by Sue Barratt as told to Meg Lundstrom
More and more women across the country are losing weight – and keeping it off – with help of a psychological technique called neurolinguistic programming. Here’s how Sue Barratt used this simple method to melt away 20 pounds – and leave dieting behind forever!
Sitting at the kitchen table on a cold winter night, I reached for my fifth cookie and shoved it into my mouth, barely tasting it. As I replayed the recent events in my life – separating from my husband Richard, selling our home and moving into a one-bedroom apartment with my three young children – I was filled with despair. “What’s going to become of us?” I asked myself. Not knowing the answer depressed me.
And as my depression and panic grew, I searched the kitchen for something else to eat. Finding the bag of chips that I bought that morning, I tore it open and started eating with abandon. “Why don’t you stop stuffing yourself?” I scolded myself, pushing another chip into my mouth. At 36, I felt my life was out of control. I felt powerless over what I ate. If I couldn’t control my weight, how could I control my future? It wasn’t that I didn’t try to lose weight. I tried diet after diet to get myself back into the 119 pounds I weighed on my wedding day.
In those days, I liked what I saw, a pretty face and a curvy figure that drew admiring glances. That was before I got pregnant and put on 55 pounds. Incredibly, I only lost seven pounds when my son Phillip was born. At 5’2″, I was horrified that I weighed more than 160 pounds. It didn’t matter that I’d recently given birth, I became obsessed with losing weight. I counted the calories of every morsel of food and weighed myself a half-dozen times a day.
But instead of helping me, it made me crave more food. Then, whenever I cheated, which was often, I was so disgusted with myself that I’d eat twice as much. Desperate to lose weight, I starved myself for two days at a time, then ate enough to get me through a day and then swore off food again for another few days. It was torture, but it worked. Slowly, over a year and a half, I lost 28 pounds. I planned to keep loosing, but when I got pregnant with Holly I had to stop my roller coaster dieting. My weight soon ballooned to 155 pounds. After my daughter was born, I struggled to lose it, and was succeeding, until I got pregnant with Joanne a year later.
But from the time of my divorce and for many years after, my weight overshadowed everything else in my life. I never ate meals with the children, figuring that if I didn’t sit down to eat with them, I couldn’t overeat. I just nibbled, living mostly on cookies and cold cereal. One day, as I stood munching on a muffin while I read the mail, I caught my daughter, Holly, eating handfuls of cereal out of the box. “Holly, don’t do that.” I scolded. “Pour some in a bowl and sit at the table.” “Look at you, Mom,” she replied. “You never sit at the table and you always eat cereal out of the box.” Her words hit me like a ton of bricks. What kind of example was I setting for my children? They were picking up my horrible eating habits. I was so ashamed.
That night, as I lay in bed, I tried to figure out what to do. I felt so frustrated that I was powerless over food – it invaded my every thought. Worse yet was seeing Holly follow in my footsteps. “Oh, God,” I prayed, “please help me find a way to change.”
A few days later, my friend, Gordon, called to ask me to join him at a class in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) which is the science of the effect of language, both verbal and non-verbal, on the brain and nervous system. He told me that NLP used visualization to help people “re-program” their brains and the way they think about things. And once they learn to do that, they can change their behavior and cure bad habits. It sounded far fetched, but I went along anyway.
Looking around the classroom, I counted about 15 men and women, ranging in age form mid-20s to early 50s. The instructor, Peter McNab, asked each of us to tell the group our name and what we did. When it was my turn, I said: “My name is Sue. I don’t have a job yet. I stay home with my kids.”
I’d say that certainly is a job.” Peter replied with a smile. “One that’s more work that I’d be willing to do!” The others laughed and shook their heads in agreement. I smiled and sat up straighter, feeling proud. “He’s right.” I said to myself.
Peter explained that we’d be learning to communicate with ourselves on a deeper level. “You’ll be doing a simple mental technique that encourages you to talk to yourself in a new way. You won’t be dwelling on a problem by asking, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I like this? What caused it? because those questions won’t help change your behavior.”
I found it hard to believe that talking to myself about overeating – even in a different way than I was used to – was going to help me overcome it. I talked to myself all the time – begged, even scolded myself. It hadn’t worked before. How could it work now?
But as Peter described how we can sometimes be our own worst enemies just by how we view ourselves, I had a flashback of the time a few years ago when I’d signed up for a correspondence course. Before I even started, I had doubts and I wound up quitting soon after I began. Thinking about it now, it seemed I always did that. I never gave myself a chance to succeed.
Intrigued, I bought a tape called Spirituality and NLP. The idea of getting in touch with my inner self was exciting. I wondered of it worked and if I could do it.
The next night, after I tucked the children into bed, I slid the tape into my Walkman and snuggled into my pillows to listen to it. I heard the voice of Connirae Andreas, Ph.D., an NLP therapist in Colorado, explaining that we can’t always make the changes we want because some hidden part of us believes that the behavior is good for us. For example, if your parents hounded you about eating too much, you might eat more to proof your independence. Since independence is a good thing, you continue to overeat to maintain your freedom, she explained. These subconscious beliefs, which often date back to childhood, still dictate our actions, often against our conscious will. The process on the 6-minute tape, called “Core Transformation.” helps bring those buried beliefs to light and changes them forever.
As I listened to her instructions, I tried to focus on the way I felt when I found myself wolfing down food. It was a feeling of pure panic. I tried to duplicate that feeling and then I treated that panicky feeling as if it were a person inside me. The next step, Dr. Andreas said, was to ask this part of me: “What do you want?” She explained that the answer might come as words, a mood or a picture. “Don’t try to figure out the answer mentally, let it come from inside out,” she advised.
At first, I didn’t feel anything. But as I tried to push other thoughts aside and concentrate on the panicky feeling I get when I overeat, all of a sudden, from deep inside of me, came the answer: “To feel satisfied.” I had a crystal-clear picture of growing up in a family of six children, where if you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t eat at all.
On the tape, Dr. Andreas’ voice said: “Imagine you’re having that experience now.” Instantly, I felt my stomach fill up, I felt completely satisfied. Still following her instructions, I asked that part of me, “Now that you feel satisfied, what do you want that’s even more important?”
As I asked the question, I began to feel a sense of fulfillment coming over me. I basked it in for a while and then I asked myself, “Now that you feel fulfilled, what do you want that’s even more important?” “To be who I am,” came the answer. I tried to fully experience who I truly am. When I felt at ease with that, I asked, “And now what do you want that’s even more important?” This time a deep feeling of love flowed through me. “So this is what I wanted all along.” I said aloud. “Not food, but love.”
I was eating to satisfy an emotional – not physical – hunger. Knowing that, I felt as if a burden had been lifted from me. Still following the tape’s instructions, I brought that core feeling of love back through all the stages – letting love wash through my need to be who I am, to feel fulfilled, to feel satisfied. By the time I reached the first stage of pure panic, the love dissolved its force. Feeling totally relaxed, I fell asleep.
The next day, when my daughter offered me a cookie, I said: “No, thank you.” I genuinely didn’t want it. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t obsessing about eating. Somehow, I’d changed. I got rid of all the scales in the house so I wouldn’t be tempted to check my weight several times a day. A few weeks later, I was surprised that my jeans were looser. Today, a year later, I’m 135 pounds. The thought of dieting never even occurs to me.
If I feel like having a piece of cake, I just have it. I don’t consider it a lapse or weakness because I have faith in my innate ability to do what’s best for me. Food is no longer an issue in my life. So much has changed now that I don’t view myself as a pathetic person with no willpower.
I had the self-confidence to start my own business from home and I’m involved in NLP training. I feel good about who I am and I want other people to feel the same high I get knowing I’m in control of my life.”
As an NLP trainer, Sue is helping other people learn to boost their self-esteem. After each of her three children was born, Sue found it difficult to lose the weight she’d gained. Before she took part in the NLP program, Sue defined her life by her children and considered herself to be “just a mother” without any marketable skills.
As Sue Barratt looks back through old photo albums, she is continually amazed to see all the positive changes she’s made in her life, thanks to NLP. Sue’s successes have made her a happier woman and a better mother. Now, she says, “My kids take an interest in what I’m doing and we’re a unit emotionally. I’m so proud of the fact that I’m setting a good example for them to follow.”
By practicing NLP, Sue has learned to talk to herself in a different way, tapping into her subconscious to understand her actions. In Sue’s house these days, there’s no more nibbling on junk food. Now the whole family sits down to enjoy a regular meal. You can find out more about how NLP can help you achieve your dreams and desires through the resources listed below and throughout this site.
by Connirae Andreas and Tamara Andreas
This book offers an easy-to-follow, ten-step process for transforming unwanted behaviors,thoughts, and feelings by actually embracing them. You’ll come to a greater sense of self,while enhancing your ability to understand and be compassionate toward the people in your life. Book Paperback This book offers an easy-to-follow, ten-step process for transforming unwanted behavior, thoughts, and feelings by actually embracing them.
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