Andrea, a dieter I’m counseling, was so glad I had prepared her well for a more difficult time. At her second session with me, I asked her to write a response card to read every morning, in preparation for the first day that dieting would seem hard. It said:
“Dieting is supposed to get hard. That’s okay. Just keep practicing your skills and it will get easy again.”
Andrea sailed along all fall, losing weight steadily and fairly easily, and she was gaining confidence. But two weeks ago, dieting got harder. Holiday stress, too busy a schedule, not enough sleep, less control over her food—all these factors made it difficult for Andrea to stick to her plan. But she did! She said if she hadn’t been reading the card all along, she would have given up.
It’s perfectly normal and natural for a dieter–no matter how motivated or “good” of a dieter she or he is– to encounter a few bumps along the road.
In fact, the whole thrust of the Beck Diet Solution program is to prepare dieters for the difficult times. EVERY dieter encounters hurdles; some within the first few days, some (like Andrea) not for months, but at some point, dieting gets harder for everyone. It’s supposed to. (Maybe you’re more stressed, maybe you’re experiencing some physiological changes, maybe you’re feeling less motivated, etc.)
If dieting seems easy initially, it’s easy to get fooled and think it will always be easy. Hurdles don’t necessarily crop up at the beginning. Dieters are often so motivated when they first initiate a diet that they easily arrange their lives to make time for dieting (shopping, cooking, etc.), tolerate hunger, etc., and they don’t really experience a hurdle until their motivation flags or their life changes in some way or they feel more stressed. For other dieters, hurdles are experienced even on the first day. They might, for example, have sabotaging thoughts such as, “I don’t have time to get the food I need.” “I can’t disappoint my friend by having just one drink tonight.” It’s important for ALL dieters to prepare themselves for the hurdles they’ll experience. Creating (reading, and re-reading, daily) cards with their own advantages for losing weight and their responses to sabotaging thoughts is crucial to overcoming hurdles.