It’s no secret that among the over 6 billions human beings on this planet, a few hundred millions are literally starving, while a good majority of those who can eat are getting more and more overweight. And overweight is only a part of the problem. A freaking part of *not* truly overweight people actually have big FAT food related issues : anorexia, bulimia, distorted body image, food obsessions and eating disorders or all sorts. Scary ! Really.
How am I concerned with this phenomenom ? Because while having never been truly *fat* or grossly overweight, over the course of my life I’ve suffered from just about every single ugly symptom listed aboved. And shamefully, too (since I have a normal body all this agonizing and utter suffering was going on in my head, thoroughly ignored by all those around me. A bit like losing a loved one and having to grieve in secret : awful).
Why am I writing about this today (especially if it was a dirty little secret of mine) ?? Simply because, it’s no longer true. And why is that ? Because a FUCKING BLOODY GENIUS cracked it. Cracked the weight and screwed up food relationship issue, that is. That man is a 50 yr old Britton, hugely known and successful in his country and somewhat too in the USA, Paul McKenna. Paul, you probably won’t ever read this, but if you do, I LOVE you.
Is Paul really *that* much of a genius ?? You bet he is. He has studied, analysed, nailed and finally precisely identified WHY people are either overweight, or miserable in their relationship with food (and more often than not, both). Let me give you the short version of the story (or my interpretation anyway, and then feel free to jump in Google and research as much as you want about this remarkable man).
An overwhelming majority of overweight people just… overeat. It’s a pretty supidly logical fact, but it bears re-asserting. Let’s discount the tiny and really microscopic part of the population that has the rarest health condition that causes them to grow fat despite a low calorie intake. Such condition exists, but it is so rare it amounts to nothing in a worlwide study of obesity. Even people who are not overweight (hello !) but have some unwanted fatter bodyparts (here, here !) do so because they eat more than they need to. Why is that ?? Why would we consume more than we actually need ?? Simply because we *desire* food without being truly, physically hungry. The modern, typical human being is SO disconnected from his physical self/nature, than he’s lost all reliable communication with his body. In the case of overweight people or people having food issues, that human being also happen to generally hate either his entire body, or parts of it. More negative feelings that certainly do nothing to restaure a peaceful and healthy relationship between mind and matter.
Ask yourself, among all the times that you’ve eaten during the day, meals and snacks, and stolen bites going in and out of the kitchen, when were you TRULY hungry ? Not the majority of times, I’d assume. Oh, and in what circumstances did you eat all that food ? Sitting in front of the TV ? On the way from the take away back to the office ? Checking out your emails on your smartphone ? Flipping through the articles of a magazine ? Most likely any of those, and even possibly all of them.
Oh, and let’s not forget the other biggie : emotional eating. There is so much stuff on our plate in modern life, figuratively speaking. So many things to cause us stress, worry, anxiety. That leads a good number of us to look for ways out, comfort, an outlet, and a little soul soothing. And what is possibly the easiest, cheapest and more readily available comforter these days ? Food !! For those of us humans who are not starving, food is usually readily available, affordable, and comes in all varieties, shapes and colors, and ladden with brain addictive chemicals galore. What’s not to love…
So let’s sum it up here : we don’t have a friggin clue about real, physical hunger anymore. It’s all about emotional, or as I like to call it “mental hunger” now. As Paul McKenna very well explains it (he hasn’t discovered that, nor does he claim to have, scientists did, but he’s making good use of their findings) people eat lots and fast, to get their brains to release happy chemicals to soothe and comfort them, rather than facing whatever is the real problem in their lives. They also think about food all the time… except when they’re actually eating, which they do at top speed (more happy chemicals release, please !!) and without any attention to what they’re putting in their mouth (neither in their food choices nor in the actual fact of eating). Oh, and let’s not forget the “side benefit” of being overweight and being able to concentrate on that, rather than actually facing and addressing what may be wrong in one’s life.
