Boy I love Christmas! My family isn’t big on gift-giving, preferring to spend money on good food, drink and time together. This year, there was a lot of food and drink! From Lattes with the new Tassimo, to chocolates, to turkey with all the fixings…oh, and don’t forget the shortbread! We had it all. If you are like me, the holiday didn’t pass you by without a leaving few extra pounds behind (pun intended).

Thankfully, this time of year is one usually reserved for resolutions to eat right and exercise and so all going well, those extras will be long gone in a few short weeks. But I’m going to let you in on a secret that might just help you out if those resolutions go by the wayside.

Exercise and eating right are necessary, but so is the right mindset to lose weight!

I see clients all the time who come to me expressing their dismay at working out regularly and believing bread to be a mythical substance only experienced by those with runner’s metabolisms, but yet weight loss eludes them. On the other side of the coin there are those people we have all been jealous of because they seem to be able to eat whatever they choose but continue to have a sexy figure. How do they do it? The answer is that it’s all in the belief systems of the mind.

Our subconscious mind is the computer software that controls the hardware of our body. From breathing, to our heartbeat, to our metabolism, our subconscious mind follows its programming and creates the body you inhabit. If the programming dictates that you hold on to weight, that’s what the body does. If the program calls for a fast metabolism, that’s what you’ll have. So even if you exercise and eat well, the programming of the subconscious can be working either for, or against your efforts. Furthermore, your subconscious mind will in many cases, even push you to make poor conscious choices just to satisfy the needs of its programming, leading to cravings, binges and guilt.

There are lots of methods for this programming to be put into place and if the theory behind it interests you, read my blog posts entitled “Create the Life You Want.” If you are just interested in how to quickly make change for yourself, read on.

If your weight is not what you’d like it to be, either too much or too little, at its deepest level, the programming of your subconscious mind is likely to be seeking more love for itself. It is inherent in humans to seek love, acceptance and approval by nature and just about all our programming comes from this need taking shape in different ways. For some, holding on to weight is a way to protect one’s self from hurt. For others, not being able to gain weight is a way to keep others accepting them. The trick to changing the programming is to discover what’s behind your particular need, and the best way I’ve found to do that on one’s own is to do mirror work.

The following is a powerful exercise designed to find what’s driving your subconscious mind.

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down where you won’t be disturbed. Take a few deep, slow breaths and relax your body as much as possible. It isn’t important that you completely clear your mind for this exercise, but if you have a lot of thoughts coming to you about your day, or what to have for dinner, or which bills you need to pay, tell yourself that these thoughts are all very important and that they will be waiting patiently for you to attend to once you’ve finished this exercise.

In your mind, imagine, visualize or pretend that you are standing in front of a 360° mirror, preferably without any clothes on. If you don’t actually “see” yourself there, that’s fine, just pretend or imagine what it would “feel” like to be standing there. Slowly, in great detail, take a look at every inch of yourself. As you do this, allow any thoughts to come up about what you are seeing. Don’t edit those thoughts, especially if they are less than complimentary, just listen to what comes to you. Take as much as ten minutes to complete this part of the exercise.

Now still imagining yourself in front of the mirror, say to yourself, “I love you” and note your reaction. Was it difficult to say? Did you believe it? Did it bring up emotions, and if so what where they and why?

Take a deep breath and allow that image to fade from your mind.

Once again, imagine yourself in front of the 360° mirror, but this time, imagine yourself at your goal weight and fully clothed in the kind of clothing you’d love to wear. This time, do your best to feel what it would be like if you were at this weight. Imagine what your energy level would be like. Would you feel younger? Are there activities that you’d be more likely to engage in if you looked this way? Would you be more confident? How would your life change? What would people say about you? Would you be happier? Try to feel the experience of being your goal weight. Notice how great it feels. Spend up to fifteen minutes doing this part of the exercise.

Still imagining yourself in front of the mirror, ask yourself, “what in my subconscious mind is stopping me or blocking me from looking and feeling this way?” Pay close attention to any thoughts, words, pictures or feelings that come to you in response to this question. This is your subconscious programming and likely, the answer will be surprising to you.

When you are ready, breathe deeply and wiggling fingers and toes, bring your awareness back to your surroundings.

You now have the key to thinking yourself thin. The subconscious programming that was keeping you away from your goal weight has now been revealed. Sometimes, a simple understanding of this programming is all that it takes for the conscious mind to dispel the (sometimes flawed) programming of the subconscious and new healthier programming immediately takes its place. Other times, a little work may be necessary.

We now understand that the subconscious mind learns via emotion and repetition and so using these tools is the best way to begin reprogramming it. It is as simple as imagining a scenario in your mind, one with emotional attachment for you, and repeating that scenario often. The idea is to create your scenario as a complete opposite of the belief you uncovered about why you are not at your goal weight and in doing so, you are telling the subconscious what you actually want it to do.

For example, perhaps you learned that your subconscious mind keeps you heavy as a way to protect you from hurt feelings, particularly in your romantic life. Perhaps if you are heavy, the promise of finding a romantic partner is decreased, and therefore, the likelihood of being hurt by a partner is also decreased. The way to go about reprogramming the subconscious in a case like this would be to spend time each day, as often as possible, imagining yourself at your goal weight and engaged in a wonderful and loving relationship. In order for this to be most effective, you must try to imagine this using as many senses and feelings as possible. Imagine how it would feel to be hugged and kissed by a loving partner. Listen to the loving words they say to you, and most importantly, try to feel the emotion of loving and being loved.

The more often and in greater detail the scenario is imagined, the faster the subconscious mind catches on that “this is the way it is supposed to be” and begins to create that in your life. The old programming fades with the repetition of the new programming and the result is that you reach your goal weight faster and easier than you ever thought possible, with or without your eating and exercise plan!

So, although I encourage you to stick to the pilates and knock off the Bailey’s, make sure your subconscious mind is also on board with your New Year’s resolutions and you’ll have much greater success.

Happy New Year!