It’s 1 p.m. and I’m standing in front of my open fridge. I grab the most satisfying option within reach - the container of Nori wraps stuffed with brown rice, smoked salmon, cucumber and avocado that I prepared in the morning. I set two on my plate and and pour a tall glass of water. When lunchtime is over, I am satisfied and energized. I’ve been alternating this week's lunch with a quinoa spinach and feta mix but lately these wraps are all that I’m craving.
My eating habits from months earlier were a jarring contrast from today. I never prepared food in the morning, and often blustered through my day eating nothing until lunch time or late afternoon. Then feeling fatigued and foggy, I grabbed the most accessible item in the cupboard or fridge. This continued for years until I grew tired of not fitting into all of my clothes and most importantly, feeling the weight of low energy.
Something had to change. I considered dieting, but I’ve tried a number of depriving diets in the past only to quickly gain back the weight within weeks.
This was my experience, and although I can’t discredit diets completely for igniting ambition in some people to continue a healthier lifestyle, who among us doesn’t want an easier option?
Perhaps we are leaving out intrinsic pieces to the weight-loss journey. With so much focus outwardly on the body to control outside circumstances to match our desires, what if we focused inwardly on the mind to control inside circumstances that will lead to our desires?
This is the quest that led me to the doorsteps of Hypnotherapist Tammy J. Carpenter, M.A., the owner of Mind Over Body Hypnotherapy, LLC in Loveland.
Before seeing Tammy Carpenter, I knew nothing about hypnotherapy for weight loss except for one thing: that it worked. I knew this because of what people were saying about it who went to Tammy for hypnotherapy weight loss sessions and the irrefutable changes I witnessed in their appearance. Most people I talked to who went to Tammy for weight loss hypnotherapy were losing an average of 2 ½ pounds per week – and they weren’t taking drastic measures to lose weight!
Hypnotherapy is “a lifestyle change that is livable,” says Tammy.
“Your subconscious mind works with you to know when you are full, to cut emotional eating, and to release sugar cravings. If you want to eat something you can, but your subconscious is constantly reminding that you crave healthy foods more.”
One client returned to Tammy after her first session and asked, “I like it, but did you tell me to eat an apple, an orange and a banana every day?”
Tammy laughed and told her that she had just suggested that she would crave more fruits and vegetables and the apple and orange was her subconscious mind’s interpretation.
I wanted a similar livable weight-loss experience. It was time.
So I signed up for three sessions over the course of three weeks. Here is an in-depth first-hand look as to what I discovered:
I began each of my three sessions by discussing with Tammy my weight-loss intentions, biggest food triggers, what emotions were tied to them and my overall goal. Tammy then offered me suggestions and incorporated my specific weight-loss goals into her hypnotherapy script. The first week, I told her my biggest problem was not having food prepared, being on the go and low blood sugar. My goal was to have more energy and to fit once again into all of my beautiful size 0-2 clothes.
The hypnotic induction is the first 10-15 minutes where clients dive into a deep, hypnotic state. It’s essential so that the following weight loss messages will be ingrained from a subconscious level.
With every hypnotic induction session, whether for weight-loss, smoking, or something else, “the client will be in a light state of trance, similar to zoning out while watching TV or daydreaming," says Tammy.
Tammy then looks for visual cues that clients are hypnotized and tells them afterward.
“There is no wrong way to do hypnosis. You can be totally aware, in and out, or even fall asleep and it will still work I have had many clients sleep through every session and still quit smoking!”
As I settled into the warm reclined chair Tammy proceeded to guide me for about 10 minutes into a state of deep and comfortable relaxation.
I heard once that hypnotherapy is an art. But I think it’s also Tammy’s soothing voice that makes it so easy to slide into the deepest recesses of relaxation.
As I descended with the help of mental images into a deeper and deeper state of total ease, Tammy’s soothing voice guided me to a comfortable tropical visualization. I found myself on a tropical beach, wiggling my toes through warm sand as blue crystalline waters crashed behind me. I followed a “path into a band of trees with giant lines covered in huge blue morning-glories that had a sweet smell to them.” I heard colorful birds in the treetops calling to one another. I then saw a beam of golden light on the path ahead. This light symbolized “all that is good in life such as love and peace, serenity and tranquility.”
I allowed the golden beam of light to flow through me, entering the top of my head, spreading warmth and relaxation throughout my entire body. The golden light traveled through my body, and every muscle fully relaxed until my breathing became a shade deeper and my body felt warmer. As the golden light moved through my toes, pushing out all stress, worries, and concerns, my body was left totally relaxed in a loose, limp state.
“You are the one who puts your foot down to make this change. So you’ll take most of the credit. I am like a guide on a backpacking trip just showing the way. You’re still carrying your own backpack with important weight reduction goals that you know how to reach. So when you’re thinner and you look back, you’ll say to yourself, ‘I lost the weight.’”
I began each morning by listening to my guided hypnotherapy session from that week on my iPod with headphones. Tammy sends clients an audio file via e-mail immediately after sessions for the client to listen to from his or her phone, MP3 player, iPod or another device. Tammy recommends listening to the recording at least once a day (morning or evening – it doesn’t matter) for at least one week, but as long as desired until one feel it’s not needed anymore.
The first week’s session reminded me that these new eating habits had nothing to do with dieting – I was simply creating new, more satisfying daily eating habits. I was told that I would never again deprive myself. I could have anything in moderation, yet I would find that my desire for healthier food was enhanced. I found this adage to be true. I didn’t avoid our weekly pizza night, I just found myself eating one slice because I listened to my body when I was full.
As my new eating habits were programmed in my subconscious mind progressively throughout the week, my subconscious urges evolved for my desire to be thinner.
My plan was to eat small amounts of healthy, prepared protein every two hours to keep my blood-sugar leveled, avoid mindless snacking, and to only sit down to eat a meal when I was truly hungry.
The day after my session, I already felt energized and motivated. I was craving chicken salads and a lot of water. I ate breakfast earlier so I wouldn’t be hungry in the afternoon and I remembered to pack protein snacks before I left home.
Something within me had shifted in that first hypnotherapy session from a state of helplessness to hopefulness and for the first time in a long time, I felt in control.
I was ready to make the weight loss change and immediately became more realistic about my body’s food consumption. When my husband suggested that we eat at a nearby Mexican restaurant one afternoon, I declined. I felt satisfied enough from my protein snacks and knew that the specific restaurant’s food would zap my energy and weigh me down.
As I continued to listen to the guided hypnosis meditation on my iPod each morning, I soaked in the gritty reality of food consumption.
“Remember that food is just a substance that sustains life in a machine called the body. Food outside the body completely changes its appearance and texture as it enters the mouth. Our teeth chop it up with secretions of saliva and it becomes a pasty substance that’s washed down and flushed around in a bowl of acid we call the stomach. From there it becomes a milky substance that’s absorbed into the intestinal walls and deposited into the designated areas of the body.”
I was reminded that the taste buds on the tongue were designed “on a higher level to send perceptual signals to the brain.” My body was intended to enjoy food to sustain life – but in moderation.
“Your mind is the builder and the body is the result.”
By listening daily to the hypnosis recording, I deprogrammed my mind from past unhealthy habits of overeating or eating the wrong foods and I allowed my taste buds to enjoy fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole foods.
“As you begin to sample many health foods you will notice that you enjoy healthier foods more. You experiment with them and over time you are creative with seasoning and herbs and you find other healthy ways to make them taste better and you learn to like them. You are reducing your desire for processed sugar and flour. Because remember, flour and water make glue. And eating glue is unhealthy.”
These words about the toxicity of fatty foods are probably what stuck with me the most the first week and the reason why I avoided the baked goods in our fridge. From day one after my session, I viewed fattening, sugary foods as a fake substance that sits like a glob of glue in my body, causing fatigue. That image of glue was enough for me to turn towards more energizing options.
I also found moments the first week where old habits bumped against my new subconscious beliefs about healthy eating especially about wasting food. Then I recalled from my hypnosis session that the things that I was deprived of at one time are all available to me now and “it means nothing.” I had more than I needed everywhere. All of the stores, restaurants, and my home were stocked with food. I could have any food anytime I wanted it wasn’t a big deal to leave some on my plate or skip certain foods altogether.
During mealtimes, I was also more conscious of my portion sizes and the signals of fullness. I told myself I could always take another portion if I was really hungry, but I found after each meal that I was satisfied.
The image of a thinner version of myself flashed through my mind often, especially at social outings. As the weeks progressed, I learned to turn down food without feeling impolite but focused on being sociable instead. It was a lot easier than I thought. Before your body can process anything, your mind has already made a choice. Once the choice is made, your body accepts it.
Since my first hypnotherapy session, a switch was turned on. And through listening daily to the guided hypnotherapy on my ipod, mindfulness was now a part of my life. I was now acutely aware how I would feel after I ate something so I fine-tuned my eating to those feelings.
The most pivotal part of the first week’s guided hypnosis session was when Tammy had me visualize my problematic foods with invisible energy cords extending from the foods to my core. Then I imaged taking back control and safely cutting those cords one at a time, “Reducing or eliminating the emotions behind them.”
