I am so excited to share the information in this book with you. It’s not just another diet guide, eating plan, or medical textbook. This book offers you a proven formula that has been used by thousands of people to lose weight.
Those people had tried other methods, but without success. Most of them had tried many other methods, and came to EFT with a track record of failure. They were hopeful, but experience had taught them that yet another approach had a small chance of success. Against this backdrop of failure and disappointment, they began their journey of weight loss with EFT.
“As a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and owner of a weight loss clinic, there is lots of pressure on me not only to help others lose weight, but for me to be able to lose weight and keep it off. To be honest, I’d been stuck for about ten years and my weight simply would not budge. I was lucky that I carried it well, but I was still on the heavier side. I would be good during the day, but at night I would find myself sitting in front of the television eating a huge bowl of popcorn, followed by chocolate. I would also eat very large portions of pasta and I could never have potato chips in the house! I knew other people ate for emotional reasons, but I didn’t think I was one of them!
“About four years ago, I started looking for answers to help my clients and I came across EFT. As I started to share it with them, I noticed that as they were getting results, so was I! I was finally starting to lose weight. My cravings were decreasing and I wasn’t eating as much pasta and potato chips. Over the next few years, I continued to work with EFT on myself and with my clients with amazing results. I was hooked! Using EFT and energy work, including the skills I learned in the Skinny Genes class, I’ve lost about twenty-five pounds—and kept it off! The best thing of all is that it’s not hard. It’s not a matter of willpower anymore. I’ve been working on healing my real issues and, as a result, my relationship with food has changed. I rarely have cravings or eat for emotional issues. I’m truly experiencing peace with food—and with life.
“As a side benefit, my relationship with my spouse has improved, as well as my relationship with myself. I love EFT and all that it has to offer. It’s by far the best tool I’ve ever used for weight loss. And I love my job! Every day I get to help people calm their cravings and heal their emotions. Everyone should be doing EFT.”
Karen’s experience is common to many people. Some have lost five pounds; others have lost 105 pounds or more. Whatever your weight loss goal, EFT can help.
My personal weight loss goal when I began the process was forty pounds. At that time, I was in my early fifties and I weighed around 285 pounds. Even though I’m 6 feet 5 inches tall, being over 280 meant I was obviously and perpetually fat. I’d gained the weight little by little most years, though there were several periods of my life when I was very stressed and gained a substantial amount of weight fast. One of these times was when I became the CEO of a struggling book publishing and distribution company. I was able to turn the company around and sales doubled in the first year. But in that year I gained about twenty pounds. Now, that’s less than two pounds a month, which doesn’t seem like a lot. Yet even that small incremental amount adds up to twenty-four pounds in the course of a single year. Multiply that by a decade, and you can see how people like you and me can find ourselves weighing a great deal more than we wish.
I was very aware that I had a problem, even when I was 250 pounds. I began to read weight loss books and magazine articles. I joined a gym and a food program. I counted calories. Each weight loss program produced temporary results, but failed in the long run. I would lose a few pounds, but they returned, and I wound up being heavier than I was before. Does that sound familiar? Virtually everyone who reads this book has a variation of this story.
Other parts of my life, other than weight, were going great. At that time I was presenting at many medical and psychology conferences each year. Speakers receive evaluations from conference attendees, and my presentations were usually ranked among the top 10 percent of all speakers. My book The Genie in Your Genes was a bestseller, and I founded a successful publishing company, Energy Psychology Press. My book is about epigenetics, the science of how the genes in our cells are affected by influences from outside the cell itself. Genes can be turned on or off by many external forces, and emotions are a particularly potent source controlling the process. I received many invitations to present my work to professional audiences.
Yet when I would stand up to speak, it was obvious to the whole audience that I had a problem with weight. They couldn’t see the money in my bank account or the amazing ideas in my head, but they certainly could see the big spare tire I carried around my waist!
All that changed when I got serious about weight loss with EFT. I took a look at the science behind successful weight loss, and was surprised to discover that most of what I’d been told about weight loss by so-called “experts” was just plain wrong. Do you know the answers to these questions?
When I began to investigate the research, I found that the field of weight loss is filled with myths, and that unfortunate people like you and me put huge amounts of energy into approaches that are ineffective. We torture our bodies and minds using unscientific strategies that are doomed to fail. Meanwhile, there are scientific answers drawn from sound research studies to the previous questions, and the approach in this book is based on these. Weight loss is actually quite simple when you toss out all the bad advice and use just a few principles that are based on clear research evidence.
