Obsession Versus Dedication

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?

42 Comments on Obsession Versus Dedication

  1. Katy
    July 16, 2012 at 9:07 am (7 years ago)

    I used to classify myself in the obsession category. 11 years ago I lost 65 lbs on WW and starting a running program. I mainted that weight loss (give or take down 10 lbs from time to time) in a healthy way (regarding diet/exercise) for 7 years. Then one day I became obsessed- I lived/breathed/dreamt about exercising & eating healthy. If someone didn’t want to talk about different workouts or healthy food ideas I didn’t want anything to do with you. I skipped family gatherings, HH’s, girl’s nights, etc…..just so I could workout. I lived at the gym (some trainers even joking that I should keep a mattress in the locker rooms)! I measured everything I ate, counted every calorie, and did the math in my head as to calories as I ate everything. It became so bad that eating even foods I enjoyed wasn’t enjoyable b/c everything was calculated. Though I was in the best shape of my life, though I didn’t realize it at the time b/c to me tehre were so many ways I could do better, I was miserable. I worked with a trainer/nutritionist at the gym, he said I did certain things better than his male clients. That should have been a sign I was fit, but it didn’t click. Two years in I had a breakdown, I gave up, I quit working out, quit eathing healthy, quit worrying about making myself healthy. Fast track to today, I’ve gained back 50 of the 65lbs I lost and have started back at square one. I’ve rejoined WW and am taking it one day at a time. Yes I still love to workout, but I don’t want it to rule my life ever again. If I miss a workout I’m not going to agonize over it, I won’t beat myself up about it all day/night, I’ll just get a workout in the next day. I am finding my happy place and finding a healthy medium with this whole weightloss journey! I think we all need to be dedicated to a point, but we can’t let it become an obession. Thanks for letting me share! Hope it helps! And best of luck to you on your new journey of recommitting!!!!! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Victoria
    July 16, 2012 at 9:09 am (7 years ago)

    I think that, given the environment most of us live in, you do have to be nearly obsessive to make consistent healthy choices. There’s a reason that so many Americans are obese and out of shape – the easiest and most common choices involve little movement and lots of sugar/fat/alcohol intake. And when you go against common practices, you can find yourself isolated because instead of eating fried food at happy hour, you are at home packing your lunch for the next day and going to bed early so that you can hit the gym for over an hour before work.

    And I hear you on the constant struggle – my fellow endurance athletes are all about the post-race indulgences, but I can’t do that without gaining weight almost immediately. In April, I did a half ironman and ate half an order of french fries that night, otherwise, it was back to fruits/veggies/lean proteins as usual the week after. I feel like nobody else has to struggle like that, but it is how my body works, so that is how it goes. It seems unfair and it is also isolating (no post-long-run bagel social hour for me), but it is how things are.

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  3. Edita
    July 16, 2012 at 9:19 am (7 years ago)

    I just recommitted myself to calore counting today because I thought after a year of hard work and learning and knowing how to live healthy, I could handle food without it. Soooo was not the case. If I’m not constantly (obsessively) working at it, it doesn’t happen. It’s a little disappointing but lesson learned.

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  4. Jenny
    July 16, 2012 at 9:21 am (7 years ago)

    I am still at the beginning of my weight-loss journey (15 of hopefully 70 lbs gone) so it will be interesting to see how my “obsessions” change. I would say that I’m split: I’m dedicated to fitness but obsessed with food. I think that is because food is where I really struggle. I enjoy working out, look forward to my sweat sessions, and most of my long-term goals revolve around not being skinny, but being strong and fit enough to do certain activities. My food obsession is keeping me accountable and helping me make better decisions. I know that if I didn’t obsess and constantly talk myself out binging, then I’d be eating a whole bag of chips as I write this. I hope that it gets easier and I hope that eating correct portions of good foods becomes as natural as my daily workout. If it doesn’t and I have to be this obsessive about what I eat for the rest of my life, then so be it. Having a healthy body is worth the mental annoyance and aggravation of the obsessions I need to keep it. Great thought-inducing post; thanks for the insight!

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  5. Jesslyn
    July 16, 2012 at 9:25 am (7 years ago)

    Hi Beth,
    I would think that dedication is something which you do because you feel obliged or a sense of responsibility to do so..it may or may not be something you enjoy..just like you are dedicated to eat salad everyday because you are determined to lose weight but this does not mean that you enjoy it..On the contrary, obsession is something which you are dedicated to do because you enjoy it. It is possible to make weight loss an obsession if and only if you find joy in doing so…it could be because you made it so fun that you got addicted

    Just 2 cents worth of thoughts 🙂

    Reply
  6. Kim @ Living, Laughing & Losing
    July 16, 2012 at 9:31 am (7 years ago)

    I love this post! I have to say that I completely agree with you. I feel like I have to be obsessed in order to succeed. My first thought isn’t to make the healthiest choice or get a workout in. Although I know in my head that I will feel better after working out, I don’t revolve my day around it.
    On the other hand, maybe being obsessed is what burns me out and makes me fall off the wagon for a short time every once in awhile. I’m constantly searching for a healthy balance..I haven’t found it yet but it’s getting better.

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  7. Lori
    July 16, 2012 at 9:40 am (7 years ago)

    Well – I think that when you come from a background of being severely overweight/obese, it is a totally different mindset than most people. I know that I can overeat 1000 calories very easily without thinking about it and really have to monitor what I eat. This is why I don’t do intuitive eating. I don’t know if my body ‘intuitively’ wants to be 100 pounds heavier, but I seem to have several of the stopping mechanisms that don’t work so well. So, I have to be what some people would consider to be obsessed about watching what I eat. I bounced up about 10 or 15 pounds from my lowest weight and seem to be staying there with slightly ‘relaxed’ eating the last couple years. Trying to re-lose that weight takes almost monumental mental effort and I have to find that balance between living a good life that I am happy with and the desire to be a certain weight. I am not obsessed with the certain weight, but am ‘obsessed’ with having a healthy lifestyle. It can easily cross the line to disordered, but disciplined eating is not really obsessed in and of itself. When it interferes with your social life and what you do, then it is an obsession.

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  8. Anna S.
    July 16, 2012 at 9:50 am (7 years ago)

    What a great post Beth! I haven’t lost a ton on weight watchers (20 lbs the first time around) but when I tried to just eat healthier, I gained back the 20 lbs plus 10 more! I have to count points and exercise to maintain it at least for now. I know some would say it was unhealthy, but that is what just works for me.

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  9. Kelli
    July 16, 2012 at 9:52 am (7 years ago)

    I have thought about this many times before seeing this article posted on a few blogs I read. I am a fellow WW’er who hit lifetime 3 years ago (losing 75 lbs). When I hit my goal weight, I found that I had to be obsessed with exercise and eating just to maintain my weight. It was absolutely frustrating. I am now 10 pounds over my goal weight and struggle to maintain that on a weekly basis. My goal is to lose 5 lbs, but I am TRYING not to obsess about it. I agree that when your whole life centers around weight loss, it is difficult for it to not become an obsession. I have good days (those days when I can see clearly and understand that no one else sees the 1.2 pounds I may have gained that week)…but I also had bad days (those days when I truly believe everyone can see each imperfection I see in the mirror, which leads to more obsession). Every day is different, and I try to hold out for the good days where I maintain a very healthy balance of positive reinforcement and healthy choices.

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  10. katekirk
    July 16, 2012 at 10:24 am (7 years ago)

    The word “obsession” has a negative/unhealthy connotation to it — I think what you are describing is a very proactive approach to your health. Some people must do this in order to achieve/maintain the same level that takes another person a semi-active approach, while others might be able to be passive…but perhaps the ectomorphs who are thin but underneath their naturally-achieved size 2 can hardly walk a mile and have no muscle tone is not really much of an ideal.

