Planned Indulgences: Lori

Lori, a 44 year old attorney, started dieting at the age of 14.  She says that she has attempted to lose weight, “too many times to count,” and has tried at least 5 different diets throughout the years.  In the past she’s lost as much as 35 pounds but started gaining it back within the year.  Lori has currently lost 32 pounds and is still going strong.  In general Lori says that she does not have a very big sweet tooth – almost always if she wanted a snack she would go for something salty, not sweet.  However, the one exception to this rule is a special chocolate cake she gets once a year at a retreat in January. 

One of the main things we try to teach our dieters is the importance of being able to work planned indulgences into their diets.  Deprivation diets and diets that are overly restrictive are just not sustainable over a long period of time because eventually life circumstances will intrude (birthdays, holidays, celebrations, etc).  If your diet does not allow for these types of occasions, chances are eventually you won’t be able to stick to it.  We want our dieters to become accustomed now to eating in a way they can maintain for the rest of their lives. cake.jpg

The retreat was last weekend, and even though Lori is currently on a diet and trying to lose weight, she did not have to forgo the chocolate cake she loves so much.  Instead, Lori decided that she would plan in advance to have a slice of cake, knowing it may slow down her weight loss for that week.  If she didn’t plan ahead of time to eat the cake, Lori knew that when she saw it she would really want it and would feel either very deprived, or would give in, eat it, and feel guilty.  Planning to have the cake allowed Lori to eat a reasonable amount and not feel deprived. 

At the meeting on Monday, Lori reported that she ate exactly what she had planned, that the chocolate cake was just as delicious as she remembered, and she enjoyed every bite.

Prepare for Travel: Susan

suitcase1.jpgIn a few days Susan is leaving for a business trip.  Knowing that eating and dieting can be much trickier when traveling, we sat down with Susan to devise an eating strategy for her trip (a skill discussed on Day 32 of The Beck Diet Solution).   Eating at conferences can be difficult because mainly Susan will have to eat what they serve her.  However, there are some small but crucial measures she can take to ensure that she stays within her diet. 

First, we discussed with Susan her need and entitlement to make demands about how her food is prepared (Day 8).  If she were diabetic or had serious health problems, she would not think twice about asking for her food to be prepared to her specifications.  We reminded Susan that she truly is on a “medical diet” – indeed her doctor did tell her she needs to lose weight to be healthy – so she should not hesitate to speak up. One important modification Susan should make is to ask for her vegetables to be steamed, not sautéed in oil or butter.  Another small change is make sure she gets her protein (fish, chicken, etc) grilled or broiled and with whatever sauce it is served with on the side.  That way she can choose how much, if any, she wants to use.  A third is for when she eats salad, ask for the dressing on the side, and always request a low-fat (or fat free) alternative.  Because she is actually trying to lose weight and not maintain, Susan also decided that she will forgo desserts because she will not be able to accurately figure out the calorie-count.  Instead, she can ask for fruit. (Day 30)

We also helped Susan devise several rules for herself that she will strictly follow while she is traveling.  Setting rules is an important way to make dieting easier because it eliminates the struggle about whether or not you should or shouldn’t eat something (Day 16).  Susan’s rules are:

1. Absolutely no dessert (except for fruit)

2. No Bread at dinner

3. No heavy sauces (on protein, salad, etc)

4. Only drink black coffee

5. No alcohol, including wine and mixed drinks.

We made Susan copies of her Rules so she can read them several times a day in preparation for travel, and while she is actually at the conference as well.  Lastly, we talked about what to do if she slips up on her diet and engages in unplanned eating.  If this happens, Susan needs to get back on track immediately, and not compound the problem by continuing to eat more (Day 20).  With her eating strategy in place, Susan now feels confident that she can travel and stay on her plan.

Get Back on Track: Roxanne

Our dieters are doing well despite all of the added pressures of the holiday season.  This week, almost everyone lost weight.  In our group, we discussed how they had eaten differently during previous Christmases. One dieter, Roxanne, summed up the group’s general sentiment best, saying she used to: “Eat until I bust!”

Roxanne, 47, has been struggling with dieting since the age of 25.  At one point, she lost 25 pounds and kept it off for about 2 years. Historically Roxanne’s biggest problem has been giving into cravings.  When she felt a strong urge to eat something, she usually did, telling herself “It’s ok to eat this because… I really want it; I’ll eat it eventually; I’ll have just a little; this one time won’t matter.”  Overcoming cravings and sticking to her food plans (a skill learned on Day 13 of The Beck Diet Solution) has helped Roxanne lose a total of 33 ½ pounds so far!

chicksalad.gifRoxanne is also becoming deft at making smart food choices.  She knew that last week she would be shopping and eating out a lot more than usual and had to be extra vigilant about not taking in too many calories (Day 30).  She made a rule for herself for this holiday season:  to order a salad whenever she ate lunch out. This rule eliminated a struggle about what she would and wouldn’t allow herself to eat. She stuck fast to this rule. One day, without thinking about it, she ordered breaded, fried chicken on her salad instead of grilled chicken.  But she didn’t criticize herself. She didn’t decide that she had blown her diet and therefore should eat out of control for the rest of the day.  Instead, she was able to get back on track immediately (Day 20).  She viewed the fried chicken as a momentary slip up and continued to eat normally for the rest of day, knowing that one minor mistake would not affect her weight at the end of the week.

Despite the holiday season, Roxanne lost 2 pounds this week.

Don’t Fool Yourself: Brenda

Another Beck Diet Solution Dieter is Brenda, a 49 year-old self-described lover of carbs.  Throughout the past two decades, Brenda has tried dieting at least 20 times. But whenever she lost weight, she always gained it back in less time than it had taken her to lose it.  Brenda started out our group on a carb-counting diet. After she had lost 18 pounds in five months, her weight loss stagnated –  she was fooling herself by allowing too many carbs to creep back into her diet. (“It won’t really matter if I don’t count [this carb-heavy food].”)

Brenda had two choices: cut her carbs again or switch diets (a skill learned in Day 2 of The Beck Diet Solution). She decided to switch to a program in which she counts points (analogous to counting calories) so she could have more of what she loves: carbs.

Two weeks ago Brenda made the switch and has now already gone down another 1 ½ pounds.  At this week’s meeting, we discussed a breakfast she planned to eat at her favorite restaurant in a few days. This was a typical breakfast she used to have when she wasn’t dieting. Again we discovered that Brenda was “fooling herself” (Day 19) – this time, by not taking into account all ingredients (especially the butter and half and half) that would go into the breakfast. She was shocked to see how many points it would use up. (In the description below, we’ve converted points to calories.).

2 Eggs: 180 Calories
2 Pieces of Rye Toast: 160 Calories
4 Pieces of Bacon: 200 Calories
Butter/Oil (for cooking and for toast): 200 Calories
½ and ½ (for coffee): 40 Calories

=780 Calories

What Brenda thought would be a reasonable breakfast turned out to contain more than 2/3rds of her points allotment for the entire day.  Our diet group members suggested reasonable alternatives:

3 Egg Whites: 51 Calories
1 Piece of Wheat Toast: 65 Calories
2 Pieces Turkey Bacon: 70 Calories
Butter: 36 Calories
Nonfat Milk: 15 Calories

=237 Calories

Brenda realized that it just wasn’t worth it to eat the original meal she had planned when she could be satisfied with something similar. This was an important learning experience for Brenda and the group—how easy it is too fool yourself about how much you’re eating.