In session this week my dieter, Amy, told me about a major triumph she had during a long and stressful work meeting the day before. Midway through the meeting, someone started passing out a big bowl full of Valentine’s Day candy, and everyone started digging in. When the bowl was passed to Amy, Amy looked down at the treats and thought about how much she wanted one. But instead of taking one (or many) treats and eating them, Amy did something different - she didn’t take any and passed the bowl onto the next person.
I asked Amy what she said to herself that enabled her to resist the Valentine’s Day candy. Amy told me that although she really wanted the candy, not only because everyone else was eating it but also because she was feeling really stressed, she reminded herself of the following ideas:
If I give in, I’ll enjoy this for a few moments but then I’ll feel guilty about it the rest of the meeting, and probably afterwards.
This meeting is already stressful and I’m going through a stressful time at work. If I eat this, I’ll just feel even more stressed because I’ll worry about gaining weight.
Just because everyone else is eating it doesn’t mean I can. My body doesn’t know or care what they’re eating. It only knows what I eat.
I asked Amy if, looking back, she regretted not having eaten the candy and she told me that she absolutely didn’t regret it and, in fact, she hadn’t really thought about it again until our session that day. I also asked Amy if she was actually feeling good about not having eaten the candy and Amy said that she really did because she felt proud of herself. Amy and I then discussed some important things for her to remember based on this experience:
- She now was proven to herself that she can resist eating something, even when the situation is really difficult. Amy has also now made it easier for her to resist the next time because she has made her resistance muscle stronger.
- Once Amy did resist, she didn’t spend the rest of the day regretting it. In fact, she didn’t even think about it once the situation had passed. It wasn’t as if she spend the rest of the hour/day/week thinking, “I really wish I had eaten that candy.” It just didn’t come up again.
- Not only did Amy not regret resisting the candy, but she actually felt good about it because she gave herself a lot of credit for doing so. Although Amy continued to feel stress about her work situation, she didn’t add to that stress by also feeling guilty about her eating.
What I did with Amy is important for you, yourself, to also do. Whenever you have a success, ask yourself:
1. What was the situation and what were my sabotaging thoughts?
2. What did I say to myself that enabled me to stand firm? How did I feel when I did so? How am I feeling now about doing so?
3. What do I need to remember about this situation for next time?