EFT allowed me to make effective use of all the weight loss tools at my disposal, and I lost those forty pounds in about six months. I then kept them off for six months, after which I taught my first live weight loss class. The outline of that class eventually became part of this book and my first online course, called Skinny Genes, and its successor Naturally Thin You, which I created with nutritionist Karen Donaldson. As I write this introduction to this book, it’s exactly three years to the month that I’ve been able to maintain that weight loss. Studies show that if you can maintain your weight loss for a year or more, you’re highly unlikely to gain it back (Wing & Phelan, 2005). As you can see, I’m passionately committed to you being as successful as I was.
What makes EFT successful for people like you and me who have failed at other weight loss programs? The answer is based on several key distinctions.
First, EFT has a phenomenal ability to reduce your cravings. Whether you crave ice cream, chocolate, alcohol, tobacco, sweets, or anything else, EFT is able to make those cravings go away in minutes. This is not an unsupported claim; it is a scientific fact. Together with Audrey Brooks, PhD, a research psychologist at the University of Arizona, I conducted a trial of EFT that examined mental health and cravings (Church & Brooks, 2010).
We gathered data from 216 health-care professionals. These were psychotherapists, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, alternative medicine practitioners, and chiropractors. They participated in a daylong EFT group workshop at one of five professional conferences. As part of that workshop, we examined addictive cravings for items like chocolate, food, alcohol, and tobacco in health-care workers. The declines in cravings were substantial, averaging 83 percent (p < .0001). In a separate study, we measured psychological symptoms in a group of people with self-identified craving and addiction problems attending a two-day group workshop focused on these issues. We found improvements across a spectrum of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety (Church & Brooks, 2013).
Reducing cravings is a key manner in which EFT helps with weight loss. If your craving for that candy bar or bucket of ice cream goes away, and you don’t eat it, then all those calories don’t enter your body. Craving reduction is key to weight loss.
Second, EFT is able to reduce mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Studies have found an association between depression and obesity. A study of 487 obese individuals found that weight loss was associated with a sustained reduction in depressive symptom levels, noting that obesity “causes or exacerbates depression” (Wing & Phelan, 2005, p. 2058). Obese people tend to have higher levels of depression, and depressed people tend to have higher levels of obesity. This is not surprising, because being fat is depressing!
Depression levels are a predictor of how likely it is that you will regain weight after dieting (McGuire, Wing, Klem, Lang, & Hill, 1999). Depression decreases the likelihood that you will keep that weight off even if you succeed in losing it. That’s even more depressing!
Being fat is also a very obvious problem that you carry around with you every day. Other problems might not be obvious to outsiders. You can meet a person who looks good, but is going through a miserable time in some part of their life. Yet you don’t know it from the outside. Problems like financial failure, divorce, and spiritual poverty don’t show up in the same way as obesity does. If you’re overweight, everyone knows immediately, while if a person is failing in some other area of their life, their body doesn’t advertise it in the form of flab. Speaking from experience, it’s depressing to be dragging your problem pounds around for everyone to see. Your failure to maintain your weight is obvious to anyone the second they meet you.
In another cruel twist of reality, your failure is obvious, but your success is invisible. I have a friend who recently lost thirty pounds. But she still has another fifty to go, and all people see now is the fifty she has to go, not the thirty she’s already lost. All her hard work, consistency, discipline, and focus that resulted in weight loss is completely unappreciated by anyone other than her friends. Strangers only see her failure, and cannot appreciate her success. That’s also depressing. Many studies have found big drops in depressive symptom levels after EFT (Church, 2013a). Whether depression is studied in veterans with PTSD, college students, or dieters, they all improve. By improving your mental health, EFT makes it much more likely that your improvements will stick.
Third, EFT helps with emotional eating. Clinical psychologist Roger Callahan, PhD, who developed one of the earliest methods on which EFT is based, observed that cravings usually mask anxiety (Callahan, 2000). Below the craving is anxiety, and we eat to suppress that anxiety. There’s a Japanese story about two groups of disciples of two different spiritual masters. They were having a fierce argument about whose master was the most advanced. The disciples of one group presented their evidence that theirs was truly an adept: He could fly through the air, turn base metal into gold, and read minds. The disciples of the other group laughed, and said their master demonstrated even greater accomplishments. The first group was flabbergasted. What on earth could the second master do that would eclipse those accomplishments, they demanded. Here’s what the second master’s students said: He sleeps when he’s tired. He drinks when he’s thirsty. He eats when he’s hungry.
