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PastaQueen does the Beck Diet Solution: Week 1 – Get Ready: Lay the Groundwork

The Beck Diet Solution is a six-week program of cognitive therapy which aims to make you change the way you think, which in turn helps you change your behavior. Cognitive therapists believe that all actions start with thoughts. You think about scratching your head, so you scratch it. You think about eating a bowl of cereal, so you eat it. Our thoughts and behaviors are a bit more complex than that, but if you can change the way you think, it is believed that you can change the way you act.

I will be following the Beck Diet Solution for the next six weeks and blogging about it every Monday. I’m actually at the end of week two right now, but I’ll try to catch the blog up with my real time behavior in the next few weeks. The book assigns you one task a day, letting you gradually change your behaviors little by little until you’ve changed the way you think about food and exercise. Dr. Judith Beck says it’s sometimes ok to do two or possibly three days of tasks in one day, just as long as you don’t overload yourself. The book requires that you keep a journal and sometimes write on note cards as part of the program. As I said before, I’ve already got my Hallmark-approved journal ready.

Dopey journal

Each week has a theme, and the first week’s theme is “Get Ready: Lay the Groundwork.”

Day 1 – Record the Advantages of Losing Weight

First off, I had to write a list of the reasons I want to lose weight. I’ll be reading the list at least twice a day, every day, as well as during times I feel challenged. I saved my list in Google Documents so I can access it online anywhere. I also uploaded a few pictures of myself at my thinnest to accompany the list.

This idea sounded pretty dopey to me at first, but it has been helpful to keep me focused on what I want to achieve. I’ve been visualizing the moments I want to achieve in my mind instead of just reading the list by rote. For instance, I have to weigh in at the headache clinic I visit every other month, so I visualize myself stepping on the scale there and having the nurse record a lower weight than last month.

To remind myself to read the list, I set up a calendar in Google Calendars just for reminder events. I set this task as a recurring daily event at two different times, and set each event to email me a reminder one minute before the event. I now get an email twice a day reminding me to read my list with a link to the Google Doc included.

Day 2 – Pick Two Reasonable Diets

You’re supposed to pick a primary diet and then have a backup in case the first one doesn’t suit you. I’m doing the South Beach Diet again, and I put The Zone Diet down as my backup because I like its advice about balancing your carb, protein and fat portions during meals, though measuring that out for every meal seems more complicated than I like.

Day 3 – Eat Sitting Down

Dr. Beck recommends that you only eat when sitting down because it forces you to be purposeful while you eat. A lot of dieters sabotage themselves by standing in front of the fridge taking a few nibbles of something or licking the spoon a few too many times while cooking. If you see everything you’re going to eat laid out in front of you, it gives you a better sense of how much you’re actually eating.

I’ve been doing pretty well on this one, though I grabbed a few walnuts from the cupboards to snack on while I was waiting for a meal to heat up in the microwave. I also tend to take one or two bites of food while I’m carrying it from the kitchen to my chair, which seems like borderline ok behavior, though I doubt Dr. Beck would see it that way :)

Day 4 – Give Yourself Credit

A lot of dieters have problems with negative self-talk, so on this day you’re supposed to give yourself credit for things you do right. I don’t consider myself to be a Negative Nancy or a Debbie Downer, so I skipped this day. I already give myself credit.

Day 5 – Eat Slowly and Mindfully

Ugh. This was by far the hardest day of the week. I love to scarf my food, like a human Hoover. I’ve noticed this about myself for many years, but I’ve never really worked to slow down. There was a guy at my old workplace who was the slowest eater I’d ever seen. He’d literally take twice as long to eat his lunch as I did, taking ten minutes to eat a 6 oz. yogurt cup. One day I tried to pace my eating with him, but I cracked after a minute or two. PastaQueen want food now! NOW!!

So, I’ve been sitting down and focusing on savoring every bit because I can’t eat as much as I’d like to (i.e. the entire contents of the Keebler Elves’ bakery tree). There are still some days when I find that I’ve been mindlessly eating a pear in front of the computer or crunching on carrots in front of the TV. I then have to force myself to pay more attention to the eating experience.

Day 6 – Find a Diet Coach

Accountability is important, so Dr. Beck recommends you find someone to talk to about your dieting successes and struggles. You have to check in once a week, but you can talk more than that if you wish. I found an Internet friend who agreed to be my coach. I love simple days like this!

Day 7 – Arrange Your Environment

For the final day of the week, you have to arrange your environment so it’s optimal for weight loss. Basically, this meant throwing out any leftover Christmas cookies and asking my roommate to keep her junk food in her room so I wouldn’t see it. Otherwise, I already buy lots of healthy foods, and I’ve got vegetables being delivered right to my door every week, so I’m pretty good. Also, because I work from home, I don’t have to worry about arranging my workplace. The cats never run out and buy a box of Panera bagels like my old boss did.


Week one went pretty well. As the weeks continue, I’ll be building on the things I learned this week and checking to make sure I continue observing these behaviors as I learn new skills. I’ll keep you posted!

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Nicole • January 18, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Are you also doing Foy’s 4-3-2-1 program? I decided to give it a try -amazingly challenging for being only 10 minutes! (I am not in good shape but I also not completely sedentary!). I look forward to hearing more about the Beck Diet solution.


emjay • January 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I’m glad your first week went well. I wonder if your slow eater ever had weight problems. Lap banders have to eat slow…maybe that’s his reason. Pure absolute speculation. I’m sure you’ve heard like all of us who are life-long dieters that it supposedly takes 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that your full. Eating slower should help in that regard and is a good habit to get into. I started doing it about 9 months ago and it helped alot. Harder than h*ll when my hubby is a “hoover”, but it’s just a habit now. Best of luck (from Ohio) – I absolutely love your blog. As you say – you may be a smartass, but you’re an articulate, funny, witty and very realistic smartass who is tremendously enjoyable.


Quix • January 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I am a hoover too. I’ve just learned to only serve myself what I mean to eat, or cozy down with a bag of veggies instead of anything bad for me.

There are a lot of people doing the beck thing, I’m intrigued but I think I’ll see how you feel about it first… heh. It seems too simple to really make a difference for me, but then again, so was counting calories and actually moving my arse at the gym… and look how long that took me.

Good luck!


Barbara • January 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I read an earlier version of this book a few years ago and have lost and kept off 35 lbs. I didn’t do all the exercises but I think that the idea that you can change how you think about food, and diet sunk in. I know according to the book, you are supposed to journal and all that, but I just made mental lists to myself. I just didn’t want to start something that I would quit doing when I went off track. I wanted it to be something I could live with forever. I find that I have changed my tastes and habits quite a bit. Thoughts are not set in stone.


Kristin • January 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I’ve had this book for over a year and never really got past week 1. You’ve inspired me to give it another go!


me • January 18, 2010 at 4:02 pm

PQ, i wish you would reveal your current weight and start doing weekly weigh-ins again. I loved those, and what you fear losing in terms of credibility in keeping weight off, you will make up for in terms of eyeballs on your site.

You’ve only gained, what, 1/4 of the weight back?


Obviously it’s your choice and you have to do what’s right for you, but it’s January, and all your readers are probably on diets, dying to follow your progress.

Me and you are same height and I think we weigh about the same – if you put on around 50 lbs from being around 185 lbs or so.

Now, of course, I would never put MY OWN weight on internet, so am a raging hypocrite, but still …. please consider it! xxx ooo


VivaZoya • January 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I’ve “used” cognitive therapy for depression and anxiety before. It’s really hard. Because how do you “think” yourself out of something? I’m struggling with it. Though, I like how the Beck program is laid out, each day, you have a goal, an activity.


AndrewENZ • January 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

It seems like quite a sensible approach. It’ll be interesting to see how you find it.


Lora • January 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Hello there!

I’m rooting for you! I may even use your post as a guideline for myself!




Winkie • January 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I love your idea with the Google Calendars! That’s interesting that you don’t think you need the credit step…for me it’s the hardest thing!


Linda • January 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm

When I read your Blog last week; I immediately ordered the book and workbook and talked my best friend into purchasing it also. Mine came and I am not really to Week 1 because I’m still reading the foundation first. I’m anxious to get started and follow your progress along the way. You are actually “blazing the path” for me so I will know what to expect before I get to that next step. I have 57 years under my belt of dieting and truly know how to eat in a healthy way.

