My stomach is so big. I'm so fat. My arms are flabby. I hate my body.
As a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, these are statements I hear from women almost every day in my office. And even though it makes me sad to hear those words, I am not surprised that many women struggle with negative body image and related anxiety disorders. In today's society, we are constantly exposed to images of idealized, slender women who appear to be laughing, smiling, and apparently enjoying life more than the rest of us. As Rehabs.com recently reported, the weight difference between models and movie stars compared to that of the average American woman has increased dramatically over the years. In fact, it has grown from eight percent in 1975 to over 23 percent today.
One of the most popular programs I offer at my clinic is achieving weight loss. Most of my weight loss clients are women, and almost all of them struggle with negative body image. If you think of weight loss only in physical terms it seems like losing weight is easy. But what if there is more to it? What if your body image factors heavily into the equation?
Losing Weight Promotes a Positive Body Image
If you have struggled with your weight at any point in your life, you probably understand that there are two major physical components to weight loss:
- Balancing what and how much you eat.
- Integrating regular or increased exercise into everyday life.
So, what stops a person from easily following these two principles? My twenty plus years of experience in helping women lose weight has convinced me that it has everything to do with body/self-image and anxiety issues that stem from it.
Here are a few ways that your body image can affect your body confidence and habits:
- When you're anxious you are less likely to make healthy choices, and are more prone to make the decision to eat something unhealthy or skip our exercise routines.
- Science has proven that every cell in the body changes as you change your thoughts and feelings. This means that your body reacts physiologically to reflect what you are thinking and feeling.
- A person with a positive body image is more able to treat their body with kindness, making healthy eating choices and finding time to exercise.
When you eat a balanced and healthy diet and exercise regularly, you will begin to feel better about yourself. Your body will become healthier and begin to look more toned. Along with these physical changes, you will begin to develop a more positive body and self-image. However, if someone experiences anxiety about their body and has struggled with a negative body image, this often prohibits them from making healthy lifestyle changes in the first place. This is why many women start a diet and exercise program over and over again, only to quit and try again later. This can be so frustrating that it adds to the problem, creating even more anxiety and a negative body image. This cycle prohibits any long term success.
Hypnotherapy Helps You Break Bad Habits
Luckily, the tools and techniques in a hypnotherapy program can help break up this negative cycle by applying a completely different solution to the problem. When I begin a hypnotherapy weight loss program with a client, we work on eliminating cravings, removing blocks in the subconscious mind that have created bad habits, and replacing a negative body image with a positive one. In fact, improving body image is often the most integral piece of a weight loss program. I find that clients begin to see success as soon as their body image begins to change. Hypnotherapy has also proved to be effective in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Many people who have completed a weight loss hypnotherapy program are able to achieve permanent weight loss, even when they have failed to lose weight in all of their previous attempts. Why is that?
Typically, people think of weight loss with the conscious mind, which is in charge of the logical and analytical part of the brain. Hypnosis, however, is known as the straight pathway to the subconscious mind, which stores all memory, habit patterns, limitations, and blocks. This includes all past experience with eating habits, exercise, and body image. By inducing a relaxed state of mind, those under hypnotherapy are able to access their subconscious mind, and change eating habits, body image, and desire to exercise to achieve positive results. Because a person is able to access so much of the mind while experiencing hypnotherapy, we can cover all aspects of weight loss during each session.
Feeling Good About Yourself Leads to Success
Even women who have struggled with weight from a young age, including those that feel that they have never liked their bodies, have been able to achieve success once they work on these issues at a deeper level. Not only are they able to lose weight, but they feel good in their own bodies. Women nearing the end of a hypnotherapy program often report that the issue turned out to be more about their relationship with themselves and their bodies rather than about food. Once they were able to see themselves and their bodies in a positive light, they were able to achieve lasting weight loss results and higher levels of physical, mental, and emotional confidence.
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Date of original publication: April 17, 2015
Updated: September 06, 2016