We talked to someone who started her weight loss journey on January 1st, 2012 and today she is down over 50 pounds (and is loving life more than she ever thought). Regardless of where your weight is today, a new year is ALWAYS a great time to start fresh. Commit to a healthy eating plan and by this time next year who knows where you’ll be and how great you’ll be feeling!
Dieters often find it easier to stay in control of their eating during the week because their days are more structured. Remember – just because weekends may have unstructured time, doesn’t mean they have to have unstructured eating. This weekend, work on keeping your eating consistent and you’ll feel great on Monday morning as a result of doing so.
Some dieters tend to consistently eat until they’re overly full – often saying something like, “I just like to eat.” We remind them that if they work on portion control, they’re not giving up eating, they’re only giving up OVEReating and the uncomfortable sensation of having eaten too much.
Sabotaging Thought: I can’t throw away this leftover holiday food, it would be a waste of food and money.
Response: If I eat food my body doesn’t need, it will be wasted in my body by turning to fat. Wasted in the trashcan or in my body, either way it’s wasted. Also, the money is already gone, eating the food won’t bring the money back, but what it may do is cause me to gain weight.
Remember, your body doesn’t know or care that it's Christmas. While it may be perfectly reasonable to have extra calories today, do it in a deliberate and planned way, instead of just allowing yourself to eat more, telling yourself that it doesn’t count. Also, if you eat extra in a planned way, you’ll enjoy it more because you’ll know that it’s part of your plan for the day!
If you get off track with healthy eating, remind yourself that it’s never too late to get back on track. You can make the decision to get back on track right this MINUTE. Don’t wait for the next month, week, day, or hour. Do it right NOW. Prove to yourself that you never have to wait to get back on track, and you can always make the rest of the day/week/month better than it has been.
There is NOT ONE single food that you can eat while you’re off track that you can’t also eat when you’re on track. When you’re working on healthy eating, it’s true that you probably can’t eat as much of it as you want, but certainly any food can be worked into your diet in reasonable portions. This weekend, work on eating your favorite food in a reasonable way.
Whether you plan to have one, two, or three cookies at a holiday party, the most important part is that you stick to your plan. It’s critical to always stick to your plan, whatever that plan may be. The more you do so, the easier and easier it will be to continue doing so and the less effort and energy it will take because you’ll just know, “I always stick to my plan, no matter what.”
Sabotaging Thought The holiday season is so busy, I don’t want to worry about my eating, too.
Response: It’s true, the holidays can be stressful. But guaranteed I’ll actually feel MORE stress if my eating gets out of control because I’ll feel guilty about it and be worried about gaining weight. Continuing to work on staying in control of my eating will help me to feel less stress during the holidays, not more.
Q: There are so many treats in my office right now, and although I try hard to resist them, it’s so hard this time of year. Any suggestions on what I can do to get through the holiday season without getting off track with my eating?
A: We know this time of year can be particularly hard for people who are working on losing weight or maintaining their weight. In answer to your question, let me tell you about what I do and what works for me.
I have a rule for myself that makes life so much easier: no junk food before dinner. Before I started working on losing weight, and then maintaining my weight loss, I certainly did not have this rule and would eat junk food and desserts several times a day, often whenever it was offered to me or I came in contact with it. Even after I lost weight, I still didn’t have this rule, but would try hard not to eat much (if any) junk food during the day. However, when I began working at the Beck Institute, limiting my daily junk food consumption became harder because there were often treats in our office kitchen. To make matters worse, my office is right across from the kitchen and I go in there several times a day to refill my water cup. For the first few months, I found going into the kitchen to be a hard experience because I would see all the treats in there, want them, and then engage in the struggle of saying to myself things like, “Oh those brownies look really good/But you know you shouldn’t have one/How about if I just have a small piece/No, you know it’s about the habit, not about the calories/But just this one time won’t matter/Every time matters, don’t fool yourself,” etc. Because this was happening to me on a daily basis (and, often on a multiple times a day basis), I quickly realized that something had to change because I didn’t want the struggle to continue. So what did I do? I made a rule for myself: No junk food before dinner. No exceptions. If I saw something in the office kitchen that I really wanted, I could take a piece home and have it after dinner.
Right after I made this rule, life got easier. I no longer had to think about whether or not to eat the treats every time I went into the kitchen because I knew I wasn’t having any. The decision had already been made. In the beginning, of course, there were still times that I was highly tempted by the treats, and my sabotaging thoughts tried to convince me that just one time, or just one bite, wouldn’t matter. But every time I had that thought, I strongly reminded myself that every time does matter and every bite does matter because if I gave in once, then I would be much more likely to give in again. I knew that if I opened the door to exceptions one time, then I would be tempted to open it over and over again, and thus my rule wouldn’t work anymore. Every time I was tempted to eat a treat during the day, I would remind myself, “No, you’re not eating this now. The decision has already been made. Don’t even think about it.” I would also remind myself, “You don’t need to eat it now! If you really want it, bring it home and have it after dinner. Besides, you’ll enjoy it much more then because you won’t feel guilty about eating it.”
The more I proved to myself that no matter what I wasn’t going to eat treats from the kitchen while at work, it started to get easier and easier to resist them. I am grateful all the time for this rule because it means that I can go into the office kitchen as many times a day as I need to, and I don’t have to worry about what I might see in there. I don’t have to worry about engaging in a painful “Should I eat this/Should I not eat this” struggle with myself because I know: I just don’t eat it at work.
This rule becomes even more important during the holiday season when our office is overloaded with treats. Even though, in theory, there are more temptations to eat all the treats during the holiday season, I am more committed than ever to my rule right now because I know that if I gave in, life would get harder again, and it’s just not worth it to me. Every time I’m tempted when I walk in the kitchen, I remind myself over and over again, “It’s not worth eating this now because the only thing it will do is increase my struggles and make life harder. It’s worth it to continue resisting because it means I’ll be able to maintain my weight and have an easier life.”
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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