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Tips for Losing Weight with OCD?

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Old 04-14-2009, 05:44 AM   #1
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Default Tips for Losing Weight with OCD?

I'm PRETTY sure I have OCD, though I have no proof of it. Now, I know a lot of people who have eating disorders actually have OCD as well, and so they keep dieting to extreme thinness, but in my situation this is not the case. I am (by 3 pounds) obese and actually do need to lose weight to get to a healthy weight, and I have no desire to starve myself or go down to an unhealthy weight, so I think it's safe to assume I don't have anoerexia. However, I know that dieting and OCD can be kind of fickle together. Anyone else here who's dieting with OCD? Any tips?
My biggest problem right now is pinching and scratching skin. I have a few certain patches I HAVE to scratch and/or pinch every 10 seconds or so, or it completely consumes all my thoughts. I also have a problem with things being uneven, or doing things to only one side of the body, having to balance it out by doing it to the other. I always have to check that I have my key several times even though I know I do, that my door is locked even though I know it is. I also have a problem with accidentally making bets in my head. Even if I don't want to I will think, "I bet my life I can do ____ within x amount of time." It's often like I bet I can cross the sidewalk tile before that car passes me, etc. And if I fail I HAVE to repeat until I don't, or I feel like I'll really die! I have other little things and I have things that come and go (with the compulsions I mean), but my main thing is the pinching/scratching, it's the one that really consumes my time throughout the day and drives me MAD. I CAN'T stop doing it, I go nuts if I don't, but I am just as nuts anyway.
Anyway, so as far as dieting goes, I'm wondering what I should watch out for. I'm already starting to see one thing easy to get OCD about... the calorie counting. It's already started to affect me, and I feel as if I don't get every last digit in right (such as separating exercise if I take breaks, writing down the exact minutes, etc, or with the values in food), even though it's all estimation anyway (I'm eating 2000 a day so it's not getting caught up in the anoerexic way). I've been scolding myself and trying not to get caught up in it, but it's easy to lose myself. Anything else I might want to watch out for? Anyone else here with OCD trying to lose weight?
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:39 AM   #2
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Here are some obsessive tendencies that seem to commonly pop up in weight loss:
  • Like you said, obsessive calorie counting. Trying to get every last calorie written in perfectly. This can be harmful in that calories-burned calculators are most often than not extremely inaccurate. It's best to just count your food calories, do your exercise, and just think of the exercise as beneficial without trying to chart and map its deduction from your food calories. Also, people who try to track their calories burned seemed to sometimes get the flawed mentality that if they burned x amount of (probably incorrect) calories, they can eat part of it back with x junk food. Obviously, this is counterproductive.
  • Obsessive weighing- getting on the scale multiple times a day, even though this can be extremely counterproductive in that your scale weight will most likely climb throughout the day. Think of the weight the food and water you're consuming before you pass it. Same goes for daily weighing- some days your body is going to retain more water on ___ day than the day before. Perhaps you ate too much sodium the previous day or perhaps you worked yourself hard in the gym and now your muscles are holding onto water for a while. Seeing these normal fluctuations can really discourage people, which is why it's better to weigh around one set date, in the morning, every week.
  • The all-or-nothing mentality: you eat something that's a bit off your plan, and now the day is RUINED and now you must go on a binge-fest for the rest of the day, starting again tomorrow on a 'clean' day. Some 3fc members have analogized it like this: Falling down a stair and then thinking "oh, I messed up, I need to make a clean start" and then throwing themselves down the rest of the stairs to try again tomorrow. I don't think I need to explain how this mindset is harmful.
I'm pretty sure there are more, but these are the top three that come to mind.. It's important to make sure that you don't let yourself fall in to these destructive habits, as I'm sure many 3fc members(myself included) can attest to the harm they do.
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Old 04-17-2009, 04:02 PM   #3
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I have an in-law that has OCD; and he does the pinching & scratching thing and checking things over and over (I know stress can ascerbate this for him as well). We all do the checking thing a couple of times, but if it's way more than that, then it may be OCD. I can see how easily it would be to develop new compulsive habits while losing weight. Besides the ones already mentioned, worrying about what you are gonna eat all the time could become a problem too.

Try to keep things cool --- structure and planning are good, but not if you go overboard. Journalling is fine; exercising is fine, but 30-60 minutes of exercise a day (in total) is about right (this is the norm or average that is recommended). As long as you keep the 'average' in mind, you'll be OK.

I'm sure you have tried DISTRACTION as a method to curb the OCD symptoms -- some people try to do other things that keep their hands and mind busy, to distract themselves. They used to recommend snapping a small elastic on the wrist as a 'distraction', but then that can become compulsive too.

I'm only a retired social worker, but your symptoms do sound a lot like OCD; and you could get a diagnosis by seeing a specialist (ie, psycho-therapist). Have you GOOGLED -- OCD to see what comes up on the net? There might be a support group for that out there somewhere.
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Old 04-17-2009, 04:11 PM   #4
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I was diagnosed with OCD in 2006. I do have a skin picking issue but most of my other problems are obsessions and not ritualistic. I counted calories for many years with an obsession. My notebooks from college are full of pages with numbers...those were calories. I've stopped counting for the most part. It drives me insane. I would say if you think it's going to be an issue for you then don't go that route. One does not HAVE to count calories in order to lose weight. As for as any other concerns, I don't know what would be an issue. You've showed no signs of an eating disorder so I don't think it should be a problem.
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