When being healthy becomes an obsession and how to overcome it
Is it possible to become obsessed with being healthy? It may happen, if you go to the extreme measures. But the good news is, that you can overcome it. I know it, because I’ve been there. With this post I want to share my experiences that I’ve had within the past 3 years with trying to be too healthy and making my life evolve ONLY around food and fitness. My main goal is to share my experiences and hope that you can learn from my mistakes.
Considering yourself not good enough
In 2015 I had been going to group workout classes for 3,5 years and I enjoyed them a lot. But I hadn’t really thought about my eating habits. So I hadn’t really lost weight with the training and I thought that’s the thing I need to do in order to become better. Even though I really didn’t need to lose weight. I had this mindset, that if I’m able to lose weight, I’ll be happier, prettier, more confident and somehow better as a person.
This is already a really dangerous mindset to have. I didn’t have any specific reason whatsoever for losing all the weight. I just thought it might make me happier. Of course, there was this thought that I’ll be more capable in the workouts as well and will see some progress in them also. But the main thing I want to point out is that I had always thought I’m never good enough. Somehow the weight loss journey in my opinion could have changed that.
Considering yourself not good enough may come from anywhere within. It may be connected with your childhood, past relationships or your social life. You need to find the main reason and deal with that. If you’re telling yourself everyday that you’re not good enough and bringing yourself down all the time, where it will lead you? You’ll never be able to succeed in life, because you’ll always doubt in yourself. Overcoming this mindset is definitely not easy, but you need to try. I wrote down some suggestions that may help to overcome this mindset.
Overcoming the mindset of not being good enough
- Write down the things that you like about yourself. Tell these things to yourself every day.
- Write down the things you’re good at. Do these things and try to help others by doing them.
- Think about the things that you really like to do and DO them consistently!
- Find goals in your life that help you move forward and grow as a person.
- Don’t beat yourself up, if something doesn’t go as planned. Think about what happened, learn from it and move on.
- If someone tears you down, it can be most definitely connected to their own problems. You’re not the reason.
- Everybody is unique and different. Be you. Don’t compare yourself to other people.
- You’re good enough and you deserve everything you want.
Overtraining and health issues
With the weight loss journey I also started working out a lot more. I thought that I had to work out every day in order to keep the lost weight down. I had this mindset that, if I skip a workout, I’m not allowed to eat or I don’t deserve the food. So for me, it was crucial to do my workout no matter what. Otherwise, I felt guilty, unsatisfied and not happy about myself.
If I was training to become a group class instructor, I sometimes used to do some 4 hour long workouts. I was in a huge calorie deficit, because I didn’t eat that much. I didn’t have time to eat, because I was constantly thinking about working out and nailing the routine and moves I had to learn. Eating was just a thing I had to do, to have some kind of energy. But the main goal was to have progress with my exercising.
Of course my body lacked all kinds of nutrients, minerals and vitamins, which lead to several health issues like:
– everyday headaches
– never ending muscle soreness
– daily muscle cramps
– losing my period
– weak hair and nails
– bad digestion
– cravings for sweets
– low energy level
…to name some
Balancing your workouts and not stressing about it is crucial. Now, I want to share some knowledge how to overcome issues with exercising, that have helped me. Maybe you’ll also find them helpful in some ways.
Adjusting exercising into your healthier lifestyle
- Think about your workout and eating habits. Do you have a routine? If you don’t, you should definitely create one. You should ask for a specialist’s help, if you’re unsure how to do it.
- If you’re just starting out with exercising, it’s easy to overtrain. You need to have rest days in order to see progress.
- Doing over 2 hour long workouts a day, is not OKAY. It may be different for athletes, but not for an average person.
- If you’re doing some kind of a workout challenge or something, so that you’re burning off a lot of calories, you need to give your body FOOD.
- You don’t need to stress about skipping a workout. Your body needs this rest in order to become better and stronger.
- Your eating habits should support your exercising and give you FUEL.
- Only do the workout you enjoy and don’t do something you really hate. Just because somebody else is going to the gym, it doesn’t mean you have to do it. There are so many different workouts you can try.
Being obsessed with eating healthy
The strict diet and working out like crazy is not sustainable. I was really obsessed with food. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have meals prepped and I recommend thinking through your menu and eating habits. But, it can be a dangerous road and a thin line between eating healthy and being obsessed with eating healthy.
For me the obsession with food started in the beginning of 2016. At first, my eating was okay – I had 4 meals a day and I prepped everything. I weighed all the food all the time and it became normal to me. One “cheat meal” was allowed during the weekend, but I kept it quite minimal. I wouldn’t allow myself to even have one piece of chocolate during my “perfect week”. Even if I was seriously craving for something, I forbid myself to have it. It wasn’t hard at first, but as months passed the cravings became stronger. Especially, when I was working out like crazy.
