Tuesday Reality Check: If you’re making a goal to lose weight in 2020, GET ON THE SCALE! See where you’re starting from! Avoiding the scale makes it easier to avoid other healthy habits. Just remember, if you felt sick, took your temperature, and saw you had a fever, you would never think, “I can’t believe I let my temperature get this high! I’m such a weak person.” The number on the scale is the same – it’s just INFORMATION about whether what you’re doing is working. It says nothing about who you are as a person.
Monday Motivation: It’s important to both give yourself credit for the good choices you make and not berate yourself when you make a mistake. When you beat yourself up, the only thing it does is demoralize you further, making it harder to get back on track. When you give yourself credit, it makes you feel great, makes it easier to keep doing what you’re doing, helps raise your confidence, and gives you motivation to stay on track. No matter what your eating has been like lately, it’s never too late to turn things around and start giving yourself credit for small, positive changes.
In session this week, my client, Rebecca, told me that nighttime (specifically the hours between dinner and bedtime) was hard for her lately. She found herself having to continually fight off cravings, and it was wearing her down. I asked Rebecca two questions: 1) Did she have a plan for exactly what she’d eat in the evening? and 2) Was she craving things that were in her house currently or things that she’d have to go out and get? Rebecca told me that she didn’t have an exact plan for the evenings (she used to make one, but that habit had somehow dropped off her radar), and that she was craving food that was in her kitchen.
Those answers did not surprise me, and I predicted that they were both at the root of her trouble. First, not having a strong plan in the evening (especially since evening has historically been Rebecca’s hardest time) is a recipe for trouble. If she didn’t know exactly what she was going to eat, then it’s no wonder she was having lots of cravings because everything in her kitchen felt like an option. During her quiet moments, her mind was invariably scrolling through the possibilities of all the things she could eat, and cravings were the inevitable result. Going back to planning in advance exactly what she would eat in the evening will hopefully cut out a lot of the cravings. Her brain will know exactly what she’s going to eat, and therefore can focus on one food instead of many.
Second, the fact that Rebecca craved food currently in her house likely made her cravings a lot stronger because the food was right there, easily within her reach. Cravings for food outside the house are generally easier to resist because of the effort involved in going to get them (no instant gratification!). I asked Rebecca if, in addition to not planning her evening snack, she had also lapsed into bringing too much junk food into her house. Rebecca realized that she had.
For a while, she was good at keeping things like ice cream and cookies out of her house. It wasn’t that she didn’t eat these foods, but on nights she planned to have them, she brought in single servings at a time. Keeping her house a craving-free environment was critical to Rebecca’s early success in curbing her constant nighttime eating. Again, it’s no wonder that Rebecca was struggling so much in the evening – she had way too many tempting foods right at her fingertips. Rebecca agreed to get rid of the junk food (and/or ask her husband to keep the things he wanted to have in his home office) and go back to bringing in single servings.
With these two action plans in place Rebecca felt much better about her ability to return to more peaceful evenings!
Friday Weekend Warm-up: If you think, “I just want to enjoy myself at holiday events this weekend and not have to think about it,” remind yourself, “there’s no such thing as not thinking about my eating! If I think about it before I go to the party (and when I’m there), I can plan to have a special treat and feel really good afterwards. If I don’t have a plan, I’ll be thinking about it a lot when the party is over (in a negative way), and I won’t be happy I didn’t control my eating. But either way I’ll think about it.”
Think Thin Thursday Tip: We want to remind you after a holiday that it’s okay to get rid of leftovers! If you have highly tempting food in your house, either make a plan for how much you’ll have, and/or make a plan to get it out of the house so that it doesn’t tempt you and tax your resistance muscle.
Wednesday Sabotage: To those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! We hope you have a day planned with fun things and good food (that you’ll eat in reasonable portions and feel really good about once the day has passed).
Tuesday Reality Check: This whole week, keep in mind, “I won’t regret the extra food I don’t eat, but I definitely will regret overeating. I never regret not eating something once the temptation has passed!”
Monday Motivation: If you are given gifts of holiday food and feel guilty about not eating it, remember that whether you actually eat the gift in no way takes away from the nice gesture of receiving it. Make sure you keep your home environment one that works in your favor, not against you. There’s enough treats tempting you almost everywhere you look this time of year, your home doesn’t need to add to that.
Friday Weekend Warm-up: This weekend, if you think, “It’s not fair that I can’t eat like everyone else,” remind yourself, “Thank goodness I’m not eating like everyone else! Most people gain weight during the holiday season, and my goal is the opposite.”
Think Thin Thursday Tip: If you think, “There’s just so much junk food at work, I can’t resist it,” remind yourself that it’s worth it not to eat junk food at work. You don’t want to be plagued by cravings. You don’t want to gain weight, and you don’t want to feel guilty afterwards. If you see treats in the office that you want, tell yourself: “I CAN have them, just not right now. I’ll enjoy the treat so much more at home when I’ve planned to have it because I’ll eat it guilt free (and I won’t have to worry about overeating because I will only have one portion with me).”
The Beck Diet 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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