Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Mind Over Fatter

Keep a stiff upper lip!

Never let them see you sweat!

No fear!

Mind over matter!

People are always saying that once you make up your mind, you can do anything!  As it turns out, that’s not just a little piece of motivational mumbo-jumbo.  It’s really true.

The mind is a powerful thing and if you can use it to your advantage in losing weight?  What can it hurt?  Suspend your disbelief and listen … it might just help you get over a couple of hurdles.

Much of this information comes and all the ideas come from Dr. Steven Gurgevich and his book The Self Hypnosis Diet, with a few personal comments that I could not help but include.

Dr. Gurgevich explains how thinking positively can play a large factor in your success or failure.  It all depends on three things; MOTIVATION, BELIEF and EXPECTATION.

MOTIVATION … You have to want something to achieve it.

BELIEF … You have to allow yourself to believe that it is possible to achieve your goals.  Even if you only pretend that it is possible, that is good enough to start you on the right path.  It all comes back to the “self fulfilling prophecy”. If you believe something for long enough, it will become your reality.  If you constantly tell yourself you cannot do it because it is too hard, you will believe that and never succeed.  On the other hand, if you are constantly telling yourself you can do it … you will!

EXPECTATION … You must have some form for what you believe.  Some concrete expectation of what you expect and believe will actually happen.  You can have either one big goal at the end of the journey, or many little (more achievable) goals along the way.  To stay positive you must keep your expectations reasonable and always in your sights.

This combination of motivation, belief and expectation will make this happen for you, beginning from the inside out.  The mind and the body are always in communication.  If that communication ever stops you cease to function.  Every thought and idea in your mind has an effect on your body.  Thoughts are things; you cannot see them but you know you have them.  You cannot see them, but they impact on your body.  If you had biofeedback sensors on your body you would see the instantaneous changes that your thoughts have on your body. 

For example:  If I said to you, think of someone who makes you angry, you would immediately register changes to your heart function, blood vessels, changes in your nervous system and muscle tension – all based on just having a thought. 

Your body responds to your thoughts, both in the positive and in the negative.  And just as your thoughts influence your body, your body influences your thoughts.  There are times when you feel something in your body that causes you to feel emotion.  Things like hunger or thirst.  But sometimes there is a confusion such as having the feeling of being emotionally hurt might be confused with the feeling of I need to eat, or I want to eat.

The thoughts, ideas and pictures in your mind are tangible things to your body.  Keep them positive.

Eating is a habit.  Granted it is a necessary one, but it is still a habit.  You have to learn to change that habit.  Everyone is either right-handed or left-handed.  Yes, there is a dominant side to your brain that determines which hand you are going to write with, but basically it is a habit you formed because it was easiest.  Just like sometimes you go and grab some food because it is the easiest … you do not have to think about, you may not have to prepare it, it may not be on your healthy eating plan … but it is easy.  Going through the drive through on the way home is easier than planning a meal, preparing it, sitting down to eat it, and then cleaning up after it.  Do it often enough and you decide that you like the ease of the drive through, and it has now become a habit.

The easiest answer is quite often not the best answer.

So, let’s go back to left and right-handedness.  If some unfortunate accident befell you and you could not longer use your dominant hand, you would be forced to use your other hand to be able to function, to get dressed, do up your buttons, tie your shoes, get the spoon to your mouth to eat … all those simple tasks that you now take for granted.  You would have to learn to use you opposite hand.  Would it be easy?  Definitely not! Would it be fun?   I would guess, no!  Would it be necessary?  Absolutely!  And would you accomplish it?  Again, my guess would be that yes you would, because it would be important to you.  Sooner or later, using your opposite hand would be accomplished without giving it a second thought.  You would automatically start to pick up the pen with your opposite hand, you would automatically pick up your fork with the opposite hand.  What was once new and what had to be learned is now a habit.

You have to approach your eating habits the same way.  Will it be easy?  Definitely not!  Will it be fun?  It could be!  Is it necessary?  Yes!  And will you accomplish it?  Yes, because it is important to you!  Sooner or later you will automatically make the right choices.  What was once new and what had to be learned is now a habit.

It’s no different than tackling a new task at work.  You don’t want to do it.  You may not even agree that changing the way you do things is necessary.  But, if you want to keep you job you MUST make the change. 

