Rules for Traveling

When traveling and staying in a hotel, dieters may be tempted by the treats in their hotel rooms. Hotels are smart – they often leave a basket of snacks in full view so they can tempt people to spend money (Day 32 of The Beck Diet Solution). But dieters can take the basket and put it in a closet or cover it with a towel and develop a rule to always carry their own treats with them instead of eating anything from a minibar, basket, or snack machine. If they’re hungry, it’s important for dieters to remember that they’ll have their next planned meal/snack within a few hours or have breakfast the next morning (Day 16 of The Beck Diet Solution).  We ask dieters to imagine if this were thirty years ago when there was no food in hotel rooms.  What would they have done then? 

Our dieter, Jason, had to apply this rule in a different way.  He travels for business once or twice a month and there is always an abundance of snack food at the back of the meeting room. He often feels either bored or somewhat stressed during meetings and it is particularly difficult for him to resist the high fat, high sugar foods. Jasonknows that eating these snacks is contrary to his plan, that he will soon feel weak and guilty, and that he could gain weight, he still has a hard time resisting in the moment.  Jason needs to read the advantages of losing weight just before each meeting. He’s also decided to make a rule for himself that he will not eat any snack food provided at meetings. It’s helpful for him to realize that he’s not alone—not everyone at the meeting eats these snacks between meals. Just like the minibar, he can’t give himself a choice about this or he will struggle every single time.  As soon as Jason makes this rule and practices following it ten times in a row, it will become so much easier for him to resist and stick to his plan.

Back to Maintenance Weight

Our veteran dieter, Brian, came in for a booster session this fall. He had maintained his sizable weight loss for over a year but had recently gained back 4 pounds. Because he had developed a general plan of what to eat everyday, he was no longer writing down meal plans and so wasn’t sure where the extra weight had come from. We discussed what he had been eating and asked him if he was doing any unplanned snacking.  Brian realized that over the past few weeks he had slowly started eating more snacks.  The problem was that as he became accustomed to eating more frequently, it began to feel normal to him to eat all throughout the day.  After a little while, Brian got into the habit of eating whenever he felt a little bit hungry or just felt like eating.  At first he didn’t even realize that he had made this shift because it was a gradual but steady process. He had stopped weighing himself daily, too, and the 4 pound gain came as a surprise.

We discussed with Brian all of the skills he had initially learned that helped him stick to his food plan:  telling himself “No Choice,” reminding himself that he would be eating again soon, that hunger is never an emergency, and that he can’t have it both ways – he can’t snack whenever he feels like it and lose weight and keep it off (Days 12 and 16 of The Beck Diet Solution).  Since maintaining his weight loss was still a very important goal to Brian, he knew that it was worth it to start practicing all of his skills again, including making food plans. 

For a couple of weeks Brian wrote food plans each night and made sure to include a reasonable number of snacks (Day 15 of The Beck Diet Solution Weight Loss Workbook).  Because he had practiced it so much in the past, Brian was able to stick to his food plans and cut out the unnecessary snacking he had been doing.  Brian reported that since doing this, the 4 pounds have come off easily.  But more importantly, not only is Brian back to only eating at planned times, but he has also proven to himself that if he does in the future gain a little bit of weight again, he has all the necessary skills and techniques to get back to his maintenance weight. 

Taking the Full Dose

Our relatively new dieter, Tammy, came in this week and reported that she’s been feeling reluctant to do several of the tasks in The Beck Diet Solution program.  She said that the tasks just don’t feel relevant to her and she doesn’t see the necessity of doing them.

This is something we hear from dieters from time to time: they don’t think certain tasks are necessary, they don’t want to expend the time and energy needed to do the tasks, they don’t feel like doing them, they don’t think they need to learn those particular skills, or they are actually scared to try. We tell these dieters the same thing we told Tammy: the fact is we don’t have a crystal ball. (Then again, neither does Tammy.) And it is possible that Tammy can lose weight without doing all the tasks, but who knows what the future will bring?  It’s quite possible that a task Tammy is avoiding now will actually be something she vitally needs in five or ten years. If she doesn’t learn the skills now, we predict she may have a difficult time maintaining her weight loss. We always tell our dieters that we’re not interested in helping them lose weight—we’re only interested in helping them lose weight and keep it off!

pills.jpgWe then asked Tammy to consider what she would do if she had a bacterial infection and her doctor prescribed her a course of antibiotics.  Tammy knows that if she wants to recover, she wouldn’t only take half of the medication prescribed; she would obviously take the full dose.  It’s the same thing with The Beck Diet Solution program.  Tammy needs to do all the tasks because otherwise she’s not taking the full dose and can’t expect the program to work properly. 

