chat.
When I mention…
…that I practice hypnosis, the most frequent response I receive (other than a somewhat amusing instinctive shielding of eyes) is to be asked if it really works. And then the second question they usually ask is if it can help to cut smoking or lose weight. It sometimes seems as if these are the two go-to reasons to see a hypnotist: we all know someone or have heard of an incredible before-and-after story of someone who slimmed down through hypnosis. So is it true? Does it work? And if so, what’s the secret?
Here’s my take on a well-trodden path.
Weight reduction is interesting: it requires a more subtle response than many other issues. Unlike fears, phobias or compulsions, we can’t just walk away from food. Instead, we need to find a better balance. We need the motivation to beat cravings, but we can’t eliminate the habit altogether. We need a better relationship with food, and that’s hard to manage with seductive adverts for junk all around us.
How do we crack this?
1. Identify your dazzling reason why
To do anything uncomfortable, you need motivation. The more, the better, because otherwise, a few days or weeks later, you are liable to give up. That will probably require a shift in how you think about food or how you feel about your body. But the good news is that most people can feel a vividly imagined thought just as vibrantly as the actual experience, so you can imagine your way to better health! You could make your goal shiny and exciting so that it becomes fun and exciting to lose weight, or you might make not changing even less attractive than it currently is. Perhaps you want to be slim and sexy, and the thought of that slim and sexy you, in your mind’s eye, is sufficient. Or maybe a doctor has told you that you must lose weight, and you can attach massive significance to those words. Whatever will serve you, you need to find a way to change a ‘should’ into a ‘must’ if you are to take sustainable action. That’s why motivation is so important.
As an example, my ‘why’ was pretty easy to find. I’m a hypnotist: if I were a fat hypnotist, that would destroy my credibility. Why? Because in the story I tell myself, a hypnotist should be able to use self-hypnosis to manage their weight. That may not be everyone’s story, and it may not even be true, but I find it a handy story to tell myself because it gives me all the motivation I need. What might your inspiration be?
2. Give yourself a break
Human beings tend to see things in terms of cause and effect. If I’m overweight, it must be my fault, right? But human beings aren’t mechanisms; we are organisms. We are complicated, and we learn to adapt to a complicated world, so try to cut yourself some slack. That doesn’t mean you should avoid taking responsibility for your choices, but it does mean acknowledging that mistakes are a part of life. They are also a necessary part of learning. Think of how we learn to walk: we mirror others, fall, and try again. We learn from our mistakes. Indeed, making mistakes is usually the quickest way to learn and progress.
What is written above can apply to almost any goal or change you want, so what about weight loss specifically?
3. It’s just maths
You lose weight by creating a calorific deficit. Although it might sound challenging, it’s just maths. When your calorific intake is less than your metabolic requirement, you convert stored fat and carbohydrate back into energy.
So take stock of where you are. Be fair, and don’t be critical. Observe, as you might for a friend, and calibrate. Listen to your body, set a plan, and devise a strategy to get there. Work out how much you should eat, get a calorie counter and take some fresh air. Move your body more than you were doing before.
An excellent app called “Lose It!” helps you identify the calorific content of everything you eat: it will help you take stock of the calories you are eating, where they’re coming from, and where the easiest adjustments can be made. It even reads barcodes, and it’s free.
Exercise helps, but you may be surprised just how little activity impacts your calorie load. Losing weight through exercise alone is almost impossible, but it helps give you more energy and focus. When you exercise, you release endorphins that make you feel good. More importantly, the thought of throwing away the benefit of all that effort through over-eating can be a massive motivator to keep to your strategy. So you need to listen to your body and reduce your food portions in line with your needs.
4. Tune in with your hunger
Give your hunger a rating on a scale from 1 to 10, and then try to stay within the middle 3-8 range. Don’t overeat, and don’t starve. If that means eating smaller portions more frequently, go ahead. If it’s hard to calibrate your hunger, try tuning in once every hour or two until you get the hang of it. And bear in mind that it’s tricky for our body to distinguish between hunger and thirst sometimes, so if you aren’t sure, drink a glass of water. If it’s hunger, the sensation will return after half an hour.
5. When you are hungry, eat. Consciously.
Eat consciously. Enjoy what you eat. Savour the taste. Eat slowly! Indulge your taste buds. Identify all the flavours and textures! If you aren’t enjoying it, throw it out. Think about what you fancy, and go for it. Throw out your ideas about ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods and instead tune in to your appreciation of the food you are eating. A funny thing will happen over time: if you close your eyes and indulge in the sensation, many of today’s seemingly tempting treats that might look good or come with flashy advertising are much less tasty than they appear. They might look good, but the taste of fresh, nutritious food goes much further than its visual impact. So go with what you fancy: there are no forbidden fruits. Eat whatever you genuinely enjoy; I can’t stress this enough. And don’t be surprised when you notice that your relationship with food becomes more forgiving as you progress. What feels right will naturally gravitate towards fresh, healthy and tasty foods. Your ability to fuel yourself improves as your relationship with your body improves.
