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Hi, I'm Dr. Judith Beck, the author of "The Beck Diet Solution
Are you feeling discouraged and down about dieting? It's easy to go from discouragement to abandoning your diet altogether, so I'd like to suggest something for you to do.
First, it doesn't matter if you're discouraged because you strayed from your diet, because the scale went up, or because dieting just seems too hard.
To deal with your discouragement, you do the same thing. You think about what you'd say to your best friend if she were in the same situation.
First, I bet you'd have compassion for her. You'd probably say something like, "I'm sorry you're discouraged. But I don't want you to let this get you down! You're a wonderful person no matter what
. And what the scale says is irrelevant to who you are."
If your friend strayed from her diet, wouldn't you say, "So you made a mistake. You're only human! You can't possibly be perfect. It doesn't mean you're bad or hopeless. You're supposed
to make mistakes from time to time. Everyone
does. What's important is what you do from here. Don't wait until tomorrow to get back to your eating plan. Start right this minute! You'll feel so much better if you do."
If your friend gained weight one week, would you want her to criticize herself? Would you want her to feel badly? Of course not. I bet you'd say, "Listen, if you gained weight because you didn't stick to your diet, all it means is that you have a problem you need to solve. It doesn't mean anything bad about you. It doesn't mean you can't diet. Let me help you figure out how to have a better week."
If she had stuck to her diet, it would be important for you to explain to her that the scale isn't supposed to
go down every week. It may stay the same or go up because of hormonal reasons or water retention or other biological processes. You might encourage her by saying, "Just keep doing what you're doing. The scale will probably go down next week. If it doesn't, you can just try cutting your calories a little bit or increasing your exercise, and that should do the trick."
Finally, if your friend got discouraged because dieting just seemed really hard, you'd undoubtedly sympathize with her. It would also be helpful to find out if it seemed hard every minute of every day or just for relatively short periods of time on some days. You'd probably say, "I'm sorry it's been hard for you. Can I help you develop a plan for what you can do whenever it's hard—and that plan includes calling me!"
Learning to talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend is essential for dealing with discouragement. In fact, if you find yourself getting too self-critical, you might call your best friend and see what she has to say. I hope you'll try this!