Specific Advantages

The Advantages List – a list of all the reasons why people want to lose weight – is one of the most important tools that dieters have to help keep their motivation and discipline high (discussed on Day 1 of The Beck Diet Solution).  This week, our dieter Rose was having trouble figuring out how to make her food plan for a holiday dinner she has coming up.  She was talking about all of the different dishes that would be served and how she would feel deprived if she didn’t get to eat them all.  We discussed with Rose her options: either she could plan to eat a very small amount of a lot of different dishes (in which case she might end up feeling less satisfied both psychologically and physically) or a larger portion of just a few dishes.  Rose said that while feeling satisfied is really important to her, she thinks she’ll just feel too deprived if she doesn’t get to try everything. 

To help, we reminded Rose of several things.  First of all, chances are likely that this won’t be her last opportunity to eat any of these foods. Even if she opts not to eat them this week, they will come up again in the future.  Second we told Rose that if she chooses the first option, to eat small portions of many different things, she very well might still feel hungry but that’s ok.  Hunger is never an emergency and there is always another meal coming. 

Last we had to spell out the reality of the situation: either way Rose is going to be deprived.  Either she’s going to be deprived of eating everything at the holiday dinner, or she’s going to be deprived of all of the things on her Advantages List (being able to move around easily, having self-confidence, feeling better about herself, being healthier).  Either way she’s going to be deprived, and which, to her, would be the bigger deprivation?

One thing that has been helpful to our dieters recently is making their Advantages List more specific.  Instead of just listing, “I want to have more energy,” one dieter instead wrote, “I want to have more energy so I can go up and down stairs easily; so I can get the house in order in the evenings; so I can enjoy going out with friends on weekends without feeling tired.” Specific phrases create clear pictures in dieters’ minds of what they want to achieve.  We got Rose to ask herself: Would I rather be deprived of eating everything at the holiday dinner—or would I rather be deprived of feeling confident when I go to my son-in-law’s birthday party next week, being able to wear a regular sized seatbelt on the plane to Florida next month, and of being able to wear the special black dress I bought three years ago? Put in that way, the answer was clear to Rose. She’s now heading into her holiday dinner with much more resolve and confidence because she knows specifically why it’s worth it to stick to her plan.

We’d love to hear your comments. What specific Advantages do you have?

11 replies
  1. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    I’ve listed my Advantage Response Card below:

    Advantage Response Card to Why I Want to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

    I’ll stop snoring and sleep better at night
    I’ll look better, be more attractive, and wear smaller size 30″ waist pants
    I’ll be happier when I look in the mirror
    My wife, Kat, will find me more attractive
    I’ll be in better health; not get winded so easily
    I’ll be able to windsurf again
    Less stress on my knees and shoulder
    I can avoid Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol, which runs in my family
    Kat won’t bug me about eating slower or less
    Following TBDS is a good example for my children
    Painful heartburn and acid reflux will go away
    I will live longer and enjoy helping my children grow up
    I can teach my children to ski
    I’ll be a able to wear my old jeans and save money
    I will be able to tolerate the heat much better
    I will have control over food and not have it control me
    I will now have a way of maintaining my weight
    I’ll be able to do pull ups
    I will feel very comfortable taking my shirt off
    It will enable me to maintain my weight after I lose it
    I enjoy the compliments I get from family and friends, especially how Kat compliments me
    Psychologically, this is a great tool for helping me in other facets of my life

    Thanks again, Dr. Beck.



  2. Phyl
    Phyl says:

    These are not in order of importance, but they all resonate with me.

    There is a certain kind of sleeveless dress I would love to wear in a size 10 and look great in. I would like to show off nice toned arms.

    I’d like to enjoy shopping for clothes again, not to feel I must choose what hides my dimensions best.

    I’m a late bloomer in my career as a writer and I want to have lots of healthy years ahead–both time and energy to do the work I love. I’ve been blessed with good health but my weight is a health risk, and I enjoy life so much I really want to stick around.

    I would like to feel that my appearance is a plus rather than that it could be a minus (even if just in terms of my being self-conscious) when I meet for the first time with editors and literary agents. I’d like to feel more confident when I meet people in a purely social context, as well.

    I just started traveling to the far off places in the last five years. I want the energy to climb around ancient ruins and stroll through museums.

    I would like to move with more grace and energy.

    I want to look younger longer.

    Eventually I want to get a Labrador retriever puppy. I want to be able to exercise it properly and take it running in the park.

    I’d like more compliments from my boyfriend who seems to love me as is, but definitely notices every time I drop a few pounds. Actually, I wouldn’t mind more compliments from people in general.

    Best regards and thanks, Dr. Beck. I love being able to come to this web site for motivation boosters.

  3. CBT fan
    CBT fan says:

    I don’t want to post my Advantages list, but I did it, and have it typed out. I don’t read it as much as I would like to, for some reason. That might be an issue for Judith Beck to address at some point, how we can get ourselves to read that list more.

