Thursday, March 8, 2012

Weight loss is not a hobby

I've got the beginnings of a problem starting.  The beginnings of an obsession.

It goes kind of like this: early January, I joined a biggest loser competition.  I did it with the intention of giving myself a kick in the butt to drop some of the remaining extra pounds I have.  Initially, I figured it would be great if I could come out ahead and win some money, but that wasn't my main intention, until things changed...

I've been on the weight loss wagon many times in my life.  Two specific times in the past, I lost large amounts of weight (50ish pounds) in short periods of time (5ish months).  Both of those times, I was obsessed.  I thought about weight loss all the time.  I thought about what I was going to make for my next meal, or how many calories I was burning by using a given exercise machine.  I counted everything that went into my mouth.  I read weight loss books and weight loss websites.  I made it into a hobby.

The problem is, weight loss is not a hobby.  It's not sustainable, because at some point, you're done losing weight.

There has to be some bigger purpose to it.  A bigger reason.  And, if you devote every extra minute to losing those pounds, what happens once you've lost them?  I can tell you what happened to me those other times.  I gained them back.  Every single one, plus a few extra.

This time, I started out similarly.  I began my blog: Deb Shrinks.  I thought about weight loss, I blogged about it.  I let everyone in my life know how committed I was to it.  I was on the road to making it into a hobby again.

Then I discovered triathlon.  And, suddenly I started pursuing a hobby which actually has potential to be a hobby.

The weight loss continued, albeit at a slower rate.  It wasn't my obsession anymore.  It wasn't my sole focus.  It was something I focused on only occasionally.  For the first time in my life, I gained the viewpoint of food as fuel.  I ate well because I needed to in order to fuel my next workout or recover from my last one.

And, far more amazing then the fact that I've lost a lot of weight is the fact that I didn't return to obesity.  I stopped the yoyo.  I stopped trying to let weight loss become a hobby.

Until now.

Because after joining that biggest loser competition with good intentions, I saw my standing in the top 10.  The top 5...  First place.  The top three spots win cash prizes, and I could do it.  I could take first place.  I just have to keep losing weight at rapid rate.

And, losing weight started to become a "hobby" again.  I stopped thinking about fueling my body and started thinking about how little I could get by on.  Rather then considering if I was properly fueled to get through a workout, I was thinking about whether I could do it on little to nothing.  I was waking up in the middle of the night because I was hungry.  I was viewing my training as exercise: a chance to burn calories rather then a chance to get stronger, faster, better.

I could still win this competition, but is it worth the cost?


Weight loss is not my hobby.

Triathlon is.

Losing weight can benefit my triathlon endeavors, but only if I keep things in balance.  Only if I allow the weight loss to work for my triathlon goals, not against it.

And with that, I am making training my priority again.  I'll still watch what goes in my mouth, making sure it's healthy whole foods.  More importantly, I'll make sure what goes in benefits my training, rather then working against it.

Am I going to win that biggest loser competition?  Probably not.

Am I going to lose some more weight?  Yes, though at a slower rate.

Am I going to feel strong crossing the finish line of a Half Ironman in 20.5 weeks?  Hell yeah.


  1. The word for that is whoopsie! But you realized what happened, and made a course correction. That is total gold for you.

    BTW, I think the biggest loser things are sort of sick, an illustration of how sick a society we are. Those big people are victims, and here we are, victimizing them all over again for entertainment. Not me.

    Can't wait to hear about your half. Is it Sylvan you are doing?

  2. I think the weight loss will buy you speed. But, I think you are right, its about balance. Perhaps just slowing the weight loss and making sure you have the nutrition to train.

  3. Way to go, Deb!!! That's a healthy attitude.

  4. It all becomes part of your normal lifestyle when it's because of or in support of other endeavours (like triathlons!) I find when I'm happy and running regularly the pounds just drop off, but when I don't have other goals and try to actually work on losing weight I just can't do it. Good work!

  5. I totally agree, it's not about losing weight at all. You are gonna kick some butt on your tri!!

  6. I am the same way with isagenix. I had to choose my training vs. cleansing (whole heartedly cleansing like doing liquid days).
    So I am doing the Atheletes version now and feel the strength already from my muscles building stronger!

    Live and learn Deb, way to go!