Over the weekend, I read a post on Gena’s blog where she mentioned she will be participating on a panel at BlogHer talking about obsession versus dedication and how to differentiate between the two, which was the inspiration for this post.
There’s a very fine line between being obsessive about losing weight and being dedicated to leading a healthy lifestyle. I know the ideal situation is that at some point you make a conscious decision to eat well and make regular exercise a part of your life, and over time, those things become habitual and require less mental effort to execute. In that ideal world, even if you need to remind yourself to get your butt in gear on occasion, it can be looked at as dedication – as a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
And while I am 100% on board with this ideal situation and wish so bad it would happen like that for me, the trouble is, 3.5 years into my healthiness journey, I still feel like I need to use a considerable amount of mental effort to make it happen. To make myself choose the salad over the french fries. To choose working out over happy hour. To choose fish over steak. To not eat the entire pizza or basket of bread. To wake up early to get the workout in. I mean of course, sometimes it’s easier than others, and it is definitely easier now than it was when I first started, but I still feel like it has to be at the forefront.
I’m hesitant to say that I HAVE to be obsessed to not get back to pre-Weight Watchers Beth, but it might border on that in reality.
Yes, I know how good I feel after a workout.
I know how good it feels to wake up in the morning with no guilt about the things I’ve eaten the day before.
I know how proud I feel when I’ve had a “perfect” day.
But those good feelings in the back of my mind are not enough for me to keep doing it without having to try. When I move away from really focusing on it and making conscious decisions to be healthy, my natural tendency is to majorly overdo it with eating and underdo it with exercise, leading to a place weight-wise where I am not happy when I do eventually snap back into the healthy mindset.
In many areas of my life, I tend to be all or nothing. When I get excited about something, I usually go all in and eat, sleep, breath, and dream it until I move onto the next. I’m happy in a way that I have been able to keep healthy living in the forefront (for the most part) for as long as I have, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that getting very into things (read: obsessive) is a big part of who I am, not just as it relates to food.
In some ways, I think it’s a good thing. I have an enthusiasm and zest for many things that can rub off on others and I genuinely enjoy diving deep into things when I do. I get a lot of joy about many things because I get so excited about them, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a downfall all of the time.
That said, I think if I talked to someone who grew up having a healthy relationship with food and told them about a lot of the mental battles that I go through with it or how much I think about food/exercise, they would probably go with obsessive when classifying me. And, if I step outside myself and really look at how much I think/talk/strategize about being healthy, I would probably have a hard time disagreeing.
But, and this is a BIG but, I think for those of us who have really, truly, struggled with our weight in a big way, a near obsession might almost be necessary to maintain the lifestyle. I don’t know if it will ever become second nature for me, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to execute it correctly without having to border on being obsessed. I’d love if that were the case. Trust me. I’m just being realistic.
I would love, love, love to hear your thoughts about this topic of obsession versus dedication. How do you differentiate between the two? Do you think you fit into one category or the other, or into something else entirely? Do you think it’s inevitable for those of us who have struggled with our weight in a big way to have to accept obsession/near obsession to maintain our weight? Have you found any tips/tricks along the way to make yourself less focused on it, while still maintaining the lifestyle?