Before our diabetes support group meeting on Saturday I never thought that I was obsessive. But Michael convinced me that I am.
Like me, Michael has type 2 diabetes that he tightly manages. But Michael is a university professor here in Boulder who is awfully smart.
“We walk a fine line between discipline and obsession,” Michael began. He noted that several members of our support group, including me, are picky about the kind and amount of food that we eat.
Barry, one of our members, mentioned that he rarely eats out any more because finding food that meets his standards is getting too hard. Barry said that he makes his own ice cream and pizza at home, but the ice cream is sugar-free, and he makes the pizza without any wheat or other grain.
I also rarely eat out, and I have pared down my meals to a basic minimum, usually eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, and fish for dinner with little else. Still, I complained that keeping off the weight I lost a few years ago is incredibly difficult. If I were to eat what most people would consider a normal amount, I would be sure to gain back many pounds.
On February 6, 2006, I weighed 312 pounds on the scales in my doctor’s office. With my 6’3” height my BMI was 39.0. That’s only one point below what we call “morbidly obese.”
My original goal was to slim down to 195 pounds by October 26, 2007. That weight is close to high end of normal for my height. But more importantly for my psyche, that is what I weighed when I got my honorable discharge from the U.S. Army exactly half a century earlier. I made that goal with seven months to spare.
But soon I recalibrated my weight goal. That year a huge new study of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that our body mass index should be “towards the lower end of the normal BMI range.” I wrote about that study here at “Losing Weight May Also Reduce Risk of Cancer.”
Since the low end of the BMI is 18.5, I figured that I should aim for a BMI of no more than 19.5, where I would weigh 156. Conveniently for my thinking, when I got down to 156 I would have lost exactly half my body.
I made my new goal for the first time on May 8, 2008. Since then my weight has fluctuated from 151 on June 28, 2008, to 163 on June 2 of this year after returning from a cruise of Alaska’s Inside Passage (cruise ships deserve all their notoriety as a food heaven and weight control hell).
Since then I have got my weight down to 157. But for more than three months I have failed to get back to my goal of 156.
Controlling my weight is the hardest thing that I have ever done. It’s my only accomplishment that requires constant vigilance. I know that I can never relax. I am not happy.
Not being happy brings me back to the discussion that Michael raised at our diabetes support group meeting on Saturday. The difference between discipline and obsession, he says, is whether you are happy or not.
My only hope is to get back down to 156. That will make me happy again.Then, I will be disciplined and not obsessive.
HealthCentral published an earlier version of this article.