Here’s another way to look at it: If Tammy had a very bad headache, she wouldn’t take a quarter of an aspirin; she would take the full pill to maximize the chance that her headache would go away.  So, too, with the BDS program – again, she needs to take the full dose if she wants to be successful. 

With these thoughts in mind, Tammy realized the importance of doing all the tasks in the program and has a new resolve to do everything she can to take the full dose, because she is absolutely determined to finally be successful in losing weight and maintaining the loss. 

Turning Challenge into Success

cake.jpgOur dieter, Rebecca, told us this week that she had given in to an impulse and bought a large slice of chocolate cake that she hadn’t planned for.   Because the slice constituted two portions, Rebecca decided to have half of it that afternoon and save the rest for the next day.  Once she started eating the cake, Rebecca was struck by two things: the cake didn’t taste nearly as good as she thought it would, and her sabotaging thoughts nevertheless urged her to keep eating. Rebecca ended up finishing the piece of cake and soon felt extremely bad about it.

Rebecca had characterized this experience as a complete failure on her part. We helped her see, though, that the situation wasn’t nearly as bad as she believed and in fact, she deserved credit for many things she did afterwards. 

First, Rebecca didn’t continue to eat out of hand for the rest of the day, let alone the rest of the week or month, as she likely would have in the past.  Second, Rebecca adjusted her eating for the rest of day by marginally cutting down dinner and skipping her evening sweet snack.  Most important, Rebecca learned a lot from the experience.  She learned that she doesn’t like eating off her plan because it undermines her confidence and makes her feel weak.  She learned that if she’s not enjoying something very much, it’s better to get rid of it immediately than to waste her calories unnecessarily.  She also proved to herself that she can get right back on track immediately. Rebecca made herself new Response Cards to prepare her for future times of temptation.  All in all, although it wasn’t ideal that she ate off plan, the event was actually an important experience for Rebecca and she deserves a lot of credit for how she handled it. 

Making Decisions

During this week’s phone session, our dieter Liz told us how overwhelmed, stressed, and tired she’s been lately, especially since she and family members are experiencing health problems.  And for the past three weeks, Liz hasn’t been losing weight; she’s just lost and regained the same two pounds.  So we agreed to evaluate whether it’s reasonable for her to keep trying to lose weight at this time, or whether she wants to work on maintaining her already impressive 53 pound loss. 

We asked Liz to think about the past week which she had told us was “extremely difficult.”  We asked Liz whether it was difficult for every hour of every day, or whether there were some hours or even days that were easier (Day 24 of The Beck Diet Solution). One common trap many dieters fall into is letting the memory of a few hours from a few days tinge their sense of the entire week.  Liz realized that some mornings were easier than others, and that it was really a few difficult days, off and on, not the entire week. 

Liz reported that making food plans and trying to lose weight seemed like a big burden at the moment, on top of everything else she was dealing with.  We asked Liz to think back to the time before she started working with us. She realized that while she wasn’t making food plans then, she was actually quite burdened by her weight.

We then discussed her options.  It’s very possible that right now she does have too much going on and now is not the right time to keep trying to lose weight.  In that case, Liz can simply work on maintaining her weight and she can reevaluate her situation in a couple of months.  Or Liz can decide that in spite of everything, she does want to keep working on losing more weight, but either way the choice is hers to make. 

It’s important for Liz to make this decision because for the past few weeks when she’s seen the scale continue to go up and down two pounds, she’s been beating herself up about it and feeling down.  If Liz decides to maintain her weight, then she can feel good about always being within 2 pounds of her maintenance weight, instead of feeling bad about it.  And she can decide at any point to actively try losing again. Liz has decided to take the rest of the week to think it over.