Trigger Warning: weight loss, weight gain, anorexia nervosa, binging, addictions.
For the better part of 10 years I was carrying around more weight than I wanted. I had tried every gimmick, every diet, every exercise routine to no avail. I spent many dollars and hours busting my ass at the gym, I bought only the best fresh produce and restricted my intake. The calories in/calories out equation was not working for me. After working this hard I came to realize that for me, my excess weight was clinging to my negative self image. I knew that until I genuinely loved my body I was never going to lose the weight.
Then floating entered my life. I knew this was a powerful tool that could be used for many things but it wasn’t until I read about women increasing their bust sizes with visualization that I decided to turn my float practice into a weight management tool. As detailed by Michael Hutchinson in “The Book of Floating” one study instructed women to visualize a warm towel over their breasts, with a heat lamp shining down on them. Other groups visualized themselves as they would like to be, and yet another group visualized blood and energy flowing into their breasts. In all the studies the increase to bust size was significant, ranging from 1.5 – 2+ inches.
I have no desire to increase my bust size, but by reversing the visualization I hoped to decrease the inches hanging on my hips, waist and thighs. Research suggests floating can help with overcoming addictions and eating disorders.
I began visualizing myself in the body I wanted, not necessarily the one I had. I would repeat mantras of self love and appreciation for the body I had right now. I would run my hands up and down the sides of my body in the silky water and feel where the extra weight was collecting. Over the next few months I started to notice the weight falling off, but more importantly I starting enjoying what I saw in the mirror. Honestly, I don't know which came first. I took a softer approach with myself. Floating took the weight off my mind so my body could focus on making my outside reflect how I felt on the inside.
This may sound silly, but it’s a recurring visualization in my float practice. I imagine my body as a large steak sizzling on a fire grill. I hear the fat blistering, watch the excess slowly dripping and rolling down and away from my body. I always feel a little foolish describing this imagery, but it was effective.
Today I'm happy with the person I am. I am proud of my personal achievements and what my body says about me. I'm not perfect, I never will be, but I'm a better reflection of my true self. Using the float tank for weight loss is not unique to me, in a study of 48 female participants sensory reduced environments were shown to be very effective for weight reduction.
It's not only about losing weight:
This is only my journey. For many others putting weight on or maintaining a healthy weight is their challenge. The float tank offers limitless opportunity for personal improvement and growth. It has been the catalyst of change and behavior modification for many different humans for many different addictions and/or self harming habits.
One of the most impactful accounts I've heard of floating helping an eating disorder (ED) is from Emily Kate Noren. She wrote a book about her experiences Unsinkable, [click the link to read for free!]. Although from the other end of the spectrum it is a common floaty experience of discovering self love which in turn triggered positive changes and results.
The Laureate Institute of Brain Research (L.I.B.R.) has studied the effects of float therapy on patients with Anorexia Nervosa and found a nearly 5% improvement in self reported mean body dissatisfaction, and a nearly 20% reduction in overall anxiety. The most important finding was the determination that floating is safe for suffers of Anorexia Nervosa. (there have been more recent studies continuing and confirming the findings of this study, details coming soon).
You are absolutely perfect exactly the way you are at this very moment; you don't need to loose weight. Your body, Your journey. I am certainly no weight loss expert. It seems obvious you need to eat well and exercise to reach your weight loss goals. There is no substitution for mindfully choosing your foods and making movement a priority. Floating is simply a tool that you can use to help you on your journey. I found the mental clarity floating provided was the key to successfully reaching my weight loss goals.
I am confident that floating can help you reach your goals too, whatever they may be!
Sources, Resources, and Digging Deeper: