Feeling Hungry: Evan

Before he started working with us, our dieter Evan had lost a significant amount of weight following an all liquid diet (which we don’t endorse but understand can be useful for some people).  When Evan came to see us, he wanted help transitioning to regular food and maintaining his weight loss.  One of the first roadblocks Evan encountered during his transition phase was that he began to feel an increased level of hunger. While he was on the liquid diet, although he was taking in a very limited number of calories every day, he very rarely felt hungry.  Once he began eating solid foods, his hunger returned.

We discussed with Evan the fact that experiencing some degree of hunger is produce.jpga normal part of life. Most successful maintainers, for example, report feeling hungry before meals. People who have never struggled with weight or dieting know that they can tolerate hunger, that it’s never an emergency, and that if they distract themselves it will go away more quickly.  Evan realized there was a trade-off. Although he now has to deal with the (relatively minor) discomfort of hunger from time to time, in exchange he gets to experience all the pleasures from the rich variety of foods he can now eat.  And, Evan decided, the tradeoff wasn’t even close. 

Recapturing Confidence: Rose

Rose has returned to diet counseling after having been away for two and a half months, dealing with a family crisis. She regained 5 of the 21 pounds she originally lost. She can’t wait to lose the 5 pounds again, predicting that she won’t feel good about herself until she does. We discussed with Rose that what shows up on the scale is just a number and that part of her feeling so good before was not only feeling thinner but also feeling confident and in control. We decided that it would be good for Rose to immediately recapture the confidence she had three months ago. We made a list of all the things she had been doing but is no longer doing, or no longer consistently doing.  In this spirit, Rose is going back to the basics. She has committed to reading her Advantages List and other response cards at least twice a day every day and she’s also going to go back and reread measuring1.jpgsections from The Beck Diet Solution.  Although she has returned to making food plans, this week she’s going to start measuring her food again to ensure that her portion size hasn’t crept up and she’s committed to at least a five minute walk every day.  Finally, Rose is going to try to give herself credit for all the dozens of small things she’s doing right every day to raise her awareness of how well she is doing. 

With these strategies in place, Rose is already feeling more confident and in control, even though she’s five pounds heavier. 

Holiday Cookies

choccookies.jpgThis week, our dieter Alex walked into his office kitchen to make a cup of coffee and discovered a big plate of homemade holiday cookies one of his coworkers had brought in.  Seeing and smelling the cookies set up a craving for Alex and he had the sabotaging thought, “It’s ok to have a cookie because it’s holiday time and everyone is eating them.”  Alex had to remind himself that the fact that it’s holiday time is not a reason to eat unplanned cookies, and he’d much rather be thinner.  He firmly told himself, “If I hadn’t walked in the kitchen I would never have seen the cookies and would never have wanted them.  Just make your coffee as planned and leave the kitchen.”  Alex did exactly that, and five minutes later was glad he had resisted. 

This is a good strategy for dieters to employ this time of year when they are faced with a multitude of special holiday foods in stores, at the office, at parties—not to mention the gifts of food they may receive.  Just as Alex did, it’s useful for dieters to remind themselves that if they hadn’t seen the goodies, they may not even have thought of them or wanted them. This helps diminish their sense of entitlement and if dieters can say to themselves, “I only want [this food] because I’m seeing it right now, but I can move on, as if I’d never seen it,” it will be easier to resist.

Gym Reluctance

Our dieter Lucinda really wanted to start taking a yoga class but was yoga1.jpgextremely fearful that she would be judged negatively by both the instructor and the other people in the class.  Lucinda is not alone in this fear.  In fact, a number of our dieters have told us that they’re reluctant to go to the gym because they’re afraid that other gym-goers will view them disapprovingly.  We’re working hard with Lucinda and others to combat their reluctance because we think it’s essential for dieters to get over their fear of other people’s judgments.

We don’t want to mislead dieters. If they have a lot of weight to lose, some people may indeed make negative judgments about them, but what dieters don’t realize is that these thoughts are likely to be fleeting—in people’s consciousness for milliseconds—and then they’re on to thinking about something else. In reality, most people at the gym are really just focused on themselves.  They are there with a clear purpose and a routine, and for the most part, they’re paying attention to their workout–not to everyone around them.  In fact, many gym-goers view the gym as “me time” – a clear period of time where they don’t have to focus on anyone but themselves. 

We help our dieters develop a “so what,” attitude. “So what if some people make these superficial judgments about me? I’m going to do what I need to do to reach my goals.” Our dieters have been able to generalize this idea to a variety of non-weight related situations, too: “So what if people….don’t agree with my opinion/think I’m too spirited/don’t like what I wear.” Getting over their fear of the gym is often an important first step for our dieters in reducing their fear of other people’s reactions in many other life situations.

With this, “so what,” attitude in mind, Lucinda went to her first yoga class last week, and told us she was thrilled she had done so.  She reported back that the instructor was very kind and encouraging, and she didn’t feel out of place in class.  Lucinda is excited to start going to yoga weekly and is very happy she didn’t let her initial reluctance stand in the way of achieving her goals. 

