If you think, “I’ll start working on my diet tomorrow,” remind yourself that today is yesterday’s tomorrow, which means that tomorrow is today and it’s time to get started RIGHT NOW!
Sabotaging Thought: It’s not fair that I have to watch what I eat and other people don’t.
Response: While it’s true that some people are naturally thinner with naturally smallerr appetites, it’s probably a MUCH smaller percentage than I think. In reality, chances are very high that they’re watching what they eat, too!
It’s important to not be overly influenced by the number on the scale. If dieters see a higher number, they may get demoralized and overeat. If they see a lower number, they may think that it’s okay to loosen up and eat more. Remember – the number on the scale is just one point of information and shouldn’t impact how you eat on any given day.
We asked a maintainer how she finds the motivation to keep up with her healthy eating and exercise and she said, “For me, it’s not a choice. I feel better in every single way now that I’m at a normal weight and I would never go back there. I don’t give myself a choice.”
Over the weekend, it can be helpful to have a few specific goals in mind that you’re committed to following through on, like having dessert just once a day, limiting snacks, and eating everything sitting down, slowly, and mindfully. This way, you’ll know exactly what it is you’re focusing on and have a much better chance of feeling great about the weekend as a whole.
When dieters say, “Dieting was so hard this week,” we always question them further and often find out that, in actuality, it was really hard a few times during the week but these experiences were coloring their perception of the week as a whole. In dieting, it’s important to maintain an accurate sense of reality so that you don’t psych yourself out by thinking it’s always harder than it is.
Sabotaging Thought: I just ate something I wasn’t supposed to. I’ve really blown it! I might as well keep eating whatever I want and get back on track tomorrow.
Response: If I was washing my nice china and accidently broke a plate, I wouldn’t go to my china cabinet and smash all the rest of it. Dieting is the same – it makes NO SENSE to compound one mistake with more!
Whenever I first meet with a new diet client, I always make sure to explain to them that the ultimate goal of treatment is to teach them to be their own diet coach so that they don’t need to work with me for life. In my work with dieters, there are a few things that really mark a turning point in their progress and which signify that they are on the road to ultimate success.
One such turning point is when dieters demonstrate that they are becoming their own diet coach. In a recent session, my dieter, Michelle, really proved that this was starting to happen for her. Michelle has two young daughters. Both of their birthdays happen to fall within the same week and both of their favorite treat is Michelle’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. The afternoon of her first daughter’s birthday, Michelle set out to bake chocolate chip cookies which would be served at her daughter’s birthday dinner that night, in addition to the cake she had bought. Michelle told me that she made the cookies in the late afternoon (which happens to be one of her more vulnerable times for sugar cravings) and while she was making the cookie dough, she started to get a craving to eat some, despite the rules she’s set for herself: “No junk food until after dinner” and “Eat everything sitting down, slowly, and mindfully.” Michelle ended up giving in to sabotaging thoughts and mindlessly ate a lot of cookie dough while standing at the counter.
After this happened, Michelle felt sick from all of the cookie dough she had eaten, and she was angry with herself for giving in to a craving and breaking her rules—especially since she had previously been following them so well. This afternoon incident continued to stay with Michelle and caused her to feel out of sorts into the evening, resulting in her again giving in to sabotaging thoughts and eating a piece of birthday cake, despite having already had more than enough sweets for the day.
That night, Michelle realized that she had made several mistakes, and she knew it was worth it to her to figure out how she could correct them, especially since the same situation would reoccur just a few days later for her younger daughter’s birthday. Michelle sat down and thought about what had gone wrong and why. She realized that one of her first mistakes was not reading any Response Cards or her Advantages List before she started baking, even though she knew it could be quite difficult to resist the sweets. She also had set aside time to bake during her most vulnerable time of the day, when she is most likely to give in to sabotaging thoughts. Additionally, Michelle didn’t have a clear plan for when she was going to eat the cookies, if any, and how she would balance that with having cake, so she wasn’t able to say something to herself like, “You don’t need to eat any now, you’re going to have one soon enough after dinner.”
Michelle realized that planning was, indeed, necessary, so she set about making a plan for her upcoming cookie-baking. This was her plan:
1. Bake cookies right after lunch when I’m not hungry.
2. Read my Advantages List right before I start baking.
3. Plan to have one cookie after dinner and one half-size slice of cake. If I want more cookies, I can plan to have one the next day.
4. Remember what happened last time and how I felt. I want this time to be different!
Michelle also took the time to really think about what sabotaging thoughts got in her way the first time and made the following Response Cards to read with her Advantages List:
A few days later on her younger daughter’s birthday, Michelle carried through with her plan and the day went off without a hitch. When Michelle came into session this week, she told me this whole story and we discussed what an important milestone this was for her. Michelle had a challenging situation, she sat down and figured out what went wrong, she made new Response Cards in response to her sabotaging thoughts, and she came up with a plan to do things differently the next time. I reminded Michelle that if we had had a session right after her first cookie-baking experience, I would likely have done almost the exact same things she did on her own. This really proves that Michelle is fast on her way to becoming her own diet coach.
It’s important to keep in mind that a big marker of Michelle’s progress is not when she stops making mistakes altogether, because everyone makes mistakes from time to time. The ultimate goal is for dieters to make mistakes and then recover from them right away and figure out how to handle the situation differently in the future, which is exactly what Michelle has done
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to be committed to the process. Dieters who undermine their commitment by saying things to themselves like, “Maybe I don’t really need/want to lose weight,” or “Maybe I don’t actually have to do these things,” will have a much, much harder time getting themselves to just do what they need to do.
Every time you go to bed after having a good eating day, you will feel great. And every morning you wake up after having had a good eating day the day before, you will feel great. This week, make a commitment to yourself to FEEL GREAT by committing to having a good eating week!
The Beck Diet Program was developed by Dr. Judith S. Beck with Deborah Beck Busis, LCSW.
Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a leading international source for training, therapy, and resources in CBT.
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