Friday Weekend Warm-up: This weekend, get out there and move! The weather has cooled down, so now is the perfect time to get some exercise outside.
Thursday Think Tip: Are you reading Response Cards every day? If you’re not, it’s time to start! Your brain will make plenty of sabotaging thoughts all on its own. You need every bit of ammunition to respond to them.
Wednesday Sabotage: I just want to snack all evening long.
Response: If I get the urge to snack all evening long (especially if I’ve had a reasonable dinner), then it’s NOT about hunger! It’s about boredom, or being tired, or needing some pleasure. There are many other ways to achieve these ends without sabotaging my weight loss goals, so I’m going to find something else to do.
Tuesday Reality Check: While we do believe that getting on the scale is a helpful accountability tool, we also believe that it’s just a number! It doesn’t define you or say anything about your character. You are more than that number.
Monday Motivation: Once you have healthy habits established, eating healthfully will get so much easier because your habits will carry you to where you want to go. It can be hard to get them in place, but it’s worth the effort because the payoff is enormous!
In session this week, my client Michael told me that in the evenings he keeps having the nagging thought, “Maybe I should just go into the kitchen and eat whatever I want.” While he has not been giving in, he told me he’s had this thinking pattern in the past, and it’s making him nervous about his ability to continue to stay on track.
I first asked Michael, “In the past when you’ve given in to that thought, how long did the good feelings from eating last? Ten minutes? An hour? All evening?” Michael said he probably felt good while he was eating, and then for an additional five minutes after. I asked him, “How did you feel after those five minutes? Were you happy about what you had eaten and thinking it was a good decision?” Michael told me that of course he wasn’t happy once the food pleasure had worn off. He was always mad at himself, regretful, and worried about what it would do to his weight. I asked him how long those feelings lasted, and he said usually the rest of the night. With this in mind, Michael first wrote this Response Card:
Eating “whatever I want” feels good for about five minutes and then makes me regretful for five hours. It’s not worth it.
I asked Michael if he was hungry while engaging in eating whatever he wants, and he said he usually wasn’t. We discussed that in the evening his body was telling him he wanted something, but since hunger wasn’t the source of the problem, food wasn’t the only possible solution. Michael thought about it and realized that this thought usually arose when he was feeling a bit bored and lonely. Although he thought he wanted to go eat whatever he wanted, he was actually craving entertainment, human connection, and some form of pleasure. Michael and I made a list of other things he could try in the evening to get what he really wanted, and Michael made the following Response Card:
Food is not actually what I need in this moment, so by not eating I am not depriving myself of what I really want. What I need is entertainment, pleasure, and/or connection. Instead of eating, try: calling, texting, or sending an email to someone; drinking hot tea; playing a game on my phone; reading an article; going for walk; or connecting with someone on a dating app.
Last, Michael and I discussed that though he would like to be able to go eat whatever he wanted, there are other things he wants more. He wants to lose weight. He wants to feel in control. He wants to not worry about his health. He wants to have a steady wardrobe and not worry about his clothes fitting. He wants to have more self-confidence and higher self-esteem. Michael made one last Response Card:
Even though I want to eat right now, there are so many things I want more than that. Focus on what I am getting – progress towards my goals, feeling in control, going to bed feeling proud of myself – and not on what I’m not getting – extra unplanned food I don’t need.
We agreed that for the next week Michael would read these three cards every evening after dinner to help bolster his ability to stay on track.
Friday Weekend Warm-up: If you haven’t been meal planning, this Sunday is a great time to start. It will make the week go so much more smoothly, and maximize your chances of staying on track, if you have food decisions figured out in advance.
Thursday Think Tip: The next time you know you have a really stressful situation coming up (like a doctor’s visit for yourself or a loved one), ask yourself: how will I get through this without eating? Make a plan in advance for the ways you will deal with stress and anxiety so you don’t end up turning to food.
Wednesday Sabotage: The world is too crazy and chaotic right now. I can’t worry about my eating.
Response: I must continue to prioritize healthy eating because that means I’m prioritizing self-care. Getting off track, feeling out of control, watching the scale go up, feeling my clothes get tighter: these things will make me feel so much worse. It’s not worth it.
Tuesday Reality Check: If you don’t feel like doing what you need to do to eat healthfully this week, do it anyway! Remember that you don’t base other decisions on whether or not you feel like it in the moment (doing things for your kids, putting on your seatbelt, meeting work deadlines, etc.). Put these things in the same category.
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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