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Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss: Why Does it Work?

Woman enjoys choosing healthy foods and being her ideal weight.

Perhaps you've tried to lose weight in the past and found it difficult. You're not alone. Maybe you've struggled with special diets or other complicated weight loss processes like weighed portions and calorie counting. While these things can be very useful at times, they're difficult to keep up long-term. It's much easier to reach and maintain your desired weight if healthy eating becomes a natural, automatic behavior.

Let's look at a hypothetical but very common situation. Jasmine started a weight loss program including some of the strategies listed above, ie a strict diet and calorie counting. Things were going great, she was sticking to the diet and losing weight gradually. As long as she was able to consciously focus on her program and use some willpower, the progress continued. But then life threw a curveball. There we

re big changes at work and her stress level went way up. Out of the blue she found herself reverting to the old behaviors: overeating, eating high fat and sugary foods and while this made her feel good in the moment, it left her feeling terrible afterwards. Suddenly the thought pops into her mind, "what's the use?" and her weight loss program is out the window. It doesn't take long for the weight to come back.

Why does this happen to so many people?

One reason that this sequence of events is so common is that food carries powerful emotional associations. It can be associated with comfort, happy times, relaxation, celebration, closeness with people we love.

And in times of stress, upset, or boredom your brain may automatically try to help you avoid feeling these emotions by triggering eating behaviors that flood your sensory systems and block out the uncomfortable feelings. This can become an automatic protective behavior pattern that is hard to change by willpower alone.

In our example, Jasmine's brain reacted subconsciously to protect her from the stress she'd been feeling at work. It was triggering the protective behaviors that were programmed, well rehearsed and readily available.

The Key to Real Change

Any successful weight loss program must address these subconscious programs or else they can activate again whenever willpower drops momentarily, as Jasmine experienced when the stress at work used up so much of her mental energy. This is where hypnotherapy comes in. Through hypnotherapy, your mind can be redirected to trigger better, healthier alternatives when these difficult situations arise. And you'll get the same positive result (comfort, relaxation, connection etc).

In fact, during our sessions, you don't even have to come up with these alternatives consciously (ie exercise, calling a friend, reading a book, working around the house, etc) because we can ask the part of your mind that's been managing your problematic eating to do this for you in the background. Once the new patterns take hold, you'll have healthier automatic responses when you hit rocky waters.

Hypnotherapy does not make weight evaporate like magic. Our goal is to change the underlying programs around eating so that new healthier eating habits become automatic.

Also, hypnotherapists don't prescribe diets, supplements etc. You'll have the opportunity to choose a reasonable diet of foods that you like. Choose a combination that you know will be sustainable long-term for you health and well being. This can be adjusted as we move forward with your program as you'll probably find that your preferences will change. The better you feel, the less you'll want to eat unhealthy foods that keep you from your goal.

Conscious / Subconscious Partnership

Another important part of your weight loss program is mindfulness and awareness of your own responses and behavior. I believe that conscious as well as subconscious processes are important to successful change work. We can leverage the power of both. This is why I employ what I call Cognitive Skill Building techniques to help you stay on track. These are simple mental techniques you can use when you're out and about to navigate mindfully and pilot your own course through whatever situations present themselves as you go through your day.

I hope this short article gives you a general idea of how and why hypnotherapy can provide a very effective way for you to reach your ideal weight. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Gary Schwantes, CCH, CHt, MFA, Clinical Hypnotherapist




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