    Maybe if I just made it a habit to review the Advantages list before each and every meal, or even each night. But I think something specific is needed. Even 1x a day would be good.

    Also, I have considered recording it, and putting it on the mp3 player, which is probably a good idea.

    The most motivating Advantages for me are having more Energy, better Health, and getting rid of the gut-fat.

    By the way, so far I have lost 35 lbs on the scale since I started the Beck Diet Solution book, and have put on some muscle, so I probably have lost close to 40 lbs of fat, and only have 5-10 lbs to go.

    The trick now is to not backslide.

  4. Nan
    Nan says:

    Jesse’s advantages are so inspiring! It makes me want to rewrite mine to be more specific and inspiring. I read mine 2-3 times a day. (I remind myself by keeping the card slipped into the current page in my food journal, like a bookmark. That reminds me to read them before each meal. Then I read them one more time for good measure before I check that item off on my to-do list.)

    Most of mine are similar to the ones in the book. Here are a few that I came up with on my own:

    – I’ll be able to take my rings off.

    – I’ll feel more like myself.

    – I’ll have more time and energy for all the great things in life beside food.

    – I’ll be ready for any activity that comes up (snorkeling, limbo dancing…)

  5. Helene
    Helene says:

    I’ve been reading my Advantage Response Cards since I began creating them on April 27, 2007, and have lost 21.2 pounds to date. I am only 6.2 pounds from goal. My advantage cards, plus my responses to sabotaging thoughts cards are really key to re-focusing me when I stray from program and my mission. I have 89 advantages (and counting……..), and I won’t list them all here – just a few key ones. I have a demanding schedule and a long day, so I’ve created a “top 10” list that I can read quickly, If I don’t have the time to read all of them 2X each day. The cards, and my notebook are always on my desk, or on my counter at home. Thank you, Dr. Beck. This is honestly changing my life. A few advantages follow:

    1) I will get rid of this awful mental load I’ve been carrying around all my life. Food will no longer drive me and my decisions.
    2) I will wake up in the morning liking and respecting myself.
    3) No more back fat!
    4) I Will be pround of myself and like me
    5) I won’t feel disgusted and angry at the end of the day or 1st thing in the morning
    6)I won’t avoid looking at my reflection
    7) I’ll be able to fit into my old clothes in a smaller size
    8) I can stop wearing the same three pairs sof black pants and white sweaters
    9) I will be able to reach into my closet ant pull out an attractive, professional outfit when I need to
    10) I can wear my shirts tucked in!
    11) My skirts and pants will button in the morning

  6. Pazoneehoodia
    Pazoneehoodia says:

    I’ve got an Amazon gift certificate burning holes in my pocket,
    and I want to get the most bang for my buck.

    Enter the Secret Amazon Web Pages:


    This is where you’re going to find the “latest sales, rebates, and limited-time offers” from
    Amazon, and you can score some pretty deep discounts if you’re a savvy shopper.

    Next, there’s the special Sale link. This is open every Friday, and ONLY on Fridays.

    You can find the same good discounts here as you would in hidden Deals, although some
    Fridays you can really get lucky and make off like an Amazon bandit – I’ve seen discounts
    there as low as 75% off sticker price.

  7. Eliza
    Eliza says:

    Wow – reading your lists is great! I can feel myself totally relating, understanding, connecting, and rooting for ya’.

    My list:
    1. so I can et rid of this secret nagging attack on myself that weighs me down
    2. so random clothes fit my body
    3. so I can feel strong and energetic
    4. So asthma and allergies don’t have as much of an impact
    5. So I look and feel as if I’m in control of myself
    6. So I don’t have this secret negative attack on myself all the time (again)
    7. So i look like how I feel about myself – which is positive except for my body
    8. so i don’t have to harbor secret insecurities about myself
    9. so i can hike up a mountain easily
    10. so i can go biking in the summer
    11. so i can take a public shower when traveling
    12. so i feel proud of myself
    13. so i can have a healthy pregnancy if I get pregnant
    14. so i can wear a bathing suit around others
    15. so i won’t feel all insecure and loserish around my in-laws who are all fit like I’d like to be

  8. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    Three more advantages:

    I won’t mind having my picture taken. I won’t have to grab two other people in order to make them stand in front of me in photos.

    A bag of sugar weighs five pounds. I think of myself as carrying around several bags of sugar. I imagine my arms are getting really tired. Every time I lose five pounds, I’ve laid down a burden, I’ve gotten rid of another bag of sugar.

    I’m a horrible procrastinator. I’m hoping the techniques I’m learning to control my weight will help me to finish other projects.

  9. Miriam
    Miriam says:

    My list is 17 items long, and I’ve tried to make them as specific as possible. My last two are two to make me smile. I planned it that way, because this always makes me feel good if I’ve come to these last 2.
    16. My motor cycle uses less gass.
    17. My husband can hug me more easily.


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