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Weight loss

Hypnosis For Your Weight Loss Journey

“If you improve 1% a day, then in 100 days, guess what? You are 100% better.”

Ken Carter

How Can Hypnosis Contribute To Your Weight Loss Journey?

Everyone wants a quick fix. I get it. So do I! But, changing your lifestyle and health is a journey that requires commitment and an openness to change. It is about finding that flaw in the processes we have developed over our life span, and choosing a new, more productive way to think and behave.

 

There is almost always reversible underlying issues around over eating. Whatever has been learnt can be unlearnt. But before I jump into the emotional and neuro issues we address with NLP and Hypnosis, first we need to cover some other essential considerations. I highly recommend involving a GP, dietician and exercise specialist in your journey to ensure you have all the correct expertise.

 

There are contributing factors to fat loss that exceed just diet and exercise. Some of the common major pitfalls people encounter in their fat loss journey:

  • Inadequate sleep

  • Biological factors such as hormones, thyroid or other metabolic disorders  

  • Not eating enough (Yes! You read that right)  

  • Expectations

  • Stress

  • Not drinking enough water

  • Medication- check with your doctor or pharmacist if your medication could be affecting your weight management

  • Pregnancy

  • Alcohol- very high in sugar and calories and often omitted from our diet plans

  • Shift work

 

SLEEP

Sleep is such an essential and underrated part of our overall health. Modern society produces so many barriers to healthy sleep with artificial lighting, use of devices especially before sleep, and the overall increase in anxiety and stress in today's world.

Not only does sleep deprivation cause attention issues, memory problems, mood disturbance and physical fatigue, studies have shown that people who get less than 7 hours sleep a night have significantly higher rates of obesity (1).

Disturbed sleep or too little sleep causes an increase in energy requirement and intake. The food that we crave and consume is usually high in carbohydrates. In addition, the hormone ghrelin (that signals hunger) is increased, and Leptin (that signals a full stomach) is decreased (1). This is relevant also to shift workers on irregular patterns with reduced or broken sleep, eating at irregular times and eating higher sugar, higher carbohydrate foods to combat fatigue.

Diet is not only affected by poor sleep, but also sleep is affected by diet. Increases in dietary intake of sugar and other carbohydrates are associated with poor sleep quality as well as obesity.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that better sleep quality and longer sleep duration are associated with higher success in weight loss (1).  

 

BIOLOGICAL FACTORS

There are many biological issues that can either cause weight gain, or hinder weight loss.

 

Endocrine Issues

I won't go into great detail about each endocrine issue, but it is important to speak to your doctor if you think you may have one of the following issues that can affect your ability to lose weight:

  • Diabetes

  • Thyroid issues

  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)

  • Osteoporosis

  • Adrenal disorders

Menopause and Aging

As we age, we lose muscle density, metabolism slows down, and injuries and illnesses may prevent us from engaging in exercises we may have enjoyed in our younger years. As hormone levels decline, bone density decreases and our risk of cardiovascular disease increases. However, we can still maintain a healthy lifestyle by moderating factors such as diet and exercise as well as sleep and stress management.

Exercising appropriately is essential during the aging process. Resistance training, yoga and low impact cardio such as brisk walking are recommended forms of exercise by the Australian Menopause Centre. Resistance training improves muscle mass and bone density while yoga is both physically and mentally beneficial.

Sugar directly and negatively affects hormones, including insulin and oestrogen. Constant spikes in insulin not only cause fat retention but can create insulin resistance, a metabolic disorder associated with obesity due to imbalance of glucose and insulin levels.  Sugar causes increases in oestrogen which is not a good thing, even in menopause. Fat cells produce oestrogen, so when excess sugar is consumed, the body turns it into fat cells, particularly those around the midsection.

Testosterone is a very important hormone for both men and less known, for women. Testosterone levels drop in women also which is responsible for muscle mass and bone density, affecting metabolism, energy levels and other important life issues such as libido.  

While aging and menopause can create some obstacles, it is the perfect time to embark on a journey of healthy living. Many people may need to make changes to their diet and exercise, but this can be a fun and rewarding project to embark upon.

Often people cannot afford personal trainers, dieticians and other specialists. There is so much information now about aging and weight management. I have personally found the teachings of Dr. Mindy Pelz an absolute godsend on information for women about fasting, dietary requirements and expected changes as we age. Her books: Fast Like A Girl and The Menopause Reset contain fascinating information about how our cycles affect our metabolism and energy levels, when to fast, what to eat for the fluctuations in hormones etc. She addresses how traditional “diets” that are based on male cycles and metabolism, may not be relevant to females, especially not the aging female (though I prefer the term “vintage” to “aging”!). Mindy has an extremely informative YouTube channel with multiple useful videos for free.

