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The Three Circles:


Know When You're Safe, When You're Vulnerable, and When You're in Danger

By Daniel G. Amen, MD

It is absolutely critical that you know what helps keep you on track with your weight loss, what makes you more likely to fall back into your old ways, and what puts you in imminent danger of overeating. To help my patients understand the people, places, and things that are helping them reach their goals and those that are putting them at greater risk for overeating, I use an exercise called the Three Circles.

For this exercise, I have my patients take a page, draw three circles on it, and label them "Red Circle," "Yellow Circle," and "Green Circle."

  • Green Circle: In this circle, I have them write down all the things that help them stay on track with their weight-loss and brain health goals.

  • Yellow Circle: In this circle, they put things that make them more vulnerable to getting off track.

  • Red Circle: In this circle, they list their danger zones—the things that put them in imminent danger of reverting back to their bad habits.

Following is an example of what the Three Circles might look like for someone who is a binge eater. Then there is a blank form called "My Three Circles" that you can use to identify what helps keep you safe, what makes you more vulnerable, and what puts you in danger. Keep this page with you to help remind you what's helping you reach your goals and what is putting you at risk.