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Recognizing Thinking Mistakes: Beck Day 26

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This is kinda fun and reminds me of a previous existence when I studied and taught logic! Plus: the "cognitive" dimension is (ahem) intellectually appealing . . . Beck is training the brain, for sure.

So: all of us make predictable errors in our thinking. And of course more so when there is an emotional incentive (excessive attachment to food, so rationalization hunger driven!!) to do so.

The workbook has a handy chart setting out 12 such thinking errors with typical examples.

All or nothing: I'm either perfect at this, or I might as well just give up. This morning I turned off the alarm after a sleepless night and grabbed a few more zzzzs. Which meant I had to delete the preplanned workout from today's fitness tracker. Not perfect: but no giving up, however.

MInd reading: if I don't have dessert at the professional meeting/dinner I'm attending this evening, people will think I'm weird. Actually, probably no one will care or notice -- and if they do, so what.

Dysfunctional rules: such as, can't waste food. For sure I'm planning to waste food tonight. It's a sit-down dinner, I don't know what I will be served, I've tracked in some likely candidates, and I'll be carefully sequestering the portion of whatever to a reasonable size. I can waste food and plan to do just that.

And there are a whole bunch more. Beck suggests that we make additional response cards of the thinking errors that recur most frequently: I'll be paying attention and doing that.

This is a technique which appeals to me, which I believe is highly workable for me, and which will be a useful tool going forward. I'm a logical thinker by training, by personality and by profession. But not so much when it comes to food! I make lots of thinking mistakes in this area of my life. In a light hearted way, this promises to be an amusing exercise with a real pay off.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLENDERELLA61 2/24/2011 7:45PM

    Your strength in logic and love of thinking will serve you well, Ellen. This cognitive approach is perfect for you. You can use your strengths to approach food differently -- more like you approach the rest of your life. That you call it amusing is great. You can play it like a game. But as you say, you expect big rewards from it. You'll get them!! So good to see you learning so much and seeing the potential for even more learnings!! Take care, Marsha

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TRYINGHARD1948 2/24/2011 7:00PM

    You are doing it Ellen.

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CONTENTCHRIS 2/24/2011 5:58PM

    Right on ! as they said in the 70's emoticon

but seriously I so agree we got to go all out ! emoticon

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MYYEAR7 2/24/2011 5:46PM

    I really like your blog. I have been "mind reading" for a long time - This reminds me that probably no one really notices - and if they do, who cares? Love it!

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CRYSTALJEM 2/24/2011 3:20PM

    Now you've really caught my attention. Paying attention to your beliefs and thoughts. Good job. Can't wait to hear more. Good luck! emoticon

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GODS_SERENITY 2/24/2011 10:54AM

    I can relate to the all or nothing! No one will even notice you not eating dessert. If they do like you said, "so what"! Yes, I was in the clean your plate club. I got out of that club fast! Last night I didn't sleep well myself. We just press through don't we? I don't have the workbook. I heard some say it's not worth getting. Your doing great. I enjoy reading your blog!


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Paying Attention to Thinking: Beck Day 25

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In the workbook, Beck calls Day 25 "paying attention to thinking", whereas in her book itself she directs us to "identify sabotaging thoughts".

How do I know I'm having sabotaging thoughts? I feel tempted to eat something I shouldn't (wanted to have a granola bar last night, was salivating at the smell of they guys' turkey dinner); I actually eat something I shouldn't (nope); I feel tempted to skip some part of the program (tried to talk myself into staying in bed this morning instead of going to the gym: but went); I feel unhappy about some element of dieting (yeah: in particular with the obsessive focus the Beck program requires).

So the sabotaging thought include ideas like this:

Dieting is too hard. (Not just too hard, but somehow inelegant and narcissistic, both).
I don't care. (Well, actually . . . I do. But this much???)
It's okay to eat this. (Would have still been in my range with the granola bar: but it wasn't in my plan)
I'm really hungry. (And I was: but this too passes: went to bed instead)
No one will know. (Except me. And my waist).

So today's a day for reflection and being conscious of those fleeting rationalizations. I'll be doing that. But I'm mindful of the comments on yesterday's blog: there is more to life than rigid "dieting" and I've got to find a balance that feels more atune with my own personality and range of interests.

The sky was dark with brilliant stars at 5:30 a.m.when we left for the gym; the sunrise over the trees through the east window of the weights room vivid and warm. I treated myself to a German chocolate cake coffee (0 calories). On our return home, Charlie greeted us at the door with wheeks of pleasure. My husband made me laugh as we waltzed around the kitchen, preparing our breakfasts and getting in each other's ways; a week ago, we were in the emergency ward. I've got some interesting work to do today. And I'm going to wear my size six dark green pantsuit: yeah!

Balance, balance, balance. Maintaining weight loss is important for me. It's important because I want to be healthy and enjoy my rich and meaningful life. And look good, of course, as good as I can. Which makes life more fun!! But that's why: weight loss is not an end in itself, it's a means to an end which is complex and multifaceted and sparkling. So I'll be thinking about that too. Thinking about that.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 2/24/2011 8:25AM

    Identify sabotaging thoughts also applies to my application(or lack there of) of exercise.
- I'm too tired.
- It's too cold/hot.
I could go on...
I have to get out there and just do my best even if it is for just a few minutes.
Thankfully an exercise buddy helps push those sabotaging thoughts aside, because my need to honor my commitment to my buddy is stronger than the sabotaging thoughts.

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JHADZHIA 2/24/2011 12:55AM

    Well done with the avoidance of temptations! Size 6 pantsuit? Wow!
You are rocking this program!

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TRAVELGRRL 2/23/2011 7:24PM

    Your sabotaging thoughts made me laugh:

"I feel unhappy about some element of dieting (yeah: in particular with the obsessive focus the Beck program requires").

"Dieting is too hard. (Not just too hard, but somehow inelegant and narcissistic, both)."

"I don't care. (Well, actually . . . I do. But this much???)"

ARE YOU ACTUALLY MY LONG-LOST TWIN???? We sure do have the same sabotaging thoughts!!!!!

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SLENDERELLA61 2/23/2011 2:51PM

    You are so right!! Weight loss is not an end in itself. You are so right it is a way to improve our lives.

Beck knows that, too, by the way. You'll get to the Enrich Your Life Chapter. It is coming. Now is the time to be a little engrossed and over-focused on all the strategies while you work the Beck plan. You only have 17 more days until you decide what part of this plan to continue daily, weekly, less often, or not at all.

Keep up the good work! It is working!! You are doing it -- and looking lovely in your green pantsuit, I'm sure. It is a temporary over-focus and then you'll achieve that balance. A balance of what you need to do to keep your weight maintenance in a very tight range and feel 100% (or almost) in control 100% (or almost) of the time!! Take care. You are doing great!!

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CRYSTALJEM 2/23/2011 1:40PM

    Self sabotage is so easy. Once you start recognizing it , it starts to get easier to break the habit. Good blog. Thanks as always! Rock the world in that pant suit (post a pic!).

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CHOCMOM 2/23/2011 1:24PM

  Need help with this program. I have a gift certificate to Amazon and I was thinking of purchasing the book and workbook, but Amazon recommended 3 books -
1. The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The Five-Stage Program for Permanent Weight Loss

2. Beck Diet Solution Weight Loss Workbook: The 6-week Plan to Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person and

3. The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person

Do you know what is the difference in number 1 and number 3? Which book do you have?

Thanks girlfriend!! emoticon

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JOHAL52 2/23/2011 11:36AM

    Oh I DO understand about balance!! I feel the same way as you do. I know that doing all of this is a "good" thing and for more reasons than just a loss of weight. But sometimes I feel like I am playing that child's game where you have a board with pegs that stick through the board. You hammer one peg down and it comes out the other side. And another and another. And then you turn the board over and you still have pegs sticking up emoticon so you do it all over again. There is always something to "fix" in our lives, and trying to keep everything going is very hard. Bravo to you for doing it!!

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PHEBESS 2/23/2011 9:34AM

    I'm guilty of "I can eat this" "I would have been in range but for" and "I'm REALLY hungry" - and today I was thinking that I need to make better choices EVERY time, not just some of the time.

So thank you!!!!!

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LADYJ6942 2/23/2011 9:32AM

    Interesting ideas. I allow myself what I want as long as I have met my gym requirement for the day and stay with in calorie range. However it is not the end of the world if I go over.

I have to live life for me not by the diet rules. This is a life style choice and indulgences are necessary to keep from going crazy and over doing it.

Good luck.

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Diminish and Deal with Discouragement: Beck Day 24

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's just not worth the effort. It's too much trouble. My weight is up again .5 pounds to 152.5 even though I've been measuring and tracking and exercising and doing everything with complete compliance and . . . I might just as well give up.

Beck anticipates this mental response too.

She points out that discouragement generally lasts at most for about 20 minutes. Although it's daunting to think about measuring and tracking like this for the rest of my life -- and easy for me to ridicule myself about the vain obsession that would actually persist in measuring and tracking --- the fact is I don't have to measure and track for the rest of my life. I just have to do it for today. I just have to stick with the discouragement for the next 20 minutes. Until it diminishes. Until I've dealt with it. Until it disappears altogether. And I can do that.

Don't I deal with discouragement in many other areas of life? Every file reaches a point where resolution appears to be impossible. Sometimes I lose a case. Sometimes getting along with my son or my daughter appears to be impossible. Or my husband. Yeah.

But: I've learned to anticipate that this too will pass. That when I get up the next morning, everything looks different. Or next week. Or maybe not until next month (because some of those problems can be really intractable. And can take much longer than 20 minutes to be resolved).

And if I hadn't learned that -- I would not be able to sustain my career. In fact, would never have survived law school. And we would not have two adult kids, moving towards independence, nice people of whom we are proud. And we would not be celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary this summer.

So what is it about food -- and only about food -- that makes it OK to give in to momentary discouragement? I'm going to be eating again in a couple of hours. I'm going to be officially weighing myself again in a week. My weight will remain stable if I continue with the strategies I am learning. No choice applies to me. But it also applies to the weight: it has no choice either. So long as I track.

There is nothing to be discouraged about. As I practice these skills, they will get easier. And in the meantime, I'm resilient. I can diminish discouragement. I can deal with it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GABY1948 11/16/2014 5:32AM

    As usual, one that I will keep handy from you! You are GOOD, no emoticon

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CRYSTALJEM 2/22/2011 9:18PM

    You are so right, we each face discouragement in many areas on an ongoing basis. Yet, food and weight seems to be so front and centre. I think Tryinghard60 has some really good advice. Sometimes we just need a break and then it all seems so much better. Time to let yourself relax a little.

I have also found that my weight fluctuates by a few pounds here and there no matter "what I do". I found my nature seems to be one of slight flux. One of the reasons I don't weigh everyday. But overall, I'm making progress, I'm seeing subtle differences and I'll take it. So just keep your eyes open and when you feel discouraged by the scale, find something else that counters it (like maybe a workout felt easier, your clothes felt a little different, you weren't having to distract yourself from hunger as much, that skirt felt a little looser.)

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TRYINGHARD1948 2/22/2011 6:13PM

    It's just a thought Ellen but there seems to be a tremendous amount of time concentrating on food, exercise and weight. Perhaps doing something you love and losing yourself in it for several hours could help lift this feeling of discouragement and allow you to bring a more balanced approach to the program. Love you girl, hate to see you this way. Mega emoticon

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CMB2048 2/22/2011 6:01PM

    I knew your feed was for a Beck Day!!! Only 20 minutes? That could be doable even for me! Got my book yesterday but only got through the introduction so far. But I did stop today and every time I ate I stopped to ask "Why am I doing this?" and "What am I feeling?"

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BIKE82X 2/22/2011 5:35PM

    Excellent thoughts - thanks for sharing them.

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SLENDERELLA61 2/22/2011 4:09PM

    Powerful blog, Ellen! Yes, you can diminish and deal with disappointment. You point out you have these skills that you regularly use in other areas of your life. You can use these skills to achieve your fitness goals; to stay on track even when moments (or 20 minutes) of discouragement occur.

