(by Lowri Turner)

Are you struggling to stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps that cake is beginning to seem really quite tempting, a glass of wine is calling you or you were tempted to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock skip your morning run? Whatever promises you made to yourself (and others) on January 1st, it can be hard to follow through. However, by using a few top techniques from the world of sports psychology, you could dramatically increase your chance of success.

As the author of The Hunger Types Diet, which looks at how hidden hormonal imbalances can drive appetite, cravings and weight gain, I firmly believe that changing what you eat can solve all sorts of health problems, including excess weight. Still , as a practicing nutritionist and hypnotherapist, I also regularly use brain training skills to help my clients stick to their new healthier diets.

Many of the most effective psychological techniques from the world of sport, where athletes are now as likely to focus on their ‘mind’ game as their physical one. As cognitive hypnotherapist Hazel Gale (www.hazelgale.co.uk) says: ‘People are realising it’s scientific, not woo woo’. Gale is the current UK women’s welterweight boxing champion and former double world women’s kick boxing champion. Not a lady to argue with then.

Performance consultant Andy Barton (www.thesportingmind.com) is a sports psychologist who also uses fashionable new psychological approaches such as Non Linguistic Programming (NLP)and Neuro Feedback to help people. He says’65% of my clients are sports people, but the others are actors,musicians and just people who need to perform better’.

These therapists work with top flight athletes, but the strategies they (and I) use can be just as effective at helping you stick to your New Years Resolutions. Here are my favourite techniques and how you can use them:

1.Resource Anchor

What is it?
OK, the name’s not very catchy, but it works. The idea is that we ‘associate’ different states (happy, sad, excited etc.) with ‘anchors’ i.e. sights, sounds, smells, or tastes.   So, the smell of fish and chips may make you feel happy because it remind you of family seaside holidays as a child. The key is to anchor a sense to a frame of mind (a ‘resource state’) that will help you..

How do you do it?
The easiest and most effective Resource Anchor to create is a sound one. An experiment conducted at Brunel University in 2001 found that music combined with imagery was more effective than imagery alone at helping athletes complete an isometric endurance task. You can use the same trick to push you through a run, cycle or boring pounding of the treadmill.

Choose a song or songs that give you a feeling of energy and and power. ‘‘The only way is up’ by M People or ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry are good choices.
Now, close your eyes and imagine yourself really exercising well- running effortlessly, swimming strongly or whatever is the fitness regime you have decided to adopt as part of your New Year’s Resolution. Switch on your music and watch yourself in your minds eye exercising at your peak. Rewind the song and rewind your little movie of youself and play both again a couple of times ‘anchor’ this great feeling to the music. Then play the music whenever you train .

What Is It Best For?
Fitness regimes like running, swimming or cycling. Also good for slowing down eating if you’re trying to lose weight. Just choose a calming piece of music.

2. Power Pose

What is it?
Power Pose depends for its success on the theory that body language is infectious. If you are depressed, you slump your shoulders and this makes you feel even more depressed. Power pose reverses this process.

How Do You Do It?
Stand with your feet slightly apart, your head up and shoulders back. Lift your arms up and out as if you are running through a tape at the end of the race. Breathe deeply and hold that position for 1 – 2 minutes.

What is it best for?
Increasing energy and focus. If your New Year’s Resolution is to get a promotion or get another job, for example, you can do this before you have to make that tricky phone call or go in for an interview.

3. Mental Rehearsal

What is it?
This a visualisation technique in which you assume the identity of someone else in order to copy them and improve your own ‘game’.

How Do You Do It?
First think of someone your know who behaves as you would like to. If you want to give up alcohol, it maybe a teetotaller you know, If you want to lose weight, someone who is already slim. Choose a person whose behaviour you are familiar with. Now, close your eyes and imagine you’ve got a remote control and a TV. Press play and watch a film of your chosen person practising the skill you want to perfect. Perhaps they are putting down their knife and fork between bites, or leaving food on their plates. Or, they could be sipping elegantly at a glass of water, looking confident and relaxed.

Press pause and rewind. Play the movie again. This time keep your mentor’s head but put it on your body. Press pause, rewind and play again with your head and your body, but behaving exaclty as your chosen person did. Press pause, rewind and play again but step inside the movie so you’re actually feeling what it is like from the inside to behave as you’d like to.

Press pause, step out the movie, look at yourself performing so well, breathe in and relax.

What Is It Best For?
Trying out behaviour that you cannot imagine yourself doing. So, if you’ve never exercised,always been overweight, or never gone a week without drinking. Rehearsing the future helps create belief that you can change.

4. Change Internal Dialogue

What Is It?
Many of us fail at New Year’s Resolutions because we doubt ourselves. We have a little voice in our heads that tells us we can’t. This can be our own voice or more often is that of a parent. Change Internal Dialogue is a technique that takes the ‘sting’ out of that inner voice.

How Do You Do It?
Close your eyes and think about some of the negative beliefs you may have about your New Year’s Resolutions. Hear the voice in your head saying things like’ I always fall of diets… I join and gym and never go… I am a failure’. While listening to this litany of internal criticism, alter the voice in your head to that of Bugs Bunny or Homer Simpson or any other silly voice you fancy. Immediately, whatever they are saying sounds ridiculous rather than powerful.

What it’s best for?
Any New Year’s Resution that you have tried at and failed at before – smoking, giving up drinking, losing weight.

5. Flick It Out, Lock It In

What is it?
This is a technique that allows you to ‘own’ your successes and ‘throw away’ the failures.

How Do You Do It?
If you do something really well, whether it’s have a good session at the gym, say ‘no’ to a cigarette or manage a night out without a drink, you find a quiet place and ‘lock it in’. This means you lift one arm, bend it as if you are doing a classic bicep curl, then as you clench your fist andpull it in to your chest. This ‘locks in’ the success.

If you have a bad day on your diet, fitness regime or fall of the wagon wit smoking or drinking, you can ‘flick out’ this failure. Again find a quiet place and take the flat of one hand. Brush yourself down as if trying to brush crumbs off yourself’.

What Is It Good For?
Celebrating your successes and preventing ‘blips’ knocking you off track.

Lowri Turner is a hypnotherapist and nutritionist. She is the author of the new book The Hunger Types Diet.

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 Lowri Turner
 The Hunger Type Diet
 ISBN: 9781848999770

 

 

 

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