The Beck Diet Solution is a brain training and cognitive behavioral intervention which combines the best of cognitive behavioral and brain training, and deserves a navigation bar button of its own, although it could fit in some other categories on my site.
I came across Dr. Beck's work at SharpBrains, the excellent blog about the brain fitness industry done by Alvaro Fernandez, and the excerpts here are taken from his book, The SharpBrains Guide To Brain Fitness. His co-author is Elkhonen Goldberg,Ph.D.
Dr. Beck reports that she discovered while working with clients who were struggling with depression and anxiety that the techniques which worked for those emotional issues also worked for weight loss, and Dr. Beck reported that she became more and more interested in the specific mindsets or cognitions about food, eating, hunger, craving, perfectionism, helplessness, self-image, unfairness, deprivation, and others that needed to be targeted to help them reach their goal.
Dr. Beck reports that the key skills and habits are;
1. How to Motivate Oneself-The first task that dieters have to do is write a list of 15 to 20 reasons for why they want to lose weight and read that to themselves every single day.
2. Planning in Advance and Monitoring Their Behavior-A typical reason for diet failure is a strong preference for spontaneity. She asks people to prepare a plan and she asks them to stick to it. (This particular skill involves some real awareness of what is routinely going on for you internally. Sounds like a great way to utilize your HeartMath awareness, which I will introduce later).
3. Overcome sabotaging thoughts-Dieters have hundreds and hundreds of thoughts that lead them to engage in unhelpful eating behavior. She has dieters read cards that remind them of key points.
4. Tolerate hunger and craving- Overweight people often confuse the two. You experience hunger when your stomach feels empty. Craving is an urge to eat, usually experienced in the mouth or throat, even if your stomach is full.
That last one sure does sound like me.
Dr. Beck talks about growing literature that analyzes the neurobiological impact of cognitive therapy, and reports that tools like fMRI are allowing cognitive behavioral therapists to examine the impact of their work on the brains of clients.
She discusses a 2003 paper (Paquette and colleagues) where folks with a spider phobia showed significantly less amygdala activation after a 12 hour cognitive behavioral intervention.
In other words, those adults were able to train their brains and reduce the brain response that typically triggers automatic stress responses.
The Beck Diet Solution is a wonderful example of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in action.
The good news is that we can train our brain in preparation for the Beck diet solution, because neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are happening in our noggins all the time.
There are any number of tools that work very well in tandem with the Beck diet solution.
They write about the pillars of brain fitness, which are physical exercise, nutrition, including omega 3 fatty acid, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
As I attend to these, I need to make just as many adjustments to my thinking, breathing, and behaviors as Dr. Beck's dieters.
And as I attend to them, I am enhancing my neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
Dr. Beck suggests that you can follow any healthy diet when doing her work.
What she is going to ask you to do is manage your thinking so that you stay on task.
If the thought of doing without food, or using it as a comfort brings a flutter to your belly, then I suggest you take a look at this stress management tool, which is mentioned by Mr. Fernandez as an example of a very effective relaxation tool.
There is a link to the Heartmath suite of tools in the right column of this page.
The Beck diet solution does involve exercise, but you manage it.
You do not need to buy an expensive gym club memberships, or hire an expensive trainer, you can follow the advice of Dr. Beck, Dr. Evans, and Dr. Burghardt, who say begin with doing more of what physical activity you are already doing, and working up to physical exercise as you can handle it.
As you get ready to move into a more regimented physical exercise program, I suggest you take a look at the program put together by Angie and Scott Tousignant which is for couples to use together. While Scott and Angie Tousignant look pretty buff these days, they did not begin there, and their programs works perfectly for me right in my basement.
I work out regularly and when I finish my 10 minuter workout of 30 second intervals of cardio exercises, I am winded and perspiring.
Who can't find ten minutes for exercise in the midst of their weight loss and brain fitness training?
Remember, I pick the exercises and go at my pace. I use Dr. Beck's motivational tools to keep on task.
So I am combining the tools that minimize my weight and maximize my brain fitness.
There are a number of other pillars of brain fitness that Evans and Burghardt speak to, including novel learning experiences which most experts say should be like that involved in learning a new language or learning to play a new instrument.
That learning should present an increasing level of challenge and regular feedback which indicates that we are 80% successful at our task.
Not sure about you, but I do not have time for either an instrument or a language, so I am going to use the computerized brain fitness programs to finish off the neurogenesis and neuroplasticity training.
There are some excellent programs out there that will work very well with my cognitive and HeartMath training.
Evans and Burghardt reference research about the dual n back task, so I found a program and I love its impact on my attention.
Easy to do, 1/2 hour per day for 20 days is the initial training.
If IQ is important to you, this tool will do it, and apparently the more you practice the better you get.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.
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