Sanity vs desperation – dieting to a deadline

Sunday, August 25, 2013 Permalink

I have already mentioned that I’ve felt mentally healthier (and far less angsty) during recent times when I’ve not-dieted. Releasing myself from the SHOULDS and MUSTS is incredibly freeing. The gnawing guilt that envelopes me disappears. Mostly.

However, I’ve also commented recently that I’m feeling the ‘need’ (indeed, more of a desperate need) to lose weight. It isn’t about vanity – for a change. And I don’t think it’s really about self-acceptance or self-hatred. It’s about the fact that I struggle in Zumba with my fitness and my weight on my ankles and shins. When I walk I get shin splints and my back aches. In yoga I can’t do certain poses because my bloody stomach is there… in the way. Naturally when struck by this realisation I panic.

I’ve already shared my thinking. I was going to go on protein shakes. Skip carbohydrates altogether or at least at night. I even considered lapbanding.

And just as naturally, when struck by these thoughts old habits kicked in and I started bingeing. A lot. People on Facebook and Twitter have seen the evidence. Brownies (AGAIN!), fudge, chocolate, corn chips. I haven’t even wanted this stuff a lot of the time but had it anyway – cos soon I was ‘not going to be allowed to have it as I was about to start dieting’. #viciouscircle

I’ve struggled with the ‘how to not-diet but still lose weight’ question for a long time. I expect that ultimately – IF I stop forcing myself to not eat certain things and listen to my body, giving myself the freedom to satisfy its cravings and needs, it will eventually ‘win’ over my mind and I’ll be less inclined to ‘feel’ like bingeing. I do see that there could eventually be a light at the end of the very long disordered-eating tunnel.

However, I know this will take time and – recently – I’ve felt that sense of urgency. I’ve had a deadline you see.

I’m going to a blogging conference/training event in about three weeks and stressing that I’ve gained weight since I last attended the same event. I do realise that bloggers I know and love (and like) won’t really care. And as for everyone else… I’m small fry in the world of Oz blogging so no one will be looking at me. And, it’s not a health and fitness event, so in that regard it’s just the vanity and self-consciousness issue (not to mention the fact that NOTHING fits me!).

However, I am doing a pop-up event after the conference for health and lifestyle bloggers and I am somewhat concerned that I’ll feel out-of-place: a fatty-boom-bah amidst a sea of svelte gorgeous creatures.

I’ve stressed off and on about this over the past month or more – constantly calculating how much weight I could possibly lose between now and then. (10kg when I had 4-5 weeks; probably 7kg now with 3 weeks, but by next week it’ll be 5kg and – quite frankly – I won’t look any different in a fortnight anyway!) Plus I always cringe when I hear of people dieting to a deadline (school reunions, weddings and the like!).

And then, a couple of weeks ago while lying in bed, I was struck by the realisation that this conference would simply come and go and there was NOTHING I COULD DO about it.

I reminded myself that there’s no finish line in terms of my weight loss or my ‘life’ (well, I know there is… but you know what I mean!). Slowly moving towards my goal weight would be an achievement in itself I realised. NOT obsessing constantly about dieting, bingeing or exercising would ease my stress and free my mind for more positive pastimes (akin to the minds of ‘normal’ people! 😉 ).

So, I realised that IF I can forget about the conference and my concerns about how I will be perceived, then I can potentially forget about the binge dieting, and with that, the binge eating.

Voila! Crisis averted. Problem solved.

So I thought.

I felt such a sense of comfort and relief when I sat down to write about my thoughts the next day. But then… as I started writing my mindset changed again. Completely. For once the light of day didn’t make things better. For once my witching hour thoughts were more measured and evolved. The post got shelved as I again calculated how much weight I could drop before mid September.

And now… I’m resurrecting the post because it’s on my mind.

Any ideas?


  • Liz@LastChanceTraining
    August 25, 2013

    What about rather than focusing on the weight, focus on dropping the things in your current lifestyle that are causing you the most distress? Take the focus off food by having three meals a day and make a commitment not to binge or do anything destructive. Bingeing is akin to jumping off a tall building – no matter what, you’ll get hurt, it will possibly kill you down the track and cause you untold pain (in your thoughts and musings above). Don’t worry about the weight. I suspect that will start to take care of itself. I won’t be letting you eat brownies for breakfast in a few weeks time, but might take you out for a walk to greet the sunrise instead 🙂


    • Lou
      August 26, 2013

      Liz sounds like a wise woman. I think shifting your focus would be a great thing for you to do at this stage. Regarding the conference, no one will even notice I assure you. Bloggers are self absorbed people who rarely take their eyes off themselves. You are going to shine!

