Category Archives: Weight Loss

Healthy Body Image & The Inner Child

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Acknowledging and nurturing the inner child is critical to achieving a healthy body image. The framework of this relationship determines the degree to which our mind and body are connected . . . or disconnected.

Positive body image is more than merely how we see ourselves physically. It’s how we feel about our physical appearance. And more specifically, the ways in which liking our appearance differs from disliking our appearance, and how this translates to our relationship with ourselves and the world.

Genetic inheritance influences our bone structure, body size, shape, and weight. Consequently, we are all different. At the same time, the equation for weight and body mass is the same for everyone: the calories we intake each day versus the calories we burn. Yet if everyone ate the same and did the same amount of exercise for a whole year, we would not all look the same in the end. This has to do with body type and metabolic rate. And the fact is that liking one’s body, or disliking it, is not all about appearance. People of all shapes and sizes, even some with incredible physiques, suffer from negative body image.

The Silver Screen

The media is a powerful influencer in the body image scenario because it propagates cultural images and sells advertising space. Of course, this drives the movie and television industry, as well as industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, and yes . . . diet and exercise. In fact, weight loss and exercising products are particularly notorious for proliferating body image stereotypes.

Here are some relevant statistics:

  • More than 80% of Americans watch television an average of three hours each day
  • Children engage in increasing amounts of media use fueled by internet access through phones and laptops
  • Eight to eighteen year-olds are engaged with some form of media about seven and one-half hours per day

Even animated cartoons and children’s videos commonly emphasize the importance of being physically attractive. It is also relative to note that although sexually objectified images of females in advertising are most likely to appear in men’s magazines, the second most common source of such images are advertisements in teen magazines directed at adolescent girls. The sexual objectification of men— which is less frowned upon socially and receives far less negative attention, but is nonetheless impactful on influencing body image—is also popular in advertising and media portrayal.

While this is merely the tip of the iceberg, what we know is that body image is primarily formed during our upbringing and is heavily influenced by media. Of course, there are other factors that affect body image which can occur at any time in life, such as sexual harassment or assault, bullying or body shaming, and any of the many forms of discrimination that occur based on appearance. But what does that really mean on a deeper level? How do body image and the focus on being attractive effect our perception of ourselves and our individual reality?

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Body Image Mirror Mirror

Physical beauty is a powerful and influential imagery paradigm in our media-driven culture, one in which hearts, minds and dollars are deeply invested.

The concept of physical beauty is core to body image, yet it is a perception that can be false or ambiguous. Indeed, physical beauty is a highly subjective, cultural, equivocal, ever-changing, and historically trend-influenced phenomenon. Enhancement of physical beauty can be purchased in many forms. Physical beauty can be marketed, packaged and sold in dizzying numbers of ways. Physical beauty can be a mask and it can be masked. Physical beauty—vague, mercurial and moody—is even more difficult to define than love.

We abide externalized standards for physical beauty despite a deeper wisdom of diversity and empathy that considers it shallow and superficial, something which only goes ‘skin-deep.’ Some innate part of us knows physical beauty is only so relevant in the greater scheme of things; we understand that it is not the same as physical attraction, yet we still allow it to affect our perceptions of ourselves and others. Thus, if our life experiences, whether based on genetics, lifestyle choices, past traumas or a combination thereof, have led to negative body image based upon this volatile concept of physical beauty—if our self-esteem suffers because we have ‘bought-in’ to the idea that we do not meet socially accepted standards of physical beauty that serve as a prerequisite to love and acceptance—we are harboring false or ambiguous perceptions of ourselves which need to be reconciled.

What Love Has To Do With It

Negative body image is a manifestation of fear—fear that we will not receive the love and acceptance we need—fear that we are unworthy of love because of how we look. This fear reaction occurs on a primal, instinctive level which, in psychological terms, is commonly referred to as a trauma of the inner child. Negative body image underlies addictions, eating disorders and other self-destructive habits, and is rooted in a subconscious disconnection of the mind and body.

Thought processes, behavior patterns and lifestyle choices can emerge that reinforce this negative body image. These often include poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and a general disregard of accepted wisdom on achieving and maintaining good health. Choosing to be unconcerned about such things is a manifestation of the mind/body disconnect.

