Dr. Judith Beck


What happened to Winkie?

As the old saying goes, life happened.

I came back to this blog today, and was surprised by a few things:

  1. It’s still 2010! Somehow, I thought I’d abandoned this blog for more than a year.
  2. WowI kept it up for 19 days! Pretty good, considering how busy I was.
  3. I didn’t recognize what I wrote. I kept thinking, someone did a good job on this blog. That someone was me!

My main reason for not coming back was work. I had been spending so much time on the blog, I was getting behind at work, and I had to get caught up.

Also, life really did happen. A week before vacation, I went to a doctor (not my usual one) for bronchitis. Technically, this doctor wasn’t taking new patients and was about to go home, but it’s amazing how quickly a doctor’s office responds when you call during H1N1 season and tell them that you’ve been coughing for 6 weeks. In addition to the bronchitis, we discussed my weight and blood pressure. This doctor was the first to suggest something besides overeating for my physical condition. I left with antibiotics, blood pressure medication, and an assignment to look into Cushing syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Which forced me to face up to something. Once I started losing weight, I began to notice a hard mass in my abdomen. I hadn’t been able to feel it when I was at my heaviest. Time to find a GYN. I went into my vacation with my parents and brother’s family with a diagnosis of uterine fibroids (so, not Cushing or PCOS) and the knowledge that abdominal surgery was in my future.

During the vacation, I also found out that my parents were selling their beautiful waterfront condo and moving to be closer to kids and grandkid. Not thinking about it or planning for it—doing it. Like in a few weeks.

Fast-forward to June. I’m in the hospital recovering from the first surgery of my life, and my parents have been living in their new little retirement-village apartment for a month. The day I was rolled out the hospital, my mother was rolled in—for reaction to a medication which thankfully had no lasting repercussions. Can you tell this has been an eventful year in my family?

Since then, I’ve been adjusting to all of the changes, keeping up with work and life…and now, needing to focus on my weight again. My trainer scolded me the other day. She said she had expected the surgery and the resulting weight loss to “catapult” me into continuing to drop weight. If I had lost 5 pounds each month since then, I would have lost 25 lbs by now. “You have to put a stake in the ground,” she said.

She’s right. I lost about 7 lbs during and after the surgery, but put them back on over the summer. Since I started to train 3 years ago, I’m about 10 lbs down from my top weight, while being infinitely more fit than I was then. I’m up to exercising 5 days a week, and I’m one of the strongest women I know. For all of that, I give myself credit.

I currently think of myself as a fit person on the inside, with a big fat layer on the outside.

Since I’ve already written a lot about each task, I’m going to borrow from that material as applicable. But things will be different:

  1. I will post my weight and body fat percentage, as well as my daily menus, which I didn’t do last time.
  2. I won’t write as much about each task. More focus on doing the tasks—and losing the weight—than on creating a nifty blog.

I think the reason I didn’t lost much weight last time is that I wasn’t committed, deep-down, to weight loss. It was about doing the perfect blog and getting to meet Dr. Beck someday. This time, it’s not a dress rehearsal, a project, or an experiment. This time, it’s for real. I’m seeing it through.

And…I will get to meet Dr. Beck! More on that later!

Have I really only been away just a week? It feels like forever.

I have been busy with work.  I haven’t done any new postings or moved on to Day 20, but I’ve still been honing the skills I’ve learned so far. I’m still journaling my food, working out, and reading my advantages list. And preparing for my vacation next week.

I’ve also been leafing through Dr. Beck’s second book: Dr. Beck’s Complete Diet for Life. Dr. Beck wrote her 2nd book to address issues that came up with people who used her first book. Notably, when allowed to choose their own diet, people were choosing diets that were too low in calories to be sustained even with the help of Cognitive Therapy!

So Dr. Beck’s 2nd book includes a simplified calorie counting system that gives meal plans, food lists, and recipes for various calorie levels ranging from 1,600 to 2,400 calories. 1,600 is the minimum calorie level because research has found that when placed on a lower calorie level, people invariably end up cheating until they’ve raised their calories to around 1,600. (I’ve certainly found this to be true for myself when I’ve used computer programs to count my calories. Below 1,600, my hunger is too intense, and food just finds its way into my mouth.)

Doing the calculation in the book, I should be at the 1,800 level. It sounds like a lot, but it’s a lot less than what most people eat, and what I had been eating. I’ve been experimenting with the 1,800 calorie meal plan, but sticking to SBD (Phase II) foods. I found that I was pretty close to 1,800 when following the SBD without counting. I think I will lose faster if I pay more attention to added fats and use the 1,800 calorie meal plan as a guide.

The 2nd book goes through the same skills as the first book, but spends less time on the earlier Days of The Beck Diet Solution (setting up your kitchen, etc.) and more on dealing with challenging situations and sabotaging thoughts. Response cards are more strongly worded, and there are more of them. I believe Dr. Beck found that some people need the extra motivation!

In The Beck Diet Solution, you start food journaling and dieting at the same time. In The Complete Beck Diet for Life, Dr. Beck has you working on the skill of planning and monitoring food in writing for a number of weeks before you start dieting. She wants you to master inflexible eating (writing down what you’re going to eat the night before and then eating exactly that) before even attempting to limit calories.

I know I still haven’t mastered inflexible eating, even though I’m writing down all my food and even though I’m dieting and have even lost 10 pounds. I found myself that inflexible eating is a separate skill from calorie counting when I planned a “cheat meal” in advance. Sure enough, when it came time to eat the cheat meal, I didn’t really want it and ordered something else! I have sabotaging thoughts around the idea of sticking to a plan, not the food itself!!

In both books, Dr. Beck talks a lot about the importance about having a plan for vacation eating. Specifically, decide in advance to have up to 300 extra calories a day on one or more of your vacation days. That’s one large cocktail OR one small dessert at ONE meal that day. That’s it. No other extra sugar, snacks, drinks, bread, or sauces. No wonder people gain weight on vacation! It’s so easy to allow “only” one piece from the bread basket, and a cocktail, and a glass of wine, and a bite of a shared dessert along with the grilled chicken and veggies, and be convinced that I’m still being “good.” But that’s way too many extra calories.

On my one-week vacation, I plan to eat the same as at home except at 3 special meals that I anticipate: Valentine’s Day, dinner with my parents, and perhaps a restaurant meal with my brother’s family. I’m bringing The Complete Beck Diet for Life along with me for both motivation and calorie counting.

My Internet access will be spotty, but I will post as often as I can to keep myself accountable.

When I get back, I have plans for this blog. I want to pretty up the design, add more pictures, and post my daily eating. Any other requests?

• MSNBC’s website has a 5-page excerpt of The Beck Diet Solution, with accompanying video. This is a great intro for someone trying to decide whether they want to read the book.

• Another good intro to the program is Newsweek’s interview with Dr. Beck.

Time to Get Serious. Psychology Today article from January, 2010.

Just for fun. I need some fun today. This is from 2007, around the time The Beck Diet Solution was first published.

• Dr. Beck has updated her blog today. She taped a segment for the Dr. Oz show where she works with a family whose mother pushes too much food on the kids. She uses techniques from the Beck Diet Solution, of course! I’ll let you know if I can find a link to the video.

• Pasta Queen has posted her report on Week 2 of the BDS. Interesting discussion in the comments on the possible links between cravings, weight, hormones, and chronic pain.

I met with my therapist today, who is one of my diet coaches. I didn’t do my blog entry the night before, as I usually do, and I was feeling out of sorts about it. Overwhelmed. Was I starting to fail? Would I be able to keep this up? What were my (few!) readers thinking when they didn’t see a new post first thing this morning?

She asked me what this blog means to me and what’s the importance of posting every single day. I told her about my dream of going all the way with the Beck Diet Solution—42 perfect days in a row; of joining the great blogging community; maybe even meeting Dr. Beck herself someday. And maybe, just maybe, helping someone else who’s struggling out there to go all the way, too.

My therapist reminded me that I’m doing this diet for myself, not for the sake of a blog. She wants me to go at my own pace, which means slowing down when I feel overwhelmed. Maybe take longer than a day on some of the “Days” in the Beck book.

She reminded me of a quote from an email that Dr. Beck sends to subscribers to her email newsletter. (Email dietprogram@beckinstitute.org if you want to subscribe. The newsletter has a lot of helpful info and success stories!)

…the most frequent mistake dieters make is focusing on changing what they eat before they have really mastered—and consistently use—the thinking and behavioral skills in the books … if you’re struggling, go back to the beginning of one of the books and master each step before you go to the next one, no matter how long it takes.

Right from the horse’s mouth! I need to keep my focus on mastering the skills at my own pace, for myself, not on being Ms. Perfect Blogger.

So, while I will continue to post every day, the posts will not always be, “Did today’s task, completed the checklist, yay me!”

I will write honestly about the struggles that come up. If I have to repeat a Day, I will. And I will walk at my own pace.

Sabotaging thought: “I don’t deserve to prepare yummy meals for myself. My enjoyment is not important. I should just eat what’s on my diet and deal with it.”

Helpful response: “WTF? I deserve the same things as every other human being!! And that includes being able to eat and enjoy food. I will be much more likely to stick to this diet for the rest of my life if I learn and prepare recipes that I love. It’s important. I’m important.”

Just for fun, here’s a link to one of the articles that made me a believer in the BDS.

The author, Barbara Graham, is a writer who got to work directly with Dr. Beck…er, “Judy”… for a few weeks.

I like this article because Barbara does a great job describing the program and her own insights with a sense of humor. It’s also fun to see a little bit of what “Judy” is like in real life. Barbara also does a great job on the BDS exercises covered in the article, so she’s an inspiration!