Holiday Sabotage

Our dieter Eric was having a tough time committing to making a holiday plan.  We went over with him how important it is to have a plan and learn how to follow it. We reminded Eric that it’s fine if his holiday plan calls for eating a set amount more each day or at each event. He probably won’t lose weight, but he’ll maintain or gain only a little—IF he sticks to his plan.  We told Eric that our experience with dieters has been if they don’t plan at all (“I’ll just try to limit myself”) or if they have too loose a plan (“I’ll just have a little bit of everything”), they just gain too much weight. Or if they have a reasonable plan but decide not to follow it (“It won’t hurt if I have this food I hadn’t planned. I can always start again tomorrow”), they gain too much weight. In any case, they feel SO sorry afterwards. 

wine.jpgHis plan is to add one glass of wine and half a dessert, whenever he goes out this month, to his usual intake. He’s also going to add 100 extra calories to his nightly snack any night that he wants to. We think these planned indulgences will keep him from going overboard on any given day.

We have found that dieters sometimes get angry or sad or rebellious at the idea of having to curb themselves during holidays. We always give them the choice. They can decide to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, and have a poorer long term outcome OR they can learn essential holiday planning and eating skills that they can use for the rest of their lives to maximize the chance of a good long term outcome.

Beck Diet Solution Workshops

We’ve received questions following our last blog about the nature of the workshops we gave in California last week. These were one-day workshops that we’ll be repeating in Portland, Seattle, Houston, and Dallas in early February (see http://www.iahb.org/html/beck_diet.html for detailed information). Health and mental health professionals, diet and life coaches, and consumers attended.

The workshops taught participants the essential ideas from The Beck Diet Solution and The Beck Diet Solution Weight Loss Workbook. They were lively and interactive-lots and lots of questions, contests (e.g., who can come up with the greatest number of sentence completers for “It’s okay to eat this food because……”), and role-playing. A number of people played themselves or role-played someone else so we could demonstrate how to work with particularly difficult problems (cravings, emotional eating, ambivalence about dieting, a sense of unfairness, and giving up too easily, to name a few). We were so pleased that a number of people flew to California from many parts of the country to attend the workshops and we got a chance to talk to so many people who have been losing weight as a result of the book or workbook.

If you do attend one of our workshops, please come up and introduce yourself!  We always love meeting people who are using TBDS with themselves or others and hearing about their successes and challenges. 

Holiday Rules

Holiday time is here and with it come a whole host of potential problems – office goodies, vacations, celebratory meals, festive atmosphere, etc.  As we’ve mentioned before, research shows that successful maintainers eat consistently day to day, regardless of the circumstances.  It’s important to keep in mind this holiday season that your body doesn’t know it’s holiday time!  To your body, a calorie is a calorie, whether it’s you consume it on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, or any random Tuesday. 

A strategy that helps dieters at this time of year is establishing rules for themselves, such as “I will never eat any goodies that people bring into my office.” Having a rule like this makes avoiding unplanned food so much easier and less painful because, when confronted with such food, dieters never have to go through the struggle that makes dietigingerbread-cutter.jpgng so difficult (“Should I eat this…I know I shouldn’t… But it looks really good… But it’s not on my plan…. But it’s so hard to resist…”).  When dieters automatically say to themselves, “I’m definitely not going to have any. No Choice” they eliminate the struggle and can move on.  (Day 19 of the Beck Diet Solution Weight Loss Workbook)


snowman2.jpg As you read our holiday blogs in the next few weeks, think about the following: You have a choice. You can:

Overindulge over the holidays, feel out of control, and regret your choices (perhaps mightily) when you get on the scale


You can use the skills in The Beck Diet Solution and The Beck Diet Solution Weight Loss Workbook, perhaps plan to eat a little more than usual, stay in control and feel so good about yourself.

If you start to feel deprived, remember that you’re going to be deprived one way or another. You’re going to be deprived of some food (not all food!) OR you’re going to be deprived of getting thinner, feeling better, having more energy, being healthier, being more self-confident, etc., etc., etc. Again, it’s your choice. Which deprivation do you really want in the long run?

In the next few weeks, we hope you enjoy the spiritual significance and all the trappings of this holiday season, including the special foods you plan in advance to eat. Happy Holidays!

Back From Our Travels

You may have noticed that we took a hiatus from the blog for two weeks. In addition to attending Thanksgiving and a family wedding in Tampa, we gave a series of workshops in California. Altogether, we were gone for 12 days in a row. It’s difficult to maintain your weight during holidays and special events and when you’re constantly hopping on and off airplanes and staying in a different hotel every night for 7 nights. But we did.

How did we manage? We’re committed to eating pretty much the same way 365 days a year. An important study by the National Weight Control Registry showed that successful maintainers are consistent eaters. Did we want to overindulge at Thanksgiving and the wedding? You bet we did. Did we want to pick higher calorie (and sometimes less healthy) meals at airports, hotels, and restaurants? Of course. But we didn’t, because we kept reminding ourselves that we wanted to be thinner and healthier. Was the restriction worth it? Absolutely. We felt good after every single meal and we felt great when we finally got home and stepped on the scale.

Now what works for us doesn’t work for everyone. Some dieters and maintainers do better if they plan in advance (Day 32) to have 300 or so extra calories a day at these times, but not more than that. They may gain a little weight, but that’s okay, as long as they eliminate those extra daily calories as soon as they return home. They have to be careful, though, that they don’t have too many special occasions at which they consume extra calories. And they have to be careful to plan to eat more, not just slip into eating more, since the latter strengthens their giving in muscle and weakens their resistance muscle (Day 11).

Anyway, it’s good to be back and we’ll continue to blog and let you know what’s going on.