When it comes to making progress with health and weight goals, you may find yourself focusing more on your food choices as the key ingredient to getting you where you want to go.
But what if we told you that the messages you give your brain are even more critical than what you put in your mouth?
This, my dear, is a powerful tool we teach called visualization.
Visualization, in a nutshell, is a technique for creating a mental image of a future event.
Before you can believe in a goal, it’s critical that you have a CLEAR idea of what it looks like. The age old saying “you must see it before you believe it” actually rings true.
When you visualize your desired outcome, you begin to “see” the possibility of achieving it. Only then can you be truly motivated to pursue your goal.
If you are skeptical about this process, we are here to tell you it’s far from a gimmick. The power of visualization is a well developed method that is backed by science.
According to research using brain imagery, visualization works because neurons in our brains interpret visual imagery as equivalent to a real-life action. Yes, “seeing” really IS believing, even when its only in our minds!
That’s because when we visualize an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells our neurons to “perform” the movement. This creates a brand new neural pathway that primes our body to act in a way consistent to what we are visualizing.
All of this occurs without actually performing the physical activity, yet it achieves a similar result.
This method has been effectively used by athletes, stage performers and motivational speakers for years. Mohammed Ali famously relied on his mental preparation along with his physical preparation by picturing himself at the end of the match with one arm raised by the referee and the other up declaring him as the champion (he called it his “future history” exercises).
To explain how we teach this method to achieve weight loss/healthier eating habits, we wanted to share an example from a real client.
Alyssa came to us after years of struggling to get control of her eating habits and 40 pounds overweight. One of her obstacles was that she loved going to the movies, but could not resist getting a large bucket of popcorn as soon as she walked into the theater (even though it made her feel sick afterwards). No matter how much she tried to talk to herself out of getting the popcorn, she succumbed to the temptation every time as soon as she walked in and smelled the aroma.
Here is what we told Alyssa to do:
Instead of using willpower to avoid buying the popcorn, we told her to spend 10 minutes every day visualizing success. She was encouraged to play out every detail, including driving to the theater, walking in, smelling the popcorn, and walking right past it. We told her to imagine sitting in her seat, hands on her lap, watching the movie and enjoying the experience without the popcorn.
Then, she was to follow it through by visualizing going home afterward, and feeling light and happy instead of sick to her stomach.
With this daily practice, Alyssa was finally able, for the FIRST time, to successfully see a movie and not get popcorn!
And the best part is, once she mastered this practice, she was able to use it in various other situations where she felt out of control, such as parties, buffets, and dinners out with friends. This eventually led to reaching her goal weight by first focusing on just ONE event.
As for us, we plan to incorporate this theme in our own lives both on a business AND personal level (yes we have our own health goals just like you do)!
We want to know – do you use visualization practices in your life? If not, can you see how this would be a helpful way to achieve your goals?