Job Stress and Eating

My dieter, Jeff, is a police officer and after a long shift he usually feels exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Because of this, whenever he gets home from work he usually ends up eating a huge meal (of unhealthy foods) because he feels a lot of self-pity and stress and has the sabotaging thought that he “deserves” to eat to feel better. Jeff told me that the thought of coming home and not eating a big meal makes him feel deprived and more self-pitying.  Although Jeff knows that this is something that was sabotaging his weight loss efforts, he couldn’t figure out how to break the cycle.

Jeff and I discussed this situation in depth during our last diet session. The first thing I did was ask Jeff how he felt after he got home and ate a big meal and whether or not it achieved his goal of feeling better. Jeff reported that while he did temporarily feel better while he was eating because he was distracted from thinking about his long shift, towards the end of his meal, or almost immediately after, he started feeling a lot of guilt, regret, and self-recrimination. When he thought about it, Jeff admitted that he actually ended up feeling worse than he did before he started eating.

I pointed out to Jeff that this was good news: it’s a good thing that eating didn’t ultimately satisfy his goal because that would give him extra motivation to work on making changes and figuring out what would actually make him feel better, both in the short term and in the long term.

Jeff and I discussed the fact that after a hard work shift, he certainly does deserve to relax and he certainly does deserve to calm down and de-stress, but he certainly doesn’t deserve to go off his diet, feel even worse, and maintain his unhealthy weight. Jeff and I discussed a number of strategies that he could use when he gets home which would help him relax and shed the burden of his job without turning to food. We also came up with a number of Response Cards for Jeff to read while he was still in his car, before he even walked into his house. Here are some of Jeff’s Response Cards:

When I think I deserve to eat something that will make me feel good, remember: THIS WILL ACTUALLY MAKE ME FEEL BAD. And it will cause MORE self-pity because then I’ll also feel bad about myself, guilty about my eating, and weak.

When I’m feeling stress/self-pity and I’m tempted to eat, ask myself: Do I want to feel better or do I want to feel worse?

Eating when I’m feeling stressed is effective – but ONLY IN THE SHORT TERM. It has 100% negative consequences in the long term – I’ll gain weight, I’ll stay overweight, I’ll reinforce the tendency to give in, I’ll feel bad about myself, I’ll feel guilty about what I ate, it may cause me to continue having a bad eating day, etc.

If I feel “deprived” because I can’t eat everything I want when I’m stressed, remind myself: either way I’m deprived. Either I’m deprived of EVERYTHING on my Advantages List, or I’m deprived of some food, some of the time. Which would be the bigger deprivation?

Jeff and I also discussed the fact that when he maintains control over his eating, regardless of the situation, he feels great about himself. Because of this, we knew that if Jeff stayed in control of his eating after a long shift at work, this in and of itself would help him feel better because he would at least be able to feel good about his eating.

They’re Working at it, Too

Jamie came into session this week and reported that she has a revelatory experience over the weekend. She was at a dinner party at her sister’s house and was seated next to a (thin) woman named Deanna with whom Jamie had a mild acquaintance. Jamie told me that without even really meaning to, she kept an eye on what Deanna was eating that night and was very surprised to realize that Deanna ate a larger portion of salad with the dressing on the side, had reasonable portions of chicken and asparagus, and had a small portion of the wild rice that was served. She also had no bread, no other side dishes, and nursed one glass of wine throughout dinner. When dessert was served, Deanna passed on the cheesecake and instead ate fresh berries that were served along with it.

Reflecting upon what Deanna ate, Jamie had the realization: she’s working on watching her eating, too. Although theoretically Jamie knows that every thin person she sees is not necessarily naturally thin, it is easy for Jamie to forget this and to think, “It’s not fair that she is thin naturally and I have to work at it.” Jamie confessed that she had always assumed that Deanna was one of the naturally thin people that stayed that way without having to go through any effort. But in observing what Deanna ate at the dinner party, and especially in observing all of the things she didn’t eat, Jamie was once again reminded that many people look the way that they do through hard work and diligence.

Jamie and I talked about what this realization meant for her and Jamie said that once again becoming aware that she is not the only one who has to work at dieting helps counter a lot of her, “it’s not fair that…” thoughts. Jamie and I discussed that while it’s true it’s not fair she has to work hard to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, everyone has unfairnesses in their lives and this happens to be one of hers. I also pointed out to Jamie that she is lucky because some people can’t do anything about their unfairnesses, but this is one that, through hard work and practice, Jamie can and is learning to overcome. Jamie resolved to not let thoughts of unfairness get in the way of achieving her goals and decided that anytime she started to feel that it was unfair she had to work at dieting, she would remind herself, “It’s true it’s not fair, but at least there is something I can do about it,” and whenever she felt resentful looking at a thin person, she would remind herself, “I don’t know what she eats in a day and it’s very likely she’s working just as hard as I am.”

Ask the Diet Program Coordinator: Super Bowl Cheat Sheet

Q:  The Super Bowl is this weekend and historically I have used this as an excuse to have a free-for-all eating day.  I really, really want to keep losing weight, so how I can I stop that from happening this year?

A:  The Super Bowl is ultimately about watching football, not about eating.  Sometimes dieters say to me, “I can’t watch football without eating,” and I remind them, “If you were in a situation where there was no food around, and no chance of getting food, you absolutely would watch football without eating.”  Just because you’ve linked football and food in your mind, doesn’t mean that link can’t be broken.  That being said, if you want to reach your weight loss goals, you don’t have to watch the whole game without eating, but you do have to maintain control over your eating.  Here is my Super Bowl Cheat Sheet:

1. Plan in advance how much you will eat. This will help you resist tempting food because you will know how much you’ll be having, and it will help you maintain a sense of control over your eating. Remember: feeling in control of your eating feels GREAT. Feeling out of control of your eating feels BAD. Don’t taint the Super Bowl by feeling bad about your eating.

2. Decide in advance how much alcohol (if any) you will drink. Remember: it has calories and it can lower inhibitions and lead you to eat and/or drink more.

3. Bring or prepare some healthy foods that you know you will feel good about eating.

4. Think about Super Bowls past and how you felt after they were over. Think about events in general in the past during which you overate, and how you felt when they were over. Do you want to feel that way again? Is it worth it to you to keep undoing all your hard work by overeating at certain events?

5. On the flip side, think about how you will feel going to bed Sunday night and getting on the scale Monday morning if you’ve stayed in control. How much better will you feel? How triumphant will you feel?  How good will it feel when you prove to yourself that you can stay in control?

6. Identify in advance what sabotaging thoughts you might have and come up with responses to them. Here are some possibilities:

Sabotaging Thought: It’s not fair that I can’t eat what everyone around me is eating.

Response: My body doesn’t know or care how many wings or slices of pizza everyone else around me is eating. It ONLY knows how much I’m eating, so it doesn’t matter at all what anyone else is consuming.

Sabotaging Thought: It’s not fair I can’t eat everything that I want.

Response: It’s true that I can’t eat unlimited portions of everything that I want to eat, but I can plan ahead and eat reasonable portions of some food. This way, I’ll likely get to enjoy it even more because I won’t have to feel guilty during and after I eat.

Sabotaging Thought: It’s not fair I can’t eat normally at least on this one day.

Response: Actually I AM eating normally with someone who has my same weight loss goals. If I eat like a football player, I have to expect that I will look like one.

Sabotaging Thought: It’s too hard to resist food when I’m craving it.

Response: If I were a vegetarian and all the food had meat in it, I would definitely resist.  Just because I’m having a craving for food doesn’t mean I have to eat it.  While it may be uncomfortable momentarily to resist a craving, once the craving is over I’ll be so glad I didn’t give in.

7. Make sure to make a plate of food and deliberately sit down to eat it. If you’re constantly taking small bites and going back for more food, it is extremely hard to keep track of how much you are eating. Remember: satiation is a combination of both physical and psychological satisfaction, so it’s important to really see how much you’re eating so that you can feel satisfied by it. If you grab food all day long, you’ll likely end up taking in a whole lot of calories, but not feeling all that full because you won’t be getting the same sense of psychological satisfaction.

8. Consider setting some basic rules to make eating easier, like “no chips.”  That way, every time you glace at the bowl of chips you won’t have to engage in the struggle of deciding whether or not to have any and it will be easy to resist because you’ll just know: I’m not eating chips.