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Denial of troubled emotions empowers the inner child to take possession of our personality at times, to hijack our ‘adult’ decision making process.

A common way we compensate for this underlying fear of being unlovable is with food. Eating can be thought of as self-love because it stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain—it makes us feel good­—yet this can become a deceptive form of self-abuse and inner conflict, as we realize on a deeper level that that we are mistreating ourselves. Physical activity, particularly exercising, can serve as an uncomfortable reminder of this dysfunction; in order to appease this inner conflict, many adopt attitudes such as: “I don’t like my body anyway, so I don’t really care.”

Suffering from negative body image means we exist in a stasis of emotional apprehension and apathy; that we have adapted and become comfortable with a way of life which may include unhealthy lifestyle choices impelled by a subconscious fear of being unloved. In order to move ahead, we must begin utilizing deliberate acts of self-discovery, such as mindfulness training and practice, to recognize and alter these psychological, physiological and behavioral dynamics. Perhaps the most critical element in this process is learning to acknowledge and nurture a conscious relationship with our inner child.

The Inner Child

The concept of the inner child is traceable to Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and more recently, Eric Berne, among others. It is a basic principle used in therapeutic applications and 12 step recovery approaches. The idea of the inner child is well-known and accepted in popular psychology because it makes sense; it resonates with people. The concept commonly arises in the context of healing the psyche—of the inner child being wounded, stifled or otherwise emotionally compromised. Yet whether or not injury to the psyche has actually occurred and to what degree, there are many fundamental and holistic reasons to embrace our innate, childlike nature.

“A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child.”      ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Even if one is raised in the ‘best of families’ under the most ‘normal’ of circumstances, it is possible for a parent to have a challenged moment and say something like: “You’ll never amount to anything.” After all, parents are human and far from infallible. Yet statements like this, which undermine a child’s conviction that the parent loves and believes in them, can cause developmental setbacks that carry into adulthood. It is also common for parents to have expectations of children that either go unfulfilled or to which children grudgingly conform; this erodes self-esteem and creates the feeling of wanting to ‘leave childhood behind.’

Children in dysfunctional, impoverished, or circumstantially challenged families often take on adult roles such as cooking and cleaning instead of playing with friends. They may care for siblings or ill parents instead of having free time to simply be a kid. And sometimes, in more dire situations, a child may become hyper-vigilant to the emotional state of their parents or other adults in the household in order to protect themselves or siblings from neglect or abuse.

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In attempting to leave our child-like self behind, we become emotionally attached to the past. We diminish spontaneity and the joy of cherishing each moment with awe and wonder.

The inner child is deeply affected by the sense of being unloved, or unlovable, or both; this perception can readily transfer to poor self-esteem and negative body image. Experiences such as bullying, physical abuse, psychological abuse, abandonment, and physical or sexual assault are the kinds of events that engender shame, guilt, rage and resentment, and can radically traumatize the inner child. Any experience of being physically or psychologically violated, even when it happens in adulthood, can create this trauma.

The mind/body disconnect occurs when we endeavor to avoid, deny, or set aside feelings associated with troubling events such as these. The inner child is the part of the psyche where emotion is experienced, so when we try to block out fear, anger, shame, rage, resentment, guilt, sorrow, and disappointment, we also inhibit feelings of joy, love, happiness, compassion, empathy, and contentment. As well, we create negative associations and emotional attachments to the past that define us as victims, which is an identity the inner child experiences as being left behind or exiled. By attempting to protect ourselves from unwanted reminders of our trauma, we project fear into new situations that confuses our perceptions and divides our attention between the past and present. This phenomenon is known as emotional looping and is a symptom of what psychology calls “arrested development.”

Broken Crayons

Love and fear are the primal elements of human motivation. Love is the connecting force upon which we thrive. Fear is the dividing force that protects us from threats. Owning shame based on negative body image catalyzes fear founded upon an inaccurately perceived threat, which polarizes our love energy and creates a disconnect within ourselves and with the world around us.