PREGNANCY

Weight gain in pregnancy is not only normal but expected, and healthy. Pregnancy is a massive change in our bodies. We are housing a little life and the demands of both the growing baby and our changing anatomy often requires an increased caloric intake. Some people may find themselves unable to continue with their favourite exercise for various reasons. Some may suffer with physical pain such as pelvic girdle pain that reduces their usual activity. Some may find new aversions to foods they used to like, or cravings that may increase the caloric intake. However, a normal, healthy pregnancy is expected to add 5-20kgs of weight (depending on BMI).  

Pregnancy is certainly not the time to be questioning your body image, or commencing any fad diet, but “eating for two” is a catch phrase that normalises overeating, that for some means processed, sugary food. Being mindful of your diet quality and quantity at any stage in life is advisable, especially during pregnancy when high nutrients and quality foods are essential.

Post-pregnancy is also a time of massive change in lifestyle, sleep deprivation and often stress. While we are often keen to shed the “baby weight”, I urge people to prioritise creating a healthy environment with appropriate exercise, and good nutrition to support optional breast feeding and/or the new found lifestyle.

NOT EATING ENOUGH

While it is pretty well accepted that overeating will cause weight gain, less known is that undereating can affect your ability to lose weight. Muscles are like engines, the bigger the engine, the more fuel they require. Improving muscle mass is beneficial in fat loss. In order for your body to function well, you need to be eating the right type and amount of food. The only way to increase muscle mass is to overload the muscle with exercise (mainly resistance or weight training). You can protect it by keeping plenty of protein coming in through the diet. To optimise fat loss while maintaining and preserving muscle mass you need to exercise. If you lose weight through diet alone, you’re more likely to lose muscle. A high-protein diet increases metabolism, reduces hunger and protects lean muscle mass. That’s because protein supplies amino acids, the building blocks to creating muscle tissue. Also, check vitamin D intake as it’s a big player in muscle health (4).

 

Not only does undereating affect your muscle, it can cause lethargy, low mood, insomnia, anxiety and hormonal imbalance- all detrimental to healthy weight management. In some individuals, undereating may cause weight gain due to slowing down of your metabolism, meaning you burn fewer calories in the body’s attempt to maintain energy.

In addition, if you are finding yourself ravenous in the evening after dieting all day, you must ask yourself if you are eating enough. So often people resort to binge eating unhealthy food in the evening because they have starved themselves all day, or haven’t eaten enough protein and good fat to indicate to the brain the body is nourished. The craving will be for sugar and carbohydrates and all the efforts go out the window.  

What is important to understand is that every person is different and requires an individual approach to diet based on age, gender, medical issues, BMI, disability, activity levels etc. Overeating and undereating are both potential contributing factors to weight management.

STRESS

Stress can be defined as the body’s response to a real or perceived threat. Arguably the number one cause of all discordance and disease in the world! (said I). Stress is responsible for so much maladaptive biological change. Chronic stress has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, you name it. Stress causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood glucose dysfunction, down regulation of the immune system, reduces killer T cell formation (cancer fighting cells), delays repair of damaged DNA and triggers apoptosis (cell death) (2).

It is a normal and necessary part of our nature to respond to danger and take action. The design is for short term adaptation that allows us to run from or fight with a predator. Increases in adrenaline and cortisol divert blood flow from the bowels and non-essential organs into the muscles, heart and lungs so we can escape. Once the danger has passed, we should return to a normal baseline and everything kicks back in as usual. This means our bowels continue to digest, our muscles relax, our reproductive system kicks back in. Everything is rest and digest once more. The important part is the return to baseline! However, modern life has driven a pattern of continuous stress that keeps the body in a biological state of heightened response. This is not good news for the rest and digest systems that govern digestion, fertility and sleep.

With all these catecholamines circulating all the time, one would assume a higher metabolic rate and therefore weight loss. But alas this is not how it works. While short term stress may cause weight loss, chronic persistent stress (eg. Caring for a sick loved one, no social support, financial burden) can cause weight gain. Every individual is different. It is not uncommon for chronic stress sufferers to lose lots of weight. How chronic stress is associated with weight gain can be attributed to an increase in appetite, craving for high sugar, high carbohydrate foods and reduced physical activity. While these factors are somewhat controllable, the elevated insulin as a result of the “fight or flight” system being activated, which causes increased fat cell storage, regardless of any changes in food intake is out of our control (3).

Addressing the areas of your life that may be causing stress and incorporating stress management into your weight loss programme is beneficial for losing fat and generally improving your mental and physical health.

DRINK ENOUGH WATER

While water itself is not a magic potion to lose weight, being adequately hydrated contributes to the break down of fat. If the body is hydrated, the process of fat burning can be continual. When the body detects dehydration, it triggers a fluid retention cascade that may delay metabolism. Being hydrated also allows the bowels to function properly, reducing bloating and stool retention. This is also helpful to avoid constipation.

Your body can mistake thirst for hunger. While you cannot replace food with water, drinking water when you have signs of hunger may reduce your requirement for food, if in fact you are just dehydrated. 

