When I tell clients that their faith is very important for permanent weight loss, they first think I am talking about their spiritual or religious faith. Yes, spiritual need is something that must be attended to for holistic health, and for anyone who is suffering, spiritual need is something that has to be looked at. But that's not what I'm referring to when I direct weight loss clients to examine their faith regarding weight loss. Some have a faith that traps them in obesity. In those cases, clients need to convert to a new faith to be successful.
In my Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, belief in a religion or God is only the number three definition. The first definition is "trust or confidence in a person or a thing." The second definition is "belief that is not based on proof." The first and second meanings are the ones I am thinking of when I tell you that your ability to solve your weight problem absolutely depends on your faith.
How your beliefs dictate what your body will be like
I coined the term "therapeutic psychogenics" to describe the psychological methods I teach to achieve successful weight control. Among the most powerful is an almost magical phenomenon, evident in demonstrations of the ideomotor effect, which sets your mind/body off on a mission to create what you think.
As soon as you think a thought, your brain instantly sends out the messages to your mind/body to accomplish what you are thinking. This is done automatically, without conscious effort or will. Sexual thoughts are a good example. If you are thinking about knitting or baseball, your body has a state of non-arousal. If, on the other hand, you imagine the most passionate type of encounter with a lover, your brain sends out a different set of messages and your body likely responds in a dramatic way, sometimes in an embarrassing way for men in their teens.
This mind/body connection affects everything in your body and life every minute of every day. It runs your habits, feelings, desires, cravings, immune system, memory, muscles, organs, will power.... everything. This is all unconscious and operating 24/7.
If you've gone to a motivational seminar or a self-hypnosis session and you spend an hour thinking about eating right and what you'll look and feel like when you've lost the weight, you may have found yourself super-motivated walking out, able to exercise incredible self-control, no problem handling cravings or perhaps not even having cravings. It may have lasted for days. This was the result of your brain running programs that affected your desires, habits, appetite, and so-called will power. As soon as you think of yourself thin, the brain instantly sends messages out to all systems to make it happen, just like the passionate love thoughts. But it usually doesn't last.
Beliefs are like a live-in hypnotist
Your beliefs are your default thoughts. They are the thoughts that you're thinking when you are not listening to the motivational speaker or hypnotist, the thoughts that are running all the time when you are not consciously thinking. You have beliefs about what weight you're likely to be, about what you look like, about what you can and cannot do, about normal eating patterns, about everything. They are constantly at work, like a hypnotist whispering in your ear 24/7, but they are more powerful than any inspirational or motivational speaker or hypnotist you'll ever meet.
If you truly believe you were made to be fat, that it's in your genes, DNA, and destiny, it is like a non-stop set of directions to your mind/body to do whatever it can to make you fat. It sends out the messages to your systems that control everything -- your habits, your desires, your cravings, your willpower, maybe even your metabolism. Of course, it's crazy to think you are destined to be overweight or that you were made to be that way. None of the other animals are obese. We were made to be healthy, like them, lean and fit. But if our belief is that we are naturally fat, the mind/body will be working to make you fat, 24/7, even if you want to be fit more than anything else in the world. If you believe you are destined to fail, your mind/body will be directing your feelings, habits, motivation, will-power and God-given intelligence to make you fail, even if you are hoping and praying with all your heart to succeed. Belief directs it.
So, we must convert to a set of rock-solid beliefs, a faith, that we can succeed, that it is our destiny to be fit. How? This is not a simple matter. Discovering and converting to a new faith, a new truth about yourself and your destiny is not a snap of the fingers. But it is entirely possible and even a joy.
Trust me, you were not made to be obese. You can change. Regardless of your family, your history of failures, your weaknesses, or any number of decks stacked against you, your life can get better. You can get healthier, more successful and happier. Read the stories about me and Laurie Swanson, two examples of the many people who have "converted," to see how that's happened for others who could not succeed.
Will reading this blog and believing what I say change everything overnight? Probably not. There are a lot of pieces of the weight loss puzzle and you'll need them all in place to make it work. But your faith is a big piece of the puzzle. Having the wrong faith will prevent you from your dreams. Having the right faith will open the door to them and set you on the path to their fulfillment.
William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He is the creator of "Therapeutic Psychogenics", which helped him lose 140 pounds permanently thirty years ago after years of obesity and dieting failure. He has written a book about it, The Anderson Method, and he is teaching these techniques to individuals and therapists all over the country.
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