Help! Falling down the rabbit hole!

Yikes, it's happening again. One hundred days in and the relaxed, easy-going approach that I started with is already being undermined by obsessive behaviours.

I started off determined not to worry about exercise; now I'm walking two+ hours a day, doing an hour's stretching exercises to improve my sciatica, feeling guilty if I don't get out and do a couple of hours of heavy gardening every day. I know for the gym-bunnies out there this is pretty tame stuff, but for me it's like going from 0 to 60mph on the exercise front, and I feel like I have to keep doing more and more.

Then today I caught myself thinking 'Oh, we mustn't have XXX for dinner tonight because it has too much sodium and I'll gain water weight...' Plus I won't eat anything that doesn't have fibre, or a ton of protein, or is super-nutritious.

This is EXACTLY the behaviour that I wanted to avoid this time around!

Does anyone have any good advice that will help me to get a grip of myself before I slide all the way down the rabbit hole?

Replies

  • ChickenKillerPuppy
    ChickenKillerPuppy Posts: 271 Member
    I totally relate, but I just have to challenge that voice in my head until I start to believe it, and I do find it goes away. I strive to work out 6 days a week - 3 days cardio, 3 days barre classes (strength). I will do that, and then feel guilty that I'm not working out the 7th day, which is absurd! I do the same thing with sodium even though I don't have a sodium problem and I drink a TON of water. I just try to talk back to that voice and tell myself that I have the rest of my life, and this has to be sustainable. It doesn't make me feel better immediately, but it can get me out of the rabbit hole and that helps, and then it becomes easier to counter that voice in my head the next time it happens (and I can remind myself - see - you didn't work out on Saturday and you didn't gain any weight, etc.)
  • xxzenabxx
    xxzenabxx Posts: 878 Member
    Yikes, it's happening again. One hundred days in and the relaxed, easy-going approach that I started with is already being undermined by obsessive behaviours.

    I started off determined not to worry about exercise; now I'm walking two+ hours a day, doing an hour's stretching exercises to improve my sciatica, feeling guilty if I don't get out and do a couple of hours of heavy gardening every day. I know for the gym-bunnies out there this is pretty tame stuff, but for me it's like going from 0 to 60mph on the exercise front, and I feel like I have to keep doing more and more.

    Then today I caught myself thinking 'Oh, we mustn't have XXX for dinner tonight because it has too much sodium and I'll gain water weight...' Plus I won't eat anything that doesn't have fibre, or a ton of protein, or is super-nutritious.

    This is EXACTLY the behaviour that I wanted to avoid this time around!

    Does anyone have any good advice that will help me to get a grip of myself before I slide all the way down the rabbit hole?

    This was my problem exactly and it’s what lead me down the dark hole of eating disorders! I’m glad you are aware (and I am now) because these obsessive behaviours ARE HARD TO BREAK. I’m either perfect or I’m not and my advice would be journal these thoughts. The exact stuff you wrote above needs to be journaled and when you pause and think you start to BREAK those neuropathways. I wasn’t satisfied unless I did intense workouts but that would cause me to burnout. Start reminding yourself of how terrible you feel when you overdo it and push yourself to the limits. The scary thing is it can take weeks or even months before the body suddenly crashes. Stop yourself before you get to the point of doing too much. I’m still working on letting go of the ‘nothing’ part of ‘all or nothing’ because I’ve done better with letting go of the ‘all’ part. I guess it’s a journey and you just have to keep working on it. When it was nothing for me I was binging on all the junk food even though I don’t even want it and I wasn’t even hungry. The hardest part was not starving myself the next day but when I journaled then I had to remind myself that deserved to eat. Thankfully I don’t starve myself anymore and I consider that progress. I think self awareness is key and breaking up those neuropathways in brain but also creating new ones.
  • lmf1012
    lmf1012 Posts: 402 Member
    This process has so much of a mental aspect to it, that’s for sure. While I tend to be more B than A, I can easily be obsessive about things. Like you, the success has me desiring more. Completely normal of course.

