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Hypnosis for Weight Loss. It's What the Doctor Ordered

Who among us hasn't struggled to lose a few pounds over the years? Or, maybe struggled to lose more than a few pounds?

It turns out, “An estimated 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion annually on weight loss products.” (Boston Medical Center If you are overweight – or obese – you already know the health issues and physical restrictions the added pounds cause. That's not just a nuisance; that can be deadly serious. Overweight people are far more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, arthritis and gallbladder disease than those who are within normal weight recommendations.

The problem is, it's hard to lose weight. There's no getting around that fact. There wouldn't be so many “miracle” diets and fat burning pills on the market if any one of them were actually a miracle.

So, aside from gastric bypass surgery or gastric banding surgery, which include risks such as hemorrhage, thrombosis, bowel obstruction, infection, pain, - and yes, death, what other options actually work?

The answer for you could very well be: hypnosis. Hypnosis – not the stage act where people act like various zoo animals on stage and are teased about it for the rest of time – has actually been practiced for centuries. Every doctor who has been trained at a medical school in the US has training in hypnosis. There are more than 12,000 peer reviewed clinical research papers already published which support its effectiveness. And counting.

The National Institutes of Health. Stanford University. Harvard University. The Mayo Clinic. That is just a tiny sampling of where the medical research has been done to support the hypothesis that hypnosis is both a valid and viable tool in weight loss success.

A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology concluded that a weight management program, which included hypnosis was over 30 times more effective than a weight management program alone. Thirty times more effective! (Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.) Another study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that adding hypnosis to a weight loss program more than doubled its effectiveness and that the benefits of hypnosis increased substantially over time. If you could double the effectiveness of your weight loss efforts with no hunger, no negative side-effects, no added exercise, why wouldn't you add it to your program?  (Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments-- Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519.)

Hypnosis works because your subconscious mind is the behind the scenes controller for everything you do. It can be trained to modify unhealthy behaviors you may not even know you're practicing. The subconscious impulses that have been telling you to eat when you're stressed or sad or anxious – without you're even knowing it – can be re-written through medical hypnosis.  Hypnosis is the proven way to substitute positive, healthy thoughts into your subconscious that support your weight loss efforts. Simply. Quickly. And effectively. "With weight loss the evidence is conclusive...hypnosis does help people reduce." (Smithsonian Magazine, 3/99)

There are some side-effects that you should be aware of: Better sleep, better focus, better attitude! So many hypnosis patients report they've not only been more successful in losing weight, they've just been happier all around. The state of deep relaxation that you experience with hypnosis carries through in other areas.

A hypnotist can help you reframe your subconscious thinking from, “I'm addicted to sweets and can't help but crave them when I'm stressed.” to “I used to crave sweets when I got stressed but now I just go for a 5-minute walk.”  Hypnosis replaces an unhealthy thought with a healthy one. It's a reset button for unhealthy habits that have taken years and years – your whole life actually – to build. It's next to impossible to change the physical pattern of stress eating without somehow changing the mental pattern first. Again, our subconscious leads almost every action long before we ever know it.

“People who are trying to lose weight often believe that food is the issue, while most often it is not. People tend to use food as a drug and just as with any drug use there is a secondary gain...It might be security, it might be companionship, or it might be not feeling tired, sad or depressed. Once you have figured out what you are actually needing, seek a healthier alternative to satisfy that need. ( Hypnosis helps your mind tell your body that the cookies or the potato chips are not what you really want in times of anxiety or sadness. And your mind accepts this simple reframing quickly. Often within weeks.

Studies by a Harvard-affiliated research team based at Massachusetts General Hospital go even further in substantiating the brain/body link. “It is fascinating to see the brain's plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. ( Practicing meditation is at the core of hypnosis for weight loss.  Harvard Medical School psychotherapist Jean Fain states, unequivocally, the mind-over body technique works. “...Adding trance to your weight loss efforts can help you lose more weight and keep it off longer.”

So the question is, how many diets, how many pills, how many new techniques are you going to waste your time and money on before you give hypnosis – medical hypnosis that has been practiced effectively for centuries – a try?