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Distracting Myself From Hunger and Cravings: Beck Day 13

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hmm. Yesterday's lunch skipping went pretty well; I was aware of hunger from about 11 am on but it was "mild" discomfort", intermitent (forgot about it while I was working), and certainly not unbearable. I've experienced much much more severe discomfort too many times to count. Really.

I did have supper (soup) a little early -- at about 5:45!!
Key message for me: "normal" thin-thinking people experience hunger every day without considering it an emergency. They just wait for the next meal. Thinking thin is not about eliminating hunger.

Today the idea is to develop a list of distraction techniques to better withstand hunger and cravings. When you wnat to eat something unplanned, you look to the list of distraction techniques and choose up to five activities -- and then rate the activities on their effectiveness in distracting your obsession with hunger and cravings.

Some of the suggested distraction techniques look more effective to me than others. I did read my list of reasons to lost weight quite a few times yesterday. And reread my response cards too!!. Polishing my nails, tidying out drawers, taking on a home decorating project: probably not for me. More appealing ideas include drinking a low cal beverage (yay black coffee!!), going to the gym (like this one), brushing my teeth (always good: then I hate to eat and "dirty them up"!), taking a walk or a bath, patting the dog, and so on. Tried and tested distraction techniques of my own include going shopping just to try on smaller sizes (love this one), shovelling snow (I need to check the walks at work for liaiblity reasons), golfing or cross country skiing in season, wandering around my garden (this is terrific, winter or summer). And of course Spark is a great distraction, especially the motivational stories.

So many entries on Spark are concerned with lack of motivation, or lack of "will power" to withstand temptation. I know that I don't have motivation until after I've done what I need to do: motivation never seeks me out, it's always after-acquired. I know that I can't resist temptation, so I have to eliminate it (throw the food out, hide it, not bring it into the house in the first place -- all recommended by Beck).

Beck really does provide cognitive strategies to deal with these issues. It's not about the "diet"; any reasonable eating and exercise plan is going to work.. It's about sticking with the plan, and learning the techniques that make it possible to stick with the plan. It's taking a lot of time and effort right now, but I'm grateful for the reinforcement and for the additional strategies to deal with what is going to be a life long challenge for me. And although I'm reconciled to the reality this will be a life long challenge, I'm also developing some optimism that it's going to get a bit easier when these strategies become second-nature.

Thanks, Judith S.!! And thanks, SLENDERELLA61, for introducing me!!.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 2/11/2011 10:44AM

    Wonderful distractions you have listed. I know all about distractions...for a variety of reasons that I have to use them and sometimes it is hard but you're right..when you let yourself...keyword *let* yourself truly be distracted the hunger pains do vanish. It's the cycling back that gets me...lol - oh that's right distract again. I think you're doing amazing and wow, what healthy eating knowledge. Awesome!!

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TRYINGHARD1948 2/11/2011 4:32AM

    I've also found having a grand project very good at keeping my mind from thinking about food. At the moment, making curtains and refurbishing the house is taking quite a lot of time up and will do so for the rest of the year. Hopefully by then I will lose this couple of kilos that just seem to sit there forever. All the best with your distractions. emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 2/10/2011 10:22AM

    Yes, yes, yes!! It is going to become easier and second nature to us. I can feel some of the changes happening. I expect challenges will arise from time to time when we'll have to figure out a new distrction method or other technique. I suspect this program is a keeper, to review many times.

So glad your day of purposely experiencing hunger went so well!! You are truly doing great!!

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LUNADRAGON 2/10/2011 9:17AM

    Very cool ideas, thank you!

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JHADZHIA 2/10/2011 9:07AM

    Brushing and flossing my teeth is the biggest distraction. Its such a struggle with my arthritic fingers, that I do NOT want to do it again. So I never snack after my supper because of this.. But during the day its worse, especially coming home from the club at 4 pm is when I get my biggest snacking urge..I always drink water as soon as I get home, but it doesn't always work.. Shopping is doable, but the mall (the only shopping near me) has all those nasty food court odors that don't help lol.
Good luck with this, its tough all right..

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GROEDER 2/10/2011 8:36AM

    I just got my copy of the book. I am so glad you posted about it. Now I am going to add learning from it to my "tools" to stay healthy.
Thanks again.

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Tolerating Hunger and Cravings: Beck Day 12

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The essential lesson today is that hunger is not an emergency, and that is because hunger is not even very uncomfortable.

Beck asks us to think about past experiences of severe discomfort (for me, day after recovery from various surgeries); moderate discomfort (toe nail removal); and mild discomfort (achiness after cross country skiing).

She then suggests that we eat a normal breakfast, skip lunch, and not eat again until dinner time. The purpose of this exercise is to track on the hour how much "discomfort" (not "hunger") we experience (severe, moderate, mild) and also how long that discomfort actually lasts.

Those of us who struggle with weight tend to think of hunger as a hugely oppressive emergency which must be alleviated immediately. But in fact, she says even severe hunger constitutes only moderate discomfort and the sensation of hunger-discomfort doesn't last very long whether we eat or not.

Yesterday's monitoring of hunger, desire and cravings was very interesting. I was hungry only at one point, 11 a.m., and told myself that it was just an hour until lunch. I did not experience any desire to eat or any cravings all day (maybe because I'd organized my environment and hidden the peanut butter!! DH and son are being very very kind about putting it back out of sight after they use it!!).

Got to the gym this morning for full cardio and upper body weights workout: I'm feeling great. Had a high protein breakfast of omelette with 2 Omega eggs, arugula, lean turkey, salsa plus fat free sugar free yogourt and blackberries, blueberries, strawberries. A lot of satisfaction, I'm hoping, since it's going to last me until supper time. Not taking any lunch salads with me today !

Beck is providing an excellent training in learning how to think differently. Much like when I returned to school and had to learn to think "law", I'm finding my mind running in different grooves.

Hunger is not an emergency!! It's not even severe discomfort! I've experienced much more hunger than is likely to arise on missing one lunch: and I've experienced much more discomfort.

One thing that Beck does not fully consider here -- psychic discomfort. I believe this chapter could have been strengthened had she taken that into consideration. Because for most of us struggling with weight loss/weight loss maintenance, it's the "psychic discomfort" (not the physical discomfort) which does us in. However, having read ahead, I'm thinking she tackles this component with her cognitive strategies for dealing with sabotaging thoughts: one hurdle at a time!!

My other thought: a week of practising some of the key skills (sitting down while eating, tolerating hunger) before moving on might be even better. But of course I can do that, if I choose to: and depending on how things go today, I just may slow down and repeat. Sabotaging thoughts will also be a biggy for me!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLENDERELLA61 2/9/2011 9:07PM

    Your recognizing hunger day must have gone really well. Good for you!!

I can't wait to hear how your no-eating-day went. I found I learned so much during my day of no eating. I gained so much confidence in my ability to handle food and no food. Over a week later, I still feel changed!

I lost over 80 pounds by eating many small meals, the most satisfying foods I could find, drinking lots and lots of water and low calorie drinks, and avoiding hunger like the plague. Finding that actually I can tolerate hunger and that it does not cause me to binge was tremendously freeing.

Wishing you a continued journey of health, learning, and discovery!!

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CRYSTALJEM 2/9/2011 2:20PM

    Your breakfast sounded wonderful, and it's so nice that your family is so supportive. I've just been doing the same type of exercise I've realized. I've noticed that you are exactly right. I'm already feeling better, even though at times I feel a little hungry, I'm easily distracted. (I'm not sure exactly what that says about me on one hand!).

A friend gave me a great tip years ago when she lost an astounding amount of weight seemingly effortlessly (I know it wasn't effortless at all). She told me she kept a huge bowl of lettuce, nice crisp romaine, washed and ready in the fridge. Anytime hunger got the best of her she allowed herself to snack on the crisp leaves or stems as much as she wanted. But that was it, other than her regularly planned snacks and meals. She said it really helped, it took her mind off of the hunger and allowed herself to say "yes" to her hunger without feeling controlled by it. I've tried it and I've found it very helpful. I've noticed when I don't have a bowl prepped in the fridge, I tend to find something else to snack on.

This week I've eaten healthy meals so far and really curbed my snacking - what a difference on how I already feel (only day 3) and what my caloric intake is by comparison. If that doesn't motivate me for the rest of the week don't know what will!


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JOHAL52 2/9/2011 1:52PM

    emoticon - you are doing great!! And your breakfast sounded yummy, wish I could have joined you. Oh, yes, you are in winter. Maybe in the summer emoticon.

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PHEBESS 2/9/2011 11:24AM

    I'm glad it works for you. Really, I can't imagine it, because my body wouldn't be able to do that. Seriously.

I often wonder about people with normal metabolism and all. I have low blood sugar, and my body lets me know when it needs food, often before I'm hungry. So my indicators (cold sweat, dizzy, spacey, unable to think, even nausea) are nonexistent for most people - sort of a strange concept, when one becomes so used to those feelings.

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JHADZHIA 2/9/2011 8:50AM

    Awesome breakfast! I usually have a big breakfast, and don't even feel like eating at lunch quite often. My problem is rushing my meals and rarely sitting down to eat them slowly. Too long living alone as a bachelor. Eat and run is engraved in me lol.
I eat only out of boredom, rarely because I feel hungry..
Good luck with it.

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Hunger, Desire and Cravings: Beck Day 11

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Learning to distinguigh among hunger, desire and craving for food is going to be very important for me.

Hunger is a physical sensation in the stomach -- rumbling, emptiness -- when I have not eaten for 3 hours or more.

Desire is simply the inclination to continue eating, even though I've had a reasonable meal.

And craving is that tension and yearning for food, experienced in the mouth or throat or body, even though I might actually be "full": potato chips, I yearn for!!

OK: how do I learn how to differentiate among these sensations? Again, Beck provides a cognitive stragegy: monitor for a complete day (I should be doing this much more regularly) every hour on the hour by asking myself the question: Do I feel like eating now?

Identify the bodily sensation: is it hunger, desire or out-and-out craving? And label it accordingly.

Dieting (still not a word I like) will be easier when I learn to distinguish among hunger, desire and craving. I do not need to eat when I'm experiencing desire, or craving. And even hunger is not an emergency!! I can wait it out until it's time to eat.

I will be monitoring today. Right now, I've just had my breakfast of oatmeal, flax, raisins, 1% milk and I do not feel like eating now. I am pleasantly full! And have my salad with low fat feta cheese and my chopped fruit ready for my lunch, my pot of chili soup in the fridge ready for dinner (with yogourt and berries).

Here goes Day 11 -- together with sitting down while eating, this is right at the heart of the cognitive training for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CMB2048 2/8/2011 5:18PM

    Yep, I'm a "desire" gal. Wish it weren't true but one of my problems is I love to eat and eat when I am not hungry. I do get cravings though at times, especially for peanut butter!

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JHADZHIA 2/8/2011 9:57AM

    Great summary! This is the biggest challenge most people face on a healthy lifestyle especially all the temptations out there. Craving is my problem, which is why I must make sure nothing tempting comes into my house..
Good luck with it!! Your meals sound great for the day :)

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SLENDERELLA61 2/8/2011 8:57AM

    You are doing great!! You have summarized the chapter perfectly and are on track to learn this important lesson. Good for you!!

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SERENE_ME 2/8/2011 8:25AM

    I knew you'd write about this! My issue is almost totally with desire - hunger I take care of regularly and cravings have pretty much disappeared over time but the DESIRE - that's the one I have to really watch out for!!

Thanks for this!

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AUNTB63 2/8/2011 7:59AM

    Best of luck to you on this journey of a healthier lifestyle. You seem to have a plan that with a little practice will put you on the right track. You've put thought into what your actions are going to be..........well done. Have a great day. emoticon

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Set Achievable Goals: Beck Day 10

Monday, February 07, 2011

This is relatively simple but important: rather than focusing on losing 50 pounds or the 80 pounds I once needed to lose, Beck recommends that we set a weight loss goal of not more than 5 pounds at a time. She advises that we reward ourselves for each 5 pounds lost, and then set a new goal. And with respect to pace of weight loss, she stresses that average weight loss of .5 pounds a week is realistic: expecting weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week sets us up for failure and discouragement. And quitting altogether.

I can do this. I'm within 5 pounds of maintenance range at any rate -- what I want to do is level out the maintenance. My goal is to learn to think like a thin person.

Not a good start this morning -- had set my alarm to go to the gym, turned it off and went back to sleep!! I'm going to go for a walk at lunch time instead: Beck stresses that even 5 minutes of exercise is worth doing. I'd probably overdone the cross-country skiing on the weekend and persuaded myself that my achy body needed more sleep.

Oh well. I'll still get my three gym trips in this week.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TBANMAN 2/8/2011 6:24PM

    Funny that I read this today. I set a 5 pound goal for last month and made it, and another 5 pound goal for this month. But I know, as I get closer to my final goal weight, it will get harder and harder to squeeze weight off these bones. I absolutely must not think I can continue to lose 1-2 pounds per week when I have less than 10 overall to go.

Thanks for the reminder.

I also would like to think like a thin person - because I am one now. Mostly I believe I'm still a fat person in a thin person costume.

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SLENDERELLA61 2/7/2011 8:20PM

    How was your walk? Seems like a great back up plan to me. I'm sure you will make the gym three times this week. Taking 5 pounds at a time makes sense for everyone, and obviously for you!!

I know I'm anxious to get to my goal weight - I was there for a day and then fluctuated up. Or maybe getting there was fluctuating down. Anyway, I know it is hard to wait. I really want to get to that part of the journey where I learn exactly what to eat so that I STAY very close to my happy weight and give up "fluctuations" due to eating and learn to deal with the honest fluctuations due to biological processes. We'll get there!!

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FRACTALMYTH 2/7/2011 1:52PM

    lol... that 5 mins of exercise is good news :P yesterday was funny - in a way - first I went out hoping to run, but my knee didn't cooperate so I walked for 15 minutes... then I got on the cross trainer, planning to finish off fast... but after 15 minutes the cat who is currently caged on the verandah near the trainer needed to go potty and I couldn't ignore the smell lol... so I went inside and got out my dumbells and did some kickboxing moves for another 15 minutes, after which some yoga came on my mp3, so I did that too - another 40 minutes... woohoo for a great workout I thought... then Yeti spent the rest of the day furious with me for - among other things - indulging the luxury of what I wanted to do instead of getting my work done, which meant that he and the kids had to keep quiet and out of the way all day while I worked (well, I had expected them to be going out, but even so there was SOME justification to his complaint...) LOL still felt good about the exercise... bit I probably didn't need to spend that other few hours reading blogs... speaking of which... must go. Yay you - 0.5 a week is SO achievable :D

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JOHAL52 2/7/2011 12:31PM

    Wow, 5 pounds to go! That is fantastic! The cross country skiing burned mega calories so I wouldn't feel TOO guilty about missing the gym. But 30 minutes of light exercise, like walking, is a great alternative.

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JHADZHIA 2/7/2011 11:14AM

    When you are close to goal weight it is harder to lose weight. You actually have to work harder because you are in better shape from your journey so far and so burn fewer calories. I really like this 5 lb goal, I think its fabulous!
You probably did need a rest from your cross country skiing when you are not used to it, it is a great work out!
You are doing fine, keep up the momentum!!

