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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.
What the addage “eat less, move more” fails to address is why we were eating more and moving less in the first place. What more is there to say?
I think there could be a couple of reasons people eat more. As an emotional eater, I relied on eating as a way of switching gears from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic. Put another way, it helped me stop experiencing anxiety and feel calm instead.
As I’ve lost weight and maintained that weight loss (coming up on 21 of a 24 month goal) I realize how important understanding and managing stress has been for me. I’d argue this is half the battle, or half of half the battle at least. If emotional eaters tend to start eating for non-physical reasons, there is evidence that there is another eating style that has trouble knowing when to stop. This could be more what binge eating is about. They say everyone overeats sometime, but in binge eating it becomes routine.
I’d write about fitness and motivation, but I don’t have time. 😉
“As I regularly say weight management and healthy eating – they’re about living the healthiest lives you can enjoy, not the healthiest lives you can tolerate. The former’s a liveable lifestyle, the latter’s just another short-term diet.” -Yoni Freedhoff
I was reminded of Freedhoff’s blog when I saw a link surfing Arya Sharma’s blog. He looks beyond lifestyle change to the effects of stress on calories in and out.
Awesome stuff. Unfortunately, I have places to go… and classes to read for!
I found an interesting gem searching through old posts on a forum I’ve frequented over the last 10 years:
“I was moving some 50 lb. bags over the weekend and considering what it would be like if I were not roughly that amount overweight. Or even 25 lbs. I don’t know if wearing the patent leather heels would be the first thing I’d do.”
While it’s fun to see that and wish I could tell my past self that future self did just that (minus the heels) there are two people I see when I look in the mirror. Part of me thinks I am still too lumpy. Part of me thinks I look fruitful, like Eve from the Sistine Chapel.
Why am I unhappy about being fruitful? This is something I haven’t thought about in a long time. Does our society bind women into hating their unique power? In 12 step terms, it falls outside those things I can change, so I haven’t worried about it. But it seems I can still feel it. Is it just the fundamental issue of that which is not male, and therefore nonstandard?
I’m not really sure how to draw this to a conclusion. I suppose there’s that risk of being misunderstood with my effort to maintain a normal BMI. I guess it doesn’t help my being female to propogate resentment toward males (and all the other categories of normal). I guess that’s where accepting what I cannot change arrived. Maybe it’s true that it’s unfair. But stewing about the unfairness of it mostly injures myself.
I had some crazy eating around my birthday, granted my definition of crazy is pretty different from what it used to be. I mean, I ate at a restaurant and boxed half my entree, then had a piece of baklava for dessert the night before my birthday, because on my birthday I had a midterm. When I got home I had 250 extra calories. I guess what made it so crazy was letting it spread across more than one day like that.
But we keep moving forward. It’s been a long time since I’ve done much deliberate cardio. I have been keeping up circuit training 4 days a week for about a month now, which I’ll pat myself on the back for. And this week I’m riding the exercycle while studying, which is quite good.
Mentally and emotionally, well, mostly just keeping it together as I came through mid terms. Now that they’re over, I hardly know what to do with myself. Even working out feels self-indulgent. I do have some paperwork type stuff I need to apply myself to. Bleh.
That’s the theme song of the Civil War documentary which I’ve been watching this week. As I watch it, I am struck by the problem the generals faced suiting their tactics to the realities they were facing. Bayonet warfare against rifles. The birth of trenches. Sherman’s total war, which got him cashiered at the start of things, which would have ended things much sooner. Though if things had ended sooner, slavery would not have been abolished.
What also strikes me is the confusion over what they were fighting over… union or emancipation? If we look at maintenance as a conflict, are we seeking vanity or health? Youthfulness or life? Do we wait, as Mclellan did, for the fight we know we can win? Do we love our troops too much to risk them, or do we love that for which they fight? Do we love freedom? Freedom from blindness, freedom from heart disease, freedom from cancer? Maybe it’s focusing too much on the negative. I’ll take that chance.