weight control

Fat Acceptance is the New Weight Loss

It seems that there is a new Buzz Phrase in the weight loss world – Fat Acceptance. It’s going to catch on. It’s going to be big. It’s going to be huge because it makes it sound like being fat is ok, and if you are overweight that’s exactly what you need to hear.

There is only one problem with it – it isn’t new. I’ve been teaching this to my clients for 15 years. I just never gave it a fancy title.

“Fat acceptance is the idea that an overweight individual has every right to be happy and content with respect to their sense of self as well as their own body.” Caroline J. Cederquist MD.

What I have always taught is that you cannot lose weight while you hate your body the way it is now. Of course this is difficult for my clients because most of them end up in my consulting room because they hate the way they look and have battled their fat for years – all to no avail.

I explain to them that the very first thing you need to do is to be ok with your body just the way it is. It’s all you – even the fat cells contain your DNA. The fat on your body is not your enemy. Do not fight it. Instead, be appreciative of who you are and the journey you have made to arrive here.

Of course the overweight body does not meet society’s expectations of attractiveness and so the problem faced by my clients is how to accept and appreciate that which they themselves find unattractive. This is no easy task when every time you turn on a TV; open a magazine; or even take a walk through town; you are bombarded with images of what society currently considers attractive/beautiful. What else can you do except compare yourself and find yourself woefully inadequate?

Well you could look on facebook at all the photo albums of your friends. There you will find real people – the kind that the world is actually full of. This will give you a reality check. Tv, magazines, and posters create an illusion of some mythical world filled with physically attractive people. It isn’t the real world so you can safely ignore it. If you really must compare yourself with other people then compare yourself with the people you see in the supermarket, or on the street, or in the doctor’s waiting room. Notice that there are people who are more overweight than you are and there are people who are slimmer than you are.

Once you arrive at the realisation that there is nothing special about your excess weight, you can move to a state of okayness about it. From there you move to acceptance. Acceptance isn’t saying to yourself this is fine let’s just carry on overeating and die from some horrible weight-induced disease. Acceptance is recognising that you are the way you are right now and right now that’s just how it is, and right now that isn’t going to change, so right now there is absolutely no point in beating yourself up over it. You think the beating up is what motivates you to change. It isn’t. It motivates you to think about change and start that battle with your body where you seek rapid weight loss and all the pain, cravings and denial that requires.

What you resist persists.

Acceptance allows you to acknowledge what is and then make plans for a different future.

Do you not treat someone you love in a very different manner from someone you hate?

Would you force feed someone you love so they slowly became a bloated, overweight, unhealthy human being who had little pleasure in life simply because moving around was so difficult?

Acceptance is like love. It wants what is best, but doesn’t berate what is. Love guides gently, carefully, supportingly towards the goal. Love commiserates with failures, but encourages you to keep going. Love is always there and will ensure success – no matter how long it takes. Love never, ever, ever, gives up on you.

So accept you the way you are right now. Learn to love your body – it is after all your home for life.



If you are curious about an easy way to lose weight through acceptance then check out my book How to Lose Weight Easily and Free Yourself from Diets Forever.


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Happiness self-help training

The Art of Listening

In truth, we don’t really listen at all. Our minds are so full of thoughts about what to say next and how we can interrupt before the moment has passed. Consequently, instead of listening to their words, we listen for the space between the words that allows us to enter.

Many years ago, when I first became interested in helping others to find their road to happiness, I used to visit the coffee bar at my local library. I would take a book, and sit with a cup of coffee for half an hour or so at lunchtime. Most of the time the place was fairly quiet and I would enjoy my book, but every now and again a conversation would intrude.

I would listen.

I was truly able to listen because I was not officially a party to the conversation.

I discovered several things in my listening.

The first was that my belief that I lived in a different world from most people was confirmed.

Most of these overheard conversations were about dreary, humdrum stuff that ordinarily would be of no interest to me. Two subjects dominated: ill-health and TV.

