Many people tell me that it’s impossible to manage their weight better, feeling helpless victims as they struggle to resist the urge to eat their favourite ‘comfort’ foods – chocolate, crusty white bread, crisps, or perhaps milky drinks like latte.
Feeling bad about holding onto excess pounds is made worse by the feeling that if they were ‘stronger’ then they can forego all these lovely things packed with carbohydrates - that store so beautifully around the middle of our bodies.
A good starting point to initiating weight reduction is to stop feeling bad and to lose the idea that you have to punish your body and whip it into shape with rigid discipline. As soon as your body gets wind of the fact that it’s going to be put on a boot-camp regime it panics and slows down all the processes you want to speed up – like burning calories and losing fat.
There is no getting away from the fact that in human cultures/society food is a pleasure and a reward – and a social activity. We also over-consume food rich in sugar and fat – we prefer these foods. We don’t do this because there is something wrong with us, we do it because this is how we have evolved in response to the environment inhabited by human beings for hundreds of thousands of years. In a sense what we think we are doing wrong is simply what we have evolved to be good at!
In the times before we decided that ‘civilised’ society was the best way to develop( ie most of human history) humans hunted and gathered their food, and access to high energy/palatable food(eg fruits and animal meat) was limited and unpredictable.
Finding these precious foods was hard work but the fact that humans found them pleasurable to eat gave our tribal ancestors the motivation to continue to seek them.
Hunting in particular was a bit hit and miss so humans developed the capacity to store energy as fat, to be used in times of scarcity when high energy food could not be found. Because of this, humans also developed the ability to ignore their ‘feeling full’ sensations when eating in order to store food for later. Today this is not so helpful!
It is this naturally evolved love of high energy foods combined with our ability to ignore the point that we have eaten enough that contributes hugely to current weight management problems.
It’s all made worse by the fact that in the industrialised societies we don’t encounter the natural rhythms of food availability – the desirable high energy food is available all the time, together with our ever-present ability to eat as much of it as we like. On top of that, just in case we don’t know it is there, massive marketing operations constantly remind us of the unlimited availability of this desirable food.
Many people, especially women, who seek out hypnotherapy to help establish a more healthy weight and shape come with a huge feeling of inadequacy that they cannot conquer these natural eating patterns. Added to that, years of punishing dieting initiatives have confused their bodies into thinking they are under threat of starvation because of the sudden withdrawal of the previously plentiful food supply. Their bodies have become very good at conserving energy and holding onto fat even when their calorific intake is reduced.
Of course our ancestors did have times when they chose not to over eat. One way was to conserve food to spread supply over periods of scarcity, and another was to save it for use as a social tool to encourage bonding and to nourish families. We also learned to control food intake to conform to social norms – greedy people could be a threat to the tribe by taking an unfair amount and today humans still adapt their eating to those around them, often eating less when we feel we are being observed/monitored.
So, if you are carrying some weight you don’t want, just take a moment to reflect on some of this and give yourself a break from feeling bad – you are fighting instincts and patterns which are very natural and it is not the fault of your body or mind that a plentiful and easy supply of food is difficult to resist.
Not everyone responds in the same way, we know that some people find it easier than others to manage eating and weight to fit the food availability patterns in industrialised societies, but a great many people will recognise this on-going struggle within themselves.
Next, if you are one of these people, recognise that it is not a hopeless struggle – in fact just understanding why we have this struggle helps us to begin the process of gaining control.
Your mind is not a ‘bad’ mind because it cannot overcome its natural instincts and tendencies and your body is not a ‘bad’ body because it has accumulated a bit too much stored food/energy. Both your mind and your body are wondrous examples of nature just as they are, complex, intricate systems whose workings we can only marvel at. Your mind and body working as they do is what makes your human existence possible and it is abundant with possibilities, including the ability to calmly, easily and enjoyably plan for greater health, reduced weight, and your optimal condition and shape.
This gentle starting point makes it so much easier to begin a steady and planned journey towards your ideal weight, shape, size and condition, working alongside your body without introducing the extra feelings of stress that often accompany diet regimes and ‘going without’.
Gently be starts from where you are and uses a blend of psychotherapy (to help you understand your eating/hunger patterns and set realistic goals for eating) and hypnosis (to help your brain work towards those goals, reduce anxiety and change unhelpful beliefs around food/eating).
Think of it not so much as losing something you don’t want as gaining something you do want – a positive, permanent programme of weight management that will change your already amazing human body into the healthiest size, weight, shape and condition for you.