How Tapping Mental Imagery Can Help You Lose Weight

February 15, 2011

visualizeStop for a moment and imagine yourself at your goal weight. Can you see it clearly?

If not, chances are you won’t succeed in getting there in real life either. That’s how strong of an asset or liability the power of mental imagery can be in your weight loss journey.

So if you picture yourself as you are now or, even worse, failing to reach your goal, it’s time to learn how to tap into the power of visualization. Or in other words, first you’ve got to see it before you can be it!

Professional athletes, medical students, artists, musicians, and people with all types of goals use visualization as a tool to help them succeed. For example, athletes see themselves scoring the goal or winning the game. Medical students get through grueling exams and other obstacles by imagining themselves in the profession of their dreams. Artists and singers report imagining themselves signing a contract years before it actually comes true.

Like them, you can also tap into the power of your subconscious to stay focused on your goal. Use these tips to get started:

Visualize It: Spend some time every day seeing yourself at your goal weight. The more real you can make the image the better. Picture yourself wearing a certain outfit or doing a certain activity you wish you could do now. These little details make the image more powerful and concrete.

Feel It: Take it a step further by feeling the joy of reaching your accomplishment. Picture yourself confidently and effortlessly making it happen. Imagine yourself having overcome all odds. Feel yourself lighter. Feel how easy you move. Feel the increased energy and vitality you have. Feel how good it feels to be at your ideal body weight!

Give Yourself the Present: During your visualizations, see these things happening in the present tense, happening now, or having already happened, not happening in the future. See yourself there. The subconscious mind which does not distinguish between yesterday, today, and tomorrow will take whatever image you feed it and work to make it happen.

Break It Down: Some of my patients report they have trouble imagining themselves at their goal weight. If this is the case for you, try breaking it down into smaller steps. Imagine yourself 5 pounds thinner, one or two clothing sizes smaller, halfway there, or whatever image feels right to you. In time, as you meet these challenges, the big picture will come into focus.

Steer the Image: If you find negative images creeping in during your visualization of you failing to lose weight, for example, or if your mind drifts to past failures acknowledge these thoughts, thank them for making themselves known, tell them you don’t need them anymore, and then imagine them losing their power. See yourself packing them away into a box labeled recycling and putting them out on the curb, or whatever image helps you let them go.

Write the Check: Reports say actor Jim Carrey wrote himself a $10 million dollar check with the words for services rendered in the memo line and carried it around in his wallet for years until his big break came. At the time he was about as far from being rich and famous as anyone could have possibly been. He’s since received payment for double that amount for a single film! In a similar way, you can copy your driver’s license and put in your goal weight or do something else to create a tangible item to carry with you on your journey. Then, as he did, don’t give up and do everything you can to make it happen until your dream comes true!

Like the dietary and lifestyle changes you are making, mental imagery may seem artificial at first. But don’t give up! Keep doing it day in and day out, and before you know it, it won’t be an imaginary image anymore it will be your reality!

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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