What surprised me about the conversations regarding TV programmes (usually soaps) was that the conversationists spoke as if the characters were real people rather than good actors. Now, I can get into a programme while I’m watching it and feel excitement and sadness, fear and relief, but when it’s finished all of that goes. If the director was particularly skilful that may stay with me for a little while, but I never move to a state where I think any of it is real.

Why these overheard conversations surprised me was that it seemed there was real hatred felt towards the characters that were treating others unkindly. I heard opinions about what this or that character should/shouldn’t have done – as if the actor had a choice! I found it all very strange. They were behaving as if these were real events happening to real people.

Are they confused about reality?

Do they shift into an alternate universe in order to gain maximum pleasure from what they watch?

I have no idea, but it is quite fascinating.

The health thing was even more interesting. I heard many of these conversations and they were always the same – a tennis match.

One party would toss a ball over the net, an in-growing toenail say; while this was being described in glorious Technicolor the other would be searching their memory for someone they knew who also had an in-growing toenail that was worse. Maybe, if there were no in-growing toenails, they knew someone who had had their toe amputated. The response had to relate to the original ball that was tossed over the net, but the ball that was returned had to be bigger and faster. This would go on rapidly escalating to someone with cancer, a major operation, or the death of some distant acquaintance.

This is a frequently observed pattern of conversation. Someone offers a gem of something and, while they continue speaking, the listener is searching for some kind of related response that will keep them in the game.  To stay in the game you have to produce something related but bigger and better. If it’s a firsthand experience you might just win, but something related to you by a friend of a friend will keep you playing.

There is a deeply felt need to come out on top.

Imagine what would happen if you just listened in silence with no intention of replying.

I have done this. Some people just continue to fill the space. If the topic runs out of steam, the silence is intolerable and the other party will usually find something to fill it.

As I learned how to spend more time listening with a quiet mind that was uninterested in responding, I found I began to hear what wasn’t being said. The topics that were avoided; the things the speaker identified with; and sometimes even whether or not the speaker was being truthful.

When you truly listen, you connect at a deep level with the speaker – no matter what the topic of conversation is.

So listen with your heart rather than your head. Let the words flow without feeling any need to respond, look into the speaker’s eyes and connect with them at a soul level. When you learn how to do this, your conversations will be the best you’ve ever had.

Happiness health self-help

Are We Killing Our Kids?

I was watching the TV news last night. I think it must be at least 3 years since the last time I watched a news programme. I was interested in learning about the flooding that is taking place in the southern parts of the UK. That in itself was quite fascinating, but even more fascinating was the political response. Unsurprisingly it seemed to be let’s find someone to point the finger at. It would have been nice if the attitude had been a bit more what help do you need?

At some point I also found myself watching a reporter talking to a barista working for Pret a Manger. He was a graduate who left University with a £20,000 debt and was living at home. His sister was at the same University doing the same degree. She was anticipating finishing the course with a £40,000 debt, still living with their parents, and no job prospects.

This morning I came across an article about some research that suggests more than a quarter of US students experience extreme stress during the school year. A few weeks ago I was reading about the introduction of tests for 4 and 5 year olds before they even start school. This immediately puts pressure on parents to teach children the stuff the schools are designed to teach children. I mean how can you pass a test unless you already have some skills?

It’s like we hate our kids.

Now, I know not every child has a happy home life and some parents do have a tough time and some children have a tough time too. Do we really need to add to it?

But, given that that’s the way it is, what can we do about it?

What we can do is to teach children healthy ways to deal with stress.

Play is an amazing stress reliever. By play, I don’t mean sitting in front of a TV with a video game controller. By play, I mean physical play. Getting up, kicking a ball, running around, playing imaginatively with friends. Leaving the mobile phones at home so there are no distractions from the wonderful fantasy world that children find so easy to create and live in.

Teenagers of course don’t want to play imaginatively. They want to be grown up already. But grown up these days means living with chronic stress and anxiety. Mind you society is crumbling now as the politicians have finally lost their grip on reality, so it’s probably a good idea to teach yourself and your children about simple techniques that can reduce stress levels and allow you to enjoy your life in whatever way feels right for you, despite what’s going on around you. This is one of the reasons it’s been 3 years or more since I watched any news. News is always bad. I protect my mind from exposure to bad, consequently I live more peacefully. Am I out of touch? Yes. Does it matter? Not even a little.

If you are interested in taking back some control over your own life, your world, and the destiny of you and your children then I outline some simple techniques to achieve this – using nothing more than your imagination – in my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis. While it’s not aimed at teenagers, the techniques for stress reduction are easy to learn and youngsters will benefit greatly because their imaginative abilities have not yet been stifled. The better your imagination, the quicker you will achieve powerful results.


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Dieting Is Difficult Because Eating Is Effortless

Overeating is learned behaviour. If you can learn to overeat then you can learn to eat the right amount. It is a relatively easy process and only requires the same level of commitment that you need to begin a diet. The big difference is that, unlike dieting, there is no battle, no fight, and no cravings to battle with. The whole process is simply one of replacing the habit of eating too much with the habit of eating just the right amount.

Do you remember learning to drive? That very first time sitting in the driving seat and being in control of all those pedals, switches, levers and that great big wheel. You not only had to think about all of those things, but also manage to miss things too. It seemed like an impossible task. But you kept at it, and now, 5, 10, 20 years later you don’t give it a thought.

The reason you don’t give it a thought is because it has become a habit. Habits are actions you do without thinking about them. According to learning theory there are four stages we pass through when we are learning a new skill.

  1. Unconscious incompetence – we don’t know how bad we are
  2. Conscious incompetence – we know how bad we are
  3. Conscious competence – we know about our improved skill level
  4. Unconconscious competence – we just do it without thinking about it

You can easily relate that to learning to drive. You probably passed your test at stage 3, and over the next few months moved to stage 4.

Can you relate this to losing weight though?

It hardly seems the same thing at all.

Think about stage 4 though where you do things without giving them any thought. When you are overweight you are at stage 4 in eating too much. You eat without thinking about it. It is just an automatic behaviour. You barely even taste the food it goes down that fast. You don’t think about getting up and nipping into the kitchen for a snack, you probably frequently just find yourself eating.

This is why it is difficult for you to lose weight. Overeating has become thought-less because you have reached Stage 4.

What a diet does is to interfere with that process. It makes you think about what you eat. But, because it doesn’t really attempt to do anything about the habitual aspects of overeating, it leaves you with a craving for the foods you normally eat in the quantities you normally eat them.

Because it never deals with the habit, a diet is always a battle using conscious will to overcome the learned behaviour of eating too much. Because habitual behaviours are automatic, as soon as you release control – because of tiredness, stress, or emotional upset – the old behaviour re-appears and you find yourself eating again. The problem with not dealing with this aspect of weight loss is that as soon as the desired weight is achieved on the diet (if you ever make it that far), then the old eating habit will slowly re-assert itself.

I mean who wants to do that diet battle forever?

There is another way. A way that deals with the habit aspect, but there is a downside. This way does not produce rapid weight loss. What it does is to give you slower but consistent weight loss in a way that is effortlessly sustainable.

If you want to know more then check out my book, on Amazon, How to Lose Weight and Free Yourself from Diets Forever for a detailed introduction to this process.


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Opticians Don’t Tell You the Full Story

This is just a brief introduction if you want to find out more then check out:

The Bates Method book from Amazon.


The Vitamin D Revolution by Soram Khalsa, M.D.

Happiness health self-help weight control

Biggest Loser Wins, Or Do They Really Lose After All

Biggest Loser, is a TV show where you need to be obese to get on the show. The winner is the person who loses the biggest percentage of weight relative to their initial weight. The premise behind the show is that you will be entertained by watching people who are seriously overweight struggling with their emotions, serious food rationing, and an exercise regime that belongs in a barracks.

