What's My Problem?

“I don’t have a weight problem – I have an eating problem.” When I saw this quote, my head started nodding of its own volition.  Yes!  That’s me.

I had actually reached a similar conclusion on my own already, just not found the same simple way to describe it.  After all these many yo-yo years, here is what I finally know about myself – the journey is not about a goal weight.

Yes, there is a number in my head.  But more importantly, my head is filled with the notion that my true goal this time is to conquer my eating.  It doesn’t really matter what the scale says.  (Much.)  What matters is that I finally, once and for all, have control over food instead of food controlling me.  Not only does that make more sense for what I am doing today, but it also makes sense as the way to put an end to the yo-yo.

Some of you may be saying to yourselves, “There goes Karen with semantics again.”  True.  It is all just words.  But I honestly think if you look behind the words there is a very different meaning.  It truly is about the eating, or behaviors, or maybe even the emotions, but not the weight. Think about it.

And then consider this – if this journey for you is also about anything other than a quest for the magic number on the scale, then what is your goal?  Yes, there is a certain number I want to weigh.  But if I stay at the that number despite eating poorly, what have I really accomplished?  The old me would have been very happy to reach a number.  The old me would have been very happy to stay at that number.  But the old me was very unhappy because over time I did not stay there and the new me knows it is not about a number.

And for those of you who are already living the healthy lifestyle, was that always the aim for you?  Or did you start with a different intention that evolved over time?

And as I sit and write this, I realize that hitting the number is easier for me than this other, true objective.  (Not EASY, mind you, just easiER.)  After all, I have done that over and over again.  But through it all, I have never developed a long-term healthy relationship with food.  That’s what I’m shooting for this time.  And I believe that if I have that relationship and control, then the scale will fall into place.

What’s your problem?



Filed under dieting, goals, weight issues

61 responses to “What's My Problem?

  1. Hmmm … This is an interesting post. During my weight loss journey I definitely used the number on the scale as a goal, and I continue to do so. Sometimes i think my relationship with the scale borders on being unhealthy, I weigh myself at least twice a day, sometimes more. But then, I think that I have been 5+ years now without going back over my 75kg goal weight, so it seems to be working. Eating the right things and right quantities, results in the number on the scale for me.

    • Karen

      Seems to me that if it works for you, which it clearly does, then why not? I suspect if the very first time I “dieted” I had reached a number and stayed there, then the number would have worked for me too. But many, many losses and regains later, it surely must be about something else. I can’t wait to be able to say I’ve been at my goal, whatever that is, for 5 years:) Okay, I’ll be pretty happy at 5 MONTHS!

  2. As we both know, my problem is the same as yours. I could be exceptionally discouraged right now, but I’m hanging on to that old saying (this is paraphrased, not a direct quote) something along the lines of “things are darkest just before dawn.” I’m certain I’m about to experience a major breakthrough, but the scary part it, major breakthroughs then require major action. Can you tell I’m scared??

  3. I think that the scale is the easiest way to measure the lifestyle, and how you live and what you eat is a lifestyle. If we had the means to measure our triglycerides or body fat, or some other number that would reflect our health we would. It is just that a scale is universal and easy to use. And as human beings, we want to see some measurement of how we are doing.

    • Karen

      Good point. Along with a tape measure and how our clothes fit, this is a pretty quick barometer. But, it doesn’t help for a serial dieter like me who has hit that number time and time again and never stayed there. I can see going down and going up but not why.

  4. What I am saying here is ‘There goes Karen hitting another homerun post out of the park’…

    My goal weight is 199. It is a number nothing more. It is a point where I believe I will be able to do what i am really seeking to do, and that is to do whatever the heck it is I wanna do physically & mentally and not need a defibulator to do so. Simply I want to live life and not just exist in it. And as an obese being, i’ve just been existing in it. The number is just an easy reference point as to when I should be able to do what I really wanna do. To get there, i am having to confront my real problem; changing my poor eating behaviors and adopting responsible behaviors. Not always easy, and I’ve prepared myself mentally that this will be a life long adjustment. For wehatever reason my natural instinct is to eat it if it is within arms reach. But I want to be in control of my life including my instincts. Call me selfish, I want the best life I can make happen.

    • Karen

      Thanks, Patrick, and I love and what you wrote. I am envisioning your number as almost a talisman – it is not the number but the power that comes when you reach it.

  5. I have a portion problem, if i am left to my own devices i don’t think about how much i am putting on my plate and i won’t leave anything. The only way i can sort it out is by sticking to 1 handful of carbs, 1 of meat and 2 of veg make up a balanced meal!

