I Can Make You Thin, Part 5: Your Perfect Body

Paul McKenna’s program dealt with self image this week.  One of his first statements in the show was, “I’m going to show you at home how to be confident in yourself.”

I’ll say this for the program as a whole, he has hit upon most of the big issues with weight loss.  On the practical side, his four rules, though nothing new, combined with exercise from episode four, is an effective diet (and it is a diet, no matter what he would prefer to call it).  As I said this is nothing new, and if people who watch his program or read his books stick to this plan, they will probably lose weight.

The other three episodes of his program have dealt with many of the psychological problems that lead to people being overweight and failing in their weight loss programs.  While helping people to deal with cravings and the negative self image that can cuase them to fail repeatedly in their attempts to lose weight is a laudable goal, it is Paul’s methodology that loses me.

This week he used something akin to role-playing to help people to “reprogram” (his word) their minds to ‘feel better about’ themselves.  The first part involved a symbolic removal and casting away of all of the bad thoughts they have about themselves (this seemed almost like a religious rite).  The second part involved imagining themselves in the body of a person that they assumed was confident in his or her own body, and then to transfer those thoughts to themselves, and finally, he encouraged them to look at themselves through the eyes of someone that they assumed to respect and love them.  They were then to transfer those thoughts to themselves, yet again.  All of these activities look like they come right out of a psychologists handbook (which, to me, actually elevates them above some of his other ideas)  I want to say here that I really hope these exercises do help his audience to feel better about themselves, since a positive attitude is integral to an effective weight loss program (tomorrow I will have a post explaining how my own program has dealt with this).

As I’ve stated before, I’m not a psychologist, but psychology was my major for three semesters in college.  I have about 20 hours of psychological theory under my belt.  The problem was that all of the classes I had only led me to become disillusioned with the field.  I used to say that psychological theories were largely based on psychologists coming up with ideas, throwing them against a wall, and if any of the ideas stuck, they went with them.  For me, psychology was developed by a group of men and women who were attempting to apply earthy answers to spiritual problems, and the roads seem to be littered with the corpses of psychology patients that failed to get emotionally better or got worse through the efforts of a psychological theory.

That being said, apart from the whole world becoming spiritually enlightened (and I mean through Christianity, as I am a Christian, and this global enlightenment is not very realistic), psychology is about the only alternative out there for people with real or emotional problems.

Paul McKenna’s program, TFT, self hypnosis and the like seem to take my problems with psychology a step further.  Here we have a theory whose only basis is to modify the way a person thinks through repetitive actions.  I will reiterate the fact that I have chosen not to participate in these actions (please view my other Paul McKenna posts for my reasons).

In the end, most of this theory looks like a big placebo to me.  That being said, the ‘placebo effect’ has proven that placebos can have a powerful effect on some people.  As I have stated before, I hope that lot’s of his viewers have success on his program.  However, I worry about those who are not affected in a positive manner.  Could their self image be even more damaged by yet another failure?  I guess that’s just how it is with all diets until you get one that works for you or you figure it out for yourself.

 

Good luck.

Paul McKenna Stuff

I Can Make You Thin With Paul McKenna

I Can Make You Crazy With Paul McKenna

Who Is Paul McKenna Anyway?

I Can Make You Thin- Busting Your Carvings

I Can Make You Thin- Supercharge Your Metabolism

I Can Make You Thin, Part 5- Your Perfect Body

Rebuttal

To: Mileah, who commented on my article, Supercharge Your Metabolism: I Can Make You Thin, Part 4

It was nice to see the compliment at the front of your article regarding the fact that I have been unbiased in my presentation so far.  It’s true that I have made an effort to keep my tone on this subject fairly serious so that the people who read these posts will also take them seriously.  I have also attempted to use common sense and facts, as I find them, when dealing with this matter.  Finally, as I have said, I truly hope that there are those out there who find something useful in Paul McKenna’s program.

 

However, you say that I am not qualified to evaluate the benefits of the program.  On the contrary, on my blog, I am qualified to evaluate whatever I want.  To quote you:

“You do not have the life experience of emotional eating, cravings, and living to eat versus eating to live. Over weight people – we are talking morbidly obesed that have had a lifetime battle with weight – can not even comprehend “weight loss is all about discipline, from preparation to implementation”. They would probably do anything short of dying to think and feel the way you have described.”

For you to say that I am not qualified to speak about an issue, and then to go off talking about overweight people as if I am not one of them, shows that you did not take the time to look at the 15 articles that I have already written chronicling my own struggle lose weight.  I began this diet weighing 359 lbs.  If that is not obese, I must be a horse.  I am 39 years old (It’s in my bio, if you want to look), and I have been overweight all of my life.

I repeatedly encourage people who read my articles to talk to their doctors before taking any of my advice, and  even in the quote that you cite, it says, “For me…” at the beginning.  That’s the point, these things have worked “for me”.  I have spent a lot of time explaining my motivations, and why I am experiencing success this time.  I encourage you to read them (at least read them before posting a comment such as this).

You state that overweight people would love to feel the way that I feel.  My whole point was that my feelings about the subject are irrelevant.  Perhaps this is the key, to use personal discipline to put your feelings about weight loss on the back burner.  My feelings are irrelevant because the decision to lose weight has already been made.  Anything I do comes under scrutiny.  Does it help me lose weight?  That is the question.

I talked to a friend during the holidays who had experienced significant weight loss due to gastric bypass surgery.  At the time, I was seriously considering having the procedure.  I had already decided that I was going to lose weight, and surgery was a serious option.  He was very serious about the implications of the procedure.  He called it a ‘life-change’ rather than a ‘lifestyle change,” and for that reason, I decided to attempt to lose weight on my own before I went under the knife.  It sounds in your comment, as if you are not completely happy with all of the things bypass surgery has done to your own life, and that is my point.  If my experiences can help one other person to have success in their own attempt to lose weight, then I will be happy.

Paul McKenna is another story altogether.  I started watching the show with no preconceived notions as to who he was and what his purpose was.  I was truly hoping to get some good ideas that I could apply to what I am already doing.  I have been watching The Biggest Loser for the same reason, and can say that there have been several useful tidbits of information on this show squeezed in between all of the product placements (I really do like the show).  However, the more I watched McKenna, the more I found myself wary of his approach.

My early impressions of McKenna and the show were not positive.  I have a friend who says, “If it looks like a duck, flies like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.”  This applies well to my first impressions of McKenna and his program, especially the “quack” part.

My mother used to say, “If someone told you to jump off a cliff, would you?”  This applies perfectly to this situation.  If someone starts telling me to tap my body to control my hunger, I’m going to find out what the deal is.  I do not take anything I read in the internet or watch on television at face value, so I decided to do a little looking around.

I found out that Paul McKenna is a world-renowned hypnotherapist, a fact that he has curiously neglected to inform his audience of.  I also found out that his program is elsewhere referred to as TFT (Thought Field Therapy), a form of self-hypnosis.  His scientists are all heavily involved in TFT, and one of them, Callahan, has been sued by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), and lost, for making false claims about the effectiveness of the program.  In fact, Monica Pignotti MSW did a blind study with some participants tapping while others did not.  In the end, there was no difference in the weight lost by both groups.

Even McKenna’s own representatives when chided by a British watchdog group admitted that they have no empirical data with which to back up any of their claims. In an article many of McKenna’s claims are challenged

Paul McKenna Training claimed to have carried out two surveys, three months and six months after the event, showing that 71% of participants had lost weight. But the ASA said the research was not substantive enough to support the claim that all participants would lose weight and keep it off forever. The hypnotist, a bestselling author of self-help books including I Can Make You Thin, claims on his website that his seminars are “the world’s most effective weight loss system” and “7x more effective than any diet”.

A spokesman for Mr McKenna said: “We do think our system is the most effective available but accept we cannot yet supply independent research comparing the system to other methods.

“We will not repeat the statement until we have independent research to substantiate it.”

People seem to look for a quick fix for there problems, or for someone else to fix their problems for them.  I argue that if you have psychological issues that are causing you to overeat, you need to address those issues before you can hope to have success, and once this is accomplished using personal discipline to complete the process with lead to feelings of accomplishment that will go beyond how much you weigh.  Or,…you could just have the surgery.

Paul McKenna Stuff

I Can Make You Thin With Paul McKenna

I Can Make You Crazy With Paul McKenna

Who Is Paul McKenna Anyway?

