It is great to see the results that are possible when working with weight loss clients. Often, clients have struggled with a number of approaches involving strict dieting, enforced exercise or complex regimes.
What I find is that there are common themes that present in terms of how people think about themselves and their weight. From my experience in assisting clients with weight loss, here are the ‘top 7’ reasons people fail to achieve great weight loss that can be resolved with hypnotherapy:
Number 1 reason for weight loss failure: Unconscious eating
Clients often develop a pattern of ‘unconscious eating’. Rather than being fully aware of the process of eating (which can be highly enjoyable), they switch their brains into neutral (or redirect it to TV, reading, talking) and ‘stuff away’. Many clients are not even aware of the taste of their food, or how their body is responding to it. They will often only finish when their plate is empty (parental messaging plays a role here!) and not realise when they are full.
Using NLP and hypnosis, the client can be reconnected with the conscious process of eating. Often homework tasks to slow down, use smaller plates, count the bites, feel their fullness and limit distractions brings eating out of the shadows and back into awareness. The response to this can simply be amazing.
Number 2 reason for weight loss failure: Connecting emotions and eating
Food is just…food. However, clients seeking weight loss often create all sorts of emotions and magical powers around food which impacts their ability to lose weight. For example, food as ‘comfort’, food as ‘stress relief’ and food as an ‘indulgence’. Humans are the only creatures on the planet to eat ‘emotionally’, using food as a ‘response’ to a feeling that we generate, or to generate a particular feeling within us. This changes our relationship to what food really is (just food).
We can still enjoy food. It can be delicious. Breaking the emotional bonds of food (and giving the client control and choice) using hypnosis shifts the client from an emotional frame to a logical one when approaching food choices, and really supports long term behaviour change that creates weight loss success.
Number 3 reason for weight loss failure: Poor goal setting.
The goal that the clients seeking to lose weight often set for themselves is negative and unrealistic. ‘I don’t want to look like this any more – I want to lose weight’, or ‘I want to stop being fat’ are examples of non-specific, negatively framed goals. These goals are difficult to sustain, as the client can lose weight – and then put it back on again, they can stop being fat – and then become fat again. These sorts of goals lead to Yo-Yo diet scenarios. Turning such a negative goal into a realistic, long term positive goal (‘I want to be fit and healthy with plenty of energy to live my life’) allows clients to strive towards their goal, rather than away from something. It provides a frame for them to live their life within, which helps them become who they want to be.
Number 4 reason for weight loss failure: Values conflict.
Every client has values that are important to them, and how they live their life. For some, the values are things like ‘success’, ‘money’, ‘power’. For others it can be ‘security’, ‘comfort’, ‘relationships’. Every person has their own unique mix of values.
Where the client wants to lose weight, they need to have life values which allow this to happen. When their most important values are ‘comfort’, ‘security’, and ‘enjoyment’, the food and exercise choices that they make through this lens can be conflicting with their goal of losing weight.
Determining which of the client’s values will support the goal of weight loss and strengthening these in hypnosis with the client allows their goals to be easily reached whilst living the life they want.
Number 5 reason for weight loss failure: Unhelpful associations
The meanings and associations that we give to things like ‘food’, ‘exercise’, ‘self’ and other weight loss concepts are critical in how we think about and approach the goal of losing weight. Having highly positive food associations and overly negative exercise associations make it unrealistic for clients to reach their weight loss goals. Realigning these associations through Hypnosis and NLP to more realistic, balanced ones supports a client in reaching their goals.
Number 6 reason for weight loss failure: Lack of self-negotiation skills
Sometimes clients are business high flyers who carry out complex and high powered negotiations every day – but the person that they cannot negotiate with is themselves.
Their ability to ‘negotiate’ is a skill that they possess, but it is somehow ‘switched off’ when dealing with themselves. In weight loss it is common for there to come a time when the client is ‘tempted’, either to eat something that won’t help their goal, or an opportunity to avoid exercise. Clients will often fail to negotiate themselves out of their problem and in to their solution. They will allow themselves to have ‘one more’ or just say ‘next time’, rather than negotiating themselves into their solution (saying ‘no’, or just doing it). Helping the client recognise their negotiation skills and how to apply them through hypnosis can be really valuable in assisting the client to have long term weight loss success.
Number 7 reason for weight loss failure: Lack of strategies to add exercise and reduce temptations.
Often, having strategies in place for known obstacles (the birthday party, Friday night drinks) allows the client to approach these events with a strength of purpose to keep to their plan. Ignoring that tempations and obstacles will occur will make them tougher to avoid. Building the skills to cope with obstacles in hypnosis provides clients with the tools to sail past such challenges toward their goals
Often clients fear or have no understanding of how to restart an exercise program. Supporting them in this approach in hypnotically rebuilding or defining a strategy can help them to take control and get their program underway. I will sometimes refer clients on to a number of resources depending on what the client understands or needs to be successful as part of their ‘strategy’.
These ‘top 7’ are very common – perhaps you are running some of these right now? Sometimes there are also deeper issues which can be comfortably addressed with hypnosis which allows the client to freely address the weight loss issues and find simple resolutions.
Are you struggling to lose weight?
Which of these top 7 do you see in yourself?
Are there other things which you see that stop you achieving the weight loss results you want?
Let me know what you think!
Darryl McCullagh Dip Hyp / Cert HypB