CBM Blog

Catching up with Dustin

Dustin has recently returned from his cycling endeavors at the North Star Grand Prix, a five-day professional-level race consisting of six stages. Stage racing differs from 1-day formats due to the heavy emphasis on recovery between stages, high volume and professional-level competition. The North Star Grand Prix proved a lesson in conservative racing and a less urgent mindset for Dustin, when compared to a more typical short-circuit race. Along with a longer format of racing comes a new optimal-zone-of-arousal, a much lower one. A more relaxed mindset helped Dustin sway the scales towards less reactive and aggressive decisions that would have caused too much fatigue for a race that lasted 5 days.

  Dustin at North Star
the photo: Dustin at the start of stage 3 chatting with Carmon Small, A National champion in women’s cycling allowed to race with the men (due to the women’s race being canceled this year)

Happy LGBTQ+ Pride Month from Chicago Center for Behavioral Medicine!

written by: Cynthia Holmes

As June is national LGBTQ Pride Month, Chicago CBM would like to honor the bravery of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks of every shade of the rainbow for being your authentic self. We recognize that it isn’t always the easy to walk through the world when your looks can constantly out you, when people don’t understand or aren’t supportive, when you feel invisible or alone. We welcome that Pride Month can be a time to celebrate our diversity, our victories and our love!! At Chicago CBM we are happy to offer comprehensive therapeutic services to help support LGBTQ+ folks and their families, to embrace the whole person to live our best lives.


In a similar vein, we are thrilled to have our Chicago CBM therapist, Cynthia Holmes LCSW, serve as a co-chair on the planning committee for the LGBTQ Clinical Training Consortium. Please check out the next upcoming event and help spread the word:


The Chicago LGBTQ Behavioral Health Training Consortium presents

Let’s Talk About Sex:

Exploring Sex in LGBTQ Communities Through

Addiction, Compulsion and Sex Positive Lenses

Friday July 17, 2015

10:30 AM Check-In and Networking

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Panel presentation and Q&A – Panelists TBA

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Lunch and discussion

Two free CEUs available for Counselors, Psychologists, and Social Workers

At Center on Halsted

3656 N Halsted, Chicago, IL

Sponsored by

Center on Halsted, Chicago Lakeshore Hospital and Howard Brown Health Center

Space is Limited

Please RSVP by July 14, 2015

by following this link:

For questions or further info contact Ing Swenson,

Associate Director of Behavioral Health

Center on Halsted, 773.472.6469 EXT 267

The Dangers of “The Summer Body”

written by: Victoria Kessinger

At this time of year, we are being exposed to the concept of “The Summer Body”.  Whether it is a commercial advertising the latest diet trend, a fitness instructor attempting to inspire motivation, or a friend worrying about fitting into their favorite bikini, the concept is everywhere.  

 As a psychotherapist who specializes in weight management and eating disorders, the “The Summer Body”  has also become prevalent in my work over the past month or so.  Many of my clients have expressed anxiety related to the transition into summer wardrobes, or participating in summertime activities such as swimming.  This anxiety stems from worries about how their bodies will be perceived by others.

Every time I hear or see something related to  “The Summer Body”, I cringe because I know it is contributing to the body image difficulties many people face.  After being cramped inside all winter, summer activities out in the sun are meant to induce positive feelings, joy, and social engagement. However, with the “ideal summer body” envy these activities become anxiety inducing. Clients start to compare themselves to an idea of what “fit” looks like, the thought of over- exercising and the idea of cutting portion sizes or eating all together becomes prevalent among other negative thought patterns and behaviors.

The following are the top 5 reasons why it is important to get rid of this concept once and for all.

  1. It suggests there is a body type for summer.  In fact, any body type can enjoy the season. The summer body standard is socially constructed and there is nothing intrinsically attractive about this norm.  Other societies view overweight bodies as a sign of prosperity. Our own country glamorized curvaceous women in the 1940s and 1950s.  Therefore, the slim and toned ideal body that is the current beauty standard is a trend. Understanding that this concept is a trend can allow us to recognize that our bodies are not the problem, our society may be.  This can help to take the responsibility off of YOU and free you up from feeling guilty so you can put energy into enjoying the season!

  2. It maintains the current unhealthy cultural beauty standard, i.e. the ideal body is thin. Those who meet this standard are often rewarded socially, whether they are praised, promoted, adorned, or respected.  To be overweight is considered less than ideal and overweight individuals find themselves socially sanctioned.  Perhaps they are stereotyped to be lazy, or receive fewer opportunities in occupational and social settings.  “The Summer Body” suggests that beauty is a singular vision. Lacking in uniqueness and character. The drive to meet this standard can become overwhelming as individuals try to fit a mold that is uncomfortable and unfitting to their interests, living an uncomfortable unsatisfying life. The human body is beauty. Beauty is not a size or a look, it is accomplished through feeling good and enjoying a healthy life that has no aesthetic standard.

  3. It maintains the pattern of body-shaming.  The standards for a toned/slim summer body are incredibly hard to reach, setting us up to devalue ourselves when we don’t achieve them, or to shame others when their body does not meet the current standards.  Instead of embracing our body’s unique characteristics, we work exhaustively to accomplish an impossible or highly unrealistic aesthetic while completely rejecting ourselves. By rejecting our body we lose all sense of self, including our identity.

  4. It is unhealthy for our physical health because it gets us thinking about our weight in temporary terms because we think about losing weight for the summer months.  Often times “Summer Body” weight goals are not realistic long-term weight management goals.  Therefore, people must overly restrict or over exercise in order to achieve their summer body.  These practices are not sustainable for the long run, which causes people to resume their pre-summer body habits and regain weight…perpetuating the “yo-yo” cycle.

  5. This concept keeps us focused on our physical appearance.  Instead of thinking about the memories we will make, the people we will visit over the summer or the new experiences we will have, we worry about how our bodies look . This type of thought pattern causes us to lose sight of the most important and fulfilling aspects of life.

So I suggest we recognize this summer body concept is unhealthy and choose to focus on body positive messages, and embracing the strength, capability,  and unique characteristics of our present bodies. I challenge YOU to write down 1 thing you like about your body each day for a week, to start getting in the habit of focusing on these positive body traits you now have!


And, if you struggle with negative self-image, or managing your weight in healthier ways, check out ChicagoCBM’s weight management group for help. We are starting groups in the next couple of months!

What’s going on inside? Have you tried writing?

written by: Erica Stone

Want to improve your mood, manage stress, change habits, and get healthier?  Try writing!  But not just any writing.  The internet and cellphones have us typing more than ever, but when was the last time you sat down with a notebook and a pen to write about how you were feeling?


Writing has many of the same benefits as talk therapy.  If you’ve ever been upset and sat down to write in your journal, you’ve experienced that cathartic effect to getting your feeling out of your head.  The problem or hurt may not go away, but you get a chance to explore it and think about it in your writing in a different way than just ruminating on the thoughts in your head.  This can lead to a more compassionate view of yourself or help you to think creatively about a problem.  Being able to see your feelings captured on the page can illuminate the reality of your emotions–  good, bad, and ugly– this can serve as an inspiration to move in a direction that will help you take care of yourself, heal, and live your best life.    

James Pennebaker, a social psychologist of the University of Texas-Austin studies the therapeutic effects of writing and found that people who wrote for just 20 minutes about distressing events not only felt better emotionally, but demonstrated decreased physiological markers of stress including heart rate and blood pressure.

Interested?  Want to try a little therapeutic writing?

  • Freewrite for 20 minutes. Try writing about a stressful event from the past to help understand what happened and how you feel about it.  Write about your day to day, this can be an excellent way to practice mindfulness by recording the little things like the way the light sparkled in the tree outside your window, as well as the big stuff.

  • Keep a gratitude list. Feed the positive in your life by taking an inventory of the things that make your life wonderful and uniquely yours.  Start with one thing and really dig deep into why you’re grateful for it.

  • Write a letter to yourself.  Write a letter to yourself to give yourself the motivation, pep talk, congratulations, or forgiveness only you know how to give.  Say it your way.  Write it from yourself as a ten-year-old or a 100-year-old version of yourself and you’ll be surprised with the advice you might give yourself.  Really send it to yourself– treat yourself to the gift of getting a real letter in the mail!

  • Write a letter to someone else.  There are so many times when we can’t say the things we want to other people or aren’t ready to yet.  Write a letter telling them how you truly feel and let all the anger, hurt, love, etc. ring out.  This may not be a letter you want to send, but it will feel incredibly therapeutic to write.

images If you are interested in working with me for writing therapy or participating in a therapeutic writing group starting in July, please contact me through our website! (contact us or call!)



Drum roll please….


CHICAGO, IL – ChicagoCBM will be hosting Failure:Lab, an international movement showcasing personal  stories of failure, on August 18. This one-of-a-kind format features a diverse blend of storytelling, music, theatre and audience interaction.

Failure:Lab’s special ingredient is the focus on failure and the often harsh consequences that follow. There are no lessons or recycled mantras about overcoming adversity. Rather, these speakers bluntly present their darkest hours with confidence, and the introspection is left up to the audience. Through vulnerability and honesty, Failure:Lab works to remove the stigma of failure and move towards community and conversation. 

“Don’t let the name fool you. While the stories may be about failure, the event is really about courage, determination and the strength to get back up,” said Failure:Lab cofounder Jordan O’Neil.

The following storytellers will share at Failure:Lab Chicago:

  • Kirk Kicklighter, Storyteller
  • Brad Buxton, Health Care Consultant
  • Akela Stanfield, Author, Poet
  • Jim Bodman, CEO Vienna Beef
  • Katie Bauer, Writer, Mother, Communication Specialist

Failure:Lab’s success hinges on audience engagement, which takes place during and after the event through social media and organic conversations within the audience. There will be breaks for entertainment with performances by Finley Knight, Platform 29, Drew Wittler, and stand up comedian, Katie Streit. Audience members will have time to reflect and share their thoughts with others in the audience and via Twitter with the hashtag #FailureLabChiCBM. 

“It’s counterintuitive, countercultural, and incredibly cathartic. You will fail, the real question is how will you respond?” Jonathan Williams, cofounder.

Failure:Lab will take place at 6:30 p.m. August 18th at the new Plumbers Hall, 1400 W. Washington St. Tickets cost $35* per person and will be available online

* part of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to NoStigmas and Girls in the Game

Why I no longer train with a TV

written by: Dustin Morici

For a long time I had my winter training set up with a television right in front of me. Along with the program I had turned on, the angle of the screen allowed me to see my reflection in it. I did not realize it at the time but this was an important feature of the set up. I would often drift away from the program and gaze at the reflection, how did my form look? Fast forward a few seasons later and my set up had changed, just slightly. But enough to crate a profound difference. The angle of my screen no longer reflected my image back to me.

  dustin biking

This particular season I had found myself lacking focus during my training sets. I often found myself captivated by the television screen in front of me. My ability to hit my workout goals diminished greatly. No longer hitting my numbers began a host of negative appraisals. “Had I lost the fire for cycling? Did I no longer have the motivation to put in proper training?”

I then made the simplest change to my routine: I took my training set up from the TV room and placed myself in front of a mirror. Weeks later, the results were still profound. I have found myself training better, focusing easier, and feeling more energized.

Why? What are some possible psychological principals at work here?

Cues effect performance

While training in front of a television I immediately noticed that it was much easier to train hard while watching chase scenes, while energizing music played, and when the pace of the movie was generally high. The opposite was also true. Slowly unfolding plots, relaxing music, and tense drawn out interactions brought my legs to a near stand still. My body and mind were drawing cues from the movie, not the slip of paper containing my planed interval training.

Successful athletes associate with the task at hand

With a television removed form the equation I was forced to confront myself. I was no longer training myself to ignore my body. Contrary to popular belief performance psychology is not about “blocking out the pain”, It is about attending to the task in the most effective way possible. Playing a movie in my head might bring me far away from the burning of fatigue in my legs, it would also have the effect of slowing my pace. Preforming successfully requires mental resources, resources better off NOT tied up discovering the killer of a murder mystery.


Studies routinely find that high preforming athletes focus on the task at hand. By eliminating distractions I allowed myself to become more in-tune to subtleties of breath, smoothness of movement, efficient cadence, and the relaxation of non-engaged muscles. My mind had plenty of information to chew on—no television required—I just needed to turn off the television to hear, see, and feel it.



How to Soothe Yourself in Times of Distress

written by: Caitlin Liddle


What does Self Soothing Mean?

As human beings, we can all become overwhelmed or distressed by things happening in our environment. A breakup, losing your job, grieving a loved one are examples of things that can bring up a lot of emotional pain. When things like this happen, we can feel overwhelmed by our emotions, and not feel like we know how to cope or function. We may turn to destructive ways of coping, like drinking, drugs, restricting our food, isolating ourselves.

Self soothing is about learning to manage and cope with our emotions using our senses in a way that’s sustainable for our health and wellbeing, that will not cause us bigger problems down the road. Self soothing using our senses is not only useful during major life upheavals, but can also be helpful with day to day stressors: maybe you just had a bad day at work, or an argument with your partner. Below are suggestions for ways to soothe yourself using your senses that you may want to try. I suggest you make your own lists of things you already know work to help soothe you as well, breaking it down by sight, smell, sound, touch and taste, to use as a resource for a time when you’re feeling unable to cope or calm yourself.

Self Soothing Using Your Senses:

Sight: Go to a park and look at flowering trees, buy a boquet of flowers for your home, look at images of loved ones, paint your nails a color you like, pay attention to architecture while you take a walk, softly light a room with candles or dim lamps, go into a clothing store that has beautiful designs, go to an art museum.

Smell: What smells feel soothing to you? Some scents that often elicit calm are lavender, mint, citrus, cinnamon, baked goods, nature smells. You can soothe yourself with these scents by using a perfume, lighting scented candles, smell flowers, bake cookies.

Sound: Listen to soothing music ( ie. Enya, Norah Jones), notice nature sounds (waves, trees rustling, rain). Play an instrument or listen to someone else playing one.

Touch: Take a hot bath. Hug someone in your life. Pet an animal or touch a soft blanket. Put on your coziest pajamas. Get a massage. Use a heating pad. Put on lotion. Wrap yourself in a blanket.

Taste: Make a favorite childhood meal. Drink something soothing, like hot tea or hot chocolate. Allow yourself to have a dessert. Try a new type of food. Suck on a mint.


Barriers to Self Soothing:

Not feeling like you deserve to take care of yourself or it feels indulgent: The idea of “deserving” can really get in the way of taking care of ourselves. One way to think about soothing is imagining how you might comfort a child. Does the child “deserve” to be rocked to sleep? To be sung to? To bathe? Lets just throw “deserving” out with the bath water and meet our own needs, regardless of how “good” or “productive” we were that day.

Believing others should soothe you: Sometimes we can think, “Well, he made me made, so he has to fix it.” The truth is, we’re the ones responsible for making sure we feel ok, and, in holding on to anger or frustration waiting for someone else to read our mind, we are only hurting ourselves.

Believing you don’t have time to soothe yourself: We might think, it would be so nice to take a bath or get a massage, but I’m just too busy! The good news is, even busy people can take time to self soothe. Lots of strategies for self soothing are not very time consuming, such as eating a comforting meal (you need to eat anyway), lighting a scented candle or drinking hot herbal tea, or wearing comfortable pajamas or other clothing.

Self soothing is a trial and error process. When we don’t get it right it just means we have more things to try. By recognizing our barriers and our personal senses we can get closer to techniques that work for us individually. What could you try today or this week?

If you liked this post read more from Caitlin and check out her profile.

Caitlin on Mindfulness

More on Self Care



Spring Cleaning

The process of letting go has been prevalent on our blog… and, well, just one of those things we try again and again. “Spring Cleaning” is coming up for many Americans, and it is that time of year when we physically let things go and throw them away. Throwing things away is permanent, its scary and it means it is gone forever, how extreme?

Eleanor Rooselvelt

The usual spring cleaning losses…

  • Clothes
  • Paper and mail
  • Old gear and seasonal things

Spring is approaching and spring cleaning is on a lot of our to do lists. For some, it’s a big task and it’s easy to procrastinate, or we only do “half” then stuff the rest away to “do it later”. Every year there are more things for us to buy, things we need, want, and things we might have to get because the last thing was out dated. But the old thing might be in the basement or closet somewhere, you know, just in case.

As we accumulate more things, where do we put them? We stuff them in places, or crowd areas in our homes which then become crowded space we can’t use. We start to lose track of things we need daily (keys, wallet, phone) in the mess of clutter that has become our personal space. Some searches end in frustration or anger or a promise to ourselves that we will clean it, when we have time. Just think how this could apply to our experience, relationships, and judgments?

We have these “just in case” things in other areas of our life. Our relationships, our experiences,  our self-image, clothes, and they all have one thing in common- the past. Things from our past might serve us purpose again. The people of our past might care about us again. The old clothes might look good on us again or we might fit into them. What if we need them again.

The longer we are able to hold on to past experiences the more conclusions we can draw through our own analyzations on the present moment. For example, we can over-analyze a fight we got into with someone in the past and start to find blame, judge ourselves, think of the “what ifs” and what-could-have been. We can dig up old experiences of rejection and start to feel incompetent or unwanted again in a new relationship. Sometimes these judgments of what happened and who said what come back and we find ourselves vulnerable in the present.


 The other spring cleaning items…

  • Relationships
  • With ourselves
  • With others
  • And then past experiences 

Where do we fit new experience, or new relationships if we are dealing with old? How do we accept past judgment, or fear and move on to experience something new when there is clutter in our mind?


Take some time this spring to reflect over the items you may be holding on to and sorting out the ones that may not be serving you anymore.

Here is a process to try:

  • Reflect on the experience, relationship, item etc.
  • What brought up negative emotions? Be aware.

Experience? Person? Thing?

  • Set an intention to resolve, accept, and/or address

   “It is not a part of my identity”, “It does not affect my relationship now”

      OR go to yoga, treat yourself to dinner, call a good friend

  • Take time to process how life is without
  • Repeat when necessary :)

Setting and Maintaining Boundaries

By: Anne Carter, LSW, CADC

The process of developing healthy boundaries takes time and practice, but it can open up an individual’s life to recovery from codependency*. Initially, the concept of boundaries can be off-putting. It can be confusing to know what belongs to who. Some of my clients have reported they believe setting boundaries is mean or cold.  I believe setting healthy boundaries is a loving act. While being codependent individuals can lose a sense of themselves and merge with others. They take on feelings and energy of those around them. During the process of boundary setting, people can take back what is rightfully theirs, and give back the rest.

*codependency: a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another, being highly involved (and sometimes responsible)  in another’s emotions, reactions, decisions, and behaviors. (unhappy, unhealthy relationship)


At first setting these boundaries can seem difficult and stir up uncomfortable emotion. As time goes on, it will feel more natural. Individual therapy, group therapy, and a network of recovering individuals can provide support during the process of discovering and maintaining healthy boundaries.


Below is a meditation from May 13th on property lines from The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie.

Property Lines: May 13

A helpful tool in our recovery, especially in the behavior we call detachment, is learning to identify who owns what. Then we let each person own and possess his or her rightful property.

 If another person has an addiction, a problem, a feeling, or a self-defeating behavior, that is their property, not ours. If someone is a martyr, immersed in negativity, controlling, or manipulative, that is their issue, not ours.

