I want to be thin. I also want to eat cake. Guess which desire usually wins? So I was delighted when a friend recommended a miracle-working hypnotherapist who helped her curb her potato-chip habit. Great—someone who could magically trick my brain into preferring apples to apple crumble!

Alexandra Janelli of New York City's Theta Spring Hypnosis put me in a state of deep relaxation and said things like "Today is the beginning of a path." I paid her eight visits and gained five pounds.

Was I one of those people who just can't be hypnotized? I had to give it another go, so I booked an appointment with A. Jordan Wright, PhD, director of training for the New York Milton H. Erickson Society for Psychotherapy and Hypnosis. Ericksonian therapy often uses metaphors; mine involved a garden and ended with me staying strong and making good choices.

Unfortunately, my luck was no better this time around. I still strongly wanted brownies, and I chose them, and they were good. When I told Wright, he asked me to visualize my future successful self—but I couldn't get a bead on Me 2.0 in a size 2. "It might be a confidence issue," Wright said. "If you don't believe you can achieve your goal, it can lead to self-sabotage." I felt deflated. I'm not that positive and motivated, which is why I got hypnotized in the first place.

I told my skinny, happy friend about my dilemma. Then she recommended her personal trainer. "And have you tried tracking your food intake? That really helped me." I put down my doughnut in shame. I'd been wondering why the hypnotist had transformed my friend's life and not mine. Now I knew: My friend had transformed herself. I had refused to acknowledge that hypnotherapy, like any other therapy, would require my participation.

Later I told Janelli about my epiphany. She said gently, "I'm guessing there's something comfortable for you about not changing." I fully felt the power of that suggestion: I do tend to just let my life happen. When I start to think about trying a new city or a new career, I tell myself I'll just wait and see. It's only prudent. Right?

I'm no thinner than I was when I began my weight loss quest, but I'd still call it a success: Hypnosis brought me out of my trance.


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