Getting Through Hard Times: Maria

Week 27 of our Diet Group and our dieters are finally returning to a normal schedule and putting the holiday season firmly behind them.  In our meeting on Monday we talked about the importance of preparing for the hard times.  Most of the time dieting is pretty easy and doesn’t take much effort.  But every once in a while it can get very difficult, due to a particularly strong craving (discussed in Day 13 of The Beck Diet Solution), a situation in which you can’t control the food, such as while traveling (Day 32), or being surrounded by tempting food, such as at a party or restaurant (Day 30).  It is for such times we are trying to prepare our dieters, so that they can be in these situations and handle them with relative ease.

cheese.jpgMaria had a very hard week.  Her daughter was ill and so Maria has been up many nights tending to her. In addition to the stress of a sick child, Maria has also been very sleep-deprived.  Consequently, she found herself again having cravings for foods like cheese (a problem food for her in the past), which she hasn’t craved in a quite a while (Day 33).  “The cheese was literally calling out to me,” Maria says.  But did she answer the calling? “No, I knew it was just a craving and that I didn’t have to give into it,” Maria answered.  By labeling it a “craving” and differentiating it from actual hunger, Maria, even stressed and tired, was able to see that her desire wasn’t an emergency and she didn’t have to give into it (Day 11).  Maria reports that she held firm and didn’t eat any cheese, and is so happy that she kept her eating under control even in these stressful circumstances.  Maria lost 3 pounds this week.

Weighing In: Brenda

We have now reached the six-month mark for our diet group. Our dieters are all back to work and recovering from the holiday season.  For the most part, they maintained their weight this week, which was the major goal.  Some of our dieters report that, in the past, they gained five or more pounds over the Christmas/New Year’s week, so they were thrilled to step on the scale and find that they hadn’t gained any weight at all!

Speaking of stepping on the scale, one of the ideas we discussed during out meeting yesterday was how important weighing yourself is (a skill learned in Day 21 of The Beck Diet Solution).  Some of our dieters do it only once a week, at our meeting, and some do it every morning at home.  But whether it’s every day or once a week, weighing yourself is extremely important to weight loss and weight maintenance (Chapter 12 of The Beck Diet Solution).  Sometimes our dieters don’t want to weigh in at the meeting if they think they’ve gained weight, but we discussed how it’s most important to weigh in at these times!  Not weighing yourself allows you to stick your head in the sand and not face the problem, if there is one.   

Brenda says that this is an issue she’s struggled with before.  In the past, when she was dieting and losing weight Brenda would weigh herself consistently. But the moment she feared she’d put on a pound or two, she would avoid the scale. This prevented her from identifying and fixing any problems. And even though she didn’t get on the scale, she would feel demoralized, would continue to eat out of control, and then would gain back all the weight she had lost. This time, though, Brenda is doing things differently.  She’s weighing in every week during our group meeting and she just made a New Year’s resolution to weigh herself every day at home.

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.

Holiday Eating: Maria

Our Cognitive Therapy weight loss group has now been meeting for 6 months.  In spite of the fact that our dieters are faced with an overabundance of holiday goodies everywhere they turn, their motivation stays high and almost everyone lost weight this week.

At our meeting yesterday we discussed the possible eating-related perils and pitfalls that can arise during holiday time, and how to deal with them, especially how to cook and bake without nibbling. This had been a problem for many of the women in the past, including Maria.

Maria is a 38 year-old mother of two.  She started dieting at age 20 and since then has tried at least five different diets on more than ten different occasions.  In the past, she’s lost as much as 60 pounds. It took her about eight months to lose this much weight but she started gaining it back within only three months. Since she joined our group, Maria has lost 38 pounds.

Maria had a big triumph this week.  Once again she made a cheese tray to bring to a function at her daughter’s school.  Last time she made one (about a month ago), she had the sabotaging thought: “It won’t matter if I just shave off a few pieces while I’m cutting the cheese.” This sabotaging thought led her to eat lots off unplanned pieces. Keeping that experience in mind (a skill learned on Day 13 of The Beck Diet Solution), and remembering how bad she felt last time for giving into her craving, Maria prepared herself in advance with the following thought: “The cheese would taste good but if I eat it, I’ll feel bad.” Therefore, she held strong and didn’t eat even a single piece while she was preparing the tray.  She also did some problem-solving. To eliminate some of the temptation, Maria bought already cut up cheese so she wouldn’t be tempted by cutting it herself.  A few days later, Maria is still thinking about her triumph with the cheese tray and giving herself credit (Day 4).