  6. Since August, I’ve been losing weight pretty consistently, and I actually have not weighed myself since then. It started that the batteries in my scale were dead, and I just kept forgetting to buy new ones to replace them. There are times where I’d like to know how much I weigh now (I was in a size 12. I’m now in a size 6.), but I’m actually a little scared to know, b/c I know if I’m higher than a “number” I have in my head, I would be disappointed- even though for the first time in my life I actually LIKE the way that I look!

    • Karen

      Bravo for you!!! I say stay off that scale; it is obviously working for you. And I know that way too often people let what that scale says impact their feelings of self worth or emotions. Kudos to you for being happy with yourself:)

  7. At the core, my problem is with self-acceptance. Without that, everything else goes to hell pretty quickly. Without self-acceptance, I get low self-esteem. Low self-esteem gives me anxiety. Anxiety gives me the desire to soothe with food. Soothing/stuffing with food gives me obesity.

    Sometimes I have to treat the symptoms of obesity, but mostly I have to treat the underlying causes or I will be right back where I started from. Because this ain’t my first rodeo.

    Great insight, Karen.

    • Karen

      You are so wise! I have asked myself many times this past year, thanks in part to great insight from other bloggers and great comments here, what is at MY core. I have asked if there must be SOMETHING behind all my yo-yo-ing or, could it really be about lifestyle and habit. I don’t have the answer yet.

  8. I say “I’m not dieting, I’m learning not to obsess about food.”

  9. Well written, Karen. I’d even take it one step further to say it’s not so much an eating problem as an underlying inability to cope otherwise with certain emotions. Eating is just the symptom of the lack of healthy coping skill for stress, anxiety, or whatever else ails.

    When we tackle the underlying issues, the food and eating starts to take care of themselves. And that is a wonderful thing!

    • Karen

      I’m still trying to figure out what my underlying issues are! I didn’t used to think I had any, but after the many regains, I certainly have to wonder.

  10. Yes, it is about the food but also how much of it which is probably what you mean because as we all know, many underestimate what they eat, they also let their emotions & others control the food going in the mouth. BUT it is also about being honest with ourselves about what we are & are not eating & understanding what goes in our mouth each day rather than pretending it is something else. I have written plenty about this last week & today…

    To have control over your food, you still have to be accountable & honest & consistent & all the crap. It definitely is a mind game & that MizFit WILLINGNESS to do what it takes to be where you want to be…

    I did start out with a scale number Karen but then I found that with weight training & healthy eating, I could wear a size 4 I weigh 116 pounds or so. I still weigh myself because for me, it is helpful but I also use how the clothes fit….

    • Karen

      I loved that post of Carla’s. I think I have a good understanding of what I put in my mouth and what I need to do to lose weight. What I seemingly don’t understand, however, is why I have some issue with food that keeps me wanting it when I am not even hungry. The math part works for me to lose weight, but then I don’t keep it off. Something else is in the equation for me that I have yet to figure out. Sigh.

  11. Like my dog, I have a behavior problem. Only I don’t pee everywhere, I just want to eat everywhere…

  12. Each time I get rid of one “problem” I find another one lurking in it’s wake. The good news? It’s always a smaller problem than the one before.

    I changed my goal to be more than just a lower number because I realized that I was still beating myself up emotionally when I didn’t lose “enough.” And I started realizing that I was scared that I would never BE enough. It made me re-evaluate what I was doing and why I was doing it.

  13. Very good thoughts today Karen! Always in the past it was a number that I was striving for. This last time though I was looking to improve my health and feel good, as I got close to my healthy weight I had a number in mind but you know what I didn’t get there. I was happy a few pounds from that number and decided to let that be my stopping point. I finally figured out that it would be better to weigh a couple pounds more and be able to maintain it while eating a reasonable amount of food that I could enjoy!

  14. Amen. I love Roxie noting “this ain’t my first rodeo.” Nor my 101st. My goal, as I’ve said many times since starting the blog, is making peace with food and accepting if for what it is. Nourishment. Fuel. Not soothing balm/emotion stuffer/anxiety remedy. Just food.

    • Karen

      So, what intrigues me about your comment is your choice of words. You have a great writing style and I suspect you are as conscious of word choice as I am. So, it gets my attention that you say “making peace with food” when I tend to talk about “controlling” food. Is it just me or is there something to that?

  15. Well, you know how I feel already. It is not about the number directly. It is about taking care of myself. My only problem is that I waited too long. But, wisdom comes with age, right??

    Thank-you Karen for your thoughtful posts on both my blogs.

