For those working on weight control, our next evening group session will be Thursday evening, October 27 at 6:30. Email me at email@example.com for details.
The headline above is from an article in the National Institutes of Health’s Research Matters, on a recent Harvard School of Public Health study by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and Dr. Frank Hu. It’s encouraging to see some recognition that weight gain and loss are not simply a matter of balancing calories in and energy out.
Highlights of the article:
Weight gain is associated with poor sleep, and also with TV-watching. Weight loss is associated with eating more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt–especially yogurt! “The idea that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods is a myth that needs to be debunked,” Hu says.
For those working on weight control, our next evening group session will be Thursday evening, September 22 at 6:30. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
For those working on weight control, our next evening group session will be Thursday evening, June 30 at 6:30. Email me for details.
Quit Smoking with Hypnosis is a one-session workshop at Whatcom Community College on May 2 at 6:30 pm. You can quit smoking in one session! $25 course fee; $15 material fee.
Also, the next Continuing Support for Weight Control session will take place at the Ohio Street Workstudios on Thursday, April 28, 6:30 – 7:30 pm. This group session is open to everyone who has attended previous Weight Control workshops. $10 session fee.
Do contact me with any questions.
I guess it’s common knowledge by now that the food industry has created a monster of a problem. They did it by aggressively pursuing a market (that is, us), offering high fat, high sugar, high salt food that’s ready to eat. It is a technological marvel, if you think about it. I like to cook, and I spend a lot of time doing it, so I can appreciate the appeal ready-to-eat meals have for people who don’t like to cook, or the growing number of people who don’t know how to.
What people who don’t like or know how to cook may not realize is that many of the ready-to-eat foods don’t have a time or cost advantage over home-prepared foods—I’m thinking about a package of frozen sweet potato fries I recently tried. I’d ventured into the frozen food aisle looking for frozen lima beans and chanced across a series of fancy fried potato offerings. I bought a bag of seasoned frozen sweet potato fries.
Sweet potato fries are easy to make from scratch. You slice up sweet potatoes, toss them with oil and seasonings, and put them in the oven on high heat for 10 or 15 minutes. Simple. Very few ingredients. Pretty cheap, too. The frozen ones on the other hand are more expensive, have a lot of ingredients, most of them unpronounceable, and to a palate used to real food, they taste funny—greasy, mushy, and overly salty. But if I hadn’t had the experience of making my own with sea salt and some spicy Cajun seasoning, I might think they tasted good. And if kept on buying them—and the other offerings on the freezer shelf—I might be a candidate for addiction. Because that’s what the high fat, high sugar, high salt foods are designed for—producing a craving that will bring us back for more.
It’s a slippery slope, especially for hard working, busy families racing between work, child-care, the soccer field, etc., trying to figure out how to cram a full meal into that busy day. (I can attest to how hard it is to use your last bit of energy to put a meal on the table, only to hear the kids whine about having to eat vegetables.)
The food industry has some genius marketing people. But even if they didn’t have experts ready to craft the perfect selling points—who came up with the idea of putting a toy into a “happy” meal, anyway?—they have allies in our own physiology.
An over-simplification of the problem goes something like this: Cravings are a function of our biology, a result of evolution. In a world of scarce—and seasonal—resources, our ancestors who had cravings for nutritional powerhouses like sugar had a great advantage. And that “advantage” shows up today in their descendants—that’s us, right now, in this time of over-abundance of food.
All of us. And there are all kinds. People who have never had a problem because frankly they are not interested in food. Or people who never have a problem with overeating because they naturally monitor the food they eat and have no problem staying within a pound or two of their perfect weight, whatever that is. And others who maintain a perfect weight by obsessing over every bite and exercising every spare moment of the day. And at the other end of the spectrum are the folks who have never been able to reach a normal weight except by Herculean deprivation and who see-saw toward and away from that “normal” weight.
In between the few, naturally thin, attentive-to-their-bodies people (who aren’t reading this anyway), and the fully addicted, are the people who haven’t developed an addiction, but who’ve lost their ability to listen to their bodies’ natural instincts about exercise and food—how much they really need, or when they need it. There are many of us, in that in-between place.
Let me clarify: I am thankful that we are so fortunate, that we have access to such abundance. All we have to do is look at the news to realize how fortunate we are. But we do pay a price for that good fortune. The optimistically titled The End of Overeating by David Kessler, which I’ve mentioned before, is a great overview of the problem, if you want more information on the topic. Or read anything by Michael Pollan.
I believe there’s really only one thing we can do about this fix we are in. In this moment, in this place, we can accept where we are and love ourselves anyway. All of ourselves: body, mind, and spirit. I truly believe that’s the foundation upon which every step toward greater health and true wellbeing rests.
I believe that’s true for those who have lost touch with the body’s wisdom about what we need for sustenance, and those who are dealing with goad of those relentless cravings we call addiction. I believe that self-acceptance and self-care is the foundation we need to allow us to change our behavior, and ultimately banish those cravings and regain our innate wisdom about the body’s needs.
I don’t believe there’s any magic wand that can make the changes happen overnight. But I do believe the path begins where we are right now, that the first step is accepting who we are, accepting where we are, and loving ourselves anyway. With that first step, and with a clear focus on good health and wellbeing, I think the next steps on the path will appear—as if by magic.
The Holiday Season is over—it was delightful in our household, but I am sure I’m not alone in looking forward to a reprieve until next year. With the end of the season come the inevitable New Year’s resolutions—take off the extra pounds, make a new (healthy) habit, save money . . . .
I’ve noticed that SMART goals are popular these days: that’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-framed. SMART goals are structured to ensure clear, immediate feedback, which is helpful. For example, applying the acronym to “I need to lose weight” leads to “I need to lose 15 pounds before the wedding, and I need to weigh myself every day to ensure that I am on track.” I know which of those two goals I think is more likely to be successful.