6. When you are full, STOP
Forget about being a member of the clean plate club. Instead, listen to your body and stop eating when you aren’t enjoying the food as much or feel the beginnings of a sense of fullness. If you get it wrong, you can eat again, of course, but give yourself the ability to pay attention to that sense of fullness when it arrives. It takes a while for the message of fullness to reach your brain, so it’s important to eat consciously, eat slowly, and not distract yourself. Enjoy what it is that you are eating, and don’t eat in front of the tv;)
7. Go for small wins
To keep your motivation up, go for lots of small victories. Keep an eye on the end goal but trust the process and be happy with each small success; a notch on the belt, a lower number on the scale or tape measure, looser clothing… notice all the changes and feel good with each. What have you got to lose?
8. Don’t give too much power to the weigh scales
By all means, measure yourself daily if it helps maintain your motivation, but expect your weight to fluctuate. Human beings are organisms, not mechanisms. Our bodies work amazingly well, but not necessarily in the linear manner that our conscious mind might expect. Your weight will fluctuate; it’s normal, so expect it. To offer a few examples, you may retain water if you eat a salty meal. Your scales will reflect this as an increase in weight, but it’s perfectly normal! Or, when you start exercising, your body may gain muscle mass, but if specific muscles begin to ache, your body’s natural repair mechanism will be to increase hydration in that area. Either could push the weight scale up, but it would be expected. As a third example, if you sleep poorly, your weight may plateau for a few days as you recover… a normal response.
I find it helpful to look at the weight scale as a noisy trend indicator that shows your progress over time. So, if you want to weigh yourself frequently, use a data-smoothing calculator to remove the fluctuations; I give some examples below. And keep in mind, what is a number on a scale anyway? It’s just a metaphor for the real goal that you want: your authentic “why”. So if there’s a better measure than a number on a scale, go with that. It might be fitting into slimmer clothes, being pleased as you look at yourself in front of the mirror, or running a tape measure around your waist and seeing your waistline reduce. It might be feeling more energetic, fitter and lighter. If that’s the case, notice when you can walk, cycle or run further or faster than you used to. These are achievements wholly within your control, where you can gain a true sense of progress and achievement.
9. Sleep well
That could mean exercising more or dealing with any worries: it’s important to take steps to improve your sleep if you have difficulty. People eat more and do less when they are stressed.
10. Pay attention to your thoughts
We all have fixed ideas that rumble around in the backs of our minds. Sometimes you might be aware of them, other times not, so pay attention to your inner monologue. It may even help to journal as a way to process your thoughts. As the well-worn phrase goes, whether you think this will be hard or easy, you’re right.
And here’s food for thought (if you can pardon the pun): we tend to talk about ‘weight loss’ as the goal, but what I have noticed, in myself at least, is that I don’t really like “losing” things; lose my keys, and I’m going to search for hours until I find them. And many people who successfully lose weight do indeed seem to find it again a few months or years later! So just as an idea, instead of planning to “lose weight”, consider returning that unnecessary excess weight to the universe for it to be used in a better way. Think back to your physics lessons: energy isn’t destroyed, merely converted. We actually breathe out our excess weight in the form of all those carbon molecules in the CO2 we breathe out. So thinking about the weight reduction process as a gift to the world, where that energy can be used in a better way instead, may actually make you smile;)
Just a thought.
Following these suggestions will build new habits that deliver results.
Does this mean having to count calories and exercise for the rest of your life? Absolutely not. In fact, once you have become better friends with your appetite and your relationship with food has improved, the ideal thing to do is just be yourself. Listen to your body, eat when you are hungry, stop when you begin to feel full, and consciously enjoy your food. But in the first month or two, becoming aware of how you are feeling, what you are eating, and the exercise you are taking will help you recalibrate. To get anywhere, you need to know where you are starting from and a map to get from here to there.
Remember, losing weight is just a matter of maths: calories in vs calories used. This is proven, and anything else is just an alibi.
Where does hypnosis come in?
If you are considering hypnosis to help you lose weight, I’m guessing that for whatever reason, willpower doesn’t seem to be enough. Perhaps you experience powerful cravings for food, or perhaps you’ve lost weight in the past and later put it all right back on. Perhaps food gives you a brief moment of emotional euphoria followed by crushing guilt, and your actions feel to be out of control. Or perhaps, deep down inside, you have mixed feelings about your weight or your body image, and so while one part of you might want to lose weight, another part isn’t so sure.
Because it’s actually not that difficult to lose weight when you have motivation. You move your body a bit, become aware of what and when you are eating, and watch the weight fall off. Most people experience an impressive drop in weight in the first month or two when they go for it. It feels pretty good being in control.
The key to success is to clarify your meaning around what it is to eat healthily, spring clean any unhelpful fixed ideas, and maintain your motivation. As the weight drops, the pressure cooker that yelled at you to take action might start to lose some of its steam. You get comfortable. Or you feel impatient for even quicker results and become discouraged. The effort it’s taken to get this far stretches into the future, doubt creeps in and pfffffft… that oh-so-exciting balloon deflates. Result: yo-yo weight.
