Suze... I love your idea!! Go for it!!
Ok folks, now bear with us if you already know all this stuff....but there's probably many who don't know as much and need some background information and food for thought!! Here's a couple of articles to get the mental juices flowing. Stay tuned to the thread, though, as I'm sure Suze will have much more about using affirmations, visualization and meditation.... but this will get you started!
And by the way, I have seen several examples of people making extremely powerful changes in their lives through these techiques... you just have to "change your mind"!!
Hereís a great overview of visualization and the power it can have in our lives (with some material directly relating to weight loss) from www.pumpuii.com
The Mind : Gateway to Health
No one will argue that the mind is the master of the body, but few realize just how much influence the mind really has on our health and overall well-being. So powerful is the mind on the mechanizations of the body that during any scientific drug research conducted on human volunteers, a "placebo group" is always established so that the researchers may remove "the power of the mind" from the result data (a placebo is something given to the subject that has no medical value, but the subject is told that it does). Hypnosis has been shown to aid in the overcoming of addictions and diseases. In the most extreme cases, through the power of belief alone, even the most incurable diseases have been cured, and feats bordering on the supernatural have been accomplished.
Weíre not going to deal with the far reaching powers of the mind here, however. I simply wanted to establish that the mind DOES in fact exert an incredible degree of influence over our bodies. There are many disciplines that cultivate this mind-over-matter power - tai chi, yoga, chi kung, and more - but that doesnít mean that someone who doesnít have the time (or desire) to enter into monastic study canít benefit from some simple tips and tricks that ultimately will lead to better health, invigorated energy, creativity and lower stress.
We are far too judgmental of ourselves. We look into the mirror and see someone who isnít as smart, beautiful, rich, or successful as we want to be, no matter how smart, beautiful, rich or successful we already are. We look outside for sources of love, acceptance and respect - to our friends, our lovers, our parents, our colleagues . . . we feel better when it is found, and lost when it is not. Thereís nothing inherently wrong with wanting love, acceptance and respect from others - we are social beings. But the first place we need to look, the place that so few of us look, is not without, it is within. If you canít accept yourself, love yourself or respect yourself, why should anyone else?
This has more than superficial, "feel-better" importance. All sorts of health problems are associated with depression and stress. Stress happens when we encounter a negative event (actually positive events can create stress as well), or series of events, that weíre unsure how to act or solve. Stress is NOT the event itself, it is our reaction to it.
And while weíre talking about stress, I might as well note that stress is not negative - too much stress is. Stressful situations, when dealt with properly, can bring out all kinds of unmanifested ability and creativity. But when we are hit with too much stress, our health, esteem, and mental faculties begin to suffer.
We canít avoid stress all together, but we can reduce it: first by accepting, loving and respecting ourselves unconditionally. The first encounter with stress occurs when we donít "live up" to our own expectations.
Next, by keeping a positive outlook. If you believe that no matter how bad a situation around you is, you WILL find a way out of it, you feel more at ease. When you are more at ease, you have more energy to spend on FINDING that way out; sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Focus only on one task at a time, doing three things at once means you only have one-third the energy - mental or physical - to spend on each. Not very efficient is it? Frustrating too.
When a body builder works out, for example, he exerts his muscles through various exercises. Each phase of an exercise is called a "set" - he may do three or four "sets" of the same exercise, with each set containing (letís say) ten to fifteen repetitions. After a set, he has a "rest period" to allow his muscles a few moments to ready themselves to doing the next set. These rest periods are calculated to ensure the muscle has enough time to recuperate, while at the same time not having too much time that the muscle "cools down" and loses the maximum effectiveness of the next series of exercises. Like our muscles, our mind should be treated in the same manner.
The big difference between our mind and our muscles is that our minds are RARELY given a rest. Weíre constantly thinking, imagining, plotting, calculating, creating, debating, worrying, etc. Even while asleep, we dream. Itís no wonder our society is plagued with stress. We need to rest our minds, so set aside the dayís problems.
It wonít make those problems go away, but by setting them aside we give our minds the time it needs to recuperate, so that when we pick those problems back up, weíre more ready to deal with them.
"So, how do we do all this?" you may be asking. There are many ways. Exercise is one. While the body works, the mind rests. Weíre focused on DOING, not thinking, or worrying. Just do. The other benefit of exercise (aside from the increased physical fitness) is that exercise releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphin is the chemical that causes pleasure . . . yes, folks, say it with me: "Endorphins are my friend." Hard exercise isnít the only way though - enjoying a long walk outside, listening to soft music, enjoying a cup of tea . . . almost anything will do. The key is allowing yourself to become lost in the activity and just enjoy the moment. What activities WONíT do? If the activity youíre doing is causing even MORE stress, then itís not a good stress reliever. The most advanced form of "resting the mind" is through meditation, which weíll deal with later.
So you may be thinking, "are self-acceptance and the reduction of stress the only ways my health can benefit?" Do you realize just how many health problems could be overcome, how many lives would be saved, if we all learned to just accept ourselves for who we are and reduce the impact stress has on our lives? Millions of people in the US alone would live a longer and richer life.
But yes, since you asked, there are many other way the power of the mind can be brought to bear on the problems that we encounter. Visualization is one of them. Visualization is a "mental skill" in which you focus your imagination on success over a difficulty in life. Visualization is kind of like "focused positive thinking," but thereís more to it than that. If you can, in your mind, SEE yourself accomplishing something, you are able to bring more energy to bear in making the visualization a reality and invoke all kinds of subconscious changes that your body starts making. Let me try and explain.
Say you wanted to lose some weight. First, VISUALIZE yourself at your target weight - donít just create a quick image, BURN it into your mind. Fill in every detail you can, so that just by closing your eyes you feel like your looking at a photograph. Itís harder than it sounds, but it doesnít matter if you actually SUCCEED in creating a super-realistic image in your mind. What matters is that youíre focused on creating it. Next, visualize your body rebuilding itself into your target image - letís say to visualize a fleet of tiny construction workers inside your body working to remove the soft fatty tissue and strengthen the hard muscle tissue. As silly as it sounds, the more focused your visualization, the more youíll succeed in focusing your body at working toward your goal. By visualizing your target, you are establishing in your mind that this is what you WILL succeed in achieving. Next, the tiny construction workers are a visual representation of how our body builds and repairs itself. Itís like giving yourself a post hypnotic suggestion - your unconscious mind sees the images that your conscious mind is projecting, then reflexively carries them out. The stronger your visualization, the stronger the effect. Itís useful not only for weight loss, but everything, from fighting the common cold, to quitting smoking, or whatever.
Visualization is not the end of accomplishing your goal, but it will HELP you achieve it.
First, let me say that there are many types of meditation, and many disciplines that incorporate meditative techniques. Actually, the visualization technique above is one kind of meditation. Many people think that meditation involves strange body positions, mantras, and everything-else-they-saw-on-Kung-Fu. While there are advanced forms of meditation that do employ some of these things, simple meditation does not. ANYONE can learn and cultivate simple meditation skills. What Iím going to provide here are some simple tips that you can use to give your mind a "mental time out." You DONíT have to meditate for hours before you see any impact on your overall health - EVEN FIVE MINUTES A DAY WILL DO.
1. Sit Comfortably
- Have good posture, because if you donít, youíll get uncomfortable quickly and will want to fidget around. Itís best to find an area where you wonít be disturbed, but this isnít always possible. Remember, even a few minutes of meditation can benefit you. With practice, even a few seconds of meditation will work to calm and focus your mind.
2. Breathe Deeply
- donít worry about how - they say abdominal breathing is best (breathing by expanding the lower diaphragm instead of the chest) but donít be overly concerned if you canít or donít do it. Just relax and breathe in deep, slow breaths.
- easier said than done, I realize. But focus on your deep breathing: lose yourself in it. Other thoughts, worries, etc. will float into your mind, but keep your thoughts on your breathing. Donít FORCE other thoughts out - thatís like trying to ignore a 6-year-old who wants attention NOW! - but keep bringing your focus back to your breathing. Close your eyes, if you like (you donít have to).
With practice, youíll be able to calm your mind and relax quickly. Then youíll find youíve boundless more energy and focus to tackle the tasks at hand! You donít actually have to be sitting to meditate. Standing is good too. Just be sure youíre not driving a vehicle or something that requires your full attention!!!
Our minds are our most valuable asset - treat them right, and theyíll perform beautifully, and allow us to enjoy a fuller, richer and healthier life.
Hereís another GREAT article, from www.globalhealthandfitness.com
Your mind and body are not only connected, they are also locked together. Researchers have known for years that exercise can boost brain power and enhance your creativity. Some researchers even theorize that aerobic exercise suppresses activity in the left hemisphere of your brain, the half that is responsible for logical thought and stimulates the right hemisphere of your brain, that regulates intuition and creativity.
