• Many doctors advise heavy patients to lose weight no matter what their medical condition, whereas a thin person with that same condition would get another, more appropriate medical treatment.
If you’re overweight, it’s not your fault! A substantial body of research concludes that the ancient and venerable exhortation to eat less and exercise more, in its multiplicity of iterations, is rarely successful. Despite the fact that Americans spend over $50 billion per year on diet products, the usual outcome is that dieters lose some weight, then gain more back. Why? The biological answer has to do with the body’s drive to survive in circumstances that it perceives as famine.
Psychologically, the reason may be summed up in Fritz Perls’ dictum, “the underdog always wins.” Perls, the father of Gestalt Therapy, explained that when the conscious mind battles impulses from the more powerful subconscious, the subconscious urge will ultimately prevail. Thus we can consciously abstain from foods we enjoy for awhile, but the subconscious craving will eventually overpower the conscious will, and so wreak mayhem with our diet.
From my professional experience as well as a review of literature on the subject, I have come to believe that skilled hypnotherapy, in combination with stress management, healthy eating and moderate exercise, is one of the only reliable ways to achieve and maintain optimal weight. Hypnosis works directly with the subconscious mind to align its purposes with those of the conscious mind. This creates a powerful alliance that enables us to make amazing changes in areas of our lives that seemed intractable before, and to do so without inner warfare (i.e. effortlessly).
A litany of studies demonstrates the efficacy of hypnosis as a weight management tool. In particular, a survey of the literature by Vanderbilt University’s Bianca Hitt found that, while hypnosis audiotapes had no significant effect, a series of hypnosis sessions with a qualified professional led to substantial weight loss in several studies.
How does hypnosis work? With the help of a qualified hypnotherapist, you are guided into a state of relaxed, focused concentration in which your suggestibility is heightened and your imagination is stimulated. In this state, your subconscious mind is more available to help identify the causes of, and remedies to, the problem at hand, and it is highly receptive to suggestions to make positive changes to your dietary and exercise habits. This aligns the subconscious impulses with the conscious desire to change, rendering the achievement and maintenance of one's optimal weight easy and natural.
So, if you’d like to unpack some of that extra baggage, hypnotherapy is an effective and relatively pleasant way to do so. Just remember, your health comes first. Be sure to consult with your physician before starting any weight management program.
Nathan O’Hara is Director of the Hypnosis Center of Ventura County, and also of the Alive Institute of Therapeutic Massage. Trained in hypnotherapy at the University of Houston (1975-76), Dr. O’Hara’s background also includes a Ph.D. from the University of California, 10 years with Santa Barbara County Health Department, 10 years with Planned Parenthood, and several more years as a public school teacher and administrator. His passions include his wife Lucy, natural healing arts, music, and the outdoors.
If you’d like to shed a few (or many) pounds, you’re in good company. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 2 out of every 3 Americans are overweight, and 1 in 3 is 'obese,' with a body mass index of 30 or more. “American society has become 'obesogenic,' characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, nonhealthful foods, and physical inactivity,” says the CDC.
Being large can be a hardship in many areas of life. According to the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination: • In the workplace, large people are frequently harassed about their weight by employers, kept in jobs beneath their abilities, and often get demoted or fired because of their weight. • In higher education, applicants are often turned down just because of their size. • Large people are systematically denied health and life insurance, or are forced to pay higher premiums than people of average weight.
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