SPECIAL Correspondent Jo Ind reports on an approach to weight loss which helps people step off the dieting treadmill.
It’s that time of year again - the time when we lose the weight we lost last New Year... and the year, before ... and the year before.
When it comes to flab, it’s surprising how easily what was lost can be found again. If only the same could be said of youth and love and car keys....
Claire Hazlewood, a Birmingham hypnotherapist, has found that the most common reason people come to her clinic is because they can not keep their weight off. If they have managed to lose weight, they only put it back on again a few months later.
Claire and her business partner, Kevin Orchard, believe this is because most approaches to weight-loss fail to address people’s relationship with food and the underlying issues that led to their weight gain in the first place. That is why they have set up a two-day course at which people can learn techniques to get to the root of their difficulties around eating.
“Kevin and I both see so many people coming to us for weight loss,” says Claire. “It seems to be a really pressing issue at the moment.
“I know from myself and members of my family who have struggled with weight control how much of a crushing issue it can be for self-esteem but people don’t have to feel they’re on this constant treadmill of dieting and putting weight back on. There is an alternative.”
Claire’s background is in hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and neurolinguistic programming (NLP). She has worked as a therapist for almost a decade with people suffering from drug and alcohol dependencies, so she understands the nature of addiction.
Kevin specialises in emotional freedom technique (EFT) and Reiki healing. They have created a programme which blends these techniques to help treadmill dieters banish cravings and change their relationships with food and their bodies.
There is a free evening taster session at the Esporta Health Club in Wolverhampton Business Park on January 22 preceding a two-day weekend course on February 7-8 at the same venue, costing £150.
“The underlying reasons why people put weight back on are often stress, feeling emotionally upset and basically feeling unhappy with their bodies. We teach people different techniques to handle those emotions,” says Claire.
As far as the eating itself is concerned, she says they advise people to eat regularly, as much as six times a day.
“It’s counter-intuitive in many ways but if you regulate your blood-sugar level, that helps to regulate your metabolic rate and that allows you to lose weight much faster,” says Claire. “It’s common to find that dieters starve themselves all day, or eat very little, then have a really big meal in the evening because they are so hungry.
“That way, the body goes into starvation mode and keeps the weight on because it’s scared of doing anything. The body can’t cope with going from famine to feast. It’s better to have breakfast, then a mid-morning snack, then lunch, then an afternoon snack, then dinner and then a snack before night-time.”
Keeping blood-sugar levels steady means that at a physiological level, people are less likely to crave food but there might well be emotional reasons why dieters reach for the chocolate or the crisps. That is where it is important to learn the different techniques.
The first technique taught by Claire and Kevin is hypnotherapy. “People have a lot of ideas about hypnotherapy but it’s all about getting people into a relaxed state,” says Claire. “The body is much more able to soak up new information and change the way it thinks once it’s in a relaxed state.
“We teach some very practical tips about self-hypnosis that can help people to change their mood if they are stressed and so reduce for chocolate or crisps or whatever it is they crave.”
Self-hypnosis techniques include focusing on breathing, staring at a spot on the wall and counting backwards.
“They’re simple but they do work,” says Claire. “In situations where someone is feeling stressed and the cravings are quite high, they can fall back on those techniques and feel more in control rather than feeling ‘I’ve got to have something to eat to calm me down.’”
After the self-hypnosis comes the NLP. This is where someone is able to change their patterns of thinking so, for example, if someone has had an argument with her partner, instead of thinking: “I want a packet of biscuits to help me through,” she can find a different path to go down in her thinking.
“It’s about finding the tipping point, the point at which people give themselves permission to go and binge,” says Claire. “We find the things that trigger that and then start re-framing the thinking so, instead of eating, someone might think ‘OK, this has happened before. What can I do differently in this situation?’”
The third technique that Claire and Kevin teach is EFT. This is a way of connecting with people’s emotions by literally tapping on their acupuncture points. This releases emotions that are stored up, often over many years, so can help when people want to use food to block overwhelming feelings.
Once someone has learnt the techniques to help them deal with the causes of their cravings, they should then have the tools to help keep their weight off for good, but they can contact Claire or Kevin for support should they need it.
“Once people know how to deal with their feelings so they are not overwhelmed by them, they feel in control again and that is a huge step.”
* To speak to Claire or book a place at the free evening taster call her on 07513 941405.