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Overeating, Bad Habits, and the Big Question ..

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Old 12-01-2010, 09:23 AM   #1
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Default Overeating, Bad Habits, and the Big Question ..

I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. So many times I have read and heard, that until you know the reason why you do this behaviour, and own up to it, you will not be successful with weight loss efforts and maintaining.

I honestly can't say I have a reason why. It's not like I can contribute this to one particular event in my life that triggered it. It's frustrating to me to not be able to understand why I do it. It's usually just simply making that choice over doing something healthy when I am busy or stressed or upset.

I am beginning to feel like if I don't get this "light bulb moment" and determine the "real" reason, I will never be successful and will just continue losing and gaining.

I have been struggling a lot lately, and trying to get myself back on track (yet again).

Is it enough to be committed, and to understand that we do have bad habits, but plan for them, or do we really need that aha moment?

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby2sday View Post
It's usually just simply making that choice over doing something healthy when I am busy or stressed or upset.
But I think you HAVE figured it out. Not everyone has "a moment". It isn't necessarily some big awful moment from your past. Often it's a matter of figuring out how to work around our own individual personalities, weaknesses and strengths. You appear to have trouble saying "no" when you're busy or stressed. So plan for that. Try to have go-to meals ready at a moment's notice in your freezer. This can be frozen dinners pre-made or purchased or it could be something like always having frozen chicken and veggies in your freezer for nights you need something quick. And do not keep poor choices in your home so that you have no choice but to pick good choices. Find some good choices you can "go to" at fast food places for nights that you just have to go fast food. For me it's a grilled chicken sandwich at McDonalds, no mayo, split the bottom bun in two and use it for the top and bottom. There's no thinking involved. I always have a plan, and that last one is my last resort.

My biggest obstacle I had to overcome was understanding that this was going to take time and perseverance. Once I got that part figured out, I was good to go! But yes, I had to figure that out first. I guess that was my moment. It wasn't some big psychological moment from my past, it was a personality quirk.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:37 AM   #3
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I really liked reading your post. I think it is SO true.

Your light bulb moment is maybe now - in figuring out that you won't have one!

In my life, I've had bad, stressful experiences, that were like lightbulb moments, that caused me to restrict my eating and then I would lose a bunch of weight - but it would never stay completely off, because I'd eventually start eating normally again.

I only knew how to take weight off during stress. Now, for the first time in my life, I am learning how to lose weight/control my weight under normal circumstances.

But, this was a SLOW realization for me. It took SO many years to figure out something so simple. And funnily enough, its working. I'm losing - just not at lightning speed, like I did in the past, but healthily.

I notice that now, I don't 'go off track'. Sure, there may be days where I eat more calories than others, but the binging and being mad at myself are gone. I make up for eating too many calories the next day, or at the next meal.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:41 AM   #4
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Oh man, I spent a lot of wasted time trying to figure this one out, too. But I'm just not buying the concept that there has to have been something that "happened" to you that made you turn to food for comfort. Yes, that makes sense for someone with some early trauma, but I think for most of us it was a gradual learning process that crappy food can really calm some people, cure boredom for some people, comfort some people when the are down. OR, all of the above (like me! ) It really doesn't matter HOW we learned that -- our gramma showed us love with food, we were latchkey kids and snacking after school became the go-to activity, etc, etc, etc. Like Eliana said, the key is to figure out what our own personal trigger moments are (stress, sounds like, for you), and then try to incorporate different coping strategies for those times. Food isn't the ONLY thing that can help calm a stressed person, or entertain a bored person, so it's just up to us what we can figure out to do when food used to be our go-to.

I am also really discovering that the whole food craving thing is definitely biological for me. Sleep deprivation contributes very heavily to my food cravings. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and now that I'm being treated, my food cravings have diminished very measurably and significantly. Empty carbs and sugar make me VERY hungry. I realize now that no frickin wonder I haven't been successful at weight loss when my daily calorie count included mostly carbs and some sweets -- I was starving all the time when I tried that. Now that I've cut out a lot of that (I do still eat my fair share of complex carbs), I simply don't crave food like I used to. I'm satisfied by my food now, so no real reason to overeat. No psychological breakthrough is going to trump out of control food cravings, IMHO.