    So if you think of it as obsessive rather than active, you’re breeding a cycle of thinking negatively about what for you are choices that others simply don’t have to make, or can make differently. That doesn’t make you obsessive, it just makes you different.

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    • deb
      July 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm (7 years ago)

      Spot on – we need to rethink the verbiage we use. Proactive approach – I’m going to remember that!

      Reply
  11. wendy wiech
    July 16, 2012 at 10:36 am (7 years ago)

    Totally agree with the fine line. I joined WW and met my goal weight a few years ago by obsessing over my eating (I was a regular exerciser) Constantly watching every morsel and tracking. I’ve put on 20 pounds over the last 10 years and by just trying to eat right and exercise, I can’t seem to lose anything. Your post about focusing on CHANGE really hit home. I guess I fall into the category that I need to obsess to reach my goal weight again, but I think my brain isn’t willing to go there yet. I’ll have a really good day and then reach for a bag of potato chips before dinner.

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  12. Stina
    July 16, 2012 at 10:46 am (7 years ago)

    To me, the difference between dedication and obsession is that idea of balance. In my mind, being dedicated means putting your weight loss efforts first most of the time, but still enjoying things that make you happy – the ocassional happy hour, indulging in your favorite dessert sometimes, or skipping a workout for a special event, whatever. Obsession is when your weight loss efforts become all consuming and the only driving force in your life. Pretty much what the first commenter described above.

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    • Victoria
      July 16, 2012 at 10:54 am (7 years ago)

      The thing is…a lot of us CAN’T do the occasional happy hour/skipped workout. Honestly, I can gain 10 pounds in a week. I’m not even kidding. There’s no slacking for some of us, and that’s terrifying.

      Reply
  13. Jamie
    July 16, 2012 at 10:53 am (7 years ago)

    “Obsession” always has such negative connotations.

    I’m obsessed with being healthy.

    I’m also obsessed with having fun, not taking anything too seriously, my friends, my family and good beer.

    Just replace “obsessed” with “passionate” and it puts your focus on healthy living in a much different light.

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  14. Jay
    July 16, 2012 at 11:44 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks for this great post, I am always wondering about this too. I think obsession is only negative if is affecting your quality of life to an extent where you are upset by it and for me, when the obsession actually works against me and not for me. Obsession can also be positive becuase it means you are putting in effort towards your health.

    I am coming from a place of being “obsessed” with food and trying to lose weight pretty much my whole life. I lost about 20 pounds and have managed to keep it off, its always a struggle. Now in maintenance (or just trying to lose those last 5 pounds constantly) I feel like I get unhealthy obsessed when I try to be “perfect”. For me putting stuff into good day/ perfect day/ bad day really increases the obsession and the desire to bounce back and have a bad day after a perfect one. Mental restriction (even if physically the number of points/ calories is satisfying) is a restriction and by being “good” I think somewhere my mind rebel and wants to be bad. This sort of obsession is very bad for me and I’m trying to learn new ways of putting effort into a healthy lifestyle without being so goal oriented.

    My new trial is to just be normal, and that includes balance and mostly healthy food but be ok with a range which allowed me to a few indulgences here and there. It also means that the indulgences cant be crazy and overeating ones, but enjoying in moderation. I know its great in theory and much harder to do but I feel liek the more I try to be perfect the worse I am at it. THe more I am ok with maybe being 5 pounds heavier and focus on normal eating, not overeating, the better I can maintain the healthy habits. Either way, if I cant develop habits that I can live forever and make normal for me then I cant maintain that weight loss anyway. Its a constant effort!

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  15. Lisa
    July 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm (7 years ago)

    For me, I was 100% focused on losing 100 pounds. For nearly 2 years it was what I thought about, how I spent my time, etc. I was not obsessive, however, because I think there is a difference between focus and determination and obsession. It didn’t entirely run my life, but it became my priority. Now, it would have been considered obsessive had I continued to be so strict, so restrictive, and so focused on weight loss AFTER I reached my goal weight. Now I’m just trying to keep it off and maintain my healthy lifestyle. It’s something I just do and not think about it.

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  16. Mary
    July 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm (7 years ago)

    Boy Beth –

    This post sure resonated with me. I’m one of those people who has definitely taken a ride on the ‘Obsessive Train’ a few times. In fact… I’ve (wrongly!) wished a few times that I could just have a 6 monh case of anorexia so I could just rid myself of this weight once and for all.

    Yes – i know how wrong that sounds.

    But I haven’t found the right moderation yet. Moderation tells some people to enjoy an evening with friends – a nice meal, a couple of drinks – and to then eat sensibly for the next several days/week. My problem is that I want to follow that nice dinner up with brunch the next day.

    I’m glad (and sorry!) to see that so many others struggle with the same things that I do. While it doesn’t do anything to change my life, I am happy to know that I’m not alone with my battles.

    Thanks for posting!

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  17. deb
    July 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm (7 years ago)

    I wonder if it’s call obsession when observed by others – yet for us “obsessing” it’s the right thing to do. Obsession for us, is our new healthy lifestyle. I’ts not an obsession, it’s to maintain all the positive changes that took so much work to accomplish!
    I am the exact same way – I HAVE to be “obsessed” with what I’m doing or it’s too easy to let bad habits slip back in. One of my biggest problems – and i know it, yet can’t stop it – when others accuse me of “obsessing about my diet”. They say – please have a bite – what’s one cookie, one piece of cake, a bite of this or that going to cause you to gain weight. And continue, almost to the point of badgering.

    I KNOW that one bite isn’t the culprit of weight gain, but that one bite is a trigger to allow a bad habit to come back. For me – it will also sometimes trigger a crazy, out of control binge. I can’t handle crazy out of control binges. For a long time, i avoided eating lunch with a particular group of friends because they insist on “sharing” their food, and do not take no for an answer.

    I lost 58 pounds, and was there for a long time with my “obsession” of eating the foods I planned, not what others try to force on me. However, I”ve now gained about 30 of that back. And it’s such a struggle to STOP the cycle. I so feel your pain. EVERY DAY. I need to lose that 30 again, but I can’t get out of my current bad habits. That’s why I read these blogs – to remind myself why I need to get back on track!

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  18. Megan
    July 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm (7 years ago)

    This post hits the nail on the head for me. I’m on my 3rd go-round with WW after being VERY successful the first two times. The first I was a senior in college, had a free gym at my disposal and pretty much lived by myself so meal planning was whatever I wanted (tuna fish and crackers, a toasted pita with jelly… never a “real” meal). I graduated, got a full time desk job and gained back all of the weight. Two years later and my long term boyfriend propsed. We each got back on the wagon, hired personal trainers and again, the obsession began. Counting everything I put in my mouth, the miles ran, minutes on the elliptical. I lost about 30 lbs and was in THE best shape of my life. Fast forward 5 years of being happily married, with a new job, in a new city and 50 pounds overweight. I know that I have to be obssesed with my weight loss journey in order to succeed. I’ve lost close to 20 lbs in 6 months, counting, measuring, weighing and being a gym rat. I know from past experience that there are things in life you can’t predict or plan for but this time I’m in it for the long haul. If I have a slip up, it’s not the end of the world, I have the rest of my life to make up for it. Hopefully the light bulb that finally clicked on about this being a change for a lifetime and not just for now will help create a healthy balance so it’s not such an effort. I want to reach goal and stay there but doing that is going to take a lot of effort and even a little obsession.

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  19. Sue
    July 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm (7 years ago)

    I always struggle with this as well – How can we differentiate this obsession/dedication and going on and off track from a yo-yo diet?

