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Celebrity diets, your brain and you

Posted Aug 27 2009 10:12pm

It’s a litte quiet on the news front in the world of hypnotherapy and hypnosis, right now. So rather than bringing you the usual highlights from the latest hypnosis research and stories, I thought I would write about something that is very close to my heart: how to have the weight and shape you want.

One of the most common reasons for people to choose to work with me is because they are fed up with diets that don’t work. I am very used to hearing the words, ‘Sophie, you are my last resort.’

And I completely understand that. Most people I have worked with have tried every celebrity diet, consulted nutritionists, read countless books, even bought very expensive supplements and generally imposed dull, boring ways of eating upon themselves in an attempt to shift the pounds. It is only after years of yo-yo dieting that they begin to realise, ‘Hang on a minute. I need to do something different here.’

And that’s where hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis comes in.

It’s the way that we think about food, eating and our bodies that changes everything. My You Can Have the Weight and Shape You Wan t programme is not a diet but simply a system of learning to use the power of your subconscious mind to enjoy the variety and flavour of healthy foods and regular exercise, but here is the interesting thing…

When I’m working with people, I often find that in the first week or so, they are so used to following diets and eating plans that they want me to tell them what to eat every day. Or they put themselves on a self-imposed diet of eating quick convenience diet foods, those specially packaged products on the supermarket shelves, unsatisfying stuff with ingredients that are closer to cardboard and polystyrene than actual food. And then they find themselves feeling hungry and longing for a chocolate bar.

Are you on a self-imposed diet?
I think we are all so used to reading about and hearing about the latest diet - and the food that is ‘naughty’ and that we must not allow ourselves to eat - that we think that diets and self-deprivation are the way to lose weight successfully and permanently. It makes me so cross to flick through a magazine in a waiting room or walk past a news stand and see all the hypnotic images of this ‘hot diet’ or that ‘bikini body plan.’ Grrrr…

And, of course, much of this is sandwiched between airbrushed images of models who actually don’t look like that in real life. More grrrrr… Was it Cindy Crawford, one of the ’80s supermodels, who once said, ‘It takes five people and a photographer to make me look like this. I don’t get out of bed looking this way.’ She felt it was important that women knew that.

You may have guessed that I feel passionately about this subject. In my teenage years and early 20s, I struggled terribly with my body-image. I remember a particular ‘light-bulb’ moment when I realised that I was never going to look like Cindy Crawford in the pages of Marie Claire. Why? Well, for a start, because she is over 6′ tall and I am just about 5′ 3″. Almost. If I stand up straight.  8-)  And that was a liberating realisation for me.

Love your body… yes, really…

From that point on, I have been gradually learning how to love my body for all its little foibles and fluctuations. You know, holding an imaginary gun to my head and screaming at myself, ‘Do not eat that chocolate’ wasn’t really very motivating. And it certainly wasn’t much fun.

This is celebrity bikini-shot season. Please, please, women everywhere, I urge you to be kind to yourself. And men. These days, there seems to be a little more pressure on men too. Although, if you are a man, you can always choose to aspire to models of successful men such as Michael McIntryre rather than Brad Pitt, of course. There seems to be a somewhat wider range…

Your brain

How we think about our own bodies and other people’s bodies and how we think about ourselves is so bound up in our ability to choose and really enjoy healthy, nourishing food and exercise. Our brains are the most important element of healthy eating.

Here is a celebrity story that I came across on the ‘Now!’ magazine web site. It’s the story of ex-EastEnders star, Natalie  Cassidy, who has dropped from a size 16 to a very healthy and toned size 8.

You have to look carefully for the key message of the story. It is hidden amongst the adverts for slimming supplements and pics of ‘celebrity bodies.’ But the message is simple and clear.

How did Natalie lose the weight? She says:

‘I changed everything. It was more about exercise than diet. I cut out rubbish. I cut down on alcohol, too – even though I love white wine – and laid off savoury stuff. Cheese, crisps and dips were my downfall… Over the years I’d dabbled with exercise, but I’d never stuck to anything. I hate being all red-faced and sweaty in the gym, so I always preferred to do DVDs at home.’

Ah. But here’s the thing. I can’t help wondering how many people have bought Natalie’s best-selling fitness DVD and are now feeling like failures because it is still lying in a drawer?

Natalie’s key message seems to be: Eat healthily and do regular exercise consistently… in your way, a way that you feel comfortable with. Which may not be a DVD. It might be walking, running, the gym, horse riding, rebounding. But the important thing is to do something.

Stories like Natalie’s are inspiring and might compel you to begin to do something differently in your own life. But I think it is so important to do it in your way. The way that is right for you. And you may need some support to make that happen.

The only ‘rule’ that matters
It’s time to roll out my all-time favourite concept from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming): ‘There is no failure. Only feedback.’

Stop beating yourself up for what you haven’t done, or didn’t do ‘right,’ for falling ‘off the wagon’ or ‘letting yourself down.’ Think about what you have learned from your experiences and from what didn’t work for you so that you can use that feedback to do things differently in the future.

There is only one way to achieve the weight and shape you want. Your way. And that’s the way that works best for you. If you don’t know what that is, maybe it’s time to chuck out the celebrity diet books and the diet ‘rules’ and begin to find out?

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