In session this week, my client, Kayla, told me that she was a bit nervous about her ability to stay on track on Christmas Day. She told me that her family always gets together, and that they have many food-oriented traditions, like eating a big breakfast, baking and eating holiday cookies, and eating an indulgent late lunch. I asked Kayla if she had begun formulating a Christmas plan. She told me that she hadn’t, but that she would try to “make good decisions” that day.

I discussed with Kayla that not having a strong plan would exponentially increase her chances of getting off track because of how many spontaneous decisions she’d have to make all day. I reminded Kayla of a party she went to a few weeks ago where she got off track, likely in part because she hadn’t thought it through in advance. Kayla told me that while she knew making a plan was important, she was still reluctant to do so. After we discussed further, Kayla realized that if she made a plan, she’d feel much more obligated to limit her eating, and she didn’t really want to limit her eating that day.

I have some dieters make an Advantages and Disadvantages list about sticking to their plan, but for Kayla, I had to take a step back and first help her examine whether or not it was even worth it to her to make a plan in the first place. Here are Kayla’s Advantages and Disadvantages of making a plan:

Advantages of Making a Christmas Plan:

  • I’ll be much more likely to stay on track and not gain weight (as I have done every Christmas in the past), and keep making progress towards the things on my Advantages List.
  • I won’t feel overly stuffed or sick from eating too much.
  • I’ll be able to run around with my nieces and nephews, and not be stuck on the couch, too full to move.
  • I’ll go to bed feeling proud of myself instead of feeling a sense of dread, as I ALWAYS do when I get off track.
  • I’ll enjoy my planned food without any guilt or shame.
  • I won’t have to worry about my mom making comments about my eating.
  • I’ll be setting an excellent example for holidays to come.

Disadvantages of Making a Christmas Plan:

  • I won’t be able to eat as much food as I want (although I’ll still get to eat some delicious food).
  • I won’t have to put in the effort of staying on track (although then I’ll have to put in a lot of effort to get back on track).

Kayla realized that the disadvantages of making a plan weren’t very compelling. Although she would have to limit her eating, she would still get to eat AND she could eat without guilt or shame. And although she’d have to put in the effort to stay on track, she recognized that getting back on track the following day would actually be much more effortful. Kayla overcame her reluctance to make a Christmas plan and felt even more committed to staying on track that day.

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