NLP and How It Works For Weight Management

Over the coming months I will be writing a series of articles about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) – and how it can help with weight management, both physically and mentally. But what is NLP and why would you even be interested in what it can do for you?

Neuro refers to the neurological makeup, the nervous system, which is most of our body. Our experiences and memories are stored in the nervous system and the way they are stored will dictate how we think and feel about them, and what behaviours we generate.

Linguistic is all about communication, on all levels, including the words we say and think to ourselves. Only 7% of the communication is the words, but they are important to pay attention to, and sometimes to change. Our language should always positively reflect as closely as possible the goals and desires we wish to have.

Programming is about learned behaviour, and not turning ourselves into robots. We are born with certain things hardwired, like language acquisition and mobility. But things like writing, driving cars and playing music are essentially add-ons or programs which – unlike The Matrix – are acquired and developed over time. The way we create or program new behaviours is by combining our thoughts, actions, feelings and recall of past experiences.

NLP Communication Model

We are bombarded with information all day long. Our phones, TVs, adverts everywhere, social media ‘opinion’, shop fronts, radio, there is so much going on all around us. If we were aware of it all it would drive us mad, so we filter things down to a manageable level. The filters do three things; they delete things, distort things and generalise things, to suit our beliefs, values and attitudes – all of which can be changed through NLP techniques.

While reading this you were probably not that aware of the feeling of the clothes on your body, or other sounds around you, or what your left hand feels like. This is deleting information. Some people have an image of themselves that is distorted, such as body dysmorphia, thinking they’re ugly or fat or thin etc. I have met many people who are underweight, anorexic even, who see a fat person when they look in the mirror. As incredulous as it may seem for some, it is the picture they actually ‘see’, and they are distorting their reality.

Media and adverts are very guilty of projecting an idea of how we should be, and there can be pressure to conform to the generalized image projected. It is possible to start thinking thoughts like “everyone else is thin and healthy” or “I’ll never sort this out” – these are generalizations about the world. Notice they are not necessarily true but we hold them to be so.

There’s a part of you that I call the Unconscious Mind. When you go to sleep at night, you don’t worry that you will forget how to breathe, or keep your blood warm and at the correct pressure. Similarly you don’t know how you interpret random black marks on a white background, call it English language, and find meaning in it, or how you vibrate your neck and move air across it to make a vibration I call language. Your Unconscious Mind is responsible for these things and many, many more. It operates out of a set of defined directives – such as preserving the body and storing the memories – and does its best to carry out the instructions it receives from us.

The trouble here can be that we may inadvertently give it instructions that, if we thought about it, we probably wouldn’t have given. Then, having not realized we have issued one of these ‘inadvertent’ orders, we promptly forget we did it, and this makes the problem harder for us to spot at first without help. Let me give you an example so you can see how this process can work.

Example of a program

I had a client that came to me because she was going to have a job interview in two weeks and she knew she was going to panic and fail. I asked was she sure this was going to happen and she said yes. Now personally if I could tell the future, I’d be making a lot more money! I asked could she have the panic a couple of hours after the interview, and she thought I was weird. So when I asked could she have it the night before the interview while she was asleep, she thought I was even crazier. But here’s the thing – I thought she was crazy for being determined to have that negative experience, set into the future in such a precise way that it would only happen in a very specific time frame or else it wouldn’t have the effect.

So I asked her how she was going to do it, and calm as anything she said she would wake up feeling awful, and then she would say to herself that she knew she would wake up feeling like this. Then she would think of all the questions they could ask her that would lead her to feeling like this. Then she would cycle this around while she got up and made a coffee, and by the time she left to go for the interview she’d have amplified it so much she knew she was going to panic and fail.

That was her ‘job interview program’, matter of fact. The short story is we made it so she woke up feeling fantastic, full or energy, excited and motivated. And then she would say to herself that she knew she was going to wake up feeling like that. Then she would think of all the questions they could ask her that would lead her to feeling like this etc… So the program itself wasn’t far out, just the feeling she was planning to take into it. In case you’re wondering, she sailed through the interview feeling great, got the promotion and the wage rise to go with it.

Implications for weight management

In terms of weight management, there are a couple of caveats. Firstly there are a number of medical conditions which CAN but DON’T HAVE TO lead to weight gain.  And there are certain drugs that also may or may not have weight gain as an effect, such as antipsychotic medication. Most people are not in this category though, and I am not writing about that category in this article.

So if you are planning on managing your weight there are a number of things to take into consideration:

Is the target weight specified, measurable, achievable and realistic within a specific timescale you are setting yourself?

  • Do you want to achieve this for yourself or because someone else is pressuring you into it?
  • Have you looked for other ways you can achieve the target weight that you haven’t thought of yet?
  • Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to hit the target weight?

NLP can help with all the above processes, so you are fully prepared beforehand and supported throughout the process, and have all the skills to maintain the results afterwards through embracing a lifestyle change and enjoying the benefits experienced.

Under natural circumstances, one of the things the Unconscious Mind does is to regulate and optimize the body system, including weight. But habits form and can over-ride that natural balancing act. Many people overeat and think they cannot control those urges, or are simply unaware of the amount of snacking they do, or choose unhealthy snacking. Others go through cycles of eating unhealthily and then feeling bad or thinking negatively about themselves in some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. There are many things you can do though to combat this and create new behaviours, which become healthy habits, which in turn replace the unhealthy ones.

Calories in

One thing that surprises many of my clients is just how much they distort what goes into them. The simple answer to that is a phone app called myfitnesspal. Enter everything that goes into the body and find out exactly what is happening. A lot of people don’t consider the alcohol intake as significant, and how many nuts is a couple of handfuls? Most people live sedentary lifestyles so as a rule of thumb, to maintain weight, most women need about 2000 calories and most men need 2400. To lose weight therefore you need less – maybe 500 under this figure. Good news is vegetables are mostly very low calorie, so you don’t have to be hungry or miserable about it.

Calories out

Coupled with this is to look at calorie expenditure. Sitting on the couch is unhealthy in a number of ways. It certainly doesn’t burn the calories off, but this can seem daunting at first. Images may spring to mind of thin people in gyms, and it’s easy to be put off the effort. But simply walking to the shops each day is a start, or a walk in the park, or even to the end of the road and back at first. But consistent effort is king (or queen). Remember – realistic and achievable. It has to be something you can maintain, rather than do a bit and give up.

There are plenty of online ways to guestimate the calories burned. You may burn 100 going to the shops and back, 350 gardening or gently cycling for an hour. Jogging or swimming may burn 550 an hour, and martial arts and other strenuous activities may burn up to 1000. Using a calculator online you can work out your calorie burn rate. The next step is to start making the calorie output greater than the calorie input. What I mean by this is if you’re needing 2000 to maintain average weight, but you eat 2700, you need to lose more than the 700, and this is done by cutting calories in and also increasing calories out. Going below the 2000 will make weight loss start to happen.

NLP can be used to effectively to change mindset about the process, to eliminate unwanted limiting beliefs and limiting decisions made about self and others. It can help set realistic targets and steps to achieving it, and hold you accountable to the plan. Also, it can eliminate negative emotional content from the past, or help with becoming motivated, to feeling good about the process, to focus on the benefits and the gains to health and longevity. It can even help turn up the metabolism to burn more calories.

Are you ready to take up the challenge to make a shift in lifestyle choices, rather than pay homage to a fad diet? Are you ready to monitor and be aware of everything that goes in? How about making a pact with yourself, to start moving more to spend some calories? Are you ready to move towards a longer and healthier future? If the answers are yes to most of those questions, then make some simple plans today for how you want to be in a year’s time from today. Make it realistic and achievable, and then be prepared to play at 100% for the goal you have.

Future articles on this subject will include how to avoid comfort eating or snacking, mindful eating, changing mindset, letting go of guilt and other related negative emotions, and preventing slipping into old habits at the first sign of failure.

For more information about my weight loss program see here or contact me now to discuss how I can assist you in achieving your goals.

Weight loss – changing your mindset to achieve your goals


One of the keys to successful weight loss is to start at the end. Imagine for a moment that you have already achieved your target weight and are maintaining it successfully. Imagine how you look in the mirror and to others, what it sounds like to get compliments from people around you and the sound of your voice filled with confidence about your new self, and how good it feels now that you have achieved the goal you set yourself. Once you can see all the benefits, and hear yourself saying that you can and will achieve this, how good does it feel knowing that this is in your future now?

You often change items in your house, you redecorate, buy new furniture and so on. You may also change jobs, training, holiday ideas; in fact you may change many things. But it often surprises me that people don’t often think about changing the way they think, and yet this is critical to achieving the goals they set themselves. And it’s easy and can be a lot of fun too.

The way we believe and our values in life define how we go about achieving our goals, and it’s important to update these values and beliefs from time to time as we grow and change, otherwise we may still be held to a past experience which no longer is true. Our values are defined around the age of seven, so they get more out of date as time passes by. Some values and beliefs will continue to be fine, but some may need adjusting. Imagine trying to drive to a location on the far side of the country, using only a map that was created in 1890, compared to one that was created this year.

Take for example weight loss. This is a common activity these days. The easy formula is to make it so that the energy expenditure is greater than the energy intake, so the concept of eat less and exercise more seems simple enough, but in practice this may not happen for a number of reasons. Let’s call one of them limiting beliefs.

If you believe you cannot lose weight then it is less likely to happen than if you believe you can. If you think you’ve tried everything and nothing works, then it may be harder to achieve the target weight than if you believe you can and will do it. And there is a process I go through with people that helps redefine such beliefs easily.

Here’s a useful concept to consider on your weight loss journey. There is a basic equation which has cause on one side and effect on the other. If you are on the effect side then you may believe that you can’t do anything to help yourself lose weight, that you tried everything, that it’s too hard and many other reasons for why it is like it is. Once you get yourself over to the cause side, you realise that everything is a choice, and you have control over what you choose. Therefore you can change anything, with effort. This opens up a doorway to new possibilities, new understandings, and new strategies for achieving what you want.

You actually choose everything, even if you never considered this before. You choose which side of your teeth you brush first, the order of which clothes you put on, the route to work, what you eat and how much and when, in fact everything. You have strategies for all these things, and you can improve the strategies over time.

In order to achieve and then maintain your target with weight loss, you will have to make changes to your strategies. You will change what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat. There are lifestyle changes to be made too, maybe this starts with a walk round the block each day, and progresses to eventually joining a gym or going swimming. It also involves changing the way you think about food, exercise and your self. When you have achieved your weight loss target you will be thinking differently, so why not begin by thinking differently and allow that to help you achieve your goals quicker and easier? Start by doing what I suggested in the first paragraph and build a really clear picture of the goal you are setting for yourself.

For more information about my weight loss program see here or contact me now to discuss how I can assist you in achieving your goals.