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  20. sara
    July 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm (7 years ago)

    i lost 22 kilos and my friends and family constantly hounded me to relax and not be so obbsessive.. this lead to a 4.5 kilo weight gain in a month!! when youve had erxtra weight you unfortunatly dont have the luxury of not thinking about what goes in your month. better to be obsessive than unhealthy and unhappy:)

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  21. Phyllis E Apkarian-Gaumond
    July 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm (7 years ago)

    Part of my obsession is that I do not like what I see in the mirror. I mean, how can my husband love me when I don’t myself? A wise physician said last week, “could you possibly look at yourself through his eyes? He loves you as you are!” She continued, “could you look at yourself through God’s eyes, who loves you as you are, and celebrates with you your victories” I needed to hear that, and even bringing in the Divine, since I am trying to live as loving others as I love God. Why not try for wholeness as I choose activity instead of sitting, I choose vegetables instead of white things (bread, potatoes, rice), and choosing niceness to others as I am nice to myself. It sounds easy, but the first step is the hardest. I walk now in timed walks because of you Beth. Perhaps the end result is not as important as the journey to get there.

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  22. Camille
    July 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm (7 years ago)

    I think it’s really important to distinguish between the two, because they can so often seem like the same thing, but they are not. And the slippery slope of obsession can be very dangerous. I lost 40+ pounds 4 years ago with the help of exercise and WW, and have maintained the weight loss. Yet, even though I’ve been at a healthy weight for the past 4 years, my eating and exercise habits have been all over the map, mostly because after the initial weight loss, I was terrified of re-gaining and convinced I would never be “done” until I lost more weight and truly became “skinny.” I became completely obsessed with restricting my food intake and ensuring that I never ever missed a workout. It was a downward spiral that led to binging, purging, restricting, overexercising, and eventual treatment for an eating disorder. While my case is probably a bit extreme, it’s an example of how dangerous the “obsession” route can be. I’m a formerly obese young woman recovering from an eating disorder. I went from one extreme to the other, and it was really horrible. This is why I think the obsession route can be so damaging and dangerous.

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  23. Kay
    July 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm (7 years ago)

    I hve been checking out this blog for the past few weeks, because I am at a crosspoint in my journey and I feel I can really relate to a lot of your posts. This question hit the nail on the head (as megan said above). I have been on my journey for the past 8 years and have lost 50lbs. I did an unoffcial WW (borrowed friends notes) back when I started and really got into healthy eating (but as you note, full of processed diet crap). A few years later, I got into exercising. I officially joined WW in 2009 and successfully lost 30 lbs, and started training for a marathon and cut out all processed foods from my diet. When I stalled at 5 lbs short of my goal for 8 months, and I was watching people who bragged about eating “crappy” diet food and not exercising reaching their goals I quit. I still measure my food, and honestly enjoy eating healthfully and feel that between my regular meals in (I always pack breakfast and lunch) and occasional dinner out (maybe once or twice a week) I should be ok with the occasional treat without obsessing over it, (I also work out 5-6 times a week with running, body combat, pump, swiming, cycling and yoga and again really enjoy all these workouts) however, I am in a cycle of putting the weight back on. I have changed nothing, except my complete obession. My question now, is do I be ok with the back and forth weight gain and enjoy my life, knowing that I am healthy or stay obsessed to keep the weight off. I really don’t know what is the best choice right now because I don’t seem to be fully happy either way. Sometimes I look at some of my overweight friends who eat what they want and seem genuinely happy and I find myself so envious of their seeming happiness and lack of obsession. I just want a balance!!!

