No matter how smart, successful, and disciplined you are in every other area of life, this does not automatically guarantee that you will be good at losing and maintaining weight, because doing so takes learning and practice of specific skills. So cut yourself a break and instead start working on what you need to do today!
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: 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 accidentally 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!
Just because food is free, doesn’t mean you should eat it (after all, it’s not calorie-free). Similarly, just because you've paid for it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to eat the whole thing.
If you think, “I’m so structured during the week, I just want to relax on the weekends,” remind yourself, “Not eating in a planned, structured way will mean I will continually take in too many calories so I have a choice: I can continue to not eat in a structured, planned way on the weekend or I can lose weight. I can’t have it both ways. Which would I rather?”
If you’re going on vacation this summer, remind yourself, “If I want to lose weight and keep it off, vacations are a break from work, not a break from healthy eating.”
Sabotaging Thought: I’ll make it for [overeating now] later by eating less during the week.
Response: “Making up for it later” just doesn’t work because there’s no guarantee that I’ll actually be able to get myself to eat less later on. It also doesn’t work because if I overeat, I reinforce my giving-in muscle and make it more likely I’ll overeat the next time, and the time after that. It’s important to continually reinforce the habit of eating consistently. It’s not about the calories, it’s about the habit.
If you think, “Everyone else is eating a lot, why can’t I?” remind yourself that your body doesn’t know or care what anybody around you is eating, it only knows what you eat. So just because everyone else is eating (and drinking) a lot, doesn’t mean that you can. Your body simply doesn’t care what they’re doing.
There is a big difference between things that are really hard and things that are impossible. If you feel daunted by the prospect of losing and maintaining weight, remind yourself that it is a matter of learning and practicing (over and over again) necessary skills, not an impossible feat.
Telling yourself it’s impossible is an excuse to give up. Telling yourself it’s hard but worth working on is a motivation to keep moving forward.
If you think, “I shouldn’t have control my eating on the weekend,” remind yourself, “Yes, I should, if I want to lose weight! Weekend eating is just as important as weekday eating, and if I keep overeating on the weekends, I’ll keep undoing all my hard work from the 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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