Let me state one thing for the record: hypnosis is unnecessary for weight loss; the only thing it takes is your attention, drive, and determination. Get passionate about losing weight, and you will. However, if you feel like you might get stuck in a rut, get carried away with eating binges or self-sabotage, hypnosis can help in two distinct ways along your journey towards a lighter body. Initially, it can help get you back on your own side, find inspiration, calibrate your hunger, manage cravings and rehearse a better way to eat until it feels possible or even exciting to lose weight… It helps you to kickstart the process, see satisfying progress and stop self-sabotage.
But the long-term goal is usually a better relationship with food. And how do you make a change permanent in your life? You shift your worldview.
This is the beauty of hypnosis: it helps you discover what’s happening inside. You get to question beliefs that are getting in your way and make a choice. You re-examine your inner narrative until the alibis become apparent, and you are free to create a better option. This is the true meaning of taking responsibility: to literally choose your response. It’s what permits a permanent shift in your view of your world. It can be particularly empowering and often improves your sleep as a side benefit. You start to trust yourself more.
Emotional eating can be caused by reward processes formed long ago in our brains that come up whenever we feel an emotional void. If so, hypnosis can also help you to get back on your own side, trust yourself, and come to recognise that you have a choice even when strong emotional urges arise.
You may wobble along the way; it’s human, so there’s no need to beat yourself up if you miss a goal one day. Hypnosis helps you take those inevitable wobbles in your stride and make peace with yourself. Your relationship with food improves as your relationship with yourself becomes more forgiving. And that’s a very kind and friendly way to make a permanent change.
The steps are pretty simple.
Are you willing to turn a ‘should’ into a ‘must’?
Some of you may be aware of the hypnotic gastric band, a powerful form of mental imagery that can permanently reduce your perception of how much food you can eat. Much like an operative gastric band, it is only undertaken in extreme cases but can be an effective alternative without the risks associated with invasive surgery. I do not habitually propose the hypnotic gastric band solution because it is usually unnecessary. The basis of my approach is that obesity is a symptom, not a cause, and our work together will deliver the results that you are looking for because it tackles the causes. However, if you are considering undertaking an operative gastric band at the suggestion of your medical practitioner, then the hypnotic alternative is worth considering.
Ready to take a first step?
I am absolutely convinced that weight loss can be easy. Forget about fad diets and beating yourself up with miserable shakes and low-fat meals that taste like cardboard. Forget sugar cravings. Throw that mindset away; losing weight can be fun and rewarding. If you follow the approach I suggest above with commitment and passion, you will lose that unnecessary fat and feel good about yourself along the journey. Reaching your ideal body weight doesn’t need to feel like a trial; it can feel like an act of love for yourself.
That’s why I offer a money-back guarantee: I’m sure this works. You will see progress, feel noticeably lighter and feel better about yourself and your well-being. If you disagree after the first month of working together, I will refund your money. I only ask that you are as committed as I am! That means setting a realistic plan, following the steps above, taking note of what you eat daily, weighing yourself or measuring your waistline at least once per week to see your progress, and moving your body a bit more than before we started. And none of that is necessary for the rest of your life; it’s just so you can calibrate with yourself at the beginning until you shift your habits. You get to pick which type of ‘moving your body more’ is most pleasing for you – it might mean trips to the gym or yoga, breathwork or walking more in the fresh air – but it should be something measurable that you can hold yourself accountable for. Again, not forever, but for long enough to re-establish healthy habits. The goal is to look after yourself, throw away the tape measure and the weigh scales, eat whatever you truly want to eat and feel great about just being you.
What have you got to lose except unnecessary fat?
How will this work in practice?
Let’s chat to get a better idea of where you are today and what you want to achieve. After that conversation, we will both be in a better position to plan confidently.
However, as a guide, I work with the intention that we schedule a session each week for the first month. In those first four sessions, we establish better eating habits and work to rectify any unhelpful fixed ideas that are getting in your way. We take stock after the first month and typically reduce the frequency of sessions to fortnightly as you enter a maintenance stage. As long as you follow the steps above, you will make progress: fortnightly sessions allow for your progress to be accountable and for any issues to be identified quickly. More importantly, they allow you more freedom to take the reins of your own improvement. Hypnotherapy is, in general, a rapid therapy so the aim from the third month onwards would typically be to work on your emotional well-being and strengthen your relationship with food. Sessions would reduce to once a month until you are completely confident in your own ability to maintain your own progress. You are, as they say, back on your own side.
Everyone makes progress in their own time in their own way, so please look upon this simply as a guide.
Here are some of the helpful technological tools I mention above:
(I list these here just because I’ve received good feedback from clients about them. I’m not being paid for my recommendations, and those links above can all be utilised without payment at the time of writing)
The information on this website should not be considered medical advice and is not intended to replace a consultation with a medical practitioner. If your weight is impacting your health or you have any doubts or concerns about your health, seek advice from a medical doctor. Hypnotherapists are not physicians, and hypnotherapy does not provide the practice of medicine or psychotherapy. Do not rely on any information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice.