Visualisation is a kind of mental rehearsal that is often utilised by sportspersons. It is also a powerful technique you can utilise to stay on track with your healthy changes this Christmas. You can make visualisation your weight loss superpower.
A fascinating and famous study from the University of Chicago, conducted by Dr. Biasiotto in 1996, powerfully demonstrated the utility of visualisation. Biasiotto split some students into three randomly assigned groups and tested each group on how many basketball free throws they could make.
Each group was asked to perform a different task every day for 30 days, and their improvement in their ability to shoot free throws was again tested.
The first group was told not to touch a basketball for 30 days. The second group was told to practice shooting free throws in the gym for 30 minutes every day for 30 days. The third group was told to go to the gym every day, to not touch a basketball, but instead spend 30 minutes with their eyes closed simply visualising hitting every free throw every time.
The results were amazing.
The first group (who did neither practice nor visualisation) did not improve, as expected. The second group that did 30 minutes of physical practice each day, improved by 24%. Fascinatingly, the third group, which had simply visualised making successful free throws, showed a 23% improvement.
The measurable improvement in the group that purely visualised the exercise was virtually the same as the group who had physically practiced.
Well, this is all very interesting but what has this to do with weight loss?
Mental rehearsal can be a powerful tool to navigate weight loss. It can be used to help empower you to stick to your low carb real food plans during this festive season (or indeed anytime).
If you have an event coming up, where you know there will be high carb foods and drinks tempting you, or if you know there might be people or situations that could trigger you to eat or drink the ‘carb-age’ that does not support your health, you can prepare yourself with visualisation.
So how does it work?
First of all, you need to have a plan on how you are going to navigate the event.
Are you going to bring your own food? Perhaps you have chatted to the host about the catering, maybe you plan to pick around and eat the low carb real food and leave the ‘carb-age’ on your plate. Maybe you will fast, or simply eat before you go. Whatever it is, have a plan.
Next, find a quiet place and do the mental rehearsal and visualisation to cement that plan deep in your mind and set yourself up for success.
Visualising means going through the steps one by one, on how you will prepare and how you will navigate the event. You need to involve sight, sound, and emotion to really gain from the benefits of visualisation. During the visualisation exercise you need to really immerse yourself in the visualisation, imagining as much detail as you can. Visualise what you will say when someone offers you a bread roll/Christmas tart/beer/ice-cream, visualise preparing your delicious low carb real food (if you are bringing it), visualise eating the delicious low carb real food at the event (if you are eating there). Also, spend time visualising how wonderful and good you feel having successfully navigated the event and stayed on track nourishing your body with delicious low carb real food. Spend time focusing on how awesome you feel having achieved your goal
Let's practice now. Think of a situation where you might be tempted, where high carb or high inflammatory foods and drinks will be freely available, a situation where you may be tempted to go off plan and be tempted to eat foods that are unhelpful to your body and your health and weight loss journey.
Then get comfortable, close your eyes and take three slow breaths. Then imagine the situation. See where you are, imagine the high carb and highly inflammatory foods and drinks that are available. Imagine preparing yourself for the event, all the little steps you go through before the event. Imagine arriving at the event, focus on what you can see and hear and feel. Then visualise how you are going to negotiate this event. What will you do? What will you say? Imagine and really visualise how wonderful you feel successfully navigating that situation. That fabulous sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that you are working towards your goals. Go through this whole process three times from start to finish. It only takes a few minutes, and it is very helpful.
Visualisation is a kind of powerful self-hypnosis to help you achieve your goals.
For more handy tips on staying on track this Christmas, check out our blog on reframing failure https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/reframe-failure-this-christmas