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Gok Wan, self-esteem and hypnosis

Posted Feb 03 2009 1:21am

Over the past couple of days, I have received several calls from people who watched the Channel 4 programme ‘Too Fat Too Young ‘ with ’self-esteem superhero’, Gok Wan.

I love Gok. I think he is fabulous. And I think that what he has done with the programme ‘How To Look Good Naked’ is wonderful. (I sometimes wish that I could grab him for an hour and share a few hypnotic language patterns with him to lend extra laser-beam brilliance to the way in which he facilitates change in people. Gok, give me a call!)

So, in ‘Too Fat Too Young’ we saw Gok on a very personal journey back into his past as an unhappy and overweight teenager in Leicester. And what a sincere and courageous piece of television it was. I can’t think of many people in the style and fashion TV world who would be prepared to share publicly their private struggles with body-image and their troubled relationship with food. (And there must be thousands of such people.)

We saw footage of Gok as a 21-stone student and followed the story of his transformation. We saw him meeting teenagers battling obesity and speaking to various experts.

By the end of the programme, Gok told us that he felt ‘confused’ about everything that he had found out about the many possible contributory factors in weight and eating problems.

Now, I work with people every week to help them to transform their relationship with food and their bodies, and Gok’s confusion was not at all surprising to me. We are bombarded with different ideas about this from experts all over the place and also about the ‘best way’ to change things: from diets to gastric bands.

Two things from the programme stood out for me. Firstly, Gok’s quest was largely focused on the why of  over-eating and obesity. He wanted to know why he had been overweight as a teenager and he told us that he was worried about finding out that it might be all down to his parents, or due to a ‘fat gene.’ In my experience, searching for the answers to why is not as important as actually discovering how to change your associations and patterns of behavior around food.

It is one thing to know that you eat because you are feeling miserable or angry or stressed. You can then go on a search for why that might be (and how long is that proverbial piece of string?) or you can learn to recognise what you do, how you do it and then interrupt or let go of that pattern for something new, helpful and progressive.

Gok talked to Dr Robert Le Fever, a ‘food addiction’ specialist, about our relationship with food. Personally, I don’t know what I feel about ‘food addiction’  and talk of ‘addictive personality’ but I did agree with Dr Le Fever’s powerful point that it really doesn’t matter whether we blame the media, our parents, society or the bad things that have happened to us in our lives. The most important thing is to take responsibility for our eating and our health. We can control what we choose to eat.

At the end of the programme we saw a project aimed at building self-esteem and confidence in a group of young people, many of whom had been badly bullied for being overweight. The project is helping them to enjoy exercise and eat healthily. When asked what she had learned so far, a delightful ten-year-old girl pedalling an exercise bike said: ‘Confidence and self-help. I can do it. I can believe in myself.’

Now that is self-hypnosis! Here was a glimpse of how changing the way that she talked to herself inside her own mind and learning how to use the power of her mind in positive ways was really helping a lovely young girl to enjoy her life and her body. Fabulous!

As Gok concluded, nobody needs to be feeling isolated, picked-on or that they can’t make the decision to change things. You can!

Gok, Queen of Self-Esteem, if you are reading this, please think about including self-hypnosis and hypnotherapy in your next programme.  8-)

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