I Can Make You Thin- Busting Your Carvings

I Can Make You Thin- Supercharge Your Metabolism

I Can Make You Thin, Part 5- Your Perfect Body

Lists

Supercharge Your Metabolism: I Can Make You Thin, Part 4

Finally, I found something in this presentation that applies to me and the program that I am on.  Unfortunately, it is something I was already doing and have already experienced success with.

There was not so much recap and cheerleading at the beginning of the program this week, which was refreshing.  Paul then announced that he would be teaching the viewer to “supercharge” his metabolism.  Through this program we will be able to “burn fat without joining a gym.”  We will “program our brain and body to speed up metabolism.”  He was correct to tell us that metabolism is not fixed, and then promised that “tonight we are going to speed up your metabolism.”

He encouraged his audience to use his method, and stop starving ourselves through dieting.  He (I think correctly) informed us that starving ourselves through dieting causes our bodies to slow their metabolisms.  By doing this, we train our bodies to store fat.

He continues to refer to the professionals who support his program as scientists.  Rubens is an MD.  This is not the type of person I generally associate with being a scientist in the research sense.  I guess if we are splitting hairs, then my Bachelors of Science in Education would make me a scientist too.  Maggie Carroll is a Marriage and Family Therapist.  I already exposed the issues with Roger Callahan in another post.  These things bother me.  I want to see some numbers, facts and real scientists that back up his claims.  The language in the decision involving a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission against Callahan deals directly with some of the methods that Paul McKenna uses and directly comments that they should never be confused with science (http://www.ftc.gov/os/1998/04/callahan.do.htm ).  I did, however, agree with Carroll when she said, “All you have to do is burn more calories than you are consuming to loose weight.”  This just makes sense.

McKenna, then got heavily into the benefits of exercise to a weight loss program.  As he said, exercise is one of the best ways to loose weight (I, personally, would have preferred if he had refrained from the reference to sex as exercise in that room).  The most useful things that I have gotten from the program so far were the numbers that he presented about walking. 

I have been walking about an hour a day since early in my program (I worked my way up to this for a couple of weeks).  I actually own a pedometer, and had not even thought about using it to gauge how I am doing.  He told the audience that most overweight people do not walk as far fit people (6000 steps a day to 4000 steps a day).  I buy that.  These are firm numbers that I can use.  For the next week, I plan to wear the pedometer and see how far I am walking on a daily basis.

He then began to deal with people’s perceptions of exercise.  It is true that many people do think negatively about exercise, but this is the part of the program that took a left turn for me once again.  He pulled out the finger and thumb association thing again this week.  He then attempted to use this method to link his viewers’ feelings of pleasure and compulsion (his word) to pressing their right thumb and middle finger together.  I have stated before, that I am out on this stuff.  Please read my other posts for my reasons.  In the first week, I commented that his program would work well for the OCD crowd.  I guess I hit that nail on the head. 

I also think this would work well for people who have low self-esteem (which may be a lot of overweight people). These people probably do not have the faith in themselves to believe that they can lose weight on their own.  His program takes that responsibility away from them, and puts it, oddly enough, on their thumb and middle finger (and Paul McKenna, of course).  I hope it works for them.

This program his solidified for me that the most important aspect of my program is discipline.  He uses the word motivation when he talks about his system, and I have dealt with my motivations in another post.  His followers do not have to have a lot of discipline.  They are training themselves ‘externally’ rather than disciplining themselves ‘internally’.  He also spoon-feeds their entitlement attitude by continually dealing with the feelings of his audience.  That is what the whole thumb/finger thing is about: catering to and modifying one’s feelings. 

For me, weight loss is all about discipline, from preparation to implementation.  How I feel is irrelevant. Sure there are days when I do not feel as well as others, but if I have the time and opportunity, I still get out and walk for an hour.  I just may not push myself as hard as when I feel great, but I still put in the time.

I have no cravings for bad things because these things simply are not an option for me. I eat well, and the things that I prepare are things that I would think tasted good whether I was on a diet or not, they are just good for me, and they fill me up.  This helps keep my metabolism going.  When I think of what I am going to have for dinner, I build a craving toward that thing throughout the day, and when it comes time to eat, I feel full and content with my meal.

Paul and I use some of the same ideas in our programs, but there is a fundamental difference in responsibility and the amount of food that is eaten.

Paul McKenna Stuff

I Can Make You Thin With Paul McKenna

I Can Make You Crazy With Paul McKenna

Who Is Paul McKenna Anyway?

