Weight Loss Addiction

I wake up in the morning, use the restroom, and then slip out of my pajamas while analyzing every inch of my body in the mirror.

Do I look bloated today? Is my stomach sticking out further than yesterday? When’s the last time I had a bowel movement? (You’re welcome for that TMI.)

I step on the scale while holding my breath. I analyze everything I’ve eaten in the last 24 hours. Did some choice I made yesterday mean the scale will be higher today? The what-ifs start: What if I’d just foregone ONE snack, eaten 100 calories less, if I’d JUST skipped the chocolate…

The number comes up. It’s a loss!

I feel an immediate rush of pleasure: yes, yes, yes! I did it! It feels so good!

Do you know that feeling?

How long does it last for you?

It used to last me a while — a week, days, at least that one whole day. A 0.2 or half-pound loss would still give me a little dopamine spike for a bit.

Now, it lasts mere seconds, and only if I drop down to at least the next pound lower. I can maybe drag it out by posting about it somewhere, writing it down, recording it. But never for more than a few extra seconds.

Then, I am craving the next hit. I am thinking about the day to come. I am making food plans, figuring out how best to avoid food situations, re-analyzing yesterday’s choices for what I could’ve done better to get a bigger loss… a bigger hit.

It’s an addiction. And, I don’t know when it became this.

The truth of the matter is, I’m pretty OK with the way my body looks right now. I’m 134 pounds, 5’6”, I lift weights, so I have some muscle definition — yes, I have loose skin, but I’m healthy. I’m average. (That’s frightening in and of itself, but that’s another post for another day.) So, if I’m OK with my body, why do I want to keep losing weight?

This is not something I was ever warned about when I began my weight loss journey. And, maybe it’s not an issue for everyone, but it makes sense that it is for me. I used to use food to get that dopamine rush. Nothing made me feel as (temporarily) “good” (or, at least numb) as a binge. And, over time, I had to eat more and more to get those feelings, which also lasted less time. I wish I had considered that the same might be true for weight loss.

I don’t know how to end this blog because, right now, I’m stuck in this addiction. I can only say, if I did it all again, I would focus more on nurturing the other things in my life so that my world didn’t shrink around any one thing: food, weight loss, exercise, a person… anything can be addictive. And, since I think I’m probably hardwired to be prone to obsession, I would and will focus more on being flexible in any area of my life where I begin to become rigid.

I know I needed to lose weight at one point in my life, but I wish I’d had a better picture of the long game.

18 thoughts on “Weight Loss Addiction

  1. This all resonates with me so much! I spent much of my adult life obese and then 9 years ago I started WW (for the umpteenth time) and that time, for whatever reason, it stuck. I actually got to my goal and then kept losing. I am 5’7″ and somewhat muscular so my doctor says I should be between 140 and 150. I got down to 129 before it became simply unsustainable. Then I went back up and into the 140s (all this took a few years) and then a few years ago got as high as 163. I did Noom and got back down to 143 (when my goal should realistically be 148-150, simply based on my body type and ability to maintain). The last year has not been kind to me and I am back up (not quite at 163 but too close for comfort). I, too, find myself obsessing over the scale, how my body looks, etc. I am a runner and have gotten slower – so I obsess whether that is because I am so out of shape due to my weight (yes – you can 6-8 miles at a bit over a 10 minute pace and be out of shape). I totally relate to the addiction – either food is helping me cope (numbing) or “dieting” is helping me feel in control and good about myself. There does not seem to be any happy medium.

    I am currently trying to figure out what will actually work for me to be healthy, fit, and most of all, accepting of myself without having an addiction get in the way. I am going to try Noom again; I like it because it makes me examine the “whys” and does not focus so much on how much I am eating. But I do have to be careful so we’ll see how it goes. I am also going to try meditation to see if that helps with my state of mind and acceptance.

    I guess I’m trying to say that I believe there are an awful lot of us out here like this and reading your blog is so helpful – I feel so much less alone. I will let you know if meditation helps me at all; in the meantime, know that I am out here rooting for you. Hang in there!

    • Thank you for reading and responding. It is a really tough balance to find… I see a lot of numbers in your post. I’ve learned that THAT is one of the primary parts of my addiction/fixation: I get super obsessive about numbers — controlling them, tracking them, changing them, keeping them exact. It is literally impossible for me to both heal/be mentally healthy and track numbers (at least any more than just a very occasional step on the scale). That’s a really tough pill for me to swallow… very scary.

  2. I also get super obsessive. The thing that concerns me about Noom is the daily weigh in. Not sure I will be able to do that. We will see. Right now I’m working towards acceptance of myself (regardless of my size) and being more at peace in general.

