Food simply isn’t as enjoyable when you know you’re going to feel guilty about it later. When you’re making food decisions, remind yourself that the eating experience isn’t limited to just when the food is in your mouth – it also includes how you feel about it after.
In dieting, like everything else in life, you WILL make mistakes. If you were learning to play the piano and hit a wrong key, you wouldn’t think, “This is so terrible! I should just give up right now.” Of course not! You’d know that with practice you’ll get better. Dieting is no different – mistakes are just mistakes and not an indication that you should give up.
No matter what the event is, our dieters find that they have a much easier time staying in control of their eating when they have some type of plan. Spend a few minutes today thinking about all of the potentially difficult situations you may encounter this weekend and begin to formulate plans. Guaranteed the time investment now will pay off later!
If you’re worried about turning down food that someone is offering you, ask yourself: Compared to other disappointments in that person’s life, how disappointed will s/he really be if I don’t eat this food right now? On the other hand, if I reinforce the tendency to give in, go off my diet, and jeopardize my weight loss, how disappointed will I be?
Sabotaging Thought: Sooner or later I'm going to eat the whole box of chocolates so I might as well eat them all now.
Response: This doesn’t have to become a self-fulfilling prophesy! There are things I can do to make sure this doesn't happen, like IMMEDIATELY either throw away the leftovers or get some distance from them. If I can't get to them, I can't eat them.
Question: I always start out the week feeling energized and motivated to stick to my diet, but by midweek I seem to lose motivation. By the end of the week and especially on the weekends, I have so much of a harder time sticking with my diet. Do you have any suggestions on how I can keep myself motivated throughout the whole week?
Answer: We’re glad you asked this question because we know that this is an issue many dieters struggle with, and we have some suggestions that may help.
Keep Reading your Advantages List. On days when dieters are feeling less motivated, they need to be reminded exactly why they’re working so hard to achieve their weight loss goals. Therefore, it’s crucial to form the habit of reading your Advantages List every single morning so that even on days when you’re feeling unmotivated, you’ll still be able to get yourself to read it because it will just be a part of your morning routine. As the week progresses and your motivation beings to wane, it’s important to take a few extra moments with your Advantages List— really think about how important each item is to you, and how much you’ll enjoy each them when they become realities. This should help you start off your day on a better and more motivated foot.
Set mini goals and rewards. We know that it can be difficult to sustain your motivation if you are focusing on goals that seem far away. In order to stay motivated and on track during the week, it can be helpful to set more short-range goals (like continuing to follow your diet for the next three days); then give yourself a small, non-food related reward. This way, you have something tangible and achievable to anticipate in the short-term.
Remember how good you feel on days you stay in control. Regardless of whether or not you’re motivated to follow through with your healthy eating plan, we suspect you go to bed feeling far happier on the days you do follow your plan than on the days you don’t. We always discuss with our dieters that even if staying in control of their eating had no weight loss benefits, we still think it would be worth it because remaining in control feels so much better than being out of control. Whether or not you feel like eating healthfully, if you commit yourself to doing it, chances are likely that you won’t regret it and you will feel better, both physically and psychologically.
Don’t rely on motivation – just do it, anyway. We do many things in life whether or not we feel like it (and whether or not we feel particularly motivated in the moment), like brushing our teeth, taking a shower, putting on our seatbelts, getting to work on time, handing in assignments, getting up with our kids, etc. We don’t tell ourselves, “Maybe I’ll take a shower next week, when I feel like it,” or, “I don’t want to get up with my kids right now, so I’ll sleep in today.” There will probably be many times when you don’t feel like practicing your dieting skills, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them anyway. Instead of waiting for motivation to strike, think about why it’s worth it to you and just do it, anyway.
Remember: A string of good days builds positive momentum. It’s important to remember that staying on track is usually far easier (and requires less effort) than having to get back on track. Every time your motivation dips and you’re tempted to give in and eat off track, think about the fact that motivation will return at some point (after all, you’re working on enormously important goals), and when it does, you’ll be so glad that you don’t have to put forth the effort to get back on track again. Remind yourself that the more positive momentum you build, the easier it will be to continue doing what you’re doing, even on days when you feel unmotivated.
If you think, “I don’t have time to eat healthy so I’ll just eat whatever is available,” remind yourself that, especially if you spend time over the weekend preparing healthy ingredients, it probably won’t take ALL that much longer. And think about how much time and money you’ll save in the long term when you don’t have health problems as a result of carrying around extra weight!
No matter how smart, successful, and disciplined you are in every other area of life, this does not automatically guarantee that you will be good at losing and maintaining weight, because doing so takes learning and practice of specific skills. So cut yourself a break and instead start working on what you need to do today!
If you think, “It’s the weekend, I’ve worked hard all week so I deserve to unwind,” remind yourself, “Yes, it’s true I do deserve to relax and unwind this weekend, but I also deserve to achieve everything on my Advantages List, so I have to go about doing that without turning to food.”
Cravings are about want, NOT need. When you think, “I really need this food right now,” remind yourself, “Actually, I really want this food right now, but I want all the benefits of weight loss so much more. It’s worth it to resist because it will get me to my goals.”
The Beck Institute Weight Management Program was developed by Dr. Judith S. Beck with Deborah Beck Busis, LCSW.
Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a leading international source for training, therapy, and resources in CBT.
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