In 2001, I weighed over 400 pounds. My weight was the big issue in every area of my life. I was borderline type II diabetic, suffered from elevated triglycerides, sleep apnea and a dozen other weight-related health issues that made every day a struggle.
Determined to find a solution, I spent years yo-yo dieting. I'd lose 10 pounds, then gain back 15. No matter what I did, it seemed nothing worked long term — and my experience was certainly not unique. More than 90% of dieters fail to lose weight and keep it off, so it's clear that traditional approaches to weight loss miss the mark.
I'd learned the mind-body practice of visualization as a young adult, having used it to quit smoking. So when all the traditional weight loss approaches failed me, I decided to try that same technique for weight loss. I literally had nothing to lose (except the weight).
From the very first day, I noticed a decrease in my hunger. I practiced my visualizations before be and when I woke up the next morning, my hunger level was reduced to normal, not out of control like before. Simultaneously, I started to crave healthier foods throughout the day. To my own surprise, I pulled my bike out of the garage and started riding again, one of my favorite physical activities from my younger years.
And all of this happened naturally without meal plans or will power.
Fast forward two and half years. Following this same pattern of daily visualization combined with effortless lifestyle changes, I lost over 220 pounds without restricting what I ate and without forcing myself to exercise. That was 10 years ago, and I'm still the exact same weight today.
It's simply not an effort because the root problem has been solved. Visualization works its magic by addressing the very core of your stress, a structure in your brain called the amygdala. When you're under chronic stress, the brain produces chemical messengers called catecholamines that head straight for the amygdala.
According to neuroscientists, this structure plays a major role in generating emotions. In a stressful situation (like prolonged attempts at weight loss that always fail), the catecholamines direct the amygdala to produce emotions of fear and worry. Many of us are pumping out stress and inflammatory hormones all day, causing a kind of hormonal chaos that leads to chronic weight gain.
When you calm down your stress response with visualization, you also reduce the flow of stress hormones and pro-inflammatory cytokines.
According to researchers, guided-imagery meditation could "be of therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions." That includes the most troubling chronic inflammatory condition of all: hunger, weight gain and obesity.
I found that visualization helped me create healthy habits almost effortlessly. As I was going to sleep, I'd imagine myself the next day craving healthy, live foods, going to the beach, swimming, running and loving every minute of it. I imagined the weight just melting off of my body. I found that anything I imagined myself doing, I would easily enjoy doing the next day. I started to love the taste of salads and love the feeling of diving into the water. And the weight melted off of my body.
I'm not the only one who has experienced success with visualization. Thousands of my students around the world have lost weight and kept it off by adding this amazingly simple and effective practice to their weight loss regime.
World class athletes like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger (when he was a body builder), nine-time gold medal winning sprinter Carl Lewis and tennis legend Billy Jean King all practice visualization and credit a large part of their success to this mind-body practice as well.
What do my results, the success of my students, these world-class athletes and the new science of stress reduction mean for you?
Quite simply, if you're trying to lose weight, you owe it to yourself to learn the powerful mind-body technique of visualization. To ignore your mind in your weight loss journey is like driving with the emergency brake on. Take off the brake, and you'll be amazed at how simple and effortless it will be to achieve your weight loss goals.
If you are interested in learning more, I encourage you to visit www.TheGabrielMethod.com.
Photo courtesy of the author