I described in Part I how I helped Angie make her Advantages List. This was only half the battle, however, and our next job was figuring out how she could get herself to read it every morning. I told Angie that it would be best for her to read her Advantages List first thing in the morning, before she ate anything for the day, and asked her when, during her morning routine, she might be able to incorporate this. Angie decided that it would be best if she kept it on her bedside table and read it first thing in the morning before other people (like her husband and kids) started asking her to do things. I asked Angie if she would mind if her husband saw her list, and she told me that while he was very supportive, her list was private and she preferred that no one else in the family read it. Because of this, Angie decided that she would keep the list in the drawer of her bedside table.
With the list out of sight, I was concerned that Angie might forget to read it, and asked her if she had any ideas on how to solve this potential problem. Angie said that another thing she does every morning before she gets out of bed is take her medication, and so we decide that she would put a sticky note on her medicine bottle, which would cue her to read her list.
After figuring out these logistical issues, Angie and I then discussed what thoughts might get in the way of her reading her list every morning. Angie told me it was possible she might think something like, “I’m too busy/rushed to read my list this morning.” To help combat this thought, I asked Angie to read her list aloud to me in session, and Angie was surprised to hear that it only took her 35 seconds to read the entire list. “Isn’t it worth 35 seconds in the morning if it will help you lose weight and keep it off?” I asked her. Angie agreed that it certainly was worth 35 seconds, and to help her remember that it would only take this short amount of time, Angie decided that she would write the number “35” on the sticky note she was attaching to her medicine bottle.
Angie also identified that the thought, “It’s okay if I skip reading my list this morning, I know what it says,” might get in the way of her reading her list this week. Angie and I discussed this thought and I let her know that, at least for right now, it was not good enough to just think about the items on her Advantages List, she actually has to read it, not only because reading it helps enter it in the brain more firmly but also because Angie needs to prove to herself that she can do it, whether or not she feels like it. With these ideas in mind, Angie made the following Response Card:
“Whether or not I feel like reading my list, do it anyway! It’s an important step in helping me lose weight and besides, it will only take 35 seconds.”
Although Angie didn’t feel comfortable having her list out in the open, she didn’t mind having this Response Card on her bedside table, so she decided to keep it right next to her medicine bottle so she would see it and read it first thing every morning.
With these strategies in place, Angie felt confident that she was off to a good start and would be able to read her list every morning.