3 Strategies to Stay Slim during the Silly Season

Strategies to stay slim

With the Silly Season now upon us are you juggling a jam-packed schedule full of office parties, Christmas drinks and mince pie madness? Here are 3 strategies to stay slim and sane amongst the frivolity of the festive season.

1. Don’t lose sight of your values

As I’ve blogged about before, our values drive our decisions. They dictate where we spend our time, energy and money. We feel best about ourselves and our lives when we live in alignment with our values.  If you’re reading this, it’s likely that feeling healthy and good in your body is an important value to you. If you find yourself feeling tempted to subjugate your value of health in order to fit in with the crowd at this time of year, I invite you to take a moment to reflect.

Get curious about how you can still be social and festive while living in alignment with your values. The next time the voice of temptation (posing as a rowdy colleague) urges you to have another drink, take a moment to check whether that decision is in alignment with your broader vision for yourself. Ask yourself whether accepting another drink will support your deeper desire to feel vibrant and confident in your body, and then make a decision to honour your values.

2. Become aware of sabotaging beliefs

As detailed in an earlier post, beliefs colour our view of the world and create the boundary conditions of our thinking. Beliefs like “I’ll look like a party pooper if I don’t join in the eating and drinking” or “people will think I’m unsociable if I abstain” limit our ability to think creatively about socialising.

I invite you to examine your current beliefs about what it means to be sociable.  In order to begin challenging those beliefs, I encourage you to put yourself in your fellow guest’s shoes.  Ask yourself which of these two scenarios would be more enjoyable for you at a social event?

Scenario 1. Trying to talk to someone who is so distracted by their internal ping-pong match over having another glass of wine that you barely feel that they notice you, or

Scenario 2. Feeling the warm glow of someone’s focused attention and interest as you spend some time getting to know a new acquaintance

Its likely that how another person makes you feel in their company is far more influential than the number of calories they consume.

By delving deeper into beliefs about what really constitutes being sociable we begin to open up alternative ways of socialising that honour what’s most important to us.

3. Discover what you’re really hungry for

This time of year is steeped in tradition and ritual, and the serving of rich foods is one such tradition that can be challenging. Traditions and rituals create strong unconscious associations that evoke memories of good feelings. When food is involved in tradition and ritual we anchor those positive feelings to foods. If you often find yourself over indulging in particular festive foods, ask yourself what feelings you’re really craving. Is it comfort, warmth or the cozy memories of preparing a special dish with a loved one from your childhood?

By becoming aware of the feeling you’re seeking beyond the sweet treat you can take alternative actions to enjoy that feeling in a way that honours your values.  For instance:

  • Cuddle with a pet or loved one to enjoy feelings of connection
  • Hunker down in soft pyjamas and a good book to elicit feelings of comfort
  • Create new traditions and memories by experimenting with healthy recipes of old Christmas favourites

Amongst the busy-ness of December I encourage you to take a moment to get in touch with your values. When you take the time to consciously honour your values over the holiday season you will find yourself well ahead when the New Year arrives. Then, instead of spending January making up for poor decisions made in December, you’ll be ready to step into the New Year, right on track and ready for an amazing year ahead of you.


Image Credit: Steven Depolo via Flickr

Let me tell you a story…

Hypnosis through storiesThis month, I’d like to share a story about my first experience with hypnosis.  Around the turn of the millennium I was a stressed out twenty-something searching for a way to cope with the tension and anxiety that had become a permanent fixture in my life.  I had been referred by my GP to a local hypnotherapist for help in dealing with this problem.  Shortly thereafter I attended the hypnotherapist’s practice in a leafy suburb of Newcastle, Australia, where I would experience the trance state for the first time.

After gathering some information, the hypnotherapist invited me to sit back in the comfortable leather chair, close my eyes and listen to his voice.  He began speaking in a gentle tone, telling stories that seemed to drift and float, weaving in and out of one another like birds flying in formation in the sky.  It was a very pleasant experience and I could sense that I was being told something of great importance, but was unable to fully grasp what it was.

Upon emerging from the session I was struck with the sensation of awakening from a powerful dream that was quickly fading in the light of full consciousness.  I had a sense of having experienced something of profound significance, but not being able to put my finger on what it was.

And so began my love affair with hypnosis.  I would later learn that this form of what appears as vague storytelling was highly influenced by the work of Dr Milton Erickson.  Dr Erickson was the American hypnotherapist responsible for having the American Medical Association recognise hypnosis for medical use in 1958.  Ericksonian hypnosis employs the use of storytelling and metaphor as a means of indirectly inducing change in the client.  Stories are a powerful tool in my toolkit when working with clients.

Stories and metaphor are wonderfully effective ways of inciting an individual to think and behave differently.  Below I share five key reasons why stories and metaphor are such effective catalysts for change:

Stories are non-threatening, respectful and gentle – Rather than being instructed to stop doing something or start doing something else, stories are a gentle way of introducing new concepts and ways of behaving to clients.

Stories are engaging – Stories, by their nature, engage the listener and elicit the state of focused attention that characterises the trance state.  Within that receptive trance-like state the client can take on the message of the story that most benefits them.

