August 31, 2011 – Wednesday Sabotage

Sabotaging Thought: It's okay to eat this extra food because I'll make up for it later.

Response: When has "making up for it later" EVER really worked? I need to learn how to consistently eat about the same amount of food so I'm not constantly tempted to eat more. Once I do this, the struggle will go down and dieting will get easier.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Sometimes the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind,” can be extremely useful for dieters to keep in mind. Take the dieter who walks into the break room at work to get a cup of coffee and suddenly sees a box of donuts on the table. She might immediately think, “Those look so good, I really want to have one.” Let’s say the dieter resists and then goes back to her desk with her coffee. She might then spend the next few minutes or hours thinking, “I really want one of those donuts,” or “it’s not fair that I can’t have a donut,” and mentally struggling with whether or not to go back for one. The interesting thing about this (extremely common) scenario is that if the dieter had never walked into the break room and seen the donuts, she probably would never have wanted one in the first place and she definitely wouldn’t have had to think about whether or not to have one for the next few hours. In situations like this we remind dieters that they are not really being deprived of a donut because if they had not seen them, the possibility would never have existed.

Jamie had a situation similar to this over the weekend when she attended a friend’s wedding. Jamie told me she went into the wedding with the plan of having one or two glasses of wine, only raw vegetables during cocktail hour, eating about half of her entrée, and having a small piece of cake for dessert. This was her plan because she knew that the food would be rich and even taking in that amount would be more than she would normally eat. Jamie stuck to her plan during cocktail hour and dinner and then got busy dancing and talking to her friends. Jamie was having a great time and at some point someone mentioned to her that the desserts were out but were in separate room. Jamie realized at that moment that she hadn’t even remembered her plan to have a small piece of cake because she hadn’t seen the desserts and therefore hadn’t thought about it (which she found surprising as she loves wedding cake).

At that point Jamie had to decide whether or not to actually go into the dessert room to seek it out. Jamie thought about it and realized that because the wedding cake wasn’t prominently displayed, her natural association between weddings and cake broke, which proved to Jamie that part of the reason she always had wedding cake was because she saw everyone else eating it. Jamie also thought about the fact that if she did go into the dessert room, likely she would be confronted with a lot more desserts that she would be able to eat and might end up feeling deprived. Because at that moment Jamie wasn’t feeling deprived since she wasn’t looking at all the desserts she wasn’t eating, and because she was also feeling good about what she had eaten, Jamie decided to forgo the dessert room and continue having fun.

Jamie and I discussed this situation in session and how powerful “out of sight, out of mind,” can be because by not seeing the desserts, it was easy for her not to have any. Jamie anticipated my first question and told me that looking back now, she was definitely not sorry she didn’t have any cake and instead felt proud of herself for how well she did at the wedding. Jamie and I discussed what she can learn from this situation and I helped her write a new Response Card so that she could remember this experience. Jamie’s card said, “If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have wanted it anyway. Just pretend it doesn’t exist and move on – I’ll be so happy later if I do.”

August 30, 2011 – Tuesday Reality Check

It’s important for dieters to think about the difference between things that are impossible and things that are very difficult. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t do it!

August 29, 2011 – Monday Motivation

One of the greatest aspects of dieting is how many good things come as a result. It's not as if dieters have to work hard, be disciplined, restrict their food and get nothing in return. Just the opposite is true – by doing all of these things they get THE MOST IMPORTANT things in return (health, self-confidence, control, pride, reduced physical and emotional pain, etc.)

August 26, 2011 – Friday Weekend Warm-up

We're gearing up for a big storm here on the East Coast. Since healthy food won't magically make itself available, we're planning ahead and making sure we have some available in case we get stuck at home. You should too!

August 25, 2011 – Think Thin Thursday Tip

Dieters may have hundreds of sabotaging thoughts a day and they need to remember that they are THOUGHTS, not necessarily TRUTHS. The thought, "That food looks so good I really want to have some" probably is true, while the thought, "That food looks so good I can't resist" probably isn't.

August 24, 2011 – Wednesday Sabotage

Sabotaging Thought: It's not fair that I can't eat what everyone else is eating so it's okay to eat off track some of the time.