In whatever ways the events of our lives have shaped us, we can only accept our fate and embrace our misfortunes as opportunities. While we cannot forget the past, it is important to acknowledge that change occurs in the present. This is why mindfulness training and the practice of mindfulness meditation have been a successful medium of transformation for so many people. By developing the self-possession and connective consciousness to actually be present with what is happening in the moment, we leave behind knee-jerk, defensive reactions sourced in the past and experience the freedom to reclaim our child-like trust and wonder.

colorful artistic crayons

It is only natural for some of our crayons to get broken along the way; in fact, we sometimes break them ourselves. But that does not mean the days of coloring vibrant meaning and purpose into our lives are behind us. Even with an entire box of broken crayons, we are capable or recreating ourselves.

It is this life force and energy of love—love that diffuses fear and invites empathy and self-possession—which is the foundation upon which healthy body image and a positive inner child relationship resides. Here lies the motivation of physical activity, the preparation and partaking of nutritious food, the sacred acts of caring and nurturing, and the exuberant, child-like outlook that stimulates and invigorates us. Indeed, this loving connectivity is how we pick up the broken crayons of our lives and carefully put them back into their precious boxes. 

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 orcontact us via email.

Managing Stress & Body Weight

Managing Stress

Manage Stress & Body Weight By Regulating Your Blood Sugar 

The Simple Truths Of Blood Sugar

How does the body react to stress? What are the impacts of diet and exercise on this process? Stress is a fact of everyday life for most people, so it is important to know how to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally in responding to stressful situations.

When it comes to weight, the crucial element is understanding how stress impacts blood sugar. Our natural stress response involves the release of hormones that elevate blood sugar (glucose), which is needed by our brain to respond to challenges. But when blood sugar levels rise too high, the body begins converting the excess glucose to fat. Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates also elevate blood sugar, compounding this process. Therefore, it is imperative that we be mindful of our sugar intake during times of stress.

“Whole, unprocessed, single item foods that don’t require labeling of ingredients are the healthiest choices.”

During stressful situations we commonly feel hungry, so make sure nutritious choices are available. Include foods rich in protein such as lean meats, nuts, and legumes, and those high in soluble fiber such as fruits and vegetables; limit sweets and processed foods containing simple carbohydrates and sugars. The American Heart Association recommends restricting refined sugars added to our diets to no more than half of our daily calorie allowance. For American women, this averages about 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and for men, about 9 teaspoons per day (See American Heart Association article ‘Sugar 101’ here).

Exercise & Mindfulness Meditation

Exercise regulates blood sugar by burning calories and providing a physical release for the stress hormones in the body. Even in small doses throughout the day, physical activity counteracts the effects of elevated glucose levels and stimulates our brain chemistry to make us feel better. So remember to move around; avoid sitting for more than two hours at a time. And along with incorporating a regular exercise regimen to help achieve a healthy weight, invite activities into each day such as standing to perform certain tasks, walking whenever possible, and using the stairs instead of the elevator.

Mindfulness MeditationFinally, keep in mind that caffeine also elevates blood sugar and excess amounts actually make us feel more stressed. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent alternative as it boosts our energy in the best ways possible—calming anxious reactions that raise glucose levels, sharpening focus and concentration, and improving our mental and emotional outlook—giving us a positive and powerful coping tool for managing stress and maintaining a healthy body weight.

These links will help you learn more about stress management, healthy diet and body image,and wellness.

©2014 by Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

Mastering Mindfulness: A New Horizon In Coaching

Mindfulness Coaching

Mastering Mindfulness is an innovative and transformative coaching modality that cultivates emotional intelligence. The skills of presence, empathy, critical attending and reframing, and positive affirmation accelerate success by enhancing the inherent bounty of human connection.

Perhaps you have noticed how more people, especially those who have achieved a degree of the particular success they desire, have used a coach somewhere along the way. For many, a coaching relationship serves as the catalyst for achieving the growth and self-actualization they desire. A skilled coach can help you acquire greater objectivity and learn to view yourself and others in a more liberating light, free of judgment or criticism. In essence, you work on realizing how to expand not just your own self-image, but your vision of life’s infinite possibilities—to let go of limitations imposed by old attitudes and beliefs you may hold about yourself and the world, and to embrace a more profound sense of your unique value and worth within the broader context of human potential.

