Cycle of Disordered Thinking

I’m currently in a weird cycle of disordered thinking about my weight. I wasn’t going to talk about it on the blog, I was going to try and get over it by myself and maybe mention it later. But I decided to just get it out there.

When I got to 143 I was really happy to be back at my lowest weight ever and all I wanted was to get to 140. I told myself it was okay if I didn’t get there. And I believed it too. Until this week…My jeans have been tight the last two weeks. Like uncomfortably tight–not “oops I dried my jeans too long in the dryer” tight.

Michael and I had a great talk last night. I’d gone to the gym after work and had a great workout. I did over 3 miles of intervals on the treadmill: alternating every few minutes from 4.4 on the treadmill to 5.8, spiking and reducing my heart rate. It was a nice way to change up my routine!

I did 3.28 miles on the treadmill and then did 30 minutes of weight lifting. It had been about a week since I’d lifted weights in the gym so it was hard work (and I’m sore today). I also did some squats.

I felt strong and fast during my run. I had stamina for days. I was able to increase my weight amounts and do more sets. I felt great! And I burned a decent amount:

Gym Stats:

Time: 1:17
Calories Burned: 646

I was feeling positive and happy. I caught my reflection in the gym mirror a few times and I thought “I look pretty good.” And “I look more slender and muscular than I did a few weeks ago.” When I got home Michael begged me to agree to going to Mexican food. I didn’t want to. I wanted to be “good.” I didn’t want the temptations. I kept thinking about wanting to reach 140.

I finally gave in and cleaned up to go out. I did something just STUPID. I did it for the WRONG reasons too. I got on the scale. It’s a week and a half too early to weigh-in. It’s also the worst week of the month to weigh-in. Plus it was at night, after a day of eating and drinking and working out. Why did I do it? To discourage myself from ordering something gluttonous at the Mexican Restaurant. Disordered Thinking!

I was aware while I was doing it that it was wrong. I did it anyway. I was very unhappy with the number I saw (up 2 pounds from last weigh-in) and proceeded to get depressed and despondent. I am really unhappy I did that to myself.

It’s a dangerous slope to get started on and I’m trying to correct it now before I get obsessed. I’ve been obsessed with the scale before, and that’s when I made the rule of monthly weigh-ins ONLY. I broke that rule last night and I won’t do it again.

In the car I told Michael that I was feeling crappy with my food choices lately. He asked me what I ate that day that was making me feel crappy. I realized how disordered my thinking was when I listed it out:

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs with sour cream and salsa, 1 slice of bacon, unsweetened ice tea, coffee. (300 calories)

Snack – serving of trail mix (140 calories) and a handful of cashews (about 80 calories more)

Lunch – Beef Barley Soup (160 calories) with Butterfinger Easter Eggs (126 calories)

Pre-Gym Snack – Bagel thin with cream cheese (about 190 calories)

He asked me where I ate crappy. I said the chocolate. “You ate one serving of chocolate, for less than 200 calories, with a low-calorie lunch. Why would you feel guilty about that?”

I don’t know! Why WOULD I feel guilty about that? I couldn’t come up with a logical answer. I KNEW logically that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the food I ate throughout the day. I also had two pieces of hard candies that I didn’t count, but in the grand scheme of things, why was I beating myself up for what I consumed?

Michael made a good point. He said that I need to decide WHAT numbers are important to me. Is the number 140 important to me? Not really. Am I under my original goal weight (150)? YES. Am I happy I can run 3.28 miles of speed intervals? Hell YEAH! Can I lift more and more weights each week? YES. So why am I focusing on a number on the scale?

I MUST focus on the positive numbers in my life, not the scale–not the negative numbers.

I ordered smart at the restaurant: the Yucatan Steak Salad. It was grilled steak bites nestled on top of tons of lettuce and shredded cabbage with black beans, a little bit of cheese and green onions. It was delicious!

I skipped the beer–drank water. I didn’t eat the taco shell the salad came in and left some of the beans and cheese behind. I also didn’t go totally nuts with the chips and salsa (that one was hard).

Faced with lots of temptations on that menu I made the right choice. I reminded myself that I could eat the food I had for dinner and still be within my calories for the day (which I was). And I reminded myself that I work out in order to eat the things I love–like chocolate.

Sometimes I need a reminder. I have some work to do.

QUESTION: How do you break disordered thinking when it comes to the scale?



Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

25 thoughts on “Cycle of Disordered Thinking”

  1. Oh how I wish I had an answer for this one. The scale is a powerful force and I hate that “B” with every fiber of my being most of the time. I also hate what I allow a piece of metal to do to me emotionally. And that it has the power to derail an otherwise good week. People tell me to not worry about the number on the scale…but HOW do I do that when I have 80 – 90 lbs to lose? The scale HAS to move in the downward direction for me to be at a healthy weight!

    Sorry I don’t have any answers … just some griping!!!

  2. OMG you and I must be on the same wave length today! I JUST blogged about this obsession myself! πŸ˜› …I didn’t have quite the same experience in the recent days as you with it, but I finally notice how the scale was dictating my life. I had no idea! And that weighing myself once a day (or more) was doing really bad things for my self image and esteem and ultimately weight loss progress. And I feel the same frustrations/pressure from my boyfriend at times, too. I know he’s not pressuring me to do anything and I can always say No …but it’s hard..and complicated to explain why I sometimes feel I can’t/don’t want to say no.

    So I don’t really have a point to this comment…other than I know exactly how you feel and you are not alone in the self sabotaging realm of disordered/negative self thought! (I’m not trying to call you disorded, btw – just how we think sometimes)


    1. Side Note: The boyfriend pressure i meantioned was to the fact that I have days when I want to stay home and be “good” and those are always the days he wants to go out and eat “bad” food and get drinks. Not that he nor Michael pressures me or you to do weird stuff πŸ˜› lolsorry if that was confusing

      1. I could have easily told Michael NO to the restaurant last night. But I was hungry, I’d just worked out and honestly I wanted to go out. So it was hard to resist. But yeah it seems like on the days that I want to tighten up the eating and be “better” about my calories are always the nights when he wants to go out.

    2. It’s funny because I haven’t been obsessed with the scale lately–I’ve just been noticing my pants are TIGHT. It really bothered me and I couldn’t ignore it. Then I made the mistake of getting on the scale. πŸ™

      That’s okay, it’s good to rant sometimes and it’s nice to hear other people do it too!

  3. I certainly still have disordered thoughts like that where I feel like I’m not doing good enough or have food guilt. Or let the number on the scale mess with me. For example, last week’s weigh in I was up .2 lbs. At first I almost let this get me down, but then I ran my race and did so well. THAT was what I chose to focus on. My body’s accomplishment and not the scale. And this week when I had to take some extra rest because of my back, at first I thought “Oh I should cut back a lot on my food so I can still get a loss this week”. I think when we have done disordered thinking for so long it is naturally still there. What matters is that we recognize it right away and push it away.

    1. Thanks Tina. I guess I just felt like I’ve come so far I shouldn’t be affected by the number on the scale anymore, you know? Michael asked me last night “How is it that you can feel FAT right now when you used to weigh 100 pounds more?” I don’t know! I just do!!!! It’s silly. πŸ™‚

  4. Lisa,
    I am so glad you shared this on the blog and did not do the keep it secret until I get over it thing. Sometimes we get over it and sometimes it bites us in the ass later. If you are reading my blog you know that I just changed from 7 years of daily weighing to once a month and I am waiting for May 1st. Today is day 11. On the one side I want to get on the scale and make sure there has not been any gain and on the other hand I have exercised each day as planned, eaten as planned and do not have even the most minor edible confession of my foods so why do I need to get on the scale today? I am waiting.
    The tight pants thing would bother me and that would have been enough to send me to the scale. Do not beat yourself up. Remember all the reasons the weight was skewed against you and look forward to your real weigh in on May 1.

    **FYI: I found in the past that I always weighed MORE after a really good workout – probably because my tissues were holding water and glycogen. If I had a lymphatic message afterwards though and then got weighed- what a difference!

    Here’s to sound choices tomorrow.


    1. Thanks for writing Jane. I was reluctant to share it on my blog because I had some shame about the scale…getting ON the scale when I didn’t need to…the number on the scale…what I thought was “bad” eating.

      Anyways, I went through a phase about a year ago where I was obsessed with the scale. I was getting obsessed with the number I saw and weighing myself daily. If the number wasn’t what I wanted to see it would ruin my whole day. I vowed then and there to only weigh myself once a month no matter what and I stuck to it for the most part. My weight fluctuates a lot in a month. PMS, water retention, the week of my period…after a lot of trial and error I discovered that 5-7 days after my period ended was the perfect time to weigh myself. That’s what I stuck to for over a year.

      I will wait until my normally scheduled weigh-in and see what happens. THanks for sharing your story!

      1. Oh yes, shame . . . Remember this: if it wasn’t for the E, shame would be exposed for the SHAM it really is. We are not bad people. We are sick people getting well.

        Love your posting


  5. I can second that you are not alone in disordered weight thinking. I lost 150+ pounds about five years ago, but I am still stubbornly 10+ pounds from my self-pronounced ideal weight of 145. While most of the time I am pretty reasonable and realistic, sometimes I get the crazy head. Like when I was planning to consume 4 Gu gels during the marathon this week, and felt appalled that it would be 400 calories. (in the end I only ate two, but that was because my stomach couldnt face any more. And when I was feeling crappy in the last six miles, I found myself thinking that this would be way easier if I weighed 20 pounds less! The scale is not so much of a problem for me though. I have found it works better to weigh almost daily and accept the ups and downs of a few pounds, than to put too much emphasis on a single weigh in that may or may not be accurate (what if it happens on a high day rather than a low day?)

    1. I laughed at your comment about the GUs. I learned the hard way that it was worth it to just EAT them!! I totally crashed after Reach the Beach because I didn’t fuel enough towards the end and it wasn’t pretty.

      But yea, I can relate. It’s like you have this number in your mind that you get stuck on. Why is 140 any different than 145? I have no idea but for some reason it is.

  6. If I figure that out, I’ll let you know. I’m only just getting started, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

    It’s good you talked it through with your BF and he was able to help you realize that you weren’t being reasonable with yourself. Sometimes, I will give myself a really hard time about something. Then, when I say it out loud, I suddenly realize how ridiculous I was being and snap out of it.

  7. I always say that I will ignore the scale, just weigh occasionally to check in. Yeah, that never happens and I end up weighing everyday. Bad, bad, bad.

    I just TRY to focus on other things, like my exercise goals. But of course that bad feeling creeps in every time I eat something salty and the scale goes up for a few days.

    No advice, just know that you aren’t alone!

  8. First (((hugs))))

    I’m sorry you are going through this Lisa. I am defnitely not as far a long as you are, so concentrating on the number is kind of what I NEED to do right now. It keeps me on track. But I am so glad you shared your struggles. One day I may be in the same boat as you, and I hope that I can look back on this and remember your words.

  9. Oh, this is a big ole slippery slope for me. I’ve spent a crapload of money on therapy to address this very issue. I actually had to step away from the scale for about 4 years (including during my entire pregnancy) to get away from the numbers game. The scale for me was a very charged place—for good and bad.

    When I feel myself feeling an emotional reaction to anything on the scale (or the mirror) (even if it’s overly positive), I have to step back and sort of go through my mantra, which works for me…

    “The scale is JUST INFORMATION. It is providing information at a tiny point in time. It is measuring the weight of my body at this one tiny moment. It is not a true measurement of my soul or my worth as a human being. It’s not even necessarily a true and accurate measurement of my eating or current exercise or activities. I have other ways to get information—how my clothes fit, how I feel on the inside. (BTW, I have to constantly remind myself that “Fat is not a feeling”…sad, angry, happy, relaxed are actual feelings).

    But, I still have to remind myself that even those other bits of information can be misleading…I can be bloated for a million reasons. I swear my pant legs always fit tighter after my long run days. I swear that everything is swollen. And, if I’m enjoying too much salt, that is the case, too. I tell myself that this is all just information. I am not good or bad depending on what I eat or how much I eat. Just information, just data…not a judgment.” And, conversely, if the scale is smiling on me and the mirror seems overly friendly, and I find myself being a little too enthusiastic or self congratulatory, I have to remind myself not to be too attached. I didn’t somehow suddenly achieve sainthood or become a better mother or better human just because I “behaved” better. Again, just information…just information to let me know that something I did let me my body be in better balance.

    Do I believe this in my heart all the time? Certainly not, but over time, I feel like this 90% of the time…5 years ago, I never felt this. For the 10% of the time that I’m slipping into my disordered diet/body talk thinking, I gotta write it or talk to myself with something like above.

    1. The clarity that you reached is amazing. I’m impressed. I’d been in therapy for most of my life for various things but to be honest I’d never really addressed any body issues. I never worked on body image, self-esteem, scale obsessions…it might be a good idea to take care of that, too.

      I’m glad I recognized that my obsession was coming back before it had a grip on me completely.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. Wow…do I ever understand where you’re coming from! We’re in different places in this because I’m still trying to lose…so I HAVE to be a little obsessed…but the feelings are the same.

    Over the last 5 years, I’ve lost about 135 pounds. (I lost about 60-70 pounds in two separate chunks of time.) I started at 315, am currently around 178, and would like to get to around 140 as well.

    Most days are great…but it’s the random, unplanned, slip ups that really get me down. On Tuesday, I was at school…had spaced on bringing lunch, and was in a meeting with pizza! (Oh..the horror…lol.) I ate two slices of thin crust, cheese pizza. And then proceeded to feel horrible about it all day. Ridiculous, right? It’s JUST FOOD, and not even a tremendously large amount of food at that. (I DO really try to limit stuff like pizza, though…I don’t do well with things made with flour, it’s like a light switch flips on in my brain and I just want to eat.) AND…I’d done a yoga class and ran that morning.

    For the rest of the day…I kept checking out the mirror as I’d walk by…like you could SEE the pizza….like an unplanned food choice would cause me to gain the weight back.

    MOST days aren’t like this. Most of the time…I can roll with the scale readings and food decisions as they come. Some days, though, are tough. Anyway…I understand the scale thing, too. You’re not alone in this! πŸ™‚


    1. Congrats on losing 135 pounds Erin! That’s amazing! And that is so funny about the mirror–I do that too. Like if I see a gain on the scale I look for it in my body. Is it my stomach? My hips? Is my face rounder? Ach the things we do to ourselves.

      Thanks for commenting and the support! πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge