Losing weight through hypnosis
By Daniel P. Smith For Sun-Times Media
Healthy suggestion: As part of a weight-loss program at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, hypnotherapist Rick Adema utilizes hypnotic suggestions to lead people to a natural desire for healthy foods. | File photo
Rick Adema knows there are plenty of skeptics out there.
Over a 15-year career practicing hypnotherapy, he’s met his fair share of naysayers, those convinced that hypnosis is little more than mind-controlling, mystery-laden hocus pocus.
To those folks, Adema respectfully disagrees.
“Hypnosis is a tool to achieve goals through the power of one’s own mind,” said Adema, eager to prove the disbelievers wrong and show that a number of individual objectives, including weight loss, can be achieved through the “tranced state” treatment.
For the last seven years, Adema, an Orland Park-based licensed clinical counselor, has been leading a hypnosis-centered weight loss program at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park.
Every four to eight weeks, Adema welcomes a new crop of eight to 10 participants into his three-week group session focused on changing individual eating habits — such as food preferences, portion control, and the eating process — and motivating participants to embrace more active lifestyles.
“It’s a lose-weight-slow philosophy grounded in long-term consistency rather than losing weight fast,” said Adema, who also runs similar three-week sessions four to five times each year at his McGrath Clinic practice near the Orland Square Mall.
Structured and educational, each of the three hour-long sessions delivers instruction on a specific topic as well as reserved time for hypnosis.
In the first week, Adema details hypnotherapy basics and how the treatment helps spur weight loss; in week two, he covers the principles of positive attitude and avoiding stress eating; and in the third and final week, Adema discusses the motivation to be physically active. Each topic is then reinforced with a session-closing hypnosis period.
Adema said he utilizes hypnotic suggestions to lead people to a natural desire for healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to reject fattening foods or sweets, and to instill in participants a positive connotation for exercise — frequent components in many healthy and trusted weight-loss endeavors.
“The suggestions [during hypnosis] are framed in a positive, affirming way for the mind to accept,” Adema said. “Ultimately, the change happens naturally, not by will power or force, but by one’s mind.”
Mind for hypnosis
As much as he remains an advocate for hypnotherapy, Adema acknowledges that hypnosis doesn’t work for everyone, often the byproduct of unrealistic expectations or the mind’s continued interference.
“Hypnosis is a voluntary activity … and if you’re thinking too much, distracted, analyzing what I’m saying, or otherwise not letting yourself into the process, then it’s not going to be successful,” Adema said. “You need to get your mind out of the way.”
Through his work at Little Company of Mary, Adema cites “numerous dramatic success stories” of weight loss in excess of 50 pounds. Yet, more frequently and realistically, he said, many participants report weight loss of four to five pounds by the third session.
As for those still-remaining skeptics, Adema’s seven-year run at Little Company of Mary — fueled by word-of-mouth participation — stands as a testament to the potential of hypnosis to be an antidote to the persistent weight-loss battles so many Southland residents face.
“The response has been very positive and that’s why the class gets filled time and again,” Adema said. “In the end, many participants look and feel better, even the most skeptical among them.”