My dieter, Lisa, is leaving soon to go on vacation for a week.  While Lisa is very excited for this trip, when she came into session this week she also noted that she was feeling somewhat nervous because she doesn’t want to undo all of the progress she has made over the past few months.  In session yesterday Lisa and I discussed specific strategies and guidelines she would use while she was on vacation as well as the mindset she wants to maintain. 

Here are some of the strategies and guidelines we formulated:

Since she doesn’t really enjoy the taste of alcohol all that much, Lisa decided on having a 2-3 drink limit for the whole week because, in general, she’d rather eat her calories than drink them.   Even though Lisa initially stated she didn’t want to have any alcoholic drinks on her trip, we discussed the fact that if her rules are too rigid and she ends up having a drink anyway, she may then be tempted to throw in the towel, thinking, “Well I’ve blown it for this trip. I might as well just get back on track when I get home.”  By having a reasonable range, Lisa is able to keep the option open so that if she does decide to have a drink, she doesn’t have to feel bad about it and she will still maintain a sense of control over her eating (and drinking). 

Lisa also decided that since there will be a gym in her hotel and she knows that she will have a lot of down time to use it, she will plan on getting there at least two of the seven days she’ll be away. Lisa also decided that on the days she’s not going to the gym, she will take at least a 20 minute walk.  Again, Lisa originally wanted to set a guideline of going to the gym at least 5 of the days she’ll be away, but I discussed with Lisa that if her plan is too hard, she may just abandon it completely and instead buy into the idea that if she can’t get to the gym 5 days, then it’s not worth going at all. 

Additionally Lisa decided that she will allow herself one reasonable sized treat each day and that she will take the time to really sit down and enjoy it.  Lisa and I discussed the fact that while she likely won’t be able to eat everything she wants on the trip, she can still get a lot of enjoyment from the things she is eating and it’s certainly not all-or-nothing: it’s not as if Lisa will either be able to eat everything she wants or she won’t be able to eat anything she wants – rather by choosing to have one treat a day Lisa is finding the middle ground.

Lisa and I also discussed many different ideas and sabotaging thoughts that may arise while she is on her vacation and we formulated responses to them.  We also came up with a general mindset that Lisa will maintain while she is away. Here are some of the helpful ideas that Lisa will remind herself of:

Everything that I eat and drink on this trip is 100% within my control. No one will force me to eat anything, so that means it is entirely up to me whether I lose weight, gain weight, or stay the same while on this trip.

I will enjoy the trip MORE if I stay in control of my eating! Every time I eat off track I feel terrible, and that will not change even though I’m on vacation.  If I maintain control, I will be able to feel proud of myself and I won’t have to feel guilty about anything, and I know for a fact that feeling guilty about my eating would take away from my enjoyment of the trip.

While I will be eating less than I probably want while on this trip, I am doing this for very important reasons! I would so much rather have everything on my Advantages List then the momentary pleasure of any one food.  It’s worth it to stay my plan and it’s not worth it AT ALL to undo my last few months of hard work.

I know I can do this! I’ve been in challenging situations before and I’ve triumphed and I know how amazing I feel when I do.  I’ve got this!

There’s no such thing as “blowing it for the entire trip.”  Even if I make a mistake one day, as long as I get back on track right away it won’t make any difference. And I know that the moment I get back on track is the moment I again start enjoying the trip more.