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  24. Hilary
    July 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm (7 years ago)

    Yeah, I totally get this. I walk this line ALL the time. All I know, is that when I get major-obessive I also get major-miserable, ad do things like people have mentioned above like skipping out on occasions and planning my social life around food. And I am so so with you on wanting to just be one of those people for whom food and healthy living just wasn’t a deal…but I’m not there yet either…to be honest, I wonder how much being a “healthy living blogger” contributes to my obsessiveness. I’m reread in Intuitive Eating right now…if you’ve never read it, I highly recommend you give it a try…it resonates a lot with what you’re saying.

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  25. Allie
    July 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm (7 years ago)

    I actually think food obsession ruled my life more *before* Weight Watchers. Now I have to spend a lot of time planning what I’m going to eat, but I don’t sit at work salivating over my afternoon cucumber and hummus. Before? As soon as I was finished a meal, I would start obsessing over what the next snack would be (chips? candy?) or what I could stop and get myself for dinner on the way home. It’s sort of the difference between a crush and a solid relationship. You can obsessively think about a crush for hours on end and work yourself into a frenzy. A relationship needs some maintenance to thrive; it can just sort of be a normal part of your life with some ups and downs, but generally steady.

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  26. Doran
    July 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm (7 years ago)

    This is something that I have been really thinking about lately also. I have been in a relationship for about 6 months now and I was just discussing this with the manfriend. He is someone that doesn’t think about food, he forgets to eat and weighs less then me, we are complete opposites in this regard. I explained to him that I obsess about food, I think about my meals all day. I have to be this way to maintain my 90lb. weight loss! I get anxious when I am not in control of what and when I am going to eat. I have been a bit more lenient for his sake but I just can’t give in completely. Fortunately, he is a healthy eater but we think completely different about food. Also, he doesn’t know the old me (the fat, out of control and sad me), he has no clue how hard I had to work to change my habits so yes, I am obsessed with my new lifestyle and I believe that it’s the way I have to be and I am perfectly fine with being the crazy food/exercise lady! I am proud of that, it’s my “thing” now! He will get used to it and learn to love me for it. Actually, I think he already does! 🙂 Be obsessed, Beth, it’s the only way we can be what we want and need to be!

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  27. Rachel Miller
    July 17, 2012 at 6:20 am (7 years ago)

    Thank you for being so honest.

    I lost a couple of stone (which I need to) when I was a teenager and I would definitely say I became obsessive. There was a lot of anxiety around food and I would stick to what I considered safe foods. I wouldn’t touch chips for example. I remeber feeling panicky if I ate a Mars Bar and would immediately exercise to burn the calories. This was definitely unhealthy obsession as it affected my mental wellbeing. I was obsessive about my weight too and if I was a pound over my usual weight I’d feel really down. My self-worth depended on the scales.

    I was never what I’d call unhealthily restrictive around my eating and kept to around 1500 kCals a day and about 3 lots of exercise per week ranging from 30-45 minutes a time.

    But I am now so much bigger than ever before and all that obsessiveness and restriction really puts me off jumping on the healthy bandwagon again. After the obsessive time as a teenager I developed a real binge-eating habit which has caused my weight gain. (This is tied in with my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder too).

    I’m inspired that you’ve been successful on maintaining your health. But this post also makes me realise that it isn’t going to be easy when I have lost the weight. It wont be a magic fix for all my problems and it WILL be continued work, even to maintain. I like to be realistic about things. It is daunting to set off on such a large weight loss journey, but information like this makes me feel better prepared. Thank you.

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  28. Carol
    July 17, 2012 at 6:49 am (7 years ago)

    Wow, and, I thought I was the only one out there!

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  29. Cindy
    July 17, 2012 at 8:32 am (7 years ago)

    About a decade ago I lost 85 pounds. I had to be militant about it. I ate the same thing every day. I felt guilty for eating half a cookie! It was awful. Granted the results were great and it was the only time in my life when people actually paid attention to me, which says a lot about society. I got ahead in my career at the time, and my extended family paid attention to me- all because I was thinner!

