Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Have you noticed that some people count every calorie, know every minute of exercise they’ve done, and how much they have left? And others can tell you whether or not they’ve hit their goals, but not to the ounce or the second. And still others take the attitude that healthy is a state of mind and as long as they’re moving in the right direction, it’s all good?

Different styles, different approaches, but, we hope, similar successes, with one of the main goals being weight loss and maintenance.

These differences slapped me in the face this week, as I was discussing the ‘when is it enough’ question with some friends. Some of them have had fabulous successes, losing 50 pounds or more and keeping it off. These particular women push themselves to the limits of their exercise capacity, and eat a very limited diet. They reminded me of my old WW days, in which I weighed and measured everything and never stepped off program until I came within 2 pounds of my goal.

I used to be obsessed. But at one point, I realized that I was simply trading one obsession for another. Another way to say this was that I was no longer dealing with emotions with food, but was substituting the WORRY about food to deal with the emotions.

Somewhere along the way, I said ENOUGH. My personal goal is balance, both internal and external. The journey is important, as it’s the way to learn how to actually live a sane and happy life. These friends, with their conversations about pinching ¼ of an inch on their triceps, or seeing a wrinkle in their skin, say that they’re happy, but sometimes, like this week, they end up saying ‘why can’t I be happy the way I am???’

The answer is simple, actually: you can be happy NOW. That doesn’t mean you can’t work on changing your body contour, or tightening up some part of your anatomy, but allowing these physical issues to run your life and define your self-worth is self-defeating in the long run.

My measure: if a friend came to you with these issues, what would you say? would you join them in the self-flagellation? or would you try to steer them into a less punitive view? Do you deserve less?

10 thoughts on “Schools of thought

  1. Kay says:

    I’m of the mind that I am more than just a number on the scale. My self-worth is not defined by my (over)weight. I plan to rejoin WW after my recovery from my c-section. I’m “careful” but not militant about it. I have to allow for being “human” – KWIM?

  2. stretchy says:

    My friends and I often discuss how women are made to feel (by society, advertising, etc) that they are never good enough.

    A recent ad showed a fit plus size model, she looked good and did not need to lose any weight…but in the ad copy there was a mention of the book “A Fat Girl’s Guide to Life” or some such title. I was steamed. They were calling this curvy beautiful woman fat?
    Come see the plus size fashion show and get a free book on how to live as a Fat girl??? What JERK put that together?

    Men also suffer from advertising on so many levels, those who want to feel handsome, and those who feel they must have a skinny trophy partner are made to feel less than what they are.

    It takes strength to turn your back on “so called flaws” and concentrate on the whole person–mind body and soul.

  3. debra says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that dieting and bingeing are two sides of the same coin and studies have shown that one leads to the other. At some point, it is good to let go of the obsession and recognize that happiness is possible at any size … and so is unhappiness. Making happiness all about how we look is a short road to constant misery.

  4. jonquil says:

    I would say, to a close friend:

    “Desire is infinite and insatiable. Attachment to desire is the surface of addiction. These flames are fanned by capitalist society, for profit. We can be slaves of the system, or we can have authentic lives. We can choose to be free.”

  5. mary says:

    Speaking as a “foodie,” I’m well aware that I focus on the culinary side of life more than most people. (The voice in my head generally sounds something like this: What restaurant should we try? What shall we have; there are so many intriguing choices? Can we figure out how to make this dish at home?) So it’s a very normal process for me to write down everything I eat, to pre-plan and dissect every morsel.

    Strangely enough, though, I find I’m happiest when I become so involved in some non-food-oriented activity that I forget all about eating until my hunger reminds me. Which is somewhat at odds with the obsessive-journaling model. If only there were a happy medium, I would probably be a happy medium too!

    Mary

  6. Nikki says:

    I’m one of the obsessed. I like to call it focus. I am like this with any goal that I am after. I also feel/fear that the moment I become less obsessed and meticulous is when things become unglued and I slip back to where I don’t want to be. At some point, when I know that the goal will be meant I let go of the obsession and return to “normal”. Unfortunately, it’s usually my next goal/obsession.

    My husband told me on Saturday that I was unappreciative because I could not describe how I arrived at anything. He said that on my death bed I would be able to list all my accomplishments, but I won’t be able to describe the experience of any of them. Part of me thinks that’s very sad, but a bigger part of me is not ready to change it. After all, I always get the job done.

  7. jane says:

    I must confess that I’ve been giving this issue a huge amount of thought since I wrote this. And I’m wondering if I haven’t swung my own personal pendulum a little too far to the ‘non-obsessed’ pole. Not paying attention to details contributed to a huge amount of weight; paying attention helped me lose it. There HAS to be a balance -there just HAS to be – so that the entire process is sustainable, self-supporting, healthy. That balance point is different for everyone. Hope I find mine!

  8. Hilly says:

    Thank you so much for this post.

    Much like you, my first year on Weight Watchers was “pure perfection”. I weighed and measured to the ounce, worked out on a schedule that (OMG) I actually kept on an Excel spreadsheet and even though I lost rapidly, I felt miserable…rigid almost. It was like my life had no purpose other than weight loss. I would avoid social situations where I could not be in total ‘food control’ and missed out on a lot.

    I find that I now am maintaining and not losing, but have done that by making wiser food choices and letting go of some of the rigidity. I know that I need to reign it back in so that I can lose again, but I don’t want to become addicted to perfection, just like you said.

    Again, thank you for saying what I have felt for so long. I have you linked on my site…I hope you don’t mind :).

    Hilly – http://snackiepoo.typepad.com

  9. h says:

    There is a good middle ground, one that I’m living, but psychologically I’m sure that everyone has a different “sustainable level of obsession” point.

    I don’t deny myself food, but I log all of it and plan for those treats when I know they are coming up. I have dessert every day but I also exercise every day. I count every calorie and every exercise minute. I’ve lost 40 pounds and am slowly losing the last 10. For me this is sustainable and looks an awful lot like maintenance is going to look. To me that is a good thing. I’d rather lose a quarter pound a week this way than a pound a week in ultra-obsessive mode, or zero pounds in non-obsessive mode.

    “Over-obsessing” means different things to different personalities. Just make sure that YOU aren’t being unhealthy about your obsession, find your sweet spot (no pun intended), and run with it. 🙂

  10. Jeanie says:

    With the gas prices and my blood pressure, I’ve vowed to ride by bike on my daily commute at least 3 days a week. I make myself add at least one chore a week to this bike trekk – Quick run to the grocery store, video store, post office etc. I’m not doing better on my eating and have barely lost 5 pounds two months later; but my thighs are rock hard and my blood pressure is ideal. Today I’m happy. (I just passed 100 miles on my new bike odometer, so yes I measure my success also)

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