Eventually that started to lead to a cheat day. For me it evolved like this: no workout day = cheat day. In my mind it was like this, “I can’t work out, that means there is no progress. If there is no progress, I might as well eat what I want”. I didn’t realize that my body repairs itself and will have progress during the rest day. The cheat day usually was full day of eating whatever I wanted and in big amounts. Especially chocolates and other sweet things.
The restrictive mindset
The mindset was quite awful – I thought that this is my chance to eat whatever I want until I have to start the new week of eating healthy and strict again. The cycle was basically repeating itself every week. I had the worst “food hangovers” the next day. Who has felt it, can definitely relate. It can be worse than the hangover of drinking too much. Your stomach and head are aching, you have no energy and you’re not able to work out. Also, your mind is unhealthy and you’re blaming yourself of eating too much.
The cycle was repeating itself for quite a while. I would say it lasted for over a year. Eating strictly and “clean” the whole week and binge-eating during the weekend. At some point I knew that something is wrong. In my mind I thought that, am I supposed to live like this forever? I knew that, this wasn’t the life I wanted, but I didn’t know what to do. I felt really bad, unsatisfied, disappointed with myself and unhappy about my situation.
It came down to some really bad thoughts. I felt truly alone, because I didn’t know exactly what’s my problem and how to overcome it. There was no one to talk to about it, because even I myself wasn’t quite sure about the problem. I had been feeling truly bad in the summer of 2017 about all this. I started looking for solutions online. At first, I didn’t know what to search for. I tried different keywords and I found videos about binge eating, restrictive diets and eating disorders.
I found out that there’s an eating disorder called orthorexia, which means being obsessed with healthy eating. You can read about it more from here. I think I had some symptoms of this disorder and I understood more what it means.
I watched some videos about restrictive dieting and overcoming binge eating. There’s a great Youtube channel I started to follow called Follow The Intuition, which helped me a lot. Thanks to these videos I understood what I had gone through and I found helpful notes on how to overcome this situation. I understood that in order to get out of this cycle I have to change my mindset about food.
Eating healthy and not restricting yourself
Eating healthy for me now means eating things that my body needs. I give my body the food that it needs in order to function perfectly, to feel active and energized. Balancing my meals and having all the crucial macronutrients is important to me. I’m usually having 3-4 meals a day and supporting my workouts with food.
I have trained my body to ask for the healthy foods that contain a lot of essential elements. My daily and weekly menu consists of different vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts and seeds, dairy products, chicken, fish and wholewheat products. I know that I will feel good if I eat this way and that’s why my body asks for this kind of food. Find some of my recipes from my previous blog post.
Also, having a treat when I want and not stressing about it has become a part of my eating habits. If I crave for something sweet or something that’s considered “unhealthy”, I’ll have it anyway. I know that if I strict myself, I’ll fall down the restrictive cycle again. The goal is to never feel this way again. I want to feel normal around food and don’t want food to dictate my life.
My suggestions regarding nutrition
- Try to understand, what kind of food your body needs. Some foods make you feel great, energetic and you feel fulfilled. Other foods on the other hand may make you feel more tired, you feel sleepy, you’re lacking energy. Find the ones you like and what make you feel good!
- Make sure you’re having enough food in compliance with your goal. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit. When the goal is to maintain the weight, you have to eat accordingly. And if you need to gain weight, you need to eat a bit more. Be sure to reach for help if you need to calculate your calories! I can also help you with that, if you write to me 🙂
- Try to eat as many different foods as possible. Variety is kind of important, especially with vegetables and fruits. They all provide you with different kinds of vital elements.
- Don’t cut out carbs, protein or fats for no specific reason. Your body needs them all.
- Be sure to treat yourself once in a while. Have that cake or ice cream if you want. If you crave it, that means your body needs it!
- Be social and go out with friends and family. Don’t skip a get together only because you’ll know that you can’t follow your meal plan. I use to do it and I felt more alone than ever.
- The best diet is the one you can follow forever. That means eating the foods you love and what your body needs. If you truly love ice cream or cakes and you’re cutting them out, does it really seem something you can stick to forever?
- I recommend eating with 80/20 rule, which means eating healthy and nutritious foods 80% and having the things you really want 20% of the time. This way you’ll have balance in your life and you won’t be restricting yourself!
I’m really glad if you made it through here. My wish is that you can find something useful from my story. It wasn’t easy for me to write this down, but I hope that I can help someone by sharing this. If you want to share your thoughts with me, I would be more than happy to hear them! Also, if you need some advice on nutrition, exercising or mindset, then contact me and I would love to speak about it personally.