Is Worrying about my Weight Harmful to my Health?

March 7, 2008 at 5:16 am 1 comment

I worry about my weight… a lot. Even after all this time, I still worry. I don’t have the daily fear that plagued me at the beginning, but there are still times when worrying about a 2-pound weight gain keeps me up at night. At those times, my mind races with questions. What if this is the beginning of a downward spiral? What if I go back to my old ways? What if I fall irreparably off the wagon and start wildy scarfing chocolate and tortilla chips for days on end??

If the New York Times article Perceptions: Watch Your Weight, Sure, but Don’t Worry About It is any indication, I need to get a grip and not just because I’m missing out on valuable shut-eye. The article summarizes the findings of a telephone survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 170,000 men and women nationwide. The results of the survey suggested that those who wanted to lose weight had a greater number of days that they felt physically or mentally unhealthy. The conclusion drawn is that it’s okay to focus on diet and exercise but the ” ‘get thin’ part may be dangerous.”

I’m not sure I buy the argument, at least not on the basis of this sketchy survey. The information was self-reported, and the premise seems flimsy. Its conclusions are based on people’s perceptions, not on any concrete medical data.

How exactly do we define “physically or mentally unhealthy”? I have lots of days when I feel “unhealthy”, but it doesn’t mean I call out sick at work or take medicine or go to the doctor. It usually means that I feel like I haven’t eaten as healthfully as I had planned and I’m concerned about what that does to my system.

If I wasn’t already inclined to stop worrying so much about what I weigh, this survey sure wouldn’t convince me. Instead, I’m going to cut back on worrying for my own reasons: 1) it’s an unproductive use of psychic energy, and 2) it robs me of sleep. I don’t need to talk to a researcher on the telephone to know that devoting my energies to life-enhancing things and getting more rest will help me have more “healthy” days.


Entry filed under: coping strategies, science. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Living Life  |  March 7, 2008 at 6:24 am

    I’ve read through a bunch of your blog entries and first and foremost I have to say “Heck yeah” its harmful to your health! I do not know you very well, but I’ve had many people cross my path of life that are or have been in a similar situation that you’re in. Whether you accept it or deny it, it seems like you’re almost taking it too seriously. There’s a fine line from being dedicated to this change in lifestyle, but then there’s being obsessed. And I hate to say this not knowing who you are or much about you, but it sounds like you’re leaning more to the obsessive side of things. Don’t get me wrong, what you have done and the changes you have made are a great accomplishment, but it sounds like your life has revolved around dieting and exercising…almost to the point that its your #1 priority in your life. And in my opinion (and its strictly my opinion), I don’t agree with that. I just think with how far this has gone, it has either affected friendships or relationships that you have had or you don’t live a completely happy life…especially if you’re losing sleep over 2 lbs.


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