Blog

Is the fear of vomiting making you sick?

When we mention phobias most people think of heights, spiders and flying. In fact most people don’t even know that Emetophobia exists.

That’s probably because the vast majority of people who suffer from Emetophobia (or to put it simply, fear of vomiting) don’t know that the problem is a well-recognised condition.

Emetophobia can be a difficult subject to bring up.

Often sufferers are embarrassed about their phobia  and may keep their problem hidden.  Mistakenly they believe they are odd or even a little bit mad. In fact, a fear of vomiting is probably one of the easiest phobias to understand, after all, don’t we all experience it to some degree or another?

However, whilst it is ‘normal’ to want to avoid being sick or being around vomit, for those suffering from emetophobia, this avoidance, disgust and fear become so exaggerated that it impacts on everyday life. Often it gives rise to other phobias and anxieties that all feed off each other.

For instance, we all know that travelling by air, sea or car could lead to travel sickness, but for most of us this is a chance we are willing to take. But what if the thought of getting sick is so terrifying and dreadful that it gives rise to utter panic, maybe even triggering a panic attack? You would of course try to avoid it, but the more you avoid it, the more frightening it becomes, and before you know it, you’ve developed another phobia  you have to deal with. The same goes for hospitals (full of sick people), schools, (children are always getting stomach bugs) restaurants, (who knows if they practice good hygiene?) The list of places and situations that need to be avoided is endless!

Worrying about food poisoning can, in some cases, give rise to an eating disorder. Wanting to avoid germs can lead to symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder as hand washing and sterilising surfaces gets out of control. It seems to be a vicious negative cycle of fear, avoidance and ever increasing symptoms.

For somebody who suffers from emetophobia the world is a scary place, where the dreadful possibility of encountering vomit lurks behind every pub corner and the prospect of becoming ill is so terrifying the sufferer will do anything to avoid it. Even if that means not getting pregnant, not eating, or not leaving the house. Emetophobia ruins lives, and its ability to spread and give rise to so many other disorders can make treatment difficult.

Because anxiety  is at the root of all the various symptoms and ways that emetophobia effects people, hypnotherapy is an excellent way of treating it. This is because hypnosis works with the unconscious part of the mind where those irrational fears are produced, whilst at the same time promoting mental and physical relaxation.

Traditionally, one of the ways sufferers have been helped is though exposure and desensitisation therapy, whereby gradual exposure to the phobic situation can bring about a lowering of symptoms. In practice this can be difficult to achieve. Most emetophobics turn ashen at the thought of facing their fears. It can also prove challenging to expose a client to their fears if it involves throwing up, flying on a plane, or being pregnant! Luckily hypnosis allows clients to experience such things in the safety and comfort of the therapist’s chair. Whilst in a profoundly relaxed state, a client can live through each feared situation, at their own pace, until the brain learns that vomiting and everything related to it is not dangerous. Whilst being sick will never be regarded as pleasant, it can be endured, and with that knowledge comes freedom.

Whilst gradual exposure and desensitisation form the basis of treatment, hypnotherapy also works by introducing more helpful ways of thinking about problematic situations and increases confidence and self-belief in our ability to handle things differently. For those who can identify why they developed the phobia (often this will be a childhood memory related to being sick) a simple technique to neutralise the traumatic memory can be used.

Emetophobia is a complicated and multi-faceted anxiety disorder that has as many causes as it does symptoms, but help is at hand. Please don’t let the fear of vomiting make you sick.

Mental Health check

I went to visit my osteopath yesterday for a slight adjustment. Poor posture, age and an underlying weakness in the muscles around my neck mean that every so often I become aware that things are not operating quite as they should. The tension in my shoulders begins to build up, my range of movement becomes restricted and eventually a dull ache will give me the push that I need to go and get some professional help. It was not until expert hands manipulated, soothed and coaxed those taught muscles back into alignment that I realised just how far I had let things deteriorate before seeking help. When I left that treatment room I could look over my right shoulder for the first time in months. I vowed there and then that ‘next time’ I wouldn’t wait until things got really painful before I asked for help. The problem is of course, that we all get very adept at ignoring those little warning signs that tell us that things aren’t right, and that happens on an emotional as well as a physical level.

A lot of the clients that I see have been ignoring the warning signs that something isn’t right in their lives for years! In fact, they have lived with symptoms of problems such as anxiety, depression and low self esteem for so long, that they think they are normal and just a part of modern life. Let me tell you now that it is not normal to feel tired, irritable and exhausted day after day. It is not normal to struggle to fall asleep every night or to wake frequently and find you are unable to get back to sleep because your mind is occupied with worries and images of future disasters and worst possible case scenarios. It is not normal to need alcohol, nicotine or drugs to get through the day!

We can all recognise the signs of a healthy body, but what about a healthy mind? The natural human condition is one of happiness, confidence and inner peace. When our minds are healthy we approach each day with enthusiasm and positivity. We rise to life’s challenges and actively enjoy being stretched intellectually. We are resilient, coping with loss and disappointment because we trust that life will go on and we can manage change. We have a sense of perspective, recognising what is important and what can safely be ignored. We problem solve, innovate, learn, cultivate relationships that nourish us. We care for our bodies and respect our needs for fun, relaxation, solitude and autonomy and a sense of purpose. As the mind and body are so intrinsically connected, a healthy mind tends to generate a healthy body.

So why do we accept anything less than this from ourselves and our lives? Often my clients seem almost apologetic to be asking for help in tackling problems related to they way they think or feel; because caring for our mental health is not something we are used to. I think it’s strange that most of us consider it good practice to attend a six monthly check up at the dentist because our teeth are important and we know decay can set in long before a toothache is felt. Yet, anxiety can eat away at us day after day, causing a rot that contaminates every part of our lives and we just accept it as the norm. We have our eyes tested to preserve our vision and yet we are blind to our own emotional needs.

Even our cars get an annual MOT to make sure they are running safely.

So why not give your emotional self a quick health? Don’t ignore those minor niggles and problems because they are a sign that something isn’t right in your life. It’s so much easier to deal with a bit of tension now that when until life really has become a pain in the neck.

Face Your Fears

It’s that time of year again, the nights are drawing in, Strictly is back on TV and the shops are full of oversized pumpkins, ghoulish masks and monster shaped confectionary.

When I was a child, Halloween meant bobbing for apples and ghost stories told in the dark. Today’s children expect a more sophisticated approach to terror and mimicking their transatlantic cousins will dress up in the scariest costumes they can find to go ‘trick or treating’ around the neighbourhood.

As a species we have a fascination with fear, finding the adrenaline fuelled rush of terror from a horror film or scary story strangely thrilling; we can’t bear to look, but neither can we look away! I wonder if this strange love/hate relationship exists because fear is the most primitive of emotions and is hard wired into our psychology and physiology. In fact you could say that fear underpins all of our negative emotions: fear of failure, fear of not being loved, fear of the unknowns, fear of not being good enough.

Of course fear is a basic survival mechanism, described by Wikipedia as “an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide.” The interesting thing you may have noticed about that definition is that the threat does not need to be real to trigger that urge to run and hide (also known as the fight-or-flight response) As long as your brain ‘perceives’ a threat, the whole chemical reaction will occur that triggers a rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and the overwhelming desire to escape!

Although fear has kept us out of danger for thousands of years, it has also been responsible for a huge range of anxieties and phobias. Babies are born with only two inherent fears: loud noises and falling. All the rest are learnt, and unlike Algebra, once a fear is learnt we don’t easily forget it!

Thankfully, most of our learnt fears are useful; a child who burns her finger on a hot stove won’t make that mistake again, and she will quickly make the connection with pain and heat that will enable her to avoid other potential threats. Often though, the things we learn to fear hinder rather than help our survival. In evolutionary terms this ‘one trial learning’ (we only need to burn ourselves once to learn the lesson) makes perfect sense. If we had to repeatedly hammer this dangerous lesson home (as I did with Algebra) we may end up with no fingers left to count on at all! However, in our modern, stress filled world, this tendency to perceive a threat and become instantly fearful, even if, at a later date we recognise the threat only existed in our head, can lead to problems. A child that is nipped by an overexcited poodle may develop a fear of dogs. The child then avoids all Dogs, giving rise to a Phobia. The brain, ever quick to match one scary hairy animal with another, may soon starts to classify cats under the “scary animals to be avoided category” and before long, that child is avoiding all domestic animals. Fear breeds fear, and avoidance means that fear will remain unchallenged.

Often, the most effective way to overcome a fear is to face up to it. When my young nephew started to avoid bedtimes it was because he believed monsters were hiding under his bed. My sister, ever practical, pulled the bed frame back so that he could see his fears were irrational, and armed him with a flashlight so that if he ever awoke in the night suspecting the monsters had returned, he could shine the light of truth into the darkness!

We can use this same metaphorical flashlight to help us face up to our emotional fears. If we cast some logical light on those niggling doubts and worries that keep us awake at night, we will probably find that most of them are just dark specters that we have conjured up ourselves and projected into our imaginary future, where we envisage the worst possible case scenario! By simply focusing on the reality of the situation we can begin to figure out ways of dealing with our problems instead of obsessing about them. By trusting ourselves and our innate ability to adapt and survive, we can eradicate fear, because at the root of all fears is the belief that we won’t be able to cope. Once we recognise that we can cope with just about anything, fear evaporates and we can take positive action.

Sometimes however, when it comes to Phobias, even though we know our fears are irrational, they have become so deeply embedded inside our subconscious that even the most powerful flashlight can’t help us see a way out. That’s when hypnotherapy can be the perfect tool to use. Many of the clients I see at Lynn Ward Hypnotherapy  suffer from immobilising fear, often triggered by seemingly innocuous things, such as clowns, speaking up at a meeting and even in one case I worked with, buttons! To help these clients face their fears I guide them through a series of imagined scenarios, gradually exposing them to the object of their fear. Because this exposure therapy takes place in trance, they remain safe and relaxed at all times. As your brain doesn’t differentiate from what you imagine and what is actually happening, the phobic response will rapidly become extinguished. It’s impossible to be relaxed and terrified at the same time, and it’s just as easy to learn to be comfortable around dogs as it was to be fearful of them.

So this Halloween, why not try facing some of your fears? You may find that those monsters hiding under the bed were nothing but dust bunnies after all!

From ghoulies and ghosties. And long-leggedy beasties.

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord, deliver us!

 

Hypnotic Gastric Band – why it’s all in the mind

I meet lots of people from all over the South West who are interested in how Lynn Ward Hypnotherapy can help them lose weight.

As I mentioned in my previous blog ‘Spring Clean and Grow Lean’, for many of them hypnosis is simply a means to reconnect with their bodies and tap into their inner resources which provides them with all the motivation and focus they need to change the way they eat.

But what if you feel you have no ‘inner resources’ to call upon?

Many of you out there will have spent more of your lives ‘on’ diets than ‘off’ them.

Perhaps you measure your self-esteem not by the things you have achieved at work and home, or the love and friendship that surrounds you, but by the bathroom scales?

If you have lost weight then it’s a good day. You almost like yourself! If you have gained then it’s a bad day, you hate yourself, decide that you are a failure, not even worth the effort, and the only way you feel able to mask that pain is with food.

And so the cycle of self-loathing and overeating is repeated.

I have seen weight loss clients at my practice who have survived living off shakes for 6 months who tell me they have ‘no willpower’ – such is their low opinion of themselves! One lady I helped had spent a miserable Christmas on a liquid diet, only to gain all the weight back once she returned to eating real food, and even she believed that she must be weak, because ultimately she had failed.

She blamed herself for her inability to maintain the weight loss, not recognising that it’s the diet industry with its quick fix miracle diets that are really the culprits.

Following years of failed diets and broken dreams is it any wonder that so many people eventually begin to lose faith that anything will ever work for them?

It’s these men and women who often see gastric band surgery as their only hope. Having abandoned any belief in their own abilities to maintain permanent weight loss they turn to science for a miracle cure.

I’m glad to say that most realise that surgery really is a desperate last measure; healthy people don’t want to be sliced open and risk their lives for something they know they should be able to do alone.

For some of these people the idea of hypnotic gastric band surgery represents a safe alternative to this dilemma.

But can something that takes place in your mind really have a permanent effect on your body?

For the answer to that we need to look at ourselves to see the way our mind effects our body every day. You don’t need to be in an embarrassing situation to blush, just remembering such an incident can make your cheeks burn once again. And what about when you read a report about a house infested with fleas and bed bugs, how long is it before your skin begins to itch and you can actually feel something crawling up your leg?

This mind body connection is at its most evident when I help clients to overcome fears and phobias. One unpleasant incidence, such as being nipped by a dog when you were three,  can become so stuck in our minds that it can continue to produce symptoms of panic years later, even if you have grown up to be a 6ft muscle bound trucker, and the current object of your fear is a miniature poodle.

Logically you know that the dog presents no real threat to you, but still your heart races, your mouth goes dry and you are rooted to the spot in terror. Such is the power of the mind to affect our bodies!

It is this ability our minds have to effect what is happening in our body that has caught the attention of top sports men and women. Most trainers and competitive sportspeople now realise that what’s going on in your head is as important as what is happening in the muscles and heart. Visualisation is used to imagine that perfect hit, kick or race, as the brain in programmed for success. An interesting thing that scientists have noticed is that the body actually responds to the images being produced by the brain ‘as if’ the action was actually taking place in that moment! So great is the effect that now injured sportspeople actually spend time each day visualising themselves taking part in their sport so that their muscles and nerves don’t ‘forget’ how to do that activity.

If you’re still not convinced of the amazing effect your thoughts can have over your body, just look at some of the research that proves we can actually lower our own blood pressure, limit stress hormones and boost our immune system just by relaxing and thinking in a positive way!

When I utilise this wonderful mind body connection to help my hypnotic gastric band clients harness the power of their imagination to create the memory of a gastric band having been placed around their stomachs, it is not only this physical restriction that helps them to lose weight and keep it off. Three sessions take place before the ‘surgery’ to prime the subconscious mind to believe the stomach is already shrinking. At the same time I deal with any underlying issues that may be causing overeating, whilst suggesting new healthier ways of dealing with triggers that cause problem eating, such as stress, boredom and low self-esteem.

Even before the band is put in place, clients have learnt to listen to their bodies and eat only when they are hungry. Clients are already losing weight at a sensible, sustainable rate and the gastric band is just that extra helpful reminder to keep eating in this way forever.

For too long overweight people have tried to solve their problems by focusing on what they put in their body, whilst ignoring what’s going on in their heads. I believe that is like trying to fix a faulty washing machine by changing your detergent! It’s not food that is the problem, it’s the brains inability to respond appropriately to the bodies need for food. So doesn’t it make sense to start at the beginning and go to the root cause of the problem?

A hypnotic gastric band isn’t suitable for everyone; the same criteria used in hospitals is adhered to with this weight loss method. It needs to be seen as an aid to weight loss rather than a magic panacea, and should only be used when significant amounts of weight need to be lost.

So if you have spent years on the diet merry go round isn’t it time you tried something different and used your head? Lynn Ward Hypnotherapy

It’s official! We have finally left the gloom of winter behind and have entered British Summer Time!

Granted, you may still have your central heating turned up to max and none of us are likely to be parting with our thermals just yet, but nevertheless, the days are getting longer, flowers are in bloom and our thoughts are naturally turning to the promise of the summer to come.

Those January resolutions may feel like a very distant memory and if yours was to lose that excess weight that’s been bothering you for too long now, then like the other thousands of people in Devon and Somerset, you may be wondering why you failed.

But don’t be too hard on yourself. Most of us chose the darkest, most depressing month of the year to fight the flab, so is it any wonder that the battle can seem so daunting. Bloated and tired from the excesses of Christmas we try to move from feast to famine in 24hours!