How to Write Response Cards

Response Cards can be very effective because they remind dieters of the important ideas they will need to help them stick to their diets.  Response Cards are usually one or two lines written on a 3×5 card (or a business-sized card) that dieters practice reading every day.  Dieters make Response Cards for issues that come up on a day to day basis, and also ones for specific and potentially difficult situations, like going out to dinner or to a party, going on vacation, during the holidays, etc.  In essence, Response Cards contain helpful responses to dieters’ sabotaging thoughts and help provide continual motivation.  For example, if dieters frequently have the thought, “I have to eat this because otherwise it will go to waste,” then they may make a card that says something like, “If there is leftover food, it will go to waste in the trashcan or in my body.  Either way it’s wasted.” 

Response cards can also be fine-tuned over time.  If dieters are struggling with emotional eating, they may make a card that says, “When I’m feeling upset, don’t eat! It won’t help solve the problem and then I’ll just feel even worse after anyway.”  Once dieters figure out how to cope with negative emotions in other ways, like taking a walk, calling a friend, or listening to music, then they may make a new Response Card that reads, “When I’m feeling upset, don’t eat because it will only make me feel worse. Instead go take a walk or call mom, I’ll be so happy later that I did.”

Response Cards should be very clear and to the point so dieters immediately know what messages they are sending.  Response Cards should also be strongly worded and, when needed, be very specific.  Here are some examples of okay Response Cards and then how to improve them:

Response Card: If I’m feeling hungry and it’s not time to eat, resist the food so that I can stick to my plan.

Better Response Card: If I’m feeling hungry and it’s not time to eat, don’t eat! I can hold out [X] minutes until it’s time to eat again, and the food will taste so much better if I do.

 

Response Card: Don’t eat little bites of food that aren’t on my plan because they will sabotage my efforts.

Better Response Card: Every single bite matters. It’s not the calories, it’s the habit. I need to take every opportunity I can to strengthen my resistance muscle.

 

Response Card: Yes, it is unfair that I can’t eat the way everyone else is eating but I can’t let that get in the way.

Better Response Card: It’s true it’s unfair that I can’t eat everything everyone else is eating, but it would be MORE unfair if I was never able to lose weight and keep it off. I’d much rather be thin!

 

Response Card: It’s not okay to eat unplanned food because I will regret it later.

Better Response Card: If I eat this food I hadn’t planned, I’ll get just a few moments of pleasure but then I’ll definitely feel bad about it and be at risk for eating more.

 

Response Card: If I make a mistake, get back on track right away so I don’t make the situation worse.

Better Response Card: Everybody makes mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. Get back on track this    minute! It’s a million times better to stop now than to keep eating more.  Being on track feels so much better than feeling out of control.

What is the difference between the okay and the better Response Cards?  While the “okay” ones do contain kernels of helpful ideas, they are not particularly motivating. The “better” Response Cards are very directive and remind dieters why it’s worth it to them to stick to their plans.  They also draw on dieters’ past experiences and use them as helpful reminders of times when they were able to resist in the past, or times when they didn’t but wished that they had.

When the Struggle Just Isn’t Worth It

Jamie came to see me a few weeks ago and one of the items she wanted to put on our agenda for the session was her trouble with ice cream. In the past Jamie has described ice cream as her Achilles heel, and it seemed that it had once again become problematic for her. Jamie told me that she was having difficulty keeping ice cream in her house because she would end up eating way more than one serving at a time, and way more than she had planned.

At that point, Jamie and I had discussed several strategies for her to try. I helped Jamie to identify some of the sabotaging thinking she was having in the moment she was tempted to eat more ice cream than she had planned and came up with responses to them. Some of Jamie’s sabotaging thoughts and helpful responses were:

Sabotaging thought: “It’s okay to eat more than I had planned just this one time”

Response: “It’s not okay to do it this one time because every single time matters. Every time I eat more ice cream than I had planned, I make it more likely I will eat more the next time, too. I need to exercise my resistance muscle, not my giving in muscle.”

Sabotaging Thought: “I deserve more ice cream at night because I was so good during the day and I turned down lots of holiday treats.”

Response: “My body doesn’t know or care how many things I didn’t eat today, it only knows how much I did eat. If I eat more calories than I had planned, I will gain weight.”

