Note: This post may be triggering to individuals who have struggled with eating disorders.
Day 1: Record the Advantages of Losing Weight
The first task Dr. Beck assigns on Day 1 of her six week weight loss program, “The Beck Diet Solution“, is “record the advantages of losing weight.” This entails making my very first “Response Card.” “Response Cards” are cards that carry messages to help challenge “sabotaging thoughts” that could get in the way of weight loss success. “Sabotaging thoughts” are the excuses we use to give ourselves permission to break our diet.
See my post introducing “The Beck Diet Solution” here.
Examples of sabotaging thoughts:
“One [cookie, chip, etc.] won’t make a difference.”
“I had a hard day, I deserve to order a pizza.”
“I know I shouldn’t eat that, but I really want it.”
“It’s [coworker’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, Friday, etc.], I can eat it to celebrate.”
“Is this diet really worth it?”
The role of the Response Card is to support you as you strengthen your “resistance muscle” (saying “no” to certain foods/habits), by reminding you of why you’re doing this when you struggle to motivate yourself. Beck says the first response card should list all the reasons you want to lose weight. Having these reasons written down and available is helpful, for the reasons noted above. However, the simple act of writing them also helps commit the reasons to memory.
My reasons for losing weight:
- I’ll look better. (I admit it, my looks are a greater motivator than my health right now.)
- I’ll feel happier about myself.
- My clothes will fit better.
- I’ll be able to wear more things. (Many styles aren’t flattering on me at my current weight.)
- I’ll fit into some of my old clothes again. (I have really cute dresses I’ve been unable to wear!)
- I’ll feel beautiful on my wedding day.
- I won’t feel self-conscious.
- I’ll be healthier.
- It is easier for me to lose weight now than it will be when I’m older.
- I’ll feel more confident sexually.
- I’ll be proud of myself for accomplishing something.
- I’ll be less self-critical.
I wrote these reasons on an index card, but also downloaded a flashcard app (designed for studying), to keep digital copies of them. Beck suggests reading these reasons at least twice a day, at scheduled times. To make the process more engaging, she encourages readers to reflect on each item as they read it–so this routine doesn’t become unproductive, rote memorization. I’ve decided to read them at 10 AM (before lunch, and right around the time any donuts or other treats would tempt me) and 6 PM (dinnertime, to combat sabotaging thoughts at the end of a long, stressful day). To enforce this, I’ve synced an alarm to my FitBit that will remind me to read my response card.
Note that the diet itself hasn’t even begun yet. Right now, I am laying the psychological foundation to ensure success once the diet starts. In “The Beck Diet Solution,” diet and exercise aren’t implemented until week three.
Has anyone else taken a more psychological approach to weight loss? Share your experiences in the comments!