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How much do you think about...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

..your weight, weight loss, eating, fitness, calories, etc. etc. etc. ?

I ask, because my husband commented last night that I have seemed distracted for the last few months, like my mind is often elsewhere. I realized once he said it, that he's right. I'm pretty much always thinking about losing weight. I'm calculating my calories in my head (either that I've eaten or that I've burned off), I'm predicting what my weekly weigh in will be, I'm figuring out how many more weeks until my goal weight is reached, I'm imagining what I'll look like in certain sizes, I'm calculating how fast I can bring my 5k time down, I'm thinking about what I'll need to do to maintain my weight--what I will and won't eat, how I'll keep up my healthy habits, when people will stop remembering that I used to be fat, etc. Or, of course, I'm reading/posting on SP, tracking my exercise, updating my excel spreadsheets (weight tracking and running log), mapping my runs, and doing all the other record keeping that goes along with this process. Is this common, or am I an outlier here?

I know I've always lived "in my head" a lot--spinning fantasies of what life would be like if I had a different job, imagining what my kids will be like when they grow up, picturing what I would say if I ran into an ex-boyfriend, etc. But now it seems like all that mental energy gets directed in one place--my weight & health. I'm not necessarily complaining, because I think that one-track, single-minded focus is what has allowed me to be successful. In fact, in an earlier blog post, I actually recommended getting obsessed with the weight loss process, mainly because I see a lot of people who do it kind of half-committed, make a lot of bad choices, beat themselves up over it, and then at the same time wonder why they're not making progress. My general modus operandi has always been 100% focus on whatever I'm doing, and it seems to work well for me.

But I think it comes at a price--it takes over your life. For example, I'm going out of town again (just up to the cabin) for a week. I know that I'll probably be spending a lot of time obsessing about my weight. Since I don't have a scale up there, it will be tempting to think multiple times a day about what I'll weigh when I get back, predicting, judging, guessing, fantasizing, preparing for that weigh in. And yet, if I do that, I'll miss out on one of the joys of being up there: being totally disconnected from technology and everyday life, able to just BE.

This is part of the reason why I signed up for a Mindfulness Meditation seminar this fall at our local Zen Center--to learn how to just be in the moment, without thinking about it so much. I'm also hoping that once I get to goal, I'll be able to take a lot of the time I spend thinking about losing and gradually shift it to other things in my life (though not so much that I slip into old habits!). I'm wondering if that will be possible, though, and how I'll do it.

So I'm wondering, how much do you think about weight/weight loss? And has it changed over time? Were you able to "turn down" the focus at some appropriate point? Any hints on how to do that?


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
OOLALA53 9/13/2012 12:18AM

    I rarely think about calories and haven't counted them for years. I do think about what I eat, but I don't WORRY about it. I choose foods I like, and found after years of dieting and then bingeing and then giving myself permission to eat what I wanted, I like a lot of meals others might call diet meals, but I just like them. I choose meals that I think are delicious but that fill me up only enough to keep me satisfied until about an hour or two before my next meal. I like being hungry for my meals. If I go out and really want a burger and thick, floppy fries, I have them. If I want some fried chicken, I have it. I just don't want those things often and certainly not in very big servings because they keep me from getting nice and hungry for my next meal. However, I'm not as thin as you and don't ever again intend to aim at a certain weight. I go totally by habits now. I aim for getting more consistent about exercise now that I feel my eating is pretty smart, but I won't be planning to run any races. Now, a dance marathon? That I might train for. But it will be for the fun, not to get any thinner. That has failed for the vast majority who have attempted it for over 100 years. I aim for sane habits that I can do forever. My body will do what it's going to do, and I'm willing to accept the body I get with smart habits. emoticon

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PURPLEPEONY 9/2/2012 11:45AM

    I think of it constantly but it`s not to the point of obssession. As long as I`m consistantly losing I can see my goal in sight.
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THRASHEJ 9/1/2012 10:31AM

    It does become somewhat of an obsession but I think that is a necessary evil because it is also that same obsession that helped you FINALLY lose the pounds in the first place! It needs to shift to your main focus in life for a while. Then what happens? If you are lucky you become a real fan of exercise and living a healthy life and now it is your HOBBY, which makes it one of your prime concerns in life too, LOL. I love fitness and books about it, watch shows about it, love the gym, walking, running, etc, etc....but I realize too when I am being crazy. I always say it is easy to go overboard when you are losing, losing, losing....hard to imagine but easy to turn into that anorexic nervosa (like) person. Don't sweat your vacation, even if you did gain it would not be very much and it certainly wont be permanent, sounds like you've changed 100% about how you think about food and exercise. That is key for maintenance!

"My general modus operandi has always been 100% focus on whatever I'm doing, and it seems to work well for me."

GOOD! This is why you are a winner! Don't lose your focus, just learn to tone it down a bit and you'll be golden! :)

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COCHESE321 8/27/2012 6:42PM

    Through diligence and hard work, I have whittled it down to 23 hours a day. emoticon

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JODROX 8/27/2012 8:37AM

    I'm pretty much obsessed with it too :) It's a good thing.


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BEECHNUT13 8/27/2012 8:04AM

    I'm one of those people that doesn't think about it enough, screws up, beats herself up over it, etc... I'm trying to become more mindful of it, actually. I bought a BodyMedia Fit CORE which will give me more exact info, and I'm hoping that keeps me focused and moving in the right direction.

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CINERICIA 8/26/2012 7:47PM

    I wish I had an answer for you, but I'm afraid I'm in the same boat. I'm constantly thinking about food and exercise, even when I plan my foods for the entire day first thing in the morning and get my exercise in right away. It it the right amount of this, that, or the other? What if I have to make a substitution? Blah, blah. Worse, I talk about it all the time. I guess that would be OK if it was only me and the husband, but I have two teenage daughters and I do not want to encourage them in any way toward a negative relationship with food.

The best advice I would be able to give you is to be mindful of the moment you're in and try to focus on that instead of constantly living in the past, the future, or in your head. But it sounds like you've already taken a step in that direction. I would be interested in hearing how the class goes and if you get any good advice or tips and tricks out of it.

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LORILEEPAGE 8/26/2012 7:05PM

    I am one to think about all things food and exercise, all of the time. It was worse when I used my SP app on my phone to log every food. My husband (and I) felt like I was obsessing too much. So for a little while I didn't log food at all. But then I was constantly worried I would gain weight. So I started doing what I did before, when I had been maintaining for 6 years. I started keeping a notebook next to the fridge where I wrote down a whole meal's total calories. From tracking for years, I knew by heart how many calories are in most foods. So I can run a quick total in my head without looking up every last food. Sometimes I look for some unusual foods, but otherwise I'm ok. I just don't think about food quite as much but it hasn't been a complete solution to my obsessing with calories in/out. It's interesting to read other people's comments on your blog. Thanks for posting this, it helps to know others struggle with the same thing.

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1_AMAZING_WOMAN 8/26/2012 5:30PM

    I have come to the determination that the more I focus on dieting and weight loss, the more weight I get. Like the old saying, "What you focus on you get".

Thin people do not focus on counting every calorie, and obsessively think about what they are going to eat when. They likely are concious of their general calorie intake, but don't count them. They listen to their bodies, and use common sense. They are concious of what they put in their mouths, and if they eat a bit too much one day, they eat less the next. More than likely they eat less calorie dense food most of the time, and when they eat calorie dense foods they eaburt less of it at one time than we do.

I have found my life negatively affected by counting calories and dieting. I am now ready to start eating like the thin person I used to be (when I didn't ever diet, but was just concious of my food intake). I ate junk food sometimes back then, but it wasn't often. And, I worked hard and burned off plenty of calories. It is now time for me to forget about 'dieting' and counting calories, and work on eating sensibly and healthy and becoming more active. Because the more I have dieted the more I have binged. Cause so much of every waking moment was thinking about or calculating food intake. So, of course, why wouldn't I then be hungry all the time and craving all those foods I was trying to avoid???