  16. I don’t even have a number. I said at the beinginnin that I wanted to lose 150 pounds, but I pulled that out of the air based on what I weighed a long time ago. I want to get the eating issues under control and see where that takes me. I don’t want to aim for some unreasonable weight that would take away from the enjoyment of my life in order to attain and maintain.

    I suspect it is easier for someone who is as big as me to be this blase about weight goals. Any weight is going to be better than the weight where I started!! But really, I know people think a size 12 is overweight and I would be THRILLED to be a 12 again!!

  17. I would absolutely agree with your assessment, Karen (I also have a problem with eating, not my weight). I am still trying to figure out why I view food the way I view food, why I make such a big deal out of it, and why I feel I need to overeat. Maybe there are no answers; maybe it’s about just recognizing there’s a problem, and figuring out a way around it.

  18. great post my magic number right now is -50lbs i am 4lbs from it and it’s driving me insane

  19. I’m with Roxy. For me it was ALL about self-acceptance. That had to come first. And for me, NOT weighing myself helped me accept myself faster and more completely. And so at some point the journey (for me) became about finding the sweet spot. I define the sweet spot as a healthy body that I love and accept, without having to count calories, “diet” or otherwise restrict myself.

    And as I loved and accepted myself (and my body) more, the healthier it got (and getting healthier involved seeing a naturopathic physician, which I wouldn’t have considered doing before I was able to accept myself), and the healthier it got, the less I needed to think about or “control” food. And the weigh fell off…although I don’t know how much because I don’t weigh myself.

    So here’s a question for you: what does your sweet spot look like?

    • Karen

      That is such a great question! I like that way of looking at it. And I am not sure I know. Honestly, somewhere along the road I have clearly messed up my thinking about food and weight and I am not sure how or when or why. I don’t think it is self-acceptance for me. I don’t know what it is. I would love to reach the place where you are:)

  20. Amen- it is NOT about the number on the scale! Almost all of the long term weight loss success stories I’ve spoken with say the same thing too – developing that healthy relationship with food is what makes the difference. 🙂

  21. I do not yet have a goal weight, Karen. I know I want to be slimmer, but I’m not sure at this point how slim. I’ve been reasonably comfortable at this -20 pound weight for many weeks. Only recently, when I look in the mirror, am I starting to see a fat person again. Guess it’s time to lose the next 20.

    What’s my problem, you ask? Yesterday, while I was walking, I was thinking about weight goals quite a bit. I came to the somewhat uncomfortable awakening that all the weight loss in the world isn’t going to knock 20 years off my age. I think, secretly and crazily, that that was what I was shooting for. Ain’t gonna happen. So I guess I just want to continue this weight loss/food control journey and see where it takes me. Hopefully down a road to continued good health and a better looking body.

    • Karen

      Age? I have not heard that one before. But, won’t you feel younger if you lose weight? Won’t your body be younger, with less weight on the knees and all that stuff? I know it can’t give true years back, but maybe there is something to be found there.

  22. It’s more than semantics; it’s a shift in thinking. I’ve actually got a post coming up in the next while about this shift. (Yes, another one.:)) Long-term success is about actions (or inaction, depending) and it’s a never-ending project.

  23. I know I want to fit into a six 6 because I still have that size in my closet. I’m not sure what weight I’ll be at to wear a 6 since my fat has shifted and I probably won’t look the same as I did 5 years ago.

    I don’t have a portion problem but I guess I have an eating problem. I don’t eat much but when I do it’s not healthy.

  24. Awesome post, as usual. Semantics? I think not. Words can wound. Words can heal. It’s not what you say (to yourself or others), it’s how you say it. The weight will come. Not saying that I don’t want to lose weight, but I want more than that. Mind, Body, Spirit…I want me back.

    • Karen

      So… I think the piece I am missing is the spirit part. Okay, maybe the mind part too:) Words are interesting. I just responded to a comment above about the different words that person used than I did.

  25. Great post. I’m with you all the way on wanting, finally, to get control of my eating. A few years ago I started having a really bad problem with acid reflux. I went to a doctor who, while examining me, suddenly asked, “have you recently gained weight?” (Gee, what gave it away doc – the fresh stretch mark on my stomach?) I answered yes, and his response was an immediate “Why?” I remember staring up at him, trying to process the question and come up with an answer! I’d never asked myself why before — I just gained weight. That’s what I did. I felt like I had no control over it — it just happened. The truth is, I had no control over my eating, and so, by extension, none over my weight either. Sadly, that little moment didn’t do anything for me, but it’s stuck in my head now…and years later I hope I’m finally getting control over my food addiction/obsession/abuse. That, to me, is a for more precious achievement than reaching a point on a scale. (although, of course, I’d love to get to a certain number — but when I get there, I want to know that I can manage myself and stay there and not have to battle my old food sickness all the time).

