Spreading the Word: Roxanne

Some of our dieters have been noticing an interesting side effect from their own efforts toward healthy eating and exercise: they are having a positive impact on those around them. Roxanne has noticed this happening lately.  Part of the reason she initially gained weight was due to eating eat big, unhealthy lunches with her friends. 

After coming to our group, Roxanne started monitoring her calorie intake and realized that she was spending way too many on lunch (discussed on Day 15 of The Beck Diet Solution).  She also became more aware of what she was eating and started to make healthier food choices so she could get the most satisfaction from the more limited amount she was eating (Day 16). fastfood.jpg 

Roxanne says that after she stopped ordering big hoagies and fast food for lunch, her friends in the office followed suit and instead started opting for healthier lunches (with more protein).  Now they turn to Roxanne to be the model for healthy eating, and she is only too willing to share her knowledge.  Roxanne says that her family, too, has started eating more nutritiously with her, and she is thrilled with the unexpected spillover effect her healthy diet is having on those around her.

Breakfast in Bed: Maria

bacon-eggs-pic4.jpgMaria had an interesting experience on Valentine’s Day: her young daughter woke her up by bringing her breakfast in bed.  In the past she would have immediately eaten everything her daughter brought both because she was pleased by her daughter’s efforts and because she viewed it as a celebration.  However, Maria is now so much more conscious of every bite that she takes (discussed on Day 3 of The Beck Diet Solution) that she didn’t immediately reach for the food. This situation presented an interesting problem for Maria: the breakfast of toast, bacon, and scrambled eggs her daughter brought her was certainly much more caloric than the light breakfast she had planned.  On the other hand, her daughter had gone through a lot of trouble to prepare it for her, and Maria didn’t want to discourage her. 

In general, we teach our dieters to learn to assertively say no to food pushers (Day 29), who usually come in the form of coworkers or family members urging treats.  In most cases, the cost of not eating the food (potentially minor disappointment to the food pusher) is far outweighed by the cost of eating it (dieters feel weak and controlled; they go off their plan; they may gain weight). 

Maria, who no longer has trouble resisting adults who urge food on her, realized that this truly was a special case.  So she employed the best strategy that she could – she mentally replanned her food for the day to include more calories for breakfast and fewer for lunch.  She then ate about half of what her daughter had prepared for her, which was enough to properly show her daughter her gratitude.  Maria followed her new plan for the rest of the day and as a result her higher calorie breakfast in bed did not affect her weight at all.

Overcoming Cravings: Diana

vendingmachine012.gifThis afternoon Diana had a really strong craving for something sweet.  She knew it was a craving and not hunger because she had just finished eating her usual lunch (discussed on Day 11 of The Beck Diet Solution).  Labeling this strong urge as a “craving” helped Diana to realize that she didn’t need to eat, and that in fact it was important for her not to eat so she could prove to herself that she didn’t have to give in to cravings (Day 13). 

The first thing Diana did was to eliminate the struggle over whether or not she would go to the vending machine and buy some candy.  She firmly told herself, “NO CHOICE, I am not going to eat.”  She imagined what it would feel like five minutes later if she did give in.  She pictured herself feeling guilty and weak, and saw herself stepping on the scale and gaining weight.  She then thought about how she would feel five minutes later if she didn’t give in – and she saw herself feeling happy and in control, and losing weight this week.  To ensure that the latter happened, Diana also pulled out her card that listed all of the reasons she wanted to lose weight (Day 1). She realized that getting all the benefits of weight loss that were listed on the card was much more important to her than the momentary pleasure of eating something sweet.  She then immediately immersed herself in work and after several minutes, she realized that the craving had passed.

We discussed with Diana how great it was that she had this craving and didn’t give into it.  Because she was able to stand firm, Diana proved to herself that while cravings can be uncomfortable, they certainly won’t kill her and she doesn’t need to eat to get rid of them.  Diana is extremely proud that she didn’t give in and realizes that each time she withstands cravings, it will become easier and easier to do so next time.

