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Old 08-26-2012, 10:56 AM   #1
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Default constant concentration - how much thinking about losing do you have to do to lose?

I have an odd question for everyone here battling the fat.
Once you have that big day when you decide you want to lose weight and start on your journey seriously, how much daily thinking do you find yourself having to do about weight loss to actually lose weight?

Reason I ask...
Looking at my history and trying to identify my pitfalls I see one constant thing seem to emerge - in order to lose weight, the thought of it seems to need to be loaded in my brain a LOT of the time. In short, it is simply not a passive task. I can't just decide what I will eat for the day/week/month and then go through the motions not thinking about it, while focusing and thinking about other things in life and burning on my plate and suddenly just step on the scale at the end of the week and voila - 10 pounds gone.
It seems to me that when I don't almost constantly focus and think about it - what rather seems to happen is that the stress and thinking about other things makes me entirely forget (or develop temporary amnesia) of what it is I am trying to do, and I start inhaling snacks and bad things for me without even noticing.
in short - my auto-pilot mode is HORRIBLE for my body.
And in order to actually make progress, I seem to CONSTANTLY have to be in manual.
So then what happens when life gets so jam-packed with things that I simply do not have the brain capacity to be in manual, because too many other things are taking away my attention?
I slowly slip back to my bad habits and then try to put off going into "manual mode" for tomorrow.

does this happen to everyone or just me?
Can you actually lose weight in the "background" so to speak while life is intense and you are having to focus your mind on other things going on?

I've had family members battling cancer, job changes, intense projects, taking care of two little children and the works keep avalanching on me where it seems like I'm not meeting my daily criteria of how much I need to mentally focus on losing weight for it to actually happen.
Is there another way?
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:42 AM   #2
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It's definitely not passive for me. I always say I'm constantly thinking of my next meal, planning when I'm going to fit in a workout, looking for inspiration/motivation, trying to stay accountable on here etc.... It takes a lot of mental time. In a sense, yes, it's gotten easier and more part of my routine as time has passed, but I never don't have to think about what choices I'm making, no matter what else is going on in my life. When I stop thinking about it, I too find myself starting to slide into old habits.
Original start/HW: Jan 2009: 275lb; 3FC Start Weight: July 19, 2009: 257lb; Record Low Weight: Oct 21, 2012: 152lb

Losing the Regain- September 2017-December 2017
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Old 08-26-2012, 12:04 PM   #3
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Default re:

Oh yeah, ALL THE TIME. I think the only time I don't think about it is when I'm watching a good movie or sleeping. I haven't dreamed about it yet, thank goodness.

I wish I had some techniques to help you, and I really hope the obsession doesn't continue later in life, but we'll see.

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Last edited by Vex; 08-26-2012 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 08-26-2012, 12:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by toastedsmoke View Post
It's definitely not passive for me. I always say I'm constantly thinking of my next meal, planning when I'm going to fit in a workout, looking for inspiration/motivation, trying to stay accountable on here etc.... It takes a lot of mental time. In a sense, yes, it's gotten easier and more part of my routine as time has passed, but I never don't have to think about what choices I'm making, no matter what else is going on in my life. When I stop thinking about it, I too find myself starting to slide into old habits.
This! I have to admit, at times it feels like an obsession especially when I pledge some new commitment to up my game like getting more workouts in or going with more clean eating (plus all the books and reading for tips). It can consume my thoughts several times a day. Thank goodness I have other things I have to think about (work and family) or food and work outs would consume 100% of my thinking, even my dreams. Even though I'm down to a reasonable weight (not where I want to be, still want to lose 15-20 pounds) and have been so for a few years now, I realize I can never really let up. As soon as I do, the weight goes up. It's the one thing I wish I could achieve more balance with.
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Old 08-26-2012, 12:23 PM   #5
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Thanks for starting this thread. This has been a big struggle for me, as well. I got down to my current weight in 2007 and was feeling so good about the future - but when I could no longer make weight loss a primary focus of my mental energy and time... well, you know.

This year I've devoted an immense amount of energy and focus to losing weight. And I'm succeeding, albeit at a slower rate this time. But I know the time is going to come when life becomes more complicated again, with other issues clamoring for priority. What then? How do I learn from the past and successfully adapt this time? It's on my mind a lot these days.

Last edited by Desiderata; 08-26-2012 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 08-26-2012, 01:00 PM   #6
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It's not passive for me, either. I feel there's a bit of a trade-off, though: the time I used to spend planning and buying food to overeat on, I now spend implementing my techniques for not overeating (like participating here). But the mental energy is needed, every day.

Around here, there's a lot of talk about choices and I think it's key. I think the best I can hope for is to get up every day and choose to stick with my plan, and hope that's the only decision about it I'll have to make that day (and thus relegate it into the background). But, in reality, I usually have to make that decision a few times a day.

I think what we all need to do is make the best choices we can, given our current circumstances. We have to figure out where losing weight ranks in our priorities and decide from there how much attention we can give to the task. I don't think there is any other way.

Good luck!
I want to free myself from the burden of inaction. I want to raise myself to any plane I can imagine. ---Crowded House

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Old 08-26-2012, 01:41 PM   #7
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I agree with Steph about the trade-off. I am never going to have the skinny person's casualness about this. I am either planning and working on losing, or planning to plan and lamenting the disadvantages of obesity.

Someone's signature says (paraphrasing here) : Losing weight is hard. Being obese is hard . Pick your hard.

I guess in context of this thread : Obsessing about losing weight is hard. Obsessing about the challenges of obesity is hard. Pick your hard.
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Old 08-26-2012, 03:06 PM   #8
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I don't think about it all the time, but I think it's usually in the back of my mind. Checking in to 3fc also keeps me in the weight loss mindset and reaffirms what I'm doing.

Started July 1, 2012 @ 290lbs
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Old 08-26-2012, 03:27 PM   #9
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I have accepted that if I want to lose the weight and keep it off, I will always have to stay very vigilant about my input/output. I weigh myself daily, measure my food, wear a BodyMediaFit to measure the calories I burn/motivate myself to walk more during the day and log everything I eat on MyFitnessPal. After almost three months, it has become a habit for me, so I don't feel like I'm really putting in huge amounts of effort, but it's definitely not something I can just stop doing; I tried that once before and ended up gaining back the entire 40lbs I lost over the course of about 18 months.

Honestly, it makes me quite happy to be so cognizant of the way I treat my body these days, so I'm perfectly okay with knowing that I'll always have to dedicate some time to this everyday for as long as I want to lose/maintain weight.
As of 4/28/2018, I've lost (and kept off!) 132lbs! This means I'm 88% of the way to my GOAL and I have 18lbs left to lose! I've lost 40.4% of my starting body weight and 76.7% of my excess weight!
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Old 08-26-2012, 03:50 PM   #10
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I do think about it all the time.

One of the few benefits of losing weight slowly (and it's been about 10 lbs per year for me, due to PCOS/IR and other stuff), is that it's allowed me (forced me!) to develop good habits even when I wasn't seeing the weight go down.

And thus, the end result is that I can tell you unequivocally that three years later, I'm not making the same auto-pilot decisions I used to make when it came to food. I don't go and buy a candy bar because I happen to be in CVS and I'm hungry. (If I do, it's a conscious decision to do so and the cost of that candy bar in my plan/health/IR, etc.)

But it takes time. And I still think about staying in the straight and narrow, I just think that now it's a lot easier, so it's not about willpower and forcing myself to have good habits, it's about making sure I can pick healthier options, rather than facing no option at all.

Part of my problem now is that because I don't eat junk -- and I don't do it because it doesn't make me feel good, not because I'll gain weight -- is that then I simply won't eat. That causes my blood sugar to crash, I get cranky, I feel light headed, I start clenching my jaw, my shoulders tense up, I'm stressed and then I don't have any healthy food to eat, so then I have to cook something and I feel like crap for a long time. Then the time to decompress from that... not fun.

It gets easier. I don't think you never think about it. I think we all have to think about it in one form or another. It might take some new habits and new ways of being more efficient in the kitchen that help give you back some time... but I don't think it will go away.

My thin friends -- never fat -- still think about food. It may not be like my thoughts about a delicious Au Bon Pain cookie, it might be about what they are going to put on their salad for lunch, but it's still thinking about food.

I used to think skinny people never thought about it, but that's false too. They do. They have different habits than I do, thus, why they are skinnier than I am. They may not fantasize about that cookie, but they are still thinking about their next meal and what they are going to eat and whether or not it's healthy for them.
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Old 08-26-2012, 03:54 PM   #11
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I also spend a lot of time thinking about weight loss. I constantly think about what it's going to be like at goal and wonder if I will feel any differently than I do now. (God I hope so!) I think about what I should eat and when. I think about what exercise I am going to do daily. And I think about the scale and wonder if it will show some fruit of my efforts when I get on it.
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Old 08-26-2012, 04:13 PM   #12
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Most of my life, I had two modes of weight-loss-thinking. 98% focus and 0%.

Because I only had two modes, I thought that I had to devote nearly every bit of available resources to weight loss. I had to stop thinking about and doing almost everything else (to the point that my job performance would suffer).

I wouldn't go out with friends, I gave up all my non-weightloss related hobbies, I channeled all of my energy into weight loss, and it seemed that whenever I lightened up on the weight loss attention, I'd fail (but I didn't realize that on some level I believed that I HAD to devote 98% of my energies to weight loss to succeed, so that when I lightened up I didn't lighten up to 50% or even to 97%. When I pulled back on the attention, I pulled it all the way back. I was either devoting 98% of my attention to wieght loss or I was devoting 0 - 5%).

I've learned that I don't have to hyperfocus. I can lose weight and have a normal life too, but there are trade-offs. If I devote only 50% attention, I achieve less than 50% results (the relationship isn't proportional).