Good luck figuring all this out, weight loss is so complex and so different for everybody. But don't let not knowing the "reason" stop you!
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:44 AM   #5
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I never had a lightbulb moment about why I overeat, and I was able to lose successfully!

Quote:
Is it enough to be committed, and to understand that we do have bad habits, but plan for them
For many of us: yes, I believe so!
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:48 AM   #6
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We were just talking about this recently. I don't think that everyone has a deap-seated, repressed psychological reason for overeating. And, even if you do, I don't think you need to understand that reason before you can change the behaviors. Focus on what you do - on willing yourself to make the right choices - and you'll have lots of time to think about why you used to make the wrong choices.

Here's a post I wrote about this for a recent thread, it sums up my thinking on the topic:

Quote:
Originally Posted by carter View Post
I just find it [eating] very pleasurable. It's not particularly about filling a void (I have plenty of issues with depression and escapism, but I enjoy eating just as much when I'm feeling good as I do when I'm depressed), or about comfort ... it's just something I like to do. I am lazy and gluttonous by nature; sitting in one place and eating is just about my favorite activity.

I don't know, up to this point I won't even say I've tried to change the fact that I love to eat; I've just tried to indulge in less of it and make food choices that allow me to take pleasure in eating while staying on my plan. I am reserving claims of success until I've become trim and fit and stayed that way for some time, but at least so far it seems to be working out for me.

Speaking only for myself now - I can't emphasize that enough - I am not terribly interested in getting to the psychological bottom of my pleasure in food. I'm not even sure there has to be one; asking why I enjoy eating strikes me a little like asking why I enjoy sex.

I have enough issues in my life to angst over; if I let my love of eating become another one, than the weight loss process becomes yet another depressing slog through my psyche, rather than a fun and productive project I'm doing to better myself. I need to keep it fun, manageable, and most importantly behavior-oriented - and not let it slide into the black-hole of endless self-examination that the other things I've tried to fix about myself have gotten lost in.
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Last edited by carter : 12-01-2010 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:53 AM   #7
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I decided to just do it. Along the way, I discovered I was a boredom eater and addicted to sugar. I did finally trace my habits back to long, lonely afternoons as a latchkey kid but I was well on my way to goal before I figured it out.

I didn't have to know why I overate to start eating better.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:00 AM   #8
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Another one here who doesn't know or care why I overate. Undoubtedly it was part physical and part psychological, but who knows? Certainly there wasn't an "aha" moment. But that's OK because I decided to fix the behavior. And that was all that was required!
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:06 AM   #9
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I actually delayed (perhaps it was an excuse) a really true, true attempt at weight loss because I listened to all those folks who said if you don't get down to why you overeat you'll surely not be successful longterm. That is nonsense IMO.

You don't have to have everything all figured out in order to make a change.

Like Glory, certain things did become apparent to me as I went along this journey.

Quote:

Is it enough to be committed, and to understand that we do have bad habits, but plan for them, or do we really need that aha moment?
I definitely think it's enough.

Quote:
I have been struggling a lot lately, and trying to get myself back on track (yet again).
Can I ask you though, what kind of plan are you following? And how are you setting yourself up for success?

YEs, I wanted this very, very badly and was willing to put forth the effort, but I did make certain to set myself up for success as well..
-Heavy duty planning
-Ridding my home of all junk - banning it all together - turns out I was/am truly addicted to sugar/flour
-Adding in delicious, tasty, voluminous foods
-Having rules, boundaries, limits, etc.
-Not putting it in my mouth till it was on paper first, no exceptions
-daily weighing - no sticking my head in the sand
-calorie counting- forced portion control and accountability
-making an iron clad commitment to do this no matter what, no matter what, no matter what - once and for all - and permanently.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:48 AM   #10
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There was no deep psychological insight that finally caused me to make a change in my life. It was that I was sick of seeing pictures of me and not being able to do the things I wanted to be able to do.

Yes, it is enough to just want to be healthy. It is enough to want to change your life!
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:07 AM   #11
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This reminds me of the (failed) psychotherapy approach to alcoholism--you have to figure out WHY you drink before you can quit.

Baloney! Alcoholics drink because their body chemistry is such that they are addicted to alcohol. No deep dark secret reason is needed. Alcoholics need to quit drinking alcohol--in a rehab setting if necessary--and not go back to it. At the point when one is sober, one can THEN benefit from therapy if one chooses to go that route.