Their point was that he’d mastered simply being in a body, and living in a balanced manner. Those of us who are obese or overweight cannot make that claim. Roughly a third of those living in the Northern Hemisphere are obese, and another third are overweight. That means that two-thirds of the population has not mastered the skill of eating and drinking in a way that allows us to maintain a stable balanced healthy weight.
We eat for many reasons other than hunger. We eat when we’re nervous. We eat when we’re lonely. We eat when we’re depressed. We eat to reduce stress. We eat to reward ourselves. We eat to mask our feelings. None of these emotional reasons for eating has anything to do with the body’s need for nourishment. This disconnect between the act of eating and the body’s requirements for sustenance is characteristic of many people. We might have even lost touch with our body’s signals that it’s had enough food, or that it doesn’t like some of the junk we’re shoving down our throats. Our emotions are overriding our body’s signals. That’s the problem with emotional eating, and EFT has a proven ability to help reduce the trauma that is the source of so much negative emotion.
EFT is also called “tapping” because a central practice of EFT is to use your fingertips to tap lightly on points on your body. These points are described in the ancient Oriental technique of acupuncture. Acupuncture points are spots on energy meridians that flow through your body. They conduct energy well, having only about 1/2000th the electromagnetic resistance found in the surrounding skin (Hyvarien & Karlson, 1977).
While you tap, you think about events or beliefs that bothered you. Perhaps one day when you were six years old, your ten-year-old brother called you “Fattie” in front of his best friend Bruce. You had a crush on Bruce, and you felt humiliated. Another time, when you were twelve, your mother took you to a store to buy a new outfit, and the clerk sneered and said, “I don’t think we have anything in her size.” You tried out for a part in the school play when you were fourteen, and the drama teacher condescendingly declared, “You aren’t the right shape for this role.” By the time you’re an adult, you have a large collection of these events contributing to your anxiety and depression, along with many failed attempts at dieting. You’ve developed a poor self-image and have a toxic collection of memories in your mind. The voices of fear and self-doubt whisper in your ear every time you try and solve your problems.
EFT trains you to tap on each of these formative experiences. Tapping sends soothing signals throughout your body. When you tap while remembering bad events, the emotional intensity of the bad events evaporates. You still remember them, but they are no longer filled with an emotional charge (Church, 2013b).
As you remember them and tap, EFT also has you say words of comfort and self-affirmation, like “I deeply and completely accept myself.” Remembering a painful memory + tapping + self-affirmation is the secret sauce. Tapping and self-affirmation remove the sting from the memory. After EFT, you might occasionally recall the memory, but it’s no longer loaded with emotional baggage. Your past hasn’t changed, but the lens through which you see it is neural, instead of being overlaid with anger, shame, sorrow, blame, and guilt.
There’s a huge amount of science behind EFT, but, in a nutshell, that’s the effect it has. Let’s take a look at just a piece of that scientific research, and see what happens when people like you and me use EFT for weight loss.
There’s a great deal of research into EFT, so much so that it’s considered an “evidence-based” practice (Church, 2022). You can read about it at the research bibliography at EFT Universe, but I’d like to highlight a few studies that show how powerfully it can help you with weight loss as well as your mental health
A colleague of mine, Peta Stapleton, a professor at Bond University, conducted a randomized controlled trial of EFT in a group of ninety-six weight loss subjects (Stapleton, Sheldon, Porter, & Whitty, 2011). She found that their levels of restraint increased after EFT in comparison to a control group. Restraint is important because it stops people from taking actions like eating too much that they later regret. The power food held over the participants decreased after EFT, indicating that they were more in control, rather than food itself dictating their actions.
If we see improvements in psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression after EFT, as well as improvements in restraint and control, what’s happening to the hormones of those people? Over the last decade, I’ve been fascinated by the stress hormone cortisol and began studying the link between EFT and cortisol. Research has shown a link between levels of cortisol and both depression and obesity. High cortisol levels are linked to the accumulation of fatty adipose tissue around the midsection of the body (Björntorp, 2001). Depression is also associated with elevated cortisol (Holsboer, 2000). These studies also show that high cortisol and depression are associated with many different forms of ill health, including high blood pressure, poor metabolism, high cholesterol, and poor regulation of insulin.