    I’ve gained it all back; and I literally put on 20 pounds in about 2 weeks once I backed off the militant eating and working out. It just was no longer realistic to restrict calories and obsessively work out.

    Now I’ve been trying to lose weight and am calorie counting and portion controlling and exercising as much as I can with chronic pain (potentially caused by a dangerous yet medically supervised weight loss diet) and haven’t lost a pound. I don’t want to go back to the way I was before, but I may have to if I want to lose weight, and part of me wonders if it is worth it. I do not believe it will change my social life any (I don’t have one). It will change my overall health most likely (despite being obese I am in great health other than the chronic headaches). I just don’t know how to do it not 20000%.

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  30. Janine
    July 17, 2012 at 11:05 am (7 years ago)

    Such a thought provoking topic! What I learned from Kathleen DesMaison’s work (Radiant Recovery website, The Sugar Addict’s Complete Recovery Program) is that some people are sugar sensitive and have brains that are wired differently. These people get super into stuff, and often have spikes and crashes due to brain chemistry issues. Utterly fascinating.
    I think that when there is the feeling of obsession it feels unbalanced, unhealthy: compulsive. Compulsive doesn’t feel good. When there is dedication, there is a sense of being freed up: there is a sense of humor and lightness infusing the experience. It feels good. There may be ups and downs and lots of hard work, but there isn’t that white knuckled feeling that is perhaps characterized by a sort of uncomfortable feeling of joylessness. Joy can be very quiet, and it goes deep, I think. Everyone has different associations with various words, so it is hard to convey shades of meaning, so for one person one word may conjure something positive and for another it may be negative, but these are just my early morning musings and above all else I wish this: happiness and healing for everyone.

    Reply
    • Rachel Miller
      July 17, 2012 at 11:48 am (7 years ago)

      In response to Janine-

      I think the obsessive way of losing weight comes from a place of desperation and fear. Maybe when we lose weight with fear as our motivation this is where our weight loss takes us, to another place of fear where we MUST lose weight or else! We are harsh and punitive with ourselves.

      The dedication you speak of comes much more from a place of love and commitment to ourselves. I like how you described the way of dedication as having a sense of lightness, humour and freedom. Here we are much more loving and forgiving with ourselves, not slave drivers!

      Reply
  31. Nicole
    July 17, 2012 at 11:53 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post! I think dedicated better defines the way I approach healthy living. I did the obsessive weight loss thing the first time I joined WW’s. At the time, if I didn’t prepare it, I wouldn’t eat it, and if I didn’t exercise every day I had a tremendous amount of guilt. I would even avoid social functions to keep with my “program.” Although I lost a lot of weight, this approach backfired on me in a big way because I felt so deprived all of the time. There came a point where this just wasn’t sustainable, and I said screw it and began overeating again. I gained all of my weight back quite rapidly. This time around, I have approached everything with a different mindset about healthy living: not obsessed with points and exercise, but rather dedicated to making good choices most of the time. If I go to a party and overindulge, I don’t obsess about it, but I do plan to eat better the next day. Weight loss is still important to me, but it is not the only thing that is important to me.

    Reply
  32. Lauren @ Lettuce Eat Cake
    July 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm (7 years ago)

    I have never been able to lose weight or keep it off without being extremely committed. Can I plan indulgences, like one dinner out/happy hour/giant cupcake a week? Certainly. But my basic state is to overeat, and no amount of exercise will undo the damage. I have consistently worked out for years, and for the last six months have done at least three hours of intense cardio every week. Yet I’ve continued to gain and gain. I think Allie said it quite well above: I can either put a lot of thought into my next unhealthy food choice (Can I stop at Dairy Queen on the way home? I’ll get a large blizzard and then put it in the bottom of the trash can and forget about it!) or I can put a lot of thought into my healthy food choices (Okay, I’ll cook up that chicken and veggies in the frigde and make some overnight oats while I’m at it. I better not have that glass of wine I’m craving. No chips while making dinner! I better get to bed by 10 if I want to wake up for my workout.) Same amount of thought, but one gets me closer to my goals and closer to the person I want to be, and the other makes me really disappointed in myself.