Another part of your brain is the subconscious, which has a powerful impact on each and every area of your life. If you have a negative self image in your subconscious, you probably lack confidence, are overweight and generally unhealthy. Youíre probably a procrastinator, you don't exercise, you feel you don't deserve any success, and you're generally unhappy with your life and can never get a lucky break. No matter how much you consciously try to change these images you can't, because they exist in you subconscious mind.
But what if you could change your self image in your subconscious, and gain more confidence, willpower, and determination. Would you make and take the daily adjustments necessary to make these changes? If you could gain control over your thoughts and images and improve your level of physical and emotional well being. . . would you? You feel you have the willpower but you are still unable to create these changes using willpower alone...why? Part of the reason for this is your conscious part of your mind accounts for only 12 percent, the other 88 percent and the most powerful part of your mind is made up of your subconscious.
The subconscious part of your mind, is the part you must use in order to make effective, permanent and positive changes in your life. The way to do this is by self-hypnosis, allowing you to enter your subconscious mind and make these powerful and permanent changes in your life.
There are many ways and books written about self-hypnosis, but the one I like to use is very simple. Find yourself a quite comfortable floor place and sit. Keep your upper body erect, your back flat and bring the soles of your feet together and pull your heels as close to your groin as possible. Rest your palms on the inside of your thighs. Now, breathe in slowly through your nose and hold for ten seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Keep your eyes closed and continue breathing for several minutes. When you feel completely relaxed, start to count backwards from five to zero. It is here that you can start to make positive changes in your subconscious, by making suggestions to yourself.
Some sample suggestions might be;
'I will receive only positive thoughts, that
are beneficial to me. I will reject all
negative thoughts and suggestions. I love
to work out and exercise, and enjoy the
changes that are happening to me and my body.'
'I am a winner and I love being a winner.
My confidence is increasing and I am becoming a better more positive person.'
As you give yourself these suggestions, imagine and visualize these suggestions as if they were real. See yourself making these changes and visualize situations that you may be in and make these positive changes. Visualization is an important technique in the art of self-hypnosis.
When you can imagine yourself exercising, before you actually begin to work out, you get tangible results, build better quality muscle and will find your performance levels will be enhanced. When you visualize your workout, make sure you go over all your sets, including your warm up sets, right on through to your maximum lift attempts, and cool down.
By getting your mind into your muscle, and visualizing the proper technique and movements, this could be the difference between a 70 percent success and a 95 percent success in your workouts. The more vivid your image, the more effective your workout. If you dream of success you will be successful.
Once you've finished your visualization, take a moment to enjoy your state of relaxation. When you are ready to come out, slowly count from zero to five. As you are counting out, you should be telling yourself you are feeling refreshed and filled with new energy.
You should practice this self hypnosis technique about twice a week
for your life changing suggestions and for no more than fifteen minutes at a time. You should also use your visualization techniques right before your workout, going over your entire workout before you start to train.
It should go without saying but I'm going to say it anyway, you should not practice self hypnosis while driving or doing any other activity that requires your full concentration.
You should also focus on just one or two suggestions per hypnosis session.
Trying to concentrate on too many thoughts at once may dilute your results. When you give yourself a suggestion, you should visualize and imagine each suggestion as if it were real. See yourself in the situation you want to become and think positively. Avoid the word try. I will try to become more patient. You should be suggesting, I will become more patient.
Another technique that is effective is a technique called dissociation. It's essentially a form of controlled daydreaming, where you consciously direct your mind away from the task you are doing and onto more pleasant thoughts.
Here is how it works. If you are riding a stationary bike, instead of thinking of your heart rate and exertion level and how much you hate what you're doing, think of something else... anything...Think of what you are going to make for dinner and how. Think of the names of Batman villains, you can even read a book. Before you know it, your exercise time will have been completed successfully and you can prepare yourself for the next workout level.
You should approach your weight control with confidence and enthusiasm, and anticipate that you will need time and practice before your lifestyle changes will be your new way of life. Remember old habits do not die easily.
When you slip, don't be hard on yourself, and don't give up. Learn from your experiences.
The decision to change your lifestyle to include healthy eating and physical activity is a conscious choice that requires change. It's also natural that while working towards your goals you feel a strong desire to obtains these goals you also simultaneously feel a strong resistance not to obtain your goals.