You are doing great!! I love your statement that the scale has no choice either. When we eat right and are active the scale has to budge. It will. Absolutely. No choice.

Thanks for sharing your insight. Very good. Very, very good.

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NANCY- 2/22/2011 12:20PM

    In dealing with discouragement... I have found that finding something positive or something to be grateful for helps. If my weight has gone up slightly...
Are my muscles firmer?
Am I feeling better due to eating healthier food?
Sodium intake too much?
The disappointment is an opportunity to ask "What CAN I do?", reflect and make changes.
You are strong and will transfer the skills you have.

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What's So Unfair? Beck Day 23

Monday, February 21, 2011

Beck is astonishing me with her ability to anticipate, over and over again, what the next stage of my mental response to her program will be. Beck is prepared with a counteractive cognitive strategy, almost before I know I need it.

What have I got to feel resentment about? How is my life unfair? Because I can't eat whatever I want whenever I want? Really?? That's it???

But of course I do find myself thinking that way -- actually seething (shamefully) with resentment about "food unfairness". How ridiculous that sounds. But Beck "knew" that I would.

"I can't eat like other people." Actually, I live with two naturally thin people . . . and although they eat more than I do (not surprisingly, being males and much taller and far more carnivorous! ) I notice that I am learning to eat more like they do: no panic, taking time to prepare what they want, not stuffing their faces with what ev the minute they walk in the door.

"I have such a lousy metabolism." Maybe. Or maybe I was just scarfing back too many random "tablespoonfuls" of peanut butter. Too many "ounces" of full fat cheddar cheese. While standing up so they didn't count -- or didn't count fully. Anyhow, if the worst bodily inconvenience I can complain about is a too-efficient metabolism: time to get over myself.

"I can't be spontaneous in my eating." No, I can't. Because what I've been pleased to think about as "spontaneity" has actually been out-of-control self-indulgence. I can be spontaneous about other stuff, however. Spontaneous enjoyment of the red veined amaryllis slowly blooming on my kitchen window sill. The downy woodpecker on my bird feeder. A gorgeous winter sunset through the pines in the park behind my house. Sunlight sparkling on wind-sculpted snow drifts. Yeah. There is room for spontaneity that involves more meaningful joy than . . . stuffing my face. Not to forget: spontaneous exercise (About which, I've noticed, I'm not quite so . . . . assertive in demanding my "rights"!!)

Fact is, if my life is "unfair" it's been by any rational measure grossly unfair in my favour. It's unfair that I was born in this country with its amazing freedoms and civility and beauty; to reasonably well-educated and financially comfortable parents; that I had many opportunities to enjoy music, art, sports, reading and formal education that even people from my own "privileged" background by and large did not; that health care has been there whenever I or any member of my family has needed it, without cost and without delay; that my children have grown up so well; that my home is spacious and pleasant; that (this, above all) my husband is so dear and so kind. Did I do anything in particular to deserve all this "unfairness" which has been bestowed upon me? No. Not. I can only endeavour to deserve it, somehow. After the fact. And stop complaining because I cannot in fact eat whatever I want whenever I want.

Actually, of course, I can. But I cannot eat whatever I want whenever I want and be slim. Healthy. Proud of myself.

And it would be somehow more "fair" if I could?

Get a grip, gal.

So: I will pull out my list of reasons to lose weight. I will remember to eat everything sitting down, and slowly, and truly enjoying it. I will refuse to categorize hunger as an emergency. I will use distraction techniques when beset with cravings. I will continue to preplan my food (have my lunch for tomorrow already prepared and tracked: a stir fry for a change); and I will continue to preplan my fitness (although skiing planned for today won't be possible, not enough snow: will have to substitute a trip to the gym instead).

Beck has deftly exposed and skewered that sulky pouty persistent sense of "entitlement" that is so deeply unattractive. In me. Which I need to resist. Because I don't like it. About food, or about anything else, actually. And I'm not going back there.

It would be unfair to myself to permit it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRYINGHARD1948 2/22/2011 12:34AM

    Habits of a lifetime are so difficult to overcome but recognising them is definitely a huge step towards changing them. You are doing a fantastic and very analytical job of where you are at, and, unfortunately, life was never meant to be fair but, when we are given such a head start with everything else it is only right that in this one area we should try our best to do the best we can, and YOU ARE. You are doing it!

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SLENDERELLA61 2/21/2011 4:47PM

    Fantastic blog, Ellen! You've nailed it. So glad that Beck is so in sync with you. I appreciate that you are truly working this program. I suspect you will gain much from it. I know I have. -Marsha

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DAYHIKER 2/21/2011 11:01AM

    What a great blog post! I so hear you about the huge blessing of having been born in this country as opposed to a third world country. I certainly did nothing to earn or deserve it. I am on day 4 and love that the thinking is beginning to permeate my consciousness. I know I'm going to have some real challenges ahead but I also know that it's what I need to do to stop the yo-yo cycle I've fallen into.

Keep up the good work! emoticon

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GODS_SERENITY 2/21/2011 10:12AM

    Great sharing, writing, and honesty. You will have great success in this. I find looking at all the wonderful food i can have. That helps me. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.

Debbie emoticon

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CRYSTALJEM 2/21/2011 10:07AM

    Like most things in life, it's all about our perspective isn't it. You continue to be a wonderful voice of reason and inspiration for me! Way to go. emoticon


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CMB2048 2/21/2011 9:48AM

    I say these things to myself all the time about how unfair it is that I have a lifelong problem with my weight. But your reminder of how much in our life we have to be thankful for is beautiful!

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NANCY- 2/21/2011 9:47AM

    What a beautiful blog.
From my misidentifying "spontaneity" to my sense of entitlement, you opened my mind to see the error in my thoughts.
You pointed out what wonderful gifts are available to us,
what IS not fair is the out-of-control self-indulgence(love the reality of that term) that I have been practicing.
We do have the power to change and you are so right in asking "What's so unfair?"

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Oh, Well: Beck Day 22

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oh, well.

Beck tells us that's how to respond to disappointment if we fail to meet our weight loss goals; or when (not if, WHEN) we feel deprived or disgruntled. And that we should remind ourselves that "oh well" is essentially how we deal with every other unavoidable disappointment or unpleasant task that life throws up at us.

Don't want to go to work? "Oh, well". Gotta do that. And so, do it.

Not happy about the size of my credit card bill this month? "Oh, well." It is -- not what it is (thanks, NOTABOUTTHEFACE, I strongly dislike the commonplace mantra, "it is what it is", too).

It is what I made it. And I'm the gal whose gotta deal with it. Yeah. Me.

So this morning after I weighed myself, I happened to pick up the Saturday edition of the National Post, a great Canadian newspaper. And I was reading about soldiers wounded in Afghanistan, including Lance Corporal Tyler Steven Huffman, age 22. Grievously wounded by an IED December 3, 2010; without the use of his legs, rehabilitating in Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Richmond, VA. where he is visited almost daily by his 24 year old wife and their 18 month old son. He is quoted as saying: "Being paralyzed doesn't bother me. If I never walk again -- oh well."

Here's the link if you want to read the story:


I added his words to the back of my Beck Day 20 "Oh, Well" card so that I remember this courageous young man, Tyler Steven Huffman. And put my own much more modest struggles into perspective.

Oh, well.

Beck learned her own lesson about acceptance from the severe illness of her young son, who for a period of some six years was for medical reasons on a very strict diet: mostly fats, small amount of protein, almost no carbs. He very quickly learned to be matter-of-fact about this necessary deprivation and rigid control. Almost no sugar, no snacks, no treats for close to six years. They put a gold star on a chart for him daily until he learned the "oh, well" technique. Within weeks, there were pretty much no further complaints from him.

Beck is slim. But she was apparently never grossly overweight: she took off and has maintained about a 15 pound weight loss, using her own cognitive psychology strategies. So I can well imagine that Beck could not permit herself to complain about her own weight loss/weight maintenance rigours when faced with the matter-of-fact acceptance of much greater restrictions demonstrated daily by her young son. Oh, well.

I'm not really liking the preplanning of my food and the preplanning of my exercise. I'm struggling with resentment that others don't have to work as hard as I do to be slim. It seems a bit inelegant, excessive, obsessive. Oh, well. When I accept that this is the way I will have to manage my metabolism for life -- because it's evident to me that I do have to track and plan to manage my metabolism -- then I will stop struggling too. Stop being resentful. And then it will be much easier.

If a small child can learn "oh, well" and if a paralyzed young father- soldier can learn "oh, well" then I can too.

Oh, well. Oh, well. Oh, well.

And -- the fact is, after all my panic yesterday preparing for weigh-in, the scales today show me at 152, down from 155.5 yesterday and 156 a week ago. I"m fitting very nicely into that black leather size 6 pencil skirt with room to spare in the waistband. And my size six dark green pant suit. And a couple of other "challenging" outfits . . .

However, I'm not thinking that 152 is permanent -- I'm anticipating there may well be fluctuations up again from that point. Weight is not a steady progression downwards.

But the Beck diet solution is working. And what's pretty much certainly more important, when it's time for the next weigh-in I believe I'll be prepared to accept the results with greater equanimity. Because this is a life long process. Not a one-time goal.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CRYSTALJEM 2/21/2011 10:04AM

    Awesome blog! "food for thought" for sure. I like the NP too. I really like your perspective.

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FROSTIERACES 2/21/2011 7:42AM

    Oh I can so relate to your blog and feelings here Ellen! Thank you!! for saving me with this blog...I so needed to hear "oh well" and try to use that strategy about my past days. We can be so hard on ourselves ya know?! I'm happy for you in your skirt that fits and feels great! I hope you have a great week at work and can smile at your progress, you're doing marvelous!!

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FRACTALMYTH 2/21/2011 4:18AM

    WOOOHOOO Congrats on the good news from the scales and the nicely fitting clothes :D As for the rest. Oh, well. I'm writing that on a post it note and sticking it to my computer right this minute!

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ERIKO1908 2/20/2011 7:36PM

    I think this is my favorite "Beck Blog" of yours thus far. Very though-provoking...thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. Keep up the awesome work!!

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FREELADY 2/20/2011 3:11PM

    Great blog. Very meaningful to me. So much to chew on and think about.

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SUCHAHOOT 2/20/2011 2:49PM

    Great blog. Wonderful perspective!

"It is what I made it. And I'm the gal whose gotta deal with it. Yeah. Me."

Responsibility. and Focus. What I need to improve. Now.

Think I'll dust off my Beck books. :o)

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CHOCMOM 2/20/2011 2:06PM

  Wow, never heard of this plan, but I need to check it out. Sounds like something I need at this time in my life. Thank you for blogging about it. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CMB2048 2/20/2011 11:15AM

    Congratulations on that weight loss and Beck does seem to be working for you. I think I am going to take the plunge and get the book and workbook!

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NOTABOUTHEFACE 2/20/2011 11:13AM

    Thanks for the shout out. I hate that saying. It's like saying either "I give up" or "I take no responsibility." I have a few family members that say it and it grates like nails on a chalkboard.

I know the tracking and planning seems like a pain now but eventually it becomes second nature. Yeah it sucks that others SEEM to not have to do that but you don't know that they don't right? (I always hated seeing skinny people eat with gluttony at a restaurant but how do I know it's not their high cal day like we have?) In the end, if you get really depressed about your weight just remember, it could be worse...some of us still have to lose a whole YOU before we're in the healthy weight range! LOL

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PHEBESS 2/20/2011 10:40AM

    Very existential, and I'll try to remember that!

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NANCY- 2/20/2011 10:33AM

    Wow! How powerful and well said.
first of all ...
Yes You have a lower number to look at on the scale. But what is wonderful is that you are taking responsibility and doing what you need to do for you. Alas it may not be the preferred path... but it is the path that gets you to your goal.
I loved "It is what I made it. And I'm the gal whose gotta deal with it. Yeah. Me."
You are dealing with it!

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