Monday, August 12, 2013

Obsession, vigilance, and quality of life...

On the weight loss site that I am on, there is a discussion going on about obsession versus vigilance when it comes to those of us that have lost a lot of weight.  The question is where does one draw the line between being "obsessed" with activities related to maintaining our weight and not regaining and where is it simple vigilance?

Many times I - as well as others on the site - have heard from acquaintences, friends and even family members that we are "obsessed" with eating right and/or exercising.  What does that mean?  Personally, I believe that obesity is a disease.  It is a disease for me that I have not "cured" but rather I'm in remission from it right now.  I have not yet met anyone who was truly obese who lost the weight and now doesn't have to take measures that "normal" people don't have to to maintain the weight loss.  Maybe they are out there, but I haven't met them yet.

So I guess I compare this to the diabetic who has to check his or her sugar and check labels for sugar content.  Or how about the person with Celiac Disease?  Are they "obsessed" when they check to make sure something is gluten free?  I worked with a woman whose daughter had a severe nut allergy.  So before she would bring something home for her she would ask, ask and ask again - "Are you SURE this does not have nuts in it?"  Is that obsessive or vigilant?

I told a story on the site about last summer.  Marc and I were on vacation.  We were in a touristy area and there were ice cream stands all over.  I had literally not had ice cream in over a year - and I LOOOOVVVEEE ice cream.  I began crying - yes actually CRYING - because I wanted some ice cream SO BAD but it was not "allowed".  I did not see it then, but now I can see it for what it is, my friends, obsessive and unhealthy.  If my standards are so rigid that I break down in TEARS over a food?  

On the other side of the coin would be wanting to know which restaurant we are going out to eat so that I can check the menu and calorie counts of some of the dishes.  THAT is being vigilant.  It doesn't cause stress and drama and fear, it is just part of the management of my disease.

The same goes for exercise - I am vigilant about making sure that I exercise daily.  But when I get to the point where I am having severe anxiety or can't adjust my plans?  That is obsessive.  I am slowly getting better about this!

I have to remind myself, sometimes several times a day, that I worked HARD to lose this weight.  I don't ever want to gain it back.  But I also don't want to be so focused on NOT gaining that I lose sight of the whole reason for losing weight in the first place - to have a better life!

What are your thoughts on obsession versus vigilance?


  1. WELL......I had to look them up to see what the experts thought or should I say what the meanings were.
    Vigilance:attention &alertness over prolonged periods.
    Obsessive:Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or unwanted feeling or emotion often accompanied by anxiety.

    I would have to say I am Vigilance over maintence and was pretty obsessive about being overweight and thinking about trying to lose!!!
    I am reading a book right now which has a lot of the dark feelings I use to harbor and also the highs of losing weight. It is called "Diary of a Fat Housewife". It is an interesting read and very insightful on being overweight.{although somewhat depressing also very funny}

  2. First of all, kudos on the Stephen King reference!! He's my favorite author. Second, I would have to say that I totally agree with you about vigilance vs. obsession. In the past, when I tried to "diet" I would become obsessed. I would eliminate foods from my diet and severely restrict my calories. I would obsess about working out and would become very upset/agitated when I had to change my schedule. Of course that never worked long-term and I always regained the weight. I could not sustain my obsession. I decided last year to stop that craziness and to take control of my health. I've made changes to the way I eat and live that I can sustain. I eat consistently and I do enjoy treats from time to time. I track my calories but only to stay vigilant. If I happen to go over a little bit one day I know I need to compensate for that the next day. I exercise to feel good and healthy, not to vomit or pass out. I've lost 40 lbs and while it has been a slow process, I know that I can continue this course and maintain this loss as I go forward. BTW, congrats on your amazing success and I really love your blog!!

    1. Love my Stephen King, as well! I'm listening to one of his audio books while running right now - definitely helps pass the time!

      Sounds like you are doing it right this time and are being successful! CONGRATS!!! That's the way to do it!

      Glad you enjoy my blog!