Up until now you've probably focused on all the negative aspects of being overweight and wondered why you haven't been able to succeed in accomplishing any of your lifestyle changes. One reason for this is that you are comfortable in your old lifestyle and know where all the bumps are.
When you resist change, part of you wants to desperately move forward, yet part of you wants to resist the changes you are trying to achieve.
There are basically two types of self motivators, those that use words like, have to, need to, should and must. This type of person focuses on the negative aspects of lifestyle change and creates a resistance within themselves. The other type of self-motivator uses words like, choose to, plan to, want to and intend to. This person usually embraces change and moves forward in accomplishing their lifestyle changes.
When you choose to open your mind to all the possibilities of change, and see change as a challenge for growth, you will then begin to see options and alternatives where you once saw obstacles and frustrations.
Conventional diets often neglect one of the most important aspects of weight loss and that is the psychological. Remember all actions must first start out as a thought.
There is even a recent theory that we are thinking ourselves fat. It comes from the differences between French and North American diets. The French have an obesity rating of about 8% while the North Americans have an obesity rate of 30%. Although the French have a higher Fat content in their diet they eat fewer calories than North American diets. The French view food as good and an enjoyable experience and only 12% would if possible replace eating with a pill. North Americans on the other hand see food as fuel and worry if itís going to turn up as fat in their body and 26% would take a pill if they could to replace eating. So is it guilt and anxiety towards food that makes us fatter? I personally wouldnít rule out anything when it comes to the powers of the mind.
In order to bring about a permanent lifestyle change, you first need to set goals, and goals that are specific. Saying you want to get healthier is too generic, you need to be more specific, like you want to increase your strength or aerobic level.
Your next step is to make a realistic plan to accomplish your goals. It's also important to learn from your past and make goal adjustments. Have you tried to obtain this goal before...what worked and what didn't? Once you've made the plan to obtain your goal, how are you going to maintain your goal. These are a few of the questions you must ask yourself. But perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is, why do you want to make these lifestyle changes. Forget what other people say, want and expect from you, why do you want to accomplish these goals. Write down all your reasons why you want to change and keep the list handy. It's good to read it once in awhile to help you stay on track.
Success starts with the setting, and planning of realistic goals, and a realistic weight loss goal to strive for would be to lose no more than 2 pounds per week.
You should also set a definite date for you to achieve your goal and commit yourself to obtain it. Wishing does not make it happen. You have to be committed to making it happen. You must come up with compelling reasons why you want to achieve your goal. You should also feel that success is so important to you that nothing can or will stop you. The idea of failing is so painful in your mind, that you will do whatever is necessary to succeed in achieving your goal. Remember permanent results are only achieved through permanent change.
One of the reasons people fail in making their lifestyle change is that when on their 'diet' they needlessly remove their favourite foods from their meal plans. The result is that they have intense cravings. As the cravings become more intense, the person may go on a binge and consume large amounts of their forbidden foods.
This may lead to a self defeating attitude like...well now that I've blown it, I may as well really blow it...and continue to binge. This thinking is really illogical and what you really need to do is just stop the binging, promise yourself that you will do better and move on.
To achieve long term success you must learn to manage your favorite foods and not to avoid them. This unrealistic thinking about binging that I just mentioned is one of the classic problems and reasons why dieters fail. They view the world and dieting as either right or wrong, perfect or terrible, good or bad. When you have a set back and slip on your diet, you tend to beat yourself up for not being perfect. This will probably lead to you increasing your eating in order to soothe your injured feelings and help yourself to feel better.
When you make statements to yourself like 'I will never eat chocolate bars again' or I must exercise every day', you are creating a self defeating situation. By using absolute words like always, must and never, you are setting yourself up to either accept the statement or fail. When you think in absolutes you tend to focus on the slight imperfections and forget about your accomplishments. Instead of saying, 'I will never eat chocolate bars', you may want to say, 'I will eat fewer chocolate bars and if I have one from time to time, it's O.K.'.
Remember to take one day at a time, and if you have a set back, move forward. Forget about yesterday, now is what matters. If you believe in yourself and what you are doing you will succeed.
Mental muscle or mind power, can not only change your physique, it can also play an important role in changing your life. By getting better control over your thoughts and images in your mind, you will soon see the improvements in not only your physical structure but your emotional side as well.