The Pen Is Mightier Than the . . . Dumbbell?!

(I’ve tried to limit my recent posts to 500-700 words.  This one is double that.  But it’s only because I needed most of these words to explain this invaluable success tool!)

A new tool I’ve recently placed in my toolbox is the Advantages Response Card.  It’s something I learned about while reading the Beck DIET solution by Dr. Judith Beck, Ph.D.*, a book I highly recommend.  It’s been an essential tool that has help her clients change their mindset and overcome the [the inevitable] sabotaging thoughts that interfere with losing weight.

I’ve put this tool into practice as well, both with myself, and now, my clients.  Although, personally, I’m not trying to lose weight, my sabotaging thoughts are no less active in trying to derail me from what’s important.  This tool has helped me successfully combat my sabotaging thoughts.  And recently, it’s helped one of my clients as well.  I wanna share what he shared with me.  May I?  Before I do though, I wanna share a little bit about him.

I’ve had the privilege of working with this client for nearly a year now.  Collectively, he’s had some “good” weeks (weight loss) and some “bad” (weight gain).  But because of his commitment to himself, his goal, and the program, the net result has been extremely positive (which on the scale is a negative [number]).

In our time together he’s lost 17.6.  But, to date, his greatest success came in the two-week period after I introduced the idea of the Advantages Response Card(s).  In the two weeks after committing his “advantages” to index cards he lost 3.2 pounds.  This is what he had to say:

“At first, I was skeptical about the idea of Advantages Response Cards.  I thought since it wasn’t a strategy that was directly linked to my diet or physical output it couldn’t possibly have a meaningful affect. Frankly, it sounded like feel good nonsense.  But I trust that Adam has been down this road before and has a better feel for finding what may or may not work for a person, so I was willing to give it a try.  The hardest part is writing your cards because it takes a bit of honest self-reflection, but once that part is over all you have to do is read them.  I read mine twice a day, once when I get to work and again when I’m leaving work.  I feel like they put me in a real positive mindset and make me want to “win” my weight loss journey, similar to the jolt of adrenaline I used to feel when I’d pump myself up before I’d compete in a race as a high school or college swimmer.  Now by no means are the cards a magic solution and I’ve still had my relapses here and there, but the reaffirmation they provide me absolutely gives me extra resolve to not compromise with myself and make a poor dietary choice.  I have seen positive results with weight loss since I started using Advantages Response Cards so I will be reading my cards for a long time and will probably incorporate them into other aspects of my life too.”’

If this sounds like “feel good nonsense” to you, please, stop reading.  But if this is something you’re willing to try (because God knows you’ve tried everything else), please, keep reading.

This index card will help remind you of the reasons you’re doing this.  It’ll help motivate you every day so that you’ll stick to your diet or nutrition program, as well as deal with hunger and cravings, resist emotional eating, train when you don’t want to/feel like it, and wipe the slate clean when you “blow it”.

You’ll read this card daily as you lose weight—for as long as needed.  It will be invaluable to your success.  Chances are, you’ve never done something like this before.  (Perhaps this is the reason you’ve not been successful in the past!?)

You may be thinking, “Why do I need to write the reasons down?  I’ll always remember why I want to lose weight or <insert goal>.”

One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, said, “We have to be continually reminded of what we believe.  Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind.  It must be fed.”

It might seem hard believe you could ever forget your reasons.  But, believe me, it’s easy to forget when there’s tempting food around or your schedule gets “too busy”.  There’ll be plenty of times over the when your resolve will falter, and you’ll have sabotaging thoughts like:

  • “This is too hard.”
  • “I don’t care.”
  • “Just this time.”
  • “It’s not fair.”
  • “I’ll make up for it later.”
  • “I’m stressed/tired/sad/bored/upset.”
  • “I can begin again tomorrow.” (My personal “favorite”.)

Do any of these sound familiar?  If so, you know how persuasive they can be.

By reading your response card, your reasons will be firm in your mind when tempted by one of the above (or many other) sabotaging thoughts.  So, what goes on this Advantages Response Card?  Again, your reasons.

Write down any and all that apply to you.  If there are others more specific to you, that aren’t on the list, add ‘em.  Of those that are important to you, rate how important: somewhat important, important, or very important.  Write ’em on your card(s) in order of importance.

I’ll . . .

  • look better.
  • be more attractive to others
  • be able to wear a smaller size.
  • be able to wear more stylish clothes.
  • be happier when I look in the mirror.
  • get joy outta shopping for clothes.
  • get more compliments.
  • be in better health.
  • be able to exercise without discomfort or embarrassment.
  • live longer
  • feel better physically.
  • have more energy.
  • be more physically fit.
  • enjoy sexual intimacy more.
  • like myself more.
  • feel more in control.
  • feel as if I’ve accomplished something important.
  • have more confidence.
  • increase my self-esteem.
  • be less self-critical.
  • feel more outgoing.
  • do more things (like go to the beach).
  • be able to be more assertive.

I won’t . . .

  • feel so self-conscious.
  • have to listen to my family comment about what I’m eating.
  • mind eating in front of others.
  • have anyone bugging me about my weight.

Now that you’ve written them down, I strongly recommend you carry your cards with you.  In addition to carrying them with you, you might wanna put them in other places you’ll often see them as well:

  • Turn the list into a screensaver or wallpaper for your computer or smartphone.
  • Set reminders on your computer or smartphone to be sent to you as notifications throughout the day.
  • Copy the list on sticky notes to put on your bathroom mirror, fridge, or car dashboard.

Lastly, there might be times when that little voice in our head says, “You don’t have to read your card.  Everything is under control.”  This is just another sabotaging thought getting in your way.  You might even need a card to encourage you to read your card, such as:

“I need to read my 5 (or more) Whys at least twice a day if I want to resist temptation.  It’ll only take a few seconds.  It’s not a big deal.  I might not need it psychologically today, but I’ll need it soon.  I have to cement my whys in my mind for when the going gets tough.”

Here are my client’s and my responses.

Once you continually remind yourself of the reasons you want to achieve what you want, success will become easier.

As time goes on, you’ll have lotsa sabotaging thoughts.  But if you commit to reading your cards daily, you’ll be ready to combat them.  These cards have made a big difference for my client and me.  They’ve helped us overcome our sabotaging thoughts, change our mindset, and, in my client’s case, lose weight.  It works for us . . . and it’ll work for you, too!

*You can grab a copy of the book here.  I didn’t wanna link it up top because I wanted you to finish reading this before you get stuck on Amazon for the next hour or more.  It was for your own good.