It’s been a little while since I had a heart to heart with you, blog.
If you’ve been reading Oatmeal after Spinning for a while, you probably know that I struggle with my weight, body image and general self-acceptance. Though I love to exercise (yes, I honestly love it) and have made a career of teaching others to get motivated, fit and healthy, I struggle with my own issues on a daily basis. I have taken some brave steps to get help with some of these issues, and have definitely come a long way in the last four months. I’m not going to take up a whole post talking about that stuff, but if you’re interested, you can get a pretty good idea here about where I’m coming from.
Brace yourself though- I’m going to be pretty honest here. And honestly, I’m a little nervous about that.
(and… it’s a long post!)
Since I started this blog, I’ve been on a mission to lose weight. Not a lot- just enough to get back to a “healthy” weight and more importantly- feel good about myself and comfortable in my skin. In the fall, when I was going through a lot of big changes with my career, I was kind of a wreck. I was stressed, and in turn, gained weight. Between the beginning of September and the middle of October, I somehow gained over 10 lbs. And I stayed there for the next 6 weeks or so. And then one day, in the beginning of December, I decided to join Weight Watchers. I’ve actually done WW a number of times in my life, but never went to meetings and mostly did everything online. I decided to do it differently this time and chose a meeting time that would work for me each week and committed to attending weekly meetings. I followed the program and lost 2 lbs. the first week. And then I lose another two pound the next week. And the next. But, on the fourth week (which was right after New Year’s), I gained 2.5 lbs. And it took me three weeks to lose that.
Since then I’ve had minimal losses/gains each week and just haven’t been able to get back to where I was in the beginning where I felt so positive and was ready to commit. I am still going to the meetings, tracking points (most of the time), but I’m not 100% committed. I’ve lost motivation.
And this is the story of my life (when it comes to weight loss). I’ll be so excited about something in the beginning, and if I find success, I’ll keep going. But, the moment I “fail” or have an obstacle in my way, I throw in the towel.
Typing it out, it sounds ridiculous to me. I am not a quitter, and I know I’m not a failure. I know that I can do anything that I set my mind to.
With the stress of selling the house, the unpredictable schedules, going out to eat way too much and not sleeping well, weight loss has just not been happening this month. I just keep thinking that I’ll recommit later. But, why wait? Life is always going to happen. There are always going to be obstacles, things that you can’t control, and you just have to adapt.
Last month, my good friend April asked me to go to this Weight Loss Hypnosis class with her, because she bought a two-for-one deal on Groupon. I thought: Hypnosis? Sounds hokey to me… but I’ll give it a shot!
Really, I’ve “tried everything else,” so why not this? And this past Sunday, I checked it out.
I walked into the session with an open mind and ready to accept anything that was presented to me. I was pretty sure that the presenter would not try to brainwash me and make me bark like a dog.
The class was presented through an organization called Living Lite, which offers hypnosis for weight loss and smoking cessation. My session was led by Sue Ouellette, who is a licensed nurse practitioner and health care educator. And she was wonderful- smart, funny and made everyone feel instantly comfortable. Sue explained to my group (which was made up of about 40-50 people, most of them women) that she had attended the Living Lite workshop herself many years ago in Seattle and was successful at losing weight afterwards. She also explained that hypnosis is not about what you see on tv- making someone lose control or do crazy things. Hypnosis is about getting into a deep, relaxed state that reaches the sub-conscious mind. She related it to the state of mind that you’re in when you’re in the shower (when I often have my best ideas!) or when driving for a long time (when you all the sudden think “whoa, how did I get here?”); it’s that relaxed mental state when you’re not distracted. Some people are more receptive to hypnosis that others.
The class was three hours long, and began with a basic group discussion about challenges with weight-loss and self acceptance. We had to choose a phrase to associate with the vision of our ideal, thin, fit, healthy body. Mine was my happy body. After that, we were led into our first (of four) hypnosis. The first session took the longest, so that Sue could allow enough time to teach everyone to get into a relaxed state. I was able to relax pretty easily and let go of any mind chatter (thanks, yoga!). After giving detailed instructions about how to relax the entire body from head to toe, Sue began discussing the first topic, which was to imagine your ideal, thin, fit, healthy body. She spoke about every part of the body and instructed us to imagine it in detail, again from the toes all the way to the top of the head. I imagined myself in my happy body, which (luckily) isn’t too far from how it looks now- but there are definitely some areas that need more improvement than others. My legs looked exactly the same- I’ll take it!
