Wesley Anderson, DCH
Just buy the Magic Thin pill, only $19.95 in three easy payments. Eat all you want. Magic Thin chemically blocks fat from forming anywhere on your body, while revving up the metabolism to burn off the accumulated unsightly deposits of years past. No muss. No fuss. No willpower. Look and feel years younger! And, it’s fast. Noticeable results in two hours or less.
No So Imaginary Joan said if Magic Thin pills weren’t a fantasy, she’d sure think about taking them. But, she’s not sure that she’s ready yet. After all, in the real world she’d have to deprive herself of sweets, exercise (yuk!), and count endless hungry calories for the rest of her life. And, it would be WORK. It isn’t that it isn’t worth some effort. It’s just that she’s just been disappointed before. She always kept slipping up, and cheating on her diets, and she’s got the thighs to prove it! And, even if the pills did work, she’d have to readjust her self image, and buy more clothes, and…she’s really busy with school, and work right now. The excuses flow so easily…and, so do the frustrations of feeling out of control, and looking fat.
What’s really going on with Joan, and her myriad not so imaginary sisters who just keep waiting, and waiting, and weighting? Let’s consider Joan’s and her sister’s beliefs. What they believe about themselves, and what they believe about the possibility of reaching their goals is crucial. For someone to be motivated to become thinner, she has to believe that it is possible, she has to know how to do it, and she has to believe she can do it.
The “how to” part of accomplishing the goals seems simple enough. Eat a little less, become more physically active, pass up most of the “temptation” foods, most of the time. Unfortunately, Joan and her not so imaginary sisters assume that the only way to eat less, and exercise is through sheer, unremitting, joyless will power. It seems to them that their old ways are always going to be there, tempting them with sweets, and forever trying to seduce them with the same old excuses to “exercise later”. They haven’t realized yet that a crucial part of “how to” includes how to change their lifestyle, how to change their emotional relationships to food, and how to learn new strategies for automatically choosing the foods that they know intellectually are the best for them.
There’s also the “how to” make exercise pleasant piece. It’s not as if we can merely think to ourselves “I like exercise…now!”, and voila: we can’t live without our daily workouts. Good intentions and teeth gritting will power last for a while, but who hasn’t run out of determination a few days or weeks into a do or die sweat and grunt routine? Will power and determination don’t turn exercise into fun, they only make it happen …for a while.
As a hypnotherapist, the author has assisted a great people many learn a few new “how to’s” when it comes to developing true control over weight and eating. We all have the ability to learn new eating habits. We can all use the abilities of our inner minds to find true enjoyment in regular healthful physical activities. And, the “how to’s” are frequently simple and surprisingly straightforward once we have learned the structure of how we think our thoughts. Since we experience the external world visually, through sounds, and touch, we think in images, sounds and sensations as well.
So what’s that got to do with thinner thighs and a lessening belt size? Let’s consider exercise first. Most people who do not enjoy exercising have internal representations of exercise as unpleasant. The images are static, the internal dialog has an unpleasant tonality, and the words embody negative judgements. If the first thing that popped into your mind at the thought “exercise” was a static image of torture on a medieval rack, and the word “yuck”, how ready would you be to slip into the exercise togs and hit the gym? Now, what happens if you imagine yourself just finishing up a workout, smiling, feeling that you’ve accomplished something with the Rocky theme playing triumphantly in the background of your mind? For most people the second thought is much more motivating.
You’ve undoubtedly encountered some of those awful, horrid people who eat as much as they want of anything that they want, and yet stay thin. Wouldn’t it be nice to be one of them? If you’re not interested in learning one of the ways that those folks stay slim, skip on down and meet me at the beginning of the next paragraph. The Slender Eating Strategy is described in Connierae and Steve Andreas’ book The Heart of the Mind. The first step is to determine which foods to eat. First one considers each of the available choices by imagining how each one would taste, and how one will feel physically 2 hours after eating it. Once all of the choices have been mentally cataloged, the foods that bring about the greatest sense of physical well being are chosen. The second step is deciding how much to eat, which frequently also means learning when to stop eating. This step is simple, too. Imagine taking the first bite of the food that you’ve chosen. Savor it, and notice that as you swallow that you begin to feel satisfied. Notice that each bite is becoming more satisfying than the last. And, before taking the next bite notice if your stomach will feel better or less good after swallowing. As soon as the next bite will feel less good, stop. You’re finished. To learn this strategy takes a few minutes of practice before it becomes automatic. Once learned, it’s just how one normally eats. It requires no conscious effort or attention at all.
Of course, it can be a bit more complex than simply changing a few mental images, or practicing a new eating a few times. Some people have emotional conflicts, or attachments that need to be resolved before the new strategies will work for them. The most important thing to remember is that emotional conflicts can be resolved. We’ve all made tough decisions and somehow lived through difficult times. Gaining control permanent over weight can simply first be a matter of deciding to go for it, and then discovering the “how to’s” that may not have been so obvious.
So there is hope for Joan and her not so imaginary sisters, even if the magic diet pills are an illusion. Making it easy requires some dedication, and effort. However, it’s working smart, not working hard that is the real key.