One of the most popular services we provide is hypnosis for weight release. Hypnosis has a reputation for being helpful in this area, but still there are a lot of questions and some misunderstandings about how and why hypnosis works for weight loss.
I personally have experience in using hypnosis in losing weight and, most importantly, changing my relationship/use of food. Back in the day, during my first marriage (I got married way too young!) I became very depressed and I gained a lot of weight–over 50 pounds in just about 3 years. Yikes. My first husband turned out to be alcoholic, among other things. I’ve written about this elsewhere so I won’t go into all the details, but I was young and naive and I didn’t have any experience with these types of issues and found my self in a situation I didn’t know how to handle. And I turned to food. I used food to comfort myself. Maybe you can relate. Turns out that food, especially starchy carbohydrates and sweets, actually produce calming neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, endorphins) to be produced which actually DO make us feel calmer and so the body knows that it can get temporary relief from those bad feelings by eating that pint of ice cream. Hey, cheese has opiates in it (really-google it). The body’s not stupid. And one of the BASIC motivations of the human mind is to get AWAY from what is painful and move TOWARD what is pleasurable. By the third bite of ice cream the dopamine rush is already underway and yes, for a time, you feel better. My ex used to complain that we couldn’t keep a half gallon of ice cream in the house more than two days. And he was right. It hurt, but he was right.
My Dad, who you may have seen elsewhere on this site was a Master Social Worker and a hypnotist (he used hypnosis in his work with juvenile delinquents in his job with the Michigan State Department of Corrections-talk about a tough gig!), he was a smart guy and he saw the reality of that marriage much more clearly than I did at the time. And he also knew that he couldn’t approach the issue of my marriage directly, that I would get defensive and that might even make things worse. So he offered to make me a self hypnosis tape to help with the weight. I listened to that every night for at least nine months. He wove in suggestions and stories that helped my self esteem to come back bit by bit. I stopped using food as a comforting drug, I started working out every day, I got down to 122 pounds and I got up the moxie to fire that husband. So I’ve lived through this process myself, and I’ve had many clients whose experience I’ve been privileged to be part of.
So based on all of that, below are the FAQs that I think are beneficial to making your decision as to whether hypnosis for weight loss is the right choice for you, right now.
1. What does the hypnosis do? This is a great place to start! Hypnosis reaches the subconscious mind, which is 800 times more powerful in terms of processing capabilities than your conscious mind, and is the seat of all of your emotions, beliefs and habitual behavior. We use hypnosis to create agreement between what you want for yourself on a conscious basis, and the self image, and “programming” in your subconscious mind. With hypnosis it is possible to heal old wounds so that you don’t continue to use food to dampen feelings bubbling up from underneath, to turn off old behaviors and turn on new ones. Milton Erickson, the father of modern hypnotherapy, famously said that every person’s problems stems from a mind that is “out of rapport with itself.” That’s just another way of saying consciously you want one thing, but your subconscious mind wants something else.
2. Why is my subconscious mind sabotaging me? It doesn’t mean to. It’s that “being out of rapport” thing in action that you’re feeling. It really helps to understand that the subconscious mind is looking to make you feel better–to move you away from pain and to move you toward pleasure. Or as we say, “the symptom is a solution.” Your subconscious mind is very intelligent and it is always working FOR you, but most people don’t know how to communicate clearly and accurately to their subconscious (which is what hypnosis is for), and so the subconscious mind WILL work to find a solution to move you away from pain and toward pleasure, and it will always pick the easiest, fastest way to do that if that programming is allowed to create itself “by default.” And there’s nothing faster at making you feel better than getting a neurochemical reaction going by eating. And that might tie into powerful messages from your childhood. My Mom used to say, “a cookie will help it,” and give me a cookie whenever I was upset or hurt. (I have NEVER said these words to my daughter!) These are not the solutions you would choose consciously, but hey, it WORKS. Short term. Consciously, you know that the “solution” is creating more problems than it’s solving. And that is part of what we need to get through to the subconscious mind in order to create true change– a change in how you feel about yourself, a change in your relationship with food, a change in your behaviors, a new “solution” tied to a new “priority” of being healthy and fit.
