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The National Council of Psychotherapists

Est. 1971


Weight Management

Dr. Will Horton


Six Elements of a Successful Fitness Program

As hypnotists and NLPers we are always working with clients who want to lose weight and get in shape. With this in mind, we want you to have a good working knowledge of what a good program for lifestyle changes and physical fitness is all about. It is not to say that we need to become personal trainers, but we need to be able to understand the basics, so that we can communicate this to our clients.

When working with people to help them achieve a lifestyle change it is important to have a working knowledge of what a complete fitness program contains. These fitness programs can be assembled in many ways. In fact there are so many diet fads, supplements, and training techniques that it is easy to become overwhelmed. There are six factors that should be considered as key elements of a good overall fitness program.


1.     Mental attitude

2.     Training

3.     Diet and Nutrition

4.     Stretching and Flexibility

5.     Supplementation

6.     Rest and Recuperation


The most important of these elements is the one where we as NLPers and Hypnotists can help the most. It is proper mental attitude. A person with a good attitude toward exercise will exercise. It should become part of one's everyday life. This does not mean having to become a total gym rat, or live to work out, but to develop an attitude that expresses the physical part of us in a positive way.

We may have to remove any negatives toward a fitness lifestyle, before we can help instill the types of mental constructs that will help our clients achieve their goals. Many people have been preprogrammed into a belief that exercise is something to be avoided, or something to do to hit a goal, then stop when that goal is achieved. How many times have you had clients work out until they hit their goal weight, then quit exercising and wonder why they put the weight back on? (My most vivid memory is of a lady who exercised and followed a proper nutrition to fit into her wedding dress, then gained 48 lbs. by her first wedding anniversary.)

What is a good mental attitude toward fitness? I would say it is one that realizes that with a healthy body you are able to enjoy life more fully and live longer. Your body was meant to get physical exercise, and getting it on a regular basis really does enhance your quality of life. I personally use the mental saying, I will feel so much better when I am done, and then visualize how I look. This is what I teach my clients.

The next thing is training. Training must be customized to your clients' personal goals. A male wanting to build muscle will train much differently than a weekend tennis player. Training can be anything from brisk walking to a full weight lifting workout. What does your client want? Also find activities that provide good physical outlets that your clients will enjoy. Nature walking, hiking, bike riding, and scuba diving are a few. Do not forget tennis, golf, and softball. The point is to get active. Do the sport, not watch it. Monday night football does not count.

Training helps to regulate metabolism. A person who is active in training will have a much more active metabolism than someone who is not physically active. You need to also think of aerobic activity, also known as cardiovascular training. It is the best way to burn fat and speed up weight loss. It also strengthens the heart and lungs and makes your body much more efficient. You should be able to steer your clients to places where they can get more information on specific training for them. A health club or personal trainer is a place to start.

Diet and nutrition is the basis on which you build your body. No matter what the goal - weight loss, muscle development, or just physical toning - good nutrition is a must for success.

In addition, proper nutrition will help regulate and control your metabolism, which in turn keeps your body balanced. There is as much misinformation as there is good information, so you should be open-minded and do research on the current trends and research. Do not rely on non-proven fad information to guide you. On one end of the spectrum the current Atkins, low carb diet has a lot of research behind it, as does the low fat Ornish diet. Be open to find what works for your client.

I personally believe that the next keys, stretching and flexibility, are too often overlooked. Several years ago I was a power lifter and body builder, but I had no flexibility. When I got back into the martial arts I was reminded of how important flexibility is. I am now more flexible at 45 than I was at 25. (Compared to many martial artists I am still stiff because I enjoy lifting weights.) When you look at world-class athletes you find they are all flexible. Current research also shows that flexibility will add years to your life, and life to your years. It keeps joints loose and may help joint problems. Any good training program will include stretching as a part of it. As therapists who sit all day, we need to add this to our own routine.

When you combine strength training with stretching and flexibility you have a winning program. It also ties in a unique way, not just the mind body connection, but the cross lateralization of the brain. Martial arts, gymnastics, and dancing are great.

When my wife started doing Flying Trapeze I witnessed numerous benefits of her rigid training. She dropped weight, muscles reshaped giving her a buff appearance, she regained her flexibility, her chronic bad back improved, and her strength increased. This all added to her self-esteem in other areas. I see the martial arts do it for people all the time.

Supplementation is a factor that will take you to the next level. It is naïve to think that in today's overly processed world you can get the proper nutrients from our overly farmed soil. Have you ever eaten a strawberry that had little taste, or an orange that didn't have much orange taste? Something was missing. Those are nutrients, vitamins and minerals. With the great advent of current research it is now possible to help our bodies as never before. Read the information and get involved so you can talk knowledgeably. We do not prescribe, but it is good to know what's out there in this area.

Lastly, rest and recuperation is the most overlooked in our rush, rush world. Quality rest is vital, as this is when your body releases the hormones that encourage muscle growth and recovery. It is also when your body repairs itself in other ways when needed. (That is why you sleep so much when injured or sick.)

It is also important to add fun things to do in your physical routine. The mental release of having fun cannot be overlooked. You can be physically drained but mentally great from a fun action-packed activity.

We, as agents of change, can help people on the road to a healthy lifestyle. We can help to instill the dedication and discipline to see them through to their goals. It is important to ask yourself, Are you a good model of a healthy lifestyle? Do you walk the talk, so to speak?

I know that I needed to refocus myself a few months ago. Traveling can make getting proper exercise difficult, and I had to commit myself to workouts on the road. Sometimes this meant exercises in my room in the morning or night, or skipping sleeping in, and finding a health club, and working out. Also I have to refrain from over-eating on the road, which is the highlight of the day most times. What got me started was seeing a video of myself and being shocked. Look at the gut! I said to myself. I see that picture when I want to skip a work out, or have extra food I do not need. I also got back into self-hypnosis on a regular basis. I want to walk the talk.

Dr. Will Horton is a long standing certified member of IMDHA and an excellent NLP trainer. Web site:  


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