  26. I like what Cammy said…a never ending project. Karen, this is just an insightful post…you said it quite well..it really isn’t about the weight or the food ..Karen said self-acceptance…for me, I use to think that but right now a lot of it is self-forgiveness and slowly taking steps to come out of hiding.

    • Karen

      In my mind, you stand apart from most other bloggers I follow who are on this journey as well. In that you seem so introspective. The Jules that comes through to me is all about improving herself, and not about just eating or scales or any of that other stuff. I have always sensed from you that this is a very big picture. And it is something I have admired as I have gotten to know you from your posts.

  27. I’m curious if you’ve ever just let food take a back seat to other things that are important in your life, just declared the food war to be over, finished, banished from conscious concerns? What would happen, I’ve often wondered, if we did that? Could we do it? It certainly has worked for me to banish the scale. Maybe I could banish food thinking as well….

    • Karen

      Oh you are so insightful! Here is the thing, I know I did not always used to be this way. Yes, I have struggled with extra pounds and dieting for a good portion of my life, but I know it was not always such a war, as you so eloquently put it. Somewhere along the line I gave my power away to the food and I don’t know when or why and have not figured out how to get it back! How does one do that banishing thing that you suggest?! Not the scale, I could banish that. But the war and the conscious concerns.

  28. Karen, I’m glad I read this today! I joined OA about 10 1/2 years ago, of course just to lose weight, but it soon became apparent that what I had wasn’t an eating problem, I had a living problem, I just focused on this nonstop dieting and gaining so that I could fill my life with that instead of really living life. After a few weeks in program I realized how debilitating the nonstop voice in my head really was, the constant worries about what I looked like, if I was dieting or bingeing, if there would be enough food at dinner, if I had to sneak something beforehand. I finally became what we call “abstinent” when I realized that the only thing I wanted – more than a thin body – was to have that voice stop. Just to have one perfect day of quiet and serenity. I’ve now had that “one perfect day” over and over again for 10 years and 24 weeks!

    • Karen

      Okay – wow. A living problem. That gets my mind going. I suspect that would be me too. I never thought of it that broadly or that “big” before. But maybe that’s my problem! I don’t know if I have already shared with you that I looked up OA on the internet last year. Read their survey and said, yep, sounds a lot like me. But that whole higher power thing, not me. For me, I think food is too big a focus. What to eat, what not to eat, when it is okay to next eat, why did I overeat…. so I think I am also hearing a voice but it is saying something different than yours did. Very thought provoking comment, Linda.

  29. Miz

    you know I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT agree, too.

    and love your for your quotes. together we are a duo huh?
    Im acronym mcgee & you can be the quote queen.


  30. Personally, I have a weight AND eating problem. I have to stay real with myself or I will easily fall into denial. It’s something I will likely never get over.

  31. I TOTALLY agree with you. Again. LOL The NUMBER was way too important last time. When used as a gauge of whether what we are doing is working or not, the number counts. When it affects our mental outlook …. not so much. Good reflection, my friend!

  32. As you may know Boy can I RELATE! And you are sooo right. I DO have an eating problem NOT a weight problem. Love this!!! I will do so “good” all day then stuff my face at night with chocolate or rolls or cheese or something I’ve been “denying” myself all day. *sigh*. Soooo frustrating!

    But I am working on it and I refuse to give up!! I am here with you!

  33. Just call me the skeptic, but a diagnosis does not equal a treatment success. In my opinion, until one establishes habits, the old habits will rule.

    Davis Kessler’s “The End of Overeating,” is the blueprint for cause and treatment.

  34. The big numbers that did matter to me where cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Weight numbers matter to an extent beause I know 198 is not a good weight to be at my height. BUT if I end up around the 140s and decide I’m happy- I’m not going to worry about being in the 130s if I am looking and feeling good 🙂

    • Karen

      I think that is a great attitude, Bee. It really is about feeling good, whatever that means to each of us, and, I think it has to be something we can sustain.

  35. sunnydaze

    I totally agree with you on all accounts. Healthy life stle first and the scale # will fall into place. I have a number in my head but I just want to get to a point where I feel and look good and I’ll be more than satisfied than seeing “x” on the scale.

  36. This is so true. It getting control over the food you are eating. Choosing the right kinds of food instead of choosing the wrong ones = getting control.
    By the way, I’m a new reader of your blog 🙂

  37. Totally. The weight is just a symptom of the real problem–the overeating. And my problem is the same. I have not been able to stay in control of what I eat, despite my goals. I’m a mess! 😉

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