Anybody else have a nightmarish week (so far)? And really, really feel like they deserve to empty the cookie jar. And the ice cream carton. And the candy dish. And maybe the chocolate drawer as well? (I don’t have a chocolate drawer, but I wish I did.) Heather is here to save the day! I definitely needed this post, Heather. You read my mind.
When I ran through the half-way point of my marathon in 2006, I thought, “That was fun! I feel good. Let’s all just stop here.” Those same thoughts have echoed through my head several times this past week.
Temptation reared its ugly head over and over again this week and won a few battles. I had planned to take my parents to a homemade ice cream shop while they were here and when the scheduled day came and went without any ice cream, I nearly panicked. I had been waiting weeks for that ice cream and couldn’t take it a moment longer! So with only 40 minutes of free time before my husband had to be off to a meeting, we flew to the ice cream stand, picked up a few cups and flew home. Not exactly a relaxing, uplifting outing.
The next day, I found myself slicing two giant Costco cakes at a party for a soldier returning home from Afghanistan. That chocolate cake looked so moist and fudgy. I just kept reminding myself of how gross that frosting would be and I made through the party, but not without a severe craving. And guess what? There was the second half of my ice cream from the night before (which had overwhelmed my weakened tolerance for sugar) just waiting to satisfy.
And then, the day after that, my parents suddenly had all the time in the world to go to the ice cream store. So that made the third day of ice cream in a row. And, sure enough, there are leftovers in my freezer, calling to me.
I got my bachelors degree in psychology, and one thing that really impressed me was learning about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s this amazingly effective form of therapy that works for a variety of problems by changing both the way we think and the way we act. The idea is that you both combat negative or damaging thoughts that lead to self-destructive behavior, and you train yourself to respond to stressful stimuli in a new way.
Though the father of Cognitive Therapy is Aaron Beck, his daughter, Judith Beck has embraced CBT as a preferred therapeutic method, and has since made a pretty penny on applying her know-how to dieting. Thankfully, we can use the internet to glean a few useful lessons for our own little project. Here are two cognitive steps, and two behavioral steps.
1. Write down your reasons for dieting/running/cooking at home instead of eating out
This is your own personal thought controller. Whenever you feel those urges creeping in, you pull out your list and move your thoughts from negative to positive. Number one on my list: getting rid of thrush.
2. Give yourself credit
Remind yourself each day of the positive steps you’re taking so you aren’t so discouraged by failures. For instance, I can be pleased that I was satisfied with about a 1/4 of the serving I used to be, and when I ate 1/2 the serving I was used to, it made me feel sick. Why on earth would I want to go back to what I was eating before when now I know I can be perfectly happy on 1/4 the amount of calories and money I was spending?
3. Prevent unplanned eating
I liked this one. You write down everything you’re going to eat for the day, or in our case, exactly which snacks or sweets you’re going to have, and when. Then, you don’t vary from it. You get to eat what you planned on, and not what you didn’t. Simple.
4. Arrange your environment
Don’t buy what you don’t want yourself to eat. Throw it away if you do buy it. Dr. Beck says, “Don’t worry about throwing out food. It’s going to get wasted one way or another – either in the trash can or in your body.” Amen, sista.
So there you have it. A few scientifically proven ways to keep yourself in the mental game of changing your behavior. Do you have any tried and true methods for motivation you’d care to share?