A common belief is that Americans gain from 5-10 lbs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whether or not that amount is totally accurate, we can be certain that what we gain accumulates each year slowly tipping the scales towards obesity. The American adult obesity rate was 33 percent in 2000 and 40 percent today. That's a nearly 20 percent increase and a statistic I'll bet most would prefer to avoid. So let's look at some causes and a few simple techniques to help us do just that!
Increased Stress- Triggers Survival Mode
The holidays are a time of celebration, gatherings with friends and family. They are also a very stressful time. Where is dinner going to be? Who will be attending and who would you prefer didn't? Meal prep and presents to buy, so many choices to make and on top of that all those extra hours at work. Stress and its cascade of fight or flight inducing hormones is a contributor that can lead to anxiety and lack of sleep. The body is hard wired to store fat in this survival mode. Lack of sleep may contribute to overeating in an attempt to boost our energy which actually has the opposite effect.
Survival Mode- When Unconscious Behavior Patterns take Over
Think of this as reset switch that takes over and keeps us functioning even in extraordinarily stressful conditions. This is actually a good thing, kind of like having emergency lights come on in a building during a power failure providing safe passage out of the building as quickly as possible. Survival mode is designed to do the same thing, simply get us out of danger so that we can then reset ourselves to a normal more relaxed state.
Just as we are not able to function well in a dimly lit building, we are also unable to function properly in survival mode. So, if we are stuck there, we begin to fall back on old behavior patterns in order to get through our day. These are often patterns of convenience and work but only to a point. This default mode of unconscious behavior patterns takes our energy and resolve reducing our ability to make good choices. Failing to prepare meals we grab fast food or eat out more often. We skip exercise as we are too busy! You get the idea and we soon see the results in the mirror.
Exit Ahead-Empowering Conscious Choice
The first step is to shut off the stress mechanism and step out of this dimly lit existence. There are many ways to do this from meditation, breathing exercises, tai chi and yoga. Though I use and recommend these techniques, my experience has been that hypnosis supported by powerful personal coaching is the quickest way to reset these out of control behavior patterns. The truth, is that our mind once reset into these old patterns needs support as well as strong intention to make consistently better choices.
These patterns of poor choice are usually accompanied by a story that justifies them. Such as, "I am too tired to cook!" or "Their is nothing at home to eat." Think of intention as the road map that gives us direction, while hypnosis gets rid of the back seat driver who is giving us the wrong directions.
When this happens a feeling of renewal occurs. The good choices get easier when we feel supported to make them. I will let this phrase that I have heard so many times from clients sum up the feeling. When I hear a simple, "It's clicking" I know that they now understand that the reward to be experienced is far beyond the loss of weight and increased vitality. It's a much more internal sense that they are worth the effort. I celebrate this shift in awareness as it leads to real behavior change. The holiday season is an ideal time to seek out much needed support. I wish you all the best this season!
About the Author
Behavior Change Coach and Author James Barfoot CHt holds certifications as a Master Practitioner of NLP and is a Clinical Hypnotherapist who is registered to practice in Washington State. He developed The Primal Toolbox a behavior change and coaching strategy based on a tribal models. James lives in Spokane WA.