Stories foster independence – the client makes sense of the message within the story, draws their own conclusions and then takes appropriate action, creating a sense of independence and self-reliance.

Stories can be used to bypass natural resistance to change – Stories deliver their message in more subtle ways than simply telling a client to change. There is power in metaphor to subvert the vigilant critical factor of the mind and allow new perspectives and ideas to stealthily take root.

Stories tag the memory – stories bundle a message into a package that will be much more memorable and compelling than a list of facts or a string of suggestions.

As I left that first hypnotherapy session, I floated out the door feeling calmer and more relaxed than I’d felt in a long, long time.  The images and words I had experienced were still washing around in my mind.  I was left with a sense that I was holding several pieces to a puzzle, and felt a growing curiosity inside me as I wondered how I would put those pieces together.


And now, dear reader, I invite you to share your story with me – when has a story affected the way you behave or the choices you made? What was the outcome? Share your story in the comments below.

Reference: Battino & South, Ericksonian Approaches: A Comprehensive Manual, 2nd Edition, (Wales: Crown House Publishing Ltd, 2005). p.310

Image Credit: Lotus Carroll via Flickr




Move forwards by going back: the power of regression to change your present

Childhood regression

Working with memories within hypnosis is a very powerful tool to achieve effective change.  During early childhood, our minds are incredibly open and our neurological patterning is formed at this age.  Key events that occurred in early childhood can influence our behaviour, our emotions and our beliefs in the present without us even being aware of it.

One of my approaches when working with clients is to guide their unconscious mind to find often forgotten but influential memories.  This technique is widely known as regression.  Once the client has located the key memory,  we work quickly and effectively at re-contextualising the events of that moment.  This process allows the client to take more information from the event and make new conclusions.  By revisiting specific childhood events and seeing the bigger picture we create new neural connections which allow new behaviours and responses in the present.

To make the process of re-contextualising memories even faster and more effective I often use the technique called “creative mothering”.  As the client reviews the key event, I invite them to bring their present-day adult-self to be there with their child-self inside the memory they are working with.  The purpose of their adult-self is to serve as the source of support and resources that their child-self needed at the time.

In her recent exhibition, Imagine Finding Me, London-based photographer Chino Otsuka has literally inserted her adult-self into childhood memories using digital software.  The compositions presented in her exhibition could well be little vignettes from many of the client sessions I facilitate.

The results of re-contextualising these key memories are often noteworthy. I recently worked with a client who came to see me to overcome her feelings of failure.  I took her back to the originating memory which involved feeling ignored by a parent.  Once she’d been through the process of having her unconscious mind understand that being ignored was not her fault she was able to know that she was important and loved.  Getting in touch with the knowledge that she did matter allowed her to claim her self-worth in the present.

A week later she made a minor miscalculation while driving.  While everyone remained safe and no property was damaged, she did receive a fine.  She relayed to me that if that miscalculation had happened in the past, she would have fallen into a hole of self-criticism and shame from which she would have taken a long time to recover. After releasing and re-contextualising the key memory she was thrilled that she could easily say to herself, “Damn it, how annoying!” and get on with the rest of her day.

What patterns of thought or behaviour have you feeling stuck?  If enough is enough, then get in contact.  Let’s go meet with your child-self and discover what else there is for you to learn.

Make New Year’s changes that stick

The Hierarchy of Change

Happy New Year!  May 2014 be your greatest year yet!

What do you want to achieve in 2014? What would you like to change this year?

To assist you in making those changes permanent and easy, I’d like to introduce you to the Dilts’ model of change.  Robert Dilts is a significant contributor to the field of NLP and stipulated that there was a hierarchy of six different levels where change could be made within a person.  Those levels are: Purpose, Identity, Values & Beliefs, Capability, Behaviour and Environment.

Dilts' Model of ChangePurpose – Whom do I serve and for what purpose?

Identity – Who am I and do I reflect that in the way I live?

Values & Beliefs – Why do I make these changes?

Capability – How do I make these changes?

Behaviour – What do I need to change?

Environment – Where do I need change?

Changes made at one level tend to flow downwards and impact on the levels below.

Typically, when people want to make a change, they target the level of Behaviour.  For example, if someone wants to lose weight, they will target behaviour by changing their exercise regime or their diet.  A change at the behaviour level will filter downwards and impact on their environment as they start going to the gym or avoiding bakeries and fast food outlets.

When changes are made at the higher levels of Purpose, Identity or Values & Beliefs, change filters down into the lower levels and behaviours and environments can change easily.  Consider how you would naturally and automatically behave if:

  • You believed that eating cakes and sugar was causing immediate damage to your health and you valued good health as a high priority.  A change at level of Beliefs & Values
  • You identified yourself as an extremely health-conscious person.  A change at level of Identity
  • Your purpose was to make a huge contribution in your chosen field during your lifetime. Therefore you ensure you are in the best possible physical condition to do so.  A change at level of Purpose

Unless we have taken action to change our values, beliefs and identity, we may well be operating on unconscious programming that was installed during our early years.  By working with the unconscious mind and creating new beliefs, values and an identity that supports our goals and desires in the present, we can make taking action so much easier.

Should you wish for support to make those desired changes in 2014, I am always at your service.


Image Credit: sophie & cie via Flickr