One thing is certain; Mother Nature doesn’t do much to support us in our endeavours to cut back on calories in winter. Our bodies crave comfort and warmth, so that the fireside and a hearty casserole call to us much louder than the rain lashed road to the gym and a chicken salad!

And even if you do have the tenacity to keep going through January it seems the calendar is littered with events and ‘special days’ when the supermarkets assault us with yet more chocolate and stodge! No sooner have we snuggled up with our Valentines to gorge on Belgian Truffles, champagne and a ‘meal deal for two’, then along comes ‘Mother’s Day’ and more family feasting! Then the chocolate bunny on the simnel cake comes in the form of the sugar fest that is Easter!

Is it any wonder so many of us have hidden the bathroom scales and given up the fight?

But our bodies are now coming out of hibernation and our minds are waking up to this chance for a new beginning. I’ve always thought that the New Year should begin in spring when all of nature is coming back to life, starting out fresh and full of promise.

I’ve noticed at lynnward hypnotherapy here in Somerset, that spring for me signals the arrival of lots of new clients that want to harness this Spring Clean mentality that sweeps over us all.

In exactly the same way that we might feel inspired to de clutter our drawers, hoover behind the cupboards and clear out the garage (don’t count me in on that one!) we also start to think about dumping those bad habits and re modelling our bodies so that we can feel comfortable revealing a little more flesh!

And the good news is that Mother Nature is now happy to give us a helping hand. The hours of extended daylight and the warmer weather give our body clocks an alarm call that wakes up our senses; jump starts our sluggish metabolism and gives us more energy and motivation.

Our appetite naturally adjusts as that layer of insulating fat is no longer needed, and we find we are drawn to lighter, fresher, healthier foods that the season provides.

Walking, cycling, running and getting active become a pleasure rather than a chore. And as we shed the shapeless woollies and 3 –ply vests we begin to reconnect to our bodies and take a long hard look at where we are now compared with where we want to be!

It’s this simple action of stepping back, taking stock, setting goals and making plans that really ensures success in any undertaking.

Most of us are lucky enough to know that even if winter did win the battle of the bulge, the war is far from won. Now that summer is marching forth the time is right for victory.

However, I realise that there are many of you out there who are battle weary and feel that you have no fight left and nothing more to give.

Are you are clinically obese? Have you spent your lifetime dieting only to regain the lost weight and more besides? Do you believe nothing works for you? Have you even considered undergoing gastric band surgery because you feel so desperate?

If this sounds like you then read my next blog that will describe why my HypnoGastricBand©  programme might be the solution you are looking for. You may be surprised to discover that this war can be won in your head!

Until next time, make the most of now and get Spring Cleaning your life!

Lynn Ward

 

Is it some kind of sick joke that the biggest partying night of the year is preceded by the biggest blowout of the year? Do you fear that the dress you bought to see in the New Year won’t even see its way over your hips? If so, don’t worry, you can still indulge your taste buds this Christmas whilst ensuring that you don’t end the year resembling a pudding.

Here at Lynn Ward Hypnotherapy I’m sensing a growing panic amongst my clients that the excesses of Christmas are going to wreak havoc on their waistlines, and some are already preparing for the worst by booking their weight loss sessions in for January!

Whilst I applaud their foresight and agree that the New Year is a fantastic opportunity to adopt a healthier lifestyle and get in shape, I don’t believe that December deserves to be written off as a month of lethargy, gluttony and regret.

Now, I love a mince pie as much as the next woman, and I have no intention of suggesting ‘diets’ at any time of year, let alone at Christmas, but I do believe it is possible to enjoy a delicious and indulgent Christmas without ending up with a belly to rival Santa’s! Follow my 5 simple tips below and you will not only enjoy the festivities more, you will look and feel amazing too!

1. Decide that Christmas starts on the 24th and finishes on the 26th. The office Christmas party may well have taken place on the third Saturday in November, and the tree went up shortly after bonfire night, but as far as the feasting goes, Christmas Eve is the only time to unwrap the Stilton and get the Yule log felled. If you start any earlier all those ‘special’ goodies lose their appeal, and by Boxing Day you will be so sick of over rich, calorie laden food that eating will be a chore! By then, however, the weeks of sugar induced highs and lows will leave you addicted to the carbs, and you will go on munching long after the tree has shed its needles.

2. Focus on quality not quantity. If you are going to treat yourself and your family to some delicious food, make it worth the calories. I know you can buy two jumbo tins of chocolates from the supermarket for a fiver, but spend that fiver on a dozen champagne truffles instead and savour each delicious morsel with reverence. Luxury food is only really enjoyed in moderation; scarcity is what drives the appeal. If Caviar were as cheap and prolific as baked beans would it be so highly prized? When it comes to enjoying Christmas fare, less is always more. If you have one mince pie rather than ten, it will taste ten times more delicious, that’s a promise.

3. Have a little bit of everything you fancy. The Turkey dinner is a must, but most of us eat so much that we stagger from the table bloated and slightly nauseous – where is the fun in that? Imagine sitting down to Christmas dinner actually feeling hungry, so that you can appreciate all the different tastes and textures on your plate. Imagine savouring each mouthful, chewing it thoroughly so that you can enjoy every bite. Imagine leaving the table feeling pleasantly satisfied, not regretting one chipolata, and having the energy to go for a walk or play with kids. Imagine not having to open that top button and reach for the indigestion tablets. If you only eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full, food is so much more delicious, and your body will reward you by feeling good, and staying trim and healthy.

