Off-Track Mentality

My client, Scott, has had a really hard two weeks.  He’s been dealing with a lot of stress at work and his eating has definitely suffered. He’s struggled to track his calories (something he was fairly easily getting himself to do before) and was feeling too worn out to get himself to prepare healthy dinners at night, and consequently fell back into old habits of ordering takeout.  When we met this week, he was feeling mad at himself for getting off-track and questioning whether or not this was really something he could do.

What happened to Scott is what happens to so many dieters when they get off-track – the off-track mentality kicks in. The off-track mentality is full of helpless and hopeless thoughts; ones they likely had after failed dieting attempts in the past: “This situation is hopeless, I can’t really do this,” “I’m helpless to ever make lasting changes.” When dieters get off-track, it’s almost as if something takes over their brains and they really forget that they were ever on-track. They forget that there were days/months/years when they were fully in control and dealing successfully with difficult eating situations.  They forget that they are NOT helpless and that they really can do this.

I told Scott what I tell all of my dieters when they get off-track and start thinking this way:

The off-track mentality lies! It tells you that you can’t really do this – but that’s not true! You were doing it for weeks and weeks before these last two hard weeks. It tells you that there’s no hope in this situation, but that’s not true either! You are so much stronger now than you ever have been before. You know so much more now and have so many more tools. You did it before and you will do it again.

Scott needed to hear this. He needed to be reminded of all the hard situations he had navigated successfully in the last few months, and man cutting food with knifehow many times he had strong cravings but overcame them.  The last two weeks of struggle don’t negate the previous months of success, and as long as he sticks with it, he will get back to a better place.  Scott and I made a few response cards to remind him that if he feels helpless, it’s just his off-track mentality lying to him, and not a true assessment of reality.  We also made some cards detailing some of his successes over the past months, to remind him that he really can do this – and when he does, he feels awesome.

3 replies
  1. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    This is very useful to me right now, so thank you. Also, it reminded me how useful this positive information is for so many situations. I have a friend who is trying to stop drinking right now and this wisdom would apply equally well in her situation. Cognitive therapy is for everybody!! But you guys already knew that, I guess : )

  2. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I am struggling with that right now as well. I had gastric bypass surgery 3 years ago and lost 162lbs: I am struggling right now with head hunger, portion control, grazing, etc.
    it’s a real struggle to get ‘back on track’.


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