By Barbara Broggelwirth, RD, CDN
Guided imagery is a type of meditation that focuses and directs the imagination in proactive ways. Athletes often use it to help develop a specific skillset. For instance, a cyclist might imagine their legs as pistons in an engine propelling them into their perfect zone. Additionally, research has shown that it is also very effective in heightening short term immune cell activity, reducing anxiety and accelerating weight loss!
Guided imagery is different from just visualization in that it involves the whole body, inclusive of all of the senses. This is what makes it so impactful. Since your body and mind are interconnected, your body responds as though what you are imagining is real.
How can guided imagery help me on my weight loss journey?
Since guided imagery focuses on what is happening in the present moment, it redirects attention from the end result, which can be daunting if a person has a lot of weight to lose. Instead, it helps to focus attention on efforts and paying attention to the present moment. For example, a person might visualize a particular food they are consuming at a given time, like protein, being ushered into their muscle cells and increasing their lean body mass. This visualization technique, when repeated over time, may help the person automatically choose protein over other less nutrient dense foods when faced with a decision.
Seeing is believing!
You can use guided imagery to “see” yourself in a desired state (such as being at your goal weight) or to “see” yourself doing things (like running a 5K). The message sent to your subconscious is very clear: “I CAN do this!”
Some user friendly tips for practicing guided imagery:
- Practice makes perfect. Your skill and efficacy will increase over time and you will improve from whatever skill level you start with.
- Don’t stress over it. Imagery works best in a permissive, relaxed atmosphere. There is no “getting it right”.
- Make your images relatable to you. Your choice of images must be aligned with your values and beliefs. Don’t get stuck in somebody else’s way.
Remember, your brain is your greatest ally. Guided imagery is a terrific way to harness its power and achieve results!
Barbara Broggelwirth, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients. She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.