Comparative Obsession

For many years, I pretty much refused to step on a scale.  What did I weigh at my heaviest?  Who knows?  The highest number I ever saw register on a scale was 352 pounds.  Over the past few years, I’ve thought a lot about my weight.  Sometimes, I have been accused (or pointed the finger at myself) of being obsessed with the scale, my weight, or some other aspect of weight loss. Of allowing my mood to be dictated by my progress or lack of progress. Of always talking about my “weight loss journey”.

Last night, I started thinking about this.  And a thought came into my head that feels right and true – and not only because it lets me off the hook (though that’s a nice side benefit!).

Every day, every minute, of my 352 pound life I was obsessed with my weight.

The thoughts that consumed me were all about this one factor of my life – what I could do/could not do/was too embarrassed to do; what I would eat/would not eat/would never let someone see me eat; what people thought about me/didn’t think about me…there’s an endless list of weight-related items, and I haven’t even gotten to the self-loathing thoughts, the cruel comments of others, the invisibility I had in public as the “elephant” in the room and how those things impacted my obsessive thinking.

Today, I thought about my weight at the following times:  when I got up and stepped on the scale; when I went to the gym and worked with my trainer; at each meal; when I declined the offer of dinner out at a Mexican restaurant because I can’t control myself around the free chips baskets.  And now, as I sit writing the post I will publish on my blog in the morning.

What was happening in between those moments of focus on my weight?  I walked to work just as the sun broke through clouds and I rejoiced to feel light and warmth on my face.  I laughed. I interacted with friends and colleagues. I took the stairs without thinking about it because that’s what I do now: I take the stairs!  In other words, I went happily about my day.

There are whole chunks of time in which I am busy thinking about something other than what I weigh and the complicated mental and emotional underpinnings of being fat and ashamed.  Where I am now, even with the continued focus on losing weight (and the frustration I’m feeling about this last stubborn 60 pounds), is pretty good – and by comparison to my old life, not obsessive at all!

That said, I’m not where I want to be yet.  To get there will require focus and determined effort.  There will be times when it seems, both to myself and to others, that there is only one thing in my life that I care about.  Friends may tire of listening to me talk about it, I may tire of listening to myself talk about it. But this obsession leads to a healthier, happier life, full of opportunities and promise. Seems like a comparatively small price to pay.