The latest US series winner, Rachel Frederickson, lost 155lbs, around 60% of her starting body weight. The last 45lbs disappeared in just 2 months. That’s around 5lbs a week.

Interestingly she says that her weight gain was the result of a relationship break up.

The big question is did she lose too much too fast?

I’m also curious about whether or not it will stay off.

You see the prize for this feat of body sculpting is $250,000. Money is a powerful motivator. One quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money, clearly Rachel was more motivated than the other contestants.

I wonder, now that the money is in the bank, whether she has the will to maintain her current pattern of eating and exercise. I suspect that, if she plays her cards right, she can monetise her momentary celebrity and prolong her moment in the sun. There is a rich world out there for celebrity exercise videos, telling her story, endless chat shows while the star still shines, and so on.

My issue is not with Rachel, she worked very hard and received a well-deserved reward. My issue lies with the encouraging and lauding of rapid weight loss. Rapid weight loss is bad for your health. Rachel’s BMI is now significantly below normal – in other words she is under-weight. Still, that’s just Hollywood isn’t it? Every female working in CelebrityLand pretty much has to be underweight. Normal body weight just looks, well, fat compared to the majority of female celebrities.  It seems to be a lifestyle choice. Still the financial rewards provide the motivation to maintain the situation.

But take away the money and what is left to drive the starving yourself every single day for the rest of your life?

My work with weight loss focuses on easy and sustainable lifestyle changes; changes that are small shifts in eating behaviour over a long period of time. This works. Weight is lost gently. There is no fight with food. There is no battle with denial. Eat what you like; just eat what you need and no more. It works. There is no gruelling regime to follow. Of course my recommended rate of 2lbs a week is far too slow for most people, despite the fact that those 2lbs stay off for ever rather than creep back on, and Rachel would not look much different now if she followed my weight loss plan. She would also be considerably poorer.

However, because the change is assimilated slowly it is effortless to maintain. It is based around changing attitudes to food. There is no reason to treat your body as an enemy that must be brutally punished for having the audacity to look fat and unattractive.

Good luck to you Rachel, I sincerely hope it all works out for you.


…and if you want to know about a gentler, permanent way to reduce your weight then check out my book How to Lose Weight Easily and Free Yourself from Diets Forever.

hypnosis Personal Development self-help

Why is Change so Difficult?

Change is difficult because we are the way we are for good reason. Some people seem to find life easy, yet for others it’s a constant struggle. You may find it difficult or impossible to assert yourself, or even ask for legitimate needs. When you have this problem with an intimate partner then you will have a difficult relationship; when you have it with a manager then you will have an unsatisfying job; when you have it with a store assistant, then your shopping trips will be fearful experiences.

You may find that almost every aspect of life and living fills you with anxious moments. Meeting new people may be fraught because of your internal dialogue and self-monitoring. Whatever it is, you will want it to be different from the way it is. You may have sought help and ended up medicated or counselled. You may have gone it alone and sought help from your local library, bookshop, or Amazon. You may have found moments of relief only to discover that it was short-lived and life soon returned to the normality of suffering. So you start again, more help, better medication, more books. You enjoy a few more moments of brightness filled with courage and confidence – only to find them dissipating like tendrils of mist as the sun rises. Then you find yourself back in the bright light of a reality you don’t fully understand, and definitely don’t seem to fit in.

One of the things I encounter in my work is that people have generally tried everything else before they come to see me. This highlights the seemingly endless searching of so many desiring change. It suggests strongly that deep down there is a knowing that peace and joy exist and are available.

We are tenacious in our search for peace and a joyful experience of living.

But it is difficult and the reason it is so difficult is because it’s the very same reason that makes humans such a successful species. We learn from experience and never, ever, ever, forget – at a cellular level – those things in our lives that frightened, threatened, terrified, or just made us jump. The bee sting as a young child that becomes a panic stricken phobia whenever a bzzz is heard 50 years later; the being punished in school for something you were innocent of that leaves you with a lifelong fear of authority; the being told you are useless and will never amount to anything over and over again that leaves you incapable of success at anything; whatever it was that happened it stung and left its mark.