Dealing with a Plateau: Diana

Diana’s weight loss had reached a plateau for quite a while. We discussed with Diana the fact that this often happens to dieters as they’re losing weight. Initially they are able to lose a certain amount given the number of calories they are taking in versus the number they are expending.  But as they lose weight, their bodies require fewer calories. Many dieters, if they do not continue to decrease their calorie consumption (or increase their exercise), find that their weight loss stagnates (discussed on Day 38 of The Beck Diet Solution).  When this happens, it’s very easy for them to become discouraged (Day 24) and blame themselves, thinking they just can’t lose weight.

Diana recently decided to cut her calories a little and increase her exercise a little to see what happens. She recognized that enough time has gone by—and her weight hadn’t budged. She sees that it’s wishful thinking to expect that she’ll suddenly begin to lose weight again without doing anything differently. She’s disappointed that she has to eat less, but she’s realistic. If she wants her weight loss to continue, she has to make some changes.  Diana has since decreased her number of calories and is making an effort to take lunchtime walks.  She reports that her pants already feel looser. 

Reaching Maintenance: Carolyn

Week 32 of our diet group and the pounds continue to come off!  Our meeting on Monday was special because we were celebrating that now two of our dieters, Roxanne and Carolyn, have reached maintenance (discussed in Chapter 11 of The Beck Diet Solution). 

Carolyn, 57, had lost 18 pounds before coming to our group.  Since the group has started, she has not only maintained that weight loss but continued on to lose another 13 pounds.  Carolyn says that the reason she has been so successful is due to the fact that she has learned to make permanent changes in her lifestyle in regards to eating and exercising.  She says she doesn’t worry about gaining weight back because she will never go back to the way that she used to be.

Carolyn says that one of the biggest changes she’s made is learning to incorporate at least some exercise into her life each by taking every opportunity to do so (Day 9 of The Beck Diet Solution).  She now always parks her car in a far spot, walks the five flights up to her office, and routinely goes on a lunchtime walk, regardless of the weather. She now also practices much better eating habits, both at home and when eating out. 

buffet.jpgCarolyn went last week to an all-you-can-eat buffet with her family to celebrate a birthday.  “In the past I would have stuffed myself silly,” she says, “but this time was much different.”  Carolyn looked at all of the food options and then picked what she considered to be the best choices based on what was available (Day 30).  She took one plate that had a reasonable amount of food and did not go back for seconds, despite her husband’s urging.  Even though her husband told her she, “wasn’t getting her money’s worth,” Carolyn knew that in fact it was worth money to her not to overeat.  Carolyn left the buffet feeling satisfied and proud, and confident that this is a situation she can repeat in the future. 

Restaurant Eating: Brenda

This week Brenda ate at one of her favorite seafood restaurants.  In the past she would usually order one of the fried fish entrees with the thought, “It’s ok to eat this, I’m at a restaurant.”  Brenda used to have all sorts of permission-giving thoughts like this that allowed her to eat foods that either weren’t on her diet, or in greater quantities than her diet allowed.  Brenda now has learned not to listen to the voice in her head that says, “It’s ok to eat this because I’m celebrating; everyone else is eating it; it’s free; it’s a special occasion,” (a skill learned on Day 19 of The Beck Diet Solution). 

This time when she went to the restaurant, she skipped entirely over the fried fish section, knowing that to stay within her calorie limit for the day she would only be able to eat a small amount.  Instead she opted for a steamed lobster tail.  Even though it was more expensive than the relatively inexpensive fried fish, Brenda knew that she would rather spend a little extra money than eat cheaply and gain weight.