Response: I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want OR I can be thinner. I can't have it both ways.

Ask the Diet Program Coordinator

Q: I see that there are three books: The Beck Diet Solution, The Complete Beck Diet for Life, and the workbook. Which book should I start off using?

A: The answer is that there is no right answer, and you will be fine starting off with any of them.  Through feedback we have learned that some people initially find the third book, The Complete Beck Diet for Life, to be a little more complicated to follow than The Beck Diet Solution (which we often call the “pink book”) or the workbook. Often dieters read The Beck Diet Solution first, and follow along with each skill in the program, and then later enhance their efforts with new ideas from the second book.  But as a general rule, figure out what seems easier for you to follow and makes the most sense because that is ultimately what will be most effective for you.

Q: I read the Beck Diet Solution book a while ago and I lost weight, but then my life got really stressful and I ended up gaining it back.  Do you know of dieters who had to do the program more than once and ultimately found success?  How did they do this, by going back and starting the program again?

A: YES, we have come in contact with many dieters who did not ultimately end up keeping all the weight off after their first attempt.  Frequently big life changes or stressors get in the way, and this is when dieters start to loosen the reins and stop practicing their skills.  Dieters need to be able to take a step back and view the situation objectively: which skills are they doing less consistently or not at all?  What part of the day is hardest for them? What do they have to do to make dieting a priority again?  Once dieters can figure out what is going on, they can then begin to formulate a plan to get back on track.

As you suggested, we recommend that dieter go back (maybe to even the first skill) and take time to ensure that they have fully MASTERED each skill before moving on to the next one. If dieters have not really mastered a skill the first time around, as soon as life circumstances become more challenging, practicing that skill will be much more difficult.  Often dieters initially think it’s okay to move on to the next skill once they are pretty good at the previous one, but we’ve found that “pretty good” is usually just not good enough. Taking time to master each skill can make the difference between temporary and lasting success.

Q: I know you say to eat without distractions. I have a bad habit of eating in front of the TV — the snacks are planned for within my meal plan — but sometimes, I’m setting myself up for failure. Any tips? Thanks!

A: You’re right, learning to eat slowly and mindfully are important parts of the program because we have found (over and over and over again) that dieters simply are not able to feel satisfied – physically and psychologically – if they do not take time to notice and enjoy what they’re eating.  While it may seem that as long as dieters are eating what they had planned to eat then it doesn’t matter how they eat it, we have found that this is not really the case.  Yes, dieters will continue to lose weight if they continue to follow their plan. But if they are not getting the most from what they are eating, then dieting will likely be much more of a struggle because they will feel less satisfied and more tempted to eat things not on their plan. When the struggle goes down, dieting gets so much easier and we want to help dieters make things as painless as possible.

If you are tempted to zone out while eating your (planned) snack, remind yourself why it’s worth it to you to momentarily turn off the TV and really focus on enjoying what you’re eating.  We find that dieters can be just as happy eating one cookie as they would be eating three, if they really take time to enjoy that one cookie instead of mindlessly eating and not tasting three.  And let’s face it – you deserve the pleasure of getting to relax watching TV AND the pleasure of getting to enjoy your food, so why not take time to do both and not deny yourself one.

You can also practice splitting your focus while watching TV and experiment with doing both at the same time, but be very deliberate about it.  If you notice that you are starting to eat mindlessly, refocus yourself and/or turn off the TV.  Some dieters are better at this than others, and some find that they really appreciate taking the time to enjoy their food and feel good about what they’re eating.

August 23, 2011 – Tuesday Reality Check

Some dieters say they'll start doing more things once they lose weight. We say DON'T WAIT! Start working on improving your life NOW because doing so will help you enrich your life and feel happier, which will bolster your weight-loss efforts.

August 22, 2011 – Monday Motivation

Getting of track with dieting can be very discouraging, but it doesn't need to be. If you were learning to play the piano and hit a wrong key, you would never take that as a sign to give up completely. Mistakes happen in ALL areas of life but keep practicing and you'll continue improving.