If someone has acted and experienced a particular consequence, both the behavior and the consequence belong to that person.

 If someone is in denial or cannot think clearly on a particular issue, that confusion belongs to him or her.

If someone has a limited or impaired ability to love or care, that is his or her property, not ours. If someone has no approval or nurturing to give away, that is that person’s property.

 People’s lies, deceptions, tricks, manipulations, abusive behaviors, inappropriate behaviors, cheating behaviors, and tacky behaviors belong to them too. Not us.

People’s hopes and dreams are their property. Their guilt belongs to them too. Their happiness or misery is also theirs. So are their beliefs and messages.

If some people don’t like themselves, that is their choice. Other people’s choices are their property, not ours.

What people choose to say and do is their business.

 What is our property? Our property includes our behaviors, problems, feelings, happiness, misery, choices, and messages; our ability to love, care, and nurture; our thoughts, our denial, our hopes and dreams for ourselves. Whether we allow ourselves to be controlled, manipulated, deceived, or mistreated is our business.

In recovery, we learn an appropriate sense of ownership. If something isn’t ours, we don’t take it. If we take it, we learn to give it back. Let other people have their property, and learn to own and take good care of what’s ours.

 Today, I will work at developing a clear sense of what belongs to me, and what doesn’t. If it’s not mine, I won’t keep it. I will deal with myself, my issues, and my responsibilities. I will take my hands off what is not mine.

Restructuring Our Thoughts for Successful Change

Written by: Victoria Kessinger, MA


Restructuring the way we think, is a real thing and it can be done. Before I launch into my topic on how thoughts affect our ability to change, I want to start by focusing on YOU.

  • Take a moment and reflect on your weight, body, or overall appearance.  Close your eyes and listen to your thoughts about weight, body size, how you look…anything that comes to mind.

We will come back to these thoughts…so hold on for just a minute!

As a counselor who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for weight loss, I am constantly observing the way people talk about their weight,  their eating and their exercise habits. I have seen a dramatic contrast between how one talks about their own weight and how they speak about the habits of others.

  • When speaking about our own weight, we often use a harsh tone of voice and focus on our mistakes, shortcomings, and flaws.
  • When speaking about the weight of others, we tend to recognize strengths and progress, and even offer encouragement.

This tendency to be our own worst critic is concerning- it hinders our ability to lose weight.  When we say these negative things to ourselves we experience shame, guilt, sadness, and anxiety.  When we experience these negative emotions, we are less likely to make healthy choices in the future because this negative emotional experience weakens our ability to think rationally and make healthy choices.

I once worked with a man who had struggled to lose weight for over 10 years.  During our work together,  I would ask him to share some of his thoughts about his weight loss and  he would often say, “No matter how hard I try to eat healthy, I am never able to reach my weight loss goal”.  This statement hindered his success because it  influenced him to make poor food choices for two reasons.

1. The statement had an overtly negative tone and therefore caused him to feel a negative emotion.  When he experienced negative emotions, he would attempt to comfort himself with cookies and candies, which in turn would cause him to feel guilt and shame.

2.  The statement did not acknowledge any of his successes (sustaining an exercise routine, wearing smaller clothes, etc).  Not acknowledging his successes caused him to feel hopeless and therefore hindered his motivation to continue working towards his goal.

My client’s experience  is very common, many people trying to lose weight fall into a similar cycle pictured below.


Now think back to your own thoughts from the beginning of this…

  1. What kind of thoughts did you have as you began to reflect?
  2. Did you think about the things you wanted to change?
  3. Did you have thoughts about your last meal?
  4. Perhaps, you thought about a workout you skipped?

Today, I encourage you to examine these self-talk statements and, where needed, practice a different method of self-talk that may make your weight loss goals a little easier.

Self-talk is powerful and is one of the greatest influences on our behavior. Much of our self-talk statements are automatic, however, so we often do not recognize how much or how often we talk negatively to ourselves.   In therapy,  I help people restructure their self-talk thoughts so that they have a positive influence on their behavior.  This process is called cognitive restructuring.

