Over one-third of Americans are obese, and two-thirds are overweight. If you’re significantly overweight, it may be hard to buy clothes that fit, embarrassing to don a swimsuit at the beach, and expensive to buy two seats on a plane if you can’t fit into one. But what’s worse, if you fall into this category? If you’re significantly overweight, you’re at a much higher risk of deadly health threats like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
The first line of defense against gaining weight—going on a diet—can be very effective in the short term. (Emphasis on the words “short term.”) Most women in American have already been on a diet by the time they’re in the eighth grade, and many of us never stop yo-yo dieting…despite the fact that we all know diets don’t work. According to some surveys, over 90% of us gain back any weight we’ve lost within three years.
“Many of my clients joke that they were weight loss experts before they ever started working with me…because they’ve lost the same 30 pounds over and over,” says William Wood, a weight loss hypnotherapist in Salt Lake City Utah who works with clients who want to lose weight and get motivated to exercise.
Although some diets can be effective for weight loss in the short term, the truth is that for many of us, eating isn’t just about fueling our bodies. Eating and food may represent the warm memories of childhood, the fellowship of friends, a bribe to make children behave, or a way to self-comfort. Conversely, for some, food is about escapism, a way to self-medicate or escape boredom or low self-esteem. Others may gain weight in reaction to extremely negative childhood experiences like sexual abuse.
As long as your eating habits have less to do with hunger than they do with an emotional state, you are at risk of overeating, weight loss experts agree. Hypnotherapists focus on this link between emotions and eating to help their clients change their relationship with food.
Although there is still debate about the exact scientific definition of hypnosis, it’s frequently described as a state of physical relaxation, but with heightened mental focus. Hypnotherapists use a variety of hypnosis weight loss techniques to help clients “reprogram” their subconscious minds, which are typically the source of irrational, self-destructive impulses like compulsive eating.
For example, Wood had a client who was “addicted” to her daily high-calorie cappuccino break. After using a conversational hypnosis technique, says Wood, “within five minutes, she didn’t have that compulsion anymore. I talked to her about month later, and she said that she literally had not had a cappuccino in almost a month…She said, ‘I haven’t even wanted to go get one. I haven’t even thought about it.’”
Wood continued, “How amazing is that to go from the point of being totally compelled to being ‘I could take it or leave it’ in just a couple of minutes? One of the strengths of hypnosis is it that helps rewire the brain and changes preferences. So if you struggle with food compulsions, hypnosis can help you.”