Philip Holder, PhD.
Copyright by Philip Holder 1999


Hypnosis can be a powerful tool in the battle against the bulge. It is important however to have knowledge about how the body works in regard to weight loss in order to assure that your client/patient will lose weight in a healthy way. Not all weight loss is conducive to health and wellness. You want your clients/patients to lose weight and feel great. If they lose weight and feel like crap it isn’t doing much for the client/patient or for your reputation.

Many of the patter scripts and suggestions for weight loss that I have heard fail to take into account fundamental health factors in losing weight. I have always been very involved in physical fitness training. In the past I have worked as a physical fitness trainer and consultant and I still keep up a rigorous personal training program. I incorporate this knowledge into my weight loss sessions so that my clients/patients can lose weight and feel great. In order to accomplish this it is essential that a hypnotist or hypnotherapist providing weight loss as one of his or her services be knowledgeable in this area.


Most people think that the less someone eats, the more fat they will lose. This is not necessarily true. Although a person’s intake of calories and his/her corresponding level of activity (burning calories) have an effect on weight, they are only part of the equation. Just as important is how and what you eat, and how you exercise. The best way to lose weight is with a healthy “eating plan” of nutritious foods (often with more, but smaller meals, eaten through out the day). Often 6 small meals will facilitate weight loss better than one or two larger meals. Sound crazy?… read on and you’ll see why this is true. Healthy eating along with a reasonable exercise plan will assure your clients/patients of a shapelier body and a feeling of health and vitality… not just a loss of pounds.


Those who assume that healthy weight loss can be accomplished by focusing on suggestion that your client/patient simply eat less, or avoid snacks, may be setting themselves up for disappointment and setting up their client/patient for disaster. Let me explain what happens when someone eats too little in an attempt to lose weight.

The human body expects and/or needs a certain volume of fuel (food) in order to complete the tasks and functions that the person demands from it. This of course varies with a person’s level of activity and overall physical condition. When a person’s body doesn’t receive an adequate supply of fuel, his/her body presumes it’s self to be starving. As a natural survival response his/her body essentially says… “I am not getting enough fuel so I will need to slow the consumption of fuel”. It does so by slowing the metabolic rate. When this happens, there are residual effects. As the metabolic rate slows, calories are consumed at a slower rate making it even more difficult to lose weight. Even more importantly, in an attempt to hoard fuel, the person’s body will hold on to, and even bloat fat cells, in anticipation of starvation. The body will then begin to break down muscle tissue as it’s alternate source of fuel. Remember too, as your client’s metabolic rate drops a loss of energy is experienced making it even more difficult for the person to find motivation to exercise. This increases the downward spiral taking the person farther from his/her goal for weight loss. Since muscle weighs more than fat, your client/patient may lose some weight by eating less, but the loss is more likely to be the muscle that he/she wanted to keep rather than the fat that he /she wanted to lose.

Muscle consumes calories every moment of the day in an attempt to maintain itself. The more muscle mass, the quicker you can lose weight and the more energetic you feel. For healthy weight loss it is important not only to maintain, but also to increase muscle mass and density.


Our relationship with food is formed very early in our lives. When we were babies and our parents held, comforted, and fed us it created a mental connection between food, and love, security and friendship. This connection has no basis in reality, but it does have a strong subconscious “perceived reality”. For some people this connection is stronger than for others. As we grow older this connection is reinforced (if you’re good, mommy/daddy will give you a cookie etc.). When we reach the dating age, where does a guy take his best girl? To dinner of course! In ours, as well as many other societies, food plays a big role in our socialization. In similarity to Pavlov’s dog (creating a mental connection between salivating and the ringing of a bell), we create a connection between food, and love, security and friendship. It is done through what we call “waking hypnotic suggestion”. This is why many people when sad, stressed, happy, lonely, (and for virtually any other strong emotion) turn to food. They are looking for security, love, and friendship. Where do they find that friend? In the refrigerator or pantry of course!


Part of a successful hypnotherapy weight loss program involves breaking the connection between food, and love, security, and friendship. This breaks too the cycle of pacifying emotional highs or lows with food. A new relationship with food can then be established making it much easier to lose weight in a health way. This needs to be accomplished in a way that brings health and energy. It is not in the best interest of the client/patient to simply have them lose pounds by eating less. The result may be a lighter fat person (lost muscle and gained fat).

Behaviors, habits, and emotions as we know are housed in the subconscious mind. It stands to reason then that the most expeditious way to modify such behaviors is at the subconscious level. The simplest and most direct way to speak to the subconscious mind of course is through hypnosis. A person’s relationship with food was formed there, and it can be most effectively changed there. The first step to a new relationship with food isn’t excessive exercise, starvation, or eating things that the person hates. A healthier happier life begins with reprogramming the client’s/patient’s relationship with food and with exercise.



As with many therapies success or failure may very well be determined in the pre-talk. One important factor in the pre-talk is what I call the weight loss threshold. Most people assume that they will have to make huge changes in both diet and exercise in order to loose weight. This may simply not be so. Most people are not as far away from that line, or threshold, as they think. It is important to assure your client/patient that he/she may be right up to that important threshold already. He/she may only need to make minor changes in diet and exercise in order to bump over to the “lose weight” side of the line. This knowledge will provide the confidence and the incentive your client/patient needs to make the commitment to a healthier life. With this knowledge the job doesn’t seem so insurmountable and your client/patient will feel more assured that he/she can do it!


The following are some areas that I recommend you cover within your sessions for weight loss.

  1. How they look: Some people will tell you that they want to lose weight strictly for health reasons. This may be true to an extent, but virtually everyone wants to look better too. There are times when a client/patient may feel shy or vain in saying that he/she wants to look better. The fact is when you look good and you feel good your self-esteem grows and therefore one’s perception of life in general grows brighter. If he/she is a visual person, have them see themselves as they have chosen to be. Suggest that they look healthy and fit, suggest that because of this decision their cloths fit better, as well others see the positive changes in them etc.
  2. Easy and pleasant: Suggest that starving and those difficult diets are not necessary. A healthy eating plan made up of many small meals during the day keeps them comfortable and content. They prevent the body from anticipating starvation and therefore reduce fat cells while elevate energy levels. Continue by reinforcing the idea of “small meals” and “greater energy”.
  3. How they feel: Almost every person who wants to have more energy and vitality. Assure them that the wonderful decision that they have made will lead to greater energy and the ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Everything is better when you have a healthy body. Suggest how great they will feel as others see the positive changes in them.
  4. Exercise: Many people look at exercise as work. Suggest that when he/she thinks of exercise that his/her mind will go immediately to that feeling of health and vitality that you get from exercise. I always ask my clients/patients what physical activity they have most enjoyed most in their life and use that to enable the client/patient to reconstruct that feeling.
  5. What better gift: Many people reward themselves with food. Change the reward system! Suggest that they reward themselves with a more attractive body, energy, and vitality. What better gift than both a longer life and a better quality of life.
  6. Healthy body erases aches and pains: When a person’s body is strong and healthy, there is a reduction in discomfort due to minor aches and pains. This too may provide inspiration that will please the subconscious mind.


If you take into consideration the way the body reacts to food and to exercise, you can put your clients/patients on the path to a healthier and happier life. Having them lose weight is not enough, especially if it comes at the expense of his/her health. Especially if he/she is unable to maintain that lower weight due to a slowed metabolic rate. Give your clients/patients more than a lower reading on the scale. Give them the health and vitality that should go with it.

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