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Back to Beck Day Twenty-Seven: The Seven Questions

Sunday, November 09, 2014


Back in 2011, as noted yesterday, I seem to have "blown off" the full identification of the 9 (or 12) sabotaging thoughts.

But in 2011 I did a more thorough job of blogging about Beck's Day 27 Seven Questions technique. I "recalled" them. I analyzed them. And I applied them to my own situation (synthesis). There was a full cognitive effort!

So here's how the Seven Questions technique works. After I identify the particular sabotaging thought, I'm supposed to challenge it. And the method of challenging the particular sabotaging thought involves asking a sequence of questions.

Back in 2011, I identified my most persistent sabotaging thought as being "this all takes too much time". Inelegant, narcissistic etc. etc. And of course underlying THAT sabotaging thought, I now realize, is the "exaggeration" response -- that is, other people don't have to devote such an inordinate amount of time and effort to being or becoming or remaining thin. Which when I challenged it, I had to acknowledge wasn't true: Beck really doesn't take me a whole lot of time.

So what about this round, what's my most persistent sabotaging thought? Candidly, it's probably competitive. I'm not "winning"!! I'm not a "superstar maintainer"!! Because, my goodness, there are people right here at Spark (TINAJANE, SLENDERELLA) who have moved on! Who have graduated to "intuitive eating". Who don't need to track obsessively anymore!!

All right then; let's deal with the current prominent sabotaging thought using Beck's seven questions.

Question one: identify the thinking mistake. I'd call this one "jumping to conclusions". I haven't graduated to intuitive eating like other long-term maintainers have done. And that means I'll never graduate to intuitive eating and I'll always have to track.

Question two: ask myself what evidence I have whether I'm unable to eat intuitively. So far actually I don't have a lot of evidence that I can't do "intuitive eating" since I've always tracked over the past 10++ years of maintaining even before I started at Spark People in 2009. (Although after 27 days on the Beck refresher, gotta accept there was a considerable amount of "lenient" tracking happening, including eating standing up and underestimating portions of cheese, peanut butter and nuts!!).

Question three: is there another way to view this situation? There are several ways, of course. I could experiment with intuitive eating and see if it works for me. OR I could accept that this is an experiment of one, that tracking is not so inelegant and narcissistic, that (as my previous blog on this topic pointed out in 2011) it doesn't actually take much time, and just keep on doing what works for me. Without assuming that "intuitive eating" is somehow better and I'm a failure because I haven't achieved it. What's the competition? SLENDERELLA and TINAJANE aren't asserting some kind of superiority etc. I genuinely rejoice in their success. It's working for them and that's what counts.

Question four: what is the most realistic outcome of this situation? I could experiment with intuitive eating, beginning with 1 day while monitoring weight fluctuations, and if that works well try a couple days, then a week and so on. And if intuitive eating results in unacceptable weight gain: Oh well. I can go back to tracking. Without labelling myself a failure it if turns out I don't do well on intuitive eating . . . but of course I'm worried that if I stop tracking and experience weight gain I won't get back to my approach, which has worked for me, and I'll explode upwards to 230 pounds again.

Question five: what is the effect of my believing this thought and what could be the effect of my changing my thinking? So long as I believe that the "real superstar maintainers graduate to intuitive eating (and I have not)" I'm going to be tempted to be loose about tracking. With potential to fall off my own program, whatever I choose. Because my program can work either way -- I can try the intuitive eating with careful weight monitoring, or I can continue doing what works for me. But realistically speaking I know what the research says (Beck, Refuse to Regain, National Weight Loss Registry etc. etc.). Most people who keep weight off continue to track nutrition and weigh regularly. That's the norm. Graduating to intuitive eating is probably the exception. Because logically (based upon inductive reasoning) intuitive eating post weight loss doesn't appear to work in maintaining weight loss for most people.

Question six: What advice would I give a friend or family member in the same situation? Probably, keep on tracking. It's not so tough, and it works for you. There's no special virtue in achieving intuitive eating and the chance is pretty good (given what I know about my own personality and logical habits of mind and general comfort with self-discipline) that intuitive eating is not going to be as successful for me as what I've been doing up till now. If I keep on tracking, I'll probably still experience intermittent rebellion and frustration and discouragement about the planning and monitoring tracking requires, but that's OK. I can anticipate intermittent rebellion and accept intermittent rebellion (without liking it). I can continue with NO CHOICE and OH WELL and rein myself in when necessary! There may still be some yo-yoing but it's been within an acceptable range and that can continue.

Question seven: What should I do now? Keep on keeping on. Tracking. Why risk an intuitive approach when what I'm doing is working? I can read my Advantage Response Card. Remind myself that my own number one priority for keeping weight off is reducing the likelihood of recurrence of estrogen-positive breast cancer. In February 2011 I was not quite 2 years all clear; in November 2014 I'm well over five years all clear. And, more frivolously, I'm still wearing my size eights (and size sixes) and having fun with clothes. I'm also enjoying fitness (yesterday, so great to get back to the gym post-flu and sweat with the cardio, heft weights upper and lower body strength training!). The pre-planning is pretty routine for me: for next week's suppers I've made a big pot of black bean chicken chili soup with sweet potatoes; smells terrific! Salad fixings for next week's lunch salads are also in the fridge ready to go.

Yup, I am feeling reinvigorated with this Beck refresher . . . motivation is high. Life is good!

[Sorry again: another loooooooong blog, but I'm just thinking it through for myself. We're through "the worst" -- or maybe the best-- of Beck: the most intensely theoretical and convoluted part!! And I'm now accepting completely that this is the kind of cognitive effort I need to keep on keeping on. Beck offers cognitive behaviour therapy: I'm a cognitive kinda person, and that's why it works. For me.]
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    One more thought - sometimes sticking with what works is actually easier than trying something new to see if it works or doesn't work. Tracking your food works for you. Intuitive eating might, or might not. But the easy was is to keep doing what is working already.
    1965 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14291083
    I'm with KANOE. I've been doing intuitive eating most of the time, but I've switched to maintenance a few pounds short of goal. In other words I've settled for less because I don't want to push myself more. But supposing I changed to tracking? I might get down there. Maybe I could graduate from IT to tracking! Maybe IT and tracking are just two ways - neither better than the other, and you just do what works for you, which could be different at different times anyway.
    1965 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/10/2014 6:37:48 AM
    Well, you're a Superstar in my book Ellen. You write fab blogs. You write exceptional comments on other people's blogs (quite a few EACH DAY!). You have maintained a long, long, long time!!!!

    And, personally, I don't care if you or I ever get on to intuitive eating...we want our clothes to continue fitting...we WANT our clothes to continue fitting. And I don't know about you, but I NEVER want to have to lose weight again....

    1965 days ago
    I think you're being way too hard on yourself.
    As we say down here, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    I never thought of intuitive eating as a superior approach to maintenance, but I can understand why it may seem that way.
    Since I weigh myself every single morning, I may be able to manage without tracking, but how would I check my nutritional balance? There more to tracking than just calories.

    Whoa, did I read that right - over TEN years of maintenance? That's twice where I'm at. How can you not consider yourself a superstar?
    1966 days ago
    It may be long but it was worth reading. I loved how you got to the heart of the matter about intuitive eating, because that's one I doubt I will ever "graduate" to, either... and the temptation to judge it somehow superior when in fact, it's something that works for others but so far does not for me? Oh, well!

