Are You Checked Out?

May 9, 2009 · 15 comments

One of my favorite weight loss blogs is Escape from Obesity. Lyn is an incredible writer who is prolific in both the quantity and quality of her posts. She always seems to hit the nail on the head for me. I’ve been reading her for some time through RSS but for some reason had not mentioned her before or added her to my blogroll. I fixed both of those things today. Go give her a read if you haven’t already.

Yesterday Lyn wrote a really inspired post called The Deep Issues Behind the Fat in which she characterized two different kinds of people trying to lose weight:

The more time I spend working out my own escape from obesity, the more I am convinced that there are (at least) two kinds of people trying to lose weight. There’s people who don’t really understand or are not focused on the principles of good nutrition… who just plain eat the wrong kinds of food in the wrong amounts because they taste good. One day they wake up and say, “I really want to lose weight!” They figure out how to change their eating and start moving, and they pretty much just DO it. They start eating chicken and broccoli and apples, they get on the treadmill an hour a day, an after months of work they have lost the weight. Period. Then there are the people who, even after they *know* how and what to do, they stumble and straggle and suffer along, maybe losing weight, maybe not… regaining, losing, struggling, and wondering, “WHY can’t I lose weight and keep it off?” They see the people in the first category, who report that they just “decided” to lose weight and were “determined” to do it, and they think, what is wrong with me, that I cannot do what they did? And they usually stay fat or, if they do lose weight, regain it all within a few years.

Like Lyn, I find myself in the second category. I’ll tell myself (and my readers!) that I know what it takes to lose the weight but that I am struggling with willpower or dedication or a myriad of other issues. But ultimately I wonder if it isn’t about engagement. Am I truly engaged with the concept of living a better life?

Lyn opines that the issue is one of being “checked out” where we seek food unconsciously in response to something that is bothering us, similarly to how an alchoholic or a drug addict uses their vices. The idea that we overeat as an addicition isn’t new, but to me the concept of thinking about this is a means of “checking out” is. I can relate to the idea of “checking out” and can invision what it’s counterpart, being “checked in” is like. Again, I see it is being engaged in the process and having a radar focus on what you are trying to achieve, and not letting life just happen to you which I think is what happens when you are “checked out”

Take a look at what she wrote and see if you see any of yourself in there. Could your problem be that you need to check in to life?

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Tami May 9, 2009 at 8:19 am

Hey John,
I was planning on emailing you to see where you disappeared to.
Its good to see you back.
I’ve been looking for some great weight loss blogs and have been hitting too many that are inactive.
Thanks for the link to Escape from Obesity. Its a fantastic and I’m now subscribed!

Greg May 9, 2009 at 8:45 am

Good to see you back!

There was a time in my life when I struggled with this as well. It took a scare with high blood pressure to shake me out of my complacency. I think that’s how it is for everyone. We all know what to do on an intellectual level, but its more than what you know.

Hanlie May 9, 2009 at 11:10 am

I really like that post too! I’m also in the second category, but this post has really opened my eyes… I see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train!

Good to see you’re still with us!

AndrewE May 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Lyn’s blog is always an interesting read I find!

Keith May 11, 2009 at 2:01 am

I’m stuck in the middle at the moment I’m doing the stuff needed to lose weight. Then I have a few days were I blow out and I regain a few pounds.
The secret is to get back on track as soon as you can, because the weight that you lose will quickly return if your not careful. Good to see you back!

Mary @ A Merry Life May 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm

I really enjoyed that particular post as well!

It is way to easy to check out of anything that is hard work. You just have to keep the focus for the long term… which as we all know is HARD.

Will (4xlt) May 12, 2009 at 12:56 am

You know, John, I’m right there the heck with you in regards to being checked out as of late. And I’m sick of it. Really sick of it. At my height of being “checked in” back in November, I’d planned on being about 40-50 pounds lighter by now, but as it is, I still have yet to crack through the 300 barrier.

This post of Lyn’s really reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from powerlifting coach Dave Tate:

“The truth is that you may not have what it takes. You may not be committed enough. You may not have the discipline. You may not put in enough effort. You might not work hard enough. You do not believe in yourself. You’re full of excuses. You get distracted too easy. To wrap it up in one statement: you really don’t f***ing care enough.”

John May 12, 2009 at 2:07 am

There are kernels of truth in what she writes-the notion of the universality of our checking-out responses to life that include eating, gaming, and f***ing-but also some over-generalizations. In the end, comments attesting to her “brilliance” notwithstanding, its utility is diluted and pedestrian. I ought not to rain on her parade, and obviously she’s struck a nerve — I just see nothing new here. Just my own two cents.

John May 12, 2009 at 8:33 am

My apologies for appearing unkind in my post above. It was not my intention, and I admit her blog has been food for thought in the past for me as well. And I meant no disrespect to those who enjoy both that particular post and others. I was fueled by a frustration that I won’t get into here.


Curtis May 17, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I have quit struggling. My physical change comes from me doing small things every day. I wake up in the morning and say “Today I will do better”
It does not matter what I did yesterday. What I do today is what counts. If I had a bad evening and hit the chinese buffet, so what. I wake up the next moning, and start over. I have learned to look at this over a week and a month vs. every day.
I try to do better every day but somedays i fail. But over a month my trend has been down. In the last two months I only lost 8 pounds. A failure? My BMI went from 21.3 to 18.5 body fat. I am able to walk over 6 miles every day and am wearing size 38 pants and maybe could fit in 36.
Fixating on weight loss is a looser. Instead, fix on what you are doing right and are you doing a little every day to move toward your goal.
And someday’s staying even is a positive actionQ

Cynthia May 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Thanks for sharing that post! Because I think I’m in that second category as well. I know what to do, but sometimes I just check out. I never regain all the weight I’ve lost, but it’s only because I seem to check back in before that happens. Still, it’s worrisome. I need to find a way to just keep rolling and not do the check out dance.

Petra Weiss May 24, 2009 at 10:22 am

This rings so true - I believe I belong to those who know what it takes (yes, I know every little trick and program about weight loss!), but don’t seem committed enough in the long run. I really want to lose the weight, but most of the time falter already on my first day, usually in the evenings after cooking dinner for my kids. It sucks!!

Metroknow May 27, 2009 at 5:58 pm


First of all I’m glad to see a post from you - it sounds as though you and I have been in a similar spot lately. Gal over at 60 in 3 has been as well I believe. I’m just getting going again (some of your commentors are helping me as well - Hi Hanlie! Hi Cynthia! Hello there Andrew!), and I was so glad to see that you’re writing again.

Second, thank you for highlighting Lyn’s insights. I don’t think I’m familiar with Escape from Obesity, so I’m headed there straight away.

I am pretty sure she just described me to a tee.

Good Luck John - I’ll be around again, finally :)

Charleen May 30, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Thanks John for the tip on Lynn’s site, Escape from Obesity.. She does hit it on the head and no more so than today, Saturday, May 30. Food is such a substitute for so many things we long for, a thinner me being one.

Good luck on the constant fight the fat, I will be routing for you and me!

Carolineinsc June 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Thank you for that quote from Lynn’s website. I was just thinking about this concept over the weekend after reading a magazine article. It was the same old story, a woman decided to loose weight and started reading labels, not eating junk food or drinking soda, and lost weight forever. I was so frustrated thinking about how I don’t do any of that and yet I am not loosing.

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