Our survival success is based around this. We have evolved to favour false positives. This is reacting to signs of danger even when there is no real danger present. This is a much safer stance than ignoring potential threats. This is why our early life experiences have such a powerful effect on our ease and confidence as adults. We may not consciously remember the activating experience, but it is buried deep in our subconscious. We can react to almost anything that has even the vaguest connection with a past source of pain.

So a behaviour, like perfectionism, becomes normal and, despite the difficulties it causes, is maintained – not from a desire to be perfect – but to avoid the emotional pain that not being good enough drew forth. This is even though the critic is no longer in their lives, or may even have passed away.

I have found so many patients live their lives to please parents who are no longer alive.

If you are seeking a more permanent change then know that because it works with your subconscious, which is where the problem lies, hypnosis and self-hypnosis are valuable tools. I would encourage you to explore them.


Of course you could always just check out my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis on Amazon.

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health weight control

That Cream Cake Might Kill You After All

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years working with smokers and helping them to break their habit. You might expect that fear of lung cancer is what drives smokers to seek help to quit, but that isn’t always the case. In fact concerns about ill-health only drive smokers who are already experiencing health problems to quit. The majority don’t like the anti-social aspects of being a smoker or the smells.

Part of the problem is that people only seek to take action to maintain good health when their health is already beginning to fail. While individuals have no adverse symptoms there is nothing to drive the motivation for change. This is why the graphic anti-smoking advertising campaigns have little effect on smoking numbers.

Because of this belief in immortality and permanent good health, individuals tend to continue to do what they do. So if you live a healthy lifestyle with lots of nourishing food and exercise then you will continue. But if you live an unhealthy lifestyle with an unhealthy diet then you will also continue. The reason for this is that although, when we worry, we worry about the past and the future. When we eat or exercise we do it now. So unless you have developed the habit of exercise in the same way that smokers develop the habit of smoking, you will choose to eat rather than to walk, run, jog, or cycle.

That is why change is so difficult for most of us. We did what we did yesterday and nothing bad happened so we can probably do it again today and nothing bad will happen – and that’s good – right?

When the bad is small, we do not notice it. But when the small bad happens every day, then one morning we wake up and we’ve got a big bad that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.

I was reading today about how obesity is now being linked to several cancers:

Breast – 33,000 cases a year caused by obesity.

Endometrial – 13,900 cases.

Kidney – 13,900.

Colorectal – 13,200.

Pancreas – 11,900

Oesophagus – 5,800.

Gallbladder – 2,000.

These are US figures for incidence of cancers directly related to obesity.

With breast cancer the problem is increased oestrogen in the bloodstream after the menopause. The oestrogen levels are directly linked to excess fat. The slimmer you are the less oestrogen you produce and the less likely you are to have to suffer the radical treatment offered for breast cancer.

“To lower your risk for cancer: Lose weight, increase physical activity and eat healthier”, says Anne McTiernan, director of the Prevention Center at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The trouble is we worry about things that we think are definitely going to happen, like an interview next week, or a dental appointment next month; and we worry about things that we convince ourselves will happen, even though they don’t – like the plane crashing, or that person we like rejecting us. What we don’t worry about are the things our body might experience until it is.

The problem is motivation. We do anything – even eating less and exercising more – if we are sufficiently motivated. But when we are physically comfortable in our armchair watching mind-numbing dross on TV and enjoying our snacks the world seems a cosy place where nothing bad will happen if we stay just where we are. It’s not true, but we believe the illusion we have created and continue to do nothing to love and cherish our bodies by moving them and using them and caring about what we put inside them.

It’s up to you.


If you want some help check out my book How to Lose Weight and Free Yourself from Diets Forever.


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Fever Is Good For You

Well, up to a point, fever is good for you.

