Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't Even Think About It

Have you ever been obsessed? I'm betting a lot of readers are nodding their heads yes. Obsessed with a certain food until you get it, obsessed with a binge. Maybe obsessed with weight loss. Obsession, according to Webster, is "a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling." Persistent being the key, here, IMO. You get thoughts about *wanting* something in particular and it is hard to get those thoughts out of your head.

Well, thoughts don't hurt anything. What's the big deal?

If you have ever had an obsession, you know what the big deal is. Those thoughts do not just go away. They turn into a reality of some sort... an action is born of those thoughts, and it is not always a pleasant result. It may not be exactly what you were obsessing about, because you try to moderate those thoughts with reason. But it usually isn't pretty.

A man obsessed with ice cream because he saw a commercial, or he heard someone mention it, or some other thing triggered this intense preoccupation with ice cream, might *know* eating ice cream is not fitting with his weight loss goals. He might try to distract himself. He goes into the kitchen and eats a big salad. Then he eats some crackers. Then a container of yogurt. Then some sugar free Popsicles. He might consume 500 calories trying to avoid the ice cream, and in the end he might *still* go get the ice cream he is obsessed with. His thoughts have become a reality of 500+ extra calories in his body.

A woman obsessed with sex might go out and behave in a manner that is contrary to her own morals. She might have sex with someone she just met, or someone who is married. She might sleep with several people. She might wake up in the morning feeling horrible about herself, and worse yet, she might contract an STD, destroy a marriage, or become pregnant as a result of her actions. Her thoughts gave birth to destructive actions with dire consequences.

A person obsessed with getting high might drive around a dark city at night, looking for a dealer, trying to find some drugs. They might leave their children home alone, leave their spouse wondering what has become of them. They may be late to work the next day and be unable to fulfil their job duties. Their thoughts about wanting to escape reality have, in fact, changed their reality... but not for the better.

So, I think the key here is to not even begin to think about things that are going to get you in trouble. Yes, I know obsessions and compulsions can be very hard to control, but with practice it gets easier. (If it doesn't, you may need medication for that). But most of us, I think, if we are aware, can stop our thoughts in the beginning and replace them with thoughts that will lead to more productive actions.

If it takes not watching TV to stop being triggered by food commercials, so be it. If it means you need to take up a new hobby or a sport or immerse yourself in some other distraction, fine. If you have to become obsessed with rollerblading or playing basketball or reaching some goal you have in mind for yourself, go for it. That kind of obsession is probably going to take you down a better path than the other kind of obsession. After all, Webster's second definition of obsession is "a compelling motivation." One can be compelled to change their lives for the better, too.

Moderation in thoughts *and* actions is best, of course, but we gotta work with what we have. We have to train our minds to be moderate. We have to practice being what we want to become.

You become what you dwell upon, one way or another. You have to let go of the binge thinking to become something other than a binge eater. Addiction is like that. It's an intense hanging-on to things that could destroy us. And to break that, we have to let go. For me, working backwards up the chain of thoughts has led me to the very beginning, to the mantra "don't even think about it." If it is not going to benefit you, let it go. Put your mind to something better.


Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

I think I'm pretty obsessive about this weight-loss and healthy living business. Sometimes I think it's gotta be all or nothing with me. When I'm working out regularly, I eat sensibly and in moderation. When I let myself go, I seem to let myself retreat on every front.

As I wind down the losing part of my current journey, I find myself facing the new challenge of maintaining my focus when I don't have a big challenge in front of me.

Excellent post.

Andra said...

Great post! I watch much less TV since taking up working out but there are a few shows that I love. I find the DVR is the best tool for catching my shows and not having to endure food commercials. It's like not thinking cake and not eating it, too. :)

Diana said...

"We have to practice being what we want to become."

So so true. :)
Very interesting post.

Holly L. said...

Yes yes yes... I was reading a CNN article on ways to stick with weight loss it suggested turning your thoughts to something you want more when you're stuck on food. I've been practicing this. On my way home yesterday, I got sidetracked thinking about a pastry I often stopped to pick up on my way home. Instead I imagined that slender waist line I've been setting my sights on. I thought about getting off the treadmill and feeling like an athlete instead of the girl fighting to get control...

DownsizingDoc said...

Excellent post. I agree with Jack - I tend to be an "all or nothing" person. Finding balance is the key.

Most have probably heard the story of the two wolves that live inside each of us. One is peaceful, honest, healthy and balanced. The other is angry, hateful and obsessed. The one that wins is the one you "feed" Pun intended.

Friend of the Bear said...

Hi Lyn. I wrote in my last post how when I'm losing weight I've just replaced my compulsion to eat chocolate and cakes with the compulsion to eat vegetables in quantity. I will be obsessive-compulsive around food for the rest of my days, so for me the only option is to try for the healthier obsession/ compulsion. Not the ideal solution, but just the best available possibility for me.

Best wishes,
Bearfriend xx

Feed Me I'm Cranky said...

Lyn -- your posts are always so compelling and through provoking! thank you for this!

kelly said...

Excellent as usual!

Soula said...

Great post!

For me it's all about distraction. I have to do a 180 when I start thinking about a Snickers bar (sigh- my latest obsession) and instead think about decluttering the spare bedroom (something I love doing).

Just found your blog- it's super! I'm about to embark on my own journey soon so I'll be back :)

moonduster said...

For a while on my weight loss journey, I found myself getting obsessive about my eating and my exercise. I had to take control again and get myself to go back to moderation in ALL THINGS.

Greta said...

I'm with Jack. And..likely many others. I need to have an obsession of some kind, I guess...and for now (and hopefully forever) it is fitness and weight loss.

I am finding that the part of my brain which obsesses on the non-good things (like...say..bingeing on bad food) does MUCH better when it is well fed. For me...that means enough protein and healthy fat. Those seem to turn off the binge response for me. Sudafed does, too...but.....I can't go around taking that every day or else the police might come to my door and wonder if I have a meth lab in my guest bathroom!

Vigorous exercise also turns off my binge response. There must be a serotonin connection or something...that adequate protein and exercise does something to my brain that stops the cravings. Not sure.

There is a great book called "The Diet Cure" which goes into great detail about the chemical process that happens with cravings. I should go find it on my shelf and re-read that section. The lady who wrote it also has have a tremendous amount of success with drug addicts, using the same principles. Hm.

Erin said...

Hi Lyn, What a great post. I really look forward to reading your blog daily. Thank you again

Tammy said...

Fantastic post. I totally suck at the whole moderation Jack, I'm all or nothing....not just with food, in every area. If I read a book, I do nothing else until it's finished. If I start a mosaic, I don't get up until it's done (the last one took me 11 hours). It's crazy, I tell ya'. Here's a quote I like:

"You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be." -David Viscott

It kind of goes along with your post. :)

*fitcetera* said...

I'm finding myself obsessed with getting to 199.
I'm obsessed with doing my treadmill, eating well and taking my goofy pics. It's got my complete focus right now.

and I also agree with Jack. when one thing all seems to.
i think you've done the same thing as well in the past.

i hope you're well, Lyn.

Donna Moore said...

I love your blog! This post is so true. I find myself focusing on ice cream or donuts much of the time. Lord knows I don't need them.

Thanks for being inspirational.