      • Debbish
        August 26, 2013

        Yes…. the sane part of me realises that people have better things to think about than whether I have gained weight, or if I wear old crappy clothing etc. I still remember talking to my old school friends about my weight losses and gains years ago (many of whom I saw just a couple of times a year) and I still recall one saying that they really didn’t notice the weight any more. Or that they would notice but it was only a passing thought before moving on to other stuff. I realised that they knew and liked ‘me’. How I looked – to them – was irrelevant!

    • Debbish
      August 26, 2013

      I like the idea of taking the focus off food. As I’ve said in the post, I’m tired of constantly being obsessed with food and what I should and shouldn’t eat. I actually haven’t done the brownie thing since my late-night ‘a-ha’ moment – that there was no urgency and I could get on with my life, making small changes etc. Am going to identify some stuff that needs to change (vanilla diet coke might need to stay off that list for a little while though!) 😉

  • Thehungryma
    August 25, 2013

    Deb, I could never diet to a deadline. It takes so much mental energy to limit myself on the foods I love I could never do it for just one event. It never works. I heard someone say something on a public tv show about the quality of your life which stuck for me, “we spend so much time lamenting the past and worrying about the future, and we have to stop doing it because have you ever noticed that all we have is right now and we’re always fine right now?” (It really blew my mind because he’s right.) I think you are in a very frustrating place right now. Stuck a bit. I know you are going to find the strength to make the changes you want on your own terms. You’ll get there.

    • Debbish
      August 26, 2013

      Thanks for that. I actually had links saved somewhere to a really interesting article about dieting and weight loss, that basically said something similar – about not putting stuff on hold or being ‘stuck’ in that “After I lose weight my life will begin” mindset. It was about loving the life you have now. (Must see if I can find it as a lot of the article resonated and I’d planned to ponder on it and write about it!)

  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    August 26, 2013

    I recently went through a bit of the same sort of panic because, due to some hormonal shifts, I became hungrier than “normal,” I gained a bit of weight, and my mind “went there”…I became desperate and depressed and felt pathetic and hopeless. The good news is that even in the midst of it I knew it was temporary and I knew it wasn’t “true” even though it felt very real. Fact is, our worth and value is not tied to our bodies, no matter how much we might want to believe it is…or how much we believe others think it is. The torment we put ourselves through never, ever helps. What would it be like to take all that mental and emotional energy and focus it on something non food/weight related? Focus it on what brings you joy…and if you don’t know what that is, focus the energy on figuring it out.

    • Debbish
      August 26, 2013

      I think that was my late-night ‘a-ha’ moment – the insanity of panicking and wanting to lose weight quickly to avoid being perceived negatively or judged by others at a conference! Once I took that out of the equation I felt less desperate and less inclined to feel like I needed to do something rash (resulting in the bingeing behaviour!).

  • Julia
    August 26, 2013

    Do you read the blog “My Bizzy Kitchen?” Biz has been writing for a long time, and then she realized instead of talking about dieting, she’d just do it. And now she’s lost over 10 pounds, is shaping up and feeling good. Nothing all that crazy changed; just, instead of writing about dieting and exercise, she started doing it. Biz eats delicious foods that would make anyone envious – nothing about it is diet. She just changed a couple of things here and there and started working out consistently. She is very inspiring because she is normal, diabetic and loves food. She wrote a post recently about realizing she had to stop writing about dieting and exercise and just start doing it.

    • Debbish
      August 26, 2013

      Will check it out. Thanks Julia!

  • Kek
    August 30, 2013

    You know what? When I see an overweight person participating in a role related to health and/or fitness, I don’t think “Oh, what’s fatty-boombah doing here?” What I think is that she is obviously someone who is making efforts to be healthier (which is a good thing in itself, of course) AND that she’s awesome for standing up there and not allowing her size to prevent her from getting involved in something she must feel passionate about.

    I bet there are other overweight people who feel too intimidated to join in things where they feel others might think they don’t belong. You may well be a role model for those people…. 🙂

    • Debbish
      September 1, 2013

      Thanks for the other perspective Kerryn. I often see bigger people doing things and envy their confidence / sense of self. I also appreciate that they’re not apologising for who they are/how they look!

  • slimming botanical pills
    September 2, 2013

    Not 50 kilos or a lot more, but I’ve only been making an attempt since the beginning of your year, and i have misplaced about 15 lbs. PCOS makes it tough- I try to remember that %anchor% will just be harder for me than it is actually for most people today on MFP, and ANY progress is one thing for being proud of, non-scale victories and all!

  • Audrey
    September 5, 2013

    Studies prove that the more we diet and restrict what we eat – the more we overeat. Recognising this is a huge step forward. Come and join our community, we support each other to stop dieting and have a healthy, balanced relationship0 with food and your body!

    • Debbish
      September 6, 2013

      Hi Audrey… Yes, I definitely know that dieting doesn’t help in my case. Will check out your site!


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