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Hypnotherapy and the Secrets of Weight Management

“All meaningful and lasting change starts first in your imagination and then works its way out. Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

Whenever I tell people that we can use hypnotherapy for weight management and for weight loss, I see signs of disbelief. If I could magnify their secret thoughts and project them on a screen, they may run something like this, “What, hypnotherapy? Isn’t that like some sort of voodoo, where the person hypnotised totally loses control of his mind and does anything that the hypnotherapist orders him to do?” Now if you are thinking the same thing, then let me rest assure you that this is the right time for me to share some valuable insights on what hypnotherapy is all about and how it possesses a vast potential of applications, one of which is weight management. If magicians have used their powers of hypnosis to hypnotise clients on stage, as a gimmick, then this is the right platform to debunk many of the myths surrounding hypnotherapy and its magnificent prowess to help in weight management, in addition to many other areas.

The term “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word ‘hypnos’ which means “sleep.” Hypnotherapists use exercises that bring about deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness, also known as a trance. Have you seen someone watch a soccer game during the World Cup finals? What happens when you call him or her during the game? The person in question would have been totally mesmerised by the game, even though he or she would have known that you had called. This is akin to a trance during hypnotherapy.

What is history of hypnosis?

Hypnotherapy owes its inception to the brilliant work of an Austrian physician named Franz Anton Mesmer. In the 1700s, Mesmer believed that illnesses were caused by magnetic fluids in the body getting out of balance, and he used magnets and other hypnotic techniques (the word “mesmerised” comes from his name) to treat people. Unfortunately, the medical community was not convinced and Mesmer was accused of fraud, as his techniques were viewed as unscientific.

Hypnotherapy regained popularity in the mid-1900s due to the work of Milton H. Erickson (1901-1980), a successful psychiatrist who used hypnosis in his practice. In 1958, both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association recognised hypnotherapy as a valid medical procedure. Interestingly, since 1995, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have recommended hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain.

Other conditions for which hypnotherapy is frequently used, include weight management, stress, anxiety, phobias, insomnia, addiction, labour and delivery, migraine, eating disorders, smoking and pain to name a few.

How does hypnosis work?

Why is it that hypnotherapy may help, when medication may fail in certain instances? This is because when a person is in a deeply focused state, or trance as we call it, he or she is unusually responsive to an idea or image than when in a conscious state. At this stage of relaxation, the person’s analytical or conscious mind switches off, so to speak, and it is easier for the person to receive suggestions (from the hypnotherapist) that will help the person achieve the outcomes desired.

During hypnosis, your body relaxes and your thoughts become more focused. Like other relaxation techniques, hypnosis lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and changes certain types of brain wave activity. Some people of course respond better to hypnotic suggestion than others.

How does it work for weight management?

Now that I’ve given you a brief summary of hypnotherapy let me tell you about what Susan Hepburn calls the ‘Hypno Diet’ or a stress-free way of losing weight with the use of hypnotherapy. As hypnotherapy is like ‘reprogramming your subconscious mind’, it is a powerful tool for behaviour change’ so that you can delete unwanted files from your computer or unconscious mind. What this programme actually does is that it will help you remove from your unconscious mind the emotional associations that cause you to eat when you are not hungry (behaviours such as comfort eating or eating because of boredom, stress or tiredness). It will also help you reprogramme your mind with healthy and positive attitudes to food and exercise. So what will it involve? Let me summarise this for you.

It will involve a daily programme of short, relaxation of about 20 minutes or so. During this session you will learn to relax your body and mind – very much like a meditation session – just that it will not involve chanting. You will be personally guided. What’s special about this session? During these sessions you’ll identify your problematic eating habits. You’ll then replace them with patterns of behaviour that would allow you to lose weight. As this would be an unconscious way of losing weight, you will not feel that you are being deprived of anything at all.

During this programme you’ll be ‘conscious’ of a highly effective psychological tool – that is, to be conscious of becoming aware of what you put into your body and in that way be mindful of what you put into your body. With moderation as well, you will learn to permanently change your attitude towards food. You will also be taught to keep a ‘food journal’ either on paper or as a computer file and this will be like a diary. It will be a trekking or self-monitoring system that will help you to identify the emotional associations you have with food and for you to understand your ‘triggers’ – feelings that make you eat when you are not hungry.

This ‘diet’ is for always. If you have tried other diets and have experienced a yo-yo effect, it’s because your unconscious mind was not convinced that the programme would work. Here, the daily meditations would replace self-criticism with self-awareness. Undoubtedly, your self-esteem will soar as this is a painless way to achieve weight management.

How many treatments will you need?

Each session lasts about an hour, and most people start to see results within 4 – 10 sessions. Your progress will be personally monitored and evaluated over time. Children (aged 9 – 12) are easily hypnotised and may respond after only one or two visits.

Are there any risks associated with hypnotherapy and weight management?

Unlike cases of phobias or anxiety, where you may need a diagnosis from your doctor, to know what needs to be treated, weight management does not need any form of referrals. Very rarely, does hypnotherapy lead to the development of “false memories” made up by the unconscious mind; these are called confabulations.

So what’s your next step?

This programme isn’t rocket science. It’s no secret: just that it is a very simple method which is effective and appealing. You’ll be guided as you have all the skills you need. All you need to do is to make up your mind right now. The decision to start your journey of good health that will lead you to achieving your right shape is in your hands – good luck!

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