The same can be applied to obesity. You don't have to figure out the deeply buried motivations from your past in order to start losing weight. If once you're on your way you want to seek out counseling to help you with that aspect, that's fine. But no need to have all the answers ahead of time.

Just start. Start today.

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Old 12-01-2010, 11:12 AM   #12
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From the posts I've read, some people have emotional issues, past issues, current issues, a combination, or a medical problem that contributes to their sustained weight gain. I have none of those things, so far as I can tell.

I had a great childhood, I'm doing great now, and overall I'm healthy as a horse (minus my weight problems, lol).

I don't think I have a deeper root issue other than I like to eat and I do it compulsively if I don't watch it. Like you said in your post, we have to understand and plan for our problems. I didn't have an, "Aha! This is why I overeat!" moment because I don't think there is one deeper than what I've said.

I changed my diet and exercise routine and lost 55 lbs because I didn't want to be unhealthy (which is something I was hurdling toward really fast, medically). That's the main reason. I think it's totally possible to do it without an AHA! moment. Do it because you want to or need to, I guess.

Good luck!
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:22 AM   #13
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Wow! Thank you all so much for the posts and sharing your stories. It definitely helps to know that I am not alone.

rockinrobin ~ As far as plan, I have been following South Beach. Like other attempts, I did really well, then last Christmas came along, and I blew it. I watched what I was eating for a while, and started back on SB in the summer. Then came the stress of moving, and I got back into old bad habits again. It was easier to get something from the drive-thru, then search for a pan to cook something healthy. I know deep down I simply used that as an excuse. I have been struggling more so lately, but I know I do need to have a plan and ways to get around my habits. I think I need to read some of your posts and stories again, because you are really one of the most inspiring people here and always helpful.

Carter ~ Your post really got me thinking. I think all along, because I've been bombarded with this thinking that I need to find my big "problem" of why I do it, it really was just quite simple .. I love food. I do eat when I am happy, just as much as when I am sad. I binge when I'm bored, anxious, etc.

What you said about trying to figure out why you enjoy food being similar to trying to figure out why you enjoy sex (or anything else we enjoy) really made sense!

I am so glad to hear your stories, and to know that there really doesn't need to be that moment, or that one single reason why .. we just need to commit to it and do it.

Thank you all!
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:34 AM   #14
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I just wanted to chime in to talk about Oprah (if you don't mind). She had lots of "aha" moments....especially after reading Women, Food and God by Gennine Roth (sorry about the spelling). She also said she has a problem with her thyroid. She also had trauma in her childhood (she was molested). She has a wide variety of reasons but really, she is Oprah and if she can't figure it out, then maybe that's not the answer....maybe it's just a behavior modification issue. I don't know.

I personally have a wide array of reasons for why I binge eat. I've been up and down with my weight many times but I've realized that if I change my behavior, I can lose weight. I haven't been able to stop the compulsive eating but that doesn't mean I have to be overweight. Sorry for my ramble but I think it's possible to have food "issues" and be thin.....I have plenty of friends that do and are thin.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:06 PM   #15
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I can't recall a real AHA moment, since I've tried so many times to lose weight in the past. I think I may have sabotaged myself by some twisted logic: after all, I reasoned, I was a busy single mom with 3 kids and didn't have time to count silly points or even exercise. Talked myself into thinking I was being a better mom by staying home after work every night cooking dinner for my kids - and they grew and went to their activities after dinner while i stayed at home...stressing, lonely, and with a kitchen full of snacks for the kids. HAHA
I tend to over-think everything, so I just jumped back into the water this week, and am bound not to overcomplicate my weight loss plan so it doesn't become a chore. Here's my new simple plan:
1. Eliminate the white stuff (pasta, potatoes, sugar), or allow tiny portions only on special occasions.
2. Eliminate fatty meat and eat small portions of very lean meat or fish.
3. Eat tons more green veggies, and have them available as snacks.
4. Eat 3-4 portions of fruit a day.
5. Exercise as much as possible, but at a minimum 4 long walks per week.

So far I've lost 2 pounds, without feeling hungry, which is the only way I can stick with a plan. I eat a lot, but will eat the healthy stuff first, before I get cravings for the other.

Good luck to you - all of your efforts will be worth it.
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