Hypnosis: The dynamic way to stop smoking & lose weight
As human beings, we appear to be periodically obsessed with the idea of changing our lives profoundly. There are certain times of the year when this desire is at its height i.e. New Year, after your summer holiday etc. Sadly all too often our resolution diminishes and we abandon our impetus to achieve our goal(s). It does not need to be like this because hypnosis provides a dynamic way to make the changes you want to make in your life.
Two common changes many of us long for are:
- stop smoking
- lose weight
Whether your goal is to lose weight or stop smoking, the most common misconception, if you fail, is that you don’t have the willpower to achieve your goal. Can this really be the case? If you have the occasional alcoholic drink, why are you not an alcoholic, if you don’t have willpower?
It is your subconscious feelings, needs and drivers that you need to address if you are to succeed. Consequently what often starts optimistically, will in the majority of instances, end in frustration and failure. How many of us have said enough is enough, “I will lose weight” or “I will stop smoking,” only to start another day and our motivation appears to have evaporated?
Is smoking addictive?
The 1988 report from the US Surgeon General, identified cigarette smoking as nicotine addiction. This conclusion was also reached by the UK Royal College of Physicians, who concluded that “nicotine is an addictive drug on par with heroin… and that the main purpose of smoking is to deliver a dose of nicotine quickly to the brain.”
What does nicotine do to the body?
- A short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate and the flow of blood from the heart.
- The arteries narrow and harden.
- The potential impact on health, i.e. cancer, heart attacks, strokes etc.
What are the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal?
There are a range of symptoms which include: irritability, hostility, anxiety, depressive thinking, problems with concentration and weight gain.
What’s in a cigarette?
Research indicates that aside from nicotine there are more than 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette. These include ammonia (found in toilet cleaners), acetone (found in nail varnish remover), cadmium (a highly poisonous metal used in batteries), carbon monoxide (the gas given off by exhausts and gas fires), cyanide (the lethal gas used in the gas chambers), formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies), arsenic (poison) etc. Scarily you can also find cocoa, vanilla, liquorice and sugar.
Reasons we start smoking
Research indicates that 80% of smokers started in their teenage years. The remainder started later as a response to stress or traumatic incident.
The most common reasons for starting smoking are, to “look cool,” appear more mature, reduce stress and to fit in socially.
The pressure to continue:
- Although nicotine is completely out of your system in 72 hours as soon as you stop smoking, smokers still have a physical addiction.
- The mental addiction – the habit of smoking in certain situations e.g. after a meal.
- Stress – smokers often rely on cigarettes to cope with stress.
- People believe it’s an aid to concentration.
- The need “to be part of the group” i.e. social inclusion.
How good is hypnosis?
There is a lot of literature that looks at the different approaches to stop smoking, therefore, we need to look at the research that exists.
New Scientist Magazine (October 1992) found:
“Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking, according to the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit. Willpower, it turns out, counts for very little.”
Journal of Applied Psychology (University of Iowa - Frank Schmidt & Chockalingam Viswesvaran) analysed the results of more than 600 studies covering almost 72,000 people.
Through the fusion of the results of so many separate studies, they were able to evaluate the real effectiveness of each technique. Their results found:
- Hypnosis was the most effective technique. It gave an average success rate of 30%. The analysis combined the results of 48 studies covering over 6000 smokers.
- “Combination techniques” e.g. exercise and breathing therapy produced a success rate of 29%.
- Smoke aversion (smokers have their own warm, stale cigarette smoke blown back into their faces) achieved a 25% success rate.
- Acupuncture, 24%.
- Nicotine gum, 10%.
- Self-help achieved modest success - approximately 9%.
- Willpower, 6%.
- Patients with a clear incentive to stop immediately e.g. serious cardiac disorders had the highest stopping rate, at 36%.
- GPs were the least successful method.
The authors concluded “that the involvement of physicians did not have as big an impact as we expected,” and “that the reason is that it is the content of the treatment that matters and not the status of the person giving it.”
Barriers to using hypnosis:
A key obstacle lies in the lack of understanding of hypnosis. The common phrases used to describe the creation of hypnosis are “to be put under” or “to be put to sleep.” Even I as a hypnotherapist find these terms scary. Fortunately, they are totally inaccurate.
Hypnotherapy is an effective and speedy relaxation-based technique which:
- Allows you to access the subconscious mind to change programming and conditioning.
- Facilitates change to occur.
- Is pleasurable, once people understand it.
Hypnosis enables you to change effortlessly by gaining an understanding of the cause of your problem. Therefore you can improve your health because you relinquish any destructive habits or behaviour patterns.
