The first thing that pops to mind when I think of losing weight is food, and even as a seasoned researcher, clinician, and person who eats, it takes me a moment or two to reset my brain and remember what it is all about: Stress Circuits. However, to keep it very simple, there are two main pathways to stopping overeating and activating a strong drive to eat healthy.

One is to use emotional tools to spiral up out of stress and shut off that Stress Triangle that drives overeating (more on that later!). The other is to rewire the Body Circuit, the fight-or-flight Stress Circuit that blocks the natural desire to release extra weight. So what is a Body Circuit? And why is it even more powerful in promoting healthy eating than rewiring, say, a Food Circuit?

Like all Stress Circuits, the encoding of a false association between a basic need (e.g., survival, safety, love, comfort, pleasure) and something that does not deliver a healthy way to meet that need, results in strong chemical drives to repeat the pattern. These stress wires, or "allostatic circuits," cause a cascade of cortisol, insulin, dopamine, and serotonin.

A Body Circuit is a wire that blocks the natural desire to release extra weight. If you packed any weight that is above your genetic body build into a backpack and carried it on your back for a day, when you arrived home in the evening, what would you do? You'd take off your backpack! However, these circuits are like "crossed wires" in that they tell us that we need to hold onto that extra weight. This Body Circuit can instead take a different form, that is, if is not telling us to hold onto weight for protection, it creates a drive for us to maintain a negative body image. All this sounds very illogical, and it is to the conscious mind. However, the drive to overeat comes from the unconscious mind, and a momentary experience of finding safety in staying heavy or repeating the familiarity of judging our bodies blocks our drive to eat healthy.

In Emotional Brain Training (EBT), rewiring the Body Circuit has an amazing impact. It is not just about erasing the wire, but transforming the Stress Circuit into a wire that promotes a healthy body image and body pride. The drive to release weight "turns on" and then it is exciting to eat healthy because of the reward of reclaiming one's genetic body build. Conversely, try to diet without rewiring that Body Circuit and weight loss will not last. Sooner or later, the drive to regain the weight turns on, and that drive amplifies the drive to overeat!