One of our new dieters, Sarah, had to go on a week-long trip because her two kids were competing in a roller derby competition. During class Sarah reported feeling nervous that she might end up gaining weight while on the trip because she wouldn’t really have opportunities to exercise. We brainstormed with Sarah ideas for how and when she could fit some exercise in. We first asked her if her kids would be competing all day, every day, or if there would be some down time during the day that she might be able to at least squeeze a few minutes of exercise in. After all, we reminded her, five minutes of exercise is better than zero minutes! (discussed on Day 9 of The Beck Diet Solution). Sarah acknowledged that her kids weren’t competing all day, and that there was actually a running track conveniently located just a couple of minutes from the roller rink. We then asked her what would get in the way of her slipping out for a little while each day to get some walking in, and Sarah admitted that what was holding her back was her reluctance to wear sneakers and shorts in public.
We’ve found that feeling self-conscious or embarrassed is a common problem for many dieters, particularly women, and they avoid a number of physical activities in which they would expose their body. We helped Sarah see that most people, if they noticed or thought about her at all, would only have a fleeting thought and then go on to think about other things. Some might even have a positive thought—“Good for her for exercising.” If they had a negative thought, though, what did it really matter? They weren’t important in her life. Another dieter in the class had a great suggestion, too, to ask another mom at the competition to walk with her, so she’d have company and feel less conspicuous.
Armed with a plan, Sarah walked several days during the week, stuck to her diet, and lost two pounds. Perhaps more importantly, she changed her ideas, became less self-conscious, and is now resolved not to let embarrassment stand in her way in the future.