Thursday Think Tip: Staying on track – while it can feel very difficult in the moment – is actually a stress-reducer overall, because it gives you something to feel really proud about and makes you feel in control.
Wednesday Sabotage: I’m exhausted, but I have work to do, so I can’t sleep. I’ll eat to give me energy.
Response: Even though I feel exhausted, it doesn’t mean I can’t push through and still get my work done. If I eat every time I feel tired, it’s likely I won’t be able to lose weight.
Tuesday Reality Check: If you make a dieting mistake, it’s important to label it as such. It’s a mistake, not a catastrophe. The worse you make it seem in your head, the harder it will be to recover from. If you recognize that it’s just a small mistake and everyone makes mistakes, it won’t be such a hard leap to get right back on track.
Monday Motivation: Remember, it’s a combination of all the “little” things – like resisting an unplanned snack, making it a priority to eat sitting down, going for a walk when you feel stressed – that will make you lose weight. It’s all the daily things that lead up to BIG weight loss!
Friday Weekend Warm-up: If you come in contact with food pushers this weekend, remember that in terms of your eating, you only have to answer to yourself. Don’t let comments or predicted reactions from others influence how you eat. You’re working on healthy eating because it’s an important goal for YOU. You don’t need to explain or answer to anybody else about this!
Thursday Think Tip: If you think, “I’m going to try to eat extra to see what I can get away with,” remind yourself that the only thing you’ll really ‘get away with’ is either not losing weight or losing it much more slowly.
Wednesday Sabotage: It’s okay to eat this because I’m having a bad day.
Response: It’s not okay to eat extra, because although my mind knows I’m having a bad day, my body doesn’t. Besides, if I overeat, I’ll feel badly and guilty, which will make me even more unhappy. If I stay on track with my eating, it’s highly likely my day will start to feel better, not worse.
Tuesday Reality Check: When clients tell us, “I had a really hard week,” we ask them, “Was it hard for every single hour of every single day?” The answer is always no. Don’t let the memory of several hard times influence your perception of the week as a whole.
Monday Motivation: This week, think about things you can ADD to your life, not subtract. More water? More vegetables? More healthy ways to release stress?
Right from our first session, my client Ellie told me she always has an incredibly difficult time stopping at a reasonable amount of food. She always wants to eat more, even if she’s just eaten a lot. Ellie described herself as having a “huge hunger” and initially felt powerless to make changes in her eating.
I asked Ellie if we could first look at the phrase “huge hunger” and examine whether or not that was entirely accurate. The problem with telling herself that she had a huge hunger was that it legitimized eating. If you’re hungry, you should eat, right? I said to her, “This week, pay attention. When you’ve eaten dinner and then you want seconds, where is that urge coming from? Is it an empty rumbling in your stomach, or is it coming from somewhere else?”
Ellie came back the following week and said that once she’s eaten a meal and wants to continue eating, it’s her mouth and her mind that want more. Her stomach didn’t feel empty, but she still felt like eating. Because it wasn’t an empty rumbling in her stomach that was demanding more food, and instead a psychological urge, I proposed to Ellie that we reconceptualize her “huge hunger” as actually her having a “huge appetite.” Telling herself she was hungry for more dinner after she’d eaten a reasonable amount legitimized her continuing to eat. Recognizing that her appetite – her desire to eat – was motivating her to want more, not a lack of sufficient food or physical fullness, is crucial in helping her stop at a reasonable point.
Ellie made the following Response Cards to help her start working on this idea:
I have a huge appetite, not a huge hunger. I don’t physically need a lot of food to feel full, but it’s true that I do like to eat a lot. Working on slowing down and eating mindfully will help maximize my psychological satisfaction and get my appetite more aligned with my hunger. I need to remember that I’ll never give up eating, but I will have to give up overeating in order to lose weight. But, in doing so, I won’t be depriving my body of food that it needs.
While Ellie and I have more work to do in uncovering and addressing other beliefs that get in her way, helping Ellie realize that it was her appetite, not her actual hunger, that was leading to a lot of her overeating is an important first step in Ellie ultimately learning how to eat but not overeat.
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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