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CRYSTALJEM 2/7/2011 11:11AM

    Don't look at this morning as a set back, but rather as an opportunity to mix up your routine. Hope you enjoy your noon time walk. I have such a hard time being motivated in the winter to go out and do things unless it's cross country skiing and I haven't even done that yet this year. -29C here this morning...
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Get Moving: Day 9

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Not much to say about this really: I know it's important to exercise, it's something I have done consistently my whole life (been a member at my gym since 1975!!, before that at univ gym, before that worked as lifeguard/swim instructor). Yes there have been periods when health issues made it impossible to work out, but I don't panic: I know I love to exercise, I know I will get back to it. At various points in my life depending upon other responsibilities I've scheduled exercise for before work (current time slot, preferred time slot, one that has worked best for me over the years); lunch time (when commuting); after work (put gym bag on the front seat in the car, go directly from work!!); after supper (least fave, hate going out again).

Currently I'm hitting 30 minutes x 3 cardio plus ST plus abs plus stretches every month: mixing up the gym trips with golf in summer, cross country skiing (newly discovered passon) this winter. We did 6 km yesterday on the skis (2 hours) and will be out again today: glorious!!

And I do seek out "spontaneous" exercise opportunities: parking at the far end of the lot, running up and down the stairs at home and at work, zooming around to pick up stuff off the printer, shovelling the walk midworning at work at our office building . . . . nice change of pace, actually.

So I'm giving myself credit on this one pretty much.

Here are Beck's reasons for exercising, and a couple comments:

1. helps you stick with your diet -- yup, when I see on the cross trainer just how hard it is to burn 100 calories, I am sooo much less likely to stuff 100 extra calories into my mouth (all it takes to gain 10 pounds a year)
2. might help control appetite -- for me not so much: I just have to tolerate being hungry if I want to be slim
3. boosts mood and soothes stress -- BIG time, more important for me than any other reason for exercising
4. burns calories -- sure does, just not enough: I can never exercise enough to eat as much as I want
5. preserves muscle tissue -- especially strength training, keeping those arms and shoulders still worthy of sleeveless!!
6. builds confidence -- another big factor: hard to sustain that posture of being "in control" (key for my profession) if not "in control" of my own self physically
7. makes you feel better physically-- love that feeling of moving around gracefully, conscious that I have hip bones!!
8. improves health and helps prevent disease -- so important in managing my concerns about breast cancer recurrence

So there it is: about exercise I am a true believer!! And it's been deeply embedded in my life for decades . . . a fundamental part of who I am through good times and bad times. Even when I weighed 80 pounds more, most of the time I was getting to the gym.

So the cautionary tale for me is: exercise is necessary but it's never been sufficient to achieve either weight loss or weight maintenance.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CMB2048 2/6/2011 4:35PM

    So glad to hear someone else is hungry after exercising or that it doesn't control the appetite. That never happened for me either. I remember feeling so good when I was fit. I really need to focus on this especially if I want to get the weight loss moving faster.

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JHADZHIA 2/6/2011 1:59PM

    I second this :) I have always loved exercise since my 20's, but am proof it doesn't stop weight gain. Only eating properly does that.
Keep up the great work!!

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FRACTALMYTH 2/6/2011 1:45PM

    I was so pleased to pull my sleeveless dresses out of the "do not fit" box and discover that 1 in 3 fits and the others are SO close - close enough to hang in the closet as "goal inspiration"... when I packed them away, I was pregnant for the first time, and I thought I was saving them for a daughter lol... now, thanks to exercise, I am going to wear them again - including the dress I wore to my highschool graduation, and the dress I wore while shopping for my wedding dress fabric... it's like stepping back into my favourite 'me's :P and now I must get off my backside and get outside... the sun is nearly up and Yeti is taking the boys out today so I can work. I may not be able to have it all, but I am definitely going to squeeze in as much as motherly possible! (we all know that's more than "humanly" lol)

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SLENDERELLA61 2/6/2011 10:00AM

    Fantastic blog, Ellen! Fantastic history and devotion to exercise. Keep up the great work! That cross country skiing sounds wonderful. You are so right that exercise is necessary, but not sufficient. This one you've got nailed!!

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