“Everybody needs a coach . . . every famous athlete, every famous performer, has somebody who’s a coach . . . someone who can help them see themselves as others see them.”  ~ Eric Schmidt, Former Google CEO

Because coaching is an unregulated industry, many choose credentialed professionals as coaches. Athletes, sports teams, performers and professional speakers, among others, routinely employ clinical hypnotherapists to serve in this capacity. Trance state techniques such as hypnotherapy, therapeutic imagery and mindfulness meditation have proven track records as powerful mediums for motivation, focus, concentration, and for consistently producing reliable and measurable results.

Mastering Mindfulness®

Mastering Mindfulness® is a transformative coaching modality used in the meditation and mindfulness training for corporate leadership and workplace culture designed and facilitated by Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. A combination of hypnotherapy, mindfulness meditation and therapeutic imagery—each applied to the individual landscape of your life—facilitates a keener focus and conviction for attracting a purposeful existence, one that vibrates with a deep and directed intention about the particular type of success you desire.

The disciplines, practices and interactive techniques of Mastering Mindfulness® teach you to pay deliberate attention to the current moment, without attachment to outcomes predicated upon past experiences or expectations for the future, so that you become more present in your own life. Negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors that serve as obstacles to achieving your goals are diffused, and you acclimate to a new mindset of positive insights and empowering realizations that reaffirm your motivation, commitment and resilience. You acquire new linguistic skills and tools that support a mindful framework for your personal and relational success, including:

  • The Cognitive Empathy Equation
  • Critical Attending & Reframing
  • The Art Of Positive Affirmation

By developing a better understanding of your own actions and feelings—and the motivational influences that undergird them—as well as an awareness of how those actions and feelings affect both you and the people around you, the connective and transcendent force of emotional intelligence begins to resonate in your life. And as you master the practice of mindfulness, your emotional intelligence develops into an enlightened and inspired consciousness. Your ability to perceive the behaviors, motivations and emotional states of yourself and others, and to positively negotiate conflicted interactions by acting rather than reacting, blossoms into a remarkable symmetry of poise, focus and self-possession.

Four Ways Mastering Mindfulness® Can Help You

1. Happiness & Fulfillment: It is not uncommon to feel at times that life has lost some excitement and hope; perhaps your routines and daily demands have left you in an emotional rut, or important relationships are presenting difficult challenges, or you have recently lost a loved one. Indeed, these are a few of the myriad reasons one might come to believe the luster and verve for living—the awe and enthusiasm and wonder—have somehow become elusive and fleeting. Just the act of finding a coach can shift this perspective and renew the conviction to seek a deeper meaning and purpose to your most trying experiences. A structured, one-on-one coaching relationship serves as a catalyst to understanding how the conscious energy of positive thoughts and self-dialogue, the honing of your emotional intelligence, forges the motivation and inspiration to overcome hardships and restore your faith and confidence in the ability to synergize the world around you in new and imaginative ways.

2. Love Relationships: Are you looking to solve problems you are experiencing with your significant other? Are you trying to attract a special partner or soul mate? Are you attempting to discover why you seem to draw a specific ‘type’ of person? Or are you perhaps trying to figure out why your romantic relationships follow certain patterns? A coach can lend invaluable insight into how self-perception, moods, disposition, and expectations affect your love life, both in the kind of people you attract and in the affection and gratification you manifest. Intimacy is a measure of self-awareness, and fostering the trust of another person in such a way that both continue to grow is the key in successful love relationships. An experienced coach can be critical in achieving the objectivity necessary for this kind of success and fulfillment.

3. Career Success: How might you actualize a career goal, such as changing professions or starting your own business, despite circumstances and practical demands that stand in your way? Maybe you are wondering if it is possible to find greater satisfaction and attract more success in your current profession? Or perhaps you just haven’t figured out the best way to combine your talents, desires, and resources into a rewarding occupational pursuit. These are some common questions you might ask when searching for direction or considering making changes in your vocational life. And quite often, it is at these critical junctures that limiting attitudes, beliefs, and self-defeating behaviors arise, perhaps preventing you from envisioning and enacting the steps necessary to realize your true potential. A coaching relationship is about challenging doubts and fears by bringing them out into the light, where they can no longer cast shadows on your ability to see and attract the infinite pathways of possibility. Mastering Mindfulness® instills the thought processes, habit behaviors, and motivation to sustain focus and direct consciousness toward fulfillment of your goal.