Importantly, replacing sugary drinks with water or soda water will significantly reduce your caloric intake and provide an overall healthier option for your mind and body than fizzy soda and fruit juices.

NLP AND HYPNOSIS FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Even with any of the issues above, fat loss is achievable. Everyone has the capacity for change, its just about finding the best way how. This will be different for everyone and I cannot express enough how weight loss is a journey. It takes time. Whatever your motivation is, the goal is for healthy, informed and sustainable change that can be maintained for the long term. Hypnosis and NLP can hugely assist in this journey, but is NOT a quick fix.

Changing your diet and lifestyle is not a burden. It is an adventure. It is exploration of a new way of life where you get to discover the things that make you feel better about yourself. Whether you discover a newfound love of walking, cycling, martial arts, dancing, learn to cook new healthier dishes through curiosity, you get to learn something new. You get to choose who you want to be. Make this journey so enjoyable that you barely even notice the changes in your body! The aim is to find within ourselves what brings us joy. Because we cannot create change from a place of resistance. Embrace the joy of this adventure! 

As every person is different, the first step is identifying the motivational or emotional drives for overeating or reduced physical activity. Without having to go into the depths of childhood, we can identify certain limiting beliefs. Our whole lives we are told things like: “Finish everything on your plate, there are starving people in the world that would love your dinner” or “It’s lunch time, we need to eat”. What these innocent (or even well meaning) phrases anchor into us is that there is somehow a need to eat more or more often than we actually need to. Our brains are geared to famine mentality. As cave people, we didn’t know when we would eat next. Its an inherent impulse to eat when we see or smell food. But alas, we are now abundant. There is food everywhere (for us lucky ones), and the requirement to store extra calories at every opportunity is no more. When we can recognise that the amount of food being consumed is not necessary to maintain energy levels and bodily function, we can shut down that false impulse to eat more than we need.

Self-image and self-worth are often skewed and require some change in the way we view our potential and our ability to achieve our goals. Changing our relationship with our body is super important if we want to nourish it, and expect it to perform and look a certain way. The way we often speak to ourselves is not conducive to positive change. I am a firm believer that every cell in your body is listening to your thoughts, awaiting instruction and cues for action. If you tell your body you are grateful for all it does for you and you want to be healthier, it will respond accordingly. If you are constantly telling your body it isn’t good enough, it will respond with resistance.

Maintaining motivation can be very difficult if you tend towards defeatism or futility. Do you find yourself starting off well with a diet or exercise plan, yet slip back into old habits or give up completely when you don’t see results within a week? Being realistic about the process and having realistic expectations is paramount to successful and sustained fat loss. Keeping your eye on the prize, while also learning self-compassion in times of relapse are focus points for hypnosis. If you have a slip up and eat poorly for one day- don’t give up. All is not lost. Just like eating one salad doesn’t make you immediately lose weight, one burger won't make you immediately gain weight.

Factoring in realistic reprieve may be appropriate for some. Cheat days to look forward to, or upcoming events where you know you will want to eat more, holidays where you can plan alternate healthy to indulgent days without completely losing sight of your goals. Just being radically honest and realistic about your needs and wants for your life is so important in this early stage if you want long term change. It is all about setting goals and recognising bumps in the road are not complete road blocks. 

Often people “comfort” eat, in times of stress, low mood, boredom etc. If there is a pattern to this over eating, it’s a starting point for change. Pattern interruption and diversion are core skills in NLP that can be applied to these triggering times where hunger is not a motivation. Habits are formed and habits can be broken!

Weight and body image is always such a complex issue that is different for every person, but you may be surprised how common certain learned processes are, and how adaptable they are to change.  I use a range of techniques that focus on visualisation, future projection, pattern interruption and anchors, to name a few. Each individual will resonate with different techniques. Most people require a minimum of four sessions to address the different issues. As the course of therapy progresses, other issues may be identified such as sleep disruption, or stress- which can be incorporated into the course of therapy. There is no hard and fast rule. However, listening to your hypnosis recordings daily is the fastest most effective way to create change in your brain. Therefore, your commitment to the homework is essential to see results. The more invested you are in the process, the better and faster the outcome.  

If you would like to discuss how this style of therapy may assist you on your journey, you are welcome to book a free, no obligation phone call to answer any questions you may have.

References

  1. Papatriantafyllou, E., Efthymious, D., Zoumbaneas, E., Popescu, CA., and Vassilopoulou, E., (2022). Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Nutrients; 14(8): 1549.

  2. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Glaser R. Eur J Cancer. 1999 Oct;35(11):1603-7

  3. Scott KA, Melhorn SJ, Sakai RR. Effects of Chronic Social Stress on Obesity. Curr Obes Rep. 2012 Mar;1(1):16-25. doi: 10.1007/s13679-011-0006-3. PMID: 22943039; PMCID: PMC3428710.

  4. https://www.livestrong.com/article/471359-which-burns-first-fat-or-muscle/

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