• Kimberly Gillan

Can Hypnosis Help You Lose Weight?

Hypnosis for weight loss might sound a bit woo-woo but there's actually scientific evidence that it can help you make healthy choices more easily.

Vicki Grinham credits it with a 43kg weight loss.

Grinham had struggled with her weight most of her life — waking up crying as a teenager because she felt so hungry, knowing she would overeat that day.

A car accident and subsequent back injury, combined with chronic depression led to obesity. At 117kg, Vicki felt she was at a health dead end.

"If I went to the shops, I always went to the lolly aisle in the supermarket and would buy four things and a cheesecake mix to make for myself," she tells Coach.

But when hypnotherapy for weight loss came up in conversation, she decided to give it a try.

"I was very open-minded and enthusiastic and thought, 'Worst case scenario, I lost a bit of money going to the appointment'," she says.

"I sat there and listened to her talk. It was a very slow, induction to a safe place. I was conscious of what was happening around me – I heard her son come home and walk around downstairs – but it didn't interrupt what was happening.

Grinham emerged feeling very relaxed and holding a recording of the session, which she listened to every day for a month and began to find making healthy choices easier.

"She took away my desire for comfort food and encouraged me to be fit and healthy. [Up until then] I had the belief that I would never lose weight and that I was powerless but now I have the belief that I can make changes and nothing is permanent," she says.

"It reinforced it in my mind. Five days after hypnosis I went to the shops and walked down the lolly aisle but the desire to get the food wasn't there."

Grinham now weighs 74kg and says she feels fantastic.

Far from the trance-like state you might have seen on TV hypnosis, hypnosis is actually defined as the process by which a person induces an altered state of attention or degree of awareness in another person.

In that state, people can be more open to suggestion and ideas unfamiliar to the normal state of mind or changes in behaviour.

"We get them into the state we're in just before we fall asleep, which is when your brainwaves slow down and your subconscious is in a perfect place to be open to positive suggestion," says hypnotherapist Tania Jones

"You're simply asking a person to close their eyes and talking to them in a lovely, quiet, relaxing voice and their body gradually calms down."

It almost sounds too good to be true, but studies show that people who used hypnosis in conjunction with cognitive behavioural treatment lost twice as much weight as those just doing cognitive behavioural treatment on its own.

"Part of it is people's beliefs and having faith – in some ways it can be related to the placebo effect," Professor Irving Kirsch, Associate Director of Placebo Studies at the Harvard University Medical School, who is one of the few academics to have studied hypnotherapy and weight loss, tells Coach.

"We know that it makes treatment more effective."

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