Along with two colleagues, Audrey Brooks, PhD, and molecular biologist Garret Yount, PhD, of the California Pacific Research Institute, I performed a study that looked at cortisol before and after an EFT session (Church, Yount, & Brooks, 2012). We used a large group, eightythree people, and randomized them into one of three treatments. A third got a session of EFT, another third received regular talk therapy, while the final group rested in one of the five clinics in which we performed the trials. The results were striking. Anxiety and depression symptoms declined by twice as much in the EFT group as in the talk therapy group. Cortisol levels also went down much more: a 24 percent reduction in ninety minutes. That’s a huge drop. What seems to be happening is that, as we feel better, with EFT reducing anxiety and depression, our fat-generating hormone cortisol declines. As we dump the stress, we dump the hormones needed to drive stress. That can help with weight loss.
Peta Stapleton and I also looked at the depression levels in her subjects, and found that they declined significantly (Stapleton, Church, Sheldon, Porter, & Carlopio, 2013). Along with EFT reducing cortisol, it’s clearly reducing depression. Using EFT pays dividends in both our stress hormone levels and our mental health. You don’t have to meet with a coach or therapist in an office session to receive benefit from using EFT. It works over the phone (Hartung & Stein, 2011) and over the Internet (Brattberg, 2008). The 2008 study by physician Gunilla Brattberg, MD, was particularly interesting because she offered EFT as an online therapy only; participants never talked to a doctor or psychotherapist. Yet their depressive symptoms declined significantly. This has led to the development of other Internet-based methods of offering EFT for a variety of problems including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and weight loss.
We used the introduction of the Skinny Genes online weight loss course as an opportunity to conduct a clinical trial of online EFT. The results were very encouraging. Over the course of the six-week program, participants lost an average of twelve pounds (Church, Stapleton & Raynor, 2022). That averages out as two pounds a week, which most medical authorities regard as a safe and steady level, rather than the precipitous weight loss advocated by more extreme programs. We then refined our approach to create Naturally Thin You, the program you’re in right now.
The bottom line of all this research into EFT is that it improves both mental and physical health. There’s no clear dividing line between the mind and the body, so as your mental health improves, your physical health tags right along, and vice versa. The side benefit of better mental health is better physical health.
One of the persistent problems with diets is that they’re usually futile in the long run. Sure, dieters lose weight, but after the diet most of them gain it all back.
Not so with EFT! Studies of people who take an EFT course for weight loss show that they continue to lose weight after the course ends. Stapleton, Sheldon, and Porter (2012) found that in the year following their weight loss program, participants lost an additional eleven pounds on average.
I also took a look at the amount of weight loss that occurred after people completed the Skinny Genes and Naturally Thin You programs, knowing that temporary weight loss was not worth the effort. Naturally Thin You does not focus on weight loss per se, nor prescribe any particular diet, but instead focuses on the emotional aspects of eating. We believe that once emotional eating goes away, weight loss follows naturally.
A friend of mine recently began tapping on all his memories on the theme of “shame.” He’d had many events in his life that contributed to the theme, and he tapped on them one by one. A few weeks after starting the process, he told me, with wonder in his voice, that thirty pounds had simply melted away. It wasn’t physical; the weight was emotional. When he dealt with the emotional events, the weight dropped away.
While it’s true that most dieters eventually gain back all the weight they lost, and more, it’s not true of everyone. A small percentage of dieters are successful at losing weight and keeping it off for good.
A database maintained by the National Weight Control Registry shows that 20 percent of individuals who lose 10 percent or more of their body weight keep it off for a year or more (Wing & Phelan, 2005). It’s well worth taking a close look at how they were successful, and emulating them, helped by EFT. What is it these people do that makes them successful? They demonstrate six primary characteristics:
Very few people in the registry used exercise only for weight loss (1%), and other studies have shown that diet is much more effective than exercise for weight loss. That said, exercise helps keep you healthy, and it’s a habit of those who lose weight and keep it off. A predominance of the people in the registry (89%) said they used a combination of exercise and diet to keep their weight down.