  3. The greatest act of self love and compassion I have made was throwing away the scale.
    It was not a number for me, like it isn’t a number for you.
    Consider it. It was powerful.

    Anne

  4. I have lost 45 lbs since July 4, 2020. I was finally able to stop drinking, a big victory for me. That was a huge 40 year addiction that I used to manage my emotions and numb out. For the weight loss, I use StaFit to keep track. I know what you mean, I am 3 lbs within my goal of 145, 5’5.5″, 69 years old. I’m so close so now I am realizing I will need to change my habits once I’m at goal. When I weigh myself I step on the scales lightly. If I’m up a bit I think it’s due to fluid gain. Or not pooping (LOL TMI). I used to keep my weight in check via lack of appetite, chronic grief due to consecutive relationships with unavailable men (a symptom of early attachment grief that I’m finally aware of and taking measures to heal from). At my current goal I will be 20 lbs heavier than I was when I was in my 20s. In my 40s I got down to 138 (grief again and a divorce) and my friends told me I looked too gaunt. With my age 145 is a good number, since it’s good to have a little weight on reserve. I’m between size 10-12 jeans and I need to fit size 10. 12s are a bit too loose at the waist. And I also have baggy skin, especially upper arms. Once Covid 19 is over I can work out again but the skin will not shrink back. Oh well.

    I’m doing a nearly vegan diet now (will eat eggs from local sources with chickens treated well). I find that I can obsess about that too, because legumes have carbs as well as protein. I measure everything to make sure I get enough protein, vitamins and minerals but am not eating a bit over what is needed to meet that goal. I used to binge out with high fat, fried, sugary foods. And the wine really gave me an appetite too. So I do obsess about so many things. Like, am I doing enough or being lazy (cleaning my house, volunteer work, etc.) No I’m not a pristine housekeeper, I enjoy plenty of things since I’m retired, but I do fight the guilt that sets in daily. I generally experience daily anxiety and depression, take medication for it, also yoga. So it’s daily finding my emotional and mental balance. I know I’m not alone in this challenge.

    We can quit stuff that we obsess over but we can’t quit food. Though my obsessions are different than yours, I also feel solar plexus angst. I realize that I will have to deal with this daily. I used to think there was something wrong with me, I wasn’t enough, I was flawed, etc. etc. etc. It was so not true and I regret the years I wasted in that circular trap. I daily spend time slowing my mind down and telling myself that I am enough and I am worthy. I realize no one else can validate me but me, not friends, family or men. I know you’ve got this, you’ve been through such a journey already and I know you will continue. I finally have realized there are no failures, just human beings who wrestle with life lessons.

  5. Stay motivated! All too many of us can tell you, we have been there. For me, when I am lacking motivation, I go and look at what people who motivate me are doing, watch their YouTube videos, if it’s a college I ask them what they are up to, etc.
    Sending you all the positivity in the world to meet your goals!

  6. I’m so grateful for your openess and rawness. It brings me to tears as I battle my own voices in my head and my own negative thoughts. I am the opposite of you in that in times of stress and feeling of out of control I will eat excessive amounts to the point of being sick. And I see the scale and think ok. Now I’m big enough that no one will want me and I can continue to hide.
    I’ve had to re-read a book called “skinny” by Donna cooner. The conversations she has with “skinmy” are enough to keep me fighting the fight of how I speak to myself and how I see the mirror. I’ve been praying for you and your battle and hope that today was a better day than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow. Thank you again. I look forward to reading your posts positive or negative.

    • Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I will have to check out that book – it sounds right up my alley. Thank you also for the prayers; I’m doing better by the day & hope you are as well. I’ll send some prayers your way too.

  7. Notable adverse childhood experiences—including immense daily schoolyard stressors like chronic bullying—suffered by adolescents can readily lead to a substance use disorder. This, of course, can also lead to an adulthood of debilitating self-medicating.

    The greater the drug-induced euphoria or escape one attains from its use, the more one wants to repeat the experience; and the more intolerable one finds their sober reality, the more pleasurable that escape should be perceived. By extension, the greater one’s mental pain or trauma while sober, the greater the need for escape from reality, thus the more addictive the euphoric escape-form will likely be.

    If the adolescent is also highly sensitive, both the drug-induced euphoria and, conversely, the come-down effect or return to their burdensome reality will be heightened thus making the substance-use more addicting.

    As a child, teenager and adult with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)—a condition with which I greatly struggled yet of which I was not even aware until I was a half-century old—I learned this for myself from my own substance abuse experience. The self-medicating method I utilized during most of my pre-teen years, however, was eating.

  8. I have tried to lose weight and so far I have lost about 12kg but I’m looking to lose at least 5kg more. Hope your addiction stops.

  9. Pingback: I can relate to this blogger: Weight Loss Addiction – My Weight Loss Journey

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