Friday Weekend Warm-up: “I really regret eating healthy today,” said NO ONE EVER! This weekend, focus on healthy eating. You won’t regret it!
Thursday Think Tip: It’s critically important to be tuned in to your thoughts, so you can learn what your common sabotaging thoughts are and come up with responses to them. The next time you eat something unplanned or that you know you probably shouldn’t, ask yourself, “What was just going through my head? What did I say to myself? ‘I know I shouldn’t eat this but it’s okay because…?’”
Wednesday Sabotage: It’s okay to eat this because it’s healthy.
Response: I can gain weight eating all healthy foods, too. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it doesn’t have calories. Eating healthy foods is a great thing to strive for, but I have to make sure that whatever I eat (healthy or not) fits in with my overall day.
Tuesday Reality Check: Did you get off track with things like exercise, meditation, or meal planning during the busy holiday season? If so, TODAY IS THE DAY to restart!
Monday Motivation: If you’ve made a resolution to lose weight, remember that learning to eat healthfully is like learning to play the piano. You start out with easier skills/pieces, practice them, get better and better at them, and then move on to harder ones. If you were learning to play the piano, you would never think that hitting a wrong note was an indication that you couldn’t do it or that you should give up; you would simply accept it as part of the learning process. Losing weight is no different!
Friday Weekend Warm-up: If you get off track at any point this weekend, IMMEDIATELY RECOVER! You’ll be so proud of your ability to get back on track, instead of mad at yourself for slipping up.
In session this week, my client Lisa told me she was struggling in the evenings. While she found it fairly easy to stick to her plan of healthy meals and snacks during the day, in the late evening (usually around 9pm) she was going into the kitchen and eating treats, telling herself, “It doesn’t matter.”
The first thing I asked Lisa was, “What’s in your kitchen? Do you have a lot of treats in the house right now?” Lisa said that she did. She had a lot of leftover holiday desserts, plus she loads up on groceries (including junk food) when she grocery shops, since she now goes less than usual. I told Lisa that having a house full of a variety of desserts would be hard for anyone, no matter how long they’ve been working on these things. The greater variety of treats there are, the more it tricks people into thinking they should eat.
Lisa said, “That’s true. When I think about having the ginger snaps I have planned, that doesn’t sound as appealing as all that other stuff.” I responded, “Exactly! But if ginger snaps were the only dessert you had in the house, chances are they would sound more appealing. You would eat them and feel satisfied.”
Another reason having so many treats in the house was sabotaging Lisa was because whether or not she was fully aware of it, she was probably actively resisting eating them all day. The more times in a day she tells herself, “No, you can’t have that,” the more decision fatigue starts to set in, in addition to real fatigue in the evening! Saying “yes” starts to feel more reasonable.
I told Lisa, “It’s not as if your body tells you, ‘You said no ten times, so the eleventh time you can say yes and I won’t process the calories.’ Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Saying ‘no’ ten times doesn’t necessarily mean it’s okay to say ‘yes’ the eleventh time, especially if it’s not on your plan.”
Lisa and I discussed her thought, “It doesn’t matter.” I said to her, “Actually, I’m wondering if it’s just the opposite. I’m wondering if those late night decisions actually matter the most because by giving in in the evening and taking in too many calories, it’s stopping you from being able to lose weight. So, it does matter; it matters the most.” Lisa and I discussed that by staying on track all day but giving in late in the evening, it’s like she’s run 24 miles of a 26.2 marathon. It’s still a huge achievement, but she won’t get the finisher’s medal without the last 2.2 miles.
Lisa and I made some Response Cards for her to read in the evening, and we agreed on a three-part plan: First, she’ll get rid of most the treats in her house. Second, she’ll make a strong plan for what she’ll eat in the evening, and third, she’ll read Response Cards to remind herself exactly why it does matter.
Thursday Think Tip: Are you reading your Advantages List and Response Cards? If you’ve let those things drop off, restart today. They’re critical tools for motivation and will help you remember why all this effort is worth it.
Wednesday Sabotage: Working on healthy eating stinks because the food is so boring.
Response: First, the food doesn’t have to be boring if I take the time to prepare healthy and delicious meals. Second, even if the food is more boring for a period of time, that’s okay! Food isn’t my only source of excitement; besides, all the benefits of losing weight will be INCREDIBLY exciting.
Tuesday Reality Check: It’s important to remember that you need to make eating decisions based on what works for you, not what everyone around you is doing. Remind yourself that what everyone around you is eating is irrelevant, and that if you eat extra, you’ll gain weight, regardless of whether others are overeating, too.
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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