“The truth is, problematic foods have nothing to do with the way you feel anymore. Food has nothing to do with stresses, or comfort, or, or rewards, or moods or loneliness or happiness or any ups and downs through the natural course of living life. Now, you have separated foods from feeling and there is a wonderful feeling of freedom and lightness.”
Through this subconscious programming, I ate healthier food, I planned my snacks and meals for the day in the morning and I checked in with my body to ask if I was really hungry. My biggest focus was on savoring my food so that the signals of fullness reacted sooner.
“Quality is more important than quantity. People only taste 10 percent of the food that slides down the throat anyway – the rest is just stuffing.”
Upon fullness, I briskly picked up my plate and discarded the remnants of food. Again, it was these initial choices my mind made where my body didn’t have time to react. It just had to go along and accept it. There were simply things other than eating that “I would rather do or think about.”
I learned by the end of the first week that I consumed healthy food – moderately, in-balance and slowly – and food did not consume me. And for the first time in many years, I felt in control and relaxed about it.
“The long-term stress of weight retention has disappeared now. It’s as if a weight has been lifted with a new you. The old ball and chain effect from dragging around poor eating habits is gone forever and there is a wonderful feeling of freedom and lightness.”
And that is how I felt after one week – I felt lighter but it was my mental state that was the lightest. Even though I didn’t see dramatic numbers on the scale, I noticed that my clothes fit better and my husband kept commenting on the way I looked. I found this all to be encouraging and energizing.
At the end of the first week’s guided hypnosis session, I was asked to take a few moments and imagine myself in the very near future as a thinner person and to notice how much happier I was and how much better my thinner body felt. This is the final image that I took with me when surrounded by problematic foods. And once this image is planted in your subconscious mind, it never leaves. This is why hypnotherapy for weight loss works.
After one week of listening daily to my hypnotherapy recording on my iPod, two things stuck out at me that I addressed in my second session with Tammy:
(1) I didn’t realize that I had such an emotional attachment to food before. Only through the subconscious reprogramming of my old habits did the underlying reasons surface for failed past weight-loss attempts. I had tied comforting food as a relief from anxiousness or stress.
Tammy helps a lot of people through hypnotherapy to quit smoking and said it’s interesting how the vice of food and the vice of cigarettes are closely linked to the same feelings.
What are we trying to escape from and what are we trying to keep down?
Hypnotherapy molds the brain to confront these feelings and to realize what we really need – instead of turning to weak substitutions such as food.
(2) I also wondered, if this was working out so well for me with such little effort, what else did I want to work out for me? I knew for a long time that I had food sensitivities, so Tammy incorporated avoiding foods such as wheat, gluten, soy and corn as well as food with preservatives. I also wanted more encouragement to continue to lose the weight and this week’s session gave me a boost of motivation.
After 10-minute hypnotic induction similar to the first session, I once again submerged deeply into a state of heavy relaxation, almost in a free-floating state, as the golden light enveloped me and swirled through my body.
“Subtle shifts are taking place for you subconsciously. You are on your way as you have started achieving your goals on becoming a happier, thinner and healthier person. You are moving away from all past discomforts from stresses of being overweight and bad eating habits. You are removing negative self-talk about yourself now and you are replacing it with positive messages so you are more relaxed in the whole idea of becoming thinner.”
This week I noticed I had shifted my focus away from problem eating habits and replaced them with positive eating habits, constantly reminded through listening to my latest hypnosis recording that I can be “thin and satisfied at the same time.” I never thought that this was possible before.
I was also reminded again that these messages had nothing to do with dieting or conscious willpower. I had a “deeper, subtle subconscious willpower now” that came from within. Dieting was over.
“You have begun to create the eating habits of a thinner person. Your conscious desires now match the subconscious urges to eat like a thinner person. And remember, you’re doing this so you can be healthier, so you can have more energy so that your clothes fit better and you can feel better about how you look. You have begun to think about foods more logically and you have severed emotional ties to foods.”
My emotional ties to sugary foods and carbs were thought about less and less. I became focused on other things I enjoyed – my entrepreneurial ventures, spending time with my family in the outdoors, reading and socializing with friends. Because I had shifted my focus to what was working and felt boosted by the positive tangible changes, even more started working out for me. And that’s how all of life works, really.
I continued to plan my days with fruits and vegetables and remembered to eat breakfast. Because my energy was soaring, I wasn’t crashing and reaching for whatever was available at 3 p.m. When I was at the grocery store, I focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, and gluten-free options and planned a few key rotating meals for the week. Most of the time, my small protein snacks kept me energized so I wasn’t even hungry at dinner.