Ok, but how to break the cycle ?! Paul has the answer. He’s written a book called “I can make you thin”. The title sure is corny. But the method lives up to its promise. It takes all the information summed up above, adds the fact (scientific) that less than 10% diets are successful (long term), so must obviously be avoided) and sprinkles a healthy dose of modern brain science (positive affirmation, NLP and hypnosis) into the mix. If you’re already tired or bored by now, please leave this post being I’m far from done. My enthusiasm is raging and it’s gonna be a hell of a long post.
Ok, bottom line, what the hell is this all about. Simple. 4 golden rules, to be obeyed and follow scrupulously throughout your life. Cringe not, they’re actually very friendly rules that I would have loved to be given long ago !
1. When you’re hungry, by all means, EAT.
2. Eat what you WANT, NOT what you think “you should” (how kickass is that, really ?!?).
3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY (heart of the concept here, more on that later).
4. When you’re getting full, STOP eating (no sweat, you can pick up again later if you’re hungry again).
What are the ideas behind those 4 rules ? The first is to make sure that you don’t ingore physical hunger, as, paradoxally enough, the modern human being (me included) tends to do. Yes, we stuff our faces without any genuine hunger in front of the TV (and/or book, computer, game console, etc) before bedtime, but we tend to totally ignore perfectly legit physical signals of true hunger during the day, mid morning or afternoon, for instance. Go figure. So to make sure you’re body is nowhere close to wanting to kick its starvation mode, or getting so hungry that when you finally realize it you clear the fridge, pay attention to your stomach and as soon as it tingles, EAT. Second rule, oh, this one’s brilliant, though I was shy to try it at first. Don’t eat what you think you should (carrots, brocoli, chicken breast) but what you *truly* want (2 slices of pizza, bread and butter, chocolate mousse, you name it). Ok what’s the idea behind that ? I can’t speak for Paul, but my understanding of this is that 1) unless you’ve eating what you truly desired, you’re bound to remain hungry or at least unsatisfied, so better get on with it right away. Second, we absolutely do not want to maintain any “forbidden” food concept. As you know we tend to crave what we’re not supposed to have. So Paul McKenna wants you to eat the stuff you truly like. He also knows, in his great wisdom, that scientific studies have consistently shown that given total freedom over there food choices, people start by wolfing the tasty stuff, but adjust to a much more sensible diet in the long run. Your body knows a little broccoli is in order along with the bacon crisps if it wants to have the complete nutrition that it needs, and it’ll let you know it once you’ve had your fun with the wicked stuff. And let’s not forget this is NOT a diet, so if shouldn’t be an effort following, and if you avoid the food you truly like, you won’t be following it for long. The third rule is by far my favorite, that has impacted me the most favorably, and it’s the cornerstone of this whole concept : eat CONSCIOUSLY. Mindful eating isn’t a new idea, and it certainly isn’t Paul McKenna’s. It’s existed for a bunch of years, and has been effective for just as long. Except it was pushed forward by stern looking and new agy sounding old flower children who insisted you took ALL your food from a single BOWL and chewed on each bite a hundred times (I’m exaggerating, but not by much). I personally had researched it because the results seemed to be awesome but I’d been strongly put off by the bowl concept. Yikes.
Let’s concentrate on the mindless vs. mindful eating, because truly it makes all the difference in the world. If you are NOT paying attention to what you’re eating, the immediate consequence is that you tend to eat very fast. Many overweight people spend hours agonizing over and thinking about food, only to wolf down huge meals in matters of minutes (or seconds) without paying any close attention to what they actually put in their mouths. Result : they have not enjoyed their meal whatsoever, the desire/hunger has turned into frustration as it’s still there, but the food is gone. Guilt invites itself to the party to make an ugly situation uglier. All of this usually takes place in a busy environment with TV, computer or magazines involved. I can’t stress enough how this is a huge part of the problem, and how any distraction should be avoided when eating (damn, that post is getting so long it’s actually scaring me). I used to be a VERY fast eater. I’ve known for years how bad it was for me. But every conscious effort I made to slow things down failed miserably. I would make an effort to chew on my first couple of bites, find it extremely tedious, and then my mind would start drifting to a passing thought, I’d pick speed up and before I knew it the food was gone. But satiety eluded me. Dang.