The concept of SMART goals was originally developed for evaluating projects during the planning stage, and as you can see, they’ve proved a useful way to evaluate some kinds of personal goals as well.
Thinking about the ways people approach making New Year’s resolutions led me to the internet, to see if there’s any research out there that might shed some light on the subject. I found a treasure trove—a summary of 35 years of study, “Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation: A 35-Year Odyssey,” by Edwin A. Locke, University of Maryland and Gary P. Latham, University of Toronto.
It turns out science confirms that making and striving for goals is in itself important.
A long-term study of managers at ATT shows that conscious goal setting leads to action, and to success. Goal setting increases both performance and satisfaction—especially among people who are pro-active and “purposeful.” Choosing a goal and pursuing it allows people to feel more in control of their lives, and it also directs their focus to what’s important to them and enables them to ignore what is not. So, on a day-to-day basis, they are more likely to act on what’s important to them, with the result that they are less likely to miss opportunities.
The research review had more to say about how goals affect performance: goals encourage effort, encourage persistence, and encourage learning related to their goal. And the research distinguishes between goals for simple versus complex tasks. Performance goals are about achieving a specific, simple outcome (like, “I want to lose 15 pounds before the wedding,”) and learning goals are more about building skills (“I want to learn how to maintain a healthy weight.”)
What’s important to known when setting goals is that motivation and strategies for success for simple and complex goals are necessarily different. (By the way, Dan Pink talks very entertainingly about how motivation differs for each type of goal in Drive and in his TED presentation.)
I’m excited about my upcoming workshop in Goal Setting for Success at Whatcom Community College. We’ll cover the strategies that lead to success for both types of goals, with hypnosis sessions to provide support for motivation and for clear visualization of a successful outcome.
I’ve written before about the evidence that visualizing a healthy outcome healthy outcome and a healthy lifestyle under hypnosis has the same kind of power as actual experience. So, under hypnosis, I’ll guide everyone in visualizing themselves 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years into the future—as they will be when they reach their goals.
One of the odd things about goals is that they loom large when we’re looking up at them from the starting point, but once we’ve achieved them, they don’t seem so daunting. That’s easier to see with SMART goals, but long-term goals have the same effect. I remember deciding to go to college when I was a mom in my early thirties—just making the decision felt like a huge step. At forty, I had a Master’s degree and a basket of new skills that I had built one class at a time, and while I was proud of what I’d done, I didn’t think about it much—I was already focused on the next set of goals.
On February 3, I’m offering a new workshop on developing good study skills and erasing test anxiety. It’s at Whatcom Community College.
The College is close to my heart—I’m a proud community college graduate and a former college teacher—and I expect that most of the people who sign up will be students. But I didn’t develop this workshop specifically for students.
A client will get a raise at work if he passes a series of demanding classes; another wants to improve her bridge game, and my own history with crippling test anxiety—these led directly to my developing this 2-hour workshop.
The first hour will start with hypnosis for relaxation and motivation. Relaxation because when we can relax, we perform better, naturally. Motivation because hypnosis helps us tap into our deeper motivation—not the desire to please others, for example, but our own, intrinsic reasons to want to succeed.
The second hour will build a pathway into good focus and concentration—when you leave, you will already know what it feels like to study well and to retain what you learn (that’s the power of hypnosis at work).
Finally, you’ll learn how to take the power away from test anxiety. You’ll learn to stop it before it starts—literally changing the chemistry of your brain, ensuring a relaxed and confident state as you approach a test.
Test anxiety is a result of our hind-brain at work—the infamous “fight or flight response”—triggering a cascade of chemicals into the brain designed to get us out of danger. But the side effect of this response—so helpful if you’re facing a stampeding herd of elephants—is that the same chemicals turn off your ability to reason. In a test situation, of course, that’s the ability you need. (Here’s a link from West Virginia University with some more information specifically about dealing with test anxiety for students.)
By the way, it’s not just for exams—this technique works for any performance anxiety, including public speaking. I always think of the Jerry Seinfeld line, “at a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy.”
We’re offering 4 classes at Whatcom Community College starting in January. We’ll do Weight Control through Hypnosis and Quit Smoking with Hypnosis, which we’ve offered before, and 2 brand new classes: Goal Setting for Success, and Hypnosis for Students to Enhance Focus and Reduce Test Anxiety.
Weight Control through Hypnosis
This class is about identifying and putting into practice simple and specific steps that will help you deal with your specific challenges–in a completely positive and supportive environment. We’ll use hypnosis to strengthen and support your motivation for change, develop mindfulness as a daily practice, and to reinforce your vision for maintaining a healthy weight. This 3-session class is a condensed version of the Weight Control program that I offer individual clients, and it’s a bargain at $75–the same fee as a single session in my office.
Quit Smoking with Hypnosis
Hypnosis is a tried and true method for quitting smoking. In this one-evening class, we’ll use hypnosis to reinforce your deepest desire for a healthy, smoke-free life, develop alternative responses to the triggers that drive your smoking habit, and reinforce the many benefits of quitting. Come ready to reprogram your mind and body and leave cigarettes behind for good.
New class: Goal Setting for Success
It’s the New Year, and we will do it: set goals for ourselves that we can’t possibly meet, or worse, that end up making us feel we’ve failed. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Based on new research about motivation, and on proven hypnosis techniques, this class provides support in developing, pursuing, and achieving your short- or long-term goals.
New class–Enhance Focus and Reduce Test Anxiety
Although designed for students, this class will work for anyone who wants to improve the ability to focus and concentrate, and to retain the subject matter when it’s needed. This single session provides tools both for learning and for eliminating test anxiety (performance anxiety).