I Can Make You Thin- Busting Your Carvings

I Can Make You Thin- Supercharge Your Metabolism

I Can Make You Thin, Part 5- Your Perfect Body

Lists

I Can Make You Thin- Busting Your Cravings

I am not going to spend a lot of time rehashing the things I have already said that I do not like about this show.  They still apply, and can be found in my other posts regarding the program.  It still has an infomercial atmosphere, and continues to be extremely repetitive while offering little new content.

The focus this week was on Cravings and Binge Eating.  He focuses on reprogramming the mind and says that “the reason it is hard to overcome cravings is because the imagination is always stronger than the mind.”  I personally find this a little offensive.  While this may indeed be the case for many people, it is only true if they let it be that way.  I know there are people who have true eating disorders that compel them to binge on certain foods.  These people would probably do best to seek professional assistance, and attempt to overcome the real problems behind the fact that they are binging.  I also believe that there are a lot of people whose entitlement mentality leads them to expect other people to discipline their lives for them.  “I can’t do it.”  That is B.S.  You simply do not want to do it, or you want someone else to do it for you.  It’s all about feelings, but they can be controlled also, without tricking your mind.

He then goes into the finger thing again, only this time the bit is a little different.  This time the person who wants to control his or her weight is supposed to squeeze their left middle finger and thumb together while thinking of something gross combined with the item that the person craves.  For example, if you crave Jelly Bellies, you should do the hand bit, and think of eating a hand-full of the Jelly Bellies mixed with say… maggots.  Yum, yum.

I like chocolate, but I am not eating it on my diet.  I have found that it takes little effort to avoid it even though there is a still half-full Easter basket of chocolate belonging to my daughter sitting right on the kitchen table.  I even give it to her without ever considering even taking one bite.  On the other hand, I like the fact that I like chocolate, and someday, after I have lost the weight, I am going to be able to eat it like any normal person does.  I definitely do not want to carry a whole lot of mental baggage regarding chocolate and worms or hair around with me. 

You are also supposed to use the right hand in the same way, but to give yourself good feelings associated with something other than the food.  I guess if you get good enough at this, you won’t need your wife or girlfriend anymore.  “Oh…, right thumb and middle finger, you make me feel so good.  I don’t know what I would do without you.  You complete me.”

For those who do not know what this is, it is called Operant Conditioning, and it was a term coined decades ago by B.F. Skinner, one of the fathers of modern psychology.  This has been done as long as man has walked the Earth.  Skinner just put a name on it.  It has to do with conditioning a response based on either positive or negative reinforcement.  A dog with a shock-collar on will quickly learn the boundaries imposed by the collar, and will not violate them.  This is the kind of thing that we do instinctively while we raise our children, giving positive reinforcement for good behavior and negative reinforcement for bad behavior.  In the extreme it is called brainwashing.

I have to tell you, I find it much more fulfilling knowing that I have set my own boundaries based on my own reasoning, and have used the discipline within myself to help me reach my goals so far.  I do not need external devices to help me to control myself.  I have eliminated all of the conflicts (cravings) because I have determined that the diet and exercise program that I am currently involved in is just the way it is.  Cravings are moot.

I did notice a few inconstancies this week.  In the first week, he said to “eat what you want to eat, and stop when you get full.”  If you actually did that, the things he said this week would not matter, unless, there are some foods you should not eat, and that flies in the face of the “eat what you want” tenet.  In fact, in this week’s program, there were several references to certain foods being unhealthy or bad for you.  While I do believe this is true, it still flies in the face of his tenet.  He is simply adding another dietary modification, to his ‘non-diet’ and using self-hypnosis to reinforce it.

The lock-step audience is tiresome.  Everyone there was mad last week, and had a super craving this week, but presto, one left-handed movement, and all their cravings instantly went away.  We, however, were told to practice it for a week.  I wonder why it does not work as fast for the home viewer, I guess I’ll never know because I am not going to be a part of it.

I’m still looking for the nugget I can use in my own program from this show, and I’ll let you know if I ever find it.

Paul McKenna Stuff

I Can Make You Thin With Paul McKenna

I Can Make You Crazy With Paul McKenna

Who Is Paul McKenna Anyway?

I Can Make You Thin- Busting Your Carvings

I Can Make You Thin- Supercharge Your Metabolism

I Can Make You Thin, Part 5- Your Perfect Body

Lists