Think Thin Thursday Tip: It’s critically important to be tuned in to your thoughts, so you can learn what your common sabotaging thoughts are and come up with responses to them. The next time you eat something unplanned or that you know you probably shouldn’t, ask yourself, “What was just going through my head? What did I say to myself? ‘I know I shouldn’t eat this but it’s okay because….?’”
Wednesday Sabotage: I just want to eat without consequence.
Response: Oh, well! I don’t like that I can’t eat without consequences but I can’t change that fact (not if I want to lose weight and keep it off). I need to stop struggling against it, accept that this is the way it is, and move on.
Tuesday Reality Check: Are you exercising this week? Remember, you don’t have to go fast. You just have to GO.
Monday Motivation: Dieting is generally easy in the beginning because motivation is high, but at some point (whether in three weeks or three months) it gets harder. This is completely NORMAL, and it happens to everyone. As long as you keep at it, dieting will get easier again. But, if you’re still riding the new year, new you high – keep the streak going! Make that motivation last as long as possible.
“I really regret eating healthy today,” said NO ONE EVER! This weekend, focus on healthy eating. You won’t regret it!
Think Thin Thursday Tip: If you make a dieting mistake and start to catastrophize, ask yourself, “What would I say to my best friend if she told me about a mistake she made?” Chances are you’d be more compassionate to a friend than you would be to yourself. In dieting, you’ll make many, many mistakes. It’s important to be compassionate to yourself so that you’re able to learn from them and move on.
Wednesday Sabotage: If I can’t stay on track now, how will I ever be able to do it in the future?
Response: Being off track is NOT an indication that I can’t do it (now or in the future), it’s simply a sign that I need more practice. Like any skill, the more I practice, the better I’ll get. This is no different!
Tuesday Reality Check: It’s not about having time, it’s about making time. You CAN find time to prepare healthy food, meal plan, exercise, etc., if you make it a top priority. Maybe you don’t have time to exercise 60 minutes a day or meal prep 2 hours on the weekend, but ANYTHING is better than nothing.
Monday Motivation: If you’ve made a resolution to lose weight, remember that learning to diet is like learning to play the piano. You start out with easier skills/pieces, practice them, get better and better at them, and then move on to harder ones. If you were learning to play the piano, you would never think that hitting a wrong note was an indication that you couldn’t do it or that you should give up; you would simply accept it as part of the learning process. Dieting is no different!
I recently had a session with my client, Mark, who has lost twenty pounds and would like to lose more. Mark has set himself a reasonable calorie cap that he tries to stay under each day, although occasionally there are times when it’s reasonable for him to plan to eat extra. In session this week, Mark noted that his weight had plateaued for the past several weeks. The first thing we did was look at his calorie counts over the last month. Mark realized that there were many days when he ate over his cap. Most of them were things he had planned in advance (his birthday, a vacation with his wife, his son’s graduation, a wedding, celebrating a friend’s retirement, etc.), but they clearly added up to too many calories overall.
Unfortunately, Mark fell into the trap that many dieters fall into – treating too many days like Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving it’s absolutely reasonable for most dieters to plan to eat extra calories, simply because sticking to their normal amount isn’t realistic. And if planning extra calories happens only occasionally, it doesn’t sabotage weight loss or maintenance. However, we all have to draw the line somewhere because not every day can be Thanksgiving – i.e., an extra calorie day. While all of Mark’s extra calorie days seemed reasonable in the moment, when taken in total they were too much if he wanted to continue to lose weight.
I pointed out to Mark that he was lucky! It’s great that he has so many special occasions to celebrate, both his and those of his family and friends. But since they occur so frequently (something he hadn’t realized before), he can’t treat every one of them as an opportunity to plan to eat extra. Mark made the following Response Card to help remind him of this idea:
Not every day can be Thanksgiving! When I plan extra calories for every special event, it means I stop losing weight. Thanksgiving calories have to be the exception, not the norm for special events.
It’s likely to be hard initially for Mark to pull back his calories on days when he has a special event. But rereading his Advantages List has motivated him to commit to doing so because losing more weight is his top priority. We decided that for the next month, he wouldn’t make any exceptions to his normal calorie plan (because there are no actual Thanksgivings in the next month!) to give himself a reset and prove to himself he can stick to a calorie cap even when it feels hard. To help him do this, we decided that he’ll make very careful plans before challenging events, read Response Cards right before he goes, and really focus on his Advantages List and the enormously important reasons he has to keep the scale moving down.
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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