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Old 01-15-2014, 04:18 AM   #1  
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Default Dedication Vs Obsession

So 3FC ladies and gents, I'm really struggling and could use some advice. I've been going at this weight loss thing since May 2012 after I went through a devastating breakup – weight loss was what I used to fill the void, and at that point it was OK that I was obsessed with losing weight in my mind because...well, it made my life better and it gave me a distraction. I've actually had wonderful success in terms of my life and health improving – going from 235lbs to 174ish December of 2012 and maintaining that through the summer of 2013 despite an injury that kept me out of the gym in March that I acquired during a fitness competition. I wanted to lose more, but due to the injury and a few other things I decided to hold off. I ended up needing some cosmetic surgery due to some issues I developed from mass weight loss and the surgeon and I agreed that at 170 would be a perfectly fine time to do that as I was extremely fit and dedicated to my health. I understood that the surgery would keep me out of the gym for 8 weeks and I'd have to slowly work back in, and that was fine. Long story short, I put on a little post surgery weight (normal) and started slooowly working back into my fitness. Well then in October I got into a car accident which resulted in head trauma that kept me out of the gym and doing much of anything else up until now. Unfortunately between the down time of surgery and the car accident, I put on about 15lbs. Well I was ok with that...I knew I'd just get back on the horse and everything would be ok. The thing is, I LOVE fitness – the gym is my happy place, and I actually see fitness as totally unrelated to my weight loss. I'm really, really struggling to get my strength back and will not be able to compete probably the entire year – but I'm actually ok with that, I'm getting to work on my form and everything in that world is ok.

The problem is, I am obsessing about my diet to the degree I am not sure it's healthy. I have only been back on the calorie counting, dieting bandwagon for about a week again now. I'm doing extremely well in terms of you know, the numbers and eating what I should and what not. The thing is I am obsessing over my food – not hungry, I'm eating plenty, but outside of when I am in the gym I am literally thinking about my next meal, what I'll be having, etc. I've been weighing every day, and I went from having a healthy relationship with my body (feeling sexy, confident, etc) to suddenly picking on myself horribly. I have been extremely anxious all day because my lbs were up. From a science perspective – I get it, it's water weight. I did 180lb sled sprints and rowing sprints the night before, and ingested too much sodium. So while I get it, it is not making me feel any better. My friends and family say they have noticed a change too, that I keep asking about my body way more than they have ever heard, and that I seem incredibly “flighty” and panicked the past few days. Literally every moment my mind is on weightloss or food – if I'm watching TV, it's a weight loss show, if I'm online I'm on 3FC or looking at inspiration pictures.

My question for you all is – how do I find the line between being dedicated to this, and ruining myself?I have about 35lbs left I'd like to lose both for vanity and for the sake of the gymnastics I need to be doing in competitions. I'm mostly paleo, and calorie counting and this has always worked for me in the past. Yet I find myself obsessing about finding THE BEST WAY to lose weight. I do not want to stop calorie counting, but I am not sure how to do this without harming my mental health. Is it NORMAL to feel this obsessed while you're dieting or is something wrong? I've been out of the game about a year now so I'm just not sure if this is how I felt before or if I need to be concerned. Any advice on if this is normal or not, and how to find balance – would be immensely appreciated. I want to do this, and I want to do this RIGHT. But I'd also like to be happy and stay sane in the process.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:09 AM   #2  
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What an excellent question and I wish I had the answer to it. I know exactly what you mean when you say that you're trying to find the best way. I have a slight tendency to try to optimize everything. It's a great ability in some situations, but terribly annoying in others. The thing about weight loss or even maintenance is that we only have approximated data of what our bodies would need at any given time and it is constantly changing. What might be the perfect solution one day might not work as well the next. That's why trying to achieve perfection is impossible, because we don't even know what we are trying to perfect. I've been trying to teach my brain that "close enough" is good enough.

As for whether it's normal or not, I'm not sure it matters, because it's clearly not doing any favors for you. If you feel tense or stressed about it, then it's not good. I can say that I know the feeling and the way of thinking and I know a lot of people who have fallen into that same pattern. Not just with weight loss. When something can be presented in numbers, it's easy to get lost in that and start obsessing over them.

I honestly don't know what would help except trying to slowly change the focus onto something else and try to see the data as something that's merely gathered over time. Making adjustments constantly isn't going to make much of a difference, because you're adjusting something that's unknown. Or it's not completely unknown, but minor adjustments are like spending a huge amount of time on something that's not necessarily even going to be very helpful. Also, the extra stress might add another variable to the equation, which would make things harder again.

I hope someone else has better advice to give.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:34 AM   #3  
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Well, maybe you should stop calorie counting, but create a fail-safe for losing weight. For example, I know if I spend a good part of the day partially hungry (not reeally hungry, but not satiated either) I will lose weight. You know what portions to eat, and which foods are densely caloric, so why not ease up a bit with the counting? It's not like once you give up counting, you'll go back to using heaps of oil and sugar. You already have a good knowledge of nutrition and a good idea of your intake and goals. So all you have to do is maintain a calorie deficit and you will attain your goals. Relax! Counting calories is for people who don't have a good handle on their diet. Once you've got a handle on your diet and know what the appropriate portion sizes are, use your intuition primarily.

