The Chicken or the Egg Conundrum

Which comes first, disordered eating or dieting? I know for me, it wasn’t until I began dieting, logging my every bite and calorie burned in a journal, that I became obsessive about my weight.

In retrospect, it makes sense… the tools that teach us to lose weight are also the very tools that can backfire and set us down the path toward disordered eating.

When we embark on the weight loss journey for the first or fiftieth time, we’re taught the keys to success: journaling what you eat, exercising regularly, planning meals, making good choices and stepping on the scale once a week to gauge your progress. Measure yourself. Test your body fat. Learn your waist circumference. Become one with your body mass index.

But aren’t all these things obsessive? Where does one draw the line? Why are some people more prone to disordered eating habits than others? Sometimes I wonder if I was predispositioned to head down this path, based on innate personality traits. For example, I’ve read a lot of birth order books and I totally fall into the first-born, Type A archetype.

I have always had OCD tendencies. As a toddler, I wouldn’t rest easily until all my dolls were lined up the right way on my bed and my mom or dad had tucked me under the covers “just so.” As a pre-teen, I couldn’t sleep unless the TV was on in the background at just the right level of volume that it would lull me to sleep, but wouldn’t wake me, either. And as an adult, I check to make sure my curling iron is off and the door is locked at least twice before leaving the house–and sometimes call my husband to triple check, if he’s still home. (This behavior could be considered legitimate, as my house did burn down when I was 8 and I therefore have an understandable fear of fire).

So isn’t it natural that someone with OCD tendencies would end up obsessing over their weight? The interesting thing to note is that when I was heavy, I wasn’t obsessed. In fact, I used to exercise in moderation and sure, I didn’t always eat the wrong things, but I definitely didn’t lose sleep over an extra cookie or a missed lifting session.

Eh… I guess you can call me a chicken frittata. Either way, I’m scrambled!

How about you? Where do you draw the line between positive weight loss methodology and obsessive- compulsive behavior? Do you think personality play a role?

7 thoughts on “The Chicken or the Egg Conundrum

  1. This post is exactly why I have given up dieting. The obsessive complusive tracking weighing and measuring always leads to binging for me. I dieted my way back to being 35 lbs heavier than my lowest ww weight. A size 6 isn’t worth the ways I have learned to beat myself through dieting. It just isn’t worth it.

  2. Thank you for your honesty, C. While this behaviour hasn’t caused me to binge, per se, it has caused me a lot of other drama that I wish to be ridding myself of…I posted a little while ago about the changes I am incorporating that I hope will help set me free.

  3. Melissa,

    I can also relate to your realization that your OCD fits into this. This is the biggest thing I am learning about in counseling right now. I am also a first-born, Type A personality and I have extreme OCD habits. In conjunction with my therapist I am going to see my primary care physician about medication for my OCD. Obviously, medication is not the only solution, but my therapist and I both agree that this step is necessary for me right now.

    I am loving this blog!

  4. Thanks so much, Krister!! My mom wants me to see someone about this–a behavior modification counselor. I think we’re VERY alike!!

    I hope to get through this without medication but I am OCD about everything; food/exercise are two of those issues but are certainly not the only ones!

    Thanks a ton–keep reading! 🙂

  5. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get several
    emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from
    that service? Appreciate it!

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