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.
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.
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.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
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.
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.
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