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.