I no longer do weight loss by giving up 98% of my other interests and attentive resources. I do enjoy my life, and don't deprive myself of absolutely everything that isn't weight loss related. However, I still do devote a large amount of my time to my weight loss. I don't have to give up everything else, but I do have to fit it all together.

I do have to be very conscious of inattentive eating. I love to eat while reading (and reading was my top hobby, so eating was also my top hobby).

I still love the sensuous, decadence of having a good book, with a good snack. That's the ultimate in relaxation for me. And I still indulge it, but I can't grab a large bowl of popcorn or even a huge bunch of grapes and eat while I read. I'll take down several hundred caloreis that way, and will barely register eating them. Instead I had to learn to do more reading without food, and to plan the booksnacks when I did choose to indulge, in order to make sure that the snack isn't a calorie disaster.

I probably should give up the snacking multitasking altogheter, but it's a guilty pleasure that I enjoy (well not so guilty, because I don't DO food guilt anymore. I make my choices and decide to be happy with them).

That's what I think is really important, being happy (not guilt-ridden) with whatever choice you make. 100% attention is fine, and so is 80% attention, if you're comfortable with your choice and it's having the intended result.

I was never happy devoting all my energies to weight loss, but it's what I thought I had to do (and I'd quit the minute the results weren't worth the effort). Devoting less to weight loss (just enough to get results I'm ok with) has really helped me stick with this long term. I've lost the weight about ten times as slow, but I've stuck with it about 20 to 30 times as long as I've ever acheived before. In the long-run that's allowed me to lose more than 1.5 times as much weight as my previous "record" weight loss (and about 5 times as much as my typical weight loss).

You have to experiment to find out how much thought you have to and want to put into it. If you think about it so much that you have room for nothing else in your life, you're going to become bored, frustrated, disgusted, and resentful (emotions that are all diet and weight loss estinguishers. Quitting seems like the only feasible option when all you can see is the negative aspect of weight loss thought and action). If you think about it too little, you'll get no results (or worse).

There is no secret formula, or rather everyone's secret formula is unique. You need to find yours, by experimenting. Put as much effort as you're comfortable with and see what happens. If you keep losing, great. If you don't, then you have to decide whether to keep doing what you're doing and learn to accept the results, or learn to become more comfortable with the increased effort.

You really don't have to invest 100% effort to see positive results, so if you have a lot of weight to lose, it actually pays to invest less than 100% effort so that you aren't giving up everything of value in your life aside from the weight loss - that's a sure way to fail in my experience, because if you've given up everything else, when the weight loss slows or stalls (and it always does) then you have nothing postive in your life and you start feeling hopeless).
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:49 PM   #13
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Thanks for starting this thread. Like many others, I've found that if I don't make a point of checking in somehow each day (like writing down what I eat), the pounds come back easily.

On the other hand, looking back, I also realize how much time I spent in the grocery store, trying to find the "perfect snack" or the "perfect flavor" that would make me completely happy. That was time wasted as well. Now, I stick to my grocery list, and am in and out in a few minutes.

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Old 08-27-2012, 03:00 PM   #14
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I think I'm happiest when I pay attention to the important things and don't let myself get too obsessed.

For instance, say I finished my calories for the day. Instead of obsessing all night about food tomorrow, I write down what I think I'll like and then I start doing other hobbies that I love like knitting, reading, drawing or just watching tv.

If cravings come on I hop on the laptop and scroll through the forums here, or look at weight loss success stories.

If I've just had my lunch, instead of worrying about dinner I try to take my mind off it by playing my ukulele or hula hooping.

I think for the past few years my life was either all or nothing. I either devoted myself to one thing or else it wasn't worth it. I don't feel that way anymore. Whatever I feel like doing at that time, I do, if it's good for me.

Having hobbies that aren't weight loss related has helped my life so much in more ways than one. Though I still have a lot of weight to lose it feels much more do-able now. I don't feel like I'm sitting around inbetween meals, wishing I was getting thinner faster. I just take a breath, smile and remind myself that I have a lot of weight to lose and it's going to take a lot of time. Therefore I also need to focus on the other things that make me happy. Music, movies, family, art, books. There's a lot you can do that's healthy, stress relieving and ultimately going to take your mind off food and diet between meals.

Just make sure in the back of your mind you're paying attention. Don't grab a snack without thinking, don't stop counting calories or planning your meals. Stay aware of your food and your activity levels, but also devote yourself to bettering other areas of your life too.

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Old 08-27-2012, 06:17 PM   #15
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I've "automated" most of my food choices, so I don't have to think about it during the work week. Weekends a bit more freedom but always "thinking" about what I'm shoving into my face.

I haven't gained back an ounce in years, I'm happy to say. I ALWAYS gained back before, but now I KNOW why I eat, why I let things slide, why I can be bone lazy at times, and take steps to counteract it all

Started: 323
Now: 171 - nope, 165 now!
NOPE -- 162 now! Holy crap i've lost a PERSON!
Goal: 160

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." - Zig Ziglar
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