MFP and all those tools are very good diagnostic tools, but can definitely become obsessive, much like an eating disorder. People get a sense of control and power from undercutting calories and micromanaging their diets. Definitely loosen up that need to control if it's making you anxious.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:28 AM   #4  
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Several thoughts

1. Motivation is a huge part of weight loss. I consider myself one who obsesses over my weight loss plan. I spend way more time on it then I should. BUT my obsession totally helps with motivation. And motivation is very important. If it comes down to a choice between being obsessed and thin or not obsessed and "not thin," I will pick obsession.

2. If your obsession poses a problem in other areas of your life, then your obsession is a problem. For example, if you aren't able to do your job or home obligations because of your diet obsession then you have a problem.

3. Give it time. It sounds like your only recently back in the game. Obsession at first is okay. Work on moving obsession to habit. For example you could work on moving from strict calorie counting to "guesstamating" amounts.

4. It sounds like you are doing great and that you already have a plan that will work for you. That is wonderful.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:59 AM   #5  
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Personally, I think you've been through alot, and may have used a focus in weight loss to avoid dealing with other issues. Avoidance only works for so long, then the issues come sprouting up somewhere else. I would try checking in with a good therapist, so you can get some perspective and direction from outside if your own head. Kinda like what you're doing here, but with a professional. Good luck to you!
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:34 AM   #6  
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I haven't yet read the other responses but this is my take:

Firstly i think its useful to be obsessed with a diet when you start out on a weightloss program. But i think you would know/remember if how you feel now is normal for you or not. It sounds like you are more obsessive than is usual for you. But is it disturbing you? Is it keeping you from doing other things and causing any problems? if so then you may have a problem. If not, then you are probably ok.

I think you sound like you might be suffering a bit of anxiety. You mentioned being anxious and you also mentioned being unhappy about not being in the gym. So i think that could all adds up to unhealthy obsessiveness due to anxiety.

If i were you, i would consider a session with a psychologist or counsellor at least if you are upset about your obsessiveness . One session may be enough to sort this out for you.

alternatively, what i think you could do, is decide how much you think is normal and then start practicing letting go.

To let go you first need to recognise when you have stepped over the limit. If you write down some limits for yourself as to what is acceptable, then you should know quite easily when you are going a bit nuts and over the line. Then all you do is distract yourself. One doesn't want to use the word "force" but it would not be wrong to say that you may have to force yourself to let go the thought/activity, that you have deemed excessive/unhealthy, and go and do something else.

Letting do is like dropping it. Imagine you are carrying a heavy bucket full of water or dirt or something. All of a sudden, release your fingers and the bucket falls. Letting go is like that. The opposite of letting go is called clinging. Its not just holding, its holding onto tightly, like you have to do with the bucket of water/dirt etc. HOlding onto something that tightly hurts. Letting go is a major relief and you feel good instantly.

You may find some resistance when you recognise yourself in a moment of obsession and you tell yourself to let go, because inside if you look, you will find that you are enjoying yourself (even though it hurts), its like you are on a mission and you are hunting for that perfection thing. Do you know what i mean. When you notice the resistance, if you really want to overcome this obsessiveness, you will have to win over and successfully distract yourself with something else. Its easiest to do if you can just release the grip you have on your current idea.

If you give in and keep doing what you've already decided is not healthy, then you may have to admit you have a bit of a problem. It may resolve naturally. Or It may last some time. If it gets to the point that you are driving yourself nuts by your addiction to your obsession, then you really should get some help if you haven't already done so.

You can probably tell i have experienced what i'm talking about. But not about a diet. I have experienced episodes of obsession. It can become painful. Its best to not fuel an obsession but to let things go as soon as you can. That said, if you want to keep tabs on your weight, you can't just go to the opposite extreme. you need to find a useful balance. So its probably a good idea for you to draw up some rules as to how much time and effort you can spend on your diet doing the things you talked about. How much time is ok. What things are acceptable to do or not.

And don't be so self critical. You could end up with a body dysmorphic disorder. Try to get a bit of perspective on your own size and shape. I could go on but i think i've said heaps already. I used to be supercritical when i was younger. I have learnt to be more accepting nowadays. Wish i was then.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:49 AM   #7  
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For me being obsessed denotes something unhealthy.

I have a goal weight that I will have to work on to maintain,but it is not something that is the top priority in my life.
Obsession to me is being consumed by a certain idea, object person thereby making your life unbalanced.
I have not calorie counted in years ,my preferred method is monitoring intake and eating low carb.
You need to feel comfortable in your skin , as long as your goal is reasonable, obtainable ,sustainable and does not cause you any undue stress in your life or to your health then do it.
The most important thing is not to let your diet overpower the rest of your life.
Life is to be enjoyed and we sometimes create stress by letting one thing in our life over shadow everything else .
Good luck,

Last edited by Roo2; 01-15-2014 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:15 AM   #8  
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I know what you mean, sometimes dieting to me feels like walking a tightrope. If I'm not completely focused at all times I might slip and fall. The key eating like a normal person is being able to do it on solid ground, not on a tight rope.

