Expect the Tough Times

One of our dieters, Rose, has lately been having a tougher time sticking to her diet and exercise plan.  She’s about 2 ½ months into her diet and for the first time is really starting to struggle.  For the first two months things were relatively easy for Rose – her motivation was high, she was losing weight, and generally nothing was too difficult.  But a couple of months in and her motivation started to flag, her rate of weight loss slowed down slightly, and Rose suddenly found herself having to exert a lot more effort to stick to her plan.  Rose was extremely worried that things would continue to be really difficult and was having strong doubts as to whether or not she could really keep this up.

The first thing we did for Rose was to normalize her situation and tell her that this is exactly what happens to everyone.  No one, not a single dieter that we’ve worked with, has had a consistently steady and easy weight loss.  Every single one has experienced exactly what is now happening to Rose – in the beginning it’s easy, and then at a certain point things get harder for a period of time. But the good news is, they always get easier again.  And although hard times will continue to crop up, they do become fewer and farther between as dieters go along.  But dieters really need to know ahead of time that the high motivation and ease of loss that they experience in the beginning of a diet won’t last, that they will definitely encounter a harder time, and that the hard time will also pass.  If dieters aren’t prepared in advance for these hard times then when they come up they’re likely to get very discouraged and are at risk for abandoning their diet altogether.  

We discussed with Rose the fact that she needs to think about the bigger picture.  Things were easier for a while, then they became harder, but they will absolutely get easier again.  We also helped her put her week in perspective.  Rose initially said that she had a “really tough” week.  We asked her if every hour of every day was difficult, and she said no.  We then asked her if even most hours most days were difficult, and again she said no. On further reflection, Rose realized that all in all, she probably had struggled, at most, for a couple of hours several days, but had let the tougher times tinge her memory of the whole week.  Once she was able to put her situation in perspective, Rose realized that a momentary struggle was definitely not a good reason to abandon her diet, and like everyone else who is ultimately successful, she just has to plow through until the difficulty lifts.  We also reminded her that this is not the last hard time she will encounter, but Rose now feels much more confident that she can deal with the next one when it arises.

Just Do It!

One of our new dieters, Sarah, had to go on a week-long trip because her two kids were competing in a roller derby competition.  During class Sarah reported feeling nervous that she might end up gaining weight while on the trip because she wouldn’t really have opportunities to exercise.  We brainstormed with Sarah ideas for how and when she could fit some exercise in.  We first asked her if her kids would be competing all day, every day, or if there would be some down time during the day that she might be able to at least squeeze a few minutes of exercise in.  After all, we reminded her, five minutes of exercise is better than zero minutes! (discussed on Day 9 of The Beck Diet Solution).  Sarah acknowledged that her kids weren’t competing all day, and that there was actually a running track conveniently located just a couple of minutes from the roller rink.  We then asked her what would get in the way of her slipping out for a little while each day to get some walking in, and Sarah admitted that what was holding her back was her reluctance to wear sneakers and shorts in public. 

We’ve found that feeling self-conscious or embarrassed is a common problem for many dieters, particularly women, and they avoid a number of physical activities in which they would expose their body. We helped Sarah see that most people, if they noticed or thought about her at all, would only have a fleeting thought and then go on to think about other things. Some might even have a positive thought—“Good for her for exercising.” If they had a negative thought, though, what did it really matter? They weren’t important in her life. Another dieter in the class had a great suggestion, too, to ask another mom at the competition to walk with her, so she’d have company and feel less conspicuous.

Armed with a plan, Sarah walked several days during the week, stuck to her diet, and lost two pounds. Perhaps more importantly, she changed her ideas, became less self-conscious, and is now resolved not to let embarrassment stand in her way in the future.

Staying on Track: Maria

On Monday we had our now monthly meeting of our lunchtime diet group and it was great to see everyone again!  Even better was when after everyone weighed in, we were able to report that each and every single one has either maintained their weight loss or gone on to lose more.  They have all made real changes in their thinking and in their behavior. They’ve adopted a whole new eating lifestyle and have the skills and confidence necessary to keep this lifestyle up. 

Maria, for example, knew she was going to a barbeque last weekend. Before she went, she sat down and thought about her food options.  They were:

1) Eat before she went in case there wasn’t any food there she could eat

2) Plan to eat at the barbeque, but know that she would have to be satisfied with smaller portions because the food was likely to more caloric then what she normally eats

3) Bring some food with her that she knows she will enjoy and feel satisfied with.

 

hotdogs1.jpgMaria chose the third option.  Because she knew she would be tempted by the sight and smell of hotdogs, she brought with her some low fat hotdogs that she’s had in the past and knows she enjoys.  She also brought some fruit for dessert in case there wasn’t any there, so she wouldn’t be tempted to go for cake or pie.  Maria went into the barbeque with the clear plan of eating exactly what she brought and nothing else, and didn’t struggle at all to stick to this plan.

How did she do it?  First of all Maria took the time to sit down and plan a strategy for the barbeque. If she hadn’t done so, she likely would have just gone with the intention of finding something there that she could eat, and probably would have ended up going over her calorie limit for the day.  Second, she brought food that was comparable to what was being served, so not only did she feel completely satisfied because she got to eat a good meal, but also she didn’t feel deprived because she was basically eating what everyone else was eating.  Third, Maria read her Advantages List (discussed on Day 1 of The Beck Diet Solution) before she went to remind herself why it was so important to her to stick to her plan.  Fourth, Maria has truly learned the skill of telling herself, “No Choice” (discussed on Day 13 of The Beck Diet Solution). She no longer lets herself even entertain the thought of going off her plan, and therefore no longer struggles to stay on it.

All of these things took time and lots of practice for Maria to master, but now that she has these skills, they come easily and naturally to her. 

Is It Worth It?

woman_working_out.jpgOne of our dieters, Andrea, has been doing extremely well lately.  She’s been working out hard at the gym, following her diet faithfully, and really working on all of the skills in The Beck Diet Solution.  She has lost 40 pounds over the course of five months and is absolutely thrilled with her new body.

We were talking with Andrea this week about her sister’s upcoming visit, which she was eagerly anticipating.  In the past, Andrea has had a somewhat troubled relationship with her sister, who was always been thin and has made some negative comments to Andrea about her weight.  Andrea reported that her sister knew she’d been “working out” but has no idea about how much Andrea has truly transformed her body and attitude in the past few months and she is really looking forward to shocking her sister with her weight loss.

We took time this week to help prepare Andrea for two possible scenarios of her sister’s visit: either her sister will be complimentary, or she might have a different reaction.   While it would be wonderful if Andrea’s sister expresses nothing but delight, it’s possible that she could say something negative (“You know, it might not last.” “You really should lose more.” “I thought you’d look better than you do.”)  We reminded Andrea that she has been looking and feeling great, and nothing her sister might say can take away from the amazing accomplishment of reaching her goal.   We also reminded her to list the names of all the people who have said complimentary things to her and to look at this list to counteract her sister’s words, if she says anything unkind.