The main thing that I noticed the second week was that it did not take much more effort, if any, to eat healthier than it did to eat poorly. I have never been a fast-food eater, so that case might differ, but when I was at the grocery store purchasing food, it took no more effort for me to purchase healthy foods that were alive and full of nutrients than it did to purchase dead foods with chemicals that made me tired.
It’s simply a matter of asking yourself, “What do I want to look like?” and “How do I want to feel?”
I did notice a boost in my self-image too. I was more confident because I felt self-accomplished. When I used to diet in the past, I had a wired belief that I had little control and I focused on temporary bursts of misery for weight loss. That never works. Over the past week, I noticed how just a few daily decisions prior to eating, along with morning snack preparation was the key contribution to my on-going weight loss.
“To your own amazement, It will take very little satisfy yourself now. You are more aware of your choices now and you are making more reasonable choices at the grocery stores, at the restaurants, at home, and at work. You are eating less and gaining more self-esteem, more inner control, more strength and a higher self-image. You are choosing health over the problematic over-eating habits of the past. You choose reasonable portions and you are amazed as the stomach begins to shrink, getting smaller and smaller so it gets full quicker.”
I began to notice more and more the people around me with thinner, fitter bodies who shopped at the same health food stores I did. I wondered when their shift happened and when this became a lifestyle to them. I also noticed that I no longer became interested in being around some people with poor eating habits. I noticed that this affected their entire life. Some of them seemed more irritable, had lower self-esteem and less motivation.
Above all, I began to see food as an energy source, not as an object of taste.
“Your body and your temple are now becoming a sacred and honored place for your spirit. You honor your body more. You are feeling more spiritual now, entertaining a higher level of spiritual growth with your etheric body blending with your physical body and it feels wonderful. You’re achieving your birth-right to have a thinner, healthier body now. After a long time of stress, a weight retention has been lifted and there is a new path in your life that is much more satisfying.”
At the end of this hypnosis session as well, I took a few moments to visualize myself in the future as a “happier, healthier, thinner person” at my ideal weight. I noticed “how safe and wonderful” it felt to “wear that thinner body.” And I noticed how good I felt mentally, emotionally and physically. Once you’ve felt those feelings, it’s hard to go back.
At my final week’s session, I didn’t have an agenda. Things were overall working out for me and I had lost about four pounds. I noticed the only time that I did slip for a couple of days was when I felt like I was too busy to listen to the recorded hypnotherapy session with my earphones in the morning which then led me to blaze off without preparing my snacks for the day…and eventually, my energy crashed.
I found that I had to schedule my bedtime like I did my other appointments so I could wake up at 5 a.m. to exercise, listen to my hypnosis recording, and then plan my snacks for the day. This might be a little extreme for most people, so you have to follow your personal power hours to listen to your own hypnotherapy recording and plan your meals. For some people, that means at 10 p.m. For me, it’s first thing in the morning.
This was my deepest hypnotic induction yet. I almost fell asleep and I didn’t want to wake up at the end of the session.
“Every time people are hypnotized, they go faster and deeper and it is more effective,” says Tammy.
“You’re going to become more aware of your choices. All foods and eating are going to become a more mindful, contentious plan, a contentious choice for the better. You’re going to become uniquely aware of the type of foods, of the quantity of foods that you are choosing to eat in every moment. When a person chooses now to become thinner, they’re beginning new, happier and healthier lifestyle, the lifestyle and the habits of a thinner, happier, freer, more self-accomplished person.”
By now the message that every food choice is vital to my goal of becoming a thinner, happier and more satisfied person was a part of my being.
“Each choice towards thinness in the morning will lead you to have a happier morning, starting your day off on the right foot. Morning choices to choose thinner foods or smaller amounts of thicker foods simulate inner peace, a happiness, and a freedom within you.”
My mornings continued with preparation. And I made sure I ate enough protein every 2-3 hours during the day so that late night snacking wasn’t appealing.
“At night, you want to stay away from the kitchen. You only want to do the right thing. And you feel satisfied without food because your stomach is still full from dinner. You are satisfied without food in the late evening. But you know that at any time you physically feel that the body is hungry in good conscious, once in a while you may choose a happier, healthier food in reasonable quantities. However, you notice that you have simply lost your appetite for food at night. You lost your appetite because you are satisfied without it.”
I also noticed my body has always been thinnest when I ate earlier in the day and stopped even as early as 4 p.m. Weight-loss always came from no dinner at all or a light, vegetable and protein based dinner.
So now, you might wonder, is this sustainable? Listening to daily weight loss recording and waking up at the crack of dawn to squirrel around in the kitchen and cobble together some protein snacks? What about when you’re traveling? Or you have an early morning appointment? Or a sick child?