Right at the start of your weight loss program, keep these six behaviors in mind. At the back of this book, you’ll find two pages you can copy and post where you see them daily. One is “EFT on a Page.” The other is “Tapping Plan for Weight Loss.” Copy these pages and pin them up in your house. Post them on your refrigerator. Make copies and paste them inside your refrigerator! Put another copy inside your freezer, one in your wallet, one on your bathroom mirror.
Consider these six tips the advice you’ve received from people who’ve succeeded and are eager to help you succeed too. They’ve achieved the goal; we’ve studied how they accomplished it, and we’re making their secret formula available to you through this program.
You’ll learn a lot about how to use EFT in this book, and it fits neatly into the principles just outlined. You can use EFT to help with each of these practices, as well as for much more, such as reducing cravings and eliminating emotional eating. Here’s how EFT fits into your weight loss routine.
Or you’ve committed to cutting “empty calories” from your diet, but they somehow find their way into your grocery cart every time you shop. Or you know you ought to buy a scale, but somehow you “forget” every time you visit the store. Perhaps you know you ought to eat breakfast every day, but you realize around noon each day that it’s slipped your mind. The reason that your behavior doesn’t reflect your goals is that part of you is resisting the changes you’d like to make. EFT is great at eliminating such resistance. In the coming chapters, we show you exactly how to do this.
In the vegetable aisle? When you eat fast? When you eat slowly? As you start to use EFT, you’ll find that an enormous part of your reaction to food is not physical at all but, rather, emotional. When we “tap away” these emotional responses, we begin to hear the real language of our body that has been drowned out by emotional triggers.
You’ll also tap on emotions that arise around the topic of eating consistently. If you feel deprived on Friday afternoon because you’re used to bingeing on the weekends, you’ll tap on that. You can also tap as you contemplate high-fat, high-calorie foods you know will pack on the pounds. Just tap while looking at them. You’ll find that the emotional attraction to those foods can rapidly disappear as you tap.
When you slip up in your diet and exercise regimen, EFT is great at offering you self-acceptance. Rather than reinforcing self-recrimination about your lapse, EFT reminds you to accept yourself. It refocuses you on the big picture of self-acceptance rather than staying in a place of beating yourself up about your lapse.
The reason was not hard to find. Out of my home environment, I was eating at restaurants, with limited choices. A chicken romaine salad that was low calorie at home was high calorie on the road. A restaurant might serve it smothered in rich Caesar dressing, tripling the number of calories in the dish. Meals on the road, such as a continental breakfast, were often high in simple carbohydrates, which pack weight onto our bodies, and low on lean protein, which are packed with energy while being low in calories.
I also noticed that whenever I ate foods packed with “empty calories,” such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, cake, and other simple carbohydrates, the scale told me the next day that I had gained a pound or two. Does that mean that I never eat these? No! I love pasta, and sometimes I eat it with great enjoyment. But I eat in moderation, knowing that too much today will add pounds to the scale tomorrow. Sometimes I tap while eating a meal. I notice what emotions arise in my body as I look at, taste, touch, and smell the food. I enjoy the meal just as much, but I’ve noticed I’m less likely to clean my plate if I’m tapping. I also imagine dangerous situations in which I know I’ll be tempted to overeat, and I tap in advance. I’ve also uncovered many unhealthy and painful early experiences around eating and food, and tapped away the emotional intensity behind them.
As I’ve done this, my whole relationship to food has changed. I enjoy tasting it much more; it’s now my friend rather than my enemy. I’ve come into greater harmony with my body. I believe I’ve slowed the aging process; certainly, dragging forty fewer pounds around each day makes my life much easier. My legs thank me, and my back thanks me. I have a congenital spinal deformity that predisposes me to back pain, and I’ve had much less pain now that I’m no longer carrying all those superfluous pounds. I look better and feel better.
You’ll find dozens of other tips from EFT experts in the pages of this book. The final chapter ties it all together by giving you a detailed and specific Tapping Plan for Weight Loss. This plan includes all the behaviors you can practice to lose weight and keep it off. Though they take just a few minutes each day, research shows that if you use them, you’re likely to find the success that has eluded you up till now.
As you can tell, I’m passionate about sharing these discoveries with you. Please stick to this program, and you might well surprise yourself by how fast you make progress.
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