4. Christmas holidays provide an ideal opportunity to get physical. Don’t spend every minute in front of the T.V. – go for long walks or bike rides; have some active fun with the family playing video games that get you out of your seat! Make a gym membership your gift to yourself that will go on giving all year long. Physical exercise is the perfect antidote to all that post shopping stress, and it will boost your mood and your immunity, something we all need during the cold, dark months.

5. Only buy as much as you need, and trust me, you don’t need nearly as much as you think. If you work on the premise that Christmas only lasts 3 days, and that contrary to popular belief the shops will open again, you will realise that one trolley load of perishables really is more than enough. Just in case you find yourself swept along  on the aisle of excess, make yourself a promise that any calorie laden ‘Christmas’ food that  is still around on the 27th will be disposed of! Give it to a charity, feed it to the dog, confine it to the bin, but don’t eat it just because it’s there. Better still, save yourself the money and the fridge space and don’t buy in bulk to start with. Let your wallet bulge not your belly. Remember it’s not a waste if it stays off your waist!

Let this Christmas be the start of a year when you start to really care about your body and what you feed it. Find out more about Weight Control

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Best wishes,

Lynn Ward

In my last blog, how to eat yourself thin – part 1.  I explained why diets don’t work. 

Your body will become your enemy if you try to starve it into submission, but it can also be your best friend if you begin treating it with respect. Your body knows how to be healthy. It has this incredible built in mechanism to regulate food intake called the appetite. You may have heard of it?

Crazy as it sounds receptors in the brain can calculate, very accurately, the presence of sugar in the blood and food in the stomach. It allows the mechanism called ‘hunger’ to signal when we need to eat. As the food is slowly chewed, the stomach begins to fill, blood sugar rises and hey presto, chemicals are released that send the signal that tells us to stop eating.

Granted they may not be screaming STOP EATING at 80 decibels in your ear, but if you bother to listen out for them their message it is quite clear. At first you might be aware that the food doesn’t taste quite as delicious as it did when you started eating. Then you might notice the complete absence of hunger (this is a great time to stop eating!) If you continue eating you may become aware of feelings of nausea, bloating and discomfort (guess what, you’ve left it too late!)

I am always amazed at how many of my weight loss clients at lynnwardhypnotherapy have completely lost touch with this natural ability to monitor their food intake. They have spent so many years ignoring what their bodies are trying to tell them that they no longer recognise their bodies’ signals, let alone trust them. Thankfully hypnotherapy offers a very safe and relaxing way of accessing the sub conscious part of your brain (that part of you that is responsible for your habits, impulses, urges and feelings) so that they can become aware of and responsive to the bodies signals.

You too can naturally tune into you bodies needs if you just give it the time and space to communicate with you.

Below I have listed 10 top tips that will help you to reconnect with your bodies’ natural ability to regulate food intake so that you gain back control of your eating habits and need never resort to ‘dieting’ again!

Young children only ever eat when they are hungry; they are totally in tune with their bodies signals and are very happy to share them with you! They don’t care if it’s dinner time or playtime, or how much food is left on their plate. If they are hungry they will eat, if they are full they will stop. You know when a child is no longer hungry; he loses interest in the food, plays with it or spits it out!

1. Eat only when you are hungry.

You won’t be able to listen out for that signal that you have had enough if you are concentrating on the TV or playing a video game.

2. Don’t eat in front of the TV – give your full attention to enjoying your food.

There is a short delay between your stomach becoming full and your brain registering the fact.

3. Eat slowly, put the knife and fork down between bites, actually taste and savour your food. If you are still hungry after you have finished your meal, wait 10 minutes before deciding to go back for seconds.

Chewing is the start of the digestive process. It not only breaks food down, but also sends those ‘satisfied’ signals to your brain.

4. Chew food thoroughly, 20 – 30 times before you swallow!

If we enjoy our meal we will feel nurtured and satisfied and less likely to go in search of a ‘treat’ later.

5. Eat food you actually enjoy.

We have all become confused about what represents a ‘portion’ of food. Your ‘healthy’ cereal may claim it has just 230 calories per 40g portion but do you know what 40g of cereal looks like?

6. Actually weigh some of the most common foods you eat, such as cereal, pasta and rice, and begin to develop a mental image of the amount you should be eating.

Plate sizes have expanded over the past 40 years along with our waists. The bigger the plate you use, the more likely you are to fill it.

7. Eat off a smaller plate.

Food eaten in car or whilst standing or preparing food is often not registered by your brain, though it is always registered on the bathroom scales!

8. Always sit down to eat and if possible eat at a table.

Wholegrain foods such as brown rice and granary bread, pulses and lentils keep you feeling full longer, as do lean protein such as chicken, fish, meat and eggs.

9. Eat whole grains and protein to keep you full.

We often mistake thirst for hunger, so stay hydrated, don’t wait until you are thirsty before you have a drink.

10. Aim to drink a glass of water, or equivalent every hour.

If you remember these simple body ‘conscious’ rules and forget about dieting you may be surprised to notice that excess weight naturally disappearing, and though the rain clouds might not be quite so obliging, it’s certainly not too late for a Sunny September!

Find out more about hypnotherapy for weight loss  and HypnoGastricBand©

Are you secretly breathing a sigh of relief that our soggy summer has saved you from swimsuit shame? Would you rather endure Rhyl in a raincoat than Benidorm in a bikini? If so you are just one of the many people in the UK who are unhappy with their bodies, and chances are it’s your wobbly thighs rather than your knobbly knees that are causing you consternation!

At lynnwardhypnotherapy I see more clients who want help losing weight than for any other problem. Most of them are experts at losing weight already, they have been doing it successfully for years! Problem is that rather like a Pilot who has mastered the skill of taking off without learning how to fly, they quickly find themselves crashing back down to earth once the diet is over!

The problem with diets is that the whole ethos supporting them is flawed, as it assumes that a temporary restriction in calories will achieve long term success – unfortunately that isn’t so!

More often than not a temporary restriction in calories only results in temporary weight loss. This is because our metabolism slows down in order to preserve those valuable fat reserves it has worked so hard to put down, meaning that the moment we begin to eat a little bit more, the pounds pile back on (generally with a few more added for good measure.)

People forget that our ability to store fuel in the form of body fat is one of the most basic necessities of human survival. Over millions of years our bodies have evolved into highly efficient fat storing machines –  the image of my rear end suddenly springs to mind! In evolutionary terms the caveman or woman who lost the most fat during the lean times became big losers in the survival stakes! You may call it a ‘diet’ but your body calls it ‘famine’ and will immediately spring into action to save every ounce of the precious food you do eat to ensure its survival.

One of the first things it will do to overcome this ‘famine’ is send you in search of food. A gnawing hunger coupled with a mental focus on food that means that even with the TV on full blast, you will still be able to hear that mars bar you have been trying to ignore calling to you, like a siren luring you in.

And your nose will be able to detect the smell of fresh toast wafting enticingly from 3 doors down!

Just in case your willpower helps you resist the all consuming craving for calorie laden foods, the rapid drop in your blood sugar will send your mood crashing and your energy levels
plummeting so that you may feel so tired and miserable you begin to wonder if it is really worth the agony!

And yet so many persevere, against all the odds they stick to their diets, again and again and again…. When these serial dieters come to lynnwardhypnotherapy bemoaning their own efforts and lack of willpower I am amazed. Anybody who has endured years of hunger and self denial is not weak, lazy or greedy. They are simply human beings responding to millions of years of human evolution that prizes survival of the fattest. In fact if there was an Olympic medal for endurance dieting, many would win gold.

Eventually some may reach their magical target weight to a fanfare of trumpets and rapturous applause. They think they have done it, but sadly they are wrong. Even as they reach for that first celebratory Hob Nob, their bodies are already calculating how best to replace all that precious lard that was lost.

Their diet has turned their metabolism down to the point where they can now survive on a few lettuce leaves and a steamed chicken breast for a month. That Hob Nob will be back on their hips before they have time to wipe the crumbs off their lips.

So if diets don’t work, what does? Countless scientific studies will tell you that the only way to achieve the weight and shape you want to be, and maintain it throughout your life, is to develop a healthy relationship with your own body and the food you fuel it with. When you start to listen to and care for your body, you will find that you can naturally control your weight by simply eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are pleasantly satisfied.

In my next blog I will be giving you 10 tips that will enable you to be ‘conscious’ of your body so that you can listen out for the signals it’s sending you and begin to trust it’s natural ability to regulate your weight and keep you slim and healthy! For information about weight loss hypnotherapy check out my website.

Today I will reveal the most powerful tool available for creating happiness, increasing health and wellbeing and combating depression, anxiety and fatigue.  This ‘magic bullet’ can sharpen your mind, delay ageing and give you a body that will make you look as good as you feel! I know a lot of you out there will be jumping up and down in excited anticipation right now, which is just as well, because one of the secrets to having a happy brain is exercise! Although most people would probably class exercise as being a physical rather than a mental activity, I can guarantee that nobody gets off the sofa to go for a run without first engaging in some motivational thinking and positive self-talk!

In parts 1 and 2, I talked about the importance of noticing and being thankful for all the good things in our lives, and counting each blessing no matter small. I also emphasised the benefits of laughter, and the positive effect it has on our mood and our health. In this final part I hope to convince you that exercise really is something worth getting excited about!

You probably know already that regular aerobic exercise (the kind that makes you slightly breathless) strengthens the heart and lungs, lowers blood pressure and helps the body fight off infection. It also burns body fat whilst building lean muscle, increases bone density and helps regulate blood sugar, which in turn helps control appetite. All amazing and worthwhile benefits, I’m sure you will agree, especially if you want to maintain an ideal weight, stay active and live a long and healthy life.  But what is even more remarkable is the discovery that moderate exercise not only has a direct effect upon your body, it has a positive effect on our brain. Scientists have discovered that aerobic exercise leads to the increased production of beta-endorphins. These ‘feel good’ chemicals act like natural opiates in our body, improving our mood, making us feel more optimistic and energetic and even acting like natural painkillers. Studies have shown that exercise can be more beneficial in treating some types of depression than commonly prescribed anti-depressants.  Exercise also triggers the release of noradrenaline and serotonin (two neurotransmitters that are depleted when we are stressed or anxious) that elevate our mood and make us feel happy. As if all this wasn’t enough, the blood that is pumping through your body when you are hiking up that hillside will effectively ‘mop up’ the residual stress hormones that went cursing through your system when you opened your credit card bill this morning and then struggled to get the kids out of bed!