    What I need to remember is that the initial plan of eating within a reasonable calorie deficit and just moving more will also bring the success and be manageable throughout my life. I really do not want to regain and have to start over!
  • MerryFit519
    MerryFit519 Posts: 43 Member
    edited June 2021
    @Bella_Figura Not sure if this would help, but it did for me: Intermittent fasting, with 4:3 schedule. (it works by 'feasting' 4 days, and 'fasting' 3 days of each week.) On 'feast' days, you can eat a bit more freely, but still be mindful of choices. (like, don't go crazy and eat tons of junkfood) ...I aim to be at my TDEE on those days. (normally I fall shy some..it is hard to eat that much, lol) On 'fast' days, you limit your calories to 500 or less.

    The reason for the suggestion is it caters to both sides and you don't have to fight with yourself every day..like, give into the side that likes to scrutinize one day, and the next you aim to relax a bit. :) On feast days, if you find yourself getting nervous about the extra food...just remember how strict you get to be the day after.

    On 'fast' days, you can give into your obsessive side, and nail down every last morsel you eat, making the most of them. (example day for me would be, 2 hard boiled eggs, 1/2 cup of fiber cereal w/ 1/4 cup blueberries & 1/2 cup almond milk..5 ounces of broccoli, and 3 ounces of broiled haddock, and 2 brazil nuts which I eat for the selenium daily)

    On 'feast' days, once a week I eat out with my husband and make mostly good choices (worst thing I've eaten was a piece of battered/fried haddock) but nothing is weighed. I find it VERY hard to overeat! I tend to eat lots of sweet potato, avocado, olives, eggs, nuts, chicken, fish etc. I do purposefully stay away from breads (only b/c I broke that 'habit' a while back and am afraid to get the cravings back! lol)

    My tendencies lean toward going down rabbit holes too but this has worked really well for me..keeping a balance. Best of all, I'm losing more weight than I was scrutinizing daily calories alone. (Been at this particular schedule for 3 1/2 weeks and lost 7 more pounds in that time) :) I do wonder if feeling less "stress" over fretting every day has helped since I had previously gotten to the point of obsessing. I'm far more relaxed and not thinking about food choices 24/7.

    Definitely not "right" for everyone! but...thought it would be worth throwing in the ring since I relate to what you wrote so much. :)

    ps- there are other very popular schedules followed too, such as 5:2, and ADF (alternate day fasting) I started with ADF but found it was too much of a weekly deficit so I bumped up to 4:3.
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    Thanks for your input, everyone! Ive just written the following to a friend, but I thought it was relevant to post here too:

    I've given myself a good talking to! When I embarked this time around, I told myself I'd take it slow and steady, enjoy the process and find a way of eating and moving that I could live with for the long haul. And that's how I started, hoping to lose a pound a week....

    However, losing two pounds a week for the past 13 weeks has turned my head! Instead of thinking 'well, that was unexpected, and it's got me off to a good start but now it's time to dial up the calories', I'm greedy for more of the same.

    I need to nip the obsessive behaviours in the bud, because they're turning the process from a pleasure into a grind.

    I've stopped eating anything purely for pleasure. Which isn't to say I don't eat good, delicious food, because I do. But it has to be good, delicious, NUTRITIOUS food - I can't simply allow myself to eat something that's empty calories just for the sheer indulgent pleasure of it.

    Similarly with exercise. I love my dog walks, but I've gone from 50-60 minutes once a day to 60-75 minutes twice a day. I love puttering in the garden, but now I don't feel virtuous enough unless I've done at least two hours of heavy digging and chopping. The simple enjoyment in being in the fresh air has been replaced by stress and pressure.

    I've always had a bit of a puritan streak, and I'm a type A personality: "Type A personality is one which is stress-prone, in a hurry, impatient and fast in whatever they do. Type B personality is one which is less stress-prone patient, relaxed, easy-going and lacks time-urgency."

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    I have an all-or-nothing mindset - I find it hard to accept anything less than perfection for myself. And when I (almost inevitably) fail, that all-or-nothing mindset means I go completely off the rails. This is why I have a history of very successful weight loss followed by very rapid regains; when I fail (because the process has become miserable and joyless) I throw in the towel completely. No half measures.