Before we walk through the steps of cognitive restructuring, compare the manner in which you speak to yourself and the way you speak to someone you love. This someone could be your partner, sister, father, dog, etc.  It just has to be someone that you care for and support. compassionate and supportive to.

Here’s an example to help you along using my client mentioned earlier.

This is how my client would talk about his weight loss progress:

“Last week I was only able to work out two times and I overate over the weekend.  I am not improving”

This is how  he would talk about his wife’s weight loss progress:

“She wishes she had lost more weight but she has made so many improvements to her diet and her energy level has increased!”

When you reflect on this comparison and your own personal experience,  do you notice a difference?  Were you nicer to yourself or your loved one?

Most likely, you have noticed you are nicer to your loved one.  This makes sense because you want your loved one to be happy, feel supported and  be confident.  You probably also want your loved one to succeed, so you say positive and affirming statements to them.

So my question for you is this: Why talk to yourself differently than you would a good friend or a loved one?

If you feel like your self-talk could use a positive boost, here are some simple steps to change your thinking, your words, and start talking to yourself like you want to feel supported, confident and successful!

Step One:

Think back a few minutes to the thoughts that surfaced when you reflected on your own weight, body, and overall appearance.  Pick one of those thoughts and, for the purpose of this activity, choose the most negative one.

Step Two:

 Examine this thought.  Is this causing you to experience any emotions? Would you say this thought to your loved one? If you were to say it to a loved one, how would they feel?  Does this thought acknowledge both the positives and negatives?

Step Three:

Rewrite this thought so that it is strength based, compassionate, and supportive of your goals.  This is the hardest step because it will require you to evaluate yourself in a way that is not natural.  Take your time with this step and try your best to be nonjudgmental.

    Use the following guidelines to help rewrite your self-talk statements

1. Think small. What are the little things you are doing to reach your goal?  This could include carrying a water bottle or adding a piece of fruit to your daily intake.

2. Be objective. Try as much as you can to be nonjudgemental.

3. Focus on the present.  What can you say in this very moment to help yourself stay motivated?

4. Recognize the challenges of accomplishing your goal.  I.e. rearranging your schedule to accommodate workouts or avoiding the danish platter in your office’s break room.

5. Offer support.  Just like you would do for a loved one, show yourself some kindness and understanding.

Step Four:

Speak the new positive thought (aloud or in your head) to yourself as many times as you can.  This step may feel awkward at first but roll with the awkwardness; it will lessen as you practice this activity.

The following is an example how I used this process with my client mentioned previously.

Step One:  He recognized one of automatic negative self-talk thoughts:

“No matter how hard I try to eat healthy, I am never able to reach my weight loss goal”

Step Two: Through  examining this thought, he recognized it caused him to feel hopeless and insecure about his ability to reach his goal.   He also recognized that he would not say it his wife because he would not want her to feel like a failure.  The most significant thing he realized that this thought did not acknowledge the fact that since he began his weight loss journey, he was wearing a smaller clothes, he experienced less joint pain,  and his sleep had dramatically improved.

Step Three: He then rewrote the thought so that it is more supportive:

“Though I do not always eat healthy, I have made many positive changes to my habits, am experiencing success and I am closer to my goal then I was three weeks ago ”

Step Four:  In session, he repeated this statement many times (about 10) and out of session he repeated this thought to himself when he wanted to skip a workout or was tempted to make an unhealthy food choice.  He found that this positive self-talk statement increased his motivation and focus as it helped him recognize his progress.


Losing weight is challenging, and maintaining a healthy weight requires an entire lifestyle that supports that goal.  Many people find that they are able to lose weight but are unable to sustain their weight loss long term.  Compassionate, supportive and encouraging self-talk can make this goal more achievable.   

To read more on self-talk and weight loss, check out the work of Dr. Albers, a psychologist who has spent her career helping individuals improve their eating habits.