Planning meals, healthier food choices, smaller portions and exercise are your job in looking after yourself.  You may not want to do them.  You may not even agree that changing the way you do thing is necessary.  But, if you want to be healthier, more fit and slimmer you MUST make the change.

The brain is by definition the “smart” part of your body.  As you go through your day you don’t even realize it, but there are two parts of your brain at work at the same time.  There is the “conscious” part.  That’s the part that allows you to put one foot in front of the other to move, it allows you to do math calculations, it allows you to get to work on time and do many other ordinary, every day functions.  Then there is the part that we don’t really think about very often.  It’s the “subconscious” part of the brain.  That’s the part that does all the work you don’t think about … remembering to breath, keeping your blood flowing and all the parts working together smoothly.  The conscious part of the brain tells you that you have an itch, and the subconscious part of the brain tells you that you need to scratch it.

The two parts to the brain also handle information differently.  Even information you provide yourself.  The conscious side of your brain can rationalize; it helps you think in abstractions.  You can decide what something means even if it is not expressed clearly.  But the subconscious mind is your problem solver.  It tries to make your life easier by simplifying things.  It is the part of your brain that epitomizes the acronym KISS … Keep It Simple Stupid, and it takes everything literally.  It has it’s own language.  If you say to yourself, and you probably have heard yourself or others say this, “I want to lose weight so badly”.  You know – and the conscious side of your brain – know what it means; they want to lose weight.  But imagine that your subconscious mind is right there taking your order, like a little waiter or waitress inside your head.  That waiter or waitress hears the first part, “I want to lose weight”.  They write it down and then ask, ”How would you like that done?  Badly?  Okay!”  That’s exactly how you are going to get it – badly!  That’s not what you wanted, but that’s exactly what the subconscious mind hears.  You have to restructure how you express things, even in your thoughts to yourself.

Another way of controlling how your subconscious mind responds to things is by using the word try.  You know what try means.  You’ve probably used that word quite often.  But I can’t show you a “try”.  And, you cannot show a “try” to someone else, because it doesn’t occupy space.  A try is something we only have an idea about.  We know with our conscious mind what we mean when we say, “try”, like I’ll try to be on time, or I’m trying to fall asleep.  But “trying” is NOT “doing”. 

And you can do it!  You can do it quickly, or slowly, or with difficulty or easily, but you can do it.  Doing it is not the same as trying.  The word “trying” is a mixed message to your brain and your body.  In weight loss there is no trying allowed.  It’s a do or do not proposition.

To quote the ever-wise Yoda from Star Wars, as he explained it to
young Luke Skywalker:

Another word you have to be sensitive to is “not”.  Actually you should remember the phrase … “Never the Nots”.  When you are speaking to yourself, or offering suggestions to your subconscious remove the “nots”.  Every time you say something like “I am NOT hungry” or “I do NOT want another piece of cake” the “NOT” means nothing to your subconscious mind.  The only thing your subconscious mind hears is what comes after the “NOT”.  If a person says, “I do not want a cigarette” The only thing your subconscious mind hears it “I want a cigarette”. 

Throw away “NOT” and throw away “TRY”.

The other word to throw out is “can’t”.  Never tell yourself that you “can’t” have something.  That leads to a feeling of deprivation and missing out.  The minute you feel deprived you want to alleviate that feeling and you will indulge.  Change the I can’t have three cookies – whimper, whimper, sob, sob – into I can have one cookie.  Always turn thoughts into a positive.  It stops you from feeling sorry for yourself.  Think about the fact that you can have a half a cantaloupe instead of the face that you cannot have a chocolate bar.  Feeling deprived and left out is one of the worst saboteurs to a successful weight loss effort.

Do you remember, from way back in school, what a hyperbole is?  A hyperbole is an exaggeration of speech used to evoke strong feeling or create a strong impression.  A hyperbole usually makes a point.  The hyperbole can also confuse the mind and body connection because the message is often conflicting.  For an example, “I just look at food and I gain weight” or “If I eat ice cram it’s like I just slap it right onto my hips” or someone once said, “If I walk past a buffet table of desserts, they seem to just jump right off, like magnets to my rear end”.  Those are hyperboles.  Can you imagine being behind the person with the food magnets in their rear?  You’d have to get out of the way end up looking like the victim of a vicious cafeteria food fight.

And then you have surely heard other people say, “I can eat anything and not gain an ounce”.

Which one of the people would likely be overweight; the “I can eat anything” person or the “I gain weight looking at food” person?

You probably answered the “I gain weight looking at food” person and you would be absolutely right.  And as ridiculous as the statement sounds, that person is being very honest.  They probably can gain weight just by looking at food.  There have been studies that looked at this phenomenon.  The people who repeatedly said that they could indeed eat anything they wanted and not gain an ounce were allowed to eat anything they wanted.  Gorge themselves on junk food if that was what they wanted to do.  Medical tests performed during and immediately after the consumption of the large quantities of food confirmed that their body did everything it could to prevent them from gaining weight.  Their metabolism increased, the motility of their digestion and elimination processes increased and they even perspired more.

Their body did everything it could to fulfil the suggestion that “I can eat anything and not gain an ounce”.  They also found themselves feeling a greater sense of fullness much earlier than others would. 

The other group that always said, “I just look at food and gain weight” were shown food, but they were not allowed to eat it.  They were also subjected to ongoing testing, and although they did not consume the food their body showed physical signs of trying to maintain their weight; they perspired less, their urine became concentrated, the motility of their digestive system slowed down and their bodies actually went into a mode to slow down their metabolism, all to fulfil that suggestion that “I just look at food and gain weight”.

Those are just some examples of how the things we say can be powerful messages to our subconscious mind and then to our body without even being aware of it.

Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what you imagine or believe to be true.  You may have had this experience … you are walking along the side-walk, a trail or, even on the carpeting in your home and you jump out of the way of something that turns out to be harmless; a piece of string or a rubber band.  But in the moment you jumped you BELIEVED that you needed to jump out of the way even before you thought to do it.  Your subconscious mind perceived it to be dangerous and jumped you out of the way to protect you.  If you believe you will not lose weight no matter what attempts you make … you subconscious mind will make sure that happens.

This is last example I am going give for the power of positive thinking and mind over matter.  I thought it was pretty fascinating.

You can also use aversive association to foods.  That is to give some food a negative association to help you avoid it.  Here is something from the National Academy of Science; one of the leading experts on memory and false memory designed experiments to demonstrate how a false memory about eating a fattening food in childhood, which made them sick, caused that person to avoid that food when it was offered to them later in life.  We've all had experiences of food making us ill in childhood, or at least that is what we came to believe about that incident.  And, even today, we may find that food unappealing because of a negative or aversive association.  It may have been decades ago, and yet our memory about strongly influences our behavior to avoid it.

I can vouch for this personally.  When I was pregnant with my second daughter I could not stomach the smell of bananas or the taste of iced tea.  I consumed neither of those items for many, many, many years.  About 5 or 6 years ago I started eating bananas again, but to this day I cannot stomach even the thought of iced tea … and my daughter is now 27 years old.  Now why, oh why, oh why could she have not caused me an aversion to chocolate and desserts?

The research published was titled “False Beliefs About Fattening Foods Can Have Healthy Consequences”.  The premise is that you can create a false memory about a certain food or foods.  Use your imagination to embellish the memory with imagery about when it happened, where you were, how you felt.  Give it details.  Then when that food is presented to you as a choice it will be easier to avoid it.

This might be particularly useful to avoid those high fat or high calorie foods that have previously been an obstacle to your weight loss in the past.

This research validates the subconscious mind’s ability to respond to what you let yourself believe, whether it is true or false. 

Your belief makes it real for you because your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what you imagine.

Whatever has the dominance of your thought and belief is what your body is going to act upon.  So 51% of your mind believes you will lose weight and only 49% of your mind believes you will not … you WILL lose weight.  You don’t have to have the perfect 100% belief.  You just have to have the dominance focused on what you want.

That doesn’t mean you can eat a whole pizza or half of the chocolate cake in the refrigerator, wish it not to make a difference on the scale and expect to lose weight.  But it does mean that you can use the power of your mind to convince yourself one slice of pizza is enough and you don’t really want the chocolate cake.

So think positively!

Believe in yourself!

The power is in the believing and the doing.

No doubting!

No trying!  Just get it done!

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