When her food came, Brenda was a little disappointed because it was smaller than she thought it would be, and momentarily regretted not ordering a big plate of fried food.  However, she stuck to her guns and ate her meal slowly, enjoying every bite.  When she finished, Brenda still felt unsatisfied but held off ordering more food because she knew that it can take up to 20 minutes for her head to register that her stomach is full (discussed on Day 5 of The Beck Diet Solution).  She talked back to the voice urging her to eat more and got in her car and left the restaurant.  Brenda says that about half way home she realized that the desire to eat more had completely vanished and she felt full and satisfied – and incredibly happy that she hadn’t ordered more food.  Brenda lost weight this week.

Give Yourself Credit: Charlotte

Charlotte, a 63 year old researcher, is unlike many of our other dieters. She didn’t start dieting until the age of 49.  Since that time, she has tried many different diets but never really succeeded in losing more than a couple of pounds.   About six months before she joined our group, Charlotte started a new, calorie-restrictive diet, and lost 12 pounds.  She joined our group hoping to lose more. As of this week, she’s lost an additional 9 ½ pounds.

One thing Charlotte really needs to work on is giving herself credit, an essential skill (taught on Day 4 of The Beck Diet Solution).  She has a belief that isn’t very useful. She thinks that she won’t deserve credit until she gets to her weight loss goal. But consciously giving yourself credit is very important. It builds the awareness that you’ve learned new skills and are strong and in control, both of which reinforce your self-confidence.  Having this confidence is crucial because if/when you slip up, you can view these slips ups as just momentary mistakes, not as indications that you are helpless or hopeless.

cookies.jpgFor a cookie exchange (she and several of her coworkers each baked batches of their favorite cookies to trade with one another) Charlotte baked seven-dozen chocolate chip cookies – and she didn’t eat a single one.  She reported this to the group and talked about how discouraging it was that even though she didn’t eat the cookies, she was tempted to.  Once again, Charlotte had not given herself credit!  To make her do this, we had Charlotte list all of the times she didn’t eat cookies, even when she wanted to.  It turns out there were many, many times she had to exert self control and read her Advantages List (Day 1):  While she was making the cookies, so she didn’t taste the batter.  While the cookies were cooling.  When she was packing the cookies into tins.  While the cookies were in her car. And finally, right before she dropped them off.   Viewed in this light, Charlotte realized that she deserved lots of credit because all these were instances in the past when she had eaten cookies.  But this time she stayed strong because she knew she’d rather lose weight than eat lots of cookies.  Losing weight and feeling good about herself were worth more than the momentary pleasure of eating.  

Planned Indulgences: Lori

Lori, a 44 year old attorney, started dieting at the age of 14.  She says that she has attempted to lose weight, “too many times to count,” and has tried at least 5 different diets throughout the years.  In the past she’s lost as much as 35 pounds but started gaining it back within the year.  Lori has currently lost 32 pounds and is still going strong.  In general Lori says that she does not have a very big sweet tooth – almost always if she wanted a snack she would go for something salty, not sweet.  However, the one exception to this rule is a special chocolate cake she gets once a year at a retreat in January. 

One of the main things we try to teach our dieters is the importance of being able to work planned indulgences into their diets.  Deprivation diets and diets that are overly restrictive are just not sustainable over a long period of time because eventually life circumstances will intrude (birthdays, holidays, celebrations, etc).  If your diet does not allow for these types of occasions, chances are eventually you won’t be able to stick to it.  We want our dieters to become accustomed now to eating in a way they can maintain for the rest of their lives. cake.jpg

The retreat was last weekend, and even though Lori is currently on a diet and trying to lose weight, she did not have to forgo the chocolate cake she loves so much.  Instead, Lori decided that she would plan in advance to have a slice of cake, knowing it may slow down her weight loss for that week.  If she didn’t plan ahead of time to eat the cake, Lori knew that when she saw it she would really want it and would feel either very deprived, or would give in, eat it, and feel guilty.  Planning to have the cake allowed Lori to eat a reasonable amount and not feel deprived. 

At the meeting on Monday, Lori reported that she ate exactly what she had planned, that the chocolate cake was just as delicious as she remembered, and she enjoyed every bite.