By virtue of doing the work in hypnotherapy, you will end up with a much better relationship with yourself–the most important relationship in your life.
3. Does the change really happen magically or automatically? What should I expect? This is where it gets fun and exciting. My own experience was that the change in attitude toward food, which drove the change in behavior, happened without my consciously working at it. I’ll give you an example. The company I worked for at the time had this Friday afternoon tradition of a “make your own sundae bar.” One Friday at break time, I found myself down there (you know how your feet get up and go when you’re used to a break time!) and I was chatting with a friend from another department when she glanced toward the sundae bar, looked back at me and said, “aren’t you going to make a sundae?” At that moment I realized I didn’t want one. And I hadn’t wanted one when I came down–I was just programmed to take that break. I didn’t walk down the hall saying to myself, “I’m going down there, but I’m NOT going to make a sundae,” or anything like that. There was no internal struggle, no push-pull. And I was losing weight and that was becoming a reward in itself. I’m sure there are other changes that didn’t make an impression on me like that one did. Honestly, if my friend hadn’t asked me that question, I wouldn’t remember that moment today. I know I started shopping differently, and I took on a habit of working out for about an hour after work in the fitness room of our apartment complex.
4. Are there people this doesn’t work for? When I used hypnosis to lose weight, I knew that in order to drop the pounds that certainly I would have to make different choices. As the saying goes, “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” You can’t expect to succeed if you think that somehow the hypnosis will work while you continue to eat the same foods, in the same amounts, and maintain the same activity levels that got you overweight to begin with. So there is that, as a “cost of entry” if you will. I will share with you that I did have a client years ago who just had the wrong idea about how this worked. She didn’t want to make any changes in her life, in what she ate, how much, or getting activity. She actively and CONSCIOUSLY had made a decision not to change those things. She said to me at one point, “it’s just easier to be fat.” Well, in that case, her conscious mind and her subconscious mind really were NOT out of rapport, were they? Consciously, she wanted to continue the comfortable behaviors she always had and consciously she felt it was easier to be fat than to create any kind of a change. She would have taken the RESULT of losing weight if it came without any changes in her life, but she wasn’t willing to make a CHANGE to have that result.
There is NO approach to weight loss that will work for a person who truly feels that way. So if you’re looking to lose weight to please your doctor, your mother, your husband, your wife, significant other, your children or anyone outside of yourself, then your first job is to look within and truly determine do you WANT to change? Sometimes, in this society, the pressure to be this or be that causes us to seek changes that we don’t really feel internally compelled to do. (Be thin! be successful! be a nonsmoker! etc., etc.) Those changes rarely stick for the long term. Even when people go through something as difficult, expensive, involved, painful and challenging as gastric bypass (no, folks, this is not “taking the easy way out.” I know people who’ve had this done. This requires courage and more intestinal fortitude than I think I would be able to muster!) Who says you “have” to change, anyway? I know some “plus size” women who, honey, they OWN their bodies. They are happy with who and how they are and their delight in being just as they are is contagious and wonderful. They are sexy in a powerful way. And dey ain’t nuttin’ wrong wit dat!
Make sure that the reason you’re seeking change (of any kind) is because YOU want to change. Because you feel like a thin person trapped in a heavier body, or you have a powerful motivation to be healthier so you can live longer and be here for your loved ones or just because you love life so much you want as much of it as you can get! That then provides the motivation to use the tool of hypnosis to create alignment between your conscious desires and the subconscious programming that you never really had a choice in–but with hypnosis, you get to exercise that choice and be who you truly want to be!
If you have other questions about hypnosis in general, check out our Hypnosis FAQ.
If you’re ready to get your conscious and subconscious minds in alignment to create the change that you truly want, then call us at 952/356-0010 and ask for your free consultation.