Last night's "The Biggest Loser" turned on a couple of lightbulbs in my head. First, one of the at-home contestants weighed in with a 2-pound loss from her month at home and Allison and the contestant tried to explain it away. Allison asked Jillian, "Do you ever see that, where someone has made big changes and it just doesn't show up on the scale?" Jillian cut her off. "NO! She lost two pounds, don't sugar-coat it. Let's move on." Then Joelle tried to pull the same stunt later, rattling off excuses when it was clear that even she didn't believe her own stories. Her eyes were flat as she talked, like she had checked out.
People don't flake out like this because they're just lazy, they do it because they're afraid. Joelle can't drop her psychobabble defenses long enough to learn anything about herself, and Aubrey couldn't bring herself to ask for help because she was afraid of being disappointed, again, by people who had let her down. Like kids who get caught cheating at school, first they come back with excuses and then they get angry.
I have been experiencing my own adolescent rebellion with the whole Beck Diet Plan. I felt discouraged because I wasn't able to fill out my checksheet perfectly even once. Yesterday I didn't fill out a food plan, read my cards, or really do any of the strategies from the book. I sat down today to read my cards, do the food plan, look at the checksheet, and realized it all feels like homework. Reading the cards, which is supposed to be motivating, makes me feel stupid and angry. It all seems remedial somehow. Flash cards, worksheets, notebooks. And if I'm not going to get the gold star for doing it perfectly, I start thinking, "Listen, Beck, you're not the boss of me!"
Of course that's not what it's about. Judith Beck, Ph.D. does not give a flying fig about whether I lose weight, and she's certainly not going to drag herself to Northwest Ohio to grade my checksheets. But I care, don't I? If I flake out, I'm flaking out on me. I'm flaking out on the clothes in the closet I want to be able to wear. I'm flaking out on the feeling of wearing shorts in the summer and not having them ride up my thighs when I walk. I'm flaking out on the realization that every pretty, thin woman is not my enemy. I'm flaking out on being happy in my own skin. I am not going to be able to trick myself into thinking that I will be just as happy carrying these extra pounds around with me for the rest of my life, so I need to find helpful strategies to get rid of them, and that's what this plan represents.
Inky left a great comment on my last post to remind me that perfection isn't the key here. She linked to the exact article that had inspired me to try the Beck plan the first time around. She also reminded me that perfection isn't the point, "I'm a big BDS devotee, but I've never been able to get through a day without crossing something out" (skipping something on the plan).
If the advantages cards make me feel like an idiot, maybe I can make a list instead. Maybe I can even write down a list each day, because reading the same motivational cards every day seems to turn my brain off and I just start counting how many I have left to read. So what if that's not the "Right" way to do the plan, as long as it accomplishes the same goal.
So far the most helpful strategy by far, and the one that I have been able to hold onto even when in rebellion, is the idea that hunger is not an emergency. A little hunger is not going to kill me. It has been a big revelation to me to find that I can wait out a little hunger until it's time to eat, even if it means waiting an hour or more. Even just learning that one strategy has made a big difference in my life, so imagine how much more powerful I'll feel when I have a whole arsenal of them.
That's a lot more exciting than a gold star.