ThinkYourself Thin- Using NLP to shed the pounds

Think Yourself Thin – Using NLP to shed the pounds

There is no magic pill or portion to lose weight despite the billions of dollars that is poured into research and marketing weight reduction products. Each person’s weight is unique to them and their ability to increase or reduce their weight is also a factor of their own unique issues. Ultimately, there are only two ways to lose, or for that matter gain, weight, and that is to alter the amount eaten and/or the amount of exercise taken.

Good Intentions – New Year

Every January, there is a rush to join gyms and health clubs. Other peaks include the onset of summer holidays and school reunions. It is an acknowledged fact that exercise is good and necessary, but why is it so hard to maintain good intentions? Likewise, eating healthily is an obvious choice but why is that chocolate cake so temping or a doughnut a must with a cup of coffee?


According to Brian Colbert co-founder of The Irish Institute of NLP, excess weight revolves around issues of identity and your belief about yourself and your capabilities, so losing it becomes a matter of thinking thin.

“Everyone is familiar with the concept of positive thinking,” says Colbert, “and I am sure you will have heard of the concept of visualising yourself at a chosen weight or in a particular outfit. Where NLP differs from a singular visual approach is that we also take into account among other things what I call the ‘bullsh*t’ detector. That is to say, if I instruct you to tell yourself that you are a size smaller than you actually are , then your brain will say, ‘that’s a load of rubbish’ and the battle is doomed from the beginning..

“In the same way, looking around at a weed infested garden and telling yourself that there are no weeds, is not going to get rid of them – no matter how many times you repeat it! However, looking at the garden and saying – how can I get rid of the weeds and coming up with a plan, that is the way to begin to solve the problem. It’s a correction from positive thinking to practical thinking.” NLP teaches you the ‘HOW TO’ of weight Loss.

NLP techniques encourage people to imagine stepping inside a moving image with aspirations to reach certain goals, not a dream that is forever tantalising just out of view.
A still image and a moving image in the mind will produce significantly different results. By creating a moving picture the dimension of time is added and future consequences become connected the current behaviour.

“It’s a question of adjusting focus,” says Colbert. “The heroin addict does not think about being in the gutter as he shoots up – all he can think of is the rush. The same principal applies to someone who wishes to lose weight. That doughnut or missed run becomes the immediate focus and not the consequences. However, negative reinforcement alone may not be enough to change your weight, people need successes from which to build new behaviour patterns.”

Most people do not like going on a diet. If encouraged to take a thin slice of cake, often the feelings of loss or missing out can result in the same person having a second or third piece so that the original choice to diet has a negative result.

“Using NLP techniques I aim to create layers of successes which in turn modify behaviour positively,” says Colbert. “Ultimately, the goal is for the person to follow behaviour patterns conducive to losing weight or maintaining weight loss that become as natural as brushing one’s teeth in the morning.”

Colbert goes back again and again to the concept of each person having unique issues that affect their weight. One woman who consulted him lost 32 pounds but they never spoke of weight or diets in their session.

However, he also offers practical advice to people who want to kick start the behaviour modifications. “If people try to aim too high, then the chances of failure are greater. It is like being on an elastic band – stretch it too hard and if you fail, it bounces back twice as hard.

“Instead I advise people to take small steps: to stand taller, to move faster. Movement is the core of exercise, so even when moving round an office, I advise people to do it with more enthusiasm and more speed.”

Above all Colbert is keen to build opportunities for success not failure. Colbert’s clients are taught to use the specific words that motivate them from hesitation or procrastination into action. When a Client says ‘I cannot do it’, Colbert agrees that with the client that they CAN not do it which also means the client CAN do it – at the end of the day it is simply a matter of choice.

“I need people to disable their internal critic. Your brain is programmed to respond to your own and other people’s language. People tell themselves terrible things. If a friend told them the same, they’d stop being a friend pretty quickly,” says Colbert. “I help people build a positive image of themselves, but to circumvent the static unreachable goal, I help them create a continuous image, one that they can step into.

“It is important too that the image is continuous and not an end in itself,” he says. “Otherwise reaching that goal can trigger a return to previous habits or behavioural patterns.”


Handy Tips

1. Move more

2. Walk faster

3. Stand taller

4. Aim low and often, build on your successes

5. Don’t clear your plate

6. If a pint drinker, switch to bottled beer or have a pint of diet drink every so often

7. Break up routines – vary your exercise

8. Don’t buy sweets – buy alternatives and leave them in the cupboard

9. Drink lots of water

10. Congratulate yourself and often