How Visualization Works

Last week we discussed how to cultivate your optimal health vision in order to discern your goals. The example I provided was for a female patient who was instructed by her doctor to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months. Here I am writing to her and any person presenting to health coaching with a desire to lose weight.

Note: Make sure you speak to your doctor about your weight loss aspirations. We live in a society that glamorizes starvation and size 00 as a representation of beauty, especially for women. Please consult a mental health professional if you feel that your relationship with your body, food, or exercise is unhealthy. Although it’s not the most accurate tool (because muscle weighs more than fat), remember to use the BMI tool to see where you fall. As an eating disorder survivor myself, I know what I’m talking about!

Visualization, when it comes to weight loss, is a technique where you picture your ideal body. You imagine yourself (often) looking many pounds lighter and feeling free from your body image crisis. Using visualization for weight loss allows the time and space for your mind to work with your body in order for you to overcome any potential or unknown mental barriers on your weight loss journey.

Weight loss visualization helps create a subtle shift inside of your body. Sometimes this shift is craving healthy foods or wanting to eat less. But more often than not, this technique will help make your body slowly adjust to what you're visualizing in a more organic way, not forced. It can be applied to many other things aside from weight loss, but today I want to teach you how to use it specifically FOR weight loss.

I’m going to give you an amazing visualization technique that you can use each and every day (several times a day!) to start your weight loss journey using your mind, body, and soul. Please keep in mind that it won’t occur right away, so don’t expect to shed 50 pounds in a month. Instead, this technique is meant to help you continuously lose gradual weight so you don’t hinder your weight loss journey.

Step 1: Relaxation

This step is fairly simple. Well, most of the time at least.

For any visualizing you are trying to do, you need to be in a state of deep relaxation. One method to reach this state would be meditation. You could also take some time to yourself whenever you aren’t working and play your favorite music while eating some good nutritious food. I have even heard of some using this visualization technique while they were drifting off to sleep or taking a break while going to the bathroom. Your visualization, your way. Whatever works best for you!

Each step relies on you and what is comfortable for you. So once you find a good way to relax and calm your racing thoughts, then move on to the next step.

Step 2: Solidifying Your Goal

This is a very important step. It helps to set intention! During this stage, remain focused on the positives of why you want to lose weight. It can be hard, but being positive and positive reinforcement are the best motivators to function and to accomplish our goals. You are essentially creating a statement in your mind of what you would like to do.

Typically, the more explicit and exact your goal is, the better. But keep in mind that you should still be realistic. For example, saying “I want to lose 40 pounds by this time next year so I can walk the stairs without effort” is better than just “I want to lose 40 pounds.” It really solidifies what you are working to do and what you are working towards. Visualization is working to help counteract that urge to give up by promoting more internal motivation that is realistic and attainable.

Step 3: The Image

This third step is where the crux of visualizing begins. Once you are truly relaxed, then you should begin imagining a very vivid image of your ideal body. This can be anything from how you looked 2 years ago to just yourself in a leaner body.

There are two main things to think of during this step:

  • Does the image you have in mind match what you are aiming for?

  • How vivid is this image?

The first is fairly easy to answer. If you’re only trying to lose 20 pounds to start after being obese at 220 pounds, you won’t be there next month, assuming you are adhering to a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.

The second is a bit more difficult to explain. So I will instead reference an article by Jon Gabriel, who wrote about his weight loss experience with the visualization technique. In “5 Tricks to Visualize (And Get) The Body You Want,” he writes about what exactly he pictured himself as: very thin and fit with a defined stomach and tighter skin. So picture the fine details of your future self:

  • Is your face thinner?

  • Do you have muscle definition?

  • Do you just want to feel firmer?

Step 4: The Ideal You in the Future

It’s time now to imagine yourself over the next few days and months. Picture you and your ideal body doing your typical day-to-day tasks. Picture your new self in your leaner body having conversations with friends. How does that make you feel? This helps cement the fact that you and your ideal body can, in fact, become a reality.

It also gives you an idea of how your weight loss should naturally progress. You can’t expect to be 200 pounds today and 125 pounds next week. There’s just no possible way for that to occur naturally and healthfully.

Step 5: Begin Working!

Once you have your visuals of your future self, it’s time to come out of that state of relaxation and visualization. It’s time to let that image motivate you. It can motivate you to eat better, work out more, or begin working on creating healthier habits if that is both achievable and makes you put some effort in. BUT the most important part of this technique is that you will have a visual and positive feeling about your goal. Not just a NEED to lose weight. These are two very different things.

What A Great Technique! I’m Going to Try It Out for Myself Now!

At least that’s what I hope you’re thinking now. As with everything in life, from weight loss to getting your to do list checked off, you need to put effort forward to see results. This technique, as I mentioned in the beginning, is only to help you on your weight loss journey and to give you inspiration to move forward without food and exercise as the main focal point.

Remember: relaxation, healthy habits, and motivation go a long way towards achieving what you have set out to do. It applies all the more when it comes to weight loss!

How do you visualize your body/mind/spirit in the next 6 months? 5-10 years? 50 years? I’d love to know or help you figure this out!