There's gotta be more to life than thinking about food.


Comment edited on: 8/26/2012 5:31:23 PM

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DRPOOH63 8/26/2012 4:42PM

    A scale on vacation? Interesting. I think about it obsessively at times and then at other times I enjoy the moment and work to see if I can maintain without obsessing. I am getting better about it and actually have lost weight when not focused on it but just working the plan and process.

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SWEDE_SU 8/26/2012 4:10PM

    i'm definitely in the "thinking too much about weight, fitness, diet, calories, etc" crowd. i know that is why i successfully lost the weight, and i have to find the right balance to move forward from here. DH is patient when i talk about it, and understands my need to talk about it, but i know it is not his favorite topic. still, i have to keep my focus because we have a major change coming up when we return to the US in 10 days, and i have to figure out how we stay where we are in terms of weight and fitness.

i see several people mention meditation, and maybe that is something to consider. will look into it...

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MARTHAWILL 8/26/2012 2:44PM

    I love reading your blogs. I too have been totally obsessed about losing weight- to different levels - even at one time worrying about the calories in toothpaste - wish I had some of that again right now. Perhaps I wouldn't be struggling so much to fiind my way back to feeling absolutely in control. Just had a week of holidays with lots of physical activity and am up a bunch of pounds because I let down my guard- knowingly. I guessed when I was eating the fifth large marshmallow in a row - and other foods- that I hadn't burned enough calories to get away with it.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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AMARILYNH 8/26/2012 1:55PM

    First, why not just take your scales with you? That's what I do anytime we take the car on vacation. And I even bought a very light weight travel scale that I took to Europe on our last vacation. Its not like I pulled it out every day, but I did weigh at least a couple of times a week. I NEED that to not obsess about how much weight I'm gaining!! In the long run it helps me relax and enjoy myself more!!

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SYZYGY922 8/26/2012 1:51PM

    I have trouble finding a balance. When I'm not actively trying to lose weight, I don't think about it (but I might mentally admonish myself for being fat), but when I am actively trying to lose weight, I think about it ALL THE TIME. It has affected my social life because I avoid going out because of what kind of food will be available or worrying that I might miss a workout. It's not entirely healthy, but it's healthier than the alternative, in a way. I hope to find a balance when I finally reach my goal. I'll consider meditation and stuff then. I will REALLY have to remain diligent to keep the weight off, though!

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CELIAMINER 8/26/2012 1:23PM

    Argh, I DO think about my weight, my food, my fitness too much. Worse, I talk about it too much. DH is patient, but I can see his eyes glaze over when I start talking about eating, exercising, or what one of my Spark buds did or said.

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PHEBESS 8/26/2012 11:42AM

    I try not to focus all the time on counting cals, but I do try to keep only healthful foods in the house or the fridge at work. That way I don't have to think about it, I just don't have too much choice.

Because yes, it can be mind-consuming and time-consuming. And if I don't think about it, well, that was how I got here. So I plan ahead, have certain items for specific meals and/or snacks, I schedule in my ST and cardio, and I'm good to go. Now things are habit and second-nature, and I don't have to think about it as much.

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OOLALA53 8/26/2012 10:53AM

    I've decided that it's too much for me, but I'm also very close to having a lot of the kinks worked out. However, I think sometimes the problem is that people use complicated strategies that use a lot of mental energy that they can't sustain. It really doesn't take all day to plan out a few good meals and get in some moderate exercise, especailly after we learn to shop for what we know we'll want in our meals. Also, if we set our loss goal very high, it can necessitate a life that many will struggle with forever.

But I'm giving myself until my birthday this year ( a little over 4 weeks from now) to let it take its course. I was a binger for about 37 years and I made a good turnaround on that (not perfect but down 16% of my weight and into the normal BMI range) 31 months ago. I'm going to use some of the same techniques Judith Beck recommends (and some of what I know those with OCD use) to design a plan to decrease my thoughts on this issue. One thing I know is I will make a list of other topics to think about, including some memorized poems and songs. I'm also going to start getting more involved with music, so I'm hoping that will be another absorption. I won't worry about some thinking about planning for and looking forward to nice meals. Many people in thin cultures (French and Italian) pay that kind of attention to food, though calories and weight loss don't have much to do with it. Pleasure without overeating is their guideline. emoticon

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KAYOTIC 8/26/2012 10:19AM

    I've recently begun meditating almost daily, and it really is great, so I hope you get as much out of it. It's hard to do, focus on the moment, and my mind wanders alot, but the goal is to keep focused on the moment. I find I'm more mindful at other times of when I'm wandering off to the past or future now as well.

That said, I do think about my program a lot. More so on weekends, when my day is less structured and I have more "spark-time" on my hands! But I tend to obsess less about the scale weight and more on the food and exercise part (Leigh Peele's "screw the scales" is a really good explanation of why the number doesn't really mean much).

We may always have more of a focus on nutrition and exercise, since we know what happens when we just "let it go" and none of us wants to go back to where we were before we started this Spark thing!

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MJZHERE 8/26/2012 10:11AM

    I definitely am very caught up in the weight loss - especially since I found sp. However, I know for me it is important to get to my goal to be this focused for now. Camping I had no internet and I really missed sp. I am going to take some time today to check in with myself. On this journey, I learned that I have eaten rather than be in touch with my own feelings, thoughts, etc. I think even the weight "program" can distract me from me! And more important than the weight is the lessons I have learned and implementing them so I was glad for your blog this morning that acted as a reminder.

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THINNYGINNY 8/26/2012 10:03AM

    You are definitely not alone - "sparking" takes a lot of my time, energy and thought. I also obsess a bit and cannot fully enjoy time away without worrying about whether I'll eat too much or gain weight - I think about what I weigh, or what I will weigh - a lot!
But in years past i would worry when we went out to eat about whether I could get enough food - how to order a "big enough" meal without looking like a pig. I obsessed about whether I was the fattest woman in the room or not. I refrained from going places and doing things I thought I was too fat to do. So being heavy and being an over-eater took a lot of time and energy and kept me from living in the moment, cause I was living in shame so much of the time. I think our current obsession is normal - we are, after all, making huge changes that call for an overall change in how we think and act.
I think, in time, some of this thought process will become automatic.. I am already able to be "more in the moment" with my kids - going on rides at legoland, going in the pool with them etc...
So no worries - tell your hubby that you're just going through a "phase" like teenagers do - lol. You'll grow out of it...or shrink out of it...

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DDOORN 8/26/2012 10:00AM

    Great point! I know this is true for me...the struggle to bust loose out of being so lost in my head and to be able to simply enjoy the moment. Meditation sounds like a great idea...not an easy thing for me to do.

Also having people, places and things in our life that we love to spend time with makes it easier to get out of our heads and into our lives.


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CATHRINE2010 8/26/2012 9:11AM

    I just want to let you know that I also think of these things. It is normal. Be focused, enjoy life to your fullest ability. You work so hard for something and you know how easily it can slip away. I would suggest you get a scale for up at the cabin so you can concentrate on having fun with your family and not worry about the weight. Relax, Enjoy! emoticon

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TINAJANE76 8/26/2012 9:08AM

    Probably too much, but I'm hoping it will lessen over time as I become more comfortable with where I need to be as a maintainer. For now, near-constant vigilance is helping to keep me on track. One thing I've found helpful up to this point is to take one day off a week from my usual patterns. For example, I only use Spark to quickly log my food and exercise and don't get caught up in messages and surfing. Maybe I'll be able to increase that to two days a week as time goes on and achieve a better balance.

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