The one advice from Paul’s book that really turned things around for me was “put that fork down”. He directs you to literally put your cutlery (or food itself if you’rea eating without it, a sandwich for instance) down between bites. I still often have to make a conscious effort to do it. But it’s slowed down my eating pace by about 4 times (easily). So I turned all distractions off and sit at my kitchen table (formely I’d carry my plate to the sofa in front of the living-room TV, and/or my computer). If my family is not eating with me I feel a little lonely. Tough shit, I stick with it anyway, because doing this solved 95% of my food issues *overnight* and I’m so happy I could cry. Before I start eating I use my hunger scale to evaluate my need for food, in the most honest way I can. I’m very usually either at a 5 (neutral) or 4 (slightly hungry). Then I cut a bite of my meal, put in my mouth and… put my fork and knife (spoon, whatever, or the food itself) *down*. I do NOT start cutting off an another bite to stick in my face as soon as I’m done gulping down the previous bite (my former way of eating). Instead I consciously chew on it (Paul recommands 20 times which sounds intimidating, but is actually *less* than what I found myself naturally doing in the course of a meal I enjoy, typically around 30 or 40 times for solid food). I connect with the food I eat, I taste the flavors, enjoy the texture, try to single out ingredients if it’s compound food, ect. When, and only when, I’ve swallowed that one bite, do I pick up my fork and knife and go about cuttting off and eating another bite. And so on and so forth, until I’m starting to feel I’m not really hungry anymore. Paul is adamant that people having been bought up in the concept that they MUST clean their plate and not spoil any food, actually *leave* some, by default, even a tiny piece, to retrain the brain to think it’s now ok to stop when full rather than having a mission to finish no matter what. I do adhere to this tip, and tend to leave at least a morsel. When I’ve eaten about 3/4th of my plate I stop and use my hunger scale again. I’m usually a 5 by then (pleasantly satisfied), sometimes verging on a 6. Depending on which I decide to go for desert or not. If I do, again, I don’t pick and orange if what I truly want is a chocolate flavored yogurt. I go with what I truly want, and eat only what’s necessary for me to completely stop being hungry.
Then one remarkable thing happens. ALL food related thoughts vanish. Food cravings, thoughts and images used to pester my mind full time. This is a thing of the past ! And has been as soon as I started following those rules. This is when I start mentioning the bonus part of Paul’s method, the mind reprograming and hypnosis audio. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re skeptical of those methods or open minded about them. The only thing that does matter is that you go along with them. Do the visualizing that Paul requires, on a daily basis, try to really do it to the best of your imagination, and it’ll work. Listen to the audio “closed eyes process”, and want it or not, you’ll likely be sleeping like a baby by the middle of it, and will come out refreshed and persuaded. We’re talking about a MASTER hypnotist here, one of the best, the cream of the cream of mind tinkering artists, and I personally I’m awed by this audio. I do believe that Paul has included some pretty hard core subliminal content in that stuff, too, because it’s a little too good to be true. The method in itseld is tried and true and awesome, but sticking with it seems deceitpively easy, and I can’t help thinking the hypnosis has a lot to do with how well it works.
So I’m finally nearing this end of this post. All I can say is that overnight, I felt completely *liberated* from a life long prison of self hate, addiction, inner conflict, etc. I can’t even start telling you how fabulous I feel. My pants are starting to fall off my hips, too… So if you have one or several of the concerns most folks have these days with their weight, their eating habits of their figures, you’d be well inspired to check Paul McKenna’s work. And I tip my hat off to this great guy, who has a lot of other talents and personal qualities, though I doubt not he’ll be remembered as the TV hypnotist who led millions to lose weight.