“Scientists say dieting does not work” - American Psychologist, April 2007 - American Psychological Association.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), reviewed 31 long-term studies lasting between two and five years and found:
- Diets typically help people to lose five to 10% of their weight in the first six months, but thereafter 33 to 66% regain more than this in the next four to five years.
- Consequently, it can be argued that they would have benefited more by not dieting!
- Several studies, in fact, have indicated that dieting is a predictor for future weight gain.
- Exercise is the key to the most weight loss.
Minnesota starvation experiment
The experiment, run by Ancel Keys in 1944, involved 36 male conscientious objectors who volunteered to be placed on a “starvation experiment.” It was found that:
- The initial phase (12 weeks) - The participants on approximately 3,200 calories a day, even though walking 22 miles each week maintained their weight.
- Starvation phase (24 weeks) - The participants on 1600 calories per day aimed to lose 25% of their body weight.
- Restricted rehabilitation phase (12 weeks) - the participants received a variety of different calories, proteins and vitamins to determine the “best” way to return to full health.
- Unrestricted rehabilitation phase (8 weeks) – The participants could eat whatever they wanted.
It was discovered:
- Participants became “physical and emotional wrecks" during the 1600 calorie per day period.
- The participants reported continuous hunger, weakness, exhaustion, muscle wasting, hair loss, reduced coordination, loss of energy/motivation etc. They lost 21% of their strength in the first 12 weeks alone.
- The participants became obsessed with food, meal times and everything to do with eating, losing interest in everything other than food. Depression, irritability, and a sense of deprivation were all reported.
- Many of the participants came to believe that military service would have been an easier option.
- During the “starvation phase” at approximately week 20, further weight loss could not be achieved and there were even reports of weight gain in the last 4 weeks of the “starvation” phase.
- When participants were given free access to food, they were overeating and binging. In one case a man managed to eat 11,500 calories in one day and men still felt hungry consuming twice the number of calories that maintained their weight in the initial phase. At the end, participants who had previously shown no awareness of body size and image reported issues with their weight.
Whilst this experiment was shamefully cruel and had serious ethical issues, you need to remember the number of people who “volunteer” to go on diets and the industrial infrastructure that supports this phenomenon. The 1600 calories is higher than most dieters attempt to live off now!
Even with this wealth of evidence, it seems that as human beings we persist with diets to such an extent that in America this is worth $40 -$100 billion per annum (BBC News) to the “dieting industry.” Also, we continue to seek a pharmaceutical “quick fix” to this problem. Meanwhile, we appear not to question the way foods are routinely, in some cases, are sweetened to make it even more palatable to a society that is facing an obesity crisis.
Planning for success with hypnosis
Hypnosis is beneficial to help a client deal with food issues. The critical areas to address are:
- changing the client’s relationship with food
- changing how the client feels about his/herself
- addressing the cause of overeating
- nutritional advice
- developing a sustainable exercise programme
- ongoing support
In my experience, 95%+ of all clients have an eating pattern which involves existing for up to 18 hours per day on only about 500 - 600 calories per day and that they are surprised that by late afternoon or early evening they are more prone to binging!
After establishing a client’s eating pattern and gaining their commitment to stop dieting, hypnosis can facilitate a commitment to the following simple rules:
- only eating when they are hungry
- eating what they want i.e. there are no “good” or “bad” foods
- they eat consciously enjoying each mouthful
- they stop when they feel full
- if there is a “blip” they just start again
Thereafter, hypnosis can discover and address the underlying cause of the weight problem.
There appear to be several critical issues when starting to exercise. First of all, ask yourself if you enjoy the activity, there is nothing worse than “forcing” yourself to do something. Consider if you're able/fit enough to do what you want to do, or do you need to build up to it? Think about whether or not your current size is a barrier to exercising. Many clients I see would love to go swimming but the thought of it makes them feel embarrassed.
Remember, exercise can be undertaken in many ways. Instead of parking right by your office, you could try parking a few hundred metres away and walk daily. You could buy a Pedometer to measure how much you walk daily and then increase it. You could think about whether or not you really need to use the car so much.
It is common for clients to quickly realise that losing weight is not their main issue. It is the way they feel about themselves that is at the core of the problem and this has adversely impacted on how they behave and the amount they eat.
During early childhood, it is common for our senses to easily become “overloaded” when we have experiences we cannot cope with or give us bad feelings. If eating has taken away the unpleasant symptoms, then the link between food and the removal of stress or bad feelings is created. Thereafter, when the feelings are replicated we overeat, but because it is not hunger-based, we cannot be satisfied.
Hypnosis provides the means to address the underlying issues, thereby giving you the capacity to change and break free from the unhealthy and destructive connection between food and your emotions.
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