It almost seems too good to be true, and you may wonder if I’ll be telling you next that exercise is the ‘fountain of youth’ and the way to wealth and riches….. Well, actually, just last week, the National Academy of Sciences published research demonstrating that exercise was able to reduce almost all the visible and functional effects of aging in mice. This study seems to confirm what most Doctors have suspected for years that exercise no only helps prevent the common diseases that cause premature death; it also genetically programmes our cells to live longer. And just to put a cherry atop the icing on this multi layered cake, recent evidence suggests that because exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain it boosts our creativity, makes learning easier and improves memory. Scientists are finding that exercise may actually help prevent mental decline as we age.

So if you are thinking about introducing exercise into your life it’s a no brainer really! If those wonderful marketing people could come up with a pill that gave you all the health benefits of exercise that needed to be taken over 20 minutes at least four times per week, you would be queuing around the block, wallets open, to purchase this miracle drug! Luckily this is one ‘miracle’ drug that lives up to all the hype, and needn’t cost more than the price of a comfortable pair of walking boots.

I find that at Lynn Ward Hypnotherapy here in Somerset, I am constantly recommending exercise to my client’s because it benefits everybody, no matter what the problem. My weight loss clients find it speeds up their weight loss and helps to control their appetite. My anxious clients are amazed at its ability to de stress them both mentally and physically and often report they are even sleeping better. As for those clients who are experiencing depression, the hardest part is to convince them that exercise really is something that can help them. However, once they have experienced the results for themselves, it tends to become part of their ‘self-help’ system that they use every day to elevate their mood and protect against future bouts of depression.

When deciding upon a fitness programme, it is of course best to choose an exercise or sport that you enjoy and can be fitted into your daily schedule. Anything that takes place outdoors is always good, because spending time in in the fresh air really helps us connect to nature. If you walk outside each day you become aware of the progression of the seasons and the rhythm of growth, renewal and constant change. It’s a beautiful reminder that nothing ever stays the same and our natural tendency is to move from darkness to light. After the long winter months we have all experienced hibernating indoors, exercising outside can lift our mood and give us a well needed boost of vitamin D. So try walking the kids to school instead of driving, borrow a dog, or get on your bike!

Dancing, be it ballroom, Latin or Tap, is a fantastic way to raise your heartbeat whilst raising a smile, and who has time to think about the cares and worries of life when you are executing the perfect fandango! If you haven’t been to the gym for a while, you may be pleasantly surprised at the variety and scope of exercise classes now on offer(Spandex strictly optional) so why not give some of them a try?

As with most things in life, the hardest thing about exercise is getting started, and that motivation always begins in your head. Write a list of all the things you want to achieve by exercising. Visualise yourself one year from now, having made regular aerobic activity a part of your life. What benefits will you be noticing, how will you look, how good will you feel? Start thinking of exercise as being something enjoyable that is worth scheduling time for. If possible pal up with a fellow novice – you’re much more likely to turn up for that Zumba class if you are meeting a friend there. I tell my clients that if they are really finding it a struggle to get off the sofa, they should tell themselves they only have to do ‘it’ for five minutes, then,  if they then want to return to the sofa, they have permission to do so. Of course by just ‘doing it’ they have made a start, and as soon as those happy hormones are firing they don’t want to stop!

When your workout is over, and you are experiencing that wonderful post exercise euphoria, take a moment to notice how good you feel. Really focus on the pleasant tiredness of well worked muscles compared to the tightness that was there before. Notice how your thoughts are so much more calming and positive. Feel that sense of pride in yourself. If you are keeping a ‘happiness journal’ (How to Think Your Way to Happiness Part 1) write about how good you feel; reading this will give you further motivation when you need it.

How many times have you berated yourself for not getting sufficient exercise? Now think back to the times when you have just got up and done it. Did you ever find yourself saying “I wish I had stayed on the sofa instead?” So go on, give it a try and make exercise the happy habit you are addicted to.

I hope you have found the information contained within How to Think Your Way to Happiness useful, and I encourage you to follow the advice given so that you can begin the process of reprogramming your brain to follow a more positive and joyful neural pathway!

The subject of Happiness, which encompasses feelings of contentment, self-belief and inner peace is obviously too vast an area to cover in three blogs. However I hope these little snippets of information have whetted your appetite for more. The mind is a fascinating subject, and as a clinical hypnotherapist I strive every day to help my client’s gain control over wayward and unhelpful thought patterns and negative mindsets. In the future I will be sharing with you lots more tips on how to master the elusive art of thought control so that we can live better in the present and create our chosen future.

Until next time, happy thinking!

Lynn Ward

In part 1 of How to Think Your Way to Happiness, I talked about the way our brains are responsible for the perspectives we take on life, and how good we ultimately feel. Are you one of the many unwilling victim of thought processes that leave you powerless, miserable and stuck? Did you even know that a few simple changes could re programme your brain to be happy?

