Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ready, RESET, Go!

Here’s another amazing epiphany from one of my clients:

I was 27 years old before I admitted that I was unhappy, and that my unhappiness was largely due in fact to my being large. I was living in a body that made me unhappy, and I was regularly overeating to soothe those negative emotions. As long as I continued that behavior, I guaranteed my own silent misery. After medical scares and romantic disappointments, I finally decided that I was no longer willing to avoid helping myself, and that no one else was capable of saving me.
I contacted Ellen Resnick and began working with her and The Beck Diet Plan. Over the next year I went through a powerful transformation. It was a transformation of thought, of behavior, and of presence. The most noticeable difference for the outside world has been my change in physical presence, but the most powerful transformation for me has been the new mental presence I possess. I used to believe that I ate without thinking. Six weeks into my fitness plan I told Ellen, my therapist, that I did not eat to comfort myself when I was feeling stress. Three weeks after that I received a stressful email from a coworker, and immediately turned to my box of granola for a snack. As I reached for the box I had a revelation. I wasn’t hungry. And that granola wasn’t on my meal plan for the day. I was reaching for it as a direct result of the onset of work stress. I was dumbfounded at this discovery and wondered how many other “hidden” thoughts had led me to unhealthy behavior in the past.
This realization reinforced my need to continue with the healthy behaviors I was adding to my routine (the ones that became default over my previously unhealthy habits.) I continued to make my meal plans in advance, track my caloric intake, and increase my activity levels. But more than 18 months and 68 lost pounds into my efforts I hit one of the biggest roadblocks to my weight loss plan. And the most frustrating part about that roadblock was that it wasn’t just one “thing” that was making it harder for me to stick to my health plan. Simply put, I was in a funk. For the first time in 18 months I saw the scale go up slightly, and then up again. I had difficulty pinpointing the cause of my funk, which in turn made it more challenging to address the issue and correct course. But unlike every other diet I attempted in the past, I did not falter in my efforts to continue on my journey. Many times in the past I had let myself be permanently derailed. This time I knew that I possessed all the tools to turn things around and that it was worth it to persevere.
I had serious powwows with myself, with my diet coach, and with Ellen. I admitted that I felt great (especially compared to 52 pounds heavier.) But I also knew what 16 pounds lighter felt like. And I wanted to be back there, and even take off another 30 after that. Yes, it is scary; yes, I want to be done. But I’m not done, and in fact I never will be “done.” These are life changes I have instituted, and continuing until I reach my goal weight is a challenge that I know I am capable of completing.
I’m now in “RESET” mode. This mantra is reinforcing that I am back in the habit of flexing my “resistance muscle”. For many years I subscribed to a vicious combination of unhappy emotions paired with harmful ways of comforting myself. Now I’ve learned that instead of letting momentum flow between these negative influences, I can instead put energy into resisting temptation. And every single time I successfully flex this resistance muscle, it gets stronger.
I haven’t been able to do this RESET all on my own. My diet coach and best friend has been instrumental in my efforts. She currently texts me the word “RESET” at random points throughout the day. And she’s committed to shaking up her fitness efforts alongside with me. Being accountable to her, as well as to myself, has also been helpful. I’m ten times less likely to eat a cookie after I shoot a quick email to my coach stating “Danger – tempting cookies in the kitchen! They look great but I won’t be eating any of them.” I acknowledge the challenge, make myself accountable for how I handle the challenge, and let others know about this accountability. All of these systems have helped to refocus my energy.
18 months ago I would have believed that gaining back 16 pounds equaled failure. Now I know better, and I know how very worthwhile it is to persevere. I’m going to continue flexing my resistance muscle until it’s the most toned of them all.

Are you pushing RESET?

A special thank you to Kate for sharing her awesome journey. You are an inspiration to the many lives that you touch!

Note: This week the American Diabetes Association is raising money for research through The Step Out walk. Ellen is walking on 10/1/10 to honor her friends, family and clients with diabetes. If you’d like to find out more please click the following link

Ellen is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco and Redwood City, California. She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and incorporates the use of mindfulness into the treatment of depression, anxiety, and emotional overeating. She runs a holistic weight loss program called Center for Thoughtful Weight Loss, You can email Ellen at
copyright © 2010 Ellen N. Resnick, LCSW

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I lost half my body weight and gained my life back!

An inspiring story from one of my clients:

Over the course of my life, I have lost and gained hundreds of pounds. When I would commit to lose weight, I’ve been able to lose 45, 60 and even 80 pounds, only to gradually gain it back over the next couple of years.
A couple of years ago, my physician suggested I undergo a gastric bypass. This suggestion broke through my denial about how out of control my eating was and how my weight gain was at a medically dangerous level. I was clear that I did not want to undergo surgery so I began on my final journey of weight loss. At that time, I weighed 280 pounds on my mere 4’8” body. I needed to lose at least 150 pounds.
Despite having a master’s degree in clinical psychology, I was reluctant to address the underlying emotional issues that were associated with the huge fluctuation in my weight. I knew that in order for this journey to go down a different path, I needed to do the hard work. I don’t mean the eating changes, and I don’t mean the increase in exercise; I mean, the hard emotional work.
I got a referral from a therapist friend of mine, who gave me a pamphlet for the Center for Thoughtful Weight Loss. I began working with Ellen Resnick, LCSW, who uses the Beck Diet Solution as the framework of her cognitive behavioral treatment.
I began working my way through The Beck Diet Solution Workbook and identifying and addressing my sabotaging thoughts. I learned that a hunger pang was not a warning of an imminent demise and that sometimes one must simply pass up unhealthy food…oh well! I also focused on the reasons why I wanted to lose weight every day. I found that having a diet coach helped me to ‘come out’ and be more honest about the genuine struggle that I always shamefully hid from those around me.
In addition to working on the tough emotional issues, I rigidly record my calories and very seldom veer from my healthy eating patterns that I have developed. I do not let others influence or pressure me to eat anything that I do not want to eat. I began to place importance on the company at an event rather than the food that was being served.
My exercise also has contributed to my success. I began running a couple of miles at a time at a very slow pace. To date, I have run eight half marathons; the last one was a trail run with significant hills. I have also run numerous 10K races, consistently breaking my own time records. I also ride my bike, I open water swim in the San Francisco Bay, work out with weights, and have competed in triathlons.
After 2.5 years of persistence in eating healthy, exercising, and most importantly addressing the underlying emotional issues and sabotaging thoughts, I feel that this weight loss journey will be my last one! I have lost 150 pounds, more than 50% of my starting body weight. I am still working on losing the final 5-10 pounds before I begin my maintenance program.
I did set a reward for myself once I reached my initial goal; it was to go to school to become a personal trainer. My classes begin next week and I look forward to supporting others in achieving their health and fitness goals. By helping others, I will also benefit by the constant reinforcement of how far I have come, how much I have learned, and how much I have accomplished in my own journey!

A special thank you to Donna for sharing her amazing journey. She received an incredible reward today—Dr. Judith Beck will be publishing Donna’s success story in her next newsletter. Way to go Donna!

Ellen is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco and
Redwood City, California. She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral
Therapy and incorporates the use of mindfulness into the treatment of
depression, anxiety, and emotional overeating. She runs a holistic
weight loss program called Center for Thoughtful Weight Loss, You can email Ellen at