In January, Beck Institute offered a six-week, live weight management webinar series for the first time. Each week, I presented several CBT skills that individuals need to learn in order to help them gain control of their eating and consistently make choices that are in line with their goals. We also offered a 10-week small group coaching session. At our last session, I asked my group, “What was the most, or one of the most, important things you learned over these past 10 weeks?” More than half of my group had the same answer: in this journey, everyone makes mistakes, and it was important to learn how to get right back on track once that happens.
Because this was so important to my group, I thought it might be helpful to give a refresher on making mistakes and how to recover from them. Like any other skill-acquiring procedure, making mistakes is part of the process. No one would expect to learn to play the piano without ever hitting a wrong note. No one would ever expect to learn to play tennis without missing a ball, or learn to speak a new language without conjugating a verb wrong. In learning to gain control overeating, many people think that they should never make mistakes. When they inevitably do, they take it as a sign that something isn’t working, or something is wrong. We let our clients know right from the get-go that they will make mistakes in this learning process, just like they would in any other.
The most common sabotaging thought we hear is, “I’ve made a mistake. I’ve blown it for the day, so I might as well keep eating and get back on track tomorrow.” We remind our clients that in virtually no other area of life would we ever buy into the notion that just because we made one mistake, it makes sense to keep making more. If you were driving down the highway and missed your exit, would you think, “I’ve blown this trip,” and drive five more hours in the wrong direction? No! You’d get off at the next exit and get right back on track. If you were walking down a flight of stairs and stumbled down a few, would you think, “I’ve blown this stairwell,” and throw yourself down the rest of the stairs? No! You’d get up right from where you caught yourself and walk down the rest.
Once you make an eating mistake, continuing to eat in an off-track way is like driving more hours in the wrong direction. It’s throwing yourself down more stairs. It just doesn’t make sense!
We also work with our clients on establishing the idea that any point they stop themselves is better than continuing to eat in an off-track way. Stopping at 500 extra calories is better than stopping at 1,000 extra. Stopping at 1,000 extra is better than stopping at 2,000 extra. Any point at which you can catch yourself and recover puts you in a better position than waiting even one moment longer. The good news is that your very next eating decision (and it’s probably not too far away) is your next opportunity to get right back on track!
We also remind our clients that if they get off track during the day, catch themselves, and recover, they get to go to bed that night feeling so proud of themselves. They get to go to bed feeling triumphant about their ability to get right back on track, instead of going to bed inevitably beating themselves up for an off-track day.
By the way, if you’re interested, we have another webinar series starting the second week of August. Here is more information.