I believe we were put on this earth to be happy, and it is a natural state. Having said that, I am not advocating that we all walk around in a state of mindless bliss, impervious to life’s dramas, tragedies and general ups and downs. Rather I am saying that our tendency should be to seek out joy, balance and contentment. We have all encountered people who seem to make it their life’s mission to abuse their bodies, berate themselves for every imagined failure, and devote all their energy to worrying about things that may never happen. Is it any wonder their ‘normal’ state is one of misery and anxiety? At lynnwardhypnotherapy here in Somerset, I ensure my clients don’t fall victim to such negative mindsets by teaching positive ways of thinking and acting to ensure they live their lives in a constructive and optimistic way.

If you have been following the advice from my last blog, you will be making a point of noticing and being thankful for the good things in your life, no matter how small, and will already have begun the process of programming your brain for happiness. Today I want to tell you about a wonderful process that increases levels of serotonin and endorphins (the feel good chemicals in your brain) whilst boosting your immune system, thus ensuring you are less likely to fall victim to colds and flu this winter. This scientifically proved method also has the added bonus of making you appear more attractive to members of the opposite sex! So what wondrous thing am I referring to I hear you all ask? Quite simply it’s laughter! Yes, believe it or not, laughter and smiling have a wonderfully beneficial effect on the way we feel, and the effect is not limited to the actual time engaged in the activity.

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
  • Laughter helps us bond with others.Most people rate a ‘good sense of humour’ as one of the most important qualities in a partner, and the ability to laugh together helps couples stay together. Humour is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter breaks down social barriers and is a universal language.

I think one of the most important aspects of humour is the ability to laugh at ourselves and our lives, as it stops us taking things too seriously.

Angels fly because they take themselves lightly”

A good belly laugh can act like a release valve, and wouldn’t you rather explode with laughter than blow a gasket? Laughter is a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. As a hypnotherapist I am particularly interested in the fact that humour helps integrate both hemispheres of our brain. The logical left hemisphere is used to decipher the verbal content of a joke, while the right hemisphere, or subconscious, interprets whether it is funny or not. During hypnosis I work primarily with the subconscious, and it tickles me to know it has a sense of humour! Often when clients are beginning to relax into trance, they start to giggle, and such is the infectious nature of laughter, I usually join in. It’s a wonderful way to enter trance, and I try to employ and encourage humour in all my sessions, as it lightens the mood, creates a bond between myself and my client, and has all the other benefits that I’ve mentioned above!

So how do you go about bringing more laughter into your life? Well the good news is that you can ‘fake it till you make it.’ By acting ‘as if’ you are already happy, you can begin to experience the positive effects of laughter, even if it doesn’t come naturally at first. When we smile, even if it’s not genuine, our brains think “ooh, a smile, we must be happy, lets top up those feel- good chemicals.” So, now you’re smiling, and feeling good because of the serotonin hit, and lo and behold, other people start smiling back at you, and voila, suddenly you are looking and feeling like one of those fun, happy people that everybody likes to be around!

The same goes for laughter – rediscover your laughter muscle and give it a workout every day. I was once part of a studio audience as a sitcom was being recorded. The programme wasn’t funny at all, but the studio director kept holding up signs saying ‘laughter’ and being the polite audience we were, we duly laughed. The funny thing was that very quickly the forced laughter became genuine, and I literally found myself rolling in the aisles!

  • Rent a comedy tonight, tune into some comedy classics, or visit a comedy club. Laughter is even better when it’s shared with a partner or friends, so share the fun. Make a point of laughing loud and long, and notice how those around you follow your lead.
  • Spend some time each day thinking about all the things that amuse you, or have made you laugh in the past. Our brains operate like a search engine, so the moment you ask it ‘what makes me laugh’ it will search through your memory database to find all the occasions that match your search criteria. When you do settle on a funny memory, really savour it. Close your eyes and imagine yourself back in that situation so that you can see, hear and feel it all again, so that you are actually reliving it in the here and now.
  • The next time you get together with friends or colleagues, ask each in turn to recount their most funny/embarrassing experience. It’sa great leveller, and brings us all down to size in a side splitting way.
  • Try to see the humour in situations. The old adage ‘if I didn’t laugh I’d cry’ is so true. When life’s little disasters strike, take a step back, and image the fun you will have telling your friends about the time you spent the whole day crouched on the floor with your finger plugging a burst radiator (yes that happened to me!)
  • Always have a funny book on the go, so you can have a little light relief in the dentists’ waiting room, and something to distract you when the news is on! I can highly recommend peter Kay’s autobiography The Sound of Laughter.
  • Go to a barn dance – if you are anything like me you will fall down laughing. Take up Zumba, Morris dancing or anything else that takes your fancy that lowers your inhibitions and requires you to look ridiculous.
  • Notice all the humour that exists around us. Listen to children’s laughter; watch a dog chase its tail or a kitten pounce on a shadow. YouTube has a treasure trove of funny videos on hand that will brighten any coffee break.
  • Even during the saddest times of our lives, humour has its place. My father’s favourite tune was the ‘Floral Dance’ by the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. We played this at his funeral, and anybody who has heard it knows it’s impossible not to smile at its rousing crescendo. We laughed and cried at my Father’s funeral, but it was during the laughter that I felt closest to his memory.

Look out for my third and final part of How to Think Your Way to Happiness, when I shall be revealing the most powerful tool for creating happiness, increasing health and wellbeing and combating depression, anxiety and fatigue. Till then, make laughter a priority in your life. Aim to laugh at least twenty times a day, smile at strangers and cultivate your sixth sense, that of humour!

12