Pretty much everything you achieve begins as a mental rehearsal (visualisation) – from what you decide to wear today and what you eat for dinner to the places you travel and the career you pursue. So why not apply the same principle to achieving your optimal body and health?
When you use all of your senses – see, hear, feel, taste, smell – to connect with your ‘optimal you’, your brain literally changes in ways that can help you achieve that image of yourself. When you visualise, you create images of yourself in your mind, being the way you want to be, and you ‘mentally rehearse’ these images over and over again.
This isn’t the ‘think it and you can have it’ approach peddled by popular self-help gurus. It’s not about hoping or dreaming a BMW into the driveway. Visualisation is a well-evidenced method of performance improvement, and is used by successful people across a range of fields (notably athletics).
What happens to the brain when we visualise?
Visualisation gets your mind and body working together. Research using brain imaging has shown that neurons in our brains interpret imagery in the same way as they interpret real-life events. When we visualise an act or result, the brain creates new neural pathways – in effect, new memories or learned behaviours. This primes our body and our subconscious to act in ways consistent with what we imagine.
Don’t just take my word for it. Researchers at Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio compared people who went to the gym with people who conducted virtual workouts in their head. The gym goers increased their muscle by 30%. The participants who worked out only in their heads increased their muscle by almost half as much (13.5%) without actually doing any exercise (1).
So how do you do it?
Visualisation doesn’t replace hard work or a plan of action. But it does help keep you tethered to your goal and increases your chances of achieving it. You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from this technique – the power of visualisation is available to everyone and is simple to learn.
Here are two types of visualisation – both of them are useful. You may find you prefer one over the other.
Outcome visualisation: involves envisioning yourself achieving or already having achieved your goal. You might be crossing the finish line in a marathon or being at a party looking great in ‘those jeans’. Create a detailed image of the desired outcome, using all your senses.
Process visualisation: involves envisioning all the actions needed to achieve the outcome you want. Focus on completing each step towards achieving your goal, rather than the goal itself. So, if weight loss is your goal, for example, you might visualise yourself eating healthy meals, doing hill sprints each morning, or lifting weights.
For both techniques, you should ‘associate’ with the image – meaning that you are inside your body, looking out of your own eyes, rather than taking a ‘fly on the wall’ view of the scene.
Making visualisation a part of your life
Not only can visualisation help you achieve your weight loss or health goals, it can help focus you on any goal that is important….perhaps even some of those New Year’s resolutions you just made! You could practise your golf swing, ask someone out on a date, rehearse that presentation you’re giving next week, prepare to climb Machu Picchu, or simply practice your best life. Try committing to a daily habit of visualisation for two weeks.
Perhaps, like many Optimal U clients who use visualisation for weight loss, you’ll feel that deep internal shift, see visible changes, and feel great – and you may even decide to maintain a consistent practice.
P.S. If experiencing great health is important to you and you want to get in the best shape of your life, check out the 365 Nutrition ProCoachProgram.
Be warned, it’s not for everyone – it’s going to take some hard work on your part but you will get amazing results – I guarantee it.
Registrations open a few times each year. Because of the success with this approach and the hands on nature of this service, I accept only a limited number of clients. By joining the Pre-Sale List, you’ll get priority access and save 30% off the general public price.