We all know that the mind has a powerful effect on the body but is it possible to actually think yourself slim? The answer is a resounding yes, according to many experts.
This is primarily because thinking positive thoughts creates new neurological pathways, which, in turn, encourages healthier eating habits. “Our mind is an amazing but completely underused tool,” says leading hypnotherapist Monica Black. “With our minds we can change our entire way of being, thinking and doing.” Weight loss life coach Janet Thomson, who runs Power to Change retreats at Champneys, explains that our brain cells, or neurons, send messages in the form of electrical impulses across the synapses in a certain pattern.
“Each thought has its own unique pattern, and the more it’s used the more established it becomes.”
So start thinking yourself slim and before your know it, you will be! Here are 6 techniques to help you on your way.
Affirmations are simple words or phrases that you can repeat to yourself whenever you feel that your resolve is slipping. They send positive messages to your body to help you reach your goals. When you have an urge to eat, you need to take a deep breath and focus on positive, successful feelings.
Tell yourself: “I am losing weight now. I am making progress. I love this feeling and I want to stay there”.
But remember, your affirmations need to be the present tense as this gives them a great sense of power and immediacy, for example, say “I am losing weight” instead of “I will lose weight”.
CREATE A ‘MIND MOVIE’
This is a technique that many top athletes and actors use to mentally rehearse the outcome they want, by helping to banish old behaviors and replace them with new ones, explains Janet Thomson.
- Think of a behavior you have that’s made you fat. For example, if you can’t walk past the vending machine at work without buying chocolate, you’ve done it so many times it’s ingrained in your psyche.
- Now think about a time when you felt really successful, when you achieved something you were proud of such as passing your driving test. Focus on any achievement in life that gave you a buzz. As you think of it and let the feeling run through your body, squeeze your right finger and thumb together to create a physical anchor. Spend a few minutes doing this until the feeling is really strong and you feel amazing.
- Now imagine yourself in your mind’s eye walking past the vending machine without stopping and as you do squeeze your finger and thumb and remember this amazing feeling you were thinking about before. Make sure you imagine it so vividly that you do actually feel amazing.
- Now imagine you press ‘repeat’ in your mind movie, and the same short clip repeats over and over again, and each time you watch it squeeze that finger and thumb and remember the time you felt amazing and recreate that feeling.
- Test it the next time you are near the vending machine; as you walk past squeeze that finger and thumb and remember the time you achieved something that made you feel really good. Your brain will learn that walking past a vending machine without stopping can also make you feel good.
Visualizations work well when they’re combined with the positive action of a ritual, says emotional health expert Kirsten Riddle. “This is because the intention behind the thought is given meaning and energy by doing something physical to reinforce it. This sends a strong message to the universe and gives you a feeling of empowerment.” Try the following technique:
Take a large potato and begin to peel it. As you do this think about your body shape and how you would like to change it. Bring to mind before and after images of yourself, so see yourself how you are now, and then how you would like to look. Take in every detail, the shape and tone of your body and imagine how fantastic you will feel when you reach your target.
Continue peeling the potato and when you’re done, gather the peeling in both hands. Open the bin, and as you drop in the peelings say “Just like this potato peeled, I shed the layers I no longer need. I am free to be the best I can be.” Once again bring to mind the image of yourself looking fabulous and enjoy the feelings of success and confidence.
One way to think yourself slim is to notice when your body tells you that you have had enough food, says celebrity life coach Sloan Sheridan Williams. “This physiological reaction is experienced by everyone but only people who maintain a healthy weight act upon it.
Thinking yourself slim is not just about stopping when you are nearly full but also about starting to eat when you are hungry rather than depriving yourself and waiting until you become ravenous. It is also helpful to really enjoy every bite rather than rushing to eat the food in front of you. This is what therapists refer to as eating consciously.”
This simple meditation technique can help you to achieve your weight loss goals by changing the way you think about experiences. Try the following exercise while you’re eating something healthy like a piece of fruit, suggests says mindfulness expert Nikki Harman.
Use all of your senses to connect with the food, and as you’re eating it, visualize it nourishing every cell in your body in the healthiest way possible. It helps the brain make the connection between healthy food and being slim. Really zone in on what you’re eating and experience the flavors, textures and colors. Visualize your body as lean and clean and full of light to burn away the stuff you don’t want to hold on to any more.
CONNECT WITH YOUR EMOTIONS
Ask yourself how you feel each time you are about to eat something, and note down the emotional feeling, advises Harley Street hypnotherapist Malminder Gill. “At the end of the day, highlight all the emotional feelings. Do you notice a pattern? Think about alternative things you can do when you feel that way.
Perhaps you can take long deep breaths to the count of eight for a minute or two. Perhaps you can distract yourself by engaging your mind in another task, reading a book, finally getting around to that face mask!”