There are as many specific reasons for being overweight as there are people, since each person is an individual and has his/her own tapestry of experiences, messages and influences that affect eating habits. Overeating usually fills a need. Some people overeat to compensate for an unpleasant experience(s). Others eat excessively to reward themselves, or possibly for self-entertainment. Eating can be used to compensate for a lack of love, to lessen fear, to overcome frustration, to deal with boredom, to protect yourself from other people, to avoid sex and to produce comfort. Clients from my hypnotherapy practice report that eating can also be used, as is the case with sugar, to achieve a rush or high, often accompanied by a feeling of power. Unfortunately, the aftermath of overeating may include shame, guilt, and a weakened physical and emotional state. Challenging or stressful issues at any time in a person’s life can also contribute to weight gain.
Often, eating attitudes and behaviors modeled and espoused by parental figures solidify within youngsters at an early age. Imagine constantly hearing: “You can’t leave the table until you’ve cleaned your plate” or “Take as much as you want, but eat everything you take” or “If you want to grow up big and strong, you’d better eat as much as you can.” Those are the kinds of messages that can bury themselves in the depths of one’s subconscious mind – and last a lifetime. As they continue to reinforce being overweight, we may not even consciously be aware of why we overeat, but overeat we do. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2003-2006 and 2007-2008, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicate that 34.2% of adults over the age of 20 in the United States are overweight and 33.8% are obese. Overweight is an excessive amount of body weight from muscles, bone, adipose (fat) tissue and water; obesity is an overly excessive amount of body weight from an exaggerated amount of adipose (fat) tissues.
Because people often aren’t aware of the merits of hypnosis helping with weight loss, they tend toward trying one or more of the “conscious mind” methods. While it is possible to achieve success with those “will power” techniques, it’s very challenging to maintain it permanently. The unsuccessful result is called yo-yo dieting, meaning that people may achieve initial success – even losing huge amounts of weight – but not be able to maintain it long-term. They gain back the lost weight, then try again to lose the regained weight – and the cycle repeats itself.
Studies clearly indicate the potential benefits of hypnosis in aiding weight loss. A 1996 meta-analysis study conducted at the University of Connecticut and published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found people using hypnosis were able to lose, on average, almost 2.5 times as much weight as those not using hypnosis. Further, the study found, “the addition of hypnosis appears to have a significant and substantial effect on the outcome of cognitive-behavioral treatment for weight reduction, and this effect increases over time.” In another study, researchers analyzed eighteen studies comparing a cognitive behavioral therapy, such as relaxation training, guided imagery, self-monitoring or goal setting, with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis. Those who received the hypnosis lost more weight than 90% of the non-hypnosis groups and maintained the weight loss two years after treatment ended.
Before learning how hypnosis can help people optimally and permanently reduce their weight, try this simple technique. Ask yourself what your ideal weight is. Then enter your self-hypnotic state or breathe deeply three times through your nose, close your eyes as you exhale the third breath, and ease into a comfortably deep state. Imagining yourself slowly and rhythmically moving downward or upward (stairs, escalator, elevator, etc.) can help you reach deeper levels of relaxation. If conscious thoughts, feelings or responsibilities try to creep in, allow them to pass right through as you focus on moving deeper and deeper into relaxation. When ready, ask again what your ideal weight is. If the numbers differ, the second one should be the most accurate, since it came from the deeper levels of your mind.
Using hypnosis is the ideal way to reach one’s ideal weight because it enables a person to retrieve information about her/his entire life from the subconscious mind. It’s important to get a complete understanding of all the experiences, messages and influences that contributed to and reinforced being overweight. Then the three Rs of hypnosis (Release; Replace; Reinforce) come into play. By understanding the “roots of the problem”, a person is then able to disconnect in her/his subconscious mind the impact of those “roots,” or causes, from that moment on. The void that is created by the Release of the roots can then be filled (Replaced) with the positive benefits of reaching one’s ideal weight in a healthy, safe, comfortable and satisfying way. Because habits usually take hold in the subconscious mind by repetition, saturating the mind with the reinforcement of the ideal weight benefits (Reinforced), especially while in self-hypnosis, results in those benefits becoming the person’s permanent reality.
 National Guild of Hypnotists Weight Reduction brochure researched by the educational faculty
 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519. “Hypnotic Enhancement of Cognitive-Behavior Weight Loss Treatments: Another Meta-Reanalysis.” Irving Kirsch, University of Connecticut, 1996.
 Allison, DB, Faith, MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a metaphysical reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1996; 64 (3): 513-516.
Hugh Sadlier, M.Ed., is a Board Certified Hypnotherapist who has been practicing in Maine for twenty-six years. He empowers people to make changes within themselves and in their lives that enable them to achieve optimal mental, physical and emotional well-being. Hugh has worked with over 2,600 people, in individual sessions, on 275 different issues. He has also offered a variety of hypnosis classes at area adult education programs for many years. Hugh Sadlier, M.Ed, BCCH, Board Certified Consulting Hypnotist, Hypno-Health, Integrative Health Center of Maine. Contact Hugh at (207) 773-5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org (website: http://www.hypno-health.net/).