My answer is no, it’s not realistic to listen to the same recording for the rest of your life. What I set out to accomplish was to rewire my brain and create new eating habits for the rest of my life. Eventually, I won’t feel the need to listen to any more of the recordings. While my food preparation and subconscious healthy choices will eventually progress into a lifetime habit, it will take time to form the new habit.
And according to Tammy, an average of 60 days. Better yet, a full 90 days. (Tammy also runs a more in-depth weight-loss program called “90 Days to a Better Body” for people seeking an even more specialized and effective plan to help them lose weight.)
The success with hypnotherapy “averages a slow, steady loss of 2 ½ pounds per week that stays off,” Tammy says. The encouragement of shedding extra weight that leads you feeling lighter and more self-accomplished with higher self-esteem is the boost that everyone needs to turn healthy eating into a lifetime commitment. Without this initial boost or this specific platform that rewires your brain we would fall into the same poor eating habits.
“When people come to me,” says Tammy, “They have tried many fad diets and quick diets. They have tried meal delivery and hormone shots. They tell me that these often helped them to lose weight quickly, but then when they go off the plan or the shots, they gain back that weight and twenty pounds more."
Once you get to your third week of hypnotherapy sessions for weight-loss, there’s no going back. You are halfway submerged into an entirely new you. The only thing you have to do to rewire your habit entirely is to continue to make choices.
Choices when presented with fattening foods:
“Once in a while you’ll be presented with an opportunity to eat thicker foods, foods that in larger quantities could leave you thicker and heavier and more uncomfortable. When thicker foods are presented to you simply lose your appetite for them. Even at the sight of thicker foods you lose your appetite for them. Yet you may notice that if you choose to sample these foods once in a while you do it guilt-free because you’re going to limit your qualities or your quantities. You will occasionally choose only small amounts of fattening foods and this will set you free.”
Choices when it comes to planning your next meal:
“And when you leave in the morning you will be planning for a happy, healthy, thinner you at lunchtime. Because you may either be packing a healthier lunch that you take with you to work or you may be planning to cook a healthier lunch or you may be planning a healthier lunch at a restaurant. You want to choose the healthier lunch because you deserve to be happier, healthier, and a thinner person.”
Choices when it comes to snacking:
“And many times you may forget about snacking – putting it out of your mind. On the rare occasion, if you should ever think about snacking, you will think about making the right choice - a mindful choice. Healthier snacks, or lower quantities of unhealthy snacks, lower quantities, feeling happier with less. Avoiding snacking makes you feel better physically and mentally.”
Choices at the grocery store:
“There you notice that each healthier choice you make makes you feel one notch better. It’s one step closer to freedom and happiness. You may decide to choose a few thicker foods but you’ll do it guilt free. Because you know that if you partake in a thicker food you eat reasonable quantities. The choice for thicker foods may simply be for other people in the family. People you live with may want thicker foods. But you are losing your appetite for them. You choose more and more health foods each time you shop because they are tasting better to you.”
“Healthier foods simply appear more appetizing. You’re becoming a thinner person through all of your choices. Making conscious choices at home, when you go out, at restaurants and more.”
“Happier, freer and healthier.” This is the phrase that echoed through my mind from the last session’s recording. There is a direct correlation between your improved physical appearance and your self-esteem. The less you eat, the longer you live because you’re using up less energy and the more plant-based foods and whole foods you eat, the more energy and vitality you have, the better you look, the more you eradicate disease and the better you feel. And the more positive you feel about yourself – that changes your entire life.
Working from the inside out creates results. Using hypnotherapy for weight loss with the subconscious mind works well not only because you’re constantly making healthier food choices but because “it helps you to relax and sleep better, which lowers your cortisol level and helps you to lose weight more easily,” says Tammy.
“The subconscious mind is very powerful in helping people to get what they want. So it works because you want it to work,” says Tammy.
And while I can’t say that it requires no action, I can say that it was by far the easiest and the most effective form of weight loss that I’ve tried.
“People grow tired of counting calories and not being able to eat what they want to eat,” says Tammy.
“Why work any harder than you have to for the changes that you want?”
"I'm losing about 1-1/2 pounds per week - down 12 pounds in 2 months and my measurements in my mid-section are all down 2-3 inches. My BMI is down by almost 2 points. I'm delighted that I don't need to count either calories or points, like in Weight Watchers. I'm being more active and working out or walking several days a week. I'm making better choices in what and how much I eat and most days I'm not hungry between meals. I'm very happy with my progress. The 90 Days to a Better Body program is definitely working for me." - Sharon Koleber, Loveland, CO