Monday, December 13, 2010

Subliminal Weight-Loss Tapes (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chocolate Croissants)

Dear Mouse,

Remember Lloyd Glauberman?

Of course you do.

In our house, there were many surprising traditions (speaking of xmas!). But two things will always stand out to me as Hart Household Staples: Diet Foods (Sugar-Free Mini-Muffin, anyone?) and Meditation Tapes.

Yes, our family believed in the power of deep breathing and visualization to treat everything from insomnia to Thanksgiving traffic. My favorite of these tapes were the mysterious Dr. Glauberman's. With names like "Excellence" and "Mind-Body Connections - Feeling Better", they featured a 'Hypno-Peripheral Processing' technique in which LG's voice would appear in stereo; telling one story in one ear of your walkman's headphones, and an entirely different story in the other. While sort of space-y New Age music played, I would drift off into a 'twilight state' leading, eventually, to sleep, or to a general well-being. I loved them.

Of course, we had other favorites. I liked Shakti Gawain's recording of her 'Creative Visualization' Meditations, featuring the Pink Bubble Visualization and others. And while in college, at home one fateful day, I discovered a random hypnosis tape entitled "Weight Loss". Mired as I was in collegiate angst and the effects of the Freshman Thirty or whatever it was, I jumped at the chance to think some more about my favorite subject at the time: calories, and how to burn them. (I am glad to say this stage is over). I tried it.

It was similar to a lot of other tapes. It asked you to visualize something you really wanted to achieve and focus on that. (Oh, while looking great). The package explained that 'certain threshold statements' were also being played at certain points in the tape, but you coudn't consciously hear them. I just hoped they weren't, like, "Fatty", or "Eat Mallomars", and pushed play.

Now I can't remember whose tape this was, or anything about it, except that ... it worked. Not in any big dramatic way. I didn't become suddenly rail-thin, or replace eating with aerobics. But I did, miraculously, notice that I would look at certain foods and think a completely new thought, "Do I really want that right now?" If the answer was no, and it often was, I would think another completely new thought, "Well, then why would I eat that? I'm trying to stay healthy/lose weight", and go on to do something else. And sometimes that was aerobics!

I wound up thinking less about food. And also being more aware of it.

Thinking less.
Experiencing more.

I asked that the tape be sent to me while I was in Ireland as an exchange student, but when I got it, I found our father had accidentally recorded over it with himself talking on the phone. Not as effective. And that was it for my subliminal life for a long while.

OK, so fast forward to last week. I have a really demanding role coming up in two months, and by that I mean it contains a scene in which I am going to have to appear onstage wearing, say, a sheet. In front of, oh, potentially most of the American Theatre. And while this is certainly exciting, it also calls for help.

Help that only one person can give.

It turns out that Dr. Lloyd Glauberman is not only still going strong, he is updated for the digital age, with CDs AND downloads for sale.

... AND he also has a new recording: "Hypno-Peripheral Processing - Weight Loss".

I figured, "It can't hurt", and I ordered it, already hearing you laughing at me. (I understand). It's pretty much what I remember - the soothing, spacey sounds, the dual doctor voices, instant twilight, no memory of what he said upon 'waking', good falling-asleep experience. I noticed some changes immediately - namely, a general sense of well-being and an increased mindfulness. An awareness of my own appetite, and the instinct to choose veggies and protein frequently. But perhaps most importantly, several days in, there was this.

No, this is not a diet croissant.

I know what you're thinking, because it's exactly what I thought, when I woke up on day 7 or so with only one thought on my mind. I had to have breakfast, and it had to be this: a warmed-up, flaky, melty, chocolate croissant. My mind protested for a moment -- "You NEVER eat these! What kind of weight-loss tape makes you crave croissants? You're just going to ruin everything". But somehow, a different voice was stronger. I went downstairs, picked up coffee, the paper, and a chocolate croissant from Le Pain Quotidien. I went back home, popped it in the oven at 250F, waited about 9 minutes.I brought back the now-gloriously puffed up and warm specimen to the table and prepared to assume the traditional furtive, "I shouldn't be doing this", croissant-eating

-- and it didn't happen. I sat up straight and calmly took a bite.

And - these experiences are always so hard to really explain after the fact - but I have to tell you I finished that croissant with only ONE thought on my mind, which roughly translates to "MMMMMMMMM!" There was absolutely, positively, no guilt, no bargaining, no Fat Thoughts AT ALL.

Happy Holidays, Dr. Glauberman! Thank you for the reminder that maybe, just possibly, one of the ingredients of a healthy bodymind is (gasp!) sincere mindful enjoyment of the Food it eats.

And though out of habit, post-croissant, I may fleetingly have thought, "well, now the day's lost'....

... it wasn't. What did I have for lunch?
(Without, I SWEAR, thinking about it and certainly not as punishment?)

A bowl of sauteed collard greens.

They were delicious too.


The Boo


Mags said...

This was completely satisfying on so many levels. Thanks.

LM said...

Awesome post!

Anonymous said...

Wow... you just keep doing this for me...laugh outloud, think, remember, reach, wanna try it!

Anonymous said...

Really funny.....didn't really know about the "weight" tapes, but am LOL about them! What levels we stoop to....oish.

Kerrin said...

i always overlooked these kinds of croissants- now i know to microwave them....YUM