I used this type of therapy to help with my panic attacks and have had a lot of success in that area. I don’t know why the same wouldn’t be true of this. Thank you for being so open and honest about your struggles and victories! You are incredibly funny at times.


jancd • January 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm

This sounds like a good way to start a weight loss program. I need to do this myself, so thank you for this post. It’s inspiring.


Linda in nj • January 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Got the book and I love it – so far so good. I had never heard of it til you mentioned it, so thanks! I took close-up pics of my index cards so I could have them easily at hand (especially helpful in a restaurant with friends). I don’t really journal per se, but I always am mentally reviewing my day, and do record everything I eat. Thanks for sharing about this!


Lainey • January 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I also eat like a Hoover. Back in the day (when I was skinny naturally) I ate very slowly, without even realizing it. Now, however, I have no idea how I did it, because when I try, I crack after a minute or two as well!


Jules - Big Girl Bombshell • January 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm

This seems to be the rage. There is another group of bloggers doing a group get together to share their weeks and check-ins. Changing your mindset (Cognitive therapy) I believe is the key to changing anything that is such a huge habit. Group’s and sharing is another part that helps with the Cognitive process. I wish you all the best!


Beth Moore • January 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I am beyond thrilled that you’re doing this! Cognitive behavioral therapy has completely changed my life where depression was concerned, so I love the idea of taking these principles and applying them to dieting.
Now, off to order the book for myself!


Karen • January 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

My book and workbook just arrived today. I am anxious to get started. Having a knee replacement next week should also help me control my eating. I will be at DH’s mercy to eat!


Kat • January 19, 2010 at 1:48 am

Thank you for posting this. I have been struggling for the last week or so. I have the book and the workbook and think it may be time to seriously work the book. I have tried twice and got through the first two weeks – I blow it at the food journal stage. Good luck with this – I think it is a really good program.


Julie • January 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I really appreciate your posts, especially this one. I look forward to reading more about your journey on the Beck Diet Solution.

Thank you,


RG • January 19, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Hmm, what I’m thinking about my most current weight gain:
1. I ate junk when I was unhappy and it made me more unhappy. My life situation hasn’t changed in the last 2 weeks, but my ability to cope with the stupidity has.
2. I eat more junk when I don’t have better options available. At home, I’ve streamlined my eating habits, but if I’m at a restaurant, away from my kitchen, I balk at the cost of eating right.
3. frozen vegetables rock; I take some out in the morning and they’ll defrost by lunch. ditto with fish, chicken. smoked salmon is pricy, but still cheaper than eating out.
4. if I eat enough fruits, vegetables, protein and I exercise, I’m really not hungry for more.
5. a lot of my progress seems to be replacing my favorite carb-heavy recipes with either veggies or protein: pizza is pizza on eggplant slices or chicken. salt and vinegar chips can be translated into pickles or vinegared carrots (matchsticks). ham and cheese is pretty good as a lettuce wrap. right now some of the summer-type fresh vegetables are more effective as soups.
6. alcohol bloats me up and makes me feel sick. No more.


Nicole • January 20, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I just love your posts. You are so funny. Just found your site and will be following. Good luck with the Beck Solution :)


Sarah • January 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I love that you’re using various google tools for this. It seems like a lot of internet people are reading this book right now and I’m mighty tempted too…and I especially love the idea of reinforcing it with email reminders and whatnot. That’s exactly how I use my google calendar now and this would be a great expansion!


Kim • January 24, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I also noticed a lot of peple are reading this book right now…evidently a lot of them live in my area, because this book is GONE from the bookshelves, for the past few weeks at least! Granted, I COULD HAVE ordered it from Amazon, but I really stink at delayed gratification and since I couldn’t start with the rest of the class, I kept putting it off. Thank you for detailing the process so far. It makes me feel good that I would easily accomplish days 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. Step 1 would take some reflection, but could be done fairly easily. Step 6, much harder. Not so good with the social skills and no known potential partners IRL. Anyone can change, though, right? Keep us posted! Know that a lot of us are learning through your experiences!


Talulah • January 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Love the idea to photograph the index cards. I’m borrowing that one right now!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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