In session, Jamie made some new Response Cards with these helpful ideas on them and committed to reading them right before she had her nightly ice cream treat. Jamie and I also devised a plan for what she would do when she finished her serving of ice cream, including immediately putting her bowl and spoon in the dishwasher and turning to a list of distraction techniques to employ until the craving for more had passed.

Jamie came back to see me the following week and reported that ice cream continued to be a problem for her and she was feeling bad about her lack of control. Jamie reported that even though she was reading her Response Cards, sabotaging thoughts were continuing to hound her and she was struggling on an almost nightly basis. She said that every time she set out to have ice cream, she would have the thought, “I’ll be able to stop after one serving,” although that rarely was the case.

Jamie and I then talked about what our next plan of attack should be. I reminded Jamie that, while the ultimate goal is for her to be able to keep anything in the house and know she can stay in control, if a particular food item is consistently giving her trouble it can be a good idea to just not keep it in the house for the time being. Jamie and I discussed the fact that she was constantly putting herself through a struggle each night because even when she was able to limit her intake to one serving, it was very hard for her to do so. On any given night, the thought, “I’ll be able to stop after one serving,” was either not true, or it was true but required a lot of struggle and effort on Jamie’s part.

By the end of the session, Jamie came to the conclusion that right now, even though she really liked ice cream, it just wasn’t worth it to her to keep it in the house. I reminded Jamie that she doesn’t have to keep ice cream out of her house forever; rather this is just for a limited time while she builds back up her resistance muscle. Jamie also decided that if she really wanted ice cream, she could go out and buy a single serving of it so she wouldn’t have to struggle to stop eating. Undoubtedly Jamie will keep ice cream in her house in the future, but for right now the negatives outweigh the positives.

5 Reasons to Start Your Diet Resolutions Today

Perhaps one of the most commonly heard holiday-related sabotaging thoughts is, “My resolution is to eat healthfully so I’ll start dieting after New Year’s.” In our work with dieters we don’t subscribe to the notion that it’s a good idea, or even a rational idea, to wait until the holidays are over to start eating healthfully. Instead, we work with our dieters to help them build skills and practice them consistently so that they don’t have to struggle to get back on track come January 1st. The reason we do this is because the holiday season happens year, and if dieters decide to throw in the towel during the holidays this year, chances are pretty good they will do the same thing next year, and every year to follow. Here’s why it’s so problematic to wait until the New Year to begin eating healthfully again:

1. If dieters decide that it’s okay to splurge a lot during the holidays and eat whatever they want, it sends themselves the message that it’s okay to make exceptions to dieting and healthy eating. Once dieters start making exceptions in one area, they begin to get tempted to make exceptions in other ways as well, telling themselves, “just this one time won’t matter”. Instead of just knowing that they will stay in control during the weekends, at weddings, functions, dinners out, parties, and other holidays, they may begin to struggle with themselves before and during each one and agonize over whether or not to make an exception. We always remind our dieters that one of the hardest parts of dieting is the struggle, and everything we can do to reduce the struggle is worth it.

2. There is no guarantee that dieters will actually be able to get themselves back on track once the holiday season is over. At the beginning of the holiday season, dieters may firmly believe that no matter what once the New Year hits they will be able to return to healthy eating, but this is not always the case. If dieters eat off track during the holiday season, it is likely that they will end up gaining some, or even a lot, of weight. Gaining weight can be very discouraging, and the more discouraged dieters feel, the harder it will be for them to get back on track. If dieters are feeling discouraged, when the New Year comes they may very well end up telling themselves, “I’ve gained all this weight so what’s the point,” or, “I’ll get back on track tomorrow,” or, “I’ll start my diet next week,” and it may take weeks or even months for dieters to regain control over their eating.

3. Dieters will constantly undo all of their hard work from the rest of the year by gaining weight during the holiday season. Even if they are able to get themselves back on track January 1st, they may not be able to quite lose all the weight they had gained. If this happens, dieters will find that their weight slowly begins to creep up year after year and they may begin to feel helpless to stop it.