I remember, when I was a young parent, that babies seemed to get feverish several times a year. The wisdom, from our GP, was to use Calpol (liquid paracetamol) to bring the fever down. The subliminal message was that fever was bad and should be exterminated as quickly as possible.

As I grew older, and wiser, I began to wonder about this advice, advice that seemed to be universal.

Part of the problem with babies is that we don’t want them to suffer. We want to do anything and everything we can to be good parents and get them to feel well, healthy, and happy as fast as possible. But we also don’t want to be seen as bad parents. I mean, what Mum would want to stand at the school gates, amidst a horde of Calpol addicts, and speak the heresy of letting her child just suffer and get better on its own? They would be ostracised, seen as a bit weird, and generally avoided.

If not, this strange idea that the body’s immune system can look after the body – without any outside help – just might contaminate their comfortably medicated worldview.

But these are helpless babies we are talking about here. And that is entirely the problem. We see those babies as helpless when in fact what they have is a young, undeveloped immune system that needs some training. It needs training to identify pathogens and develop appropriate antibodies so that as an adult it remains healthy and already has an immune system fully equipped to deal with infections quickly and easily.

So what exactly is going on with this fever thing?

Broadly speaking one of two things.

  1. Either the white blood cells, on encountering an invading organism, create a substance called pyrogen. This is detected by the hypothalamus (where temperature regulation takes place) and it resets the body’s thermostat. The hypothalamus allows the body temperature to rise. This in turn makes the environmental conditions uncomfortable for the invading organism and so it dies out. When we use drugs to reduce this natural healing process we allow the pathogen to remain and reproduce for longer – and so we suffer for longer. We also infect more other people because we are spreading live pathogens for a longer period of time.
  2. There is a complication. Some pathogens produce a pyrogen-like substance to fool the hypothalamus into heating things up. Body organs start to become damaged when the internal temperature hits 105F.


So the trick, I believe, is to monitor temperature and only take action when it reaches dangerously high levels. Otherwise let things be and let nature take its course. But for things like colds and flu, fever is just the body’s way of defending itself. Certainly on those occasions over the last 20 years when I’ve had a cold or flu, with accompanying fever, I just let my body deal with it. The help I give my body is to rest and take fluids – not fill it with potentially toxic medication that may introduce substances that further stress it and prolong the discomfort.

New research from McMaster University supports this view. It has found that drugs like ibuprofen and paracetamol increase the rate of flu by 5% AND consequently cause an additional 1,000 deaths each year in North America alone. This is because with the fever reduced, people go to work and spread viruses amongst their colleagues, thinking because they feel better they are getting better. But the truth is that they have just created an environment for the virus to proliferate for much longer than it would otherwise have done.

Finally, don’t forget that any ‘wisdom’ than involves regular purchases of over-the-counter medication is putting money into the coffers of pharmaceutical companies so there is also a vested interest in resisting any attempt at changing the status quo – which, for them, is very comfortable.

From the Calpol website – after some helpful suggestions for making your child physically comfortable:

“If your baby is still uncomfortable, you can treat the symptoms of a fever at home with infant paracetamol or ibuprofen – something we’ve been helping mums and dads do for over 45 years.”

Notice that ‘helping’ and ’45 years’. The subliminal message is that if we’ve been doing it for 45 years it must be good. Also notice that if making the child comfortable produces no change then your only option is Calpol. No suggestion of wait and see. No suggestion of monitoring temperature and using Calpol as a last resort.

They have 8 attractively packaged products with pictures of happy/sleeping babies on the front. Who could resist that? Help in a bottle. Instant infant ease.

Paracetamol (acetaminophen) sales in 2008 amounted to $2.6 billion in the US. This stuff is big business.

There is no suggestion here that you should ignore symptoms, or not treat symptoms if your baby is clearly distressed, but do it from a place of wisdom and understanding that fever is the body’s way of killing off invading organisms. Humans, in the space of about 100,000 years, have managed to create about 7 billion of us. Easy access to pharmaceuticals has only been around for much less than 100 of those.

Consider letting the body use its own wisdom to fight disease.



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