Question: A couple of years ago I lost 22 pounds mostly following the program in the Beck Diet Solution, but about a year ago I went through a really stressful time and ended up gaining back some of the weight I lost. I’ve been trying hard to get myself back on track but I just can’t seem to do it and I’m not sure why. Every time I try I just get off track again. What can I do?
Answer: First of all, you should know that what you’re experiencing is common and you’re certainly not the first person to be in this situation. Far from it! Many dieters have the experience of doing really well, then having something out of the ordinary happen, getting off track, and struggling to get themselves back to where they were. What I can tell you, though, is that the number one mistake dieters in your situation make is that, when they make the decision to get back on track, they inevitably try to do too many things at once.
If, before they got off track, every morning dieters were reading an Advantages List and many Response Cards and every night filling out a long checklist of tasks they worked on during the day, usually their instinct is to go back and again try to do all of those things right away. But what usually ends up happening? They get overwhelmed and frustrated, and find that they are not able to make themselves do everything they were doing before, so they abandon their attempt.
The reason that this does not work is simple: they did not initially start out doing all of those things at once; instead they started slowly and built up to it. They did not initially have 20 Response Cards or a checklist with 12 items on it, and so by the time they worked up to that number, it felt natural and achievable. Even though you are definitely not starting at square one, it’s a good idea to initially act as if you are and start with the initial dieting tasks. Focus all of your energy only on those things one by one (such as reading an Advantages List every day, eating everything sitting down, eating slowly and mindfully, giving yourself credit) and only read Response Cards that have to do with what you’re currently working on [either ones you had from before, or make new ones that feel relevant to what you’re currently dealing with]. In doing so, you’ll again be able to build up your sense of confidence and self-efficacy by proving to yourself that you can make yourself do what you say you’re going to do. Give yourself credit every step of the way and add in new dieting skills when you feel confident and ready. And remember: if you’re not able to do things like resist cravings when you first start back, remind yourself that you’re not working on that skill yet, so of course you shouldn’t be able to it but you will be able to soon enough when you work back up to it.
Eventually you’ll get to the point where you are able to do everything you did before, but you won’t get back there overnight. Just like it took time initially, it will take time again (although likely not nearly as long), but as long as you start slowly, don’t expect too much of yourself at once, and pace yourself appropriately, you will get back there!