Making Time: April

One of our dieters, April, was having trouble this week finding time to get to all of her shopping-cart.jpgdiet activities: sitting down to a proper breakfast, preparing lunch to take to work, cooking dinner, and going to the supermarket. April’s sabotaging thoughts kept getting in the way: “I’ll go to the supermarket tomorrow;” “I’d rather read the newspaper than fix a lunch to go,” “If I grab some fast food on the way home, I’ll have more time to email my friends tonight.” April hadn’t truly accepted the necessity of making time for dieting. We stressed the importance of prioritizing her time, of fitting the rest of her life around dieting activities (Day 8 of The Beck Diet Solution), not vice versa. We discussed doing her dieting activities first, then using reading, gardening, and watching television as rewards.

For now, April has to put all of her dieting activities at the very top of her priority list, and not do anything that’s lower on the list until she’s completed them.  That means no reading the newspaper in the morning until she’s prepared her breakfast and lunch, no gardening on the weekends until she’s made her weekly trip to the supermarket, and no watching television at night until she’s completed her food plan for the next day.  We also discussed that these dieting activities will soon become second nature; if April pushes herself now to respond to her sabotaging thoughts and change her habits, dieting will get easier and easier.

Dieters Helping Dieters

During our diet group this week, we wanted to have our dieters benefit from each others’ wisdom.  Brenda began by talking about a sticky situation she found herself in over Mother’s Day.  That morning she was extremely busy so she skipped breakfast, and by the time she got to her planned Mother’s Day brunch, she was starving.  Brenda started out well, by eating the chicken and salad she had planned, but then when she was offered a hamburger, she ended up eating it – while standing up. 

Maria, our champion of “putting yourself first” (discussed on Day 8 of The Beck Diet Solution), gave Brenda the following advice:  she started by reminding Brenda how crucial it is to eat breakfast 365 days a year. Even when she’s busy or stressed, Maria always makes time to eat breakfast because she knows that skipping it will only set herself up to overeat later in the day (Day 2). 

Maria also talked about how good she has gotten at turning down food that other people offer her.  Maria, herself, went to several of her family members’ houses this Mother’s Day, and was offered food at each one.  Because she had already eaten breakfast and knew what she was going to eat for lunch, Maria firmly turned down all offers of food and instead drank only coffee – and she felt great about doing so.  She didn’t let herself give into the sabotaging thought, “It’s ok to eat this because it’s a celebration.”  Maria reminded Brenda of how good and empowering it feels when you are strong and stick to your diet.

Lastly, Maria reminded Brenda that you can’t let yourself slip up on the basics, like eating everything slowly, while sitting down, and noticing every bite (Day 5).  Chances are if Brenda had forced herself to sit down and face the hamburger, she might have been able to really notice what she was doing and talk herself out of eating unplanned food. 

Priorities: Maria

One skill that Maria has gotten very good at is putting herself first – making sure that she continually has the time and energy for diet and exercise (discussed on Day 8 of The Beck Diet Solution).  For Maria this particularly means making sure she keeps exercise a priority.  In the past, when her life got busy, exercise was always the first thing to fall off her plate. 

Maria exercises on a machine at home. When her kids interrupted her exercise in the past, she would always drop what she was doing and tend to them.  Now she tells them to wait until she’s done and then she helps them.  After dinner, if she’s already exercised, Maria may watch television with her husband. But if she hasn’t exercised yet, she nicely refuses to join him until she has finished.  Now she feels entitled to get her activities done first. 

Building this sense of entitlement is crucial to lasting weight loss because life always gets busy and things always come up.  If dieters don’t learn to put themselves first and ensure that they continually make diet and exercise a high priority, other factors will always get in the way of their best efforts.  Maria now knows that she is entitled to exercise because she deserves to be thinner and feel good about herself, and she is a good example for all of us. 

Wasting Food: Brenda

One of the topics we discussed during our group meeting is the importance of throwing outtrashcans1.jpg extra food.  Keeping leftovers hanging around in the refrigerator and cupboards can tempt dieters and threaten to derail their good efforts.  A lot of our dieters initially expressed discomfort at the idea of wasting food.  However, what we like to remind our dieters is that if you eat extra food you don’t need, your body can’t use it and just turns it into fat, i.e. the food is wasted in your body.  So the food is wasted in the trashcan or wasted in your body, but either way it’s wasted (discussed on Day 7 of The Beck Diet Solution). 

Brenda in particular had a lot of trouble throwing out extra food.  Her daughter would often cook big meals and there would be lots of leftovers that she couldn’t bring herself to toss in the trash.  Brenda said the leftovers would hang out in her fridge for a couple of days until she eventually ate them, whether she really wanted to or not.  She also often had half-finished boxes of snack foods in her cupboard that her grandchildren would start and not finish, and even though they were often stale and fairly unappealing, there were times when they sorely tempted Brenda.

Brenda responded really well to the notion, “In the trashcan or in your body, either way it’s wasted,” and with this new mentality it became easier for her to throw out food.  Brenda slowly got in the habit of throwing out all the unwanted leftovers from the meals her daughter cooked, because she knew she’d rather the food be wasted in her trashcan than show up on the scale.  Brenda also now periodically goes through her cupboards and without difficulty throws out all the unfinished, stale snack food.  Learning to throw out food may seem like a simple idea, but it will continually keep Brenda from eating extra food and help her keep the weight off permanently. 

Put Yourself First: Susan

Week 28 and our dieters continue to lose weight! 

One of our dieters, Susan, initially lost 7 pounds.  During the holiday season, however, she gained a few pounds back and then her weight stagnated – she didn’t gain anymore, but she didn’t then continue to lose either.  Susan said that she spent all weekend deciding whether or not she really wanted to lose weight, and whether or not she was ready to fully commit herself to the endeavor. She made a new Advantages List (discussed on Day 1 of The Beck Diet Solution) and thought about the value of each item on the list and how important they all were to her. 

Susan came to the realization that she had been consistently putting others first – her family, friends, and clients.  She hadn’t been making dieting a priority, making sure she had enough time and energy to do what she needed to do (Day 8), such as buying the necessary food at the supermarket, cooking meals, taking time to eat slowly and while sitting down (Days 3 and 5), and exercising (Day 9).  Susan also realized, though, that in order to be able to fully help everyone in her life, she had to first make sure that she was in good health – physically and emotionally.  She came to the decision that she was going to put herself first and make dieting her #1 priority, because her health and sense of well-being depend on it.