This morning I was thinking about how weight loss is like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis. It is a path between the oblivion of addiction and the restriction of an eating disorder. It struck me, browsing eating disorders, how often the caveat “aside from normal dieting behavior” comes up. I don’t think dieting behavior is normal, but we cut huge exceptions due to a serious problem in our culture. Of course, in abnormal psychology class we’re trying to learn that cultures deserve some leeway how they influence definitions of normal and abnormal. The need to lose weight is an artifact of our culture’s material wealth, to the extent it is killing a lot of us prematurely.
I think it’s possible for the navigation between monsters to become a third path, or a balance between extremes. I think it’s likelier, however, that ongoing attendance to health involves a migration to a more robust mental health. Last night we learned that no mental disorder can be declared “cured”, it’s all recovery and maybe remission.
So here I return to the predictors of relapse/regain from the NWCR, depressive symptomology and disinhibited eating. I really believe the “trick” to maintenance is learning other ways to preserve our sanity besides overeating/reliance on comfort foods. In the realm of disinhibited eating, my own big problem is special events and to some extent vacations. To wit, I don’t overeat when I’m sad, but it seems I have more trouble when I’m happy. I think another problem I have there is mirror circuitry, the brain’s tendency to do what it sees others doing.
And maybe I just make an exception to my “no makeups” rule (which I have in place to avoid binge cycling) After all, I can follow a plus lunch with a minus snack, I have plus dinners after fasting for 2 meals. Phew. Thinking this much about food is hard on me. That’s why I prefer, ovewhelmingly, to stick to my “decent and normal” meal pattern. 500 cal breakfast (usually in 2 stages). 500 calorie lunch. 400 calorie snack. 600 calorie dinner.
Anyway, what do we do instead of keep doing what we did? I am looking for the map toward normalcy. Last night I learned that while much of humanism morphed into the self-help arena, positive psychology is a legitimate area of research. It involves:
- Happiness as an active pursuit
- Connections and care for others
- Meaningful work
- The good life can be taught
This is a digested list from Christopher Peterson’s blog: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/200805/what-is-positive-psychology-and-what-is-it-not
Something I do wonder is whether the happy person knows what it is that makes them happy. I believe I can wonder this about myself (insofar as my depression has been in remission for a decade). For several years I had hoped to show people the way, but people tend to react poorly to any such effort on my part. I do wonder if I can at least say it’s possible, and people should keep looking for their own way.
NB: I edited “bulimic” to say “binge” since to most people, that implies emesis while research shows that over exercising and caloric compensation are also symptomatic of bulimia.