Talk Yourself Slim
Elizabeth walked into my office looking despondent. She had come in a fortnight earlier saying she was desperate to lose weight. She had always been 63 Kg but in the past year of travelling around Europe, she had returned to Sydney nearly 7 Kg heavier.
“I’ve tried everything,” she said during her first consultation. “I was so sure that when I returned home and settled down, and back to work, I would lose it again. I never used to have any trouble staying at my usual weight, or even slightly under – and that is slim!”
I had to agree with her. She was five foot eight and even at her present weight, she managed to look elegant, even if slightly ‘curvy’, as she put it.
“It’s my sweet tooth,” she said. “I have your diet plan all worked out, and it suits me fine. I even like it and I do really well until the evening on most days, although it is harder on the weekends when I am out with friends. Every day I promise myself, ‘I will not eat sweets.’ And I try, I really do.”
We talked some more and discussed several aspects of her lifestyle. And then I explored a different angle.
“Is that what you keep saying to yourself? “I won’t eat sweets?”
“Yes, that’s it. It is my promise to myself.” Only I keep breaking it, and then I get cross with myself and disheartened.”
So, you say to yourself, “I won’t eat sweets, I won’t eat sweets, I won’t eat sweets?”
So your subconscious is bombarded with “…….eat sweets……..eat sweets……eat sweets.”
I went on to explain.
“It’s a funny thing about the subconscious. It generally remembers the last few words you use.”
She thought about that and recognised that without realising it, she was emphasising the last two words‘eat sweets’. Thus, she was giving her subconscious a clear instruction to override her brain and willpower which was causing her mind to focus on sweets. As a result, she generally spent the rest of the evening focusing on sweets and on the things she could and could and could not eat, not even focusing on whether or not she really wanted them. It was often a battle not to do just that, to eat sweets, or something sweet, or something more instead of sweets, or….the possibilities were endless but all involved her focusing on food and especially sweet things.
We discussed her options and I suggested that instead, she should repeat to herself throughout the day, “I am slim. I am slim. I am slim.”
“But that’s not true!” She almost whaled in her despair.
It wasn’t true, but that is another funny thing about the subconscious. It believes what it is told. So, I urged her to try it. She agreed and left, slightly optimistic but still not fully convinced.
I was curious to find out what happened in the ensuing fortnight.
It didn’t take long. She bounced into my office, all smiles, and couldn’t wait to tell me that she had lost a whole kilo and a half. Clearly, the half was important to her.
“It was very strange you know. I didn’t see how your idea could work. But every time I said ‘I am slim,’ I found I automatically pulled in my stomach muscles and felt better. I even sat and stood up straighter too, and I certainly felt better. I even felt slimmer. No way did I want to eat things that would spoil that good feeling. So as a result, I haven’t eaten any sweets. I’ve stuck to the eating plan you suggested, and I’m sure I will soon be my old weight again. And she was. She came back to my office a few weeks later.
“I was just nearby, and I couldn’t resist coming in to show you the new slim and trim me!” And she did look gorgeous, slim, elegant and also radiantly happy and confident.