Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Unhealthy Obession?

A discussion with my wife tonight reminded me of something I posted a few months ago after my sister visited and mentioned that she was worried about my obsession with weight loss. I appreciate both my wife and my sister's concern and I understand where they are coming from, however, I think differently on that topic...

Obsession. I want to break it down in this post and try to analyze my obsession and try to figure out if it's healthy and necessary or a sure path to the looney bin.

Whenever I write the word I hear it in my head as a sort of obsessssssion... in a sort of exotic, almost secretive tone, I picture a dark background with a woman looking provocative and an expensive looking bottle with clean lines. Something dredged up from my subconscious no doubt, guess the marketing worked. So perfume aside, am I obsessed? Maybe. Probably. I like it though, it keeps me focused. Maybe I should just let go. People are telling me this all the time these days, the people in the primal forum (over at Mark's Daily Apple) have all said it, don't track, don't obsess, just "live". It sounds so grand, I think, YEAH! I want to live! I want to go running through the park and do sprints on the beach regularly. I want to practice my grok squat and obtain the flexibility to sit in the position out bodies are naturally suited to. I want to eat amazingly healthy food and revel in the amazing health benefits and the abundant energy that results. I just want to do it ALL NOW!!! If only I was 170 lb or so, then yeah, forget tracking I'd just focus on eating healthy things and be done with it. Oh, to not be obsessed. To not google the nutritional content of the menu of the restaurant my wife and I are going to for dinner and pick out my meal before I've even left to drive there. Oh the luxurious freedom! To not take my measurements regularly. I mean seriously, I really don't want to own a body fat tester and a myo-tape, a heart rate monitor, those ketostix ketone testing strips in my bathroom cabinet are just sad. I've even considered testing blood glucose to see what impact different food have on me. Am I NUTS?!?!?! I would give it all up in a day to run free through the modern equivalent of the woods around my cave, replete in loin cloth and actually not having people averting their eyes, rushing the frail and sick away to safety and hearing the word liposuction muttered more than once. Sadly, I would never wear a loin cloth, and running through the park would be accompanied by me groaning about a sore knee, stopping every minute or so (okay, I'll make it a HIIT workout!). In other words, Grok wouldn't even recognize me. I'm not ready to be carefree Grok just yet. I wish.

Here's how I see it. When you have a good amount of weight to lose, it's going to take a while. Sure, you hear stories of people losing 60 lbs in 2 days drinking tears of a Tibetan Yak but for most of us, it's just going to take a really long time. Seriously long. So lets look at that, I need to lose weight, consistently for probably a couple of years. If someone knows how to do it faster and can guarantee it will work for me, please tell me. So honestly, let me ask you, what else can it be but an obsession? You have to stay focused for a really long time, eating the "right" things, doing the right things. Human being just suck at doing this, in fact, if a guy pursued the same girl unsuccessfully for 2 years you would say he was pretty obsessed. Maybe at the end of the 2 years she finally agrees to go on a date (have to have a happy ending). He was still obsessed. So seriously, what else could two years of sticking to a diet be other than an obsession. I can't see how it can be anything else.

What I did notice is the people who tell me to not be so obsessed are usually not overweight, or at least not very overweight. Those that agree, that tracking intake etc is important at first are those who have generally lost large amounts. They know from experience that you need lots of tools to stay focused, you need to be a little bit obsessed.

So it is a question of degrees, of course there is TOO obsessed. Of course, moderation in everything, everything in moderation. I think a little bit of obsession is necessary for many people, myself included to stay focused.

I know that carefree, grok in a loin cloth, life is waiting for me. Okay, maybe I'll always need to be a bit mindful, but if I hit 170 lb I can probably afford to stop tracking everything like a data obsessed junkie. No more nutrition.pdf all over my laptop for different restaurants, I can hang up my body fat tester, pee on all the ketostixs at once, giggle and throw them away. I can put a comment in MFD every day, "not a fat b@stard anymore, don't need you - Thanks for all the help but I'm free now". Until then I'll cling to my obsession because it helps me reach my goal. I know I'm mentally healthy because I have a cheat meal on Saturday nights and I love my giant hamburger or slices of delicious pizza, I take weeks off from official weigh-in every now and then to just chill out and enjoy a social event the night before. I think these are all signs that my obsession is not an unhealthy one.

Can we call it a moderate obsession? A healthy obsession? With the occasional dip into slightly unhealthy territory every now and then perhaps. When Grok would recognize me as a potential tribe member I'll put down my body fat analyzer, but until then I need to know where I'm going and where I've been.


  1. You are an amazing writer, and I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

  2. I think we all have to stay obsessed with our food intake, exercise, calories in and calories burned, etc. I think the minute we stop being obsessed is they day we lose control. I have been obsessed for 2 years now. I don't walk into a restaurant thinking, "What yummy thing am I going to order," I walk in having checked the menu on-line and having already made up my mind, what item will fit into my day's caloric allotment. Oh sure sometimes I get thrown for a loop, by a surprise restaurant choice. THEN...I peruse the menu and can almost always find something that will work for me. And if I can't find anything, I make darned sure to never go to that place again.
    But you're wrong if you think it ends when you get to that goal weight. I hit my goal in April, losing 168 pounds. Since then I've lost an additional 18 pounds, simply by being vigilant and sticking with my plan. I am still obsessed with all things related to my diet and exercise, and I'm pretty sure the day I STOP being obsessed will be the day that the scale is going to start going the other way. Since I never want to go back to that dark place where I used to live as a morbidly obese woman, I plan to stay obsessed forever! GREAT BLOG!

  3. Been meaning to respond to these comments for a while...

    @Brash - Thanks! Plenty more to write about...

    @dupster - True, but I for one plan on shaping that obsession a little differently and I'm going to have a couple of nights off a week. I think the trick, which is kind of what this post was about, is to walk the line, to find a balance where the obsession is not consuming but is also protective. Once I'm through the weight loss phase I'm going to try to come up with a way of generating check points. Some system where I'm forced to evaluate my current state of health every few months for example. The idea being to avoid the weight creeping back on. I'm not sure how, and I'm working on a blog post about this topic, although it's a little premature right now. :) Thanks for the comment!