After the first session ended, we had a brief discussion and were led into the next session, and this pattern continued until we had completed the four sessions. And, of course, I took a lot of notes.
Like my tip about drinking water?
Session 2 was about eliminating a food from your diet that was standing in the way of your success. While Sue doesn’t advocate cutting anything that you want to eat completely out of your diet- the point of this was to eliminate a “problem” food for a period of two weeks. After two weeks, you may or may not choose to eat that food again (often it’s something that you don’t desire at all anymore, but the point is that it no longer controls you).
I don’t really have a specific food that sabotages my diet, because I generally choose “healthy” foods to eat. However, I do have a big problem with portion control, and often eat far too much and mindlessly. So, instead of choosing one food to eliminate, I chose to get rid of a specific action: reaching for a handful of this or that. I can’t tell you how many times a day I mindlessly grab a handful of something- and that adds up!
I won’t go into specific detail of how exactly the exercise went, but will say that Sue created a very specific scenario for us that involved envisioning the “problem” food and it resulted in seeing it as something that is completely undesirable.
It’s only been a day- but I can honestly say that since I came home from the class, I have not even thought about grabbing a handful of anything. The thought of it actually repulses me. Weird.
Session 3 was the most emotional for me. It was about “unzipping the fat suit.” In the hypnosis, we envisioned ourselves wearing a fat suit and feeling its burden (physically and emotionally). Then, piece by piece, we unzipped the fat suit. I was very deeply connected with this session, and suddenly felt tears streaming down my cheeks. I thought about confronting the “fat girl” vision of myself that I will probably always carry a little bit and watched it be stripped off slowly. Once the fat suit was off, I envisioned throwing it off a cliff and watching it break into a million pieces. And it felt really good.
The last session was about breaking down the wall that stands in the way of getting the healthy, fit body you want (my happy body). We envisioned ourselves walking down a road and coming upon a wall. Sue did not describe how big the wall was, or what it was made of- we were to determine that ourselves. On the other side of the wall was my happy body. We then had to get over to the other side in any way possible- whether it was climbing over/under the wall, going around it, going through it (through a door) or breaking it down completely.
After that last session, we discussed what our wall was made of and how we broke it down. The majority of people said that their wall was big and wide and made of stone or brick, and there were a number of different answers for how they got to the other side. My wall was pretty small in comparison- only about 6′ tall and 8′ wide and made of plywood. To get to the other side, I shook it and then kicked it down. It was easy. Interesting, huh? I guess that maybe that means that what’s standing in the way of my happy body really isn’t that complicated or daunting- that it’s pretty simple and small. Hmm.
I felt really good after the class was over and actually purchased some of the CDs that offer the same meditation techniques. Right now I feel really inspired and motivated, but I know that for me, that usually fades after a few days or weeks. I’d like to think that if I start feeling uninspired or unmotivated, I can listen to the CDs with the specific meditation/hypnosis that I need the most help with and get back to that state.
I made a decision to also stop chewing gum. I know that sounds a little random and strange, but it’s a huge addiction for me, and I’ve been thinking about “quitting” for a while (but never really wanted to). I’ll elaborate more on that in a later post.
Today, I’m feeling good. I really like this quote that Sue told us, because it’s so true:
When Sue said these words, they definitely resonated with me. She emphasized over and over again how it’s in our own control to have the life that we want- one that is not controlled by food. I think about the big changes in my life that I’ve made over the last year (job, moving), and know that having the life I really desire is possible.
I will probably have a lot of other bits of information to share that I learned from this remarkable class over the next few days. I would highly recommend it to anyone that is having trouble losing weight or just feels like they are controlled by food. I’m so glad that I was a part of it!