May 25, 2010

Ditch the Diet (Natasha)

Oh, you wonderful Daily Mail Online readers, you have done it again! I never cease to be amazed by the level of anger and self-righteousness you display, or your willingness to exhibit opinions on topics upon which you clearly have little to no expertise.

Who are these people who become so enraged by other people’s perceived lack of healthy lifestyle/fatness? Every health related headline in the DM might as well read ‘how this person’s laziness/greed is consuming YOUR hard earned money in NHS tax funding. Let’s drive them out of the country with sticks!’.

This week’s particular little nugget of wisdom comes from Lizzie in London who, in response to a story of how hypnotherapy helped one lady go from a size 24 to a size 14, says:

‘The hard work in excercising [sic] and eating well is down to her own will power and sheer perseverance.
Hypnotherapy is not a magic bullet to slimming and weight loss There is still hard work involved!’

First of all, Lizzie, please learn to spell, lest I chase your presumably slender yet woefully uneducated self out of the country (using sticks).

Secondly, as Mark Newey, certified hypnotherapist and catalyst for countless successful weight loss endeavors points out, this thing we refer to as ‘willpower’ is actually our conscious mind, which is a measly 9% of our overall brain mass.

If we indulge in a particular behaviour for a sustained period of time, be it a positive activity (exercising, driving) or a negative one (smoking, overeating) it is adopted by the much larger unconscious brain as behavioural programming, thus freeing up the conscious to think about other stuff (like the yummy bloke we happen to be dating and what happened on Eastenders last night and why you never see a baby pigeon….ok perhaps that’s just me).

Ever read to the bottom of a page and realised you weren’t paying attention and can’t remember what it said? That’s your unconscious mind saying ‘aaaah, I know how to read. I’ve read stuff before! Let me take over this activity’. Your conscious mind wanders and before you know it you’re chastising yourself for not paying attention and having to repeat the entire reading process.

Now, say you make a decision that you would like to change a particular behavioural programme. What’s essentially happening is that 9% of your mind is taking on the might of 91%, attempting to affect change when the massive and powerful unconscious is willing you to continue acting as you have always done. And then we wonder why ‘diets’ don’t work in 90% of cases.

Hypnotherapy is merely a way of bypassing the conscious mind and accessing the unconscious to make permanent and fast changes. It can break long-standing behavioural patterns and wipe the slate clean. Mark tells his weight loss clients ‘now I want you to go away and not give a damn about what you eat’. They stare at him in disbelief, not quite able to comprehend the idea that, after all these years of desperately trying in vain to restrict themselves, they can now eat absolutely anything they want.

The key factor, however, is that because their attitudes towards food, their bodies and themselves have been changed in the unconscious, they will naturally make healthier choices, selecting foods according to what will nourish them, rather than those which will satisfy their emotional cravings.

Which leads me neatly onto my next point. People do not overeat because they are greedy, or lazy or selfish or even because they have an insatiable apatite. Generally, people overeat because it brings them an instantaneous (if very short lived) feeling of pleasure. Comfort eating is merely another crutch, allowing us to feel that we are effectively coping with feelings of loneliness, stress or anxiety. Of course, all it really serves to do is distract us from those feelings (and add an expanding waistline onto our lists of worries).

Guess what other change can be quickly and permanently made in the unconscious? Yes, dear Blog Groupies, we’re back onto my favourite subject – banishing feelings of low self esteem.

And that is why I’m very sorry to have to report that Lizzie in London is wrong.

To find out more about the Winning Minds weight loss programme go to

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