    If my problem was drink, I'd be the type that would have 1000 days of sobriety and then fall into the bottom of a bottle and not stop drinking until I was the best drunk ever! I would try to out-failure everyone else! ;)

    On the positive side, I've finally realized this. Which is a bit of a breakthrough, as it means I can try to change. I'll never be a type B personality, but I'm sure I can learn to adapt my behaviours a little, especially now that I've recognised that the pattern is self-destructive and unsuccessful.

    This is so interesting to me, because I've always considered myself more of a "type-B" as I don't consider myself a big "go-getter" and outwardly competitive. However, with the exception of "procrastination" (which is actually more tied into my perfectionism and anxiety), I fit all the criteria of Type A. I wonder if I was once a type-B and evolved into type A, or just have more self-awareness. I can almost guarantee that those who don't know me well would consider me type B because I"m an introvert and let few people know my "true" self, but my husband would say otherwise!

    I have the tendency to get obsessive about things, and tracking and weight loss can be one of those things. I, too, used to have an all-or-nothing, perfectionist mindset about weight loss, which led to self-sabotage. I think like what you are starting to do is that I realized this and worked through it. I was actually worried to start tracking again to lose a bit of weight with MFP, so I restarted by just tracking without reducing. It really helped my self-awareness and mindfulness around food. I, too, used to get anxious when I saw I "only" had a certain amount left for the day, thinking I would go over--and oh how horrible that would be! When I shifted my mindset and told myself that IF I did go over 1--it wasn't a big deal as long it wasn't a daily occurrence and 2--it's ok to go to be a little hungry, doesn't mean it will lead to me overeating and bingeing (which was my pattern for years). When losing, I ate at a slight deficit to avoid the least amount of hunger possible.

    Another thing that actually helps is that my Fitbit never actually syncs my steps and exercise to MFP, and I don't enter it in manually. THerefore, if I just look at my MFP numbers, I am ALWAYS in the red, sometimes by 500 calories or more (and I'm at maintenance now). I think seeing this over time and realizing I wasn't gaining (and in fact, losing when I wanted do), made me be okay with it.

    I do allow myself treats almost every day, things that wouldn't be considered "nutritious" and I'm completely ok with it, because I've allowed for it. I also know that the reason I eat the way I do (mostly healthy) is that I just feel so much better when I do--and that is motivation to keep going, and I don't need to be (too) obsessive about it.
  • xrj22
    xrj22 Posts: 138 Member
    I highly recommend journaling. And I mean journaling, not tracking. Full sentences about what you are thinking and feeiling; not lists of foods, to-do, and numbers. You will start to define your real priorities, what makes you feel good, and how you are progressing toward what you really want.
  • Bella_Figura
    Bella_Figura Posts: 3,115 Member
    xrj22 wrote: »
    I highly recommend journaling. And I mean journaling, not tracking. Full sentences about what you are thinking and feeiling; not lists of foods, to-do, and numbers. You will start to define your real priorities, what makes you feel good, and how you are progressing toward what you really want.

    I already journal, and it's one of my best tools for reflecting, learning, growing. Heaven knows what mental state I'd be in if I didn't already do this! It's because of my journalling that I'm optimistic that I can change.
  • Athijade
    Athijade Posts: 2,831 Member
    As someone who deals with anxiety (especially around food) and OCD (diagnosed but thankfully on the more mild side), I feel you. I do the same things you are describing. I knew I was in a really bad place when I broke down crying in the grocery store because I really wanted a pizza but it was too many calories and not "healthy" enough. I cried over a pizza... in public... I look back on that now and use it as an example of why I don't want to go down that path again.

    Currently I am on anxiety medication and see a therapist. The therapist originally wasn't to help with the food issues, but with the anxiety in general. However, I got lucky and she actually has a lot of experience in helping people deal with eating disorders and general disordered thinking about food.

    Do I never have problems now? NOPE. I had issues with exercise where I went from 0 days to doing something 6 days of the week (with guilt that I was too tired to do a 7th). Ended up with issues with my pelvic floor and back, causing me a flare of my IC and intense pain for a month plus.