Norfolk man helps you lose weight with the power of your mind

Trying to lose weight after having a baby can be tough, which is why one Norfolk mum decided to lose weight using a virtual gastric band – and it worked! Emma Harrowing catches up with her and the man who helped her lose her baby weight.

Having a gastric band fitted is the most extreme way to lose weight. It is a risky operation, it's expensive and it doesn't always work.

So what if you can avoid the health risks and lessen the cost by having a virtual gastric band fitted instead?

It sounds like something from a science fiction film, but believing that you have had a gastric band fitted can prevent you from overeating – one of the main causes of weight gain.

It was a route that mum-of-one and local image consultant Claire Bunton from Swanton Abbot decided to take after she wanted to lose weight after having her son.

'My weight has always fluctuated and I knew after having my son it wasn't likely I would be a skinny mini, but he was 18 months old and I didn't want to use the fact I'd had a baby as an excuse for me not being fitter and healthier. I was beginning to slip into a cycle of saying it was just my post-baby size and it was natural, to feeling miserable about myself and then treating myself to a big sandwich and a bag of crisps to compensate.

'It wasn't so much about my actual weight though, I have no idea how much I weigh, it was about how I feel in my clothes. I was a dress size bigger than I wanted to be and I wanted a bit of a change to make me feel more positive about myself.

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'I'm not a very conventional person so anything a bit unusual appeals to me. I'd read about this method of weight loss and it really interested me but I didn't know anyone in Norfolk did it.'

One of Claire's friends recommended hypnotherapist and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner Jason Edwards who's four-session weight loss program can include having a virtual gastric band 'fitted'.

Jason has 16 years experience in the field of hypnotherapy and NLP and has even used the techniques to help him overcome his fears of heights and water.

Says Jason: 'My weight loss program includes hypnotherapy and NLP which helps people change their conscious and unconscious thoughts which help them make the positive physical changes they have always wanted.

'Not everyone needs to have a virtual gastric band fitted. It is good for people that overeat as being hypnotised into believing you have had a gastric band fitted will lead you to believe that your stomach has shrunk and you can now fit less food into it.'

Claire's constant snacking and eating way more than she needed to made the virtual gastric band the ideal solution. Her four sessions were carried out over a five-week period resulting in her dropping two dress sizes.

Says Claire: 'I noticed changes after the first session! A big part of the course is to understand it's not about the weight you lose but the inches. Jason recommends that you don't weigh yourself so my husband hid our scales. I noticed by the following week that my clothes felt a bit looser. After a couple of weeks people were beginning to notice and comment on my new shape.'

Throughout the course Jason talked to Claire about why she comfort ate to get to the route of why she ate the way she did. The virtual gastric band is part of the therapy and involves Jason hypnotising you and talking you through the process of 'fitting' the device.

'Using hypnosis and the power of suggestion Jason talked me through the process of having the band fitted and the benefits it would give me,' says Claire. 'The process was not scary at all as you feel in control the whole time.'

Part of the success was down to Claire's determination that this process was going to work for her. Jason, right, is quick to point out that his sessions are adapted to suit the individual's needs:

'Although people come to me with the same weight-related issues the reasons behind them are always different so it's important that I treat everyone as an individual. As well as the virtual gastric band session I also explore the causes of my client's bad relationship with food; dealing with emotional habits such as cravings, compulsions and binge eating.'

For Claire the therapy helped her opt for smaller portions, eat only the amount she needed to eat and never eat when she is full.

'Jason gave similar advice to what I had heard before but he said them in a way that made sense to me. Plus through hypnosis he made positive suggestions to enable me to follow the advice he gave me.

'The biggest change for me is how I think about food. I don't snack anymore and I don't feel guilty if I eat a biscuit or a bar of chocolate as a treat. I have continued to eat exactly what I want to eat. The only difference is that I only eat when I am truly hungry and I stop when I am full.'

Says Jason: 'When we make a change in the unconscious it directly affects our emotional and physical state. So if you believe that your stomach can hold less food it will become fuller quicker. It also helps you get in touch with your genuine feelings of hunger and only eat when you really need food.'

As with all weight loss programmes the proof of its success is if you can manage to keep the weight off. In Claire's case the virtual gastric band was a winner.

Says Claire: 'I finished my sessions in the summer, but all the way through the sessions Jason told me that this isn't just a four-week course, it is a permanent thing. He has changed the way I eat and even if I do occasionally treat myself to something 'naughty' I really enjoy it and know it is just an occasional treat. I can now just have one or two biscuits rather than thinking that I've ruined my plan so might as well eat the lot.

'Jason said that he would teach me to think like a thin person – someone who doesn't have to worry about their weight and doesn't have guilt about what they eat – and he has. I can't tell you how that feels. After over 25 years of feeling guilty about food I no longer carry that feeling with me – it's totally liberating.'