Saturday, August 10, 2013

Positive Peer Pressure and Learning from the Best

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The training is over and oh boy am I mentally wiped out. It was described as a 4-day intensive (on CBT), emphasis on the intensive. The training ran Tue-Fri and on Tue and Thur we went from 8am - 9pm! On those days lunch was provided. I'd decided to eat whatever was served, figuring they'd have some healthy items and I could do a smaller portion of the entree if it was unhealthy. Well, pretty much the whole thing was low on the healthy, high on the comfort scale. The first day was lasagna, pesto pasta, salads drenched in dressing, garlic get the idea. Oh, but there were steamed veggies, so I loaded up on those and did the best I could with the rest.

The worst part was no protein other than the cheese in the lasagna. I'd packed my own snacks so that helped the day's overall "healthy food" quotient.

So we were running behind on the schedule just before the dinner break, which was from 4:30 - 6:30. It was getting on to 4:45pm when I mumbled, "Come on, I need the whole two hours" when a woman at my table, Diane, said, "You going to exercise?" Yep! I didn't realize we had a whole two hour break on those long days but when I saw the agenda that morning I was so glad I'd packed my gym bag for just such a scenario. Anyway, I had a plan to pay a day-use fee at a gym around the corner but Diane said she found a nearby path and planned to go for a run.

"Want some company?" She was up for it!

Hi Diane!!
After we got all the "I'm so slow" stuff figured out (turns out, we're both slow) we decided to run together. The path is part of The Bay Trail and runs along the water. Between the views and the breezy conditions, it was perfect for running. Thanks Diane! We did a quick warm-up and then ran for 35 minutes. I didn't have my Garmin so no idea how far we went but I can't tell you how much better I felt afterward. There's not much that can't be helped by a run.

Oyster Point - South San Francisco, Bay Trail
A quick change in the park bathroom and then off to find dinner. I ended up getting taqueria food - grilled chicken, black beans, avocado, pico de gallo and a little cheese. The portions were huge so I about half and was full. I felt bad tossing out the rest of the food but couldn't really save it either.

That night I was lucky enough to bunk up at my friend Joan's house about 15 minutes away. She greeted me with a glass of wine and by the time I'd gone to bed an hour or so later I'd polished off a second glass as well as a few slices of french baguette with cheddar cheese. Oh, I forgot to mention the desserts at lunch - chocolate chip cookies and bite-sized brownies. Had one of each.

I was up and back at the conference at 8am the next morning. Brutal! Wednesday was only 8am - 4pm and we were on our own for lunch. They had lunchtime presentations all four days and they were all very interesting (hypnosis in teens/children with anxiety, attention bias modification in body image, etc) so I chose Vietnamese - bbq short ribs, white rice, salad - and ate during the lunch presentation. I also had snacks for Day 2 that I'd packed in advance so I was covered on that.

I drove home after the days' training and had a couple evening appointments for my private practice. It was particularly exciting to do some clinical work after all the intensive training. The direct practice work was particularly interesting after two days' of studying this stuff. Then home for a late dinner - Papa Murphy's pizza - in which I ate probably twice as much pizza as I needed. I noticed a comfort-eating trend during the four days of the training but just tried to be gentle with myself given all the mental energy required. I had to stop at the store on the way home from my office and ended up buying and eating two small chocolate bars (Nestle Crunch Girl Scout flavors - Thin Mint, Peanut Butter Creme - who's the marketing genius that came up with that idea?!). At least I thought they were small. Funny how I'd kind of forgotten about that until now.

uh oh, no socks!
Back up at the crack-of-dawn on Thursday to make the 8am start time. Another long but fruitful day of training. This time the lunch provided was make-your-own sandwiches, an improvement on the day prior. I went against normal protocol and put mayo on my sandwich :/ Mayo is such a waste, I didn't even notice it. Wish I'd packed an avocado. Moving on. It was getting close to the 4:30pm dinner break when I noticed my mind drifting toward reasons not to go for another run, "I'm tired, some rest would be nice," etc, etc. Knowing Diane was going provided just the positive peer pressure I needed so I went to change. Oh no, no socks! I would've run in the little peds I had on but fortunately Diane had some socks to loan me. Whew! Because of the mental drain of the training we decided to run alone. Another beautiful run, bumping along to my run playlist and feeling some of the mental stress from the last three days melt away.

After the run I did some pushups, squats and lunges to round out the workout. I felt a million times better and was SO thankful I'd not flaked out on myself. We changed back into our professional clothes and then had to hustle to find dinner. We ended up with Japanese, I had a spicy tuna roll with avocado and a seaweed salad. Yum!

After lunch a woman from another table did something interesting. She walked over to our table and set down a half of a Snickers bar and a cup filled with chocolate almonds and some other treats, "I have to get these away from me." That's great, of course I am totally understanding of that. But that meant they were directly in my line of site. I found my attention kept going back to the chocolate so after a few minutes I got up and put a piece of paper over it. Out of sight, out of mind worked in this case and I was no longer distracted by her chocolate. I'd done enough damage the night before.

Thursday night I was lucky enough to have a hotel room directly across from the conference center. The evening session had been particularly challenging and I left feeling entirely drained. Fortunately there were a few participants staying at my hotel and I was able to process a bit with them. It was nice to hear we were all feeling challenged by the material and practice of the methods, which allowed me to go a bit easier on myself. The two glasses of wine didn't exactly hurt either.

Back at it at 8am for day 4, the last day. I'd had oatmeal and coffee at the hotel but then had a half-bagel with cream cheese at the conference, and more coffee. The dense materials and the long days caught up with me; I was exhausted.  I felt like I could fall asleep at my table, which I saw quite a few people actually doing. Lunch rolled around and again, I went for comfort. Diane and I drove to downtown and saw Thai - perfect! I had a combination lunch plate - basil eggplant and yellow curry with brown rice and a salad - and we ate that during the lunch presentation. After lunch I pepped up and felt alive again, which meant a better focus during the second half of the day.

Lots of hugs and smiling faces. By the way, it only looks like I'm kicking my leg up in this picture, there's a chair in my way so I had to put my leg on it :)

My table-mates from the training - we all survived!

With David. I love this picture!
So the training was with David Burns, MD - a genius/pioneer in the field of psychology, specifically in CBT. I felt so grateful to learn from him over the past four days. When anyone takes a picture with him he asks you to tickle him so he can smile. It worked! I love both our smiles in this picture.

Well, that's the last four days. I had my normal cereal for breakfast, along with a slice of toasted cinnamon bread (Greenlees - entirely evil) with butter, and my coffee. Carrying on with the comfort foods...writing this post is helping motivate me to get back on track. The unusually yummy foods over the last four days were great, but it's back to regular life now, and I need want to stop with the high-calorie stuff. I know if I keep eating this way I'm going to feel like crud.

I'm hoping to get out for a 4 mile run today. Miguel is working so it will have to be a late afternoon jaunt. Tomorrow I'm hitting the bay for another Swim with Pedro. Shelly and I are carpooling, which is just the pressure I need to make sure I don't make any excuses to skip it. I love positive peer pressure, especially when it comes to exercise!!

I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice offering Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for weight loss and maintenance. I have an office in Marin County, CA and I'm also available to see people via Skype. To learn more please visit my professional website at

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