    Excellent, excellent analysis, and I'm SO glad you wrote this one today! emoticon
    1966 days ago
  • _LINDA
    Nothing wrong with keeping on with tracking. Nothing at all, its whatever works for your experiment of one! I know tracking will always be the way to go for me too.
    Happy Tracking, and you are still an A List maintainer, one we all look up to. I agree intuitive eating will only work for a rarefied few..
    1966 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I'm glad today was church because I got to read all these wonderful comments on your blog...it's got to be one of the difficult ones. But I have to say I agree with FEEDTHEHUNGER's reply...FOR ME I do not believe I will do any intuitive maintenance eating. But that is ME...I can see the strong doing it (you).

    emoticon I love your blogs...
    1966 days ago
    I first want to applaud you for being on day 27! I have noticed there is a lot of people on Sparks doing intuitive eating and it seems to be working for them. For me personally, I have to track and measure my food. That's what works for me! I have learned so much from your blogs... Love them! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!
    Hugs and love,
    1966 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14895051
    I really identify with wanting to "graduate" to intuitive eating but since my intuition slowly leads me back to full time bingeing, I think that is not realistic for me today or probably ever. What is realistic is to follow the disciplines that I know work which is portion control, no snacking and limited to no sweets.

    It's a lot of work to challenge the thoughts we have -- I commend you for going through it in such a thorough fashion.

    1966 days ago
    Definitely agree w/#3. Intuitive eating isn't for everyone! I have tried it and m portion sizes don't resemble what they should. That doesn't make me a failure, though! It just means, at least for now, that I track, weigh and measure. Again for me, it boils down to this. I spend some time (not a lot!) measuring/weighing and tracking, and if I didn't I'd end up unhealthy as where I was in the beginning -- and believe me -- getting back to health took a LOT more time!

    I have my plans for when it is not possible to weigh/measure and it all works out. It doesn't have to be obsessive, at least for me it isn't.

    Great food for thought here -- as always. Thank youj.
    1966 days ago
  • NANCY-
    Long blogs can be exceptionally great blogs not only for the reader, but more importantly the writer. Ellen you are an awesome maintainer. You know how to take care of the tools you need in order to maintain.
    1966 days ago
    It is interesting that you identify the biggest issue you're facing right now as competitiveness. I've thought about intuitive eating too - as in, when I get to maintenance is that what I *should* aspire to? I love the idea of it - it would appear to be an easier way to live - but I've been thinking about whether that would work for me. (Part of what I've been doing this time around is focusing in maintenance long before I get to my goal, so I am prepared). And so I've been reading TINAJANE's blogs on intuitive eating, and I feel almost physically nervous when I think about doing that myself. Even though I'm not at the weight I want to be, I associate tracking with security that I am not going to go completely out of control. I've been tracking on Spark for 10 years (through lots of life changes and yo-yoing) and before that for about 10 years in little notebooks (although like you, I think there have been a lot of untracked calories from eating standing up, etc). Unwieldy and time consuming as it is, it is what seems to work for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful analysis, I appreciate it!

    1966 days ago
    I hate to be the first one to comment ! Well, here goes -

    Without looking back to your first blog about refreshing with Beck, I'm thinking I remember that 1. You did Beck 3 years ago. 2. You have managed to develop a system that has worked for you. 3. You have maintained for 10+ years 4. You decided to refresh with Beck because you have been doing some yo-yoing in your weight (is that correct?), but overall have been maintaining.

    So, I'm confused about what the problem is exactly when you have been doing so well? You should be so proud of all that you have accomplished and you are indeed one of our emoticon that we can look to for inspiration. But you must have been unhappy about something regarding your maintenance and I can't seem to figure out what that is?

    YOU'VE GOT THIS, ELLEN emoticon

    1966 days ago
    Very interesting. One of the things I love about Spark is that everyone beats to a different drum and seems to have their own way of maintaining. Keeps the whole thing interesting! Wearing cute outfits and wearing a certain size seem like a great trade off for tracking. Tracking is the work, the clothes size is the paycheck. And you are so good at preplanning your meals!
    emoticon It has worked for you. Reminds me of that saying "if it ain't broke, dont fix it"

    1966 days ago
    I think you have worked your way through your feelings quite well. If someone can maintain without tracking that is just their way of doing it. It is not a superior way to maintain. It just works for them. If people find tracking is successful for them, then that is the best way for them to maintain, The same goes for daily weighers verses not daily weighers. Some people exercise daily and others do not.

    I am glad you feel happy and motivated again. You are doing a great job of working through your feelings and thoughts with Beck.
    1966 days ago
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