The Simple Science of Weight Loss
From a mathematical standpoint, weight loss is very simple.
The body requires a certain amount of fuel each day to run all the automatic tasks needed to keep us alive (breathing, monitoring heart rate, digestion, regulating body temperature, etc).
And this is before we take into consideration any sort of activity that we might engage in.
We measure this fuel (or energy) in terms of calories and in order to maintain a healthy body and mind it is imperative that we consume enough each day.
When we consume more calories than we burn off the body stores these calories as fat and as a result we gain weight.
When we consume fewer calories than we burn off the body must use stored reserves and as a result, we can lose weight.
Consuming just enough calories to meet our daily needs results in a steady body weight.
Mathematically then we simply have to burn off more calories each day than our body needs.
The healthiest way to do this is by reducing calorie intake by about 500 calories each day and remaining consistent.
Finding a “diet” plan that can be sustainable after the individual has reached their desired weight is imperative to optimal health.
However, we live in a time where, as a species, we are larger than ever and consuming more food than ever.
The NHS recently published statistics that show that in the UK (in 2019) 29% of adults are classified as obese (this does not take into consideration the percentage that are not obese but are overweight).
Even more shockingly 20% of year 6 children in the UK are classed as obese.
Consistency, Sustainability, Patience
The problem with weight loss is that most people are looking for a quick fix.
There is no end of weight loss coffees, for example, that promise to boost the metabolism and burn fat by making no other changes than drinking one coffee a day.
The truth is that if you want to lose weight and maintain that loss you must do three things.
- Find a style of eating that allows you to be consistent
- Find a style of eating that is sustainable after the weight loss
- Be patient – it can take as long, if not longer, to lose the weight as it took to put it on
For weight loss to be successful in the long run consistency, sustainability and patience are the three keys to reaching your desired weight.
However, there are 3 barriers that may be sitting in your way that are stopping you from losing weight.
In this article, we will outline what these barriers are and how hypnosis can help break them down.
Barrier One: Beliefs
What is a belief? A belief is simply a statement that we hold as being true.
It does not need to be true for us to believe it.
In fact, many beliefs that we hold about ourselves are incredibly limiting and untrue.
Let’s take an example relating to weight loss.
Imagine a child aged 4. They live in a household that does not have a great income and as a result food does not come easily.
The child eats the food until they are full, or they have had enough leaving some food on the plate.
The parent, who knows that food is hard to come by and wants to make sure their child doesn’t miss out, insists that their child finish all the food on their plate.
Over time, especially during this imprint period where a child is creating a lot of their beliefs, the child begins to create and reinforce the beliefs that they must always finish the food that is on their plate.
Fast forward 20 years. The child is now an adult and overweight.
They have tried and tried to lose weight, but they can’t stop eating when they are full. They must finish what is on the plate because throwing away food is wasteful.
When you start to identify the beliefs that you actually hold, you can see why self sabotage might be the natural answer.
Our lives are dictated by our beliefs and our brains will always find a way to fit in with our beliefs.
Constantly sabotaging your weight loss? Identify your beliefs first.
Belief Two: Values
We live our lives based on unconscious forces that we may or may not be aware of. In NLP they are called filters.
We take in the world through our senses and pass the information through our filters deleting, distorting and generalising the information to fit in with our views.
Beliefs are one of those filters and we have already discussed the importance of those in your weight loss struggle.
Another equally important filter is our core values.
We all have core values, some of us more than others but we generally all have 3 values that are most important to us.
These vary from person to person.
Some people value education, family and positivity as their most important core values.
Others may choose friendships, reliability and fitness as theirs.
It’s easy to see then how our values can shape how we live our lives.
Values and Weight Loss
Let’s take an individual who wants to lose weight.
Their highest values are comfort, hard work and a need to be liked.
For this individual food helps them in staying comfortable, it helps fuel them to keep working hard which as a result keeps them in good stead with their employer.
Now take away food and all of a sudden those core values become harder to live by.
However, if this individual were to identify their core values they may be surprised at what they are.
Just like beliefs, core values can be changed but first they have to be identified.
Imagine if our example changed their core values to include good health and removed a need to be liked.
Can you see how their life might change?
By checking in with your core values, you may be surprised to find that what you actually value in life is holding you back from losing the weight.
Barrier Three: Emotional Significance of Food
Food is not the problem, food is the solution to the deeper problems lying underneath
Every behaviour that we have plays a role in our lives whether it be smoking, drinking, meditation, exercise, eating.
Initially any behaviour had a positive intention, but now may no longer serve us.
Take a student studying for a difficult test for example.
They may struggle to concentrate, they may get bored easily, they may feel incredibly stressed and anxious about the outcome.
Whilst they are studying they have a range of tasty treats and drinks to get them through.
The food serves a purpose to help them through a stressful time.
The brain picks up on this and makes a connection between being stressed and eating food.
Food equals relief
Eating food equals less stress.
In the future, whenever they feel stress, their brain turns to the solution that worked in the past (eating).
This is an unconscious automatic behaviour and until a new alternative that gives the same benefits is established it will always be the go-to behaviour.
But why does eating help calm the body?
Emotions and Digestion
These two systems are automatic (not under our conscious control), constantly at work and play opposing roles
You may not be aware of the sympathetic nervous system but you will no doubt be aware of a different term for it when it is in control: fight or flight.
Whenever we feel anxious, with whatever symptoms may occur for you, it is our sympathetic nervous system in play.
It tells the body to prioritise blood to the arms and legs to help us get out of danger. To quite literally fight or fun away (flight).
Now the parasympathetic nervous system is the complete opposite. Whenever you feel calm or relax it is this system that is in control. It is also known as rest and digest.
This is where the emotional attachment to food comes in.
When we feel anxious, the last thing our sympathetic nervous system is expecting to do is eat. It moves the blood flow away from digestion.
So when we eat the body needs to be ready to digest and the blood flow returns for this process.
This signals to our brain that you are in no danger (you couldn’t possibly be eating if you were under attack) so the sympathetic system reduces its control and the parasympathetic increases.
It’s important to remember that these systems and controlled by the most primitive part of your brain.
An emotional connection is then made. Food equals less anxiety. Food equals calm. Therefore when you are anxious you should eat.
How Hypnosis helps break down Weight-Loss Barriers
The barriers that we have identified in this article are all found at the unconscious level.
By this we mean that they aren’t within our conscious control and play out automatically.
This doesn’t mean that they cannot be overcome and changed.
It just means that we have to work at the level at which they are located.
Hypnotherapy specifically works at this unconscious level to make lasting changes to the automatic behaviours.
When an individual is in hypnosis, they become more suggestible and open to new ways of doing things.
By suggesting to the unconscious mind some new empowering beliefs or some alternate behaviours that will replace food, weight loss can become a much easier journey.
Maybe even an enjoyable one.