In dieting, the number on the scale is not the only thing that counts; it’s also about how dieters feel about themselves and their eating. When dieters gain control over the eating and know that they aren’t at the mercy of their hunger, cravings, and emotions, they feel GREAT, regardless of whether or not the number on the scale is what they ultimately want to see.
Remember, there’s nothing magical about losing weight. If you take in more calories than your body needs (even though it’s the weekend) you’ll gain weight. This weekend, work on finding ways to relax and treat yourself that don’t involve food. While doing so may not initially feel as pleasurable, remind yourself that it doesn't come with the hugely negative consequence of gaining weight.
When you make a dieting mistake, what do you usually say to yourself? How does that compare to what you would say to your best friend if she told you she made a mistake? Very likely you’d be a lot nicer (and more constructive) to your friend than you are to yourself, which isn’t fair! When you make a mistake, be kind to yourself. It will help you recover more quickly and feel better in general.
Sabotaging Thought: I don’t want to practice all of these skills before starting my diet because that will take too long.
Response: When has jumping right into a diet EVER helped me to lose weight and, more importantly, keep it off? Now I’m doing things differently by FIRST learning skills that will enable me to actually stick to my diet before making major changes in my eating. Besides, if it takes an extra two months in the beginning, what does that matter in the course of the rest of my life?
People who have never fasted for a religious or medical reason often don’t know the following: hunger comes and goes, it doesn’t just get worse and worse until it becomes intolerable, and it doesn’t even begin to approach the level of physical discomfort caused by other things (like surgery, labor, migraines, etc.). Hunger is not something that needs to be feared!
Instead of thinking about having to eat healthfully and exercise as burdens, remember that you’re fortunate enough to be able to do them. How lucky are you to have healthy food available? How lucky are you to be able to exercise? These things are not burdens, they’re blessings, and it’s helpful to conceptualize them as such.
This weekend, focus on what you CAN eat, not what you can’t. While it’s true you probably can’t eat (and drink) everything you want and lose weight, you can still enjoy reasonable portions of lots of foods AND reach your weight loss goals.
Think Thin Thursday Tip: When you eat because you’re feeling sad or stressed, remind yourself that what you’ll ultimately do is turn one problem into two – the original one that made you sad or stressed, and now additionally the problem of feeling badly about your eating, getting off track, and potentially jeopardizing your weight loss.
Sabotaging Thought: Oh no, I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t! I’ve really blown it for the day so I might as well just get back on track tomorrow.
Response: If you were washing your nice china and dropped a plate and it broke, would you say, “Well, I’ve blown it now!” and then throw the rest to the floor? Of course not! Making an eating mistake is like dropping a plate. You can stop the damage after one and be fine, but the more you go on to eat off track, the more plates you throw to the ground.
Earlier this week I received an e-mail from my dieter, Rachel. In this email, Rachel described how she got off track during the day because she had gone to a party that afternoon and was highly tempted by the desserts they had. Despite initially planning to have no desserts, Rachel gave in to temptation, telling herself that, “Just this one time won’t matter.” However, Rachel quickly figured out that that time really did matter because it caused her to feel very guilty about her eating and lose confidence, which then led her to continue overeating for the rest of the day. In her email to me, Rachel said that she very much wanted to get back on track but she felt like she was in a “deep rut.” Here is part of the email I sent back to Rachel:
As we’ve discussed before, what language we use with ourselves is really important. When I first read your e-mail, my initial thought was, “What?! Rachel’s only been off track for one afternoon/evening, which is in NO WAY a deep rut! A deep rut is maybe a week or a month off track.” As we know, you have the tendency to be all-or-nothing about mistakes (like the time you made one mistake in a day and said, “I thought I was doing well but I guess I wasn’t” – when in fact you were doing well. One mistake never indicates that you’re not doing well; it indicates that you’re human!) and this seems to be another example of that. I wonder about the psychological impact of telling yourself you’re in a deep rut and if doing so may make it harder to get back on track, because it may convince you that you’re more deeply rooted in the mistakes than you actually are. Telling yourself, “I’m off track, but it’s only one day, it’s not the end of the world,” may make it easier to get back on track than when you say, “I’m in a deep rut.” What do you think about that?
As you see here, what dieters say to themselves can make a really big difference, particularly where mistakes are concerned. If a dieter makes a mistake and says to herself, “This is so terrible! I can’t believe I did that, I’ve really screwed up,” she may have a hard time getting herself right back on track. By contrast, if a dieter makes a mistake but this time says to herself, “Ok, I made a mistake. I’m human, it happens, and it’s not the end of the world. The rest of the day will be fine,” then she’ll probably have a much, much easier time getting back on track. In the situation with Rachel, my concern was that by telling herself she was in a “deep rut,” it may make it harder to get back on track because getting out of a deep rut likely seems so much harder than just needing to bounce back from one off-track day.
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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