Friday, July 5, 2013

The Imperfection Diet – Embracing Your Human Being

kindsightI encourage all of my clients to treat themselves like they would treat their best friend.

 I find it especially important for those on a weight loss journey.

It is no surprise that dieters are the worst at self-criticism given the stories they tell me  about how they’ve have been treated by others lifelong: i.e. name calling, food restriction, excluded from teams, denied jobs or promotions, not invited to parties, proms, dates, etc.

It’s no wonder they’ve internalized such harsh self-talk like:  ”You don’t deserve to eat-you’re too fat”;  Who would want you on their team, you’re too slow”;  ”I’m just a fat loser”. “I don’t deserve happiness-I did this to myself”. It’s pretty easy to convince clients to be kinder to others. They know it’s more helpful to say things like:

“Missing one day at the gym isn’t the end of the world.”

“It’s okay that you ate something off plan-you seem down-do you feel like talking?”

The challenge I find is helping dieters extend the same kindness and compassion towards themselves.

Enter Julie-she lost 65 pounds using the Beck Diet Solution: Train your brain to think like a thin person-(See her blog “65 pounds down and counting. This is not a remodel… It’s a teardown!)

julieJulie developed weight loss fatigue when several stressors hit a once. 

Susan Albers, author of Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful states, “Dealing with stress…can make the most mindful eater slip.”

Her weight started to inch up and her self-talk became harsh again. I first encouraged her to remember how much weight she lost and that she has maintained the majority of that weight loss despite her current struggle.

We strategized about ways to help her have self-compassion, and by doing so, get back on her weight loss journey.

First, I encouraged Julie to listen to Kristen Neff’’s self-compassion and loving-kindness meditations.

Next, I suggested increased contact with her diet buddy for ongoing motivation, support, and accountability.

Finally, it occurred to me that Julie needed a self-compassion box with a reminder of all of her best tools.

“Understanding and encouragement create the right environment for change”
Susan Albers, PsyD–Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful.

In summary, self-compassion involves:
- Being aware of your feelings and needs without judgement;
- Replacing negative self-talk with balanced,supportive,nonjudgemental thoughts
- Recognizing that imperfection is part of being human.

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens”
Louise Hays
Copyright © 2013 Ellen N. Resnick, LCSW

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 is the director of a successful weight loss program called the Center for Thoughtful Weight Loss, Ellen is also a skilled couples’ therapist. Ellen’s interest in behavior change as it relates to health and well-being grew out of her work with people with diabetes. Ellen is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF where she worked from 1995-2003 specializing in women’s mental health issues and brief treatment. Ellen continues to supervise psychiatry residents at UCSF. She lectures extensively in the Bay Area.