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Breaking the hypnotic grip of weight loss

From the September 8, 1997 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

During the last years of high school I started looking and feeling rather plump. Body weight, food, diets, exercise plans, and counting calories were popular topics, and I tended to follow the crowd because I didn't know what I really wanted to do and be.

Now that I look back on all the talk about the body and diets at the time, I realize that this is what weighed heavily on my thought and made me feel fat. And although I tried some diets, and lost weight, the pounds would return. "Oh well," I thought, "one day I'll find a good diet that will fit my needs." But I didn't.

When I went to college, body weight was still a significant topic. Instead of dieting, a vigorous exercise plan was suggested. Then the urge came to skip a meal a day. OK, I ignorantly agreed. And it worked. I dropped weight so fast it was scary. I had what one would call strong willpower. It wasn't a big deal to deny myself a meal a day, but the result turned out to be feebleness. Exercising willpower was a cheat, trying to trick me by promising good looks.

More advice came: eat regularly but vomit some of it. This was so gross, so degrading, that I was beginning to see through the obsession with food controlling my life.

Then hypnosis was presented as a means of help. Allow myself to be used as a subject and pay a person to hypnotize me? Whoa, wait a minute. You mean let someone else tell me how to think? This was the clincher.

Suddenly I realized that I had been already feeling hypnotized. Why, at one point it seemed I put on weight by just thinking about eating desserts! Now I was ready to be dehypnotized.

I knew the Bible would give me my answer, but the words didn't mean much until I asked myself what kind of answer I was looking for. It was obvious that time was being spent counting calories, hungering for or craving what I could not have, loving and hating food, and weighing a body. What I wasn't doing was being satisfied or content. Ah! I had found my answer: true satisfaction. But that raised another question: what maintains contentment? Food and a certain size of body had not proved fulfilling.

A spiritual scale? Now this was something I wanted to stand on!

In Jeremiah I read, "And my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord" (Jer. 31:14). Not satisfied with vegetables, cake, or a flashy figure, but with the goodness of God. But what kind of goodness does God have? What is God? At first, this question seemed too deep, too much to figure out right then. So I stopped—until I realized that my only other option was just more frivolous suggestions.

I have never seen God with the physical senses, but that's because God is Spirit. Divine Mind is another way to identify God. You mean to tell me I don't have my own mind? Then, what do I have? The dominion to agree with the will and goodness of God, Mind. Christ Jesus did this. It's obvious that Jesus did God's will and relied on His goodness. And he taught that we all have one and the same God, divine Mind. The joy, loving care, and intelligence of Mind are mine to acquaint myself with, to understand, instead of focusing on the body.

The Biblical promise that God's goodness satisfies was nice; now I needed a rule to follow that I could rely on. And I successfully found it in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: "The human mind acts more powerfully to offset the discords of matter and the ills of flesh, in proportion as it puts less weight into the material or fleshly scale and more weight into the spiritual scale" (p. 155). A spiritual scale? Now this was something I wanted to stand on!

I asked myself, am I putting my thoughts, aims, and efforts into material improvement or attitude improvement? Am I counting calories or blessings? Am I measuring the pleasure of different kinds of foods or taking pleasure in doing good deeds?

Getting the human mind to give more power to divine Mind than to food took practice. By praying, turning my desires to Spirit, I naturally turned away from desiring certain foods. I didn't overdo it. I read about Spirit's essential qualities and then practiced living these qualities daily. No stuffed feeling. Also, no starved feeling. The Bible and Christian Science literature were consumed respectfully. Savoring this understanding of Spirit, I saw a well-proportioned desire take shape. I was desiring and receiving the goodness Mind has.

By the end of college, I no longer talked about my weight. With no interest on my part, there was no attraction to this sort of conversation. My weight normalized and no longer fluctuated, with no overeating or undereating.

Why? I can only answer, it is law. This law is of divine Mind, not personal suggestions or physical action. God's law is spiritual, entirely good, and includes everyone. Anyone hungering, accepting, and loving the goodness of Mind can know and feel this same, stable satisfaction.

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