4. Body Image/Healthy Lifestyle: Many who struggle with weight problems have difficulty with diet and exercise; indeed, poor dietary choices and eating habits often seem to fulfill unhealthy needs, and exercise represents acknowledging this fact. Mastering Mindfulness® places emphasis on personal integrity and healthy body image, which includes acquiring a better understanding of how practicing mindfulness changes our biology in positive ways, and acceptance that regardless of individual circumstances, the equations for fitness and healthy living are similar for everyone. The accountability and encouragement involved in a coaching relationship, along with shifts in perspective brought about by trance state disciplines such as hypnosis and meditation, quickly result in a new ease of lifestyle choices that are restorative and affirming. The idea of ‘dieting’ gives way to a welcome regimen of daily nutrition and physical activity that is invigorating and stimulating, imparting renewed energy and drive for living life to its fullest.

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“The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of a successful outcome in the mind.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 What Is Your Takeaway?

Many people experience a nagging feeling of not living up to their true potential, a sense of failing to answer a deeper and more meaningful calling in their lives, even though on the surface things may appear to be fine. Mastering Mindfulness® is a coaching modality aimed at overcoming reactive and self-sabotaging behaviors that are rooted in fear, and at developing and trusting your inner voice—the part of you which intuitively understands the connective and enriching qualities of compassion and empathy. You learn to be present in the present by separating unhealthy emotional attachments and by utilizing the executive function required to plan and accomplish the success you desire. Hypnotherapy, mindfulness meditation, and therapeutic imagery are proven and effective motivational tools that promote emotional intelligence, inviting you to discover your own creative ways of manifesting a more significant and gratifying life.

©2014 & 2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery 


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

 

Weight Loss Hypnosis: 5 Reasons It Works

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Hypnotherapy Helps You Integrate Diet, Nutrition & Exercise To Lose Weight

According to the National Center On Health Statistics, 30% of adults in the United States—more than 60 million people—are obese. As well, the number of overweight children and teens has tripled since 1980 (see ABC News Article here). Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Losing Weight Safely & Successfully

Weight loss requires an integrative approach that includes diet, proper nutrition, and exercise.  In the long term, combining these basic elements or “lifestyle” choices have proven safe and successful in overcoming weight problems. Yet this approach can require a serious and sustained shift in focus, behavior, and attitude that many find overwhelming.

So exactly how can hypnosis help you overcome the physical, psychological, and emotional challenges necessary to lose weight? How can hypnotherapy alter your emotional relationship with food, and motivate you to embrace fitness and nutrition?

The 5 Ways Hypnosis Helps You Achieve Weight Loss

  1. Trusting Yourself: Crash diets and appetite suppressants undermine your self-confidence. You have what you need to succeed and hypnosis engages your innate trust and judgment. Finding and maintaining a healthy weight is a matter of balance—just like riding a bicycle, it is easy and effortless once you hit your stride.
  2. The Trance State: Sugary and fatty foods stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain in the same ways as mood altering drugs, producing a high or ‘trance state.’ Hypnosis is a positive way to alter consciousness and reinforce your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Say Goodbye To Cravings: In the same way food and snack advertisements stimulate your appetite through the power of suggestion, hypnosis dispenses your cravings and replaces them with triggers urging healthy dietary choices.
  4. Connecting Mind, Body & Spirit: Hypnosis awakens the deeper self and shifts perspective on how the mind functions, both in the brain and the body. You consciously connect with your life energy in a way that promotes health, reinforces positive lifestyle decisions, and invites new attitudes about exercise and staying active.
  5. Self-Hypnosis: Experience Is Believing: You will learn to utilize the discipline of self-hypnosis.  Studies on psychotherapy patients have shown that those who practiced self-hypnosis lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t, and  kept the weight off after treatment (see Oprah.com article here). 

Your Weight Loss Transformation

Hypnosis facilitates physiological changes in brainwaves and neural pathways in the body, making you immediately receptive to positive suggestions and affirmations that have previously felt difficult or even impossible for you. Indeed, the idea of what it will take for you to lose weight transforms into a plan of action. And the experience is both pleasant and rewarding—the conviction to challenge unhealthy habits and behavior patterns by dieting, exercising and staying active, and practicing proper nutrition—suddenly becomes a compelling force in your life.

©2013 by Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. and Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery