We are all very familiar with the traditional methods and theories around weight loss – eat healthy, five portions of fruit and veg a day, cook using low-fat processes, keep portion sizes to tennis ball size, exercise for 20 minutes each day… the list goes on and on. There are countless weight loss programmes that assist in this and the Leisure Database Industry estimate that the UK weight loss and fitness industry is worth £4.3 billion.
But buried in the ever-developing and cutting edge neuroscience are new and exciting revelations that explore how shifts in our habits can result in dramatic changes in our weight loss and body shape. This is the science that hypnotherapists master because, outside of healthy eating and exercise, our minds can create the perfect environment to kick-start and maintain weight loss.
How stress can create body fat
In the book ‘Spark: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain’, Dr John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman discuss the wide ranging effect that chronic stress can have on your body including its relationship to weight gain. In times of stress, the brain will attempt to fuel the muscles in order to ensure their rapid response (run away, fight etc). The hormone cortisol (the stress hormone) is released which signals for the liver to make more glucose to power those batteries whilst blocking insulin receptors at non-essential tissues and organs – this ensures that fuel flows only to the areas important to flight or fight. This is a good response in times of tension, however, when we have chronic stress for long periods of times, the action of this cortisol creates a surplus fuel supply around the stomach in the form of belly fat.
This is one of the reasons hypnosis can be so beneficial to weight loss as the REM replicating hypnotic trance state created in a hypnotherapy session has been proven to process stress, reduce anxiety and, therefore, create conditions more conducive to weight loss.
Sleep better, eat better
Over the last 30 years, Dr Eve Van Cauter at the University of Chicago has conducted many studies which attempt to explore the relationship between sleep deprivation and weight gain. These studies have been outlined in the book ‘Why we sleep’ by Matthew Walker. Participants in one of these studies were split into two groups with each group being monitored over a period of four days. One group were allowed to sleep for 8.5 hours (the recommended amount) and the other for only 4.5 (considered very sleep deprived). Every day, the participants were given free access to food and were measured on the type and quantity of food that they ate.
Van Cauter discovered that that those with short sleep consistently ate 300 calories more per day than those on 8.5 hours sleep. Over time, this would equate to 70,000 extra calories or an extra 10 – 15 pounds of weight gain per year.
Van Cauter also discovered that the processing of leptin and ghrelin (the hormones responsible for feelings of fullness and hunger respectively) were significantly hindered by shorter sleep patterns
Hypnotherapy encourages longer periods of unbroken sleep as it empties the stress bucket usually responsible for waking us up. Therefore the weight control benefits of better sleep patterns can be greatly enhanced by the work conducted by hypnotherapists.
Your home temperature and weight
One of the surprising links between obesity and the environment is the temperature of our homes. It stands to reason. One of the biggest consumers of energy in our bodies is body temperature regulation. This can be higher than the fuel needed to exercise or consume food. In the modern age, with sophisticated heating systems, our bodies don’t need to burn as much fuel in order to maintain optimum body temperature. Therefore this fuel is stored as fat. One Japanese study found that people experienced a drop in body fat after spending two hours a day for six weeks at a temperature of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you want to lose weight, turn down that thermostat.
Or alternatively, you could book in some time with a hypnotherapist!