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 Weight Control 
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Imagery And Visualization

Therapeutic imagery usually consists of a 20- to 25-minute session that begins with a relaxation exercise to help focus attention and "center" your mind. Very often it is done in combination with hypnosis, Neurolinguistic programming, and affirmations. These exercises aid in weight loss by allowing people to envision how manageable lowering their weight is and what they would look like.

During a typical session of imagery , you focus on a predetermined image designed to help you control excessive and unhealthy eating (active imagery) or you allow your mind to conjure up images that give you insight into your weight and fat (receptive imagery). Imagery can be explored on your own, with the help of a book or audiotape, or with a therapist's guidance (guided imagery).

Martin L. Rossman, MD in an article "Imagery: Learning to Use the Mind's Eye," described how imagery works for healing:

Visual, auditory, and tactile imagery seem to arise from the brain's cerebral cortex, the seat of higher mental functions, such as language, thinking, and problem solving. (Imagery having to do with smell or emotional experiences may arise from more primitive brain centers.) When researchers have used a sophisticated technique called positron emission tomography (PET) to monitor the brain during imagery exercises, they have found that the same parts of the cerebral cortex are activated whether people imagine something or actually experience it. This suggests that picturing visual images activates the optic cortex, imagining that you are listening to music arouses the auditory cortex, and conjuring up tactile sensations stimulates the sensory cortex. Thus, vivid imagery can send a message from the cerebral cortex to the lower brain centers, including the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. From there, the message is relayed to the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system, which can affect a range of bodily functions, including heart rate, perspiration, and blood pressure.

To relax, for instance, you might visualize a restful beach scene. Then you could incorporate the surrounding images through your senses: Hear the waves. feel the breeze. Smell the salt air.

Keep your eyes closed while you take a few deep, easy breaths, and imagine yourself in the most peaceful, beautiful, serene place you can conjure up. Think of a time when you felt relaxed and peaceful- perhaps a walk in the park, a day on a sunny beach, or an evening at a concert-and focus intently on the sights, smells, and physical sensations associated with that event. Focus on this image for about five minutes. 

Or you can start with the following imagery for seeing your way to weight-loss success.

Sit quietly and comfortably. 
Once you are in position, start breathing deeply.
Close eyes. Keep it closed during your visualization. Keep your belly soft. Let that softness spread from your belly into your legs and upper body. 

These exercises will relax you. Being relaxed  helps you to concentrate on the images that you visualize. Now you are ready for some visualization for weight loss. Here is an exercise recommended by Gerald Epstein, M.D. author of " Healing Visualizations."

Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Picture yourself standing before a mirror, seeing a noticeably thinner you. Imagine entering the mirror and merging with that image, becoming that slimmer you. Feel your clothes hang more loosely on you.

Now separate yourself from the image and step out of the mirror, but keep your eyes on it. Open your eyes.

Each time you sit down to eat, take a minute or two to practice this exercise. It can help you eat more sensibly and reinforce your commitment to losing weight.

Seeing yourself losing weight programs the subconscious mind to do what you want. Imagine how your body will feel and what it will look like. See yourself wearing the kind of body-hugging outfits and doing the kinds of things-such as proudly walking across a crowded beach-that might not feel comfortable for you quite yet. 

Here is a visualization recommended by Debbie Johnson, author of "Thinking Yourself Thin - The visualization technique that will make you lose weight without diet or exercise."

"I am walking on the beach, feeling slim and beautiful/ handsome. I feel people watching me as they notice how lean and lovely/ strong I am. I feel the warm sand move under my feet as I walk barefoot. The salty ocean air fills my nostrils. I breath deeply, loving the feeling of health and vigor. The waves roll in, their majestic sound enveloping me. I hear children playing and screaming with delight at finding shells or building castles. I am so happy to be alive in this moment and grateful for the new body I have. I feel more confident, healthy, vital, relaxed, and serene. I am at peace with my body and myself."


Keep forming these pleasant mental pictures, and you'll find yourself motivated to make them a reality.

You can also use visualization to turn it against the fat in your body by envisioning yourself avoiding the pitfalls of overeating. 

Visualize a situation that makes you feel vulnerable to cravings. For example, you are at home alone with half a cheesecake left over from a dinner party. Imagine smelling it, looking at it, letting the craving develop, and not fighting it.

Now see yourself destroying the food or putting it away in the refrigerator, out of sight. 

Now when an appropriate situation similar to this arises, your mental imagery will keep you from devouring the food. 

Practice your craving-control visualizations two or three times a day for about five minutes.

You can also use imagery/visualization to make tasks such as doing exercise a more pleasant experience. Psychologists call this technique, "Dissociation." It is a form of controlled daydreaming in which you consciously direct your mind away from the task at hand and onto more pleasant thoughts. The result is a more enjoyable workout-one that you'll look forward to instead of one that you dread.

Researchers at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, studied the effects of dissociation on women exercisers. Students cycled for 15 minutes while their heart rates were monitored. Some were asked to concentrate strictly on their exertion levels during the exercise, while others were asked to try to remember the names of every teacher they'd had since kindergarten. While the actual exertion was similar for both groups, those who were busy conjuring up schoolmarms of yore rated their level of exertion as significantly less than did their self-focusing peers.

Here are a few good good distractions to take your mind off food craving for high fat food

1.Take a walk.
2. Splash cool water on your face.
3. Take a bath. 
4. Go to a movie.
5. Take a nap. 
6. Have sex. 
7. Meditate. 
8. Eat some fruit. 
9. Call a friend. 
10. Walk up a few flights of stairs.

See Also:

Mind Body Medicine for weight control

Imagery for Stress management

Guided Imagery Infocenter in Holisticonline.com

Meditation for Weight Control

Self-Talk for Weight Control

Affirmations for Weight Control

Journaling for Weight Control

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) for Weight Control

Hypnotherapy for Weight Control

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