Charlotte, a 63 year old researcher, is unlike many of our other dieters. She didn’t start dieting until the age of 49. Since that time, she has tried many different diets but never really succeeded in losing more than a couple of pounds. About six months before she joined our group, Charlotte started a new, calorie-restrictive diet, and lost 12 pounds. She joined our group hoping to lose more. As of this week, she’s lost an additional 9 ½ pounds.
One thing Charlotte really needs to work on is giving herself credit, an essential skill (taught on Day 4 of The Beck Diet Solution). She has a belief that isn’t very useful. She thinks that she won’t deserve credit until she gets to her weight loss goal. But consciously giving yourself credit is very important. It builds the awareness that you’ve learned new skills and are strong and in control, both of which reinforce your self-confidence. Having this confidence is crucial because if/when you slip up, you can view these slips ups as just momentary mistakes, not as indications that you are helpless or hopeless.
For a cookie exchange (she and several of her coworkers each baked batches of their favorite cookies to trade with one another) Charlotte baked seven-dozen chocolate chip cookies – and she didn’t eat a single one. She reported this to the group and talked about how discouraging it was that even though she didn’t eat the cookies, she was tempted to. Once again, Charlotte had not given herself credit! To make her do this, we had Charlotte list all of the times she didn’t eat cookies, even when she wanted to. It turns out there were many, many times she had to exert self control and read her Advantages List (Day 1): While she was making the cookies, so she didn’t taste the batter. While the cookies were cooling. When she was packing the cookies into tins. While the cookies were in her car. And finally, right before she dropped them off. Viewed in this light, Charlotte realized that she deserved lots of credit because all these were instances in the past when she had eaten cookies. But this time she stayed strong because she knew she’d rather lose weight than eat lots of cookies. Losing weight and feeling good about herself were worth more than the momentary pleasure of eating.