Mental makeover

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    I, like countless other Americans, would like to lose a few pounds, actually quite a few. Throughout my adult life, in search of a magic cure, I've tried every conceivable diet - from the best selling diet guru's programs, and Weight Watchers, to the peculiar types such as the grapefruit or cabbage soup diet. And then there was the extreme of eating only one meal a day … that lasted until noon. I'd love to attach myself to a naturally thin person for a week just to see what their secret is. Just when I let my guard down it seems like that 10 pounds I've lost a hundred times finds me again and relentlessly attaches itself to my back end. And the older I get the sooner it seems to find me. Overall, I think I eat pretty well, pretty healthy, with good portion control. So, what is my problem? Chocolate, in any shape or form. If I swear off chocolate as I've done many, many times before, I find that I'm picking at other kinds of less desirable snacks just trying to satisfy the cravings. In the long run I'm consuming twice as many calories. Over the years, I've given up most fats and restricted carbs, and practically eliminated all the "bad" white food. I can't remember when I ordered anything but a salad at a fast food restaurant. I choose my poison very carefully. My motto: If it's not chocolate, it's not worth eating. At this rate of giving things up, I figure that by the time I'm 60 years old my obsession with chocolate should also be under control. My problem hours are around 4 in the afternoon and 9 at night. I feel very entitled. I worked hard for everyone all day, I deserve this little treat. It turns out I have very little will power over the chocolate chip cookies beckoning me from the pantry. This mentality, these cravings, this sugar addiction is the reason I need to exercise on a regular basis or my 10 to 15 pound issue could easily be a good 30. Hypnosis Works … That's what the sign reads on the car of advanced clinical hypnotherapist Arlene Rich of Sparta. Hmm, interesting I think to myself as I wait for the light to turn green while shoving the empty Baby Ruth wrapper into my purse. I remember having a relative who was hypnotized to quit smoking and it worked for him. I decide to do it. Hypnosis has become a very popular and effective treatment method for changing personal issues and symptoms such as stress, fears and phobias, panic attacks, pain management, and also to stop smoking and control weight. According to Arlene Rich, motivation and confidence can also be gained through hypnosis. I explain my ongoing battle with chocolate and 10 pounds to Rich at our first session. She gathers some history and present day info about me, my eating habits and what my goal is concerning long term weight control. Immediately she cautions me from saying "weight loss" because the word "loss" implies I will find it again, which I always do. I explain to her that I would like to have control over my snacking and to not struggle with cravings. She agrees that I have sugar issues and will develop a therapy specifically individualized for me. According to Rich, even medical doctors have endorsed hypnotherapy as an effective alternative therapy. Medical uses include addressing problems associated with illnesses, pain management and developing the relaxation response. The goal of hypnotherapy is to teach clients how to use the trance state to transform problems into solutions through "contracting" and "dialoging" with the unconscious mind. As a result, new learning is developed in the client to combat issues to create lasting success. Rich is very professional, yet she makes me feel as if I am just chatting with my favorite aunt or cousin, very personable. She asks me to recall a happy time in my life when I felt real good about myself. That feeling is then given a descriptive word, or in my case, a phrase. Mine happened to be ‘pumped up', i.e., that happy time made me feel pumped up, so to say. She then asks me to close my eyes and focus on her voice. I am relaxed in a recliner with a light blanket available if I want it, since some clients feel chilly during the sessions. In my anxious mind I begin giggling to myself, because I can't believe I'm doing this … I pull myself together only to start obsessing about: am I focusing correctly? Soon, I feel strangely relaxed as if I'm on the verge of falling asleep, but never actually do. I'm no longer worried about focusing, or self conscience about Rich staring at me. On one hand I feel like I'm the only one in the room, so relaxed I feel a bit like I'm floating, but on the other hand I'm aware of everything that's going on. As Rich talks, she takes me on a little journey. She asks me to "go to" a place in my mind that I find very relaxing, I chose the beach, no, not the Jersey shore on a Saturday in the summer, but a deserted Caribbean island, and I'm alone. As Rich continues, soothing music is playing in the background, nice touch. Her dialog is filled with advice, suggestions and messages to my unconscious mind, all personally designed to "pump me up" (get it?) and empower me to change my snacking behavior and sugar/chocolate cravings. That subliminal code of "pumped up" is designed to immediately change my mood from emotional eating to feeling good about myself instead of turning to an unhealthy snack. It turns out that she is recording the session for me to listen to at home everyday, until our next session. The tape is filled with relaxation techniques as part of the therapy. The amount of sessions depend on the severity of your issue. Three to six sessions seems to be the norm however. At each new session, I leave with a new tape to work with at home. I find that if I miss a day or am rushed or interrupted the results are much less powerful. I was shocked however, shocked , to have NOT had one single craving for the week or so between the first two sessions, not one. In fact, I lost two pounds right away. Frankly, it seemed effortless. Will it continue? It certainly can and has the potential to do so, but only if I remain a willing and active participant in the process. Hypnosis, I have learned, is not a magic pill you take and then forget about while it does its job. This, like any other weight loss program is something you have to work at like yoga or meditation. You and your unconscious mind is the key to your own success. The mind is so powerful and definitely capable of a little "re-programming." But as creatures of habit, consistency with any life changing program is not only a must, but a challenge as well. Arlene Rich is located in Sparta at 70 Sparta Avenue, suite 201 or by calling 973-670-9678