    Reply
  33. Sara
    July 18, 2012 at 10:34 am (7 years ago)

    Hi Beth! Great post. You are not alone. As a former almost 300-pounder…I don’t think this will ever be second nature to me. And lately, I can’t seem to shed the last 10 lbs I need to get back at goal. I am dedicated to being obsessed! But yes, I think I have to be obsessed to see results. And unfortunately, it’s driving me crazy. I know the outcome will be worth it but it’s not easy and every week when I don’t see the results I think I should, I want to give up. Hang in there. love and hugs – Sara

    Reply
  34. Arlene Hittle
    July 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm (7 years ago)

    Obsession or dedication? What a great question.

    I personally don’t think exercise will ever become second nature to me. It’s ALWAYS a chore to choose to lace up my tennis shoes and move.

    And I think one of the reasons I do better on the Atkins diet than I ever did on WW is that choosing low-carb foods is easier for me. Steak-and-blue-cheese salad for lunch? A snack of string cheese? Yes, please. I can make the correct choices without too much effort.

    That being said, it does take a certain amount of obsession to make sure no carbs cross my lips. The darn things are everywhere.

    As much as I wish it was effortless, I think any dieter, no matter what plan they follow, has to be obsessive to stick to said plan. You have to count *something* — points, carbs, calories — diligently to succeed.

    Reply
  35. Libby
    July 19, 2012 at 7:58 am (7 years ago)

    WOW!!! I could have written this post!! You sound like you are in my head!! I am very near goal and my mind is constanly screaming “you wont keep it off” I feel like I will HAVE to be obsessed to keep it off. Thank you for this post and I can not wait to read these comments!

    Reply
  36. Sarah M
    July 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm (7 years ago)

    I have always struggled with my weight. I finally joined WW 2 years ago now and have lost 59 pounds…but have gotten away from tracking. I am definitely not where I want to be yet either. It will most definitely NEVER be second nature to me. I will always have to think about it, obsess over it and work on it to keep the weight off, and continue to take it off.

    I could probably say that I have become obsessed with working out. I prefer passionate because I truly do enjoy it! I never complain about waking up early to go before work. I even sometimes also do more exercise after work if time allows. I LOVE it! I’d almost say this is even more dedication. Although the fact that I feel I need someone to comment on it, or recognize what I am doing is probably obsession!!!! hahahahah! My problem is my eating. I just can’t get it under control.

    Lucky for me, my employer is actually starting a wellness program that is going to cost me $0 and get me 8 sessions with a nutritionist as well as 16 personal training sessions. I’m hoping this is what helps me fix my mindset. I am actually considering dropping WW for a while because I haven’t been going to meetings or tracking, so really they are just taking my $$ every month.

    Anyway, all of this to say, there definitely is a small line between dedication and obsession. I could probably be defined as both by others. Depends on who you are talking to and how well they know me. Its rough though to keep motivated and keep on doing it when all I want is those french fries sometimes.

    Reply
  37. Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning
    July 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm (7 years ago)

    Wow… I got chills reading this post- and the comments from readers!! I feel like I could have written it myself!
    I relate SO MUCH to what you are saying. There are times in life where it has been really easy to be at “100% dedication” to weight loss. And then there’s times like now… where it just seems SO HARD.
    I’ve said the same thing about obsession so many times- it feels like you HAVE to be (at least a little) obsessed with food and eating healthy and calories, etc. just to maintain. I’ve never had a healthy relationship with food- I don’t even know what that means… but I’m still optimistic that I’ll get there one day. And man… to have a “perfect day” is the best feeling ever- such a victory. People who don’t struggle in the way that you and I do just don’t understand that.
    Thanks for your honesty!!

    Reply

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