I think you're being a little hard on yourself. You've been through a lot of things that are out of your control. Injuries, recovery, surgery, accidents etc. I can imagine that it's hard to deal with and maybe you've latched on a bit too much on what you CAN control and that's food intake. It's quite normal but if you feel overwhelmed by dieting and food obsession then maybe you should go and speak to someone who can help you sort out your anxieties.

Thinking about food all the time - that's something that I've dealt with a lot, especially when dieting. What helps me a lot is to stop snacking. All the diets I've ever tried in the past suggested that I eat small meals frequently. I thought it was appealing (so that I could eat all day) and that it would be easy to do. But I could never accoomplish it because it made me really hungry to eat only a little bit at a time. and it kept me thinking about food al day long. Which innevitably led to bingeing. Now I space my meals out and adhere more or less to IF. I usually skip breakfast, and keep my eating window only from 11am to 7pm. It's a large window for IFing but I have 2 solid satisfying meals in that time period. More importantly, the time between lunch and dinner has become easier. Snacking is off limits and I find that doing that keeps my mind off food. Once lunch is over then I know that I don't have to go into the kitchen again until dinner. It's like I turn the eating machine off. I hope that helps.
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:58 AM   #9  
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I agree with the poster who said it doesn't matter whether obsessing is "normal." What matters is whether the obsession is buoying you up or getting you down. It sounds like it's causing you some stress, so you may want to loosen up a bit.

I've never worried about the best way to lose weight because I don't think science has the answer to that yet. Not only is human metabolism extremely complicated, but people vary. You can find scientific studies that support and oppose just about every way of eating.

For me, just being "calorie aware" works just fine. I aim for about 1,500 when trying to lose weight, 2,000 when maintaining. I don't record, weigh, measure, or track macronutrients -- just loosely estimate calories and aim for "mostly healthy." If I can lose or maintain on that regimen without feeling sluggish or deprived, I see no reason to overcomplicate things.

If you're losing weight over time and have energy, don't look any further. Just keep going!


p.s. Your "after" pictures look great. I hope your ex sees them and eats his heart out.

Last edited by freelancemomma; 01-15-2014 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:43 PM   #10  
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I'm really glad you're catching this early on and not letting it consume you.
Consider that it may be time to take a break or find some other outlet. It seems very much to be that you are trying to use your weight loss as an escape much in the way that a drug addict would use drugs.
Granted, you are making yourself better but try to improve your social life and perhaps take up another hobby like knitting.
Continue watching yourself, maybe let someone close to you in real life know your concerns and have them check your habits so that if you end up feeling like you may need help, they can help you with that.
Keep a journal, perhaps, and don't worry too much about this or it will turn into an obsession and soon after, an eating disorder.
Good luck to you, and I really mean that.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:10 AM   #11  
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Depends. Personally, I tend to get obsessive over anything for a certain period when I start it, so that happens with diet/exercise as well as with anything, so it never concerns me in terms of obsessing over losing weight. Just that overall, I need to be a less obsessive person in general. However, if you are generally really laid back about everything, that might be a different situation.
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:25 AM   #12  
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Weight loss requires breaking old negative habits and creating new ones. This requires quite a bit of focus and energy in the beginning until your habits are more established and you can do them without thinking. My thought here is that you will find yourself less absorbed in your lifestyle change over time.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:55 PM   #13  
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Originally Posted by Locke View Post
Weight loss requires breaking old negative habits and creating new ones. This requires quite a bit of focus and energy in the beginning until your habits are more established and you can do them without thinking. My thought here is that you will find yourself less absorbed in your lifestyle change over time.
Absolutely! Most people (including myself!) I know in and out of 3FC hyperfocus on their weight loss when they start. Some relax about it over time, others don't. Unless something serious is happening due to the obsession OP, I wouldn't worry about worrying!

Last edited by pixelllate; 01-16-2014 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:00 PM   #14  
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I have the type of personality where I get really gung-ho (obsessed might be another term) about things. When it's a bad habit, it's not good, but I don't feel guilty if I apply that level of obsession to a good habit. The only way I can see it being a problem would be if you developed an eating disorder or something, which would not be good, but otherwise embrace your good habits.
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:08 PM   #15  
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Thank you thank you thank you all for the replies! I'm happy to report that after giving it a bit of time, I'm doing significantly better in finding the line between obsessing and just getting the job done. I think part of the issue originally as in edition to jumping back into weight loss, I had just been shoved out of other things I find routine. Now that I've got a solid, but flexible, routine going, I'm feeling much better. In edition to that, I've stopped forcing myself to eat every 2-3 hours and focused more on eating when I am hungry and also providing enough pre/post workout fuel when needed. Luckily, it all sinks up pretty well.

Freelance After thinking about your post when you initially posted it (wanted to actually give this a try before I responded) I have been aiming being towards calorie aware (1300-1500) rather than being hyper sensitive about going over my normal 1450 limit. It has helped IMMENSELY! Also, oh yes I have seen the ex, and he was quite surprised by all the change .

Locke Solid advice, and now that I am back in the swing of things you are correct. Also - best icon ever.
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