4. It often happens with dieters that once they get off track for a number of days, they actually forget how good it feels to be in control of their eating and how much they enjoy all the benefits of losing weight. Especially if dieters have gotten used to giving in to all their cravings, eating whatever they feel like, and not having a plan, it can be very difficult for them to convince themselves to return to healthy eating once the holiday season is over because they don’t remember how much better it feels when they are practicing their skills consistently.

5. Once dieters get off track, it can undermine their confidence that they are capable of dieting successfully and controlling their eating. Not only do they forget how good it feels when they are in control, they may also begin to question their abilities to lose weight and keep it off permanently.

For all of these reasons and more, we find that it is just not worth it to continually splurge during the holiday season and have to count on getting back on track January 1st, because doing so can make almost every part of dieting and maintaining harder and jeopardize future success. Our dieters come to realize that good health, feeling good about themselves, having more self-confidence, being able to move around better, being able to fit into their old clothes, feeling proud of themselves, setting a good example for their kids, and feeling good when they look in the mirror more than makes up for it.  So don’t wait, start your resolution RIGHT NOW and come January 1st you will be so happy you did.

According to Research

The findings of a research study published in the August 2011 edition of the Obesity Journal state that “in comparison to leaner individuals, heavier individuals are more likely to overeat when there is a large variety of palatable foods available, but less likely to overeat when there are very few or no such foods available,” while, “leaner individuals reported a relatively low rate of overeating that was fairly constant regardless of the availability of palatable foods.”

This backs up what we found with our dieters –they are much more likely to overeat if they have lots of tempting foods surrounding them and, similarly, when they are having strong cravings, the likelihood of their eating off plan is greatly increased if the food is readily available as opposed to them having to go out and buy it. It’s certainly true that in sessions with our dieters we help them to develop effective resistance techniques so that they are able to coexist with any food and know that they will be able to control themselves. However, we also discuss with our dieters the fact that dieting can be hard, especially when dieters are engaging in the painful struggle of “Should I have this? I know I shouldn’t. But it looks really good. But it’s not on my plan. But I really want some. But you know you’re not supposed to have it, etc.” and it’s often worth it to do what we can to make it easier. To this end, while we never suggest that dieters cut out any food from their diets altogether, it doesn’t mean that they need to have a giant Costco-sized box of it sitting in their pantry, especially in the beginning when they are first learning and practicing new skills.

We also remind our dieters that while they cannot necessarily control what food and treats are in their office break rooms or served at parties and functions, many of them do have at least some control in deciding what food is brought into their homes. In order for dieters to exercise this control, we may initially need to do some work with them so that they feel entitled to make changes in their homes, especially if they have ideas like, “My partner and/or children will be deprived if they can’t have lots of treats available at home.” We may also work with dieters to change their thinking if they have sabotaging thoughts such as, “I can’t throw away (or give away) this food because somebody made it,” or, “It will be a waste of money if I get rid of these treats,” or, “I can’t ask the people in my home to make changes.”  We discuss various strategies with our dieters, like having them try bringing in only single-serving portions of their favorite treats or having their partners keep their junk food out of sight.

Especially now that we are entering holiday season, which means a prevalence of treats everywhere you look, it can be extremely helpful to remove (large quantities of) highly tempting foods from your immediate environment. While holiday season is not created to help people lose weight or maintain a weight loss, it also does not have to be such a huge threat to successful dieting. Whether it means not buying tempting junk food or getting rid of it when it is around, we counsel our dieters to take control wherever they can and limit the number of times a day they have to resist tempting food. And we always ask them: who will really suffer if there is less junk food around? Healthy eating is not just important for dieters, after all.

Thomas, J. Graham, Sapna Doshi, Ross Crosby, and Michael R. Lowe. “Ecological Momentary Assessment of Obesogenic Eating Behavior: Combining Person-Specific and Environmental Predictors.” Obesity Journal 19.8 (2011): 1574-579. Print.

Handling Hunger

Jamie came in to see me this week and discussed a situation that had happened the day before. Jamie told me that she woke up, had her normal breakfast, and then went to work. At 10:00am she had her usual snack to tide her over until her 12:30 lunch break. However, at about 10:30 she started to feel very hungry. Because Jamie and I have spent time in the past helping her learn to differentiate between hunger and non-hunger, she could tell that it was hunger she was experiencing, not thirst, a craving, or just a desire to eat. Looking ahead, Jamie knew he lunch was still a formidable two hours away and she was sitting at her desk with a hungry stomach.

When Jamie first came to see me she had a fear of hunger that was leading her to load up at meals and carry snacks with her just in case hunger should choose to strike. This is why I had had Jamie do a hunger experiment (which is to skip lunch one day and eat nothing between breakfast and dinner) twice over the course of a month to prove to herself that hunger comes and goes and that at its worst, hunger pains rate as only mildly painful. Before Jamie did this experiment she wrote out a pain chart and assigned numbers, 1 through 10, to her most painful experiences. For Jamie, 1 was a mild headache, 5 was a bad toothache, and 10 was the time she broke her leg and needed surgery. When Jamie did the hunger experiment, not only did she find that the hunger came and went and she forgot about it when she got distracted, but when she was feeling hunger pangs they only rated, at their highest, at about a 2 or 2.5. Through the hunger experiment Jamie definitively learned that hunger will not kill her and that if she gets busy she won’t even feel it most of the time.

However, Jamie had done these hunger experiments a few months ago and by the time her hunger before lunch rolled around this week, Jamie had begun to forget what she had previously proved to herself. Jamie told me that she started to have thoughts like, “Oh no, I’m hungry and lunch isn’t for another two hours. This is really bad and I’m going to get so hungry and be too distracted to get any work done. I’ll never make it until lunch time.” Because of these sabotaging thoughts, Jamie seriously considered having another snack and began to look for one until she realized that didn’t have any other food packed and so she couldn’t. Jamie told me that was the best thing that could have happened to her because she was forced to wait out her hunger and not put a band aid on it, like she would have done in the past. When Jamie accepted that she wasn’t going to be able to have a snack despite her desire to have one, she was able to turn her attention back to work and start tackling a project that had been hanging over her head.            

Like she experienced in the past, before Jamie knew it an hour had passed and she realized she had barely been feeling much, if any, hunger during that time. Jamie did experience some hunger pangs again when she took a breather, was no longer distracted, and turned her attention to thoughts of food, but by that point she was easily able to tell herself, “Lunch is only an hour away. I can definitely wait an hour to eat and I know I’ll be so happy I did. I just have to get myself involved in work again and the hunger will go away like it always does.”

In session, Jamie and I discussed her triumph and what she has learned from it. Jamie reported that she was glad she was forced to undergo another smaller hunger experiment because it helped remind her of things she already knew but had forgotten somewhat. Jamie and I discussed the fact that she might continue to be a little bit vulnerable to fearing hunger, but whenever she needed to she could always do another hunger experiment and prove to herself, over and over again, that hunger is not an emergency and she can definitely wait it out.

Beck Diet Solution Success

We received the following letter a few weeks ago from Kari, a woman who read and followed The Beck Diet Solution. With Kari’s permission we are posting her story because we have found it incredibly inspirational and think others will, too. Kari’s story reminds us that, while dieting can be difficult, the payoff of doing so is amazing and absolutely, 100% worth the effort. Like many dieters, Kari has found that learning to take control of her eating has also enabled her to take control in other areas of her life, too. Congratulations on all your hard work, Kari!

(P.S. We’d love to hear your stories, too!)

October 5, 2011

Dear Dr. Beck,

I knew I had experienced transformation, but it didn’t really hit me how dramatic the change was until I saw these two pictures next to each other on my computer!

Thank you for writing your books and helping me to give myself the 40th birthday present that I really wanted. When I turned 39 on Oct. 23, 2010, I said that by the time I turned 40 I wanted to be a healthy weight. Well, I’m about to turn 40 and I am now in the “normal” weight range, thanks to using the skills I learned in your books.

I am a musician and losing weight has made performing so much easier and a lot more fun. I have so much more confidence because I feel great. But also, and perhaps more importantly, I’ve learned how to help myself stay on track with not just dieting, but practicing music, budgeting money, and other areas that I would like to improve.

The Beck Diet Solution is an incredible tool, and I am so glad that I had the good fortune to discover it! No other diet I tried could take me all the way to goal – yours was the only plan that covered every single hardship that I might face and taught me how to plan for those times. Your diet plan was the only one that taught me how to tailor the program to my own circumstances – from planning the food I liked to creating my own responses to my specific sabotaging thoughts and behaviors. Your plan was the only one who dealt with the reality of food pushers, traveling and getting off track. I liked learning how to count calories because it gave me the knowledge I needed to know to deal with meal planning, restaurants and parties. If I had times when I cheated, I knew how to analyze the situation and plan to avoid that pitfall again. The Beck Diet Solution is a sensible, comprehensive approach that really works!

I have been on the plan for a little over a year now, and I just recently made new “advantages” cards. When I looked back at the previous year and compared it to my current cards, I could see how much I’ve matured as a person because of following your plan. I really feel that your approach helped me to become more conscious of myself in so many areas of my life – not just how I look or feel physically, but how I greet life in general now on an emotional level. I now notice distorted or sabotaging thoughts about other things, not just food, and I can talk back to those as well.

Anyway, I can’t thank you enough. You’ve changed my life and I know there are positive ripple effects to the people around me. I hope everyone who has a desire to lose weight will find your books and experience the amazing transformation that I have.

Thank you again!

Sincerely,

Kari D.

 

Instituting Exercise – Part II

I asked Jamie to think about the week to come and what sabotaging thoughts she might have that would get in the way of her enacting her exercise plan. Jamie reported that she might think:

• 20 minutes is almost nothing and it won’t do anything anyway

• It’s too hard to get myself to do it

• I’ll never be able to keep it up so why should I start

• I’m too busy/rushed/stressed to exercise this week, I’ll start next week

• I just don’t feel like exercising right now

[Do any of these sound familiar to you?]

In session I helped Jamie to examine each one of those thoughts and come up with responses to them. Here are Jamie’s new responses:

Sabotaging Thought: 20 minutes is almost nothing and it won’t do anything anyway

Response: 20 minutes is MUCH better than 0 minutes. I can work up from here but it’s important to start off smaller so that I don’t fall back into my all-or-nothing habit by having too hard of a goal and then getting overwhelmed and quitting, like I have done so many times in the past.

Sabotaging Thought: It’s too hard to get myself to do it

Response: The hardest part is just getting my sneakers on. Once I get myself out the door it will be easier. I’ve proven to myself that I can do hard things where dieting is concerned so I know I can do this hard thing, too. It’s so worth it!

Sabotaging Thought: I’ll never be able to keep it up anyway so why should I start

Response: In the past I’ve never kept up with exercise because I didn’t know how to identify and respond to my sabotaging thoughts. Now I have learned to talk back to the thoughts that would get in the way of my exercising consistently and I’ve also learned how to make diet and exercise a TOP priority and to not make excuses.

Sabotaging Thought: I’m too busy/rushed/stressed to exercise this week, I’ll start next week

Response: When has “starting next week” EVER helped me to reach my goals? I need to start doing these things THIS MINUTE or I never will. Besides, exercise will actually help me calm down and make me less stressed, not more. And being busy is NO excuse because I won’t be able to do all those other things if I’m not healthy.

Sabotaging Thought: I just don’t feel like exercising right now

Response: It’s true, I don’t feel like exercising. But even more I don’t feel like being overweight, putting my health at risk, and not being able to run around with my kids. Even though I don’t feel like it I just have to do it anyway because the payoff will be more than worth it.

I had Jamie write down each one of these responses onto Response Cards and part of her homework was to read them every single day until the ideas started to get more into her head.

I also discussed with Jamie that just doing the exercise is not the only important factor because it’s also very important what she says to herself while she’s doing it. I pointed out to Jamie that if, while she’s walking, she says to herself the whole time, “This is terrible. I hate doing this. I really wish I didn’t have to ever exercise. This stinks and I should be doing 100 other things right now,” then she’s going to have a pretty bad time and it’s going to be that much harder for her to get herself to exercise the next time. On the other hand, if Jamie says to herself while she’s walking, “Okay, I may not like this all that much but it’s GREAT that I’m doing this. This is so important for my health and my well-being and I know I’m going to get so many positive things in return. I deserve lots of credit for doing this,” then she’s likely going to have a much better time, actually end up feeling good about it, and will have an easier time getting her sneakers on the next time.

The bottom line: I had to help Jamie change her thinking so that she would be able to effectively change her behavior.