I have found that many dieters I work with initially have a “witching hour:” a period of an hour or two each day where cravings are strong and staying on track feels much harder. For most dieters, this is either the period right before dinner (around 4 PM – 6 PM) or in the hours after dinner but before bed (8 PM -10 PM). Dieters often think that they just can’t get through it without eating, but this is only because they don’t have skills that they need.
When I saw that what we were doing just wasn’t working, I knew we had to try a different strategy. As usual, I asked Katie to describe some of the situations from the past week in which she went off track. She told me that she ate a roll at dinner when she didn’t plan to and she had unplanned desserts in the evening.
My client, Megan, is going through a really hard time. Her mother is facing a major health crisis and when Megan and I met this week, she told me she was having trouble staying in control of her eating. She kept having thoughts like, “I just can’t deal with worrying about my eating right now. It’s too hard.”
A client I worked with a few years ago recently had her second baby and was having trouble getting her eating back under control. Lara told me that during her pregnancy, she let herself eat whatever she wanted and ended up gaining more weight than was healthy. Now at six months postpartum, she’s still struggling to put the skills that we had worked on back in place.
It’s not always reasonable in every situation to lose weight, or even to maintain weight. If the scale goes up, it doesn’t mean you didn’t do well; it just means it wasn’t reasonable not to gain a little.
If you’ve gotten off track with your New Year’s resolution, this is exactly what you need to do, too! Stop expecting yourself to do everything and instead figure out what feels completely doable this week. Recommit to it, do it (and give yourself so much credit for doing so!), and then add one or more things next week.
Not having a strong plan can exponentially increase the chances of getting off track because of how many spontaneous decisions you’ll have to make all day.
A realistic strategy is the most important thing to bring on vacation. Eric lists the Sabotaging Thoughts and responses to help him stay on track.
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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