Sunday October 14, 2012
Subconscious weight loss
By SHARMILLA GANESAN
WITH all the misleading portrayals of hypnosis that we see on TV or at the movies, you can’t blame me for being slightly apprehensive about trying the Hypno-Band Weight Loss System, which uses hypnotherapy to convince the mind that one has had a gastric band fitted.
The touted benefits, supposedly similar to gastric band surgery, were no doubt impressive; you would eat smaller portions, feel fuller faster, and ultimately, lose weight, all without any invasive surgical procedures.
Nevertheless, my mind worked overtime imagining various negative (and mostly implausible) side effects: would I wake up in the middle of the night wracked with pain in my stomach, convinced I was bleeding internally? Or would I perhaps have memories of a surgery I never actually had?
Reality, thankfully, was far more prosaic. My hypnotherapist, Joyce Hue, talked me through what would happen during our sessions.
The idea was simple: over the course of five sessions (roughly 40 minutes each, over a six-week period), she would use hypnosis to prepare me for the “surgery”, perform the “procedure”, and finally, follow up on my progress.
Along the way, she would also plant suggestions for ways in which I could live a healthier lifestyle.
Our first meeting did not involve any hypnosis. Instead, Hue had me identify practices that were contributing to weight gain, such as skipping breakfast or snacking while watching television, and then simple “substitute” habits that would prevent me from doing so.
This process also helped me identify particular social settings or emotions that I associate with eating.
Then, I was sent home with reading material on healthy eating and exercising, and told to start a food diary.
The first actual hypnosis session was mainly to get me used to the process, and to plant suggestions in my subconscious mind that would encourage me to practice a healthier lifestyle.
As a total newbie to hypnosis, the experience was fascinating.
Hue had me lying on an easy chair with my eyes closed, and started with the steps of hypnosis we are most familiar with: telling me to relax, asking me to imagine myself somewhere peaceful, and counting backwards.
While it sounds simplistic, it actually worked, and she soon had me in a hypnotic state.
The feeling is similar to when you may lie down to relax without actually intending to fall asleep. You feel extremely relaxed and tend not to focus on external stimuli, but at the same time, you’re still aware of things.
The best way I can explain it is, it feels like those few minutes right before you actually fall asleep are prolonged – a pretty enjoyable feeling, actually.
Once I was in this state, Hue began to give specific suggestions on weight loss. These were both emotion-related (such as, you don’t need to view eating as a way to socialise) and activity-related (take the stairs instead of the elevator), based on my specific issues with eating and exercising.
However, because of my state of consciousness, I couldn’t remember a lot of what Hue said, which she assured me is normal.
She said my subconscious mind would absorb the suggestions, even if my “waking” mind doesn’t remember them.
After the session, I was given a hypnosis CD to listen to at home, which I had to listen to in between each of the sessions.
I noticed several small changes in my daily routine after the session: I started making a conscious effort to eat breakfast, take the stairs, and drink water with my meals instead of other drinks. I also noticed that I felt fuller after eating less than usual.
The second session was similar, with Hue reinforcing the suggestions from the previous week.
She also asked me which aspects of weight loss I struggled with specifically, and tailored her session around those.
I continued with the changes I had started making to my routine, and I did notice that, while I didn’t lose any weight, my pants felt slightly looser.
I also found myself thinking consciously about what I was eating, and trying to make healthier choices.
At our third session, Hue “prepped” me for my upcoming Hypno-Band surgery, by putting me under hypnosis and introducing me to what would happen. This involved her talking me through the process of what an actual gastric band surgery would do.
As this involved shrinking my stomach down to size of a golf ball, I was given an actual golf ball to hold in my hand during the session, presumably so that my mind would associate the size with how much I could consume.
Hue further asked me to keep the ball with me throughout the week, as reinforcement for my mind.
Finally, it was time for the actual “surgery”. Under hypnosis as usual, I don’t remember a lot of what was said, though I do recollect Hue talking about me being in a surgery room, and doctors preparing me for the procedure.
What was notable was that, after I was awoken from hypnosis, I actually felt a slight discomfort in my abdominal area, which Hue assured me happens with quite a few people (she had mentioned in an earlier session that I was quite easily suggestible under hypnosis).
Our next session would be in two weeks, so that I could observe the effects of the “surgery”, and decide if I needed the gastric band to be tightened.
I have to say, while I continued the healthy habits I had adopted, my food portions did not decrease dramatically.
I did find that I didn’t feel as peckish in between meals, but the change didn’t seem significant enough to measure up to the touted effects of the procedure.
It should be pointed out, however, that as this was a very busy period in my life, I didn’t have the time to incorporate a proper exercise plan into this process, which may have made a difference.
At my final session, I did ask for the band to tightened, since I wasn’t seeing a big change.
I ultimately lost about two inches off my waist, and I am more mindful of habits and emotions that lead to overeating, but I wouldn’t say these were things I didn’t already know.
Like any other weight-loss method, hypnosis is a tool; you need willpower to make it work.
The kilogrammes will not melt off on their own; you need to start planning meals, working out, and resisting temptations.
Perhaps what hypnosis could do is boost your resolve to do these things. Like